The Economist is reporting that 2024 will be “the biggest election year in history.” But we’re happy to report that there’s much more besides politics to look forward to over the course of these next 12 months. For example, on April 8, parts of the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse. That hasn’t happened since 2017. Plus, this winter, the northern lights are expected to be the best they’ve been in two decades. And on six days, spread throughout the year, the National Park Service is waiving entrance fees at all National Parks. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that gas prices will continue to trend downward. However, we can help you decide which destination to plug into your GPS. From a national forest in the running to become our country’s next National Park, to a mountain town with a new $5 million-dollar planetarium, and a Maryland beach community about to welcome Italy’s answer to the Blue Angels, here are 24 places to visit in 2024.
Traveling in 2024? Here are 24 Places You Need to Visit
Destinations 1-4: The Best Places to See The Total Eclipse on April 8, 2024
Thirty-two million Americans will find themselves in the dark on the afternoon of April 8, 2024. Cities big and small are already making plans to host millions of visitors. Here’s everything you need to know about the 2024 eclipse – including all the KOA campgrounds where you can experience totality.
1. Niagara Falls, New York
Kill two birds, or bucket list items, with one stone by seeing North America’s most powerful waterfalls at Niagara AND a total solar eclipse on April 8. But come a few days early. According to New York’s state tourism board, NASA will be hosting free events in the area leading up to the special day.
2. Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is also on the path of totality, and for that reason, among others, Travel & Leisure and The Points Guy have named it one of the best destinations to visit in 2024. The city will experience almost four minutes of total darkness, and many local organizations, such as the Cleveland Museum of Natural History are offering special, family-friendly programming, including watch parties.
Streetsboro / Cleveland SE KOA Holiday
3. Indianapolis, Indiana
NASA will also be broadcasting, live, from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 8. But even if you can’t make it to Indy for the eclipse, consider visiting in January. In November, the city welcomed a new NHL-sized ice skating rink at Bicentennial Unity Plaza. Get your tickets here, and hit up the concession stand for hot chocolate (and adult beverages) after your 90-minute free skate.
Indianapolis KOA Holiday
4. Shawnee National Forest, Illinois
This 289,000-acre national forest sandwiched between the Mississippi and Ohio rivers (and on the path of totality), appears on National Geographic’s list of the top 7 contenders for our newest National Park. It’s within a day’s drive from more than 30 major U.S. cities and offers an array of activities, including horseback riding, hiking, birdwatching, and even windsurfing.
Benton KOA Journey
5. Katahdin Woods and Waters, Maine
This underrated national monument 80 miles north of Bangor is also in the running for becoming America’s next National Park. In 2020, Katahdin Woods and Waters was designated the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in New England, and it boasts some of the darkest skies east of the Mississippi. With its miles of snow-covered trails (and cozy lean-tos and huts), it’s also a popular place to cross-country ski and snowmobile in the winter.
Houlton / Canadian Border KOA Journey
6. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
If you think the new Grand Teton Skywalk viewing platform at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is impressive, wait until Snow King Mountain Resort’s $5 million observatory and planetarium opens to the public in late spring, or early summer. Located on the summit of Snow King Mountain, it will boast one of the world’s largest telescopes. You’ll also be just a short drive from Grand Teton National Park – one of the best parks for stunning mountain landscapes and hiking.
Dubois / Wind River KOA Holiday
7. Alexandria, Virginia
In honor of its 275th anniversary in 2024, George Washington’s hometown is putting up new public art installations along its historic waterfront. Alexandria is also hosting special events all year including a huge parade, in honor of our first president’s birthday, on February 19. If the weather cooperates, the crowd could easily number 80,000.
Washington D.C. / Capitol KOA Holiday
8. Kansas City, Missouri
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s latest annual report, pickleball is still (three years in a row) the country’s fastest-growing sport. For that reason, it’s not surprising that Kansas City decided to create PickleCon. The four-day event will be held at the convention center, in August, and will boast 100 courts for clinics and competitions. If things go as planned, in 2024 the city will also celebrate the opening of its new CPKC Stadium, the world’s first professional sports stadium built for women.
9. Fairbanks, Alaska
National Geographic, among other publications, is reporting that 2024 may be the best year in two decades for seeing the Northern Lights. That’s because we’ll be in a “solar maximum” cycle where the sun reaches its peak. One of the best places in the U.S. to see the Northern Lights is Fairbanks which is conveniently located under the Auroral Oval. If you visit between now and the third week in April, you have an excellent chance (about 80% according to the tourism board), of seeing the lights.
Fairbanks / Chena River KOA Journey
10. City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho
In 2023, City of Rocks National Reserve was finally named an International Dark Sky Park, a designation it’s been after for years. Not only is this rocky oasis, just 65 miles southeast of Twin Falls, great for stargazing, but it’s also popular with rock climbers who travel from all over to tackle the spires and tricky formations for which the reserve is named.
Twin Falls / Jerome KOA Holiday
11. Charleston, South Carolina
Easily one of the South’s most charming locales, Charleston is worth visiting every year. But in 2024, there’s another reason to check out Chucktown. In June, the International African American Museum finally opened (it was decades in the making), and it’s already received rave reviews. “It’s a must to visit, not just for African Americans, but for all races,” wrote one recent visitor who especially appreciated all the information on the Gullah Geechee.
12. Peterborough, Ontario
Temporarily closed, the Canadian Canoe Museum will celebrate its grand re-opening in May. The new museum, which boasts the world’s largest collection of paddled watercraft (including canoes and kayaks made by the First Nations peoples) will be housed in a new 65,000-square-foot facility on the shore of Little Lake. Another reason to visit Peterborough? It’s home to Canada’s only free zoo.
Brighton / 401 KOA Holiday
13. Glendale, Arizona
If you loved 2023’s blockbuster film, “Barbie,” you need to know about Mattel Adventure Park, slated to open in 2024 in Glendale. In addition to Barbie’s Beach House, this new theme park will also have rides for Hot Wheels fans as well as a special Thomas & Friends section for younger kids who need their train fix.
Mesa / Apache Junction KOA Journey
14. San Diego, California
Meanwhile, the team at Legoland California Resort, just 30 minutes north of San Diego, is hard at work putting the finishing touches on Dino Valley. This brand-new attraction is scheduled to open in spring, and its crown jewel will be the thrilling “Coastersaurus” ride. Of course, you can also just hang out in “America’s Finest City” and enjoy its beautiful beaches and unforgettable fish tacos.
San Diego Metro KOA Resort
15. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
In 2024, Mountain Rainier National Park will be turning 125 years old. While the NPS isn’t putting on a bunch of special events, like it did for its 100th year birthday bash in 1999, it’s still a good time to visit this massive stratovolcano in the Cascade Mountains. There are nearly 300 miles of maintained trails to explore, and it’s one of very few places in the U.S. where you can see active glaciers.
Olympic Peninsula / Port Angeles KOA Journey
16. Everglades National Park, Florida
Everglades National Park doesn’t celebrate its centennial until 2034. Still, you don’t have to wait until then to visit the country’s “largest subtropical wilderness.” Last September, the park welcomed the opening of its first hotel, Flamingo Lodge. If you’re camping and can’t stay the night, simply stop by and enjoy an alfresco meal in its new restaurant (opening soon).
17. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Over in the Centennial State, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is turning 25 years old in 2024. Despite being one of the least visited parks in the country, USA TODAY recently reported that it’s a “Colorado marvel” you have to see for yourself because photos of its deep, narrow canyon (with class V rapids at the bottom) don’t do it justice. If you’re an extreme kayaker, it definitely belongs on your bucket list.
Gunnison KOA Journey
18. Quebec, Canada
Conde Nast Traveler recently deemed this Canadian province one of the best places, worldwide, to visit in the new year. While you can have a blast in Montreal, visiting incredible museums and admiring the European-inspired architecture, if you’re willing to venture much further north, next fall Ungava Polar Eco-Tours will be the first tour provider to launch excursions to the Gyrfalcon Islands. Think of them as Canada’s Galapagos. In fact, this archipelago of more than 200 islands is home to the world’s largest falcon.
19. Yosemite National Park, California
Even if you’ve been to Yosemite before, you probably haven’t checked out the new Yosemite Climbing Museum, where you can learn all about the fascinating history and evolution of the sport that inspired “Free Solo.” Note: Yosemite National Park is implementing a new reservation system in 2024, but reservations are only required for peak days and times. If you visit in the off-season, such as any day in March or November, you can come and go as you please.
Coleville Walker KOA Holiday
Even if you’re not a fan of bourbon or bluegrass, there’s never been a better time to visit Kentucky. The new Secretariat Park (in Paris, KY where the famous horse retired), is the perfect place to learn about the legacy of the champion thoroughbred and get a photo with his life-sized replica. And if you have littles, don’t sleep on AHOY, the new $4 million dollar immersive children’s museum coming to Louisville. Finally, at Mammoth Cave, the “Domes and Dripstones” tour is back after being closed (renovations) for most of 2023.
21. Las Vegas, Nevada
If you’re a concert connoisseur, you probably already know about Sin City’s exciting new Sphere venue: a $1.9 billion dollar project that opened in September of 2023. It boasts the world’s highest-resolution LED screen, and in 2024, it’s showing an immersive Sci-Fi film, “Postcard from Earth.” Music-wise, it’s also hosting four Phish concerts in 2024, and U2 will be performing to a crowd of 20,000+ as well.
Las Vegas KOA Journey at Sam’s Town
22. Ocean City, Maryland
Everyone loves the Blue Angels, but this year the OC Air Show will host the world-famous Italian Air Force Frecce Tricolori demonstration squad. It will be the flying “tri-color arrows’’ first trip to the U.S. in 30 years. Even if you can’t make it to this beloved beach town in late August (when the event is), Ocean City is still fun to visit any time of the year. It has one of the best boardwalks in the country and boasts a 10-mile stretch of sand that attracts millions of beachgoers every year.
Cape Charles / Chesapeake Bay KOA Resort
23. Banff National Park, Canada
A successful litter of wolf pups, the first in years, and the formation of a new pack has wildlife biologists in Banff National Park excited about 2024. Even if you don’t spot the elusive canis lupus while visiting Canada’s first national park, you’ll have a 100% chance of seeing other incredible wildlife along the scenic 30-mile Bow Valley Parkway. Then there’s insta-worthy Lake Louise which isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Hinton / Jasper KOA Holiday
Known as the Last Frontier, 2024 is the perfect time to plan a trip to Alaska. Often a bucket-list trip for many, Alaska offers long summer days and endless natural experiences. With a whopping eight national parks ranging from popular to remote, you’ll have no shortage of adventures in the northernmost state.
Katie Jackson is a writer and media specialist based in Montana’s Big Sky Country. Living and working everywhere from New York to Nicaragua, Katie is no stranger to adventure. When she’s not traveling the world (or writing about it!) she’s busy chasing after a Leonberger named Zeus. Follow Katie’s travels on Instagram @katietalkstravel.