Airbnb Says Milwaukee Is the No. 1 Destination to Visit in 2020

Turns out we’re cooler than Bilbao and Tokyo.

A “top places to travel” list is usually pretty predictable. We already know everybody’s flying to Iceland to view the Northern Lights and Austin’s live-music scene didn’t start rocking yesterday.

That’s what makes Airbnb’s recently released list of the top-20 destinations to travel next year so surprising. Milwaukee ranks #1.

And the other 19 destinations are world-wide, not just in the U.S., so what this means is that trending locations like Australia (Sunbury in Victoria, just outside of Melbourne, at #4) and the Netherlands (Maastricht, at #20, the Dutch city with the most historic buildings outside of Amsterdam) fall further down the list. Even the French Alps is – gasp – farther down than Milwaukee (Les Contamines-Montjoie, at #16). Ask any Milwaukeean what’s better in winter and we’re pretty sure it’s not shoveling snow here. Doesn’t skiing down the Alps followed by a plate of fromage and glass of French wine sound much better?

Another shock: Tokyo, which is hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics, is #17. (Again, below Milwaukee?)

Including Milwaukee, there are only three U.S. cities on the list. The other two are Eugene, Oregon (#7); and Cape Canaveral, Fla. (#12). With the growing interest in space exploration, the Cape Canaveral Space Station is an obvious draw and, come July, will serve as the launch site of NASA’s Mars 2020 Exploration Program. As for Eugene, the allure of an eco-friendly destination within our own borders never loses its luster. Airbnb mentions the green city’s “surrounding natural beauty” and that it’s “a hub for the organic food industry” and “a culinary hub in Oregon” that’s, for once, not Portland.

How did Milwaukee rise to the top? The results are based on booking data – specifically, year-over-year growth. Milwaukee’s growth clocked in at a 729% increase. According to Airbnb, it’s hosting the upcoming Democratic National Convention that will put Wisconsin’s largest city – pardon the pun – on the map.

“This historic gem on the shores of Lake Michigan,” says Airbnb, “has a terrific bar and restaurant scene and fascinating cultural attractions that include a Calatrava-designed art museum.” Another highlight? Our 105 miles of bicycle lanes which, as any Airbnb guest knows, is key when you want to sight see on two wheels.

The findings also point out that there’s increased interest in “post-industrial culture hubs like Milwaukee and Guadalajara” (the Mexican city is #9 on the list).

Here’s the full list: 

1. Milwaukee, WI, US
2. Bilbao, Spain
3. Buriram, Thailand
4. Sunbury, Victoria, Australia
5. Romania
6. Xi’an, China
7. Eugene, OR, US
8. Luxembourg
9. Guadalajara, Mexico
10. Vanuatu
11. Cali, Colombia
12. Cape Canaveral, FL, US
13. Aberdeen, Scotland
14. Courtenay, BC, Canada
15. Ubatuba, Brazil
16. Les Contamines-Montjoie, France
17. Tokyo, Japan
18. Kerala, India
19. Malindi, Kenya
20. Maastricht, Netherlands



A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine),, and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.