Where should you travel in 2017? Maybe you want to witness the US solar eclipse, take advantage of great exchange rates abroad or get in on the hoopla for big anniversaries in places like Alaska, Germany, Canada or Finland. Perhaps you’re looking for a Zika-free beach or a destination unscathed by terrorism.
Events and Anniversaries
On August 21, a total eclipse of the sun lasting for more than 2 minutes will darken afternoon skies across a narrow strip of the United States stretching from South Carolina to Oregon. Nashville is one of the cities that will experience the phenomenon along with a number of national parks. Hotels in many eclipse destinations are sold out.
All eyes on Washington, DC, for Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration. An anti-Trump protest billed as a Women’s March is scheduled for Jan. 21. Another DC draw: the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. Timed passes for the museum are essential.
Houston hosts the Super Bowl in February.
In June, Bermuda hosts the America’s Cup sailing race. Just don’t think of Bermuda as the Caribbean. It’s nearly 1,000 miles north of Puerto Rico and too chilly for ocean swimming in January. On the plus side, Bermuda is Zika-free, and its famous Hamilton Princess hotel — aka the Pink Palace — is newly renovated.
Alaska celebrates the 150th anniversary of its transfer from Russia to the US in 2017 along with the centennial of Denali National Park. Alaska cruises, which provide an easy introduction to the 49th state, got a shout-out from Travel Leaders travel agents.
Canada celebrates 150 years since its colonies were united under the Canadian Confederation, and Montreal marks its 375th anniversary. Don’t forget the country’s national parks and wild places. Frommer’s singled out the British Columbia archipelago Haida Gwaii, recently visited by Prince William and Kate.
With exhibits, tours and more, Germany marks 500 years since Martin Luther’s “95 Theses” critique of the Catholic Church, which launched the Protestant Reformation.
Finland marks 100 years since independence from Russia in 2017. Go for the Northern Lights, design innovation in cool Helsinki, folk culture and saunas.
In Russia, 2017 marks 100 years since the revolution that toppled the czar and led to the rise of communism. The date was once a major state holiday but today it’s a divisive subject, no longer glorified as it once was. With Vladimir Putin’s connections to Trump making headlines, some Americans may want to see Putinland firsthand. But visas for Russia can be complicated without help from a travel agency, though there’s talk of simplifying the process.
As concerns about terrorism cast shadows on destinations like France and Turkey, other destinations are coming into the spotlight. Portugal is having a moment, turning up on lots of go-to lists. It’s safe and affordable with great food, wine and soulful fado music. The pope visits in May to mark the centennial of a miracle in the town of Fatima, where three children had a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1917.
The value of the British pound has weakened in the wake of Brexit (Britain’s vote to leave the European Union), making the United Kingdom more affordable for many international travelers.
Last tango in Cuba? Some folks want to go now, afraid Trump will restrict travel there. Others are postponing booking, waiting to see what happens.
With Rust Belt states getting attention in politics, maybe it’s time for travelers to land in “flyover country.” Indianapolis and Cincinnati turned up on Travel + Leisure’s list. Other great Midwest destinations for art and food include Detroit — don’t miss the Motown Museum — and Milwaukee, where the Harley-Davidson Museum draws visitors from around the world.
Mexico remains a top destination for Americans, from cheap spring breaks in Cancun to cultural attractions in places like Oaxaca. But if you’re avoiding Latin America and the Caribbean because of Zika, consider Hawaii or Greece.
Tourism to Japan is booming but it’s not just Tokyo. Hokkaido, an island known for skiing, turned up on Afar and Lonely Planet lists.
Cape Town, South Africa, is being recommended by Fodor’s, Travel + Leisure and Lonely Planet, with a spotlight on the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in September. Exchange rates make it a bargain right now.
Artsy Asheville, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, landed in top spots for both Lonely Planet and Afar magazine, despite a state law limiting LGBT rights that led some entities to boycott the state.
Guests visiting Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida can now meet Moana, star of the new Disney film. But the biggest 2017 news from Disney parks is the summer opening of a new land at Animal Kingdom in Florida called Pandora —The World of AVATAR, inspired by the movie “Avatar.” Pandora will include a multisensory ride called Flight of Passage and a water ride.
Fans of the classic Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at Disney California Adventure park can stop mourning its January 2 closing. It will be replaced next summer by Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT! with freefall and other ride experiences.
Universal Orlando Resort opens Volcano Bay water park early next summer, featuring an innovative water ride called the Krakatau Aqua Coaster. Volcano Bay visitors will also use new wearable technology that allows them to wait in line virtually. In the spring, Universal opens a hilarious new ride themed on a wild race through New York City against Jimmy Fallon.