skip to Main Content


Samantha’s Top Travel Destinations for 2017

Every travel-related media outlet likes to put out their list of the coming year’s trendy destinations. That’s fine, but I prefer to take a different route. Travel is a deeply personal experience, and who cares what’s “cool” this year if in your heart, you really want to go somewhere else?

With that in mind, here’s my top travel destinations for 2017.

Michigan’s Gold Coast

In 2016, my husband and I took our twins on an epic California road trip. A few toddler meltdowns aside, we loved piling into the minivan and traveling at our own pace. Next year, I hope to take our adventures to the great lakes, starting in Chicago. After a day hitting up the Shed or Museum of Science and Industry, we’ll head toward St. Joseph, Michigan—aka the Riviera of the Midwest. We’d spend the day overlooking the deep blue of Lake Michigan while playing on Silver Beach.

Next stop? Holland. No, not the country, the town, which features charming windmills, fields of tulips (seasonally, of course!), the Big Red Lighthouse and a quaint downtown.

Our next destination is Traverse City. So much to do here that I suspect we’d stay a few days. I’d love to take the kids to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, the five local lighthouses (did I mention I have a thing for lighthouses?), and explore many great restaurants. From breakfast at the Grand Traverse Pie Company to Cuban cuisine at Frida Batidos…and maybe a stop for mom and dad at Tandem Ciders, there’s no shortage of good eats!

We’d end the vacation at Mackinac Island, one of my favorite destinations in the states. In fact, I have a whole post about it here. Fudge, charming shops and no cars. Heaven!

Aarhus, Denmark

Never heard of it? You will! This city, located on the Jutland peninsula’s east coast, has been named the 2017 European Capital of Culture. The town offers a few incredible museums, but the most intriguing is the Old Town, an open-air town museum located in the Aarhus Botanical Gardens. Open since 1914, it’s the world’s first open-air museum of its kind. The museum is a collection of 75 historical buildings brought in from all over Denmark, then assembled into a small town. Some of the structures date back to 1550! Most buildings are open for visitors, with many rooms decorated in the original historical style.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll find Dokk1, a public space overlooking the waterfront. It’s the perfect place to try on that enviable Scandanavian quality of life. This ultra-modern building houses a public library, business center, café and more. There’s incredible playgrounds for kids—one featuring a towering bear slide that even adults will want to try out!

If you’re a food lover, you probably know Denmark has become a top culinary destination. Aarhus offers lots of incredible dining, including many Michelin-starred restaurants like Substans, a fine-dining destination restaurant specializing in local, fresh Scandinavian cuisine. Restaurant Pondus is also a local favorite—a little more rustic and less expensive, but equally delicious. You’ll find great coffee shops and bakeries scattered around town, too!

Ottawa, Canada

Canada is celebrating its sesquicentennial (that’s 150 years as a confederation!), so there are a lot of great events planned. That makes 2017 the perfect time to finally visit Banff, eat your way through Montreal or plan a ski or hiking trip in Whistler.

Something that may not be on your radar is Ottawa, the capital city. From an epic New Year’s Eve party to concerts and the 105th Grey Cup (that’s the Canadian Football League’s biggest match of the year), they’re pulling all the stops to celebrate this big birthday. Check out a list of events here.


No, not the Dominican Republic. I’m talking Dominica, a small Caribbean island that’s big on adventure. Situated between the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, this island nation doesn’t offer a lot of those white sandy beaches the Caribbean is known for, which has kept big resorts away. If you’re the type of traveler who hears that and swoons, I say start packing!

The mountainous island features natural hot springs and tropical rainforests that have a pre-historic feel. Check out Morne Trois Pitons National Park, home to the volcanically heated, steam-covered Boiling Lake. Swim through the Titou Gorge– a series of natural rooms and ponds formed by high cliff walls, canopied by trees. Incredible!

Porto, Portugal

Somehow Porto is still an under-the-radar old world European city. That’s great news for travelers who love history, charm and great food of Europe without the crowds. I enjoy seeing places by foot, especially if I’m rewarded with a great view. There’s plenty of ways to make this happen in Porto, most notably from atop the Clérigos Tower, a Baroque church built between 1732 – 1750 (though the tower wasn’t completed until 1763). The climb will bring you 250 feet above the city, making for an incredible vista.

Other Porto must-dos include strolling through Foz du Douro—a fancy seaside neighborhood with lots of cafes, shops and beautiful ocean views; marveling at the Dom Luís I Bridge, a double-decked, 146–foot high bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel that spans the Douro River; and getting lost in the Ribiera district, a picturesque neighborhood that dates back to medieval times. Of course, not trip to Porto is complete without a little port wine. There’s plenty of places to drink it, but try Caves Ferreira for wine tasting with a history lesson.

What’s on your travel wish list for 2017? Share in the comments!

Travel Channel's Samantha Brown shares her top travel destinations for 2017.

Photos: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. We’re going to New Orleans for 2 weeks just prior to Mardi Gras (me for the first time) after a Panama Canal cruise this year. I’m really looking forward to it. Maybe the Caribbean in 2018 since we’ve never been there. We tend to stick to the west coast since we live in AZ.

  2. I’ve gotten on the RunDisney bandwagon big time this past year so a few trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I always try new things each trip so these are not entirely redundant for me. I’m also trying to tag on to business trips so I can visit places I’ve never been: Hoover Dam and Utah after a Vegas conference; Vancouver, CA; Omaha; maybe the Grand Canyon and Nova Scotia as well. Disneyland Paris is a distant possibility in the Fall but more likely to be a 2018 thing.

  3. We’ve booked flights to Dallas for April and will take a road trip that’ll end in NOLA. We might take a cruise, too, if something interesting comes up. Just talked about a possible tapas themed roadtrip to Spain (flights to Barcelona from Finland) for summer vacation. Possible destinations for fall are London or Las Vegas, they would combine business and pleasure. Christmas time we are traditionally away from home, 2017 in Florida or Singapore. (Just heading home from our Christmas getaway that included a Norwegian cruise from Miami and five nights in Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood area).

    1. St. Petersburg is fabulous! All of it! I think this also may be one of our safest destinations. No visible security, but it’s there!!!! No trash or graffiti either! Have fun.

  4. I have plans to head to Washington, D.C. and Williamsburg/Virginia Beach, Virginia, at the end of March/beginning of April. I’ve been many times and always find something new whenever I go. My sister and I are also heading to Abu Dhabi in October to see our eldest sister. I can’t wait!!

  5. My daughter and I have wanted to go to Ireland for quite sometime. I think 2017 will be the year! I am already excited and have not even booked anything yet! Love to travel !!!

  6. May is Cabo San Lucas, NY in the summer but hoping to go to Jersey Shore as well, Sedona, Grand Canyon and Vegas in September. This past November stayed on St. John and Jost Van Dyke in the virgin Islands which are my favorite in the Carribean!

  7. Azores and Porto Portugal
    Norway, Denmark and Sweden,
    Slovenia and and Croatia

    Hoping to cross most of these off the travel bucket list this year!

    1. Guatemala is beautiful. I am definitely being biased because I am a Chapina myself 😀
      I recommend taking up the opportunity to visit the “Land of Eternal Springs” as what the country is known for! All year round spring season (depending where you visit, in other places like La Maquina in Mazatenango, it is a scorcher there during the summer!!)
      Go to Antigua, lago Atitlan and Tikal. I have yet to visit Tikal but seeing pictures of the Mayan temples if my life long dream to visit one day in my life.

      I hope you get to cross off visiting Guatemala this year too! Have fun, travel safe!

  8. We have been lucky enough to travel to about 35 countries outside of the U. S. In 2017 we will stay home and visit the western state parks. In 2018, we would like to visit Machu Picchu. This year we traveled to Viet Nam and Cambodia, awesome!!!!

  9. Plans are London, Edinburgh, and Dublin in March! Canada this summer and Las Vegas or Hawaii this fall.

  10. ………or, if you like the taste of a lobster stew, served by a window with an ocean view……….

  11. Holland, Michigan has more things to offer than noted here. There are even dunes south of the city too. Great restaurants and fun entertainment. Need to ask around when here.

    1. Holland Brewing, Virtue Cider, and local wineries springing up in the area. The beaches are amazing and maybe some of the best.

  12. I already bought two tickets for this year. Spring break in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and a summer trip to Argentina and Chile. I can’t wait to see Buenos Aires and Santiago, plus some side trips.

    1. We just got back from a cruise from Santiago to Rio with stops in Punta Arenas, Chile, Ushuaia, Argentina, Stanley, Falkland Islands, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Uruguay and Rio. Awesome! But if you go to Rio, you’ll need a visa. It’s a pain but worth it.

  13. I’ll be cruising the South Pacific this fall for the 5th time. This beautiful region of the world remains at the top of my “let’s go again” list. There’s something so relaxing about the beautiful blue waters of the South Pacific. And swimming with stingrays makes me giggle. I can’t think of a better spot for letting my worries float away.

  14. Next month our destination is finding a fully furnished rental apartment in Santiago, Chile for three months. We’ll use the apartment as a home base to travel to San Pedro de Atacalama’s desert – the driest place on earth. Also, to the Lake Region and Chiloe. During NYC’s hot & humid summer months in July & August, we plan on cooler weather in Edinburgh, Scotland.

  15. As my husband and I currently live in Amsterdam, we are going to explore more of Europe. We are headed to Prague in a few weeks and before that are driving to the Mosel Valley in Germany to stay in Cochem. We plan to visit wineries and take a boat tour on the Mosel river. For our summer vacation we plan to drive through the German countryside and tour Bavaria including Munich. Can’t wait!

  16. Frita Batidos is located in Ann Arbor, MI not Traverse City as you’ve noted. But making the trip to Ann Arbor is totally worth it for Frita Batidos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Samantha Brown's Top Travel Destinations for 2017
Back To Top