Lonely Planet has released its annual “Best in Travel” list for 2023 – and three US destinations made the cut.
The travel brand’s chosen locations are based on predictions from experts who celebrate the best places to eat, connect, relax, learn and travel.
The 18th annual collection highlighted “transformative” and “meaningful” travel experiences, Lonely Planet’s senior vice president of content and executive editor Nitya Chambers told Fox News Digital in a telephone interview.
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“As travel has recovered, we’re finding that travelers want more meaningful experiences from the journeys they take,” she said.
“And so we not only leaned on that layout and structure, but also [we have] a real focus on local voices and expertise.”
The list is curated by nominations from staff, global travel experts and other contributors – and each destination is judged on community, tourism, global appeal and overall excitement.
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Lonely Planet then calls on locals to spotlight the best of the best of each destination.
Here’s why the three U.S. locations — Alaska, New Mexico, and Boise, Idaho — made the 2023 list.
The Last Frontier features prominently on Lonely Planet’s list in the “connecting” category.
The state of Alaska is known for its beautiful scenery, unique wildlife, and national treasures, such as Denali National Park.
However, what Lonely Planet says it loves and appreciates about Alaska is its energy and connection to both places and people.
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Chambers explained that Alaska is a standout for travel in 2023 because the state is a great example of how Indigenous groups manage authentic tourism experiences while embracing sustainability.
“You really see that connection woven through all of Alaska’s content,” she said
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“It’s a really fascinating framework to think about Alaska, a place that’s so familiar to so many of us — but really exposes parts of it that you might be experiencing in a new way for the first time.”
2. New Mexico
The entire southwestern state of New Mexico is presented as a location for learning.
Lonely Planet noted that the “Land of Enchantment” is home to 23 indigenous tribes and has much more history to discover.
“This is an ideal place to learn about Native culture, art and music while enjoying the food and natural beauty of the American Southwest,” wrote Lonely Planet.
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Chambers added that part of the “souvenir” of visiting New Mexico is “taking home what you learned.”
Native American hoop dancer ShanDien LaRance provided Lonely Planet with a local perspective on the state, citing such features as New Mexico’s “fresh air and open air”.
Chambers said LaRance drew attention not only to New Mexico’s conservation and sustainability aspects, but also to its native art, history, cuisine and Hispanic culture.
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“She talks about the arts community, talks about the history, talks about the people, talks about the food that’s really woven through that background,” Chambers said.
“And it’s really powerful, I think, to see her heritage in a sort of modern New Mexico setting.”
The city of Boise, Idaho received much praise as a place that fosters community and belonging.
Lonely Planet mentioned some of Boise’s versatile adventure features, such as water rafting in the summer and skiing in the winter.
Boise offers year-round natural beauty, the brand added, as well as a remarkable wine and culinary scene that make it a “great place to connect.”
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Chambers credited Boise’s charming crossover of natural beauty and an “under-the-radar” dining and arts scene.
“Boise was one of those places that you look at [into] — and you have a moment where you get really excited about something unexpected,” she said.
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According to Chambers, Boise has experienced a “boom” in population over the past decade, drawing more attention to the city’s “small farming town charm and local pride.”
“It has that sense of community that you can connect with,” she said.
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“And I think there’s a great story about Boise’s community…as it grows and develops.”