Lonely Planet's top 10 U.S. destinations for 2013 leans toward outdoorsy more than urban spots and gives a big thumbs up to the Eastern Sierra, the sole California location that made the list.
"This year, hop past Yosemite – just beyond lies the secret California dream: the Eastern Sierra, the overlooked flank of the Sierra Nevada range, with other-worldly natural attractions and surprises (Basque culture?), not to mention far fewer visitors," Lonely Planet author Robert Reid writes.
But you knew that. Anyone who has driven up Highway 395 to fish at the legendary Crowley Lake or hike up Mt. Whitney knows how spectacular this area is. (Full disclosure: I go backpacking or hiking in the Eastern Sierra every year.)
Other natural vacation-worthy stops on the list include:
--Washington's San Juan Islands;
--Arizona's Verde Valley, featuring towns such as Jerome, Cottonwood and Sedona and even a wine trail;
--Montana's Glacier National Park; and
--Northern Maine, where the Appalachian Trail begins and ends (depending on which way you're going) at Mt. Katahdin.