A closer look at 3 must-visit cities in 2017

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Exploring three exciting destinations in the year ahead

Travel inspires change. It propels you toward new experiences, to seek comradery with strangers, and open your mind to other cultures, even within your home country. You never know what you’ll discover in unexpected places, and you can find countless untried things to see, taste, and do from East Coast beaches to the vast southwest. In an earlier travelers’ guide, we outlined 17 places you must visit in 2017, but if you’re unsure where to begin, we’ve taken a deeper dive into three top picks. As you make plans for the year ahead, consider keeping these destinations on your radar. They just might surprise you.

San Antonio, Texas

Photo via Flickr/Fazimoto

Texas is a sprawling place, but that doesn’t mean you’ll only experience it from the car window. In San Antonio, schedule time for ambling, because this city has more than a few walkable areas. You’ll want to see all of the 2.5-mile River Walk (or Paseo del Río); it’s one of the top attractions in San Antonio. Visit the eclectic shops and historic missions during the day, then let evening enchant as the mood softens with the fading sun and lights begin to reflect on the water. Refresh your spirits at The Esquire Tavern, which features the longest wooden bartop in Texas. The talented bartenders take full advantage of the space, crafting killer house cocktails like the Hey, Baby, Que Paso?, with pineapple rum, raspberry, and lime.

Catch sight of something new in the La Villita Historic Arts Village or at many of the galleries around the city. Exhibits like United We Are One, which celebrates diversity and the road to equality, illuminate what art and humanity can achieve together. The San Antonio Museum of Art is another fantastic way to explore culture, as you visit important works by artists such as Carlos Merida.

You can eat, shop, and stay in the sustainable Pearl District. This distinctive neighborhood sprang up around the old Pearl Brewhouse, which is now the charming boutique Hotel Emma. If the kids are in tow, bring them to Miss Anastasia's Wild and Wacky story time at the Twig Book Shop on Friday mornings, and peruse the stacks for some unique finds. When hunger strikes, Viva Tacoland will sate with some of the best tacos in Texas, and entertain with live music and art events.

Atlantic City, New Jersey

If you could do with a few wins this year, head to Atlantic City, where you’ll find many ways to feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. Start at the beach and spend the day soaking up golden rays and splashing in waves. Once you’ve released some serious screams on the thrilling rides at Steel Pier, assuage your sweet tooth with the classic salt water taffy from Fralinger’s, an Atlantic City tourism must.

To soothe your senses, immerse yourself in the Roman baths at Qua Baths & Spa. Whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms, and massages are on hand to send you into a deep calm. Try the Chakra Balancing treatment, which includes warm oils, massage, and energy work to align and relax. For a peaceful day rounded off with fantastic scenery, one of the best places to visit in Atlantic City is Absecon Lighthouse. Ascend 228 steps in New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse for unbeatable views of the skyline and a few moments of quiet.

If frenetic energy is more your speed, hit the casinos and try your hand with Lady Luck—just remember to stay responsible! You’ll want some cash on hand when night descends at Haven Nightclub, where live DJs and fresh drinks await to whisk your cares away. If you’re in town the first weekend in April, grab tickets for the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, which features nearly 1,000 beers on tap and bands on multiple stages.

Columbus, Ohio

One benefit of travel is the chance to learn, and Columbus is one of the best places to travel in Ohio for an educational experience. From the sciences to the arts, the city has so many cultural and natural resources to uncover, that you may have to extend your trip. Explore one of the best tourist attractions in America’s heartland by visiting the Scioto Mile, which features 175 acres of parkland in the city center. The Center of Science and Industry sits on the western edge of the park, and offers education disguised as leisure. If your visit here seems written in the stars, be sure to see the planetarium, which hosts informative shows about our solar system and beyond.

For some beauty of the man-made variety, go to Short North Arts District on the first Saturday of the month, where you can join Gallery Hop and learn about the local art scene. You don’t have to wait for the weekend, however; this neighborhood has something to offer anytime. Find a local masterpiece to bring home or be inspired to create your own at Brandt-Roberts Galleries during Cocktails and Canvases. When it’s time to eat, find something delicious at North Market, where artisan foodies offer uniquely Ohioan fare.

If you’re more of a big picture traveler, join a Columbus Landmarks Foundation CityWalk tour, where you can get the inside scoop about what has made the city tick from its origins to today. Did you know, for instance, that Columbus was an active part of the Underground Railroad? Or that the Palace Theatre was designed with Versailles in mind? There’s so much more to uncover with these city travel guides.

What are your picks for best places to travel in the U.S. in 2017?

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Lily Rogers

Lily is a Southern California-based writer, editor, and traveler. She aspires to never be too far away from her next adventure, whether it be exploring the deserts of SoCal or the mossy forests of her native Pacific Northwest. She also loves international travel and always looks forward to crossing another destination off her bucket list.

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