Resolution 1: save more money
Spending less and saving more tops resolution lists every year, and we doubt 2016 will be an exception.
Best U.S. city: Nashville, Tennessee
So you’ve sworn off spending and think traveling is out of your budget? Not so fast. Of cheap places to travel in the U.S., Nashville, TN, is a top contender. You’ll find an array of free and affordable activities, from art galleries to historic sites. Savings don’t mean sacrifice—Nashville is full to the brim with music, natural beauty, great cuisine, and culture. Break in your cowboy boots at the no-cover music venues on Honky Tonk Highway, meander around the fountains and memorials at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, and brush up on your Civil War knowledge at Fort Negley—all without spending a dime.
Check out places to stay in Nashville
Best international city: Porto, Portugal
“Porto, Portugal, has all the history and charm of Europe with half as many tourists!” –Midlife Road Trip of Viewfinder
Resolution 2: get in shape
Flickr via Church Street Market
Getting fit and feeling better is the perfect way to start the year on a healthy high.
Best U.S. city: Burlington, Vermont
Break up with your treadmill and be a better you in Burlington, VT. This city is consistently recognized for its healthy residents, and it’s no wonder thanks to its countless hiking trails and co-ops. It’s easy to make outdoor fitness a priority during your stay; embrace the burn as you rock climb Petra Cliffs, and then stock up on some local produce at Burlington’s Farmers Market.
Look for hotels in Burlington
Best international city: Vancouver, British Columbia
“Take a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. Follow in the footsteps of Vancouver locals, who eat fresh fish, vegetarian fare, and meats sourced from nearby farms, and then burn off the calories hiking the Grouse Grind, biking the Stanley Park Seawall, or strolling in the ultra-pedestrian city.” –Trip Styler of Viewfinder
Resolution 3: spend more quality time with family and friends
Making more time for loved ones is a rewarding resolution, especially when it includes a getaway.
Best U.S. city: Asheville, North Carolina
Quirky and crunchy, Asheville, NC, has a laidback attitude that rubs off on you almost as soon as you catch sight of the hazy blue mountain range. Slow down and spend some quality time with family. Rugged and adventurous kids make the town’s Appalachian terrain their playground, while couples flirt over pints of the local hops in the burgeoning brewery scene. With history lessons at palatial Biltmore Estate and music festivals with homegrown artists, there’s plenty of ways to unwind and reconnect with your crew in this hippie haven.
Find a family-friendly hotel in Asheville
Best international city: Punta de Mita, Mexico
“When I think of quality family time, my mind wanders to places without too many distractions, such as Punta de Mita, Mexico, near Puerto Vallarta. Here, there are only a few resort restaurants and the beach is the main attraction.” –Trip Styler of Viewfinder
Resolution 4: give back to the community
Aiding your fellow humans (and animals, too) is good for the heart and soul, so pledge to lend a hand in the new year.
Best U.S. city: Salt Lake City, Utah
Recently ranked number one in the nation for its volunteering initiatives, Salt Lake City, UT, is ever in the giving spirit. Studies show that assisting others can make you feel happier, so this year, figure out how to help people on your next vacation in SLC. Between cleaning up Jordan River in Rose Park and socializing with the animals at the Humane Society of Utah, there are countless local nonprofit organizations that provide short- and long-term service opportunities.
Browse lodging in Salt Lake City
Best international city: Tortuguero, Costa Rica
“Let’s be honest: sea turtles are the best. And in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, you’re able to volunteer during nesting season to protect the hatchlings and their parents.” –Jennifer Cuellar of Viewfinder
Resolution 5: join the green movement
If you really want to make an impression in 2016, erase your carbon footprint and get progressive.
Best U.S. city: Portland, Oregon
Green is the new black. Hop on the eco-travel train, and head to Portland, OR, the land of clean air and bike trails. With Mother Earth on the forefront of its mind, Portland was one of the first cities to ban plastic bags. It also leads the nation with the highest number of LEED-certified buildings per capita, and is often considered the most bikeable city in the country. Cycle along one of the more than 250 bike trails and breathe easy knowing the city is a crusader in the realm of recycling and renewable energy.
Look for green accommodation in Portland
Best international city: London, England
“Head to the Big Smoke if you want to limit your carbon footprint on your next vacation. London’s system of buses and underground trains (aka The Tube) are easy to navigate and pretty cheap to ride. A single ticket gives you access to trains and red, double-decker buses throughout the city.” –Lara Vukelich of Viewfinder
Resolution 6: eat like a foodie
Get a little adventurous with your palate this year. Order a dish you don’t recognize and make reservations at that trendy restaurant everyone’s buzzing about.
Best U.S. city: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Voted one of the best food cities in America, Pittsburgh, PA, has since graduated from topping every meal with french fries to earning itself a spot in the sophisticated culinary arena. Innovative creations grace the menus at Steel City joints, like trout cured in Italian liquor, beef tongue ravioli, and rattlesnake pierogis. Slip into your stretchy pants and food crawl around the city, piling your plate with roasted pumpkin gnocchi, duck-fat-fried hash browns, and chorizo dirty rice.
Get your grub on in Pittsburgh
Best international city: Vienna, Austria
Vienna is the perfect place to get gross outside of the US. The food is excellent and authentic, but their version of a salad is a vegetable covered in some sort of mayonnaise. It’s glorious. To do it properly, hit up a classic spot for a schnitzel like Cafe Anzengruber. You’ll also want some wurst, and one of the best can be had at Bitzinger Wurstelstand….” – Chris Stang & Andrew Steinthal of The Infatuation
Resolution 7: expand your cocktail repertoire
This year, save your sanity instead of your pennies, and spend more on the things you deserve.
Best U.S. city: Charleston, South Carolina
Pull up a bar stool and experience some good ol’ fashioned Southern hospitality and the best drinks in Charleston, SC. Whether you’re in the mood for crafty cocktails served by bow-tie wearing mixologists at speakeasies or craft beer pitchers at dive bars where you’ll rub elbows with the locals, there’s plenty of watering holes in Charleston where you can wet your whistle. Get your boozy fix with a Hemingway Mojito in one hand and a native Holy City Pilsner in the other.
Check out places to sleep it off in Charleston
International pick: Barcelona, Spain
“Barcelona should be high on your list. Spanish wines and craft beers need no intro, but travel there to find a lot of styles that are only available locally. But the real obsession in Spain revolves around three specific drinks: Gin + tonics, vermouth, and sherry. Hit up any of the tapas or cocktail bars there, and they’ll likely have premium offerings of all three.” –Aida Mollenkamp of Salt & Wind
Resolution 8: treat yourself
This year, save your sanity instead of your pennies, and spend more on the things you deserve.
Best U.S. city: Miami, Florida
Forget what Thoreau said about simplicity, and live luxuriously in Miami, FL. High-end stores and celebrity chef kitchens abound—so what if they tempt you to take out a second mortgage? Roll out the red carpet and spend a pretty penny on martinis infused with liquid nitrogen, fresh seasonal stone crabs, and some of the world’s fanciest designer brands. Throw in some VIP vibes with Miami Club Crawls, champagne helicopter tours, and private yachts, and the locals will be lining up for you autograph.
Get pampered at luxury hotels in Miami
Best international city: Aix-en-Provence, France
“I studied for a year in Aix-en-Provence, in the South of France, and remember thinking how lovely it would be to return one day with money…it’s a destination resort town for well-heeled Europeans; with high-end boutiques, plenty of culture, and (not surprisingly) amazing food.” –Megan Collins of Style Girlfriend
Resolution 9: live on the edge
Playing it safe never looked good on you, so get out and live dangerously in 2016.
Best U.S. city: Anchorage, Alaska
Release a surge of fear and euphoria in Anchorage, AK, where just thinking about the extreme activities will make your adrenaline peak. Heli-ski on the country’s largest mountain terrain, hit the snow-packed trails on a fat bike, or snap on some crampons and ice climb Matanuska Glacier. During your outdoor adventure travels, hop in a seaplane and brave brown bear country or paraglide off Mount Alyeska for a charging rush of excitement.
Check out places to hang up your gear in Anchorage
Best international city: Revelstoke, British Columbia
“One of my favorite towns in the world for skiing is Revelstoke, which is located in the Kootenay Rockies in southeastern British Columbia, Canada…Not only does it have a world-class ski hill Revelstoke Mountain Resort, but there is also a chapter of CMH heli-skiing right there in town.” –Ross Borden of Matador Network
Resolution 10: say yes to everything
Throw caution to the wind and let this be the year of “yes”—you’ll be surprised what can happen when you open yourself up to new adventures.
Best U.S. city: New Orleans, Louisiana
Dare to say yes to everything: Head to New Orleans, LA, and agree to it all, from joining in a second-line parade to communicating with a deceased voodoo priestess. This wild city, where brass beats resonate through cobblestone streets, serves up phantom tours, America’s first cocktail (that you can drink in the street), and whimsical, fantastical festivals. Exercise your right to adventure, and crunch on some cricket cookies at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, or fly into the clouds on a Big Easy Lights at Night Aerial Tour.
Check out places to stay in New Orleans
Best international city: Paraty, Brazil
“Brazil has long been a favorite destination but places like Paraty, first colonized by the Portuguese in the 1600s, is the perfect mix of culture, history, and retreat, for those looking from something off the traditional path.” –Ani Tzenkova of Travel Dose
What are your favorite cities for following or breaking your NYE resolutions?