Enjoying a vacation is easy, but planning one can be a headache that comes around like clockwork each and every year (or more often, if you’re lucky!). There are countless factors to take into consideration. City break or beach resort? Apartment or hotel? Summertime getaway or budget-friendly off-season escape? And let’s not even mention the arrangements you’ll need to make to manage your absence from work.
So don’t leave those agonizing decisions until the last minute: let’s start planning this year’s vacation right now by taking a look at some of the nation’s hottest destinations for 2017.
This isn’t usually one of the cities you see on a vacation rundown — but those lists are missing out. Okay, so the summer heat can be almost unbearable, but for a laid-back beach experience in the fall or spring, consider Tampa. It’s a city growing in popularity, offering a diverse range of activities for those who want a mix of evening entertainment and daytime leisure. If you have an appreciation for the arts, Tampa offers the Dali Museum, the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, a broad array of theatre and live music performances in both Tampa and St. Petersburg, and unique fine dining options. It’s also a small city that’s relatively easy to traverse if you can manage to avoid rush hour.
Yellowstone National Park
If you’d rather have a rugged nature experience on an early fall or late spring vacation, Yellowstone National Park offers miles and miles of sweeping vistas, active thermal features, and mountainous wilderness. With the highest population of mammals in North America, there is a very real possibility you may see bears, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, bison, or wolves. Hiking and camping are a perennial attraction for visitors, but one can also experience the park by driving along its 370 miles of paved roadway. And you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune on camping equipment: prepared packages for spring and fall make vacation planning a breeze.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
With average summer highs of 87 degrees, Myrtle Beach offers the perfect summer climate for sun worshipers — while the best off-season times to visit are late spring and early fall. Along with idyllic waves for surfing and miles of beach, visitors may enjoy deep-sea fishing, water sports, and the famed Carolina Opry. You can also unleash your inner athletes by visiting in June to participate in the Native Sons Salt Games, a beach-oriented competition.
To take advantage of the best aspects of an active mountain vacation with kids, visit Keystone, Colorado. Skiing and snowboarding add to Keystone’s allure during the winter, but there’s plenty to make this a fantastic summer vacation spot. Off-season pricing stretches from June to September, during which time Keystone offers hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, tubing, white water rafting, fly-fishing, festivals, films, and concerts. Its average high of 75 degrees in the summer months is a big attraction, as are the 15 free events over the summer.
New York City
If seeing all the things is more your style — rather than relaxing and limiting your outings to one or two a day — New York City is always a fun, busy vacation. Regardless of the time of year, NYC has something to offer. In a town alive with history, there are plenty of iconic streets and niche interest areas to match the broad appeal of world-famous attractions like Times Square or the Statue of Liberty. In fact, there are far too many shops, museums, memorials, and eateries to list. In the Big Apple, the question isn’t so much “What should I do?” but rather “How do I trim the list down?”
If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, quaint little villages here and there, you’re sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod. Patti Page — Old Cape Cod
Patti Page certainly had a point about New England’s leisurely pace of life, but there’s more to enjoy than sleepy towns and cozy B&Bs alone. With its natural splendor, great hiking and fishing — and enough historical sites to last a lifetime — New England caters equally to nature lovers and history buffs. In fact, it’s the perfect region to take a summer road trip (don’t forget the GPS!) because it offers a little bit of everything for everyone. For off-season pricing, visit in the late spring or early fall.
If you’re from Southern California, you may have heard of Temecula. If you’re from almost anywhere else, you may not be familiar with this wine country region east of Los Angeles. But if tasting grapes, riding hot air balloons, and taking in a few rounds of golf is your cup of tea — or glass of wine! — then Temecula has it. This valley boasts a moderate climate that has visitors coming year round and calling it one of California’s best-kept tourism secrets. The more popular Napa Valley may take the headlines, but for a less expensive and less crowded vacation that still manages to hit all the right notes (or should that be tasting notes?), Temecula is a good option.
It’s all too easy to feel like Goldilocks when it comes to planning your next vacation: it has to be lively but not crowded, affordable but not basic, warm but not sweltering. That’s why our list is made up of destinations with diverse attractions, multiple price points, and comfortable climates depending on the time of year. So don’t let your getaway become a source of stress and uncertainty: pour yourself a drink, get in the vacation head space and start your planning process now. Your future self will thank you. Just don’t forget to set your out-of-office message before you leave!
This article was originally posted on Quill.com.