Two-day vacation: Birmingham, Ala.
If you’re into history and like the idea of a southern road trip, then check out Birmingham. 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of pivotal events that led to the civil rights movement that ultimately ended segregation in the 1950s and 60s. Birmingham plans to celebrate all year with special exhibitions, symphonies concerts, plays and commemorative historic tours. To make it a true road trip, tack on the journey from Selma to Montgomery, which is a National Historic Trail.
Four-day vacation: Finger Lakes, N.Y.
If visiting wine country is on your bucket list, you might think a trip to California is your only domestic option. But if you want to skip the massive crowds of Napa or happen to live closer to the East Coast, the Finger Lakes region in New York State is the place to go. The area is the largest wine producer east of California, yielding more than 40,000 tons of grapes a year. Not only is wine a highlight, there are two newly created self-guided trails that highlight cheese and sweets. The two trails feature around 15 artisan cheese makers and sweet creators. Once you’re full, check out the 87-mile Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway and the Corning Museum of Glass, home to the largest glass collection in the world.
Three- to seven-day vacation: Mississippi River steamboat cruise
In 2012 the American Queen Steamboat Company started running the largest steamboat ever built up the Mississippi River. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time as you rediscover the history and beauty of America’s heartland. Shore excursions at destinations such as New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis and Minneapolis are included, depending on which cruise you take, and the dining, headed by famed American chef Regina Charboneau, focuses on regional favorites.
Seven-day vacation: England
Now that the London Summer Olympics have passed, 2013 is the perfect year to visit England. The permanent venues like the aquatics center and stadium, along with the Olympic park, are being converted for public use and will open as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park by midsummer. Olympic Village, the former athlete basecamp, was converted into an apartment and condo complex, which is now called East Village. But don’t spend all your time looking at Olympic venues. London, and England as a whole, is famous for so much more, such as literature, history, architecture, and even fish and chips.
10-Day vacation: Alaska Marine Highway System
Alaska stretches out over 656,000 square miles of space, so exploring the state is a once-in-a-lifetime memorable trip. And 2013 is the year to do it, as Alaska’s Marine Highway celebrates its founding 50 years ago. Today, 11 ferries travel over 3,500 miles on the “marine highway” between Washington State and Alaska’s Aleutian islands. Visitors who take this route will come away with a deep understanding of Alaska’s diverse and scenic coastline and communities.