. 2019's 5 Hottest U.S. Travel Destinations | Northstar Meetings Group

2019's 5 Hottest U.S. Travel Destinations

Where to stay and what to do in Palm Springs, New York City, New Orleans and more.

HOTLIST Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal Waterway INCFALL19
Fort Lauderdale has a thriving foodie scene and chic resorts.

With so many beautiful places across this country to visit, deciding which fits your incentive group can be a chore. We're here to help, and have chosen these cities that were cited in both "Where to Go Next: 14 Best Places to Travel in the U.S. in 2019" by Forbes and "Best Places to Visit in the USA" by U.S. News & World Report. These destinations represent America at its finest.

Fort Lauderdale

In Southeast Florida, Greater Fort Lauderdale is the hip place to be, with its colorful beach culture, burgeoning arts scene and top-flight hotels creating an exciting atmosphere in which winners can luxuriate. Forbes calls the area's culinary scene "a masterpiece, with upscale eateries serving dishes from around the world, and new high-end restaurants continuing to emerge."

Where to Stay

At the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale, all 240 guest rooms feature an elegant yacht-club vibe. In the exclusive North Beach neighborhood, the 290 suites at the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach have private terraces overlooking the water, kitchens outfitted with Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances, and Italian-marble deep-soaking tubs with separate showers. Other incentive-worthy properties include the 225-room Ocean Sky Hotel & Resort and the boutique 18-room Pillars Hotel.

What to Do

Local destination management company 360 Destination Group says it's fun to explore FATVillage, a downtown enclave bristling with art galleries, street performers and all manner of shops. For a guided kayak or paddleboard tour of the area day or night, Blue Moon Outdoor Adventures has the goods. Arrange a group meal at the casual but classy 101 Ocean in Lauderdale by the Sea for the mouthwatering Ahi Sesame Tuna and other surf (or turf) specialties, while the Capital Grille offers some of the best steaks outside of Texas.
 
Contact: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau

New Orleans 

New Orleans Mardi Gras INCFALL19
All that jazz: New Orleans is a perfect spot for celebrating winners.

Few U.S. destinations are home to a melting pot of cultures as unique as that found in the Big Easy. Here, winners will find a fascinating gumbo of influences from the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the American South, and a citywide party that never stops.

Where to Stay

It's hard to top the 527-room Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. The hotel sits on Canal Street right in the French Quarter and boasts the city's largest spa. U.S. News cites the 316-room Windsor Court Hotel for its "elegant European style," and the beautiful rooftop pool (23 stories up) doesn't hurt. For more intimate digs, there's the colorful 71-room Hotel Peter & Paul, a former school and convent near Bourbon Street.

What to Do

Music is king in this town, especially blues and jazz, and both have been staples for more than 40 years at famed Tipitina's, where winners also can learn the latest Cajun dance moves.
 
The full-day Swamp Boat Adventure and Plantation Tour via Viator heads into secluded bayous to reveal the native lifestyle and wildlife (don't pet the gators). For victuals, Brennan's on Royal Street has been serving innovative Cajun fare since 1946. Better yet, treat participants to a Cajun jambalaya cooking demonstration from renowned local chef Isaac Toups; BBC DMC can organize the spicy lesson.

Contact: Visit New Orleans

Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Jackson Hole Caldera House INCFALL19
Jackson Hole's gorgeous vistas complement group dining experiences.

Rugged mountains and verdant valleys help make Jackson Hole a rewarding destination for those who would appreciate an up-close and personal encounter with the American West. Some of the country's best skiing, hiking and wildlife-watching are found here.

Where to Stay

U.S. News deems the 124-room Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole its top choice in this area, and for good reason: Surrounded by the Grand Teton Mountain Range, the property offers a unique mix of rustic and luxe. Accommodations range from lodge-style mountainside rooms with gas fireplaces, marble bathrooms and private balconies to private retreats (aka residences) big enough for a class reunion. The on-site spa offers treatments like oxygen-infusion facials. Five dining options include the Westbank Grill for sumptuous steaks and great wine off an expansive list.
 
Other hotels to try are the luxurious 43-room Amangani Resort, set within the Spring Creek Ranch Resort in northwest Jackson, which has its own 1,000-acre wildlife sanctuary; and the eight-suite Caldera House, an intimate boutique property steps away from the mountainside tram and a short drive from Grand Teton National Park.

What to Do

Outfit winners with bikes (also skis and snowboards) from Hoback Sports to enjoy a three-hour ride from Jackson to Teton Village (planners can arrange one-way bike tours, with group transportation back). For sheer adventure, safari-style tours of Grand Teton or Yellowstone national parks with Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris does the trick: Make sure winners have their cameras to record magical wildlife sightings. For excitement of a more celestial kind, Wyoming Stargazing takes participants on a private night tour of the constellations, starkly vivid in the clear Wyoming sky.
 
Contact: Visit Jackson Hole

New York City

Lady Liberty Big Apple
Lady Liberty welcomes high achievers to the Big Apple.

The Big Apple continues to experience record tourism year after year -- the city is on track to welcome a new high of 67 million visitors in 2019 -- and for good reason: Legendary landmarks, sparkling new attractions and the sheer excitement of being in the center of it all mark most visitors' experience here. Lucky incentive-award winners get to take things up a notch.

Where to Stay 

Forbes and U.S. News both go gaga over the 238-room St. Regis New York, where just the names of the accommodations (e.g., the Tiffany Suite, the Imperial Suite) connote the true opulence within. And you might have heard about the hotel's front lawn -- Central Park. Meanwhile, the cool factor flies off the charts at the Casablanca Hotel in the Theater District, which has its own Rick's Café, not to mention a piano (but not Sam) in the lobby and perks like passes to the nearby New York Sports Club. Over in Brooklyn's uber-hip Williamsburg neighborhood, the new 183-room William Vale Hotel fronts on the East River and abuts 15,000-square-foot Vale Park, an elevated promenade with rolling hills and shady nooks overlooking the Manhattan skyline. All guest rooms have terraces, but perhaps the best view is from the hotel's 22nd-floor rooftop bar.

What to Do

Hold a private gala dinner on Liberty Island, home of that famous statue, complete with fireworks over the harbor. Fashionistas will go wild for an exclusive shopping tour from PRA New York, with access to designer showrooms and first dibs on next year's lines. Sports fans will like a VIP tour of Yankee Stadium; take theater lovers backstage following performances of Broadway hits like To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course, in the Big Apple, free time is a reward in itself.
 
Contact: NYC & Company

Palm Springs, Calif. 

Polo Palm Springs Calif.
Polo matches are on the agenda in posh Palm Springs, Calif.

As Forbes notes, "Palm Springs has been a preferred escape for jet-setters since the Golden Age of Hollywood," yet today, much of its retro charm has been reborn with ultra-hip, modern accents.

Where to Stay

The 781-room La Quinta Resort & Club, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection, is set on 45 acres of rainbow-hued gardens and pathways, with haciendas and casitas clustered around 41 pools (some featuring "dive-in movies"). Winners can enjoy five championship golf courses, tennis courts and the Spa La Quinta.
 
The swank 153-room Kimpton the Rowan Palm Springs Hotel in downtown has the majestic San Jacinto Mountains as a backdrop. The boutique 57-room Colony Palms Hotel bills itself as a "time capsule of California cool" with its palm-shaded gardens and 1930s vibe.

What to Do

The word awesome was created for views like those from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a rotating tram car that snakes along the cliffs of Chino Canyon to the wilderness of Mt. San Jacinto State Park, where dining and more than 5 miles of hiking trails await. Winners also can enjoy a private polo match and champagne at the Empire Polo Club, set among 250 acres of lush gardens. Or break your group into teams and let them engage in their own high-octane golf-cart polo competition. Afterward, celebrate with a private party at Frank Sinatra's former estate, Twin Palms, with its piano-shaped pool and storied history. Venture beyond city limits to the boutique wineries of Temecul for private tastings hosted by seasoned sommeliers. Access DMC can organize all of the above.
 
Contact: Greater Palm Springs CVB