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.

Photos

Alaska

Alaska

“Experience the natural splendor of America’s last frontier on a cruise ship,” says Rainer Jenss. “Book the family on a smaller ship — either with Lindblad Expeditions or Alaskan Dream Cruises — so you and the kids can get a better view of the breaching whales, foraging bears and calving glaciers throughout the Inside Passage.” On land, we recommend a road trip along the Kenai Peninsula’s Seward Highway, starting in Anchorage. Make stops for fun family activities such as fishing in Homer and hiking Exit Glacier, one of several active ice flows in the state. 960 1280

Lindbald Expeditions  

Argentina

Argentina

From the beautiful capital of Buenos Aires to the sapphire glaciers of Patagonia, locals will not only be interested in meeting your family, but they will go out of their way to make your visit pleasant and memorable. “More than once, chefs emerged from the kitchen to play with our infant son, leaving my wife and me alone for a blissful meal,” says Bruce Kirkby, a family traveler who’s featured on Travel Channel’s Big Crazy Family Adventure. Argentina offers family-friendly adventures such as gaucho day trips at the Don Silvano Ranch, hiking in Tierra del Fuego National Park and helicopter tours of Iguazu Falls. 960 1280

Mick Habgood/Moment/Getty Images  

Chicago

Chicago

The Windy City’s world-class museums, art scene and diverse food culture have always been big draws for families. In June, Chicago will become an even bigger family destination when it opens the 606. This trail, similar to NYC’s High Line, will grant locals and tourists access to more bike paths and walking trails connecting the Logan Square, Humboldt Park and Wick Park neighborhoods. “Downtown Chicago is great, but its neighborhoods really are the heart of the city, offering the best food and a slower pace of life more suited for quality family time,” says Keryn Means, a family travel writer and blogger for WalkingOnTravels.com. 960 1280

Adam Alexander Photography  

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Visit the Galapagos Islands for the diverse wildlife, including sea lions, giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies. Families get a rare opportunity to see animals unafraid of human proximity. Kids have unique opportunities to snap a photo of a passing whale and swim above a school of sharks. “Lodging in the past was limited to staying on a boat or in clean but homely local hotels — both great options — but the addition of the area’s first 5-star hotel (the Royal Palm on Santa Cruz) means families who would prefer a more comfortable landing can visit, too,” says Heather Greenwood Davis, a travel journalist and founder of GlobetrottingMama.com. 960 1280

Paul Kennedy/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

Take the kids to Glacier National Park to see its namesake glaciers soon, before climate change makes them a distant memory. Home to 70 different species of mammals, this park offers a wide array of family-friendly activities, including hiking, horseback riding, fishing, boating and backpacking. “This park is filled with stunning beauty, abundant wildlife, some of the country’s most scenic hikes and opportunities for families to explore and learn,” says Nancy Schretter. “For the ultimate family adventure vacation, combine a visit to Glacier National Park with a stay at a dude ranch, such as Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge or Three Bars Ranch.” 960 1280

Donnie Sexton  

Kids Sea Camp in St. Lucia

Kids Sea Camp in St. Lucia

Book your 6-day/7-night stay at the Kids Sea Camp in St. Lucia, hosted by a top-ranked Caribbean resort, Anse Chastanet. In addition to hiking, mountain biking and kayaking, parents can take their kids snorkeling or diving. “Four-year-olds can get in the water for the Professional Association of Scuba Instructors’ (PADI) sanctioned training program,” says Rainer Jenss, president and founder of the Family Travel Association. “That’s great news for parents who thought they’d have to give up diving when the kids were born.”  960 1280

Annie Crawley/Kids Sea Camp Inc.  

Panama City, Panama

Panama City, Panama

Skip the crowds of Costa Rica and visit a new family-friendly destination, Panama. We recommend exploring Panama City’s colonial history, architecture and culture. “Casco Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a great spot to pick up trinkets to take home, grab an ice cream and enjoy a stroll through the old Spanish architecture of Panama,” says Keryn Means. In addition to sightseeing around the city, tourists should venture outside its limits to take a boat tour on Gatun Lake, go white-water rafting on the Chagres River or enjoy the sun and waves on one of Isla Contadora’s beautiful beaches. 960 1280

Hans Joachim Hoos/iStock/Getty Images  

Peru

Peru

Peru is one of the top adventure destinations for 2015, and it's a great choice for an amazing family expedition. Go white-water rafting on the Urubamba River, explore the Amazon’s diverse wildlife and culture, ride Peruvian Paso Fino horses through villages, and mountain bike along dirt roads to see Incan archaeological sites. “Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is popular for families with teens and older children, but family-friendly tour operators such as Austin Adventures offer multiple options for reaching this iconic site,” says Nancy Schretter, a family and multigenerational travel expert. 960 1280

Peru Export and Tourism Promotion Board  

Tofino, British Columbia

Tofino, British Columbia

On Canada's west coast, Tofino has it all: endless beaches, camping, luxury lodges, surfing, kayaking and self-guided hikes in the rain forest. “Take a boat tour to go whale-watching and visit natural hot springs,” says Bruce Kirkby. “But for kids, nothing will beat the beaches.” We suggest family-friendly spots such as MacKenzie Beach, Tonquin Beach and Chesterman Beach. For a more adventurous trip, families can hike the Rainforest Trail at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Bear-watching, bird-watching, kayaking, fishing and surfing make Tofino the perfect location for a family getaway. 960 1280

Destination BC/Tom Ryan  

Tokyo

Tokyo

“Between the cartoons (kids) watch at home (think Avatar: The Last Airbender and Beyblade), the pop culture they’re exposed to (Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls) and the video games they swoon for (Nintendo and Sega have Japanese ties), Tokyo is where families will find plenty to keep them busy,” says Heather Greenwood Davis. Rent a bike to take in the Imperial Palace grounds, or take a local course in the art of origami or tai chi for a bit of culture. Then, go further. Hop on the new bullet train — which travels from Tokyo through the Hokuriku region — and watch your child’s eyes light up as you approach speeds of up to 300 mph. All aboard! The new train route is open to the public starting March 14, 2015. 960 1280

Dan Wiklund/Moment/Getty Images  

Best Alaskan Cruise: Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice

Best Alaskan Cruise: Celebrity Cruises, Celebrity Solstice

"You've come to see such dramatic sights as glaciers calving, whales breaching and eagles flying overhead. Being on a ship that's itself a contemporary stunner only enhances the scenery," says Fran Golden, cruise expert for USA Today’s Experience Cruise site. The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice is full of “firsts,” including the first Lawn Club, a half-acre of real grass on the top deck. 960 1280

Celebrity Cruises Inc.  

Best Caribbean Cruise: Sea Dream Yacht Club, Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II

Best Caribbean Cruise: Sea Dream Yacht Club, Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II

Sea Dream’s twin luxury yachts, the Sea Dream I and Sea Dream II, carry 112 passengers each and visit the most exclusive ports, including St. Barts, Bequia and St. John. “The cruise line offers the Champagne & Caviar Splash, where guests wade into the surf to indulge in premium caviar and bubbles, served on a surfboard covered in white linens, and enjoy a barbecue feast on a secluded white-sand beach,” says Anne Campbell, editor of CruisingFromNewYork.com and ShipCriticBlog.com. 960 1280

SeaDream Yacht Club  

Best European River Cruise: AmaWaterways, AmaCerto

Best European River Cruise: AmaWaterways, AmaCerto

“Sailing aboard AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto provided a comfortable and intimate ambience, amazing food and service, and the ability to dock right in the heart of Europe’s fascinating cities,” says Bill Panoff, publisher and editor-in-chief of Porthole Cruise Magazine. As the ship sails along the Danube and Rhine rivers, among others, guests are afforded picture-perfect views of ever-changing scenery and regular ports of call such as Amsterdam; Zurich, Basel and Lucerne, Switzerland; Cologne, Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Budapest, Hungary. 960 1280

AmaWaterways  

Best Family Cruise: Royal Caribbean, Anthem of the Seas

Best Family Cruise: Royal Caribbean, Anthem of the Seas

"Royal Caribbean's new, 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas is one of the most exciting ships in years. It’s fun for the whole family," says Fran Golden. Kids can ride bumper cars in the SeaPlex sports center or feel what it’s like to go skydiving in the RipCord by iFly, while parents can grab a cocktail from the robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar. Beginning in the fall, this ship will start sailing to new ports of call such as Bermuda and the Bahamas. 960 1280

Royal Caribbean International  

Best Hawaiian Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Best Hawaiian Cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

It made our Travel’s Best Cruises 2014 list, and this year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Pride of America remains the reigning champion in the Best Hawaiian Cruise category. It's the only major US-flagged cruise ship that offers passengers a total of nearly 100 hours of port time on all 4 main Hawaiian Islands during a 7-night voyage. "Other cruise lines sail to the islands from LA or San Francisco, which usually means passengers spend only 52 hours in port to see 3 islands on a 15-night cruise,” says Stewart Chiron, president and CEO of CruiseGuy.com. 960 1280

Danny Lehman  

Best Luxury Cruise: Seabourn Cruise Line, Seabourn Odyssey

Best Luxury Cruise: Seabourn Cruise Line, Seabourn Odyssey

Without a doubt, Seabourn Cruise Line's Seabourn Odyssey is for the traveler who wants to be pampered at sea. This ship has 225 ocean-view luxury suites, the Spa at Seabourn, and a few upscale bars and restaurants for passengers to grab a cocktail or enjoy a delicious meal. “World-renowned American chef Thomas Keller partnered with the cruise line to create new menu items and a signature restaurant (making its debut in 2016) across its entire fleet of ships,” says Stewart Chiron. The cruise line visits more than 170 World Heritage Sites, including Thebes in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru and the temple complex of Borobudur on Java, an island in Indonesia. 960 1280

Seabourn  

Best Mediterranean Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star

Best Mediterranean Cruise: Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Star

On Viking Ocean Cruises’ first ship, the Viking Star, passengers can swim in the glass-backed infinity pool; watch a movie under the stars; and feel snowflakes descend onto their skin in the spa’s Snow Grotto. “The 930-passenger ship pleasantly draws guests’ attention to the picturesque Mediterranean and Baltic scenery with amenities including a double-decker observation lounge, 2-story panoramic windows in the Explorers’ Lounge, and alfresco dining experiences,” says Jason Leppert, editor of PopularCruising.com. With these amazing amenities and special features, the Viking Star is the only way to cruise in the Mediterranean. 960 1280

Viking Cruises  

Best Mexican Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Miracle

Best Mexican Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Miracle

Carnival Cruise Line's recently upgraded Carnival Miracle sails year-round to the Mexican Riviera from Long Beach, CA, for 6- or 7-day journeys. “With the new Fun Ship 2.0 features added this year, the ship is a perfect choice for heading to Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta,” says Jason Leppert. The additions include the RedFrog Pub and Alchemy Bar watering holes; Seuss at Sea for kids; Hasbro, the Game Show for families; and new, energetic Playlist Productions shows, such as Motor City. Have some fun exploring Mexico via fun excursions, including fly-fishing in the Sea of Cortez and horseback riding through the Sierra Madre. 960 1280

(L) Carnival Cruise Lines, (R) Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Getty Images   

Best Theme Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Live

Best Theme Cruise: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Live

“One cruise line that has really met the demand for music lovers is Carnival Cruise Line, which launched its Carnival Live concert series cruises several years ago and continues to offer these special sailings,” says Bill Panoff. Past artists have included Chicago, Jennifer Hudson, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum and Journey; upcoming performers include Heart, Boston and Lionel Richie. The line is expected to announce next spring’s lineup in the months ahead. 960 1280

Carnival Cruise Lines  

Unexpected Cruise for Food: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Breeze

Unexpected Cruise for Food: Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Breeze

While Carnival Cruise Line's ships are in the midpriced category, their food surpasses cuisine served by pricier competitors. The Carnival Breeze has something for even the most finicky eater, with 10 restaurants serving up a variety of lip-smacking food, including juicy burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint, owned by Food Network personality and restaurateur Guy Fieri. “I had a memorable meal in the Steakhouse, indulged at the Bonsai sushi bar and savored Italian delicacies at the Cucina del Capitano restaurant, topped off by some of the finest wines at sea,” says Anne Campbell. 960 1280

(L) Carnival Cruise Lines, (R) Miguelangelbriones/RooM/Getty Images   

Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal (Hiking Adventure)

Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal (Hiking Adventure)

Trekking in the shadow of the ice-clad Himalayan summits -- for avid hikers, scaling these peaks of legends is a dream come true. “The sights, sounds and culture of Nepal surround you like no place on the planet,” says Justin Wood, travel exec with REI Adventures, “your psyche will be forever changed.” On the trail, you pass black-and-white yaks with ornate woven harnesses and clanging bells, as well as singing children and locals carrying unimaginable loads of supplies bound for their remote villages. The best time to trek to Everest Base Camp is October through November for clear dry weather, but the trail will be full of trekkers. If you’re looking for more solitude, consider March through April, when you’ll find cloudy skies but fewer hikers. 960 1280

REI Adventures  

US Route 50, Nevada (Road Trip Adventure)

US Route 50, Nevada (Road Trip Adventure)

Nicknamed “The Loneliest Road in America,” US Route 50 begins just past Lake Tahoe, CA, and ends at the Utah state line. In the 409-mile stretch between Fallon, NV, and Delta, UT, alone, there are only 3 towns. Road tripper and documentary filmmaker Allison Otto, says, “This route is beautiful in its austerity, offers numerous photo ops, traverses several large desert valleys and 17 mountain passes -- in some cases reaching altitudes of more than 7,000 feet.” This route was constructed over a historic corridor first used by the Pony Express; today, enjoy several must-see sites along the way, including the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park and the singing sand of Sand Mountain, as well as the old mining town of Ely. Take a detour south along Route 6 to NV-375, aka the Extraterrestrial Highway that passes the alleged location of mysterious Area 51. 960 1280

Ken Lund, flickr  

Djibouti (Water Sport Adventure)

Djibouti (Water Sport Adventure)

You may have never heard of Djibouti, but if you’re looking for an amazing water adventure this tiny country -- located on the Horn of Africa -- is about as epic as it gets. “Djibouti sits on the Gulf of Aden, which is home to warm, clear waters that are full of pristine reefs and shipwrecks that have yet to be overrun by the diving masses,” says Shane Reynolds, founder of Color Earth. “Marine life is plentiful and the biggest attraction, literally, are whale sharks.” Seasonally these gentle giants settle in to feed here, providing divers the opportunity to share their space, all without the crowds like in other destinations such as Cancun. Djibouti is the ultimate water adventure experience. There’s no other destination in the world that provides scuba diving inside the rift that separates Asia and Africa. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Andalusia, Spain (Camping Adventure)

Andalusia, Spain (Camping Adventure)

Spend a night underneath the stars in Andalusia, Spain. Most people wouldn’t know it, but this area is a hot glamping spot. Sleep in a tricked-out tipi at Altiplano Tipis or in a hand-crafted luxury yurt at Hooting Owl Yurt Holidays. The more adventurous campers who like to rough it should head to Desfiladero de los Gaitanes National Park. “The rock climbing and hiking here is great,” says Matthew Karsten, adventure travel expert and blogger for ExpertVagaBond.com. “Plus the famous, but steep Caminito del Rey trail is located right outside the Park,” he says. Only in the south of Spain is it possible to go camping on the majestic snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, then travel an hour to the Mediterranean coast and pitch your tent on a beautiful, sunny beach in Malaga. 960 1280

ruudb0y, flickr  

Pacific Coast Highway 1 (Cycling Adventure)

Pacific Coast Highway 1 (Cycling Adventure)

See the beauty of the Pacific Coast from the seat of your bicycle. "Pedaling down California's famous Highway 1, surrounded by towering forests and endless coastline is a cyclist’s dream," says avid cyclist and travel journalist Ryan Van Duzer. The epic journey starts along the breathtaking Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and goes all the way down to the sunny beaches of Southern California in San Diego. "My favorite sections are the redwood forests in Northern California, including the mind-blowing beautiful coastline in Big Sur, and being able to dig your feet into the sand along the beaches in LA,” he adds. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Hearst Castle are other must-see sites that cyclists will find along this amazing pilgrimage that showcases The Golden State’s history and diverse landscapes. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Yosemite National Park- California (Family Adventure)

Yosemite National Park- California (Family Adventure)

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, which paved the way for the famed national park to come. Home to wildlife, glaciers, waterfalls, valleys, granite domes, cliffs, lakes and wilderness, Yosemite is an ecological wonderland. “Families have a buffet of activities at their disposal, including biking, backpacking, camping, fishing, bird watching, rock climbing and horseback riding,” says Tawanna Browne Smith, travel expert and founder of Mom’s Guide to Travel. “Stay overnight and camp out in a tent, relax in a cabin at Curry Village or enjoy a luxury stay at the AAA Four-Diamond Ahwahnee hotel.” More than 150 activities are planned throughout the year to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Yosemite Grant Act to protect the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia (Eco-Friendly Adventure)

Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia (Eco-Friendly Adventure)

Just off the coast of Queensland, <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/beaches/articles/fraser-island-australia">Fraser Island</a> is ideal for an all-encompassing eco-friendly adventure. It is the biggest sand island in the world, and home to a wide range of animal and plant life. Visitors can take in the sights of this phenomenal giant sand system on a 4-wheel drive adventure; hire an Aboriginal tour guide to discover their connection to the island; or escape the heat by swimming in one of the many lakes around the island. “Swamp wallabies, echidnas, possums and sugar gliders hide within the bush and a native dingo population -- said to be the purest breed alive today -- roam freely,” says Linda McCormick, travel writer and editor. Staying on Fraser Island can be as exciting -- or as luxurious -- as you wish. “No matter where you stay or what you do,” says McCormick, “it’s certain you’ll be wowed by this impressive natural habitat.” 960 1280

Matthew Bowden / iStock / Thinkstock  

Ubatuba, Brazil (Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure)

Ubatuba, Brazil (Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure)

As host country of the <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/brazil/photos/brazil-2014-world-cup-cities-tour">2014 World Cup</a>, Brazil has been top of mind for travelers and sports lovers alike in recent months. Escape the throngs of soccer fans, and embark on an underwater adventure around the coastal town of Ubatuba, in Sao Paulo state. “Isolated beaches line the coast, and beds of coral and islands dot the surrounding waters, making the region heaven for scuba divers and snorkelers,” says Valerie Conners, travel writer and expert. “Find a tour operator to take you into the pristine waters of Ilha Anchieta, Ilha Vitória and Ilha do Prumirim,” she adds. In addition to underwater rock formations, divers will see caverns, colorful corals, plenty of dolphins and even an underwater statue of researcher Jacques Cousteau. 960 1280

Gabriel Pevide / iStock / Thinkstock   

Skydiving in Orange, Virginia (Extreme Adventure)

Skydiving in Orange, Virginia (Extreme Adventure)

Go local to experience extreme adventure in your own backyard. “I’ve gone paragliding off Pedra Bonita in Rio, but sometimes you don’t have to travel thousands of miles away to experience extreme adventure,” says Kwin Mosby, managing producer for TravelChannel.com. His suggestion? Experience the adrenaline rush of skydiving with local companies like Skydive Orange, the largest tandem skydiving center in the Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland area.” Skydive from 13,500 feet in the air with experienced instructors. And while you’re in freefall, make sure you take in the unpolluted, country-fresh air and the awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains off in the distance. 960 1280

Getty Images  

The Pantanal, Brazil (Wildlife Adventure)

The Pantanal, Brazil (Wildlife Adventure)

The Pantanal is hands down the hottest and best wildlife safari destination outside of Africa Africa, and with the latest photos of jaguars taking down caimans on riverbanks dominating the internet, it's not hard to see why. The wildlife sightings get better and better each year. “On any trip, you can expect to see several rare and endangered wildlife species, such as giant river otters, neotropical river otters, giant anteaters, tamanduas, crab-eating Fox and Tyra -- a type of honey badger,” says Jessica Pociask, owner of WANT Expeditions. “You can easily expect to see up to 50 species of birds in one day.” See beautiful birds like hyacinth macaws, toucans and herons. This is a not-to-be missed destination if you’re a wildlife photographer. 960 1280

Jessica Pociask/WANT Expeditions  

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