Best of 2021: Travel

Best of 2021_ Travel Winners

Whether you’re charting a course for international adventure, planning a multigenerational family vacation, or just looking for the perfect spot for a staycation or weekend road trip, here’s where our readers love to travel.

Best Hotel (City) & Best Staycation
The Langham, Chicago

Named the fifth best hotel in the country by US News & World Report, The Langham gets our readers’ vote for best in Chicago. A 22,000-square-foot health club, signature spa, reader-favorite restaurant Travelle at The Langham, and an impressive collection of fine artwork set this centrally located city escape apart from the rest.

Best Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Wonder cruises past glaciers, waterfalls, and fjords, giving guests stunning views from the ship. (Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise Line.)

Our readers love Disney’s Cruise Line’s industry-leading approach to family travel. Disney storytelling and world-famous franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar entice first timers on board, and the Broadway-caliber entertainment, award-winning dining, and Disney’s signature approach to customer service keep them coming back. A go-to pick for multigenerational travel, Disney Cruise Line’s fleet (including its newest ship, the Disney Wish) features numerous adults-only spaces—from bars and restaurants to pools and lounges, along with plenty of kid-friendly spaces and experiences like kids clubs and character interactions.

Best Resort
Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts

Four Seasons Resort, Maui

A global leader in luxury accommodations, Four Seasons consistently delivers elevated travel experiences across the globe. Our readers love Four Seasons resorts for their award-winning restaurants, spas, amenities and impeccably appointed rooms in locations far flung and right here in Chicago.

Best Theme Park
Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando

Matt Stroshane/Disney

With four theme parks, two water parks, and a heaping helping of pixie dust, the “Most Magical Place on Earth” easily takes the best theme park crown, with Disney’s most ambitious and immersive land yet, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, further upping the ante. And now’s the time to plan a trip—on Oct. 1, the Orlando House of Mouse kicks off an epic 18-month 50th anniversary celebration complete with new attractions, nighttime spectaculars, a sparkling Cinderella Castle glow-up, and more.

Best Travel Agent
Royal Travel & Tours, Chicago

Royal Travel president Kendra Thornton

A perennial favorite and multi-year Best Of Travel winner, Royal Travel & Tours takes all the stress out of vacation planning, handling every detail for their clients. Family owned since 1972 and helmed by lifestyle and travel expert Kendra Thornton, Royal Travel helps you to do what you’re meant to on vacation — relax!

Best Hotel (Suburbs)
Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest

An homage to the classic English inn, this boutique hotel is an Anglophile’s dream, complete with stone fireplaces, richly upholstered furniture, and curated artwork. A stroll through the formal English garden after a traditional afternoon tea service will have you convinced you’ve crossed the pond.

Best Midwest Family Destination
Saugatuck, Michigan

Old Pike Road. Photo by Jordan Marentette. All images courtesy of the Saugatuck/Douglas Area CVB.

Just three hours from Chicago, Saugatuck is an idyllic all-seasons retreat in the region known as Michigan’s Art Coast. Locally owned restaurants, shops, galleries and wineries and invigorating hikes along the dunes make this charming escape a family favorite among our readers.  

Category Sponsor
Royal Travel & Tours, Chicago

Pandemic Pivot

“When people could no longer travel internationally, the demand for drive-to destinations and places that provided natural social distancing like beaches and national parks took center stage. We have truly mastered knowing every corner of where to go, see, stay in the U.S.A. and U.S. territories. We also had to quickly become experts on evolving Covid-19 protocols, which is a unique challenge that continues to change even today.  The confusion of ongoing restrictions and protocol as international travel has opened up has brought us a lot of much needed new business this year because there is great demand for travel and people prefer to have a professional support and guide them in the planning process.” – Kendra Thornton, owner of Royal Travel & Tours

Kendra’s Top Travel & Tourism Picks

True Juice
542 Chestnut St, Winnetka
Juices so yummy we’re transported back to our favorite Caribbean resort

Peninsula Chicago
108 East Superior St.
Our top pick for staycations – a home away from home you will not want to leave…

Bellas Day Spa
810 Chestnut Ct, Winnetka
Best spot for a spa fix without needing to hop on a plane…

American Club
419 Highland Dr, Kohler, WI
Best place to help you feel like you traveled far but only a 2-hour drive — amazing spa and so fun for couples trips or getaway with girlfriends.

Bunny and Babe and Athene
Both in Winnetka 
It’s where we get all our favorite new travel outfits!

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