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The expert team at Lonely Planet, the travel guide publisher, just announced their 10 favorite U.S. destinations to visit in 2018.
“We aimed to pick the very best destinations for the year ahead. This year we were looking for destinations with a great buzz about them,” said Alex Howard, U.S. magazine managing editor of Lonely Planet.
1. California's Redwood Coast
At the top of the list is California’s Redwood Coast. The woodland area stretches almost 200 miles with the tallest trees on the planet.
"When you walk into a redwood forest, you are seeing the equivalent of an ecosystem dinosaur," said Richard Stenger, media and market director of VisitRedwoods.com. According to Stenger, the latest trend to hit the coast is the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku or "forest bathing." In other words, take slow, deep breaths while taking in the pastoral scene, which you can enjoy on a number of different hikes in this area.
For an extra bonus, any Steven Spielberg and George Lucas fans can geek out by walking through the same forests used in the "Star Wars" and "Jurassic Park" franchises. The best part? The public can take advantage of free vehicle admission every second Saturday of every month in 2018.
2. Boise, Idaho
From the redwood forest to the snow-capped Rocky Mountains backdrop, Boise, Idaho, offers a little bit of everything you'd want from a city. Those looking for an urban scene can check out one of top 10 best downtown areas in the United States. It holds a collection of art galleries, museums and festivals, like the Punk in Drublic punk and beer festival as well as the Basque Block’s Jaialdi. Nature lovers can retreat outdoors to the nearby mountain ranges and foothills, as well as the 25-mile park of the Boise River Greenbelt.
3. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Rounding out the top three is the metropolis of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The River City is home to some of the country’s best rock climbing and whitewater rafting spots. And don't miss the breathtaking sights of the Rock City walking trail and Ruby Falls. Visitors hoping to stay within city limits can check out the Pints and Pedals, Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Choo Choo: a 20th-century train station that's now a hotel.
4. Florida's Space Coast
This area is a perfect option for those searching for an otherworldly experience. The first lunar tourism trip is set to take off later this year, but in the meantime people can visit the iconic Kennedy Space Center on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 launch. And aspiring astronauts can experience simulated missions like the ATX Astronaut Experience and take part in actual astronaut training.
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
Once you begin crossing the sky-blue Roebling Bridge, you'll realize Cincinnati isn't just the industrial city it once was. There are endless hip options to choose from, like America’s first baseball team at the Great American Ball Park; “The Beast,” a ride at the Kings Island amusement park; or the Brewing Heritage Trail. Whatever your interests, you'll find something to do in the Queen City.
6. Maine's Midcoast
If you're looking to escape the hectic world of fast cars, polluted air and social media overload, Maine’s midcoast is the place for you. About 90 percent of the entire state is home to forests. But if you wish to occasionally dabble in civilization, this region also has local vineyards, maritime museums and an annual lobster festival (now in its 70th year!).
7. Richmond, Virginia
The capital of Virginia has exploded on the tourism scene, with dozens of new breweries, free entry to the collection of exhibits at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and a canal walk that hugs the James River. Those looking to travel back in time can visit the American Civil War Museum, where visitors walk among the sites where Union and Confederate soldiers took up arms.
8. Kentucky Bourbon Country
If you love sports, good food, horses and some of the best liquor you can drink, look no further than bourbon country. The Bluegrass State has bled bourbon since the early pioneer days. Passersby can get a taste by following the Kentucky Bourbon Trail through 10 distilleries or attending the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in September.
9. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Appreciation for the City of Lakes is long overdue. Both Reader’s Digest and WalletHub crowned Minnesota the happiest state in the country, and Super Bowl LII (also known as the Puppy Bowl postgame show) was played in Minneapolis’ 2-year-old U.S. Bank Stadium. Among the revamps in the city, newcomers can enjoy walking through the new and improved Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. And a trip to Minnesota is not complete without a trip to the five-story mural of state hero Bob Dylan, who moved to the city to attend the University of Minnesota.
10. Southeastern Utah
Our final stop on this beautiful tour across America brings us to southeastern Utah, where the wilderness still rules the land. The red sandstone structures of Arches National Park, the Island in the Sky mesa, the large pillars of stone in Monument Valley seen in many a John Ford film, and the many natural treasures found in Utah will leave any traveler mesmerized. As Lonely Planet puts it, “This is quintessential Americana road-trip country.”