With so many destinations around the globe becoming more and more accessible, those must-see places are well within reach for modern travelers. And that concept hasn’t gone unnoticed by destination marketing organizations, which have experts on staff who can deliver the bucket-list experiences travelers crave—and present options and experiences they never knew existed.
Our list of 15 great cities for groups includes some bucket- list-worthy places—Niagara Falls, Broadway in New York City, and Jordan’s other-wordly Petra, for instance—but it also includes hidden local gems and “only-in-my-city” experiences that beg discovery.
As Scotland prepares to celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters in 2020, Aberdeen will be a popular destination. Scotland’s third-largest city, which is located in the northeastern part of the country, offers many on-the-water experiences for travelers. Read more here.
Situated on Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont, Burlington is a four-season destination. In addition to brilliant fall foliage, the city offers various types of outdoor adventure—skiing in the winter and water-based fun in the summer—and delivers quality culinary experiences, thanks to its focus on farm-to-table dining. Read more here.
Around the world, Chicago is known for its outstanding architecture. The Illinois city is home to scores of structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a good way for visitors to admire that part of the Windy City’s legacy is from the water. Read more here.
Tucked away in the southwestern part of Michigan just 30 miles inland from Lake Michigan, Grand Rapids is home to a number of popular historical attractions. Places such as the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the city’s Heritage Hill district are popular with visitors. Read more here.
“There are many reasons to visit Lafayette, Louisiana, which was named the Happiest City in America by The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.com,” says Kaylie LeBlanc of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission. “What makes this destination vibrant, colorful, and full of joie de vivre is our mix of festivals, culture, and music, and the unique culinary scene.” Read more here.
Beyond the millions of neon lights along the Las Vegas Strip, the city’s glitz and glamour extends to its live events, which include concerts, stage shows, and professional sports. Read more here.
New York City
A few things come to mind when formulating a list of must-do New York City things: See the Statue of Liberty. Visit Central Park. Stroll the boroughs. And on that list—possibly at the top—is to see a show on Broadway. Read more here.
After travelers have soaked in the splendor of the mighty Niagara Falls, they can enjoy some tasty options—Maple Leaf Place and the Oh Canada Eh! Dinner Show—during their exploration of the city on Niagara’s Canadian side. Read more here.
With 10 miles of sandy beaches and a national renowned boardwalk that’s been delighting guests since it debuted in 1902, Ocean City offers a scenic retreat for travelers. Read more here.
“From cowboy culture to lively restaurants and entertainment options, groups of all sizes can find accommodating attractions throughout Oklahoma City,” says Sandy Price of the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau. Read more here.
Situated between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea in the mountains of western Jordan, Petra is one of the most famous archaeological spots on the planet. The UNESCO World Heritage site features churches, temples and other buildings that date back thousands of years. Read more here.
According to Sarah Weinberg-Scalo of the San Diego Tourism Authority, there is a lot going on at the city’s nature-based attractions. Visitors can find new exhibits at the San Diego Natural History Museum and Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy just rebranded to become the Nature Collective. Read more here.
Tucked away in eastern Washington near the state’s Idaho border, Spokane blends outdoor adventure with rich cultural experiences. Kate Hudson of Visit Spokane says top options in her area that play up those themes are guided rafting tours and programs highlighting the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Read more here.
St. Simons Island
The watery landscape of this destination, which is the largest barrier island in the Golden Isles, offers a tranquil atmosphere that allows travelers to relax and enjoy the beauty of coastal Georgia. Read more here.
There are a lot of exciting things in play in Washington, D.C., these days surrounding the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the U.S. Many celebrations and special exhibits based around two key dates—the passage of the 19th Amendment by Congress on June 4, 1919, and the ratification of the amendment on Aug. 18, 1920—are highlighting this milestone. Read more here.
Top photo: Petra by night
Photo by Jordan Tourism Board