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Boston and Bar Harbor get some love on US News & World Report’s annual best vacations lists

Sadly, neither made the one for World’s Best Places to Visit. Can you guess what destinations did?

Mount Otemanu stands over the palm trees and clear water in Bora Bora, which ranked number 3 on the list of World's Best Places to Visit.Christopher Muther

The U.S. News & World Report’s survey of the best vacation destinations for 2021-2022 is sprawling, covering top getaways across the globe. But one common denominator pops up throughout the survey, at least in the lists that focus on US destinations: New England is a favorite among travelers and editors of the publication, particularly Bar Harbor and Boston.

Bar Harbor landed in the number 16 spot in the top places to visit in the United States. (Grand Canyon was number one). But it ranked first in the category of Best Small Towns to visit in the United States, followed by Telluride, Colo., and Jackson Hole, Wyo.


“Bar Harbor is basically a postcard that has found its way into the real world,” the survey reads.

Boston came in at number 19 on the Best Places to Visit in the United States list, along with number 10 in Best Family Summer Vacations, 13 in Best Family Vacations, and 14 in Best Cheap Summer Vacations.

“Supplementing its storied locations is a bevy of museums, including the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Boston Children’s Museum,” the publication wrote. “Young and old baseball fans will either love (or begrudgingly appreciate) a visit to iconic Fenway Park.”

New England beaches made multiple appearances, but were often upstaged by warmer ones that allow swimmers to stay in the water for longer than 10 minutes before fingers and toes turn blue.

Nantucket ranked 8 in the category of Best Family Beach Vacations. It also showed up at number 20 in the Best US Beaches list. Kennebunkport came in at 22 on the Best Beaches in the United States list, with Ogunquit at 26.

Perhaps the most baffling rating in the Best Beaches category was the decision to lump all of Cape Cod into one beach. (It came in at 24). It’s hard to compare Race Point Beach in Provincetown to some of the, uh, let’s just say lesser beaches on the Cape.


Speaking of Cape beaches, the magazine also attempted to rank the top Cape Cod beaches. Let the fighting begin! At the top of its list was Mayflower Beach in Dennis.

“Because Mayflower Beach is located on the bay side, the waves are usually calmer than those at other Cape beaches,” the editors wrote.

Coming up last in the list at number 20 was Red River Beach.

According to the magazine, the methodology for the lists is “based on an analysis of expert and user opinions. We believe this unbiased approach makes our rankings more useful than simply providing our editors’ personal opinions.”

Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park, which is number 10 on the list of World's Best Places to Visit. Matt Volz/Associated Press

Here are some of the other categories and the Top 10 in each.

World’s Best Places to Visit:

1. South Island, New Zealand

2. Paris

3. Bora Bora

4. Maui

5. Tahiti

6. London

7. Rome

8. Phuket

9. Tokyo

10. Glacier National Park

Best Places to Visit in Caribbean:

1. St. Lucia

2. British Virgin Islands

3. US Virgin Islands

4. Turks & Caicos

5. St. Vincent & The Grenadines

6. Antigua

7. Barbados

8. Cayman Islands

9. Curacao

10. Guadeloupe

A lizard checks out the scene in Guadeloupe.Christopher Muther/Globe staff

Best Family Beach Vacations in the United States:

1. Outer Banks

2. Destin

3. Sanibel Island

4. Maui

5. Hilton Head

6. Amelia Island

7. Honolulu

8. Nantucket

9. Bald Head Island

10. Myrtle Beach

Slough Creek in Yellowstone National Park.Carl Fincke/The Washington Post

Best Family Summer Vacations


1. Yellowstone

2. Washington, D.C.

3. Grand Canyon

4. Outer Banks

5. San Diego

6. Bahamas

7. Anaheim-Disneyland

8. Jackson Hole

9. Niagara Falls

10. Boston

As for the Best Cheap Family Vacations, according to this year’s rankings, it’s Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon in the top spots, with Outer Banks and Washington, D.C., finishing out the top 5. For Best Cheap Caribbean Vacations, it’s Martinique, Curacao, and Trinidad & Tobago in the top three spots. Acadia National Park comes in at number 10 on the list of Best Fall Vacations (Asheville, N.C., takes the top honor).

For more of the US News and World Report vacation lists, visit travel.usnews.com/rankings.

A pair of paddle boarders head up the Charles River while taking in the view of Boston’s Back Bay skyline on Sept. 6, 2020.Nathan Klima for The Boston Globe/The Boston Globe

Christopher Muther can be reached at christopher.muther@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther and Instagram @chris_muther.