Diaspora

Where to travel in the US in 2023 without a passport – Insider

Although the last holdout countries around the world are opening their borders after COVID-19 restrictions, you won’t need a passport to visit some of the most exciting destinations in 2023. They’re right here in the US.
Formula 1 comes to Las Vegas in November, with racing taking place right along the Las Vegas Strip. In January, the long-anticipated International African American Museum is set to open in Charleston, and the Super Bowl is just one of an array of events for sports fans coming to the Phoenix area in 2023.
As a travel writer, I stay keyed into industry trends and happenings all over the country. And as a frequent traveler, I have my own personal favorite destinations and places I want to go, where big things are set to happen in the new year. 
And like me, plenty of people are expected to travel in the coming year. The airline industry expects to return to profitability for the first time in four years, with most Americans — around 75 percent — planning to travel domestically in the next six months. 
I’ll definitely be among them. If you will too, check out this list of domestic places to go in 2023 for inspiration, from new wellness sanctuaries to cultural happenings, and sporting events.
I come to Las Vegas multiple times a year because I love how much there is to see and do each time I visit. In my opinion, that’s because Las Vegas seems to exist in a perpetual cycle of reinvention and newness.
And in November 2023, the Las Vegas Strip will transform into a race track as Formula 1 returns to the city for the first time in nearly 40 years. Las Vegas Boulevard itself will become a race track, and some of Vegas’s most iconic landmarks will serve as seating for guests to watch it.
Of course, you’ll need somewhere to stay, and I love Sky Suites at Aria for an over-the-top Vegas crash pad, or Bellagio, where bleachers right in front of the iconic fountains will allow spectating.
Even my friends who don’t care about racing or Las Vegas are talking about this event — I think it’s going to be one for the books.
With rich musical roots, thousands of years of history, and a revived downtown historic district, I think Macon, Georgia, is a charming, under-the-radar destination.
But why I suggest a visit in 2023, in particular, is because Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park is expected to be named Georgia’s first national park by the start of the year. The park holds more than 12,000 years of living history and houses more than 2,000 artifacts from American Indian culture.
The new year also marks Macon’s bicentennial, and the city plans to celebrate. A new 10,000-person capacity amphitheater is currently under construction and expected to be complete during the year, and will draw big-name performers and renewed pride for the city’s big event.
The downtown area’s first hotel, Hotel Forty Five, opened this year in an old bank in a landmark building, should you find yourself in town, and the second boutique hotel in downtown Macon, the Woodward, is scheduled to open next to the historic Capitol Theater — a movie palace that first opened its doors in 1916 — in the fall. 
I’ve long loved visiting Charleston and there are a few upcoming events that have me planning a return in 2023.
Most notably, the widely anticipated International African American Museum is set for a January opening on Charleston’s Gadsden’s Wharf, with exhibits honoring the stories of the African American journey.
If you plan a visit, I recommend a stay at the historic district’s The Charleston Place hotel, which is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation, and will offer complimentary guest shuttles to and from the new museum. Also new to the scene, The Pinch is a luxury boutique hotel — which is my favorite kind of property — that is opening two restaurant concepts early in the year.
I also think Charleston is a great destination for design buffs, with architectural charm observed throughout downtown, as well as the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
Super Bowl 2023 takes to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, in February. But I think that’s far from the only reason to visit the Phoenix area next year.
Beyond the football game, the Greater Phoenix area will also host the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which is the largest golf tournament on the PGA tour, as well as MLB Cactus League Spring Training in the new year. And since these events take place during winter when it’s typically sunny and warm in Phoenix, and cold elsewhere, I think it’s the ideal time to visit.
I’m also just happy to travel anywhere that has sparkling pools and hotels, and I think Phoenix has many of them. A few that are scheduled to open next year that excite me include Moxy Phoenix Downtown in the spring, which will bring an outpost of the boutique but affordable Marriott brand, and The Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley, The Palmeraie, which will open in the fall on 20 acres with a view of Camelback Mountain and a 400-foot swimming pool.
I attended UC Berkeley, and lived across the bay in San Francisco after college. It’s where I started my writing career, and as a result, I left pieces of my heart in the city and try to return often.
Next year, though, it will be for more than just nostalgia.
In 2023, the city celebrates a handful of milestone anniversaries for key city landmarks, including the San Francisco Opera, which will mark 100 years, and the Ferry Building, which will have stood for 125 years. These anniversary dates will bring special programming and events throughout the year that I think make the city well worth a visit.
Elsewhere, I think Presidio Tunnel Tops is an ideal spot for views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge, with 14 acres of new national parkland that was designed by the same firm behind New York City’s High Line.
And as someone who has stayed in many of the city’s finest hotels, I suggest visitors book the Line Hotel San Francisco, which opened in the fall, and stands out to me for its landscaped rooftop solarium.
Rochester, New York, is New York state’s third most populous metro, and as I’ve learned recently, is home to a thriving food and craft beer scene
It also deserves a spot on this list because the city will host the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill in May, which I think many sports fans will appreciate.
And, as a mom of 8-year-old twins, I always look for things to do with my kids when I travel, and Rochester has one of the country’s top children’s museums, the Strong National Museum of Play. I’d like to visit next year especially, as that’s when it’s set to complete a 90,000-square-foot expansion, with new amenities and a new 24,000-square-foot interactive gallery that I know would keep my children busy for hours.  
With 35 miles of shoreline, Virginia Beach is just a day’s drive from two-thirds of the US population.
But for those who live further away, March 2023 will see the launch of daily nonstop service from South Florida to Norfolk, Virginia, on Spirit Airlines. Additionally, the budget-friendly Breeze Airways recently launched service from Los Angeles, where I live. It’s a big deal to me, because I always seek destinations with nonstop flights out of LAX as a means of simplifying travel with kids.
Other new reasons I’ve found to plan a trip to Virginia Beach include new hotel openings like the Moxy at Virginia Beach that will open in the summer facing the ocean, and the Embassy Suites Hotel at the Cavalier Resort, which is enticing to me since the suite layout means plenty of room for my family of four to spread out.
I also suggest music fans plan a stay around the Something In the Water festival in April, which was announced by Virginia Beach native, Pharrell Williams.
In my years living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I made frequent trips with friends to Lake Tahoe. Next year, I’d love to get back there.
Since hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics, Lake Tahoe’s Palisades Tahoe — formerly Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows — has been considered a year-round destination and it’s one of my favorites. This winter, it will unveil its new Base to Base Gondola, which will connect Palisades Tahoe’s two valleys and make it one of the largest ski resorts in North America.
In addition, Palisades Tahoe will host the World Cup for the Men’s Slalom and Giant Slalom events in February, which is significant in my opinion, as it’s one of just four US stops on the international circuit this season.
I believe that any time is a good time to celebrate Dolly Parton, who is on my personal list of our most precious national heroes, but I think 2023 is an especially good time.
That’s because there are big things planned for the new year at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In 2023, Dollywood will debut a new ride, the longest roller coaster in the park’s history, with a Smokies theme. Superfans like me can also experience a bucket-list stay in Dolly’s recently transformed tour bus, now known as Suite 1986, or stay at Dolly’s second hotel, HeartSong Lodge & Resort, which will open in the fall.
Beyond Dollywood, nearby towns including Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, are well worth exploring, in my opinion, for the ample beautiful scenery.
Nashville keeps popping up in conversations within my sphere of friends and travel industry folks and we’re not alone. 
In 2023, Nashville International Airport passenger traffic is anticipated to grow to more than 23 million with a new airport hotel, expanded terminals, renovated lobby, satellite concourses, and more.
I think that’s a good thing considering that in June 2023, the NHL Entry Draft and NHL Awards Ceremony, will be held together in the same city for the first time in 17 years, and will take place in downtown Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena, drawing major tourist interest.
I think flying into Orlando is about to get even easier, as the $2.8 billion renovation at Orlando International Airport is nearly complete, making it the first fully-integrated terminal in the US for rail, air, and ground transportation.
And for the first time ever, Orlando has restaurants in the Michelin Guide. Four were awarded a star, including the 10-seat multi course dining experience Soseki Modern Omakase. Seven received the Bib Gourmand (in recognition of value for money), and 22 were recommended, for a total of 33 total honorees in all. So, if you’re a foodie like me, you’ll be interested to try a few, or all, of these restaurants.
Additionally, Conrad Orlando opens in summer 2023 next to the Walt Disney World Resort, offering another option for a high-end hotel near the theme parks, with a world-class Jack Nicklaus golf course and aquatic adventure area on-site.
But since I personally love when I can combine family-friendly travel experiences with luxury, my pick near Disney is the Four Seasons Orlando. In addition to five-star amenities without an overly themed experience, I like it because it also has the newly minted Michelin-star restaurant Capa Steakhouse & Bar, which is part Spanish tapas and part American steakhouse.
If you haven’t visited Portland, Oregon, lately, I think 2023 is a great time to do so.
I have it on my list, purely to try Kann, the new Haitian-Dutch restaurant from Gregory Gourdet, which recently made “The New York Times'” top 50 restaurants in America list merely weeks after it opened.
Additionally, the Earl Blumenauer Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge opened this summer connecting the Central Eastside and Lloyd neighborhoods, which is significant as it’s not only a pretty place to go, but will serve as a connection for pedestrians and bikers traveling between two of Portland’s fastest growing neighborhoods, Lloyd and the Central Eastside.
While in town, I’ll stay at the new Ritz-Carlton, opening downtown in July. When it does, the 35-floor tower hotel will have a pool on the 19th floor and an indoor-outdoor restaurant and bar on the 20th, both of which I think will have fantastic views of the city.
My dad is from Ohio, but I think his stories about growing up there bear little resemblance to the kinds of high-tech things I see happening in the state right now.
Columbus now earns the nickname, Silicon Heartland, as it’s home to big tech firms, and the region was recently announced as the site for Intel’s $20 billion chip manufacturing factory.
The city is also building the nation’s first urban via ferrata at Quarry Trails Metro Park, which is an 800-foot horizontal traverse designed for a mountaineering style of climbing that will be the the very first of its kind.
Columbus also has a new state-of-the-art professional soccer stadium, Lower.com Field, and a new outdoor drinking district in the Arena District where visitors can catch three professional sports teams all within walking distance.
Finally, as a professional hotel reviewer, I’m excited by two new hotel openings: a massive Hilton Columbus Downtown second tower that opens this fall in the center of things, as well as a new, independent hotel from Makeready, coming in 2023, which will please boutique hotel guests like me who love a more intimate stay.
I love checking out under-the-radar destinations, and St. Charles, Illinois, is one that I hope to visit soon.
The city, which is around an hour from Chicago, earned a spot on my travel radar for its downtown that I’ve learned is full of independent retailers, including many woman-owned shops, which matters to me when deciding where to spend my money.
I’m also intrigued by its outdoor activities, parks, and a new dining destination, The Graceful Ordinary, which is earning attention for its chef-driven rustic fare and waterfront setting along the Fox River. 
In fact, I think the whole riverfront entertainment and downtown district is worthy of a trip, and other stops on my must-visit list in St. Charles include Arcada Theatre for its roster of live shows, Hotel Baker for a historic and centrally-located home base, Pottawatomie Park for lush greenery, Pollyanna Brewery & Distillery and The Lewis cocktail bar for local craft drinks, and much more. 
As previously noted, I’m always on the hunt for destinations where my kids can be suitably entertained without screens. For that reason alone, I’d plan a visit to Fort Wayne, Indiana, to check out the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. It’s rated as one of the top 10 zoos in the country, and in 2023, will open Red Panda Ridge that will have a new play area and extra space for the panda’s cubs.
Additionally, Union Street Market will open and become the region’s first food hall and public market, with 20-plus merchants open daily, a weekly farmers market, and a test kitchen.
And in the spring, the History Center is scheduled to unveil an overhauled first floor complementing the museum’s 32,000-piece artifact collection, which is one of the largest locally-relevant historical collections in the Midwest
I love getting my steps in when I travel and I think walking is the ideal way to see a destination intimately, while also eschewing the sitting-with-my-laptop lifestyle I have at home.
So I’d love to check out the Indianapolis next year specifically for a stroll along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which will complete an expansion in May 2023. It originally opened back in 2013 as an 8-mile urban pedestrian and bicycling trail punctuated with public art installations, but is undergoing a new $30 million, 2-mile addition.
Also next year, dining and retail tenants will move into the historic Stutz Building, which is a 110-year-old former auto manufacturing site. Among the new tenants include an additional outpost for Indy’s six-time James Beard award semifinalist, Martha Hoover, whose food I’d love to try.
There are three big openings slated for 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri, including the opening of the new single-terminal airport, which will soon have 39 gates for its airline partners and a bunch of new amenities, including 50 retail and dining spaces. Aviation officials hope that the terminal will lead to increased traffic and flights to the airport, the Kansas City Business Journal reported.
Also taking place in KC will be the 2023 NFL Draft, scheduled to take place in April, along with the NFL Draft Experience, an interactive football theme park that will be open throughout the duration of the event that will allow fans to test their skills, participate in interactive exhibits and autograph sessions, and take pictures with the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
And opening in 2023 is a world-class 600,000-gallon aquarium at the Kansas City Zoo that will feature six zones with 34 exhibits that I know kids like mine will love.
In early 2023, the new Collections Building at The Alamo will unveil an extensive collection of Alamo and Texana artifacts from the personal collection of musician Phil Collins.
I think that alone is a great reason to visit, but for foodies and culinary news followers like me, San Antonio has also opened more than 80 chef-driven restaurants in the last two years, and it’s about time I made my way there to try some of them.
This includes ArrostaBox Street All DayLandraceBrasserie Mon Chou Chou, and Best Quality Daughter. Additionally in the city’s Southside, exciting openings include eateries such as Rosario’s; as well as museums such as The Contemporary at Blue Star and Ruby City; live-play spaces like Blue Star; and more. 
And while many know of the city’s rich Hispanic heritage, San Antonio also has significant German history with former breweries being reborn as hotels and museums along the San Antonio River like the San Antonio Museum of Art — the former home of Lone Star Brewing — and the Hotel Emma, which was formerly the Pearl Brewery.
As a Los Angeles resident, I’ve been impressed watching the area of Culver City become a mega-hub for the new entertainment world within Los Angeles, following the arrival of digital media giants like Apple TV, Amazon Studios, and HBO, which have all joined long-time local landmark Sony Studio in Culver City.
Though, I think it still remains lesser known to out-of-towners compared to neighborhoods like Hollywood or Downtown LA.
But several new and forthcoming hotel openings in the area will make it easier to explore. I recommend The Shay, a destination by Hyatt hotel that I think stands out from others for it’s design-forward, boutique feel with a rooftop pool for views over LA.
And while you’re in the area, fit in a hike at the Baldwin Hills stairs, which is a personal favorite of mine for a quick, efficient workout in the area.
Come up to the nation’s 49th state for a trip on the Alaska Railroad, which celebrates its centennial year in 2023. Starting in May, visitors can also learn more about the Railroad’s history, too, in a new exhibit at the Anchorage Museum.
And in Girdwood, Alaska, the state’s first-ever Nordic spa recently opened at the Alyeska Resort, which I think makes for a nice break and unique activity after days spent exploring the outdoors.
During a trip to the area, I also suggest checking out the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which is the only statewide cultural center that represents all Alaska Native peoples. I’d be likely to pair a visit with a stay at the centrally located Aloft Anchorage, with spacious living quarters that families like mine will appreciate.
I’ve had so much fun visiting friends in Chicago over the years. I think it’s a lively city, and I’m excited to learn it has a lot on the horizon in the new year, too.
The first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street course race will come to Chicago in July, preceded by an IMSA-sanctioned series race. Both races will be surrounded by music and entertainment for all ages.
While in town, consider a stay at the 101-story St Regis Chicago, which is slated to open in 2023. It is now the third tallest building in Chicago and the tallest building in the world designed by a woman.
I’m also likely to visit in the spring for the Art Institute of Chicago, where a Van Gogh retrospective will be on view from May through September 2023.
Palm Springs is my home away from home. My family visits multiple times per year as it’s just a two-hour trip by car from our home in Los Angeles, but I think it feels like we’re entering an alternate magical universe, with therapeutic dry air and striking a mountain landscape.
I’m planning to go again soon entirely for a new wellness destination, Sensei Porcupine Creek. It’s Sensei‘s second retreat in the country after Sensei Lāna’i in Hawaii, and converted a 230-acre private estate into an ultra-luxury center for wellbeing. The retreat opened at the end of 2022 and has a diagnostic center, yoga and fitness pavilions, a swimming pool, and Sensei by Nobu restaurant.
I’ll pair the stay with a visit to the forthcoming Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza to learn more about local history. It will open in spring 2023 and include a museum, spa, and trail, all celebrating the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
Lastly, the Acrisure Arena, which opened in December 2022, is now the new home of the Coachella Valley Firebirds hockey team. Next year, it will also hold major concerts and events; performers for 2023 will include The Eagles, Jimmy Buffet, Lizzo, and Reba McEntire.
I’m well overdue for a return visit to New Orleans and there will be so much to do when I go back.
The city’s Warehouse/Arts district will see the completion of the National WWII Museum with the final exhibition hall, the Liberation Pavilion, where three new building levels will explore the closing months of the war and immediate postwar years, concluding with how this time period relates to our lives today.
The museum also debuted Expressions of America in November, which is a nighttime sound and light spectacular that transforms the Col. Battle Barksdale Parade Ground with visuals, cocktails, food offerings, 1940s inspired music, and more. 
Combined, I think it makes for a fascinating trip, and that’s before even factoring in all the great music, food, and vibrant energy for which New Orleans is so well known.
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