TravelAwaits’ Best Of Travel Awards 2021: Winners And Finalists


Thank you to everyone that took the time to participate and vote in TravelAwaits‘ Best Of Travel Awards for 2021! Our team was excited to see just how passionate you were about the small towns, national parks, and outdoor activities that helped make getting out of the house slightly less arduous during the last year. As we look ahead to the new adventures that await us, let’s take the time to celebrate these great locations for earning this year’s Best Of Travel crown.

National Parks

Getting outdoors and avoiding crowds was the norm in 2020, and what better way to achieve both of those goals than to enjoy one of the numerous protected areas around the world set aside to be experienced and enjoyed known as national parks. The U.S. alone has over 400 parcels designated in some way as protected by the federal government, with 63 of those units receiving the official “National Park” stamp that most are familiar with. Our readers voted for their favorites; let us know if you agree with the results!

Old Faithful Geyser Eruption in Yellowstone National Park at Sunset
Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park (Photo Credit: Susanne Pommer / Shutterstock.com)

Best U.S National Park

Yellowstone National Park — Idaho, Montana, Wyoming

Finalists:

  • Yosemite National Park — California
  • Glacier National Park — Montana
Amazing place to be on earth. Moraine lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Banff National Park (Photo Credit: Kabindra shrestha / Shutterstock.com)

Best National Park Outside Of The U.S.

Banff National Park — Alberta, Canada

Finalists:

  • Kruger National Park — South Africa
  • Fiordland National Park — New Zealand
Famous Chilkoot Trail, Crater Lake alpine zone with snow, historic gold rush hiking route between Alaska and British Columbia, Canada
Chilkoot Trail in Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park (Photo Credit: Milan Sommer / Shutterstock.com)

Hidden Gem National Park

Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park — Alaska and Yukon, Canada

Finalists:

  • Acadia National Park — Maine
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore — Wisconsin
Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah
The Narrows in Zion National Park (Photo Credit: Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock.com)

Best National Park Hike

The Narrows — Zion National Park — Utah

Finalists:

  • Chilkoot Trail — Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park — Alaska
  • Flattop Mountain Trail — Rocky Mountain National Park — Colorado
US, MT, Glacier National Park. Glass calm on Fishercap Lake in the Many Glacier area. Accessed from Swift current campground
Glacier National Park near Many Glacier Campground (Photo Credit: Danita Delimont / Shutterstock.com)

Best National Park Campground

Many Glacier Campground — Glacier National Park — Montana

Finalists:

  • Juniper Family Campground — Bandelier National Monument — New Mexico
  • Piñon Flats Campground — Great Sand Dunes National Park — Colorado
melissamn / Shutterstock.com

Best National Park Food

Huckleberry Bear Claw — Polebridge Mercantile — Glacier National Park — Montana

Finalists:

  • Huckleberry Ice Cream Sandwiches — Mammoth General Store — Yellowstone National Park — Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
  • The Ahwahnee — Yosemite National Park — California
  • Metate Room — Mesa Verde National Park — Colorado
Old faithful inn Historic Building in Yellowstone national park
Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park (Photo Credit: shahnoorhabib / Shutterstock.com)

Best National Park Lodging

Old Faithful Inn — Yellowstone National Park — Idaho, Montana, Wyoming

Finalists:

  • El Tovar Hotel — Grand Canyon National Park — Colorado
  • The Ahwahnee — Yosemite National Park — California
Airboats tours in Everglades National Park, Florida.
Airboat tours in Everglades National Park (Image: GagliardiPhotography / Shutterstock.com)

Best Unique Experience In A National Park

Swamp Boat Tour — Everglades National Park — Florida

Finalists:

  • Red Bus Tour — Glacier National Park — Montana
  • Alcove House — Bandelier National Monument — New Mexico

Small Town

Small towns are great places to explore when getting to know a region, and our readers didn’t disappoint when voting for their favorites. Have you been to all of these great towns? If not, carve out some time this summer; you won’t regret it!

Eisenhower Home in Abilene, KS (Image Credit: SPOONPHOL / Shutterstock.com)

Best U.S. Small Town

Abilene, Kansas

Finalists:

  • Skagway, Alaska
  • Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario.
Boat near Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada (Photo Credit: Matthewshutter / Shutterstock.com)

Best Small Town Outside of the U.S.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario — Canada

Finalists:

  • Annecy, France
  • Lucca, Italy
Suspended houses on a small Alaskan river in Skagway ,Alaska
Suspended houses in Skagway, Alaska (Photo Credit: Mihai Stanciu / Shutterstock.com)

Friendliest Small Town

Skagway, Alaska

Finalists:

  • Lindsborg, Kansas
  • La Conner, Washington
Farley’s Bar and Grill in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Farley’s Bar and Grill in Lindsborg, Kansas (Photo Credit: Stephanie L Bishop / Shutterstock.com)

Most Hallmark Movie-esque Small Town

Lindsborg, Kansas

Finalists:

  • Warwick, New York
  • Ponchatoula, Louisiana

Best Small Town Restaurant

Park Inn — Hammondsport, New York

Finalists:

  • Skagway Brewing Company — Skagway, Alaska
  • Little Gretel Restaurant — Boerne, Texas

Best Small Town Ice Cream Shop

Bellvale Farms Creamery — Warwick, New York

Finalists:

  • Dippity Do Dahs Homemade Ice Cream — Corning, New York
  • Kapaws Iskreme — Coupeville, Washington

Outdoor Activities

Getting outdoors was a common theme last year, and we hope that trend continues for years to come. From beaches to gardens, ski resorts to wildlife experiences, here are your favorites.

Siesta Key Beach Sarasota Florida Beautiful Sunny Day Blue Waters Tourists Paradise Sun
Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota, Florida (Photo Credit: Suncoast Aerials / Shutterstock.com)

Best Beach

Siesta Key Beach — Siesta Key, Florida

Finalists:

  • Black’s Beach — San Diego, California
  • Hilton Head Island Beach — Hilton Head, South Carolina

Best Multigenerational/Family Resort

Big Cedar Lodge — Ridgedale, Missouri

Finalists:

  • Walt Disney World Resort — Orlando, Florida
  • The Greenbrier — White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
JGA / Shutterstock.com

Best Biking/Hiking Trail

Finger Lakes Trail Hike #7 — Bath, New York

Finalists:

  • Bayshore Bikeway — San Diego, California
  • Cathedral Rock Trail — Sedona, Arizona
Early Light at Deception Pass Bridge, Deception Pass State Park, WA
Deception Pass Bridge in Washington’s Deception Pass State Park (Photo Credit: Steve Lagreca / Shutterstock.com)

Best Campground

Deception Pass State Park – Whidbey Island, Washington

Finalists:

  • Silver Strand State Beach Campground — Coronado, California
  • Little River State Park — Waterbury, Vermont
Under Canvas Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota (Photo Credit: Missy Glassmaker)

Best Glamping

Under Canvas Mount Rushmore — Keystone, South Dakota

Finalists:

  • Serendipity: Brownsville’s Venue and Resort — Brownsville, Tennessee
  • Saddle Mountain Ranch — Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Chair lift at Alyeska ski resort in Girdwood, Alaska
Alyeska Resort near Anchorage, Alaska (Photo Credit: CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com)

Best Ski Resort

Alyeska Resort — Girdwood, Alaska

Finalists:

  • Boyne Mountain Resort — Boyne Falls, Michigan
  • Park City Mountain Resort & Deer Valley Resort — Park City, Utah
American and Greater Flamingos  socialize with the White ibis at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida, USA.
Jillian Cain Photography / Shutterstock.com

Best Botanical Garden

Flamingo Gardens — Davie, Florida

Finalists:

  • International Peace Garden — Boissevain, Manitoba, and Dunseith, North Dakota
  • Dubuque Arboretum & Botanical Gardens — Dubuque, Iowa
youngryand / Shutterstock.com

Best Zoo

Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden — Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Finalists:

  • Saint Louis Zoo — St. Louis, Missouri
  • Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium — Omaha, Nebraska
dolphin portrait detail of eye while looking at you from ocean
Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock.com

Best Wildlife Experience

Dolphin Research Center — Grassy Key, Florida

Finalists:

  • Manatee Observation and Education Center — Fort Pierce, Florida
  • Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery — San Simeon, California

Retirement

There is no perfect location to live out your retirement days because everyone has a different opinion about what would make the perfect home during their golden years. As such, the diversity in locations voted for in this year’s awards was eye-opening. If you are looking for your next retirement locale, consider these Best Of Travel Award finalists.

Rainbow Bridge in the Town of La Conner, Washington. Rainbow Bridge connects Fidalgo Island and La Conner, crossing Swinomish Channel in Skagit County. National Register of Historic Places.
Edmund Lowe Photography / Shutterstock.com

Best Place To Retire In The U.S.

La Conner, Washington

Finalists:

  • Sarasota, Florida
  • Lancaster, Pennsylvania
A view of a Costa Rican volcano from an Arenal Observatory Lodge balcony

Arenal Observatory Lodge

Best Place To Retire Outside Of The U.S.

Costa Rica

Finalists:

Accessibility

It is important to always carefully research the accessibility of a location before a trip, as regulations can vary from country to country (and city to city), and you don’t want unforeseen issues keeping you from enjoying your trip to the fullest. As you consider accessibility options for your next trip, a great resource is TravelAbility in Sausalito, California. Its mission is to make travel accessible to all. As you ponder what accessibility looks like for you, specifically, consider these accessible options as voted by the TravelAwaits community.

mariakray / Shutterstock.com

Best Resource For Accessible Travel

TravelAbility

Most Accessible Beach

Myrtle Beach — Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Most Accessible Museum

The Louvre Museum — Paris, France

Most Accessible Cruise Line

Holland America Line

Most Accessible Airport

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

Virtual Experience

We wanted to celebrate all of the businesses that worked hard to stay connected to their followers over this last year by going virtual. Here are just a few of the great ways that our readers were able to stay connected and travel virtually this past year.

Civil / Shutterstock.com

Best Virtual Cooking Class

Nonna Live: Italy Comes To You!

Best Virtual Guided Tour

WildEarth Safaris

Best Virtual Museum Tour

The Guggenheim — New York City, New York

Thank you to everyone who voted in this year’s Best Of Travel Awards! As travel restrictions continue to ease in the coming months, we hope that more and more of you will be inspired to schedule that bucket-list excursion or set out on an impromptu road trip. Don’t get left in the dust; travel awaits!



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