Top Family Travel Destinations 2016: A Global Adventure from Japan to Croatia
Are you ready to embark on an unforgettable journey with your loved ones? The search for this year's best family travel destinations is over! Get ready to explore the hidden gems of Mie Prefecture in Japan, marvel at the stunning landscapes of Alta, Utah, and dive into the vibrant culture of Lanai, Hawaii. From the tranquil beaches of Margaret River, Australia, to the bustling streets of Kochi, India, this article is your ultimate guide to the most breathtaking and family-friendly destinations of 2016. So pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and let the adventure begin!
Mie Prefecture, Japan
Exciting developments are taking place in Mie Prefecture, located just a four-hour ride from Tokyo on the bullet train. While it has mostly attracted domestic travelers in the past, Mie Prefecture is now drawing attention from international visitors. The area boasts scenic attractions such as the Ise-Shima National Park along the coastline, as well as the renowned pearl-producing oysters and the high-quality Matsusaka beef. Additionally, Mie Prefecture is home to sacred Shinto pilgrimage sites that are protected by UNESCO. In 2016, Shima City will host the G7 summit, bringing together world leaders. For leisure travelers, the new Amanemu ryokan is a must-visit. This luxurious accommodation offers 24 suites and four villas, each equipped with private onsen hot spring baths filled with mineral-rich waters from the region. Relax in the serene surroundings before this hidden gem becomes widely known. - Diana Hubbell
No matter the time of year, the greater Salt Lake City area, including Alta, Utah, is a fantastic destination. The Wasatch Mountains offer a wide range of activities for all seasons. In the summer, visitors can enjoy mountain biking and hiking, while the winter offers world-class skiing opportunities. Park City, previously named a Best Ski Town by us, is a popular choice, but Alta provides a different experience. Tucked away in Cottonwood Canyon, Alta Ski Resort offers a more local and authentic vibe, away from the tourist crowd. The ski runs here are challenging, but there are also dedicated areas for beginners and neighboring Snowbird provides additional skiing options. If budget allows, staying at Alta Lodge is highly recommended. This traditional ski lodge offers comfortable accommodations, delicious meals, and even a kids' program. Plus, you can ski right from the back door. It is important to note that Alta Ski Resort is for skiing only; snowboarding is not allowed.
Lanai is a unique and tranquil island in Hawaii, standing out from crowded and bustling Oahu. The island's owner, Larry Ellison, closed down the Four Seasons resorts last year for renovations, leaving only the Hotel Lanai open to guests. However, this year brings the highly anticipated opening of the new Four Seasons Resort Lanai in March. The renovated property, formerly known as the Four Seasons Manele Bay, will offer new restaurants, including one overseen by master chef Nobu Matsuhisa, as well as two pools and 217 rooms decorated with woodcuts by local artist Dietrich Varez. The resort's prime location near a marine preserve and its breathtaking views will remain unchanged. - Stephanie Wu
Margaret River, Australia
Margaret River has emerged as Australia's newest gourmet enclave. Located just over three hours by car from Perth, this region is bordered by the Indian Ocean and features stunning forests. Margaret River is home to over 60 vineyards, producing approximately 15% of the country's premium wines. Cullen, one of the vineyards in the area, offers freshwater crayfish and grass-fed beef and lamb along with their Art Series Cabernet Sauvignon. For accommodation, Cape Lodge is a highly recommended plush boutique hotel set in 32 acres of woodland. The lakeside restaurant is helmed by new chef Michael Elfwing, who previously worked at England's Fat Duck. A visit to Bahen & Co. chocolate factory is a must, where former winemaker Josh Bahen crafts a house blend that is 70% cacao and sweetened with organic sugar. There is also a spectacular version with chili and salt. - Graham Boynton
Kochi, the historic center of Kerala, India, has recently undergone a transformation. It will host the third Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2016, a highly influential contemporary art exhibition. The winter event, from December to March, will be curated by Sudarshan Shetty, known for his site-specific installations. The biennale will showcase works from both up-and-coming Indian artists and international artists such as Anish Kapoor. This art movement has revitalized the city's galleries and spilled over into the streets, with graffiti-inspired murals popping up alongside iconic landmarks like the Paradesi Synagogue. For accommodations, Trinity is a newly redesigned eight-room guesthouse, offering a modern aesthetic behind its historic facade. The interiors feature colorful furniture and lithographs by modernist master M.F. Husain, considered the pioneer of contemporary Indian art. - Deepanjana Pal
Canggu, located on Bali's southwestern coast, has long been a favorite destination for surfers. However, it has recently gained popularity beyond the surfing community due to its unique and diverse offerings. Frii Bali Echo Beach is a hip hotel that stands out from the mainstream resorts on the island. It offers simple rooms with Balinese accents and a range of activities such as stand-up paddleboarding, water yoga, and Muay Thai. For food lovers, the area is home to a selection of restaurants run by expats, including Milk & Madu, known for its fresh juices and wood-fired pizzas, and Crate, a concrete-clad cafe serving hearty smoothies and feta-tempeh wraps. Old Man's surf spot is the perfect place to watch the sunset while enjoying an ice-cold Bintang beer. After dark, Deus, a restaurant, bar, music venue, and art gallery, becomes the cultural heartbeat of Canggu. For those seeking more action, May and October are the best months to visit, as Deus hosts two major surf competitions during this time. - Leslie Patrick
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Asbury Park, located just 90 minutes south of New York City, has overcome its previous reputation as a city of ruins. Devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Jersey Shore town has embarked on a recovery journey, with its gay and live-music scenes leading the way. While visitors can still enjoy attractions such as Madam Marie's Temple of Knowledge and vintage pinball machines at the Silverball Museum, they can also indulge in shopping for clothing and jewelry at the Market at Fifth Avenue and dining at Langosta Lounge offering sushi and tacos and other trendy restaurants. Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, just a short walk from the beach, is a must-visit for beer enthusiasts, offering almost 100 varieties of beer. Famous music venues like the Stone Pony continue to draw crowds. The oceanfront Empress Hotel is a popular place to stay, although the newly built 110-room Asbury hotel will provide more options in the near future as part of the city's beachfront revitalization project. Asbury Lanes, a beloved 1930s-era bowling alley, is also undergoing renovation. - David Shaftel
If you're a fan of outdoor adventures, Mount Hood, Oregon, is the place to be. This destination offers a little something for everyone, with breathtaking natural beauty, challenging hiking trails, and mountain biking opportunities during the summer months, as well as excellent skiing options in the winter. Hood River, a charming town known for its wine and cider, is just a short drive away and offers a fantastic experience for food lovers. For a unique getaway, consider renting a cabin in Government Camp or staying closer to the city at Collins Lake Resort or Resort of the Mountain. Alternatively, you can choose to stay at the historic Timberline Lodge, which offers a one-of-a-kind experience. Don't miss the chance to explore the countryside, visit the many wineries in the region (over 130 to choose from!), and enjoy the incredible 2015 vintage wines that are predicted to be the best in a century. - Amy Tara Koch
Seattle is determined to make a name for itself as a foodie destination and not let its southern neighbor, Portland, steal all the glory. Capitol Hill, in particular, is a culinary neighborhood to watch. In 2016, visitors will find it easier than ever to reach Capitol Hill, thanks to the new Seattle streetcar line and the light rail connecting the area to SeaTac airport. Lionhead, a Sichuan-inspired restaurant by Jerry Traunfeld (former chef at the Herbfarm), and Soi, a husband-and-wife-owned Thai restaurant specializing in dishes from the Isaan region, are just a few of the sought-after dining spots in the neighborhood. A unique nighttime spot worth checking out is Capitol Hill Hot Cakes, which offers molten chocolate desserts and also serves soft-serve ice cream that can be topped with potato chips and roast-your-own marshmallows for DIY s'mores. Exciting developments extend beyond the city, with the opening of the McMenamins Anderson School Hotel in the nearby town of Bothell. This Art Deco-style former junior high school has been transformed into a hotel, complete with restaurants, bars, a brewery, movie theater, indoor pool, and outdoor fire pits. - Sarah Z. Wexler
San Antonio, Texas
For years, San Antonio has been in the shadow of its more famous sister city, Austin. However, this is changing rapidly as San Antonio sheds its sleepy reputation. The historic St. Anthony Hotel recently reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation, revitalizing downtown. Additionally, the River Walk has been transformed into a stunning 15-mile trail connecting the city's Spanish missions to the vibrant Pearl district. The Pearl, a former brewery complex, now features locally owned shops, acclaimed restaurants, and even a Culinary Institute of America campus. Hotel Emma, an independent boutique hotel located inside the former 1894 brewhouse, showcases the city's rich history and offers unique accommodations. With two restaurants, Supper and Larder, serving a variety of delicious dishes, Hotel Emma is a fantastic place to stay for a taste of San Antonio's culinary scene. The city's cool factor is on the rise, making it an exciting destination to explore. - Millie Kerr
In March, Adelaide will become a hub for music lovers as it hosts WOMADelaide, a remarkable festival set in the picturesque Botanic Park. The lineup for this year's event promises performances by renowned artists such as the Violent Femmes and a collaboration between West African singer Angélique Kidjo and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. The city itself has been experiencing a culinary transformation, with talented chefs opening new restaurants. Jock Zonfrillo's flamboyant restaurant, Orana, and the South West Supper Club led by former Southern Ocean Lodge chef Tim Bourke are just a few examples of the innovative dining options available. NOLA Adelaide, a new pub serving craft brews, whiskey, and po'boys, has also become a popular spot. Even Adelaide Airport is getting an upgrade with a rooftop solar-panel system, the largest of its kind in Australia. With new flights from Doha launching in May, there is plenty to look forward to, including the potential addition of direct flights from the U.S. and mainland China. - Alex Schechter
Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is no longer under the radar, as it is now a thriving wine and food destination. Stretching roughly 125 miles, the valley offers various geographic features, from desert-like conditions in the south to lush green plateaus and sandy beaches around Okanagan Lake. The area has become increasingly sophisticated, with a strong focus on local food and wine. Wine-focused restaurants like Sonora Room and Miradoro offer stunning views and farm-to-table specialties paired with high-quality wines such as Pinot Gris and Meritage. For accommodation, Sparkling Hill Resort, owned by the Swarovski jewelry dynasty, is a luxurious option that features millions of crystals in its design. Naramata Heritage Inn & Spa, a classic Mission-style building dating back to 1908, is another great choice. With over 130 wineries to explore in the region, spending a few days hopping from one vineyard to another is a must. Don't miss the opportunity to sample the highly anticipated 2015 vintage wines, which are expected to be the best in a century. - Guy Saddy
Bozeman, Montana, has transformed from a small cowboy town into a popular mountain destination. With its university town vibe and easy access to outdoor adventures, it has become an all-American hot spot. The Lark, a high-concept boutique hotel that opened last year, has quickly become a community hangout. Locals and tourists alike gather in the laptop-friendly lobby, relax in the outdoor lounge with a fireplace, and enjoy food from the retro silver taco truck on the property. Main Street offers a variety of shops, including outdoorsman supplier Schnee's and the trendy Revolvr Menswear. Rustic charm meets sophisticated flavors at restaurants like the Roost, Blackbird, Open Range, and the Feed Café. Bozeman also offers excellent craft beer options, with the newly opened White Dog Brewing Company serving its beer on a handcrafted frost rail to keep it ice-cold. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the proximity to a stunning national park, offering endless opportunities for exploration. - Amy Tara Koch
© Peter Donaldson / Alamy Stock Photo
Belize is still a great destination for backpackers, similar to Costa Rica in the 1980s. However, certain areas have also become popular retreats for affluent travelers. One of these areas is the beach town of Placencia, located on a lesser-known peninsula on Belize's east coast. For many years, Francis Ford Coppola's Turtle Inn has attracted glamorous individuals to its cottages in Placencia. But now, the secret is starting to get out, especially with the recent opening of Itz'ana. Itz'ana is an ambitious combination of a farm, restaurant, and retreat, boasting 39 upscale villas located just feet away from the world's second-largest coral reef system. The project is situated near Turtle Inn and offers not only luxurious accommodations (complete with terraces, waterfront views, and high ceilings), but also a culinary experience led by chef Mara Jernigan, famous for her popular Limilita pop-up restaurant in Placencia. Jernigan will utilize local ingredients to showcase Belizean agriculture and fine dining, even having her own fleet of fishermen. Other amenities at Itz'ana include a spa inspired by Mayan traditions and using locally sourced rainforest botanicals, a dedicated room for rum enthusiasts, and chartered yachts for sunset cruises. —Nikki Ekstein
Denver is no longer just a destination for skiers and snowboarders attracted by the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The city has now become a hub for art and design. One of the latest additions is the Art Hotel, located right next to the Denver Art Museum. The museum itself has undergone a $16.1 million expansion, and the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art will soon introduce a new space. Even the Westin Denver International Airport offers plenty of visual delights, with its impressive outdoor installations and interior accents created by local artists. The hotel's 519 rooms provide stunning views of the city, the mountains, and the Great Plains, and its convenient location allows travelers to reach downtown Denver in just 37 minutes via the new commuter rail. Once in the city, visitors can enjoy a meal at Jennifer Jasinski's Stoic & Genuine, known for its famous crudo, octopus mortadella, and raw bar. —Corina Quinn
Courtesy of David Whitney Building
In just a few years, Detroit has transformed from a cautionary tale into a success story, branding itself as "America's Great Comeback City." The city has revitalized its formerly desolate riverfront, streets, and buildings to attract both locals and tourists. The opening of the first Aloft hotel in Michigan in the historic David Whitney Building and the $30 million renovation of the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center are just a few examples of the city's progress. The historic fire department headquarters, located across from the Cobo Center, is set to become the boutique Foundation Hotel. Additionally, new attractions such as the West Riverfront Park, the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center, and almost 100 new restaurants, breweries, and distilleries have been added to the city's offerings. The presence of retailers like John Varvatos and Carhartt, as well as future plans for Nike, further confirm Detroit's successful comeback. —Corina Quinn
Sean Pavone Photo
The Steel City is reinventing itself as the Arts City, with former warehouses and industrial spaces transforming into edgy galleries. The Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory, and the Society for Contemporary Craft are just a few examples of the thriving arts scene. The Quantum Theatre stages a mix of traditional and avant-garde shows, including a world-premiere opera. The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium also offer unique visual experiences, such as the Islands exhibit featuring clouded leopards, Philippine crocodiles, and critically endangered swimming Visayan warty pigs. The East Liberty neighborhood, once one of the city's most affluent areas, is now being revitalized by creatives who have opened galleries, shops, and cafés. Two new boutique hotels, Hotel Indigo Pittsburgh East Liberty and the Ace Hotel, have also recently opened in the area. —Sarah Z. Wexler
The greater Salt Lake City area in Utah is a great destination year-round. The Wasatch Mountains provide opportunities for mountain biking and hiking in the summer, as well as world-class skiing in the winter. Park City, Utah, has already been recognized as one of the best ski towns. However, Alta Ski Resort, located in Cottonwood Canyon, offers a different experience with a focus on the mountain terrain and cozy accommodations. While Park City attracts celebrities, Alta is more likely to be enjoyed by locals. The ski runs at Alta vary in difficulty, with a whole area dedicated to beginners. For more skiing options, neighboring Snowbird is located right next door. It is highly recommended to stay at Alta Lodge if budget allows, as it provides an idyllic ski lodge experience with most meals included and a great kids' program. One important note is that Alta is exclusively for skiing; no snowboarding is allowed.
Once a blue-collar paradise for coal miners and steelworkers, Liège has transformed into a new destination for art and food this summer. The Boverie art museum opens in May, showcasing the best of Belgian art and collaborating with the Louvre for an exhibition of international greats like Renoir, Manet, van Gogh, and more. The Boverie is situated in southwest Liège, between the Santiago Calatrava–designed train station (Liège Guillemins, the largest in the city) and an urban mall called the Médiacité, a 20-minute walk from the center of town. By the time the Boverie opens, the Design Station of Wallonia—a local artists’ showcase highlighting design collaborations celebrating the city’s economic and cultural heritage—will also be fully operational. In June, the first annual Generation W Food Festival will take place in nearby Namur, featuring French-speaking chefs and producers from the Wallonia region of Belgium displaying their regional cuisine. Notable chefs from the region include Philippe Fauchet, owner of a restaurant in St.-Georges-sur-Meuse that focuses on terroir, as well as Maxime Collard, Pierre Résimont, and Benoit Neusy. No matter when you visit, be sure to sample the sugary Liégeoise waffles at Sandwicherie Pollux on the Place de la Cathédrale, and the city’s traditional meal—meatballs with fries—at Café Lequet, near the river and the Cathédrale St.-Paul. —Jennifer Billock
The origins of wine can be traced back to this region, which straddles the border between Europe and Asia. Oenophiles have long flocked to Kakheti, the top winemaking region, for vineyard tours and exceptional tastings. But the buzz is building about Georgia, and the country is about to get an influx of visitors interested in more than just wine. Concerns about safety in Ukraine have led many leading cruise lines, including Regent Seven Seas and Oceania, to spend more time in Batumi, a laid-back Black Sea coastal city in Georgia (home to one of the world’s largest botanical gardens). Major hotel brands are also starting to establish a presence in the area, with Radisson Blu opening in Kakheti’s Tsinandali village and Le Méridien planning to open in a few years. This is the perfect time to visit and enjoy breathtaking views of the Caucasus Mountains, explore the Persian, Soviet, and Art Nouveau architecture in the capital city of Tbilisi (stay at the year-old, gastronomy-centric Design Hotel Rooms Hotel Tbilisi), and indulge in the world-famous wine. —Melanie Lieberman
Morocco’s largest city has emerged as the gateway between Europe and Africa—and not just for the corporate types moving into the upcoming Casablanca Finance City complex. The Four Seasons has opened its doors at Anfa Place, a mixed-use development by Foster & Partners that is located near the city’s beachfront Corniche area. The hotel offers 186 rooms and suites with Fragonard bath amenities and customizable beds. It also features a variety of shops, including Moroccan fashion label Diamantine and Marks & Spencer, as well as over a dozen cafés and restaurants, including the Philippe Starck–designed Paradis du Fruit. Furthermore, the city skyline will soon be dominated by Africa’s tallest skyscraper, the $1 billion, 114-story Al Noor Tower. This is the perfect time to visit and enjoy uncrowded access to architectural wonders like the seaside Hassan II Mosque, which has magnificent marble interiors and the world’s tallest minaret. The mosque is among a small number in the country that are open to travelers of all religious backgrounds. —Nikki Ekstein
When LAN Airlines began flying to a new airport on Chiloé several years ago, word about the island and its surrounding archipelago started spreading fast. The allure is clear: over 30 lush islets with primordial forests and a rich abundance of wildlife that once captivated Darwin's attention. The islands have a unique cultural hybrid of indigenous folklore and Hispanic traditions due to remaining relatively isolated from mainland Chile for over 250 years. The impact of this mix can be seen in the UNESCO-protected wooden chapels, built by native seafaring tribes, which have domed ceilings resembling the hull of a ship. Travelers are drawn to Chiloé from December through March for opportunities to kayak, bird-watch, hike, horseback ride, and witness penguins and blue whales. As tourist numbers increase, the colorful waterfront palafitos, once stilted homes of fishermen, are being converted into upscale establishments such as the farm-to-table restaurant Mar y Canela and the boutique hotel Palafito 1326. Additionally, Tierra Chiloé, the premier property on the Big Island, has plans to add more rooms to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors. The construction of the Chacao Bridge, which will connect Chiloé to the mainland, is also underway, making the region even more accessible to travelers. This is the ideal time to visit and enjoy Chiloé’s still-unspoiled landscape and unique culture. —Nora Walsh
This lush island, part Indonesian and part Malaysian, has long been recognized as the home of the endangered Bornean orangutan and as one of Asia’s last remaining great rainforest habitats. In the past, only the most adventurous travelers ventured into its wild, undeveloped heart. However, high-end offerings are gradually opening up the island to the world. The National Geographic Orion (now operated by Lindblad Expeditions) was among the first to explore the waters off Borneo’s coast. Other cruise lines are following suit, such as Silversea, which introduced a new port of call in 2015 in Bintulu, a coastal town on the Malaysian side of Borneo and a gateway to the nearby Similajau National Park known for its hornbills, gibbons, and long-tailed macaques. The development of new itineraries in remote and lesser-known areas has also sparked hotel development. Gaya Island, previously a fishing village, has recently welcomed Gaya Island Resort with 120 hillside villas offering stunning views of the sea and its own yacht and resident naturalist. In April, the 101-room Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa opened, becoming the second Marriott resort in Borneo. Its design mimics the forested surroundings. Additionally, the reopening of the North Borneo Railway system provides visitors with unprecedented access to the island’s rural corners and a chance to see a world untouched by civilization. —Lindsey Olander
Canouan, a tiny island within St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has gained a reputation as the destination where billionaires go to escape the millionaires. More than half of the island’s 2,500 residents work for resorts like Canouan Resort and its sister property, the Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club. Eleven of the world’s wealthiest individuals are among the residents. One frequent visitor, Irish financier and billionaire Dermot Desmond, has plans to open an 80-berth mega-yacht marina, rumored to include several high-end restaurants, by early 2016. Another upcoming resort (name yet to be decided) will open by mid-2016, offering 32 extravagant suites and villas. These accommodations, starting at $2,000 per night, will become the most expensive in the Caribbean, all with ocean views and $1,500 Pratesi linens. The resort will feature eight restaurants, access to a pristine marine reserve, and a spa with treatment rooms in overwater bungalows, giving it the feel of a private island. Charter yacht service will also be available for day trips to the uninhabited Tobago Cays. This is the perfect time to visit and experience the exclusivity of Canouan before the crowds arrive. —Nikki Ekstein
Zimbabwe remains relatively untouched by crowds and offers affordable prices. However, the recent opening of the Victoria Falls Airport, allowing for direct international flights in November, could bring about a drastic change. Since adopting the U.S. dollar, the economy has improved and Zimbabwe has experienced an influx of fresh investment. In the far north of the country, a popular activity for families is a canoe safari on the Zambezi in Mana Pools National Park, where visitors can spot crocodiles and hippos. Safari operators are expanding their offerings, particularly in Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park, which is known for its expert guides, walking safaris, and sightings of large herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra, and wildebeest. Hwange now has several upscale accommodations in private concessions, including nine ultra-contemporary tents at Wilderness Safaris Linkwasha Camp and the Somalisa and Somalisa Acacia camps, owned by Beks Ndlovu. These camps attract elephants that regularly come for a sundown drink out of the swimming pool. —Jane Broughton
Do not be fooled by the vast stretch of arctic tundra and snowy forests in Russian territory—Siberia is far from inhospitable. Increased attention from cruise lines and new safaris dedicated to seeking out Siberia's rare, namesake tigers are putting the region in the spotlight as the next great frontier for the adventurous. Traveling to Siberia on your own can be complicated if you do not speak at least rudimentary Russian, but fortunately, several tour operators are making it much easier. Companies like Natural World Safaris offer expeditions to see Siberian tigers in the Durminskoye Reserve. Guests can spend seven days with famed conservationist Alexander Batalov as he tracks and records the movements of these majestic creatures. In addition, Remote Lands offers two innovative itineraries in Siberia, including a 15-day trek starting in the historic city of Irkutsk and an eight-day cruise of ancient Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world. While not all travel across this rugged country is groundbreaking, the Trans-Siberian Express railway is celebrating its centennial in 2016. Travelers can celebrate by experiencing the Siberian Discovery route on Golden Eagle Luxury Trains, whose route is being extended to the indigenous outposts of Stretensk, Nerchinsk with its dazzling mirrored palace, and Blagoveshchensk, which provides a view of the Chinese city of Heihe across the glittering Zeya River. —Melanie Lieberman
Sicily has always been a beloved destination for travelers, with its fifth-century B.C. Greek ruins, Arab-Norman architecture in Palermo (a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2015), and beautiful coastlines that seem to stretch on forever. In recent years, the island has seen an increase in tourism due to its growing reputation for wine. State Road 120 (SS120) around Mount Etna has become the latest wine region to attract connoisseurs. The soil in this area is rich in minerals from hardened lava, and it is home to a variety of wineries, both large and small, that encircle the volcanic slopes. One notable winery is Tasca d’Almerita, a family label that has opened a vineyard named Tascante. This vineyard produces two varietals made from the Nerello Mascalese grape, which offers a gentler alternative to Sicily's richer-tasting, more famous native Nero d'Avola. This summer, the all-women-run Tenuta di Fessina will unveil a new boutique hotel with a spa housed in a restored palmento (a stone cellar used for crushing grapes). What better way to end a day of tastings than with a thermal bath in an old wine tank? —Alex Schechter
Zanzibar has always been an attractive destination due to its rich cultural history, influenced by waves of Swahili, Portuguese, Omani, and Chinese traders. However, recently, the island's pristine beaches have gained attention from big-name hotel brands, providing new reasons to visit the Spice Islands. The Park Hyatt Zanzibar opened in Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, offering a luxurious experience in a former 19th-century Omani mansion. Tulia Zanzibar, a 17-bungalow resort, has also opened on Pongwe Beach, and the former Essque Zalu is being transformed into a Per Aquum resort. On neighboring Pemba Island, the secluded Aiyana opened with 30 villas adorned with traditional art and elaborately carved woodwork. In addition to its past, the local cuisine is complex and diverse. The night market at Forodhani Gardens provides a delicious history lesson through its seafood kebabs, urojo soup, sugar-cane juice, Nutella-filled chapati, and the famous Zanzibar “pizza”—a crêpe stuffed with eggs, meat, and more. —Sarah Khan
Andaman Islands, India
The remote Andaman Islands have long captivated visitors with their coral reefs and marine life. Jacques Cousteau was particularly dazzled when he visited for his 1990 film Andaman: Invisible Islands. Now, 25 years later, the islands are still captivating and are receiving increased attention. While the islands are closer to Thailand or Burma than they are to India—requiring flights through Indian cities like Chennai, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, or Bhubaneswar—it is now easier than ever to access this remote beach destination. Only 37 of the 572 islands are inhabited, and even fewer are accessible to tourists. However, intrepid travelers seeking unspoiled beaches reminiscent of the Maldives, but with fewer crowds, are slowly making their way to the Andaman Islands. In November, Jalakara, a boutique hotel with seven rooms on the edge of the rainforest, opened on Havelock Island. For an even more adventurous getaway, consider chartering the Infiniti, a 133-foot yacht. The yacht offers six bedrooms and navigates around the archipelago, stopping at remote diving sites and uninhabited islands like Cinque and Narcondam. —Sarah Khan
Ghent, Belgium, with its charming cobblestone streets and canals, has become one of Europe’s most exciting culinary destinations. The city is at the forefront of the Flemish food boom, led by Kobe Desramaults, the country’s most renowned chef who operates two restaurants in Ghent and another outside the city. Desramaults is part of a group of young and innovative chefs known as the Flanders Kitchen Rebels, who are redefining modern cuisine in historic buildings at popular bistros such as Cochon de Luxe and Publiek. In March, the city will open the Holy Food Market, a vibrant food hall located in a renovated 16th-century chapel. The market will feature shops, restaurants, and cocktail bars under its high vaulted ceilings. Ghent’s newest restaurant openings are just as interesting as the food itself, with concept store/restaurant hybrids like L’Amuzette and Ile En Ville, as well as public gardening projects like De Stadstuin, which has its own outdoor café. The city’s top chefs, most of whom are under 35 years old, enjoy hosting a good party every few months, and the Flemish Food Bash is a recurring all-night food and music festival that brings together guest chefs from around the world. —Jay Cheshes
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galápagos Islands have been a notable spot since Charles Darwin's visit in 1835, and there are still good reasons to include it on your bucket list. The main reason to visit now is to experience the incredible biodiversity, and the chances of seeing Galápagos penguins are higher than they have been in the past 15 years. These penguins, listed as internationally critically endangered in 2000, have since seen their population double. The westernmost islands of Isabela and Fernandina are the best places to spot these tuxedoed birds. The best way to explore the islands is still through a weeklong cruise, particularly with Ecoventura, a family-owned operator in the area since 1991. In late February, they will launch the Origin, a luxury yacht with space for 20 guests and two naturalists to provide intimate tours during the seven-night sail. Two different itineraries offer opportunities to hike the volcanic formations of the islands, snorkel with penguins, kayak with sea lions, bird-watch for blue-footed boobies, and see more iguanas, giant tortoises, dolphins, and whales than anywhere else in the world outside of a zoo. —Sarah Z. Wexler
Galle, Sri Lanka
Located just an hour's drive away from Colombo, Galle is a charming city that was once a popular stop for sailors on the Spice Route. A visit to Galle is a must, as it offers a glimpse into its rich history with its 17th-century fort, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, municipal offices, places of worship, and luxurious homes. The city has a unique atmosphere reminiscent of Havana, with vintage cars parked by the old walls. The bustling streets are filled with a Moorish bazaar scene, where merchants sell exquisite gems and jewelry. Galle also provides breathtaking views of the sea and magnificent sunsets from various vantage points. Cricket enthusiasts can enjoy watching matches at the international cricket stadium next to the fort. Accommodation options in Galle are plentiful, ranging from the grand Jetwing Lighthouse, designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, to the boutique gem 42 Lighthouse Street in the fort. Art lovers can explore local art at Hempel Galleries and purchase vintage travel posters from Stick No Bills. Don't miss the Galle Literary Festival, which showcases poetry and live performances. For a unique weekend getaway, just half an hour away from Galle, you can visit Tri, a hilltop eco-resort inspired by the Fibonacci sequence. Plan your visit to Galle and immerse yourself in its captivating beauty and cultural offerings. —Govind Dhar
Often overshadowed by the Adriatic Coast and islands, Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is blossoming into a top-notch destination. The city saw a surge of openings last summer, including two offbeat museums: the Tortureum Museum of Torture, which is surprisingly entertaining, and the quirky Museum of Illusions. Zagreb is also making a name for itself in the culinary world, with the emergence of new bistros like Johann Franck and Sherry's Wines & Bites. The Martićeva area, known for its architectural landmarks, has experienced significant growth in recent years, with specialty shops, design stores, and art studios popping up. Starting in mid-June, the area will host Design District Zagreb, an exciting event that will transform disused apartments, vacant courtyards, and closed-down shops into vibrant spaces for pop-up shops, galleries, workshops, and dining events. The city is also investing in its infrastructure, with the upcoming completion of a new passenger terminal at Zagreb Airport, expanding its capacity to accommodate more travelers. While there are numerous accommodation options, the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel remains the top choice, providing an unforgettable experience in this charming capital city. Discover the hidden gem of Zagreb and indulge in its cultural and gastronomic delights. —Anja Mutić
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
GARDEL Bertrand / hemis.fr
Rio de Janeiro, home of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, is gearing up to impress the world once again. With an estimated 380,000 spectators expected to visit the city in August, Rio has been busy preparing for the huge influx of visitors. Numerous new hotels have emerged, including the luxurious Windsor Marapendi and the Grand Hyatt in Barra da Tijuca. Additionally, the city has undergone significant cultural developments, such as the reopening of the Museum of Image and Sound, a stunning glass-front building overlooking Copacabana's beach. The revitalization of the port area, with its iconic Museu de Arte do Rio and the Museu do Amanhã, adds a modern touch to the city's landscape. Rio de Janeiro is not just about the grand cultural centers; it also offers breathtaking natural beauty. Take a trip to the beautiful and historic neighborhood of Bocas del Toro, where you can explore the archipelago's nine islands and enjoy the tranquility of its crystal-clear waters. A visit to Sarani Resort, scheduled to open this summer, promises to elevate the standards of hospitality in the area. With its hardwood bungalows and serene atmosphere, the resort offers a unique experience blending Balinese inspiration with Caribbean cuisine. Discover the vibrant and captivating spirit of Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil's most iconic cities. —Lindsey Olander
The greater Salt Lake City area in Utah is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities throughout the year. The Wasatch Mountains, with their stunning landscapes, provide excellent opportunities for mountain biking, hiking, and skiing. While there are multiple destinations worth exploring, Alta stands out as a charming ski resort nestled in Cottonwood Canyon. Unlike its touristy counterpart, Park City, Alta offers a more authentic mountain experience, focusing on its natural beauty and cozy accommodations. The resort caters to both experienced skiers and beginners, with a dedicated area for those new to the sport. Snowbird, a neighboring resort, provides additional acreage for skiing enthusiasts. If you're looking for the perfect place to stay, Alta Lodge is highly recommended. This idyllic ski lodge offers not only comfortable accommodation but also exceptional meals and a fantastic kids' program. It's a skier's dream come true, allowing you to ski right from the back door. Keep in mind that Alta is a skiing-only destination, as snowboarding is not permitted. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of Alta and create unforgettable memories in this winter wonderland. —Anonymous
Sophie Jackson / EyeEm
Adventure seekers have recently started turning their attention to Wales, recognizing its potential as an exciting destination comparable to popular places like New Zealand and Utah. The rugged country has seen a surge in new attractions, including the world's first subterranean trampoline park and the largest subterranean zipline course. Its natural wonders attract outdoor enthusiasts, with opportunities for mountain climbing in the Brecon Beacons and Mount Snowdon, scenic hikes along the Coast Path, and great surfing spots, especially in the stunning Gower Peninsula. Wales has also become a favorite of adventurer Bear Grylls, who owns a remote island off the coast of the Llyn Peninsula. The country is capitalizing on its newfound popularity, with major hotel chains planning to open in the bustling city of Guatemala City. However, boutique hotels still dominate the scene in the historic highlands city of Antigua Guatemala. For example, the Good Hotel, opening in July, plans to reinvest all profits into the community. Cruise traffic to Guatemala is also expected to increase, as big lines add stops at Santo Tomás de Castilla and Puerto Quetzal. Lastly, Lake Atitlán has seen a rise in visitors exploring the smaller lakeside Mayan villages. Choose to stay at Casa Palopó, a charming nine-room property with stunning views of three volcanoes. Discover the rugged beauty of Wales and embrace the thrill of adrenaline-fueled adventures. —Emily Mathieson
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Costa Rica is a small country that boasts an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature lovers. Since the opening of the new terminal at Liberia's International Airport in 2012, numerous low-key properties have emerged, but it is only recently that luxury developments have started to take shape. The beach community of Las Catalinas now offers the Beach Club, a hub for residents, visitors, and villa renters, featuring pools, a restaurant, a gym, and a beachfront terrace. In addition, a boutique hotel is set to open later this year. In Papagayo Bay, the adults-only, all-inclusive Secrets Papagayo has joined the ranks of the Four Seasons and Andaz. Exciting future developments include a Mandarin Oriental, a Paradisus, and a Wyndham. The Pacífico Sur region is also gaining popularity, with Auberge Resorts taking over Hacienda AltaGracia in the remote Pérez Zeledón mountains. This Central America property offers horse stables and ultralight planes for exploring the natural beauty of the terrain. Travel within Central America is becoming easier with the upcoming launch of low-cost flights by VivaCam. Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of Costa Rica and witness its impressive biodiversity firsthand. —Lindsey Olander
Bocas del Toro, Panama
Bocas del Toro, an archipelago comprising nine islands and countless cays and islets, is one of the hidden gems of the Isthmus of Panama. Situated in the northeastern corner of the country, just a one-hour flight away from Panama City or San José, Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro offers a sanctuary where wooden motorboats are the primary mode of transportation and dolphins swim in crystalline waters. The main village, Bocas Town, exudes both charm and simplicity, with tin-roofed wooden houses transformed into colorful boutiques, guesthouses, and restaurants. Ultimo Refugio is a must-visit for food lovers in search of mouthwatering cuisine. While Bocas maintains its ruggedness, a new hotel is set to redefine tourism in the area. Sarani Resort, opening this summer, brings unprecedented style to the archipelago. With its 35 hardwood bungalows spanning 75 acres, the resort offers a serene atmosphere inspired by Balinese resorts. Guests can enjoy an infinity pool, an outdoor bar made from old wooden boats, and a restaurant serving organic Caribbean food. Venture to Bocas del Toro and experience the untouched beauty of this picturesque archipelago before the secret gets out. —Paola Singer
With a crackdown on political corruption in 2015 and the appointment of a new president, Guatemala is entering a promising era for travelers. The whole country is undergoing major changes, with adventure seekers venturing beyond the popular Tikal National Park to more remote archaeological sites in the northern state of Petén, such as the intriguing El Mirador. International hotel chains such as Marriott and Hyatt are planning to open in Guatemala City's vibrant Zona 10. However, boutique hotels continue to flourish in the historic highlands city of Antigua Guatemala. The upcoming Good Hotel, opening in July, is operated by a Dutch company and will invest all its profits back into the community. Cruise traffic to Guatemala is also set to increase, with big lines like Princess Cruises and Regent Seven Seas adding stops at Santo Tomás de Castilla and Puerto Quetzal. Lake Atitlán is witnessing a surge in visitors exploring the charming Mayan villages along its shoreline. For an intimate stay, Casa Palopó, the country's first Relais & Châteaux property, boasts breathtaking views of three volcanoes. Discover the vibrant culture and natural beauty of Guatemala as the country undergoes an exciting transformation. —Nicholas Gill
ALGIRDAS BAKAS/ Sanjin Wang
Over the years, Taipei has quietly established itself as one of Asia's most captivating cities. Its efficient and clean public transportation system makes it easy to explore the city, while its diverse culinary scene rivals that of Singapore. The arts scene in Taipei is also gaining recognition, with the city being named World Design Capital for 2016. Notable architectural developments include the Taipei Performing Arts Centre, designed by OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture), and a range of contemporary galleries such as Gallery 100 and Aki Gallery. The city is also seeing an increase in interesting hotels, including the luxurious Mandarin Oriental and the design-centric Eslite Hotel. Whether you're interested in exploring its vibrant arts scene, indulging in its diverse culinary offerings, or simply immersing yourself in its unique blend of tradition and modernity, Taipei has something for everyone. —Diana Hubbell
Seattle is determined to make a name for itself as a premier foodie destination, rivaling its neighbor, Portland. Capitol Hill, a culinary neighborhood in Seattle, is gaining attention, and access to the area is becoming easier with the addition of new transportation options. The Seattle streetcar system is expanding to connect the neighborhood, and Link, the light rail, is building a line that will take visitors straight from the SeaTac airport to Capitol Hill. The area offers a variety of in-demand restaurants, such as Lionhead, known for its Sichuan-inspired cuisine, and Soi, which serves delicious Thai food from the Isaan region. Don't miss the unique Capitol Hill Hot Cakes, a "molten chocolate cakery" that also offers soft-serve ice cream topped with potato chips and the option to roast your own marshmallows for s'mores. In addition to its thriving food scene, Seattle is also seeing exciting developments outside the city, including the transformation of a former junior high school into the McMenamins Anderson School Hotel. This unique hotel offers a range of amenities, including restaurants, bars, a brewery, a movie theater, an indoor pool, and outdoor fire pits. Explore the diverse culinary landscape of Seattle and discover why it's becoming a top destination for food lovers. —Sarah Z. Wexler
Since the United States announced the loosening of travel restrictions to Cuba, Havana has become one of the most coveted destinations. It is now possible to plan a trip to Havana without being limited to a rigid people-to-people tour. Major companies, such as Verizon and ferry operators, have received permission to operate in Cuba. American Airlines and JetBlue offer nonstop flights to Havana from Los Angeles and New York City, respectively. Carnival and Haimark have also added Cuba to their cruise itineraries. A visit to Havana feels like stepping back in time, with its washed-out colonial facades, cobblestone streets, and vintage cars. The city is preparing for a major tourism boom, with the opening of the multimedia art space and bar, La Fábrica de Arte Cubano, and the announcement of more than 30 new hotels, including Accor's Pullman Cayo Coco. Renowned chefs such as Massimo Bottura, Andoni Luis Aduriz, and Enrique Olvera are even expressing their interest in opening upscale restaurants in Havana. Explore the vibrant streets of Havana and immerse yourself in the richness of Cuban culture before it becomes a mainstream tourist destination. —Melanie Lieberman
Iberá Wetlands, Argentina
The Iberá Wetlands in Argentina are a true natural wonder, full of lush pampas, the Patagonian desert, and the world's second-largest wetlands. This biodiverse region is undergoing a remarkable transformation, with the help of the Conservation Land Trust and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The repopulation of native wildlife, including the giant anteater, giant otter, pampas deer, and red macaw, is a significant achievement in preserving the natural heritage of this area. Of particular note is the reintroduction of the jaguar, the largest feline in the Americas, which was previously extinct in Corrientes. The San Alonso reserve now hosts a female jaguar, with plans to introduce a mate by the end of 2015. The flourishing population of jaguars is not only a treat for wildlife enthusiasts but also an important conservation success story. Esteros del Iberá has also recently unveiled new access routes in its northwestern basin, allowing visitors to explore the area by kayak, horseback, or 4x4. In the southwestern basin, Rincón del Socorro offers the best chance to spot wildlife, while Pirá Lodge is a haven for fly-fishing enthusiasts. Embark on a journey to the Iberá Wetlands and witness the wonders of this biodiverse region as it thrives once again. —Sorrel Moseley-Williams
Mie Prefecture, Japan
Sean Pavone Photo
Mie Prefecture, located just four hours away from Tokyo by bullet train, is an upcoming destination that has captured the attention of travelers. Known for its Ise-Shima National Park, pearl-producing oyster farms, Matsusaka beef, and sacred Shinto pilgrimage sites, Mie Prefecture has predominantly attracted domestic tourists in the past. However, that is now changing. In 2016, world leaders will convene in the city of Shima for the G7 summit. Leisure travelers can stay at Amanemu, a luxurious ryokan that blends traditional Japanese aesthetics with modern comforts. Each suite and villa in the intimate property features a private onsen, offering a rejuvenating soak in mineral-rich waters from the region's hot springs. Experience the tranquility and wellness offerings of Amanemu before this hidden gem becomes a popular destination. —Diana Hubbell
Most Beautiful Roads
People often say that the journey is just as important as the destination. Here are some stunning pictures of the amazing roads we traveled this summer!
We had the opportunity to drive on some of the world's most beautiful roads during our summer travels. From Trail Ridge Road in the United States, which reaches a breathtaking elevation of 12,183 feet, to the longest causeway in the Netherlands, spanning 32 km across the sea, these roads offered incredible experiences.
Arches Scenic Drive, USA
Arches National Park surpassed all our expectations with its scenic beauty. Despite its small size, the park has so much to offer. Even if you don't go hiking, you can still enjoy the incredible landscapes by making short stops along the main scenic drive.
For more information on the Arches Scenic Drive, click here.
Visit this link for inspiration on the best things to do in Arches National Park and the nearby Canyonlands National Park.
Arches National Park, USA Arches National Park, USA
Grand Teton National Park, USA
Although we had high expectations, Grand Teton National Park still managed to impress us with its scenic beauty. Driving through the park on the scenic road was the highlight of our visit. The stunning landscapes truly took our breath away.
To learn more about spending one day in Grand Teton National Park, click here.
Grand Teton National Park, USA
Scenic Highway 128 in Utah, USA
By chance, we came across this amazing road while preparing for our visit to the Moab area. Described as "Utah's best-kept secret," Scenic Highway 128 turned out to be one of the most beautiful roads we have ever driven on.
To learn more about creating an itinerary for Moab, click here.
Scenic Hwy 128 in Utah, USA
Afsluitdijk is a 32km-long causeway in the Netherlands that stretches across the sea. Driving on this impressive highway, especially on a stormy day, was an unforgettable experience. We would love to do it again on a sunny day.
Afsluitdijk 32 km causeway across the sea, Netherlands
Furka Pass, Switzerland
Switzerland offers many beautiful roads, but the most spectacular ones are the mountain passes. If you visit Switzerland during the summer, make sure to drive on a few of these mountain passes for an unforgettable experience.
The three most famous mountain passes in Switzerland, Furka Pass, Susten Pass, and Grimsel Pass, are located close to each other.
Furka Pass, Switzerland
With the corruption crackdown in 2015 and a new president, Guatemala is becoming a more attractive destination for travelers. Major changes are happening throughout the country. Adventure seekers now have the opportunity to visit more remote archaeological sites in the northern state of Petén, such as the partially excavated El Mirador. International hotel chains like Marriott and Hyatt are planning to open in Guatemala City's Zona Viva, which is a hub for dining, shopping, and nightlife. In the historic highlands city of Antigua Guatemala, boutique hotels are still the preferred accommodation. The newly opened Good Hotel, operated by a Dutch company, is a 35-room hotel that reinvests all profits into the community. Cruise traffic to Guatemala is also expected to increase, as big cruise lines add stops at Santo Tomás de Castilla and Puerto Quetzal. In addition, visitors are now exploring the smaller lakeside Mayan villages around Lake Atitlán. A recommended hotel is Casa Palopó, the country's first Relais & Châteaux property, which offers stunning views of three volcanoes. -Nicholas Gill
Bali's southwestern coast has long been a mecca for sun-wizened surfers. But now, Canggu is gaining popularity among a more diverse crowd. With trendy establishments catering to a relaxed and eclectic clientele, Canggu offers more than just great waves. Frii Bali Echo Beach is a hip hotel that provides a refreshing alternative to the mainstream resorts on the island. Stand-up paddleboarding, water yoga, and Muay Thai are just a few of the activities available to guests. The area also boasts a range of expat-run restaurants, such as Milk & Madu for fresh juices and wood-fired pizzas, and Crate café for hearty smoothies and wraps. Old Man's surf spot is the perfect place to watch the sunset while enjoying an ice-cold Bintang beer. After dark, Deus is the place to be, offering a mix of restaurant, bar, music venue, and art gallery. May and October are the best months to visit, as they coincide with two major surf competitions hosted by Deus. -Leslie Patrick
Frankfurt is often seen as a city of strict bankers and unremarkable skyscrapers. However, in recent years, the city has undergone a transformation. Hidden spots are being opened by tastemakers, particularly in Bahnhofsviertel, the red-light district next to the main train station. Club Michel, located on the second floor of an office building, offers a unique dining experience with a rotating roster of chefs, including a soba-noodle-making expert. Maxie Eisen, known for its cocktails and pastrami sandwiches, has opened Stanley Diamond, a sleek restaurant with dishes like beet risotto and almond-nougat crème brûlée. Kinly Bar and the Parlour are two chic places for after-dinner drinks. To fully experience everything that Frankfurt has to offer, it is recommended to spend a night or two in the city. Roomers, a Design Hotel, offers a futuristic and luxurious experience with its black doors, burlesque-inspired rooms, and rooftop spa. -Gisela Williams
Jason Lee/ Courtesy of Azure Tiantang
Hangzhou's West Lake has attracted artists, poets, traders, and explorers for over a thousand years. Thanks to its thriving manufacturing and tech industries, the city has become one of the wealthiest in China. Hangzhou's hotels and restaurants have kept pace with the city's increasingly sophisticated residents and visitors. The riverside Azure Qiantang, designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, is a standout luxury hotel that makes use of its namesake blue. The Midtown Shangri-La Hangzhou, set to open this year, will offer stunning views of West Lake. Hangzhou's downtown food scene is also flourishing, with restaurants like Mercato Piccolo, helmed by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and soon-to-open Wujie, a branch of Shanghai's renowned vegetarian restaurant. Outside the city, Hidden House in Xinfeng village offers a rustic retreat for nature lovers. With its giant outdoor hot tubs, home-style cooking, and picturesque surroundings, it provides the perfect escape. -Crystyl Mo
ALGIRDAS BAKAS/ Sanjin Wang
Taipei has quietly established itself as one of Asia's most captivating cities. Its efficient public transportation system makes getting around a breeze, and its culinary scene rivals that of other food meccas like Singapore. The arts scene in Taipei is also gaining recognition, with the city named the World Design Capital in 2016. The Taipei Performing Arts Centre, designed by OMA, is a visually striking addition to the city's cultural landscape. Galleries such as Gallery 100 and Aki Gallery showcase the work of local and regional artists. The hotel scene in Taipei is also seeing exciting developments, with the luxurious Mandarin Oriental offering the pinnacle of luxury and design. The Eslite Hotel, a design-centric property run by a beloved local bookstore chain, is another great option for travelers. -Diana Hubbell
San Antonio, Texas
© George H.H. Huey / Alamy Stock Photo
For decades, San Antonio has played second fiddle to its cooler sibling, Austin. However, the city is shedding its sleepy reputation and is undergoing a transformation. The historic St. Anthony Hotel recently reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation, and the River Walk has been revitalized as a 15-mile trail connecting the city's Spanish missions to the vibrant Pearl district. The Pearl, a former brewery complex, now boasts locally owned shops, acclaimed restaurants, and the Culinary Institute of America campus. Hotel Emma, an independent boutique hotel housed in a former brewhouse, offers a unique and luxurious experience. San Antonio is becoming a destination in its own right, attracting travelers with its rich history and impressive skyline. -Millie Kerr
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is a hidden gem often compared to Prague. The city's historic center has remained unspoiled and affordable, making it an attractive destination for travelers. Ljubljana has been named the European Green Capital, thanks to its commitment to sustainability and eco-initiatives. The city features numerous public parks, such as Tivoli and the Ljubljana Marshes, as well as the Path of Remembrance and Comradeship, a 21-mile circular trail lined with 7,000 trees. The city also boasts impressive galleries like Gallery 100 and Aki Gallery, showcasing regional and local artistic talent. Visitors can explore the nearby Postojna Cave, the longest cave open to visitors in Europe, or simply enjoy the stunning Alpine panoramas and stalactite-filled caverns. -Diana Hubbell
Iberá Wetlands, Argentina
Argentina is home to vast and diverse landscapes, including the Iberá Wetlands, the world's second-largest wetland. This 3.2 million-acre area has seen a decline in its indigenous wildlife population, but efforts are being made to repopulate the area. The Conservation Land Trust, backed by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, is leading a program to reintroduce native species such as giant anteaters, giant otters, pampas deer, and red macaws. The star of this initiative is the jaguar, which is being reintroduced to Corrientes, a province in northeastern Argentina. The repopulation of the jaguar is not only exciting for wildlife enthusiasts but also for conservationists working to achieve national park status for the reserve. Visitors can now explore new access routes in the northwestern basin and stay at eco-lodges like Puerto Valle. The southeastern basin offers luxury lodges for wildlife sightings, and fly-fishing enthusiasts can visit Pirá Lodge to catch golden dorado. -Sorrel Moseley-Williams
© Undine Pröhl
Guadalajara, Mexico's second city, is a hub of creativity. The city boasts a vibrant jazz scene, the popular Guadalajara International Book Fair, a prestigious film festival, and a thriving community of visual artists. Murals by renowned artists like José Clemente Orozco and Alegria del Prado can be found throughout the city. Casa Fayette, a hotel transformed by the fashionable design firm Dimore Studio, is a game-changer. Its restaurant offers dishes like grilled Veracruz snapper, while the eighth-floor suite provides stunning views of the city skyline. Guadalajara is blossoming into a cultural and artistic hotspot, drawing visitors with its creative energy and dynamic atmosphere. -Diana Spechler
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
If you've always wanted to visit the Galápagos Islands, now is the perfect time. The main attraction of this island chain, located 600 miles from mainland Ecuador, is its incredible biodiversity. In fact, you'll have a better chance of spotting Galápagos penguins now than ever before. These penguins are among the rarest in the world and were listed as critically endangered in 2000. However, their population has doubled since then, making it more likely for you to see these tuxedoed birds, especially if you visit the westernmost islands of Isabela and Fernandina. The best way to explore the islands is through a week-long cruise, particularly with Ecoventura, a family-owned cruise operator that has been in the area since 1991. In late February, they will launch the Origin, a luxurious yacht that can reach the smaller islands and accommodate 20 guests and two naturalists, providing intimate tours during the seven-night sail. The itineraries include activities such as hiking the volcanic formations of the islands, snorkeling with penguins, kayaking with sea lions, bird-watching for blue-footed boobies, and encountering iguanas, giant tortoises, dolphins, and whales. Don't miss this opportunity to experience the unique wildlife of the Galápagos Islands. - Sarah Z. Wexler
In just a few short years, Detroit has gone from being a cautionary tale to a true success story. Often referred to as "America's Great Comeback City," Detroit has seen remarkable revitalization in its riverfront, downtown streets, and historic buildings. The city now offers a range of attractions and amenities for both locals and visitors. Some notable developments include the opening of the first Aloft hotel in Michigan, located in the historic David Whitney Building. The Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center has also recently undergone a $30 million renovation. Additionally, the historic fire department headquarters across from the Cobo Center will be transformed into the boutique Foundation Hotel in early 2016. Detroit has also seen the establishment of new parks, such as the West Riverfront Park, which is perfect for biking, running, and fishing. The city's restaurant scene has also experienced significant growth, with nearly 100 new restaurants, breweries, and distilleries opening in the past two years. Retailers like John Varvatos and Carhartt have also opened locations in the city, with Nike planning to join in the future. Detroit's transformation is undeniable and continues to attract visitors from all over the world. - Corina Quinn
Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world, with its cloud forests, wetlands, and thousands of unique species of plants and animals. Since the opening of Liberia's International Airport in 2012, the country has seen the rise of low-key properties and more recently, luxury developments. One such development is the beach community of Las Catalinas in Guanacaste, which has opened its Beach Club, a gathering place for residents and visitors. The Beach Club features two pools, a restaurant, a gym, and a beachfront terrace. Additionally, a 20-room boutique hotel is set to open later this year. In Papagayo Bay, the adults-only, all-inclusive Secrets Papagayo has joined other luxury resorts such as the Four Seasons and Andaz. And there are more exciting developments on the horizon, including a Mandarin Oriental, a Paradisus, and a Wyndham. In the Pacífico Sur region, Auberge Resorts has taken over Hacienda AltaGracia in the remote Pérez Zeledón mountains, offering horse stables and ultralight planes for exploring the area. Furthermore, a new airline called VivaCam is planning low-cost flights from San José to other Central American destinations. Costa Rica continues to be a destination that combines natural beauty with luxury and accessibility. - Lindsey Olander
No matter the time of year, the greater Salt Lake City area offers endless opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The Wasatch Mountains are a paradise for activities such as mountain biking, hiking, and skiing. While Park City is a well-known ski town in the area, Alta Ski Resort provides a different mountain experience. Located in Cottonwood Canyon, Alta offers a more relaxed and authentic atmosphere, where you're likely to encounter locals rather than celebrities. The ski runs at Alta cater to a range of skill levels, including a dedicated area for beginners. Snowbird, its neighboring resort, offers even more skiing options. For an idyllic ski lodge experience, we highly recommend staying at Alta Lodge if it fits your budget. This charming lodge offers comfortable accommodations, most meals included, and a fantastic kids' program. Plus, you can ski right from the back door. It's important to note that Alta is a skiing-only resort, as snowboarding is not allowed. Experience the unique charm of Alta Ski Resort and embrace the true spirit of the mountains. - Anonymous
Bocas del Toro, Panama
The Isthmus of Panama is a place of unparalleled natural beauty in Latin America, with its dense rainforests, vast savannas, vibrant coral reefs, and pristine beaches. Among the captivating destinations in the region is Bocas del Toro, an archipelago consisting of nine islands and numerous cays and islets. Located in the northeastern corner of Panama, just a short flight from either Panama City or San José, Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro offers a sanctuary where wooden motorboats are the primary mode of transportation, dolphins swim in crystal-clear waters, and dockside restaurants serve the freshest catch of the day. The main village of Bocas Town has a delightful blend of quaint, colorful boutiques, guesthouses, and restaurants housed in tin-roofed wooden homes. Make sure to visit Ultimo Refugio for the best food in town. While Bocas del Toro remains beautifully rugged, a new hotel is poised to redefine tourism in the area. Sarani Resort, set to open this summer, offers a stylish retreat with 35 hardwood bungalows spread across 75 acres. The resort is designed to evoke the tranquil atmosphere of a Balinese retreat and features an infinity pool, an outdoor bar made from old wooden boats, and a restaurant serving organic Caribbean cuisine. Discover the untouched beauty of Bocas del Toro before the rest of the world catches on. - Paola Singer
In 2016, the world is brimming with incredible destinations for family travel. From the beautiful beaches of Lanai, Hawaii to the culture-rich streets of Ljubljana, Slovenia, there is something for every type of family. Whether you want to explore the vibrant cities of Tokyo and San Antonio or find adventure in the rugged landscapes of Bozeman, Montana and Siberia, the choices are endless. So pack your bags, gather your loved ones, and embark on an unforgettable journey to one of the best family travel destinations of 2016.
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