It’s a big world out there, so we’ve narrowed it down for you. From ancient temples to crystalline waters, here are our top destinations to visit this year.
JAN. 7, 2016
Mexico City, Mexico
A metropolis that has it all.
When Pope Francis visits Mexico City next month, he will draw the faithful from around the country. The Mexican capital, though, is attracting pilgrims of another kind: travelers seeking some of the world’s best cuisine, museums and forward-thinking design. With young people from around Latin America and Spain streaming into the city, and the Mexican peso hitting record lows against the dollar, the city — daunting and endless as it is — radiates energy.
Certainly, there is no more exciting place to eat. Enrique Olvera, who reinvented Mexican cuisine at Pujol, has inspired a generation of restaurants in his wake; recent openings include Fonda Fina in La Roma and Fonda Mayora in nearby Condesa.
Design fans can work up an appetite shopping for products by studios like David Pompa and Lagos del Mundo or for designs by Carla Fernández. Photography lovers have two new destinations: the FotoMuseo Cuatro Caminos and the newly renovated Centro de la Imagen.
But getting to know the city means diving into its colonias. In the shadow of Paseo de la Reforma, the city’s grand boulevard, the Colonia Cuauhtémoc, beckons business travelers and tourists alike, with the new design-conscious Carlota hotel and an increasing number of restaurants. Many other areas demand a more intimate exploration. You can stroll by the French-style 19th-century mansions of La Roma or take a turn around Parque México in Condesa.
Of course, there are places you should not wander but the city is far safer than it was in the 1990s, and taxi services like Uber and Yaxi make getting around a lot more comfortable. It’s also easier to get to: in the summer, AeroMéxico, JetBlue and American Airlines have boosted flights.
And if you’re overwhelmed, you can visit Futura CDMX, a scale model of the Federal District due to open soon — the latest flourish of pride in a city that’s ever coming back.
An ancient wine region gets a stunning update.
Next year will see the opening of the Bordeaux Wine and Trade Museum, an ambitious institution along the coast of the river Garonne dedicated to the history of French viticulture. The undulating wooden structure, designed by XTU architects, is part of a huge greening and revitalization effort along Bordeaux’s waterways, which also includes the 2013 opening of the Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Europe’s largest lift bridge, and the transformation of 700,000 square miles of former docklands into more than 5,000 new apartments and public waterside attractions. In 2007, half of the restored neoclassical city was Unesco-listed, making it the largest urban World Heritage site. And all the effort has been paying off: A 2013 survey ranked Bordeaux France’s second-favorite city, after Paris. More recently, a restaurant boom has welcomed enticing openings by the likes of Joël Robuchon, whose namesake restaurant opened at the end of 2014 within the city’s palatial Grande Maison hotel. Gordon Ramsay recently took the helm at Le Pressoir d’Argent, the restaurant within the InterContinental Bordeaux — Le Grand Hotel, while the French celebrity chef Philippe Etchebest, has taken over the Café Opera in Bordeaux’s Grand Théâtre. Other appetizing new entries include Franco-Chinese restaurant Dan, high-end minimalist Garopapilles and locavore Belle Campagne, in a rustic-chic townhouse in Bordeaux’s picturesque Old Town.
The Mediterranean on a dime.
Malta is an affordable Mediterranean playground with a superb climate, sublime beaches, megalithic temples and a distinctive crossroads culture. English is one of two official languages, but few Americans have discovered Malta’s charms. There are three inhabited islands to explore — Malta, home to buzzing Valletta, a Unesco World Heritage city of stunning limestone buildings; Gozo, more tranquil and with a dramatic coastline filled with great spots for diving; and idyllic, car-free Comino, which has one hotel and few residents. As Valletta celebrates its 450th anniversary this year, the old city has gotten some fresh touches, including a new city gate, a restored open-air opera house and a new parliament building, all designed by the renowned architect Renzo Piano. And in Malta, you can follow in the footsteps of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who spent their honeymoon shooting their latest film, “By the Sea,” in Gozo, which served as a more economical, but equally romantic, stand-in for the South of France. (You may also recognize the island from “The Whale” or “The Da Vinci Code.”)
Coral Bay, St. John
Visit the U.S. Virgin Island’s quiet corner before big development.
The beaches are less crowded, the emphasis is on local over commercial, and the people share a friendly sense of neighborhood pride. Among the town’s attractions: monthly full-moon parties at Miss Lucy’s, and a Thanksgiving “Thankspigging” pot luck pig roast hosted by the community at Skinny Legs, where the eating often swells into a singalong. But this quiet community may soon change. Visit before a proposed outlet mall and megamarina, expected to engulf the bay, transforms the laid-back atmosphere of this little corner of the United States Virgin Islands.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
A century of protecting America’s magnificence.
The National Park Service turns 100 years old in August thanks to President Woodrow Wilson, who signed the Organic Act of 1916, but few presidents have done as much for conservation as Teddy Roosevelt. Fly into Dickinson in western North Dakota to visit the park named after him, where rolling grasslands dotted with bison collapse into the spectacular red, white and gold badlands of tumbling mud coulees. Lonely dirt roads bring you to one of the park’s less-visited attractions, Elkhorn Ranch, about 35 miles north of Medora, where Roosevelt arrived in 1884 as a young New Yorker ready to raise cattle and heal from the deaths of his wife and mother. Transformed and inspired, the 26th president eventually set aside more than 230 million acres of federal land to help preserve the wonder of places like Crater Lake, Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon.
New island lodges and beach breaks — and more tolerance.
Mozambique is a forward-thinking African leader that offers a terrific mix of safari and beach. In July, it became one of the few African nations to decriminalize homosexuality (and abortion), a major step toward creating a more open-minded African destination for L.G.B.T. travelers. The bustling capital, Maputo, is experiencing a budding tolerance, while advocacy groups like Lambda Moz continue to help destigmatize homosexuality countrywide. Mozambique’s tranquil coast continues to draw travelers of all kinds in search of post-safari snorkel and surfing options. In 2016, Intrepid Travel starts a four-day Mozambique Beach Break to Barra Beach and the historic Inhambane settlement. In 2015, Cox & Kings began a new tour to Benguerra Island, where andBeyond, a company known for its conservation and luxury camps, reopened its stylish island lodge in June 2015, after a $5.5 million refurbishment.
Adam H. Graham
Canada’s largest city is ready for its close-up.
Toronto is remaking itself as Canada’s premier city, quietly slipping out of the shadow of Montreal and Vancouver. Last year, the Queens Quay on Lake Ontario reopened, part of the largest continuing urban revitalization project in North America. It now has bike and pedestrian paths and new streetcars that link green spaces and promenades that will be full of public art. The Junction, a former industrial area, has emerged as Toronto’s most stylish neighborhood for its bars, live music and coffee shops. And the city is becoming easier to visit: a train now whisks travelers downtown from the airport in 25 minutes, and Air Canada offers extended stopovers for connecting passengers. Toronto has long been known for its cultural diversity and continues to draw major artistic and sporting events, including the Toronto International Film Festival each September, and the 2016 N.B.A. All-Star game, held outside the United States for the first time.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
New museums and hotels and a greening desert.
Enlightenment takes time. Ten years in the case of Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi’s starchitect-saturated natural island whose name means “place of enlightenment.” After much controversy and multiple delays, Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi, known for a lacework dome that lets in what the architect calls a “rain of light,” is expected to open in mid- to late 2016. Forthcoming projects include a Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Zaha Hadid’s Performing Arts Center and Foster & Partner’s Zayed National Museum. This year also sees a batch of upmarket hotel openings elsewhere in the city, including the 200-room Four Seasons in the new Central Business District and the 244-room Edition Hotel on the Abu Dhabi Marina. Most surprising and important is the Emirati capital’s earnest step toward nature conservation. In January 2015, Abu Dhabi’s Environment Agency completed phase one of the Al Wathba Wetland eco-reserve project, one of the Middle East’s first wildlife reserves and home to 232 species. It also introduced strict fishing quotas and serving regulations at restaurants, and expanded Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, a master urban scheme that includes the Mangrove National Park, the first of five national parks and home to Anantara’s Eastern Mangroves Hotel and a biodiversity hot spot occupying 75 percent of the United Arab Emirates’ mangrove forest. Even Saadiyat’s beach dunes, home to nesting hawksbill turtles, have been protected, promising visitors an enlightened experience that goes far beyond art and architecture.
Adam H. Graham
Nordic cuisine’s next big thing.
Some of the Nordic region’s most interesting food is being cooked not in Copenhagen but across the Oresund Bridge, in the Swedish region of Skane. The capital, Malmo, is home to a handful of terrific casual places, like Bastard and Bord 13. But the real action is outside the city. Almost mythologically Swedish — all unadulterated coastline, mushroom-filled forests and red wooden houses — rural Skane has been attracting lots of creative types who come to farm (organically, of course), cook and even grow tobacco to make their own snus. In summer, Horte Brygga serves fresh, simply prepared seafood right on the shore, while Talldungen, a lovely country hotel and restaurant overseen by two young chefs who fled Stockholm, makes beautiful use of its on-site garden and bakery. But the real stunner is the 25-seat Daniel Berlin Krog. The namesake young chef hunts most of the game he serves and grows many of the vegetables; but his sophisticated, deeply layered cooking is more world-class than rustic. Though winter weather conditions have been rough, with flooding and icy roads, it’s definitely a place to watch in 2016.
Looking for the real Cuba? You’ve found it.
The increasing accessibility of Cuba for American travelers goes well beyond Havana. Less than three hours’ drive west of the bustling capital is Viñales, a lush valley of deep-red earth and tobacco fields and mogotes, stunning limestone outcrops that are often shrouded by morning mist. Explore the valley — a Unesco World Heritage site — from the village of Viñales, where every other pastel house is a bed-and-breakfast. Escape the tour buses by hiring a bike (or even a horse) and a guide and follow the tracks that cross the valley. Stop at a tobacco farm and learn what goes into making some of the world’s finest cigars, or, if you’re a keen climber, get a guide to show you where the best mogote climbing is. At farms, like Finca de la Confianza, you can learn about local, low-tech organic farming. Back in town, there’s a beautiful, family-run botanical garden with lovely orchids and plenty of options for a good plate of beans and succulent roast pork. And now that the United States and Cuba have agreed to restore commercial flights, it’s all that much easier to get to.
Easier access to wild beauty and a new look at a complicated legacy.
Finally, there’s easier access to the French Caribbean, thanks to the low-cost carrier Norwegian Air’s new direct flights to Guadeloupe and Martinique from Boston, New York and Baltimore. And it’s just in time for Memorial ACTe in Guadeloupe, one of the world’s largest centers dedicated to the memory and history of slave trade, which opened last July in Pointe-à-Pitre. On the site of the former Darboussier sugar factory, the soaring silver lattice-clad space — which some have called the Pompidou Center of the Caribbean — is part of Unesco’s Slave Route Project and houses a interactive permanent exhibit that intertwines the history of slavery with contemporary art covering themes of the African diaspora, plus public genealogy and research libraries, contemporary art and photography spaces and, of course, a bistro overlooking the ocean for that taste of France. From March 4 to 6, Davis Cup tennis fans will descend on Guadeloupe’s Vélodrome Amédée Detreaux for the France-Canada match — the first time the country has ever hosted the tournament outside of continental France. And it’s all in the midst of the islands’ verdant, dramatic landscapes and sand beaches.
Ceil Miller Bouchet
Park City, Utah
Always fun, now bigger — a lot bigger.
The big news in North American skiing this winter is that Park City Mountain Resort and adjacent Canyons Resort have merged to become the nation’s largest ski resort. A bitter legal battle over an expired land lease ended in fall 2014 when Vail Resorts, which operates Canyons, purchased Park City. Last summer Vail spent a record $50 million to solidify the union (and, one thinks, to show it will be a good steward after so much acrimony), and to pay for a new eight-person gondola to link the two resorts. The combined 7,300-acre ski resort, now simply called Park City, is skiable with one lift pass.
Thriving Danish culture beyond well-trodden Copenhagen.
Denmark’s second city is often eclipsed by Copenhagen, its cousin across the Kattegat sea. But this big city with a college-town vibe has a thriving art, culture and food scene that is set to expand through 2016. New development along its industrial coastline — including Dokk1, a cultural center and the largest public library in Scandinavia — as well as a light rail expected to open by late summer, is transforming Aarhus into a more accessible cultural capital. Other highlights are ARoS, the gallery known for its “Your Rainbow Panorama” floor with a kaleidoscopic view of the city; the Moesgaard Museum, dedicated to cultural history; a concert hall, home to the Danish National Opera; the “Iceberg,” a striking residential building on the water; and three Michelin-starred restaurants. Gastromé, a short walk from Aarhus’s old city center and canal, highlights new Nordic cuisine sourced from the Vilhelmsborg Forest and surrounding countryside.
An Aegean region grows a food scene.
Dotted with olive and mastic groves, artichoke fields and vineyards, Cesme is coming into its own as a culinary hot spot thanks to the acclaimed, Noma-inspired Alancha and newer restaurants opened by arrivals from Istanbul and Izmir. In the old Greek village of Alacati, Tas Otel organizes autumn olive harvest outings, and Asma Yapragi, Babushka, Roka Bahce and Fava cook to the season with produce sourced from local growers. To the east, the boutique hotel and vineyard Urla Bagevi arranges tastings at nearby wineries including Urlice and Usca. Events celebrating local food and drink — wild greens, wine, bread, the peninsula’s unique date olive, fish — run spring through autumn. In Izmir, at the peninsula’s base, the food tour outfit Culinary Backstreets recently began offering walking tours.
Road of the Seven Lakes, Argentina
A newly paved road to beautiful vistas.
It’s no longer necessary to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle to explore the Patagonian Lake District. With the long-delayed paving of the Road of the Seven Lakes completed last summer, it is now possible to drive, cycle or motorbike (new rental companies like Seven Lakes Rides are already setting up shop) down this 66-mile route that takes in some of Argentina’s most compelling scenery. Connecting San Martín de Los Andes to the mountain village of Villa La Angostura, an hour’s drive from the skiing and snowboarding mecca of Bariloche, the route is stunningly scenic, winding its way through forested valleys and around the namesake azure lakes, taking in national parks, snow-capped mountains and abundant waterfalls along the way. The trip can now be completed in a few hours, although it’s worth stretching out the journey to take advantage of the campgrounds (or boutique hotels) and excellent restaurants along the way.
Nell McShane Wulfhart
State-of-the-art museums and more in an ancient city.
Hangzhou used to be known for its ancient poets and painters; now, the city is home to the booming e-commerce company Alibaba, and will take a step on the global stage in 2016 as the first Chinese city to host the G20 summit. To get ready, the city is opening a slew of new hotels, including a 417-room Shangri-La, the brand’s second in Hangzhou, as well as the Kengo Kuma-designed Folk Art Museum, built on a former tea plantation with thousands of traditional-style roof tiles. Also, with tourists in mind, the city has developed an English-language travel app to help foreigners find hotels, restaurants and other attractions with ease.
Korcula Island, Croatia
Experience authentic life on the Dalmatian Coast.
Beyoncé and Jay Z called this one. The couple’s 2011 visit to Hvar Island seemed to open the tourist floodgates to Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Korcula is Hvar’s more modest neighbor. Much of the island is still untouched: dotted with blue-collar fishing villages and little pebble beaches. Instead of sticking to the Old Town, which claims to be the birthplace of Marco Polo, rent a moped and head west. Travel through olive groves and thick woodlands, and drive off-road to sample Korcula’s signature white wine, Grk, at any number of hopelessly charming family wineries. It’s bitter and earthy — and true to the region’s less fashionable days.
San Sebastián, Spain
A culinary capital expands its repertoire.
San Sebastián is known as a culinary paradise, but its packed cultural calendar this year will prove it has much more to offer. As the Basque beauty celebrates its reign as a 2016 European Capital of Culture, large-scale artworks will populate public spaces, the San Telmo museum will present a powerful joint project with Madrid’s Reina Sofía museum, the modern Kursaal auditorium and other area theaters will screen films as part of its annual film festival, and the historic Hotel Maria Cristina will impress with its refurbished belle époque interiors. Meanwhile, locals will be pouring their energy into grass-roots events, from traditional Basque festivals to street theater and artisan markets.
Ingrid K. Williams
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo
Newly accessible, gorillas and a volcano in idyllic surroundings.
One of the most breathtaking spots on earth, Virunga National Park, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, for decades has also been one of the most dangerous. Since late 2013, when the Congolese army routed the M23 rebels with the help of United Nations peacekeepers, intrepid sightseers have begun to trickle back in for the verdant vistas and up-close encounters with rare mountain gorillas. (Getting there requires a flight to Kigali, Rwanda, and a three-hour taxi ride.) Over the past year the park, featured in last year’s Oscar-nominated documentary “Virunga,” has opened or reopened its accommodations, like the individual luxury bungalows at Mikeno Lodge, where visitors can see baboons and even chimpanzees, or the Tchegera Island Camp off the shore of Lake Kivu, populated with eagles and herons. There are even summit shelters near the rim of Mount Nyiragongo volcano, in the warm, red glow of the world’s largest lava lake. While a park spokeswoman said there have been no reports of unfriendly encounters between rebels and tourists, the eastern D.R.C. remains an unpredictable area that calls for sensible precautions.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
A furniture-making city champions urban renewal and art.
The early 20th-century furniture companies Herman Miller and Steelcase established a creative community in central Michigan’s Grand Rapids, one now flourishing thanks to a confluence of urban revival and arts funding. The 138,000-square-foot food hall Grand Rapids Downtown Market, built using repurposed materials from the dilapidated buildings it replaced, earned LEED-gold certification in 2014, and enticed a branch of Detroit-famed Slows Bar-B-Q to open last summer alongside bakers and other food-focused start-ups. For three weeks each fall, the city’s contemporary art competition ArtPrize attracts more than 1,500 works and awards $500,000 in prizes. Artists from Auguste Rodin to Ai Weiwei stake the 158-acre Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, which recently added a Japanese garden with works by Anish Kapoor and Jenny Holzer. Don’t leave thirsty; over 40 craft breweries line the city’s ale trail.
A new wine region blooms near celebrated beaches.
In 2008, Alejandro Bulgheroni, who owns wineries from Napa to Tuscany, began growing grapes in a ranching region of Uruguay near the dusty town of Garzón, about 20 miles inland from the beach village of José Ignacio. Last month, the resulting boutique vineyard, Bodega Garzón, added a 161,000-square-foot winery angling for LEED certification and a restaurant with an open-flame-cooking focus overseen by the celebrated Argentine chef Francis Mallmann. It’s on an approximately 10,000-acre CQ property that includes olive and almond orchards. An inn is planned next year. Spanning nearby Lake Garzón, the new ring-shaped Laguna Garzón Bridge designed by the Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly is poised to be both an architectural attraction and a gateway to the rustic countryside.
A city spruces up to celebrate a centenary.
Dublin commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule with a series of ribbon cuttings this spring. Richmond Barracks, where the Rising leaders were court-martialed, will open an exhibition center. Nearby Kilmainham Gaol, the dramatic-looking prison where most of the leaders were executed, will unveil its restored Regency-style courthouse. The National Concert Hall will turn three rooms, site of the historic Treaty Debates, into a 130-seat performance space. And later in the year, the National Gallery of Ireland is expected to reveal the most extensive refurbishment in its 150-plus-year history, with the opening of a new atrium and upgrades to two wings.
Todos Santos, Mexico
A Pacific Coast retreat hosts a new green community.
Nearly 50 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, tranquil Todos Santos has long been a surfer’s retreat and a day-trip destination for Cabo travelers keen to visit art galleries. In summer, the new Tres Santos development may tempt longer visits via Hotel San Cristobal, a new 32-room beachfront hotel from Bunkhouse, owners of Hotel San Jose in Austin. A new 3.5-mile hiking and biking path will link the beach to town to encourage sustainable commutes. Tres Santos, which bills itself as a “mindful living community” and includes vacation homes, also plans to open a farm and a village with shops, restaurants and a farmer’s market this year.
Tamil Nadu, India
New gateways to India’s cultural core.
North India, with its famous Moghul era palaces and forts, might be the country’s most popular tourist destination, but Tamil Nadu in the south has an equally rich and undiscovered history. The state is where India’s major temple cultural complexes are, and some are so large that they’re considered minicities. There’s Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, a sprawling complex dedicated to a powerful female deity, Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, built by the ancient Cholas, one of India’s greatest dynasties, and several hundred other temples dotting the countryside and brimming with art carvings dating back as far as the 9th century. But temples aren’t the only cultural hit: the region of Chettinad has more than 50 villages filled with 18th century mansions of carved Burma teak. It also boasts cuisine that is among the spiciest and most aromatic in the country and often served on banana leaves. Limited infrastructure in Tamil Nadu made accessibility a challenge for travelers, but the recent burst of boutique hotels is changing that. Over a dozen properties recently opened or on their way to debuting include Chidambara Vilas and the Bangala in Chettinad, Heritage Madurai in Madurai and Ideal River Vira Resort in Thanjavur.
The Lake Geneva region attracts new and renewed museums.
Vaud, Switzerland’s gracious canton that hugs Lake Geneva, has been known to attract famous people seeking quiet lives, Audrey Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin among them. This spring, the long-awaited Chaplin’s World will open on 35 wooded acres at his former estate in Vevey, with an artifact-filled Modern Times Museum, contemporary art gallery, outdoor festival site and film center. The nearby Modern Times Hotel, opening in February, will offer shuttles to the museum. On the lakefront, Alimentarium, the food museum run by Nestlé, will reopen in June after a nine-month remodel to better relate “the story of food” through interactive exhibits. In fall, the new 65,000-square-foot Aquatis Swiss Aquarium and Water Museum will open near Lausanne, the canton’s capital.
Developments raise the bar downtown.
The National Mall, studded with landmarks and museums, will soon have one more jewel in its cultural crown: the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open late this year. Expect exhibits presenting a nuanced perspective of the African-American experience through cultural artifacts, artwork and personal-history stories. Adding to the appeal of downtown is nearby CityCenterDC, an ambitious 10-acre development project filled with apartments, condos, shops and restaurants, including Momofuku CCDC (the first United States location outside of New York of the celebrated restaurant brand), which opened there late last year.
Ingrid K. Williams
Brno, Czech Republic
Unexpected cuisine and nightlife in an architectural mecca.
Known mostly for its minimalist architecture, the Czech Republic’s second city is finally starting to earn praise for its food and drink, with last year’s new bars Super Panda Circus and Lucky Bastard Beerhouse joining the revered three-year-old Bar, Který Neexistuje (The Bar Which Doesn’t Exist). Stylish new restaurants like Simplé, Pavillon, Il Mercato and Koishi offer pitch-perfect takes on French, American, Japanese and regional Italian cooking, among others, while third-wave coffeehouses Coffee Fusion and Cafe Mitte make it easy for overnight guests from nearby Prague and Vienna to shake off the excess of the previous evening on their way to the remarkable Villa Tugendhat.
An isolated wonderland opens to air travel.
Remote is an understatement. A speck of volcanic rock in the South Atlantic some 1,200 miles west of the African coast, this British Overseas Territory is reachable by a five-day ship journey. (No wonder the British exiled Napoleon there.) But Saint Helena (population barely 4,000) is constructing its first airport and next year will welcome commercial flights on Comair from Johannesburg. The island, with dramatic landscapes and waters full of whale sharks, dolphins and tuna, offers a unique getaway for hikers, divers, fishing enthusiasts and hermits. All activities are best fueled by local coffee, an internationally prized specimen.
Celebrating a beloved architect all year.
This year, Barcelona prepares for an influx of architecture aficionados as it marks the 90th anniversary of the death of Antoni Gaudí, whose work famously peppers the city. The Gaudi Exhibition Center at the Museu Diocesà de Barcelona will continue to offer an interactive deep dive with its “Walking With Gaudi” exhibition — a perfect primer for what is poised to be an important decade in Gaudian history: by year’s end, the Unesco World Heritage Site Casa Vicens — Gaudi’s first major work — will open as a public museum, and the completion of the Sagrada Família cathedral, his most ambitious work, is finally scheduled for 2026. Guests of the nearby Majestic Hotel & Spa will be offered private tours of both structures once they open.
A cool alternative to the usual steamy Vietnamese destination.
Pine forests, locally grown avocados, and artichoke tea aren’t commonplace in Vietnam, but they are in Dalat. The south-central-highlands town, a former French-colonial hill station with eternal spring weather, is an agricultural El Dorado, growing asparagus, strawberries, coffee, artichokes, roses and more. Dalat has built a reputation for outdoor activities, golf (the new Dàlat at 1200 country club opened a course in November that will be featured on the 2016 Asian Tour), white-water rafting, mountain biking, canyoning and splashing under the roaring Elephant Falls or terraced Pongour Falls. So have overseas visitors — debut charter flights from China, South Korea, and Thailand arrived in 2015, with direct Singapore flights under discussion — drawn by the promise of a refreshingly different Vietnam experience.
Renewal in a former industrial capital.
A reopened Egyptian Museum isn’t the only draw in Turin, where projects like the warehouse district Docks Dora, home to galleries, ateliers and underground clubs; the street art initiative Arte in Barriera; and Lavazza’s new headquarters in Aurora near Porta Palazzo, Europe’s largest open-air market, are softening an industrial face. Fresh exhibition spaces and museums (CAMERA – Italian Center for Photography and Museo Ettore Fico) complement Contemporary Art Week, comprising Artissima, Paratissima and Luci d’Artista. The concurrent Club to Club is one of many music festivals (Torino Jazz, Kappa Futur, TODAYS, Movement Torino). The city, which is home to Slow Food’s annual Salone del Gusto, is also a jumping-off point for the Unesco world heritage-designated wine regions Langhe-Roero and Monferrato.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
In Yucatán, an ecotourism gem emerges.
The brief ferry ride to Isla Holbox, a 26-mile-long sliver of mostly mangrove and beach in the vast Yum Balam biosphere reserve, is only about a two-and-a half-hour drive northwest of Cancún thanks to a new route that opened last summer. The car-free island is a tranquil, unpretentious hideaway for visitors to the Yucatán, a place to swim with gentle whale sharks, to kiteboard above its crystalline waters, and to enjoy some culture at the annual International Public Art Festival, when artists indeed paint the town. In early 2016, LeBazaar, a new art gallery/cafe/boutique with rooms for several artists-in-residence will open next to one of the island’s original eco-friendly beachfront boutique hotels, the stylish Casa las Tortugas.
Ceil Miller Bouchet
Providence, Rhode Island
The East Coast’s answer to Portland, Ore.
This cobblestone-lined capital has the sort of bearded liberalness and ever-rising food scene — including the new restaurant Oberlin, from the duo behind the James Beard nominee Birch — that might feel familiar to residents of Portland, Ore. The sculpture-studded Creative Mile is part of a 40-acre redevelopment of the old I-195 that will also include an 8-acre riverfront park linking east and west by a footbridge. An hour away, well-heeled weekenders flock to Watch Hill on Little Narragansett Bay, where a new culinary center at the oceanside Ocean House offers “competitive-style” cooking classes.
Mosel wine country, Germany
Biodiversity, new hiking trails and a castle stay.
The Mosel is shedding its uptight oenophile image and embracing its wild side, which is attracting wine-minded outdoor types to its steep, riesling-lined riverbanks. Canoe and kayak outfitters are popping up along the undeveloped stretch of river — a rarity in Germany — home to rebounding populations of otters and kingfishers. Hikers can embark on the new 365 kilometer-long Moselsteig trail stretching from the French border to Koblenz, join Slow Mosel’s new 2016 tour to Luxembourg or join one of the biodiversity projects at Bauern und Winzerverbandes Rheinland-Nassau (a winemaker organization) that are protecting the riverbank’s stone walls, critical habitat for rare plants and endangered lizards. Travelers seeking a sip of old-school Mosel can stay at Schloss Lieser, a private castle-turned five-star hotel on a 27-acre riesling vineyard that opened in late 2015.
Adam H. Graham
Pyeongchang, South Korea
Ski South Korea before the Olympians get there.
South Korea will burst onto the global radar as a ski-and-snowboard destination when the world arrives for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. For now, travelers can enjoy well-groomed runs, friendly service, and comfortable slope-side rooms without the Olympic-sized traffic jams. Of several ski resorts in the area, Yongpyong is widely considered the best, with 13 lifts plus a gondola. It will host Alpine ski events during the Games, but is also welcoming for nonprofessionals: 12 of its 28 runs are rated beginner or intermediate. The Dragon Valley Hotel, nestled at the base, is a short walk to Korean, Chinese and Japanese restaurants, as well as pizza and burger joints.
Bond, Swarovski crystal, new ski lifts and hotels.
The edelweiss-spiked Alps are abloom with developments. Tyrol got its close-up as a filming location in the Bond film, “Spectre,” released in late 2015 and shot in the futuristic Ice-Q restaurant in the Ӧtztal Valley, and the glacial ski area of Sölden. The region will have more affordable hotels like the Almfamily Scherer resort recently opened and the new Adeo hotel in St. Johann in Tyrol from Hermann Maier and Rainer Schoenfelder, Austrian former ski racers; 13 new Tyrolean Schnapps Routes highlighting 41 distilleries; and Europe’s highest solar farm at the 3,000-meter-high Pitztal Glacier ski resort. New gondolas include the Tirol-S connecting the ski resorts of Fieberbrunn and Saalbach Hinterglemm, and the Kirchenkar high-speed lift to the new $32 million, modernist Top Mountain Cross Point, a mile-high museum and restaurant complex. But what would a Bond destination be without a bit of crystal-encrusted luxury? To celebrate its 120th birthday in 2015, the Tyrolean crystal maker Swarovski spent $38 million revamping its Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds), which include a glassy four-story “playtower” from the Norwegian architecture firm Snohetta, new art exhibits, like Crystal Cloud, a suspended cumulous-shaped net studded with 800,000 crystals, and a subterranean retail space dripping in crystal — a luxurious lair worthy of any villain.
Adam H. Graham
A revival fueled by modern art and architecture.
The Alsatian town of Colmar has mostly been known for its old-world charms: canals lined with half-timbered buildings, and an art museum, housed in a 13th century former convent, noted for Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece. Now that museum, the Unterlinden, is leading Colmar’s transformation into France’s latest destination for modern art and architecture, thanks to a three-year, 44 million-euro renovation and expansion by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. Unveiled in December, the expansion includes a converted public baths building with soaring ceilings, an underground gallery and a three-story copper-roofed extension that houses the museum’s new modern and contemporary art wing for displaying artists like Picasso, Monet and Léger. And Colmar’s famed waterways? No short shrift there: Herzog & de Meuron also reopened the Sinn Canal, which cuts through the new Unterlinden Square, lining it with sandstone steps.
An ancient region with new resorts and G7 ahead.
The ancient Kansai region of Japan has always lured travelers, but this year promises a few new reasons to revisit. Last summer, Japan Railways introduced a new five-day Ise-Kumano Area Tourist Pass. Next summer the city of Takarazuka, between Osaka and Kobe, will begin issuing certificates to recognize same-sex unions, the first city outside Tokyo to do so and a signal of change for gay travelers. The Michelin Guide to Kansai had so many starred restaurants (the most worldwide) it was divided into three separate guidebooks for 2016 and offers 19 new starred restaurants. Kansai’s superb ryokan (traditional Japanese guest houses) are seeing upgrades as hotels move into their turf. In late 2016, the 124-room Four Seasons Kyoto opens in the city’s historic Higashiyama-ku district, adjacent to the Toyokuni Shrine, while the new 24-suite Amanemu — the brand’s first hot spring resort — opens in Ise Shima National Park in Mie Prefecture, known for its pearl divers. The prefecture will also host the G7 summit this year, and its attendees are sure to make good use of the new luxury facilities.
Adam H. Graham
East Bay, California
Urban wineries and a soon-to-be-transformed waterfront.
While the Bay Area’s identity is dominated by beautiful, booming San Francisco, its soul increasingly seems to reside in the East Bay, where the population is growing faster than any other corner of this fast-growing region. The elegant new Bay Bridge has been a costly engineering failure, but its graceful white lines lead to Alameda County’s glorious inland climate, thriving arts scene and a vibrant culinary culture with roots in Berkeley’s Chez Panisse. In Oakland alone, some 300 new restaurants, including Bib gourmand winners like the Provencal-style French brasserie Michel Bistro and the autological Ramen Shop, and a dozen urban wineries have opened in recent years. Ten minutes away, in the island town of Alameda, a collection of former Naval Air Station hangars now houses breweries, distilleries and wineries in what has been dubbed “Spirits Alley.” This year will see groundbreaking on the first public park associated with Brooklyn Basin, a massive (and controversial) mixed-use development that will transform the Oakland Estuary’s waterfront.
Île de Ré, France
Who needs the French Riviera?
Île de Ré is an idyllic haven on the Atlantic Coast for foodies, beachcombers and cyclists in search of an extraordinary beach holiday. The island has more than 60 miles of dedicated bike paths, with more set to open this year, and a free shuttle bus, so visitors don’t need a car. There are 10 villages on the island, each with its own market, where visitors can buy fresh oysters, locally made sea-salt caramels and other treats. With its unspoiled golden sand beaches and popularity among French celebrities, Île de Ré draws comparisons to the Hamptons, but it’s also popular with budget travelers. Île de Ré is easy to reach — it’s connected to La Rochelle by a bridge and 13 European cities now have direct flights to La Rochelle-Île de Ré Airport — but very hard to leave.
East Coast, Sri Lanka
Remote stillness — and world-class diving — beckon.
Cut off for the last 30 years because of civil unrest, the east coast of Sri Lanka offers a collection of new hotels like the eco-conscious treehouse-inspired Jungle Bay resort, the barefoot-casual Maalu Maalu and private villas from the local brand Anilana. Wildland Adventures offers back road cycling and leopard-spotting land safaris, and Abercrombie & Kent now extends access to forgotten Hindu temples in newly revived Trinco as well as the region’s main draw, unexplored diving sites: the world-class wreck MV Cordiality and the 1922 British Sergeant, a marine oasis leaning on its side. Add on snorkeling with blue whales off Pigeon Island National Park, plus remote surfing, and the boxes are all ticked.
Make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of bluegrass.
The heart of tiny Rosine, Ky., population 113, is an old barn, which is a national landmark that plays host to a weekly Friday night bluegrass jam (mid-March through mid-December) that nods to Bill Monroe, Rosine’s most famous son and the musician credited with inventing bluegrass music. Musicians are never paid and admission is always free. Visitors can also visit Monroe’s grave and tour his childhood home up the street at Jerusalem Ridge, the site of a big annual bluegrass festival. And a Monroe museum is scheduled to open its doors in the center of town later this year. But the Rosine Barn jam and the endearing locals who enjoy sharing their stage are the town’s star attractions.
Beauty, but now a cultural capital, too.
As home to touristy seaside cities like Marbella, the province of Málaga, part of the Andalusia region, is a popular beach destination. The eponymous capital city, however, is now a center of culture. The birthplace of Picasso and home to a namesake museum full of works donated by his family, Málaga has recently seen three major museums open. The most significant is a five-year pop-up of the Centre Pompidou, costing upward of $8 million, housed in a futuristic building on the waterfront and displaying a changing selection of 20th- and 21st-century paintings by artists like Frida Kahlo and Marc Chagall. There’s also a new branch of the St. Petersburg State Russian Museum with a collection of works by some of Russia’s most notable artists and the Carmen Thyssen Museum, featuring around 250 works from Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza’s collection of past and present art world masters, including Jeff Koons. Getting to Málaga to explore this new side of the city is easier than ever: Delta now has seasonal flights into the local airport from New York City, and there are new high-speed train routes linking it to Madrid and Barcelona.
Authentic Chinese hill tribes without mass tourism — yet.
Guizhou province has long been one of China’s least accessible regions. As a result, its ethnic minority Miao and Dong mountain villages retain an unhurried pace and authentic feel compared with Lijiang, China’s famous minority center, which draws 20 million visitors a year. At least for now. Now Guizhou, too, is starting to open more widely to tourism. The trip from Guangzhou was shortened from more than 20 hours to four after the opening of a $20 billion high-speed railway at the end of 2014. And in 2015, Bike Aways, a Hong Kong tour operator, added several Guizhou itineraries, including a Miao Shaman festival hiking trip in January. High-end hotels are also opening in the region, including the Anantara Guiyang Resort early this year.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A design renaissance in Cambodia’s capital.
Siem Reap gets the lion’s share of Cambodia’s tourism, but Phnom Penh, the capital, is seeing several design-minded developments. The Sleuk Rith Museum, an archive for Khmer Rouge history and a center for Asian genocide studies, was to open this year but is stalled while it raises funds for its new home designed by Zaha Hadid. The modernist Khmer architecture of Vann Molyvann, a Cambodian architect and student of Le Corbusier, is getting overdue attention, including his 1960s brutalist National Sports Complex, which was added to the 2016 World Monuments Fund Watch List. Khmer Architecture Tours provides student-led tuk-tuk tours of it, and in late 2015 reintroduced its tour of Front du Bassac, another major Molyvann site. This year also sees the opening of the 148-room Rosewood Hotel on the top 14 floors of the Vattanac Capital Tower with views of the Mekong River.
Adam H. Graham
St. Louis, Missouri
A blues tribute near a more accessible arch.
On a national stage, the St. Louis area has struggled with race relations recently — and, more recently, flooding has hit the region hard — but more positive circumstances for celebrating the city’s rich African-American heritage will surface this year. The National Blues Museum, opening in April, will focus not only on the music’s cultural history but also its place as the foundation of American music — especially as a genre that transcended boundaries of race and background. Nearby, visitors will also have easier access to the city’s landmark arch, as the CityArchRiver project progresses, creating rejuvenated parks, promenades and new underground plazas.
Ingrid K. Williams
Greece’s second-largest city is first in food.
The young professionals of this northern Greek city have faced the country’s high levels of unemployment in an unusual way: They opened restaurants that put a modern twist on traditional Greek, Slavic and Ottoman flavors. Among them is Sebrico, run by a collective of amateur chefs who focus on local ingredients served at bargain prices. The team at Roots experiments joyfully with vegetarian cuisine — unusual in meat-loving Greece. Estrella, one of the city’s many stylish new cafes, reinvents traditional pastries, filling croissants with orange-scented cream. Encouraged by a vibrant student population and a visionary mayor, Greece’s second-largest city has become a capital of cheap eats.
An offbeat cultural hub with a new hotel to shelter the curious.
This small town in West Texas has become a destination for those attracted to the funky and low-key vibe that endures despite the high wattage work on view — largely that of the late artist Donald Judd, who moved to the dusty town in the 1970s, and opened the Chinati Foundation to showcase large installations by contemporary artists. This year, a new 10,000-square-foot installation by Robert Irwin will be unveiled. Annual music and film festivals fill out the cultural calendar. And the Hotel Saint George, originally opened in 1886, will reopen its doors this spring after a year-and-a-half renovation, reconceived as a 55-room boutique hotel highlighting work from local artists.
A spiritual destination reinvents itself.
Filled with stone temples and surrounded by emerald rice paddies, Ubud has long attracted backpackers and burned-out careerists looking to recalibrate. But the artsy central Balinese town (often overwhelmed by tourists) is emerging as a more sophisticated destination. A slew of luxe resorts opened in late 2015, including Kayon, Goya Boutique and Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve; the Westin is scheduled to debut in June, with Aloft, Solis Ubud and Waldorf Astoria Bali Ubud to follow. The dining scene is evolving, too, with stylish newcomers like Spice by Chris Salans, Watercress and the haute bakery Monsieur Spoon. As notable is the second edition of the Ubud Food Festival, in May, showcasing the diversity of Indonesian cuisine through cooking demonstrations, workshops, classes and panel discussions, and further enriching Ubud’s culinary landscape.
The Southern Gulf Islands, British Columbia
Near Vancouver, islands with simpler charms.
Always blessed with natural beauty, Vancouver has successfully recast itself in recent years as a luxury destination. But as the Canadian city goes upscale, travelers and locals seeking simpler Pacific Northwest charms are increasingly venturing just offshore, to the Southern Gulf Islands. A short ferry ride (as little as an hour) leads to a maze of Pacific islands dotted with small seaside villages, where summers can feel almost Mediterranean. Rocky coast and pebble beaches give way to rolling pastures and forested peaks. Winding roads lead from farms and wineries to cheeseries, breweries and artists’ studios. Each of the nearly dozen major islands has its own character and contrarian island culture, but all offer secluded coves and trails to explore, and abundant wildlife, from eagles to orcas. Restaurants — including tiny Pilgrimme, cited as one of Canada’s best — punch well above their weight, while one-off accommodations range from renovated Airstreams to Airbnb finds and small, family-run lodges.
Embracing nature in two urban reclamation projects.
Home to beaches and national parks, Sydney is a city outdoor lovers can embrace. Expanding that appeal, two new developments have turned industrial plots into beauty spots. Opened in September, the new Barangaroo Reserve reclaimed 14 acres once piled with shipping containers on the harbor. Inspired by the precolonial landscape, the newly contoured headland edged in sandstone features a shoreside promenade and, temporarily, the Copenhagen restaurant Noma, which will take up residency this month for 10 weeks. The Goods Line, a new elevated walkway, opened in August, repurposing a defunct train line. More reclamation: the new Old Clare Hotel joining a 19th-century pub and brewery offices. More convenience: American Airlines introduced daily Sydney to Los Angeles flights in December.
Beaufort, South Carolina
A peaceful Low Country town with a stylish new inn.
Petite Beaufort has the appeal of a much larger city (restaurants, festivals and art galleries) without giving up its small-town, Low Country charms (bike lanes, walking paths and romantic park benches overlooking the water). And there is an old-new spot from which to enjoy it: the Anchorage 1770, a 250-year-old historic house with generous porches and views of Waterfront Park, which reopened in July. In the 19th century, it was home to the Ribaut Club, a literary crew who met for drinking, gambling and dancing — a tradition to be resurrected by the inn.
Source: The New York Times0