Five destinations in the United States are on National Geographic’s “Best of the World” travel list: are you surprised?

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Texas, Big Bend National Park, Santa Elena Canyon, Rio Grande River. (Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Five locations in the United States have been designated as part of the best places to travel in 2023.

National geographic released its annual “Best of the World” list last week, which features what it calls must-see places around the world.

List curator and National Geographic editor Amy Alipio told Fox News Digital that the picks for each year are determined in collaboration with explorers, writers and editorial teams around the world.

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After 11 years of compiling the annual travel list, Alipio revealed that she and her team are “always looking for an interesting mix”.

“We want to interest people in other places that they may not have heard of,” she said.

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A visitor bathes in the hot springs at Big Bend National Park during a Far Flung Adventures canoe tour on the Rio Grande River in Big Bend National Park near Terlingua, Texas on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. ( Erich Schlegel/For The Washington Post via Getty Image

“It’s about finding places where you’re surprised – and I feel like when you’re surprised and in awe of a place, it generates empathy and a desire to protect that destination.”

Here’s why National Geographic included Big Bend National Park in Texas; Milwaukee, Wis.; San Francisco, California; Charleston, South Carolina; and the state of Utah in the mix.

1. Big Bend National Park, Texas

Big Bend National Park in Far West Texas made an appearance on NatGeo’s list in its nature category.

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Despite being one of the lesser-visited national parks, according to Alipio, Big Bend offers stunning views and wildlife features just like other popular outdoor destinations.

“One of the reasons we like it on the list this year is because with a lot of the overcrowding that’s happening in some national parks – like, say, Yellowstone – Big Bend gets a fraction of the visitors that Yellowstone does,” she says.

“But it has landscapes that are just as incredible.”

Big Bend National Park sits on the border of Texas and Mexico, showing off its desert landscape and scenic rivers.

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The national park also has several “interesting” towns around it, including Marathon, Alpine and Marfa, Alipio said.

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The Prada Marfa sculpture by artists Elmgreen and Dragset is pictured March 3, 2014, near Valentine Texas. (Véronique DUPONT/AFP via Getty Images)

The towns mimic an early frontier Texas feel with small local shops and wide open spaces.

“It feels like being in a movie,” Alipio said.

2. Milwaukee, Wis.

Wisconsin’s lakeside city of Milwaukee has been mentioned in the list as NatGeo introduces a new category of community.

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Destinations listed under community are highlighted to give back to locals through tourism.

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The Milwaukee skyline in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 31, 2018. (Photo by Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Alipio pointed out that Milwaukee is much more than its “breweries and bratwurst” stereotype.

“It’s a vibrant city that supports its creative community,” she said.

Milwaukee recently reclaimed vacant land to rebuild its entertainment district, also known as the Deer District.

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The Milwaukee skyline with Lake Michigan in the background is seen at night January 6, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

The city also plans to open a new African American Arts and Culture Center in the revitalized traditional neighborhood of Bronzeville.

“There’s always a place on the list that makes you go, ‘Who knew about this place?'” she said.

“And here – Milwaukee – we have it as this Great Lakes city to watch.”

3.Utah

The entire state of Utah has been rated as a place to visit for maximum adventure.

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The Western State is known for its variety of outdoor excursions, from paddleboarding to mountaineering, and its stunning scenery.

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In an aerial view just outside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Lake Powell is seen September 8, 2022 near Ticaboo, Utah. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

NatGeo’s listing encouraged readers to get their “adrenaline rush” in Utah’s less-visited areas.

As visitors seek out popular stops in Utah such as Zion National Park, Alidio said the state is working to overcome overcrowding issues by building the park’s east side entrance and opening a reception center.

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Hike the Emerald Pools Trail introduces families to the grandeur of Zion Canyon (Photo by Doug Merriam/MCT/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“It’s just as beautiful,” she said.

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“They also promote other areas of the state where you can have equally amazing adventure experiences.”

The east side of Zion is often known as the quiet side, according to VisitUtah.com, with closer access to other sites like Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

4. Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is well known for its southern charm.

NatGeo added the South Carolina city to its list in the culture category, noting the thrill of exploring the cuisine and cultural history of Charleston’s low country.

“We all love Charleston for its food and its South Carolina architecture and setting,” Alipio said.

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Historic Charleston housing and architecture during Christmas festivities along Rainbow Row, South Carolina. (Photo by Christopher Pillitz/Getty Images)

But Charleston is also being highlighted now for recognizing the city’s “less than ideal” history in the slave trade, Alipio said.

The International African American Museum of Charleston is scheduled to open in January 2023.

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“There are a lot of stories of tragedy out there,” she said. “But also, stories of triumph too.”

The town is also home to a genealogy center where people can research family history and heritage.

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Aerial view of historic Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by: Visions of America/Joseph Sohm/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Historians believe nearly 90% of black Americans can trace an ancestor to Charleston, according to Alipio.

“It’s a really important place in American history, and we wanted to shine a light on this destination for that reason.”

5. San Francisco, California

San Francisco’s Crosstown Trail made an appearance on the list for being family-oriented.

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Even though San Francisco is already a popular place, Alipio shared that the city has reinvented its outdoor spaces.

The city’s new Crosstown Trail runs diagonally across San Francisco, allowing families to hike, bike and enjoy nature right at home.

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Day hikers explore the view from Philosopher’s Way, a 2.7-mile loop trail that was officially dedicated at McLaren Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. (Photo by Paul Chinn/ The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

“You don’t have to go very far or have special gear to hike,” she said.

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“An urban trail is right there, as close as your neighborhood basketball court.”

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A construction worker stands on the roof of the northbound Main Post Tunnel as work continues on the Presidio Tunnel Tops landscaping project in San Francisco, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. (Paul Chinn/ The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Im

San Francisco also opened the Presidio Tunnel Peaks last summer, which were built above former freeway tunnels over the bay in Presidio National Park.

The new attraction offers stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a nature center, playgrounds, food trucks and sites to light a campfire.

“It’s just a really fun place,” she said.

National Geographic’s comprehensive list is divided into five categories, each suited to different travel styles: culture, nature, adventure, community and family.

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