8 great New Year’s resolutions for eager travelers

Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Travel provides the perfect excuse to check off some of your New Year’s resolutions. Whether you’re resolving to visit new places or to learn a new skill, a vacation is always a fine time to mark something off the checklist. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

RELATED: 9 hotels with great views of the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square

Admit it. When the pandemic hit, many of us thought it was the perfect time to brush up long-latent language skills acquired back in school.  But if the new year finds you still struggling with parlez-vous’ing French, perhaps it’s time to practice with real-life speakers. And you don’t even have to go to France to do so. Quebec City, Canada offers a North American version of Francophilia, with the added boost that most locals also speak English (with prompting). Of course, Quebec City’s appeal goes far beyond its language. This is the only walled city in North America, so that’s cool. You can easily spend a day or two wandering within the walls, along the narrow cobblestone streets filled with a wide variety of artisan boutiques, galleries and restaurants, plus a creperie or two. Ooh, la, la. To get the full flavor of historic Quebec City, book a stay at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, constructed for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1894. Today, it’s one of the city’s most prominent landmarks.

Whether you’re an Insta rookie or you fancy yourself the next Ansel Adams, focus on a visit to Yellowstone National Park in 2022. America’s first National Park spans three states (Wyoming,  Montana, and Idaho) and almost 3,500 miles of fascinating terrain. Between the one-of-a-kind landscapes, the abundant wildlife, and the spectacular geothermal features (here’s looking at you, Old Faithful), there should be more than enough subject matter for you to develop mad photography skills. By the way, Yellowstone is marking its 150th anniversary in 2022, so join in on the celebration by following the park on Instagram to stay on top of planned events. Since accommodations in the park are often booked far in advance, find a room in West Yellowstone, the prime gateway to the park. 

While there are dozens of worthy outdoor pastimes to choose from, spelunking is something you can do in almost every state. For the uninitiated, spelunking is the art of exploring caves, also known as caving. And if you are going to burrow into the earth, why not do so in the world’s longest-known cave system? Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is home to thousands of years of history and a rich diversity of flora and fauna. That’s why it’s both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve. Both guided and self-guided cave tours are available year-round, with routes ranging in difficulty from relatively easy to ultra-challenging. For a little fresh air, the park also has miles and miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, and there are also plenty of places to go fish. Stay in nearby Cave City, which also happens to be home to Dinosaur World.

Four score and seven years ago….and then you draw a blank. A good way to re-memorize the historic American classic is by reading the lines etched into the marble walls of the Lincoln Memorial. Washington, DC is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the dedication of the monolith in 2022, so it’s a good time to visit Abe, honestly, along with his other eminent noted cohorts on the National Mall. For this themed adventure, book a stay at the nearby Eaton DC, a hotel aptly inspired by historic political movements that struggled for equity and progress. 

How many states have you visited? Kansas is one of the least-visited states in the Lower 48, so why not use the 150th anniversary of Dodge City as an excuse to finally mosey over to the Sunflower State? Moseying onto Wyatt Earp Avenue in downtown Dodge City feels like stepping onto a movie set for a Western. Dodge City came into being as a frontier town in the Wild West, where outlaws and cowboys alike congregated. Today, the Boot Hill Museum features a replica of Dodge City’s historic Main Street, including a church, a jail and a saloon, where you can belly up to the bar and sip a sarsaparilla. There are daily gunfight reenactments and for your evening’s entertainment, a nightly can-can show. If you are really into the Old West scene, the best time to visit is during Dodge City Days, when you can indulge your broncbuster fantasies by attending a rodeo and mounting a mechanical bull, purchase some Western-themed artwork, or observe master horse whisperers at work. A stay at The Dodge House Hotel and Convention Center will put you near the middle of all the action. 

Did you know that a University of Exeter study found that birdwatching can have positive effects on depression, anxiety and stress? Just spending time in nature can help, too. On Plum Island, an eleven-mile long barrier beach island located off the coast of northeastern Massachusetts, you can discover old-school tweeting. While named for the wild plums that grow along its rolling dunes, this little piece of paradise is just as well known for its international bird habitat. Parker River Refuge is a 4,662-acre wetland on the island’s northern tip that serves as a migration habitat to some 300 bird species. After you’re done craning your neck, head over to neighboring Newburyport, which is filled with antique purveyors, stylish boutiques, scrumptious bakeries, and a burgeoning restaurant scene. A convenient place to stay is the Essex Street Inn & Suites, a historic inn nestled on a tree-lined street in the heart of downtown Newburyport. The town’s harbor is just around the corner.  

You could sign up for a vacation cooking class to learn a local cuisine or you could learn something as simple as how to properly shuck an oyster. Okay, maybe learning to shuck oysters isn’t on the top of many resolution lists, but still, it’s a good excuse to visit North Carolina’s Outer Banks. After years of overharvesting decimating the oyster population in these parts, a new crop of farms revived the long-standing tradition. Check them out by following the NC Oyster Trail, a project linking markets, restaurants and tours of oyster farms. Somewhere along the way, someone will teach you how to open the darn things. Of course, the attractions of the Outer Banks extend far beyond the oyster. With the Atlantic side of the barrier islands serving up some of the East Coast’s gnarliest waves for surfers, and Pamlico Sound acting as both kiteboarding incubator and stand-up paddleboarding site, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor sports enthusiasts. The Inn on Pimlico Sound provides easy access to all the activity.

Snorkeling is fun but you’ll see much more by scuba diving. In Monterey, California, jump in the water and explore the actual habitat of sea otters, sea lions, and harbor seals. Get PADI-certified by a local outfitter and then swim freely through kelp forests alongside colorful rockfish, seals, giant sea bass, and more. Monterey State Beach, San Carlos Beach, and McAbee Beach are popular local spots for beach dives for all levels. For more sea life exploration, go tidepooling at McAbee Beach. This secluded slip of shore teems with anemones, sea stars and other delights. It’s also a prime spot for building sandcastles. To view incredible sea creatures from dry land, don’t miss Monterey’s world-famous aquarium, and then take a break from all of the aquatic activity at the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, which offers a dramatic waterfront setting.

Tagged: California, Canada, National Parks, North Carolina, Washington DC, Wyoming

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Karen J. Simmons

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