Hot travel destinations for 2013 (40116)

Believe it or not, it is March already, but our wanderlust for exciting destinations and experiences for this year has just begun! I thought now would be a good time to take a close look at the “wheres,” “whats,” and “whys” many travel and tourism industry experts are touting as top travel picks for this year.

The 46 Places to go in 2013

“The 46 Places to Go in 2013” is the title of an article that appeared in The New York Times in January. I was intrigued not so much because it came out in the Times, but because a top-something list is usually 10, 15, 20 or 100-ish. But 46? I’m not sure how they came to that number, but I was curious who made the cut nonetheless.

In the good ‘ole U-S-of-A, their picks included the Adirondacks in New York (, Jackson Hole, Wyo., ( and Houston, Texas (

Rossland ( and Charlevoix ( in Canada were among the international North American destinations chosen. In the Motherland, Casablanca (, Accra (, the Republic of Congo ( and Constantia ( made the list.

The city of lakes: Minneapolis, Minn.

I have to agree with CNN Travel, Travel + Leisure, Lonely Planet and several others that say we need to show some love to Minneapolis. As one-half of the Twin Cities–its across-the-Mississippi-River neighbor being Saint Paul–Minneapolis is a cultural melting pot whose diversity is aptly represented by its extraordinary cuisine, entertainment, shopping and other options that dot its many distinctive neighborhoods.

Among its accolades are for having the best public parks and outdoor access, some of the world’s top theaters, being a great family destination and getting high marks for its restaurant scene, just to name a few. When I visited several years ago, I was totally impressed by all that the city has to offer, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Guthrie Theater and Orchestra Hall.

But if you go, please, please, please don’t forget about twin sister Saint Paul (800-627-610, 651-265-4900,, a stunning city in its own right that’s chock full of diverse and fascinating general sites and attractions, performing art venues, museums, family adventures, culinary options, outdoor recreational opportunities and a great deal more. Some of my favs there include the State Capitol, Cathedral of Saint Paul, Science Museum of Minnesota and the Minnesota History Center.

For more information call the Meet Minneapolis Convention & Visitors Association at

888-676-MPLS, or visit

The key to the south: Vicksburg Miss.

Bigger–or in this case, smaller–does not necessarily mean better. I mean, yes, traveling to a faraway exotic destination is always a memorable experience, but let’s not forget about all of the little gems right here in our own backyard.

Enter Vicksburg, Miss., named a top 2103 travel destination by AAA Southern Traveler and AAA Midwest Traveler magazines. This year may be an especially interesting year to visit, as the city is celebrating its Civil War sesquicentennial with a series of commemorative events. Additionally, visitors can learn a great deal about Civil War history here at the Vicksburg National Military Park, Old Depot Museum, Old Court House Museum and Lower Mississippi River Museum.

Other exciting things to do and see in town include Bethel AME Church, the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in the state; Beulah Cemetery, Vicksburg’s largest African-American cemetery; and the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum, where Coke was reportedly first bottled in the late 1800s.

For more info, call the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800-221-3536, or visit

A toast to great travel adventures

Now you’re speaking my language,–the Best 10 Wine Destinations of 2013, released by Wine Enthusiast magazine as part of their second annual travel issue. The magazine says it best: “A sense of place–the sights, sounds, smells and spirit of a travel destination–can endear that area to a person forever. For wine lovers, there is no better way to cement that connection than to explore the world around those vines. … Whether your tastes lean toward the rustic climbing trails of South Africa’s Stellenbosch or a tour of a Puglian castle, this list promises outstanding travel experiences and unforgettable wines.”

Please tip your glass to the Empire State, as one of their top 10 picks was –drum roll please–the east end of Long Island at the North and South Forks. Accolades were bestowed upon the small-production winemakers who, coupled with culinary artisans and family-owned farms, are among the reasons to trek here for a leisurely afternoon or weekend of wine sipping, located just two hours from the bustling Big Apple.

The American Viticultural Areas of Dundee Hills and Ribbon Ridge in the Willamette Valley in Oregon were named among the many appealing attributes of wine country here. Reminiscent of many wine-growing areas in the states and abroad, both the main towns and countryside villages are part of the sipping experience the Valley has to offer.

On the international front, they chose Africa, which reportedly possesses the largest number of wineries in the region. Just the description alone of this historic town founded in 1679 and highlighted by a meandering valley and astonishing mountainsides makes one want to sip at the many stellar wineries situated within a day’s drive.

For more info, call theWine Enthusiast Magazine at 914-593-4406, or visit

I could go on and on about the hottest, most unusual, coolest (temperature and vibe), most artistic places to visit this year, but to tell you the truth, I just want to get out there and go!

Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for and as a senior travel writer for, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at