The 1960s may seem like a distant memory, but it was a time of great exploration and discovery. The “swinging sixties” saw the advent of cheap air travel, allowing more people to explore far-flung corners of the world and discover new cultures. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic travel destinations of the ’60s.
One of the most popular and beautiful destinations that people flocked to was the Hawaiian Islands. After it officially became a state in 1959, Hawaii saw a surge in popularity. Travelers were enamored with the beauty, laid-back vibes, Tiki aesthetics, luaus, and hula dancers. Entertainers like Elvis Presley, movies like Gidget Goes Hawaiian, and the surfing craze gave people a glimpse into romantic and dreamy island life, making Hawaii number one on their travel lists.
2. London, England
London in the 1960s was the epitome of cool. Between The Beatles, new and revolutionary shifts in art and mod fashion, and an aptly titled Time Magazine article, London became known as “The Swinging City.” And thus, the term “Swinging ’60s” was coined. London was the place to travel to be a part of this undeniably cool culture.
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Despite losing its capital status at the beginning of the decade, and the government turmoil mid-decade, Rio de Janeiro was still a common destination for travelers. The city is known for the Carnival celebration, gorgeous architecture, colorful atmosphere, lovely beaches, and the Samba and Bossa Nova music. And visitors indulged in everything.
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
The 1960s and Las Vegas were synonymous with that swinging vibe. When we picture this city in the ’60s, it looks so much different than the Vegas of today. We imagine The Rat Pack and the Sands Hotel. We think of stylish visitors in sunglasses poolside, in glitzy attire at roulette wheels and blackjack tables, or folks taking in a nightclub act with a cocktail in hand. The 1960s was Vegas in its heyday, and I often feel envious that I was never able to experience this version of the city that visitors so loved.
5. U.S. National Parks
While international flights were all the rage in the era, road trips in the U.S. were also prevalent. Families would pack into their station wagons, hitch up their trailers, and set off for various places. National Parks, such as The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, were the most common. These destinations may not be glamorous, but they are stunning. And in the ’60s, they were ideal for those who wanted to see the country and take in the wonders of nature. Summer road trips and the ’60s go hand in hand.
6. Disneyland, Anaheim, California
After Disneyland opened in 1955, it quickly became one of the top travel destinations in the world. At the beginning of the decade, the one-of-a-kind (at the time) theme park had its first significant addition with new, exciting attractions, including the Matterhorn and Monorail, both revolutionary in that era. 1965 marked the 10th anniversary, and a special program showcased all the park had to offer. Everyone wanted to experience the magic of The Happiest Place on Earth.
7. Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley was a popular destination from the 1940s through the 1960s. It’s a place that was enjoyed in the winter and summer months with skiing, swimming, tennis, and other lively activities at cozy resorts. Sun Valley was the Aspen of its day, was popular amongst celebrities, and was featured in several films, such as Sun Valley Serenade, Duchess of Idaho, and the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour.
8. New York City
Much like London, New York was a place travelers longed to visit, looking for cool vibes and a swinging nightlife in the city. Those lucky enough to visit would no doubt take in a Broadway show such as Bye Bye Birdie and Hello Dolly and stay at the Chelsea Hotel. The artistic types would visit Greenwich Village, the inspiring hub for artists, writers, and musicians such as Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan.
9. Palm Springs, California
The 1960s was the golden age for Palm Springs. This sunny destination is known for the desert heat, golf courses, and mid-century modern architecture in its hotels and homes. It was primarily where only the wealthiest, including celebrities and Presidents, liked to vacation. But that didn’t stop others from dreaming of swimming pools and palm trees, many finding their way there during the decade.
10. Paris, France
Paris has always been a place that travelers from all over the world love to visit. The 1960s saw a surge in tourism to the City of Lights, with tourists taking in all the landmarks and luminous beauty. Paris was also the world’s fashion capital, with the Audrey Hepburn collaborator Givenchy being one of the most prominent. Every aspect of Paris had travelers to this city in awe and saying, “Ooh la la.”
11. Miami Beach, Florida
Any trip in the 1960s wouldn’t be complete without a stop in Miami Beach, especially for the sun-seeking tourists. This coastal city was the ultimate destination for travelers looking for a taste of the high life, with its glamorous beachfront hotels, white sands, vibrant architectural style, and lively nightlife.
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