Top 10 stories of 2020 – Readers keep dreaming of travel
It has been a very long 2020, but through it all we found our readers still wanted to dream of travel, to think about travel, and to plan for travel. This was made clear from the results of our “Top 10 Stories of 2020” as decided upon by our readers. We all keep dreaming of travel in 2021.
It has been a rather strange, disruptive and certainly chaotic year. At this time last year, we were happily planning travel adventures for 2020 and beyond. And then March brought the pandemic and a global shutdown the likes of which had been previously unimaginable. We raced home from Germany in mid-March, thinking, like many in the world, this would all blow over by the summer. OK, the fall. Well, perhaps the winter….
It didn’t. Although with the arrival of a vaccine, there is now a glimmer of hope for some level of normalcy to return in 2021. We can hope.
Meanwhile, through all the long months of isolating stay-at-home orders and quarantines, we found our readers still wanted to dream of travel, to think about travel, and to plan for travel. With that in mind, we focused on local and regional U.S. stories, stories that highlighted adventures closer to home and ideas for road trips, sprinkled with a few topics drawn from our archives that allowed us and our readers to keep dreaming.
That clearly resonated. Our traffic actually climbed, rather than dropped, as readers (regulars and new) spent time reading, imagining, planning. Still, in all but one case, our Top 10 stories – those with the most traffic thus selected by you, not us — were focused on things to do in the United States.
Looking forward to 2021, we realize the way in which we travel may forever be changed, with the potential for requiring vaccinations, wearing masks, and generally increased hygiene and sanitation considerations – who wants to travel without disinfecting wipes anymore? Nevertheless, one thing will never change … that travel is, in itself, a life-changing adventure. Near or far, we are looking forward to 2021 — and the blessings of travel we will forever appreciate even more.
Our top 10 stories of 2020 – those most read and re-read by our readers
Despite travel restrictions in place for much of the year, Niagara Falls remained the most popular destination for our readers to dream about from January through December. And while the Niagara waterfalls are a must-see, of course, there is so much more to do in and around Niagara Falls and the Niagara River. This story highlights the seven best things to do in Niagara Falls (American side) plus recommendations on where to eat and stay.
Michael got a chance to experience railbiking for the first time with Revolution Rail on abandoned tracks near Lake George, New York. Using a specially designed pedal-powered railbike, he loved gliding through the beautiful Adirondack forest along the banks of the Hudson River. It’s clear our readers are keen to try railbiking, too!
When Michael visited Helena in 2019, he had no idea just how cool the town was. Sure, he knew it was the Montana state capitol, and he remembered visiting there as a child when his family passed through like so many others on the way to or from Yellowstone. But he quickly discovered there’s a whole lot more to see in Helena, Montana, than most travelers imagine – like our readers obviously discovered in reading this. Once you too read this story, you’ll see why we’re very certain you’ll need 48 hours (or more!) in Helena to really enjoy your visit.
The New York Times named the Brewery Gulch Inn in Mendocino, Calif., one of the top 11 Hotels to visit “in your dreams.” Our readers were clearly looking for a dreamy place to stay, too, as this hotel review made it onto our list of most-read “Top 10 Stories of 2020.” After a short stay there (between lockdowns!), we fully agree that it’s a special place with a warm, familial, welcoming feeling – and maintaining very safe COVID protocols, too. Arguably one of the best Mendocino hotels with an ocean view, Brewery Gulch Inn offers simple, casual elegance, in a peaceful setting that will make you wonder if you can just move in.
Drago’s Charbroiled Oysters New Orleans style have been a customer favorite at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant in the New Orleans area since 1993. They are so good they won Therese over on our pre-pandemic trip to the area – and she is not an oyster fan by any means, as she explains in her story. Our readers were clearly thrilled we were offering a free recipe to show anyone how to grill their own oysters. We think you will be happy with the results.
The spectacular Adirondack Coast of New York snugs up to the shore of Lake Champlain. There is so much to do and see on the Adirondack Coast, you could spend months here and not experience it all. But don’t fret. Michael put together a sampler list of the best of the Adirondack Coast from his week exploring the region in 2019.
Located just south of Reno in Nevada’s Carson Valley, historic Genoa is often bypassed as travelers race through on US 395 along the beautiful Eastern Sierra Nevada. Therese found the quaint village just 6 minutes off the main road a true gem, with hikes, history and some of the best food in the entire region. And, as our readers find in reading the story, missing Genoa is a real mistake. Dating back to 1850, the charming town offers a great adventure for a couple of hours or a full day, great for families too. Therese lays out some options, depending on how much time you have.
Old West history, silver mining, classic wooden downtown boardwalks, mine tours, saloons, and a few ghosts for good measure. That’s Virginia City, Nevada. So much more than the rowdy mining town it once was, it offers family friendly amusement, great museums, and tons of special events (in non-COVID times, of course). The perfect spot to hang out for a day (or more if you want) when passing through Nevada. If you time it right — and COVID allows a comeback in 2021 — don’t miss the world championship outhouse races in October or the camel and ostrich races in September. No, really. The town may not be bawdy, but it can be whacky!
Want to see THE control room where the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was triggered in 1986? Wondering what apocalypse could look like? To see what the nuclear devastation in Chernobyl looks like today, Therese took a bucket list trip in January 2020 to visit the Chernobyl disaster zone and power plant in Ukraine (slipping in right before the COVID pandemic). This story is a collection of amazing, award-winning photos taken by Therese during her visit – nearly four days in the zone instead of most traveler’s 12 hours there. Dreaming of a trip there? When the world opens safely, do make it happen. Chernobyl remains for many a bucket list destination — for good reason.
Maine’s coastal beauty seems particularly attractive with all of its lighthouses, beautiful coastlines, sandy beaches, rocky shores, tiny islands and grassy overlooks. But, alas, the gorgeous lighthouses, sea breezes, moose, and islands won’t fit in your luggage so well to take home. So how about a traditional product or souvenir Made in Maine? Like wind bells that sound like a buoy, craft beer, art, or woodworking? Our readers were fascinated with Maine Made products enough to vault this story into the 10th spot of our “Top 10 stories of 2020” lineup.
Our almost Top 10 stories in 2020
Amid the pushing and shoving in a sprint to the finish, these stories spent some time in our top 10 during the year, and eventually ended up solidly entrenched in our top 20 most popular stories. Readers showed us their interest in hotel safety, perhaps going on a cruise again along the Norwegian coast, making some adult beverages (of course), taking a bucket list trip to Antarctica, learning a new language and, as we found with our Top 10 stories, traveling locally.
- What to do in Fresno on a Highway 99 road trip in California
- Top hotel safety tips: Your hotel room safety is important
- Choosing Hurtigruten cabins: differences and details
- Understanding German Christmas market drinks – a short guide
- Plan a trip to California Gold Country: A Gold Rush road trip
- Little River Inn – Where Mendocino history and the Pacific Ocean meet
- Five tips for staying warm in Antarctica
- 8 ways to communicate when traveling in a foreign country
- Ocean views & luxury at Topside Inn: best hotel in Boothbay Harbor
Our Most Recent Travel Stories
Expanses of almond orchards blooming in Modesto make for the perfect California road trip in the Central Valley. Time it just right on a February-March almond blossom cruise for a sensory overload of white and pink almond blossoms, buzzing bees, and the most intoxicating scent you can imagine.
For the third year in a row, HI Travel Tales has won multiple awards in the North American Travel Journalists Association national contest, the NATJA Travel Media Awards. For 2020, Therese Iknoian and Michael Hodgson took home five awards, all honoring outstanding travel photography.
No road trip to Mendocino County is complete without sipping a few of the best Anderson Valley wines. From casual newcomers to expansive long timers, here are a few down-to-earth wineries you must visit on your next California road trip.