Travel's Best for 2014

Luxury hostels, Cuba, local brew pubs and the Jersey Shore – they’re all reasons to pack your bags in 2014. See what hot destinations and travel trends are our favorites for 2014.

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Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

"For great package deals, check out the website HolidayPirates.com. They find incredible deals for packages, flights and more departing to and from Europe. I've found some incredible, hard-to-find offers on that website, like $500-roundtrip flights to Europe or $50 flights from Europe to Turkey." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

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Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

"US Airways offers economy round-trip tickets to Europe from North America for just 35,000 miles from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. If you have their co-branded credit card, that price drops to 30,000 miles roundtrip. American Airlines also offers off-peak discounted award tickets to Europe from Oct. 15 to May 15 for 40,000 miles, down from the usual 60,000. If you have their co-branded credit card, you can even get 10% of those redeemed miles back, up to an annual cap." -- Summer Hull, Mommy Points 960 1280

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Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

"Starwood Preferred Guest is a great hotel program, with a vast portfolio of hotels throughout the world. Redemptions start at just 2,000 points and members have the option to transfer points to dozens of airlines at a 1-to-1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus on every 20,000 points transferred." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

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Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

"Calling, texting and emailing while abroad can rack up thousands of dollars in fees. However, there are great apps like Viber that you can use for free with an internet connection. Viber users can send free text messages, photo messages, video messages and more with other users, and it’s compatible with iPhone, Android, and other major mobile and desktop devices." -- Brian Kelly, The Points Guy 960 1280

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Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

"For a great-value trip, head to Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine) for very cheap destinations, great food, friendly people and few tourists. It's the medieval Europe you want without the crowds in Prague or Tallinn." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

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Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

"If you have a Costco membership, you can get good deals from Costco Travel such as no additional driver fees with certain rental companies. If booking abroad, AutoEurope.com gives good rates in Europe. I used it to book a wagon for a trip to Paris which saved me about 40% off booking directly with the rental company." -- Arthur Hsu, Mileage Runner 960 1280

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Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

"United MileagePlus is a great program, as it offers access to an extensive route network and award inventory. In short, they make it easy to redeem your miles. United miles are also easy to earn, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offering instant 1-to-1 transfer of points to United." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

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Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

"If you don’t want to constantly check and recheck websites for the best fares, then sign up for Yapta’s fare alerts. They will automatically keep you updated on the fares you are interested in. All you have to do is set the date(s), city pairs and the price point, and they will alert you via email." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

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Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

"When I shop around for hotels and car rentals, I don't think there is any better place than Priceline. But keep in mind when you use their Name Your Own Price feature, you can't cancel. Before I make a blind bid, I always log on to BiddingForTravel.com to see what other people's luck was with their bids. It shows how much people paid for which dates and will give you a pretty good idea of which hotel you will end up with." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

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Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

"The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers generous sign-up bonuses and flexible points that can be transferred to both airline and hotel partners. The Sapphire Preferred makes it easy to amass points quickly, with 2x points on travel and dining. The original signup bonuses can be worth over $500 in travel after you meet the required minimum spend, within the first 3 months typically." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

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Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis, Maryland

With its historic homes, wooden sailboats and midshipmen strolling the streets in their whites, Annapolis is the epitome of classic Americana. It’s the perfect place to explore military history and get a peek at its future at the United States Naval Academy Museum. Stay for the food: No trip to Annapolis is complete without enjoying some Maryland crab with Old Bay, of course. 960 1280

K. Thom  

Peak to Peak Highway, Estes Park, Colorado

Peak to Peak Highway, Estes Park, Colorado

As one of the rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park described it, “You can take many photos, but you can never completely capture the beauty of this place.” True story. A three-hour stretch of green pine trees, snowcapped mountains and log cabins makes this scenic byway (Colorado's oldest) the perfect setting for a short-but-sweet road trip.  960 1280

Visit Estes Park  

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Washington/Oregon

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Washington/Oregon

Located on the state line between Washington and Oregon, this locale is an excellent nature-filled family retreat, with waterfalls, wildflowers and sweeping views of the Columbia River. If you're willing to get wet, take a short hike through the majestic Oneonta Gorge, a lush chasm leading to a hidden waterfall. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Ericfoltz  

Redwood National and State Parks, California

Redwood National and State Parks, California

This enchanted forest of giant trees is located next to miles of empty beach, combining history, culture, wonder and nature in one beautiful location. As sunbeams break through the towering canopy, you'll feel as though you've been transported into a real-life fairy tale. Redwood National Park is truly an awe-inspiring escape for wildlife and nature enthusiasts. 960 1280

Visit California/Carol Highsmith  

Lafayette, Louisiana

Lafayette, Louisiana

A mix of historical and cultural influences has created the unique Cajun/French Creole food, music and language found only in this small part of the country. Enjoy a delicious (and messy) crawfish boil, dance to zydeco music and take a thrilling airboat ride! Plus, in Lafayette, you'll get all the Mardi Gras celebration without the New Orleans tourism. 960 1280

Louisiana Travel  

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Craving Zen and beauty? White Sands offers perhaps the most serene experience in the country. Walking the dunes is like wading through an ocean of diamonds surrounded by purple mountains. Make sure to arrive when the gates open to witness the morning light dancing across the desert. 960 1280

Guillaume Dutilh  

Williams, Arizona

Williams, Arizona

In the town of Williams, Ariz., expect an eclectic mix of the rich history of Route 66 and the Wild West. Williams is the perfect place for a pit stop to find a kitschy souvenir and let the kids get up close and personal with wildlife at the Bearizona drive-through wildlife park. Then, hop aboard the 100-year-old Grand Canyon Railway for a scenic, 65-mile ride to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. 960 1280

Chris Hepburn/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

St. Louis

St. Louis

St. Louis is the “Gateway to the West” for more reasons than one. Yes, its iconic Gateway Arch is a sight to behold, but the city’s friendly Midwest sensibility, steamboats, vibrant riverfront along the Mississippi, and free attractions such as the St. Louis Zoo make it truly appealing for a family getaway. Plus, it’s a (Cardinals) baseball and beer town — could you get more American than that? 960 1280

Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images  

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile, Alabama

USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, Mobile, Alabama

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the park created to honor the ship’s stellar service during World War II. Tour the battleship, the aircraft collection and the USS Drum submarine, or even book an overnight adventure to get a taste of how the sailors lived. Beyond beautiful Mobile Bay, streets lined with historic homes and giant oaks give way to a vibrant downtown once dubbed “the Paris of the South.” 960 1280

Richard Cummins/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Florida Keys Overseas Highway

Florida Keys Overseas Highway

Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett — two American icons, with their own devoted fan bases, who’ve called Key West home. Discover why they fell in love with the Keys by driving the 127-mile Florida Keys Overseas Highway, which includes a network of bridges that stretch from mainland Florida all the way to the southernmost point in the U.S. Make sure to pull over for the occasional conch fritter and snorkeling break, of course. 960 1280

The Monroe Tourist Development Council  

Best Brunch: The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA

Best Brunch: The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove, Newport Coast, CA

Situated right on the beach, the Beachcomber is a favorite among locals and tourists who flock to historic Crystal Cove in Newport Coast, CA. It’s open for lunch and dinner as well, but breakfast is a must. Indulge in favorites such as its beignets, lemon ricotta blueberry pancakes, and crab cake Benedict. 960 1280

The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove  

Best Barbecue: Smitty’s Market, Lockhart, TX

Best Barbecue: Smitty’s Market, Lockhart, TX

When you arrive at Smitty's Market, expect to get up close and personal with your barbecue. No sticky-sweet barbecue sauces or forks are offered at Smitty’s, and we kind of like that. Situated in the sleepy town of Lockhart, TX, 30 minutes south of Austin, Smitty’s is not to be missed. 960 1280

Smitty’s Market  

Best Seafood: Cantler's Riverside Inn, Annapolis, MD

Best Seafood: Cantler's Riverside Inn, Annapolis, MD

Cantler’s restaurant in Annapolis, MD, is the perfect setting year-round but is especially appropriate in the summer, when it’s crab crackin’ time! We love the Maryland blue crab, of course, with potatoes, corn and bread. 960 1280

Cantler's Riverside Inn  

Best Summer Pie: Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Brooklyn, NY

Best Summer Pie: Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Brooklyn, NY

You can find the perfect pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a creative pie shop that turns out a flawless all-butter crust. The seasonal fillings really make the pies; try the rhubarb crumble, birch beer float or the year-round salted caramel apple. They’re also available at the Brooklyn Public Library and all 3 locations of Shake Shack in Brooklyn. 960 1280

Gentl & Hyers  

Best Ice Cream: Laduree SoHo, New York City

Best Ice Cream: Laduree SoHo, New York City

Enjoy the savory and sweet of Paris at Laduree SoHo bakery, where the locals and Francophiles flock. For a can’t-miss experience, settle in to Laduree’s outdoor seating while indulging in a cup or bowl of its macaron glaces. Flavors include raspberry, citron, pistachio and rose petal. 960 1280

Ladurée  

Best Ballpark Food: Blue Smoke on the Road, Queens, NY

Best Ballpark Food: Blue Smoke on the Road, Queens, NY

Try something new but classic at the ballpark this summer: a North Carolina pulled-pork sandwich in New York City! Blue Smoke on the Road has acquired prime real estate at Citi Field. Sure, there are countless other vendors to choose from, but this 1 comes from the creative mind of Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack. 960 1280

Melissa Hom  

Best Food Truck: Mei Mei, Boston

Best Food Truck: Mei Mei, Boston

Visit the Mei Mei food truck at Boston’s SoWa Open Market each Sunday between May and October. Thanks to its fresh, seasonal offerings, it has been dubbed Boston’s best food truck. The menu is forever changing, so make sure to follow Mei Mei on Twitter to lock onto its location Tuesday through Sunday and to find out the day’s food options. 960 1280

Fotodish  

Best Food Festival: Feast Portland, Portland, OR

Best Food Festival: Feast Portland, Portland, OR

Send summer off with a bang at the Feast Portland food festival Sept. 17-20. Artisans, breweries, cider houses, chefs and distilleries descend upon Feast Portland for 3 days of elaborate collaboration dinners, hands-on butchery demonstrations, brewery classes and a downright good time. 960 1280

Courtesy of Feast Portland  

Best Bar Food: Bartaco, Atlanta

Best Bar Food: Bartaco, Atlanta

With a bar scene you've only dreamed of — outdoor and indoor seating with a Mexican-style décor — Bartaco is the place to eat, drink and be seen. Don’t miss out on its sesame rib-eye taco, which is juicy and flavorful with just the right amount of spice. 960 1280

Manny Vargas  

Best Restaurant With a View: Da Salvatore Ristorante, Ravello, Italy

Best Restaurant With a View: Da Salvatore Ristorante, Ravello, Italy

Picture this: You’re driving along the Amalfi Coast when you arrive in the small, quaint town of Ravello and realize you’re starving! Head straight to Da Salvatore Ristorante for amazing cuisine, such as cocoa- and coffee-braised veal cheek with ricotta gnudi, accompanied by an unmatched view, easily one of the best in the world 960 1280

Da Salvatore Ristorante A Ravello  

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