Are We There Yet? – New Year Getaways

Great places to check out in 2013.

Jennifer Coxby Jennifer Cox

There's always a lot of pressure (I feel) to do something cool to welcome the New Year.

From Hawaii to Napa to Chicago, hotels around the country are going all out with VIP events and once-in-a-lifetime experiences to ring in the New Year. Three such places with big 2013 plans are Hilton Waikoloa Village, River Terrace Inn and Hard Rock Hotel Hotels & Casinos.

As temperatures cool off, travelers aren't the only ones heading to warmer climates – humpback whales journey to the refreshing waters of Hawaii, and Hilton Waikoloa VIllage offers guests the chance to kick off the New Year with a splash and Sail with the Whales, starting at $274/night. After a Dec. 31st evening of island music, champagne toasts and hula dancing, guests of the Pacific playground begin 2013 with a whale watching cruise that explores the Kohala Coast and the National Marine Humpback Whale Sanctuary that lies just off the shore of Waikoloa.

You can also book New Year's at the River Terrace Inn. After enjoying a specialty tasting menu, shouting "Sip, Sip Hooray" at Restaurant Cuvee, and enjoying live entertainment till 1am, revelers sink into heavenly bedding at River Terrace Inn and wake up to coffee overlooking the Napa river. Finally, to kick off the New Year, Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos (with hotel locations from Bali and San Diego to Singapore and Macau) invites music lovers to enjoy VIP events ranging from DJ shows to Kid Rock's performance at the Hollywood, Florida property.

Once 2013 has settled in, book a trip to Arizona. I visited Sedona for the first time this past May and immediately fell in love (I definitely plan on going back). So it came as no surprise to me when Lonely Planet named the Verde Valley on the Top 10 US Travel Destinations for 2013.

Every year Lonely Planet’s US-based editors team up with Lonely Planet’s expert authors to compile a list of US destinations that are prime for the next year, and their 2013 picks are literally all over the map this year: once-in-a-lifetime northern lights, new top-tier museums, moose trails, Polynesian paradise, barrels of bourbon, and a newly discovered wine destination in the high desert or Arizona.

Coming in at #9 on the Top 10 US Travel Destinations for 2013 is the Verde Valley, consisting of the small, charming and very beautiful towns of Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Jerome, Page Springs, Cornville, and the Verde Valley Wine Trail. Wineries of the Verde Wine Trail include Alcantara Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, Oak Creek Vineyards, and Javelina Leap Vineyards, accompanied by 6 neighboring Tasting Rooms. Activities such as horseback riding, kayaking, Jeep tours, and mountain bike riding can be experienced year-round in the Verde Valley’s temperate four seasons. It's an all-around great place to check out in the New Year with literally something for everyone.

Bon Voyage,



Jenn Cox is a Montreal-based freelance journalist. Visit her website or email her at