Analyzing National Geographic Traveler’s must-see places for 2013

Elvis family graves

Memphis, Tennessee makes the list because of major attractions like Graceland.


Every year I look forward to National Geographic Traveler’s list of must-see places, otherwise known as “Best of the World,” more out of curiosity than a pressing need for travel ideas (I have enough of those to last a lifetime).

Last year’s list included only two American cities – Pittsburgh and Sonoma, California. Now the magazine has published its 2013 list, which features four U.S. spots plus two more in Canada.

To me, the big name on the list is Memphis. The magazine praises its grassroots projects, sustainable restaurants, and emerging biking scene, while also mentioning Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum, built around the former hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Memphis boasts numerous other music and historic attractions, including Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. I have to concur with the selection of Memphis as one of the must-see places for 2013.

The other three American selections were St. Augustine, Florida, the Hudson Valley in New York, and Montana’s Missouri River Breaks area. I’m not so sure about St. Augustine. Of all the places I’d want to go in Florida, that one doesn’t rank anywhere near the top. But that could be because of that long-ago trip I made at age 18 when I didn’t appreciate the history and culture there…

missoula montana bear

Montana remains one of my favorite states.


I haven’t yet been the Hudson Valley but it’s on my list the next time I make a big northeastern road trip. And I’m always excited to see Montana. Most of my experience with the state came in Yellowstone and the university town of Missoula. But there’s lots more to see – Ayngelina from Bacon is Magic recently posted a great series of articles on Montana.

The two Canadian picks were Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (also on my list when I do that northeastern trip) and the Great Bear Rainforest, a strip of land in British Columbia that is home to the rare white spirit bear. The magazine urges visitors to see the latter spot now, before the possible construction of an oil pipeline in the next year or two.

Going Back in Time in the Philippine City of Vigan

Among the international destinations on Nat Geo Traveler’s list are Kyoto in Japan, Uganda, Quito in Ecuador and the Caribbean island of Grenada. I can’t argue too much with any of these picks! See the magazine’s complete “best of the world 2013” list here.

What 2013 travel adventure are you most looking forward to?

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. Scott:

    My daughter and her family live in Shelby, MT, north of Great Falls. Great Falls has a wonderful Lewis and Clark Museum and you really need to see the falls of the Missouri. Swing up to Cut Bank as well…catch the giant penguin. Of course, don’t miss a drive up to Glacier NP and maybe go up into Lethbridge, Alberta and have a steak in the water tower turned steakhouse, the giant wind gauge and more. I have a number of Montana things on my site.

    Hudson Valley, NY is also a neat place. You can catch Sleepy Hollow, eat some great food in Ossining, seek out Sing Sing Prison and catch some amazing scenery. Not as many quirky things there as there are elsewhere. I have relatives there as well, so have visited on a number of occasions.

    Enjoy the ride!!

  2. We are heading to Oahu in February, but no other definitive plans- like many of your other readers, I just like going, and don’t really care where:-) I would love to go to Europe in the fall.

  3. Seeing Spirit Bears in nature has been on my bucket list for quite a while. Too bad it seems just as expensive as seeing polar bears in the wild. Hopefully, there’s a cheaper way I haven’t found yet. Wonder if one can get to that area independently or if only guided tours are allowed. Haven’t looked too thoroughly yet….

    For now, though, I’m most excited about the possibility of seeing snow in February in Israel – I’ve been waiting for this for YEARS as it’s been my busiest month for years. How about you?

  4. Cool list – thanks for sharing it! I had never heard of the Great Bear Rainforest before.

    As for 2013 trips, I’m heading to Africa in 2 weeks and will be there almost a month! 😀

  5. Amazingly enough, I have not made any definite travel plans for 2013. I’ll go to Brussels again in February, which I love. But it’ll be winter and my thrid trip there. My husband is talking about a trip to Disney. We may head to New York. But I’d really like to go to South America.

    Though in all honesty – there’s no place I wouldn’t like to go. We’ll see what happens as the new year begins.

    1. Kyoto is an amazing place. I visited there three times between 1987 and 1991 as I lived on Kyushu and worked in Japan. While in Kyoto a trip to Osaka to see the Osaka castle is a must as well.

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