Creating our annual Travel Awards package takes months of work by a large team. This time out, our travel editors unanimously decided to celebrate trips in the United States, because the pandemic reinforced what we’ve long known: there is a bounty of spectacular American destinations to share.
Next we tapped our vast network of expert travel writers, many of whom have been working with Outside for 20-plus years. Our writers are constantly out there chasing adventure and collecting information on exciting lodging, trails, rivers, beaches, road trips, and other things to do. What they came back with was impressive—the research memo for this package was 117 pages long.
Then the really hard part began: whittling down an overwhelming number of choices into one winner and one runner-up in each category. This is when the heated debates arose, as we pored over research and advocated for favorites. The final decisions were based on many factors, including new travel options, improved-upon classics, accessibility, and sustainability, and we always strive to offer a variety of geographic locales, activities, and price points.
Our overriding goal? To inspire readers to get outside and explore the world, and provide them with great ideas for years to come. —Mary Turner, deputy editor and travel director
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