My Top Five Best Places to Travel in 2020

    Where To Travel in the U.S. and abroad next year

Where to travel next? This question haunts me. My entire adult life, I’ve felt a little panicky if I don’t have my next trip on the books yet. 

Lately, as a newly minted travel blogger, I’ve been quizzing friends and family on how they determine where to go on their next trip. Do they just pick a handful of dream destinations and go wherever airfare’s cheapest? Or do they try to time their trip around some cultural event or natural phenomenon? Maybe it boils down to which friend has time off at the same time as you and where they’re willing to accompany you? 

Despite my questioning, I haven’t hit upon a tried and true formula for “where to next.” With a “to visit” list filling an entire bullet journal page, selecting just one destination for my next trip feels like playing favorites. But as much as I struggle to whittle down my list, I do have a top five travel destinations for 2020. 

Here’s where I’m dreaming of jetting off to in 2020.

The Azores

If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, you’ve probably picked up that I’m keen to visit the Azores. Like most of my dream travel destinations, I probably read about the Azores in a book once. Honestly, I’ve been daydreaming about these Portuguese Islands in the middle of Atlantic for so long, I don’t remember how I heard about them. Suffice to say, these temperate volcanic islands have long captured my imagination.

But there’s an inherent risk when you spend your travel bandwidth daydreaming instead of, you know, actually traveling. Thanks to Instagram, the Azores have gone from “where?” to a top travel destination in the last five years.

The Azores’ appeal stem from the relatively short flight to this European destination and an unique, “edge of the world” feel. Smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic, the nine islands of the Azores cover an 900 square mile area. Don’t expect to glimpse Portuguese coast – the most eastern island lies some 850 miles west of European mainland. 

If you’ve seen photos of the Azores, you’re probably looking at Sao Miguel, the largest, lushest, and most visited of the Azores. I’d love to get some hikes in on Sao Miguel (before Instagram causes complete and total degradation of those vistas), but after this long thinking about the Azores, some island hopping is in order too. In particular, I’d like to see Angra do Heroismo, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the longest continuously settled town in the Azores, with residents dating back to the 15th century.

Lugano, Switzerland and Milan, Italy


When’s the last time you were struck by that “I want to go to there” feeling? I remember feeling it poignantly when I flew over the Alps on a crystal clear morning on my way to Rome in 2006. Yet, here we sit at the dawn of a new decade and I still haven’t “gone to there.” It took rereading Sharon Creech’s Bloomability this past summer with its setting at a boarding school in Lugano, Switzerland for me to remember that long ago feeling of wanderlust.

Located in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland and surrounded by Swiss Pre-Alps, Lugano overlooks Lake Lugano. One of five lakes that make up the Italian Lake District along the Italian/Swiss border, you might be more familiar with Lake Lugano’s eastern neighbor, Lake Como. Meanwhile, to the west you have Lake Maggiore. If you’ve ever read Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, you know Lake Maggiore as the lake Henry rows Catherine across. (The other two lakes are Iseo and Garda.) 

Inhabited since the Stone Age, these days visitors flock to the Italian lake district for gorgeous vistas, beautiful churches, and a temperate subtropical climate. While I’m not looking for a luxury retreat in the manner of famous visitors from Roman times through today, I’m not opposed to a little lakeside R&R. Also, you had me at funicular ride!

Did I mention that an hour-long train ride from Lugano lies Milan, Italy? Day trip to La Scala, Da Vinci’s Last Supper, and the Cathedral of Milan? Yes please!

Kauai, Hawaii


Maybe you’re noticing a trend here? Clearly, I’m drawn to lush green destinations. I guess that’s not surprising considering that I’m usually deciding where to travel when snow blankets my home. Here in the bold north, Hawaii always sounds like a good idea, especially Kauai, the greenest Hawaiian island.

2020 marks the final year of my #50×35 challenge. Since 2017, I’ve tried to get to all 50 U.S. States before I turn 35. With that early March 2020 deadline looming, I might need a deadline extension. I’m convinced I can reach the  remaining five states before the end of 2020. Of the five states left on my “to visit,” I’m most eager to see Hawaii. 

I know after such a long flight to reach Hawaii, I should probably plan on some island hopping, but I’ve had my heart set the island of Kauai for a few years now. With so many natural wonders and a little less focus on tourist amenities, I’m sure I could fill days, if not weeks, with Kauai adventures. I especially want to hike the Kalalau Trail, see Waimea Canyon, and find some hidden beaches. 

When I do finally make it to Hawaii, I’ll be sure to use this Hawaii Packing List.  

Santa Fe, New Mexico


Speaking of the five U.S. states I have yet to visit, let’s talk about New Mexico. Mention New Mexico in passing and people clamber to tell you how beautiful it is. Despite all the assertions I’ve heard in the last three years of how great New Mexico is, I still haven’t found someone to go to Santa Fe with me for a long weekend. 

Oh sure, I always get little nibbles, but nobody has wholeheartedly thrown themselves into the ring and yelled: “Me! Pick me! I must go to New Mexico.”

If we’re being totally honest, the hang up is me. I don’t want to go to Santa Fe. At least not for a long weekend.

For one thing, it’s surprisingly expensive to fly from Minnesota to New Mexico. This makes it difficult to justify staying for a short period of time when the largest travel expense will be the plane ticket. This can mean only one thing: I need to stay longer. 

On my last trip to the American Southwest in April 2017, I concocted an epic road trip plan. A sort of victory lap of the American Southwest if you will to tick New Mexico off my list so it can stop hanging out like a big square, unvisited blob.

For this trip, we’ll fly into Albuquerque, rent a car and head north to Santa Fe for a night or two. We’ll continue on in a counter-clockwise loop, taking in Mesa Verde, visiting Monument Valley, and touring the Hopi Mesas. Clearly, I’m going to need more than a long weekend . . . .

Fall Foliage Tour through Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine


No offense New England, but there’s a reason you’re dead last when it comes to “states left to visit.” It’s not that I don’t think Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have a lot to offer. But when you’ve heard how much northern Minnesota looks like Maine your entire life, it’s hard to get too excited. After all, why travel at all if you’re not going to experience new things?  

But obviously, New England is hardly a carbon copy of northern Minnesota and vice versa. We might have Lake Superior, but that’s no ocean. And surely Eagle Mountain doesn’t hold a candle to the Green Mountains. I hear Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park calling my name. You know I love a good lobster roll. Fingers crossed for a puffin sighting!

Clearly, I need to eat some Ben and Jerry’s in Vermont and I’ve heard excellent things about the town of Stowe and the Vermont brewery scene. I’m not sure I can catch Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine when they’re in their peak fall colors since I’m still busy with my own seasonal business that time of year, but I’d like to get there sometime in October before the snow comes in earnest. Actually, New England isn’t sounding half bad . . . .

Now you’re up! Where are you headed in 2020?


Hi! I’m Ada, a travel writer who believes “there’s no place like home.” I started Beyond the Yellow Brick Road to share my travel experiences and lessons learned from the road to help fellow travelers have the best travel experiences possible.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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  1. you GO Girl! you have some amazing list of Places to visit in 2020.I am isiting US in 2020, and Fall foilage of Vermont is in list.Can’t wait for next adventure.

    • Oooo, it’ll be so interesting to read about your trip. Where are you headed in Vermont?!

  2. Fun!! Most of these places are on my list too! I’ve thought of doing a fall foilage cruise, but havent actually done it yet. We are heading to Ireland soon, and then Switzerland is next on my “list”
    If you love green lush, we LOVED St Lucia. Happy Travels and Happy New Year

    • Ireland is one of my favorite places in the world. Where are you headed?! Thanks for the tip on St. Lucia.

  3. I made it to my 50th state when I was 51. So, there’s no need to rush. Always keep in mind there are US territories too.
    If you want a green paradise, you may want to consider adding Maui, Puerto Rico and American Samoa or a country like Costa Rica to your list.

    • Such a good point about the territories. Maybe I’ll get to all over those before I’m forty. 😉 I’m not real hung up on timelines, just find them a good motivator to actually get out there seeing things. 😀

  4. I know what you mean. It’s like having a closet that’s got too many clothes and you can’t decide which one to wear. We have the same conversations just with our travels in Australia, let alone the whole world. I’ve definitely got Hawaii on my bucket list as well.

  5. I’m glad Maine made the list! I visited Acadia National Park this Fall and it was absolutely incredible. I’m happy that the famous lobster rolls made it into the article as well!

  6. I have not been to the Azores, Lugarno, and Milan but all the rest…yes, go to them. They are great destinations!

  7. You’ve got a great list, and I love that you explain each destination as well as why you’d want to visit. I’m definitely with you on the Azores; I loved my short time in Lisbon in 2018 and would love to see the unique culture of the islands as they pertain to the Portuguese “mainland.” I’ve also definitely had New Mexico on the horizon for a while now. Thanks for sharing and have an amazing 2020!

  8. I was hoping to visit Kauai in 2019 but never got around to it. Seeing it on your list seems like this is a sign teling me to finally book that trip! I was also looking to check out that hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque and thinking I should stop by Santa Fe on the way. I would totally be down for a weekend trip! Hahaa.


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