While this year is hardly over – we’re barely into Q3 – there’s always time to start planning your travel for the future year. Planning has been shown to control costs with lower flights, stays, and rental cars. Plus, it lets you plan out the other more mundane parts of your life, like chores. (Ha, just kidding.)
Inside are some fantastic places you will fall in love with, and the best month to do it! These are all original photographs and places I’ve been to and can recommend. Let’s get cracking, shall we?
Maui, Hawaii – January
What’s not to love about winter in Maui? Warm, sunny beaches, and my favorite, humpback whales. Humpbacks across the Pacific Ocean come to Maui’s waters to give birth to their young, providing a spectacle for whale watchers.
While I’ve only been to Maui in November, I’m heading this way in January 2024 to cross this magical moment off my list.
Death Valley National Park, California – February
Death Valley in February is beautiful. It’s not hot, so that’s the most essential part. But the days are slowly getting longer, so you will have more time to explore and the views are brilliant. While many discount Death Valley National Park as a must-see place, I disagree.
There are so many unique formations and places to see that, from a photography viewpoint, it’s one of my favorites. If you plan to camp, make sure to make reservations, as they book out early.
Havasupai, Arizona – March
Honestly, There are not many places like Havauspai, which makes it just that much more special. With massive waterfalls, turquoise water, and tranquility, Havauspai is a must for all hikers.
Sedona, Arizona – April
Everyone loves Redrock country, and visiting in April is immaculate. It’s beginning to warm up, and you can almost guarantee you’ll have sunny days. I suggest visiting on the weekdays because weekends are cluster… you know.
While there are few hidden gems in the Sedona area, you’re destined to leave the crowds behind if you hike more than two miles from the trailhead.
Zion National Park, Utah – May
My trip to Zion in May of 2018 was awesome! (Though this was before social media’s craze.) We enjoyed camping and tackled the best hikes – Angels Landing, Observation Point, and the Narrows in a single weekend.
If you can, add in a trip to Bryce National Park, too.
Iceland – June
Midnight sun? Who says no?! We visited Iceland this past June for the midnight, and it was so freaking cool! Having the ability to be out hiking and exploring past midnight was mind-bending – but in a good way.
Glacier National Park, Montana – July
This is the place to be in the summer. Glacier National Park tops my list of National Parks (I’ve been to about half…and the good half, haha), and July is picture-perfect. If it’s a drier year, the snow has melted, and you’ll be able to hike to your heart’s delight.
The Many Glacier area is my favorite section of the park and where you’ll likely see Grizzlies – if you want to. Lastly, maybe add a trip to Yellowstone to your vacation to see some of the West’s best views.
Alaska – August
I’ll be honest, June through August in Alaska is perfect. You’ll have midnight sun in some places (Fairbanks) and extremely long, beautiful days everywhere else.
While you’ll want to see it all, know that it’s impossible to get it all into one trip to Alaska. The state is just way too big.
Canadian Rockies, British Columbia/Alberta – September
Fall in the Canadian Rockies is AMAZING. If you want the golden larches, you’ll want to head to the Banff area in the second half of the month. It always changes when exactly is peak season, but the end of the month can guarantee you a good show.
Washington State – October
Honestly, I wanted to put this in in July or August, BUT we’ve got some dang good fall colors here, so why not promote Washington in October? Just know that temperatures can hover in the 50s or 60s, with lows in the 30s in the mountains.
Northern Arizona/Southern Utah – November
This portion of the country is incredible in the late fall. It’s sunny, but not too warm. And the crowds are far fewer than in the prior months. Basically, you have the ability to adventure without people around you.
And that’s the best thing possible.
I’d make Page, Arizona, or Kanab our home base and see where the wind takes you.
Santa Barbara, California – December
I lived in Santa Barbara for a year, and December was a perfect time. (After I got over the daylight savings shift.) The crowds are gone, and the summer fog that rolls in has died off. This means sun and lots of it. Also, incredible sunsets, whale watching, and tons of things to do.
Some of the best photos I took were in the winter months, and they are phenomenal.
Obviously, summer is amazing for beach life, but Santa Barbara stays about the same temperature year-round, which means you can still enjoy time near the water, and hotel prices are far lower.