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    America’s New Creative Hubs

    Artists are always on the lookout for the next places that will inspire them and give them the freedom to do what they love. What happens after that? These places become destinations everyone wants to visit. Here are three cities that have attracted a critical mass of early adopters. Catch them now, while they’re fresh.

    Ojai, CA
    When the duo behind Shelter Social Club hotels took over the Ojai Rancho Inn (shown), they made a cozy base for visitors seeking out the town’s farm-to-table eateries, funky shops, and artisanal food purveyors. ojairanchoinn.com

    Detroit, MI
    Motor City’s urban renewal is being fueled by such artists as Megan O’Connell and Leon Johnson. They throw book-and-bread dinners and run a food lab out of their letterpress studio, Salt & Cedar. saltandcedar.com

    Providence, RI
    The Brooklyn-based design team ASH NYC debuts its flagship hotel, the Dean, in January. A cool crowd is sure to congregate at the beer garden and in the lobby, which has an outpost of local coffee roaster Bolt. thedeanhotel.com

    Image by Nancy Neil/Ojai Rancho Inn
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    Where to Splurge

    A slice of French Polynesian fantasy at the Brando will run you $4,030 a night. The resort, which opens in July on an island Marlon Brando once owned, has a marine research center and is nearly carbon neutral, which justifies the cost. Sorta. thebrando.com

    Image courtesy of the Brando
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    Three Reasons to Go Back to London

    London won’t stop calling. Grand events such as the Olympics and the birth of the royal baby have come and gone, but the city continues to lure travelers with its exciting arts scene and new hotels. 

    1. A founding figure of Pop Art and one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, English painter and printmaker Richard Hamilton (shown) is getting a proper retrospective at the Tate Modern. February through May. tate.org.uk

    2. The brand-new 350-seat Sam Wanamaker Playhouse opens on January 9, kicking off a season of drama, concerts, and opera. The candlelit, Jacobean-style theater is an indoor counterpart to the open-air Globe theater next door. shakespearesglobe.com

    3. Central London has stylish new digs. The Ham Yard hotel opens in Soho in April with 90 individually designed rooms, a bowling alley, and a cinema. In the Mayfair neighborhood, the elegant art deco Beaumont opens this summer. firmdalehotels.com; thebeaumont.com

    Image courtesy of the estate of Richard Hamilton
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    Making Waves

    The Coral Sea
    From the Solomon Islands, Lindblad Expeditions’ Orion cruise ship offers guests two weeks of diving and snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, as well as visits with the tribes of Papua New Guinea (shown). From $13,960. expeditions.com

    The Mekong river
    This summer, Aqua Expeditions, known for its strikingly modern Amazon cruise ship, will begin plying the Mekong between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap, Cambodia. From $3,000. aquaexpeditions.com

    Sea of Okhotsk
    Starting in June, the Silver Sea Discoverer will make 15- to 18-day sailings in these little-explored Russian waters, stopping at islands that are home to puffins and sea lions. From $11,850. silversea.com

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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    Where to Unwind

    COMO Hotels and Resorts made its US debut in Miami Beach in December. Day visitors can access the eighth-floor spa, which has an outdoor yoga terrace, juice bar, and rooftop hydrotherapy pool with ocean views. From $499. comohotels.com

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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    No More Roughing It

    Once the province of backpackers, these destinations have new lodgings that welcome travelers who have left their hostel days behind.

    Australia
    Camping used to be the only option in Nitmiluk National Park in the Northern Territory. Now, Cicada Lodge, which is jointly owned by the Jawoyn people, offers Bulgari amenities and a restaurant that uses native ingredients. From $306. cicadalodge.com.au

    Burma
    End a day of temple tours with poolside cocktails at Burma’s Bagan Lodge (shown). The new hotel is set on the edge of the ancient town and has 85 spacious rooms decorated with colonial-era, rattan furniture. From $180. bagan-lodge.com

    The Galápagos
    An alternative to the Galápagos Islands’ cruise ships, the 14-room Pikaia Lodge is located on a giant tortoise reserve on Santa Cruz Island. Guests can visit other islands via the hotel’s private yacht. From $3,200 for four days. pikaialodgegalapagos.com

    Image courtesy of Bagan Lodge
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    Undiscovered Africa

    Think you know Africa? A trip to Bale Mountains National Park in central Ethiopia will make you think again. Divided into five distinct habitats that include grasslands, woodlands, and the fairy-tale-like Harenna forest, the park is home to such rare animals as Ethiopian wolves and black-maned lions. The area is finally more accessible thanks to a new road and the opening of Bale Mountain Lodge, a high-end 15-room hotel with an in-house naturalist and a London-trained chef. From $220. balemountainlodge.com

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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    Three Reasons to Go Back to Italy

    As if you need an excuse to return to Italy. On your next trip, get to know the country’s under-the-radar wines, pristine beaches, and an irreverent design icon.  

    1. Make the new Grand Hotel Resort Ma&Ma on the unspoiled island of La Maddalena your base to explore the beaches of La Maddalena Archipelago, a national park on the northwest coast of Sardinia. grandhotelmaema.com

    2. The Triennale Design Museum in Milan commemorates what would have been the 100th birthday of Piero Fornasetti with the first-ever exhibition of the whimsical designer’s work (shown). Fornasetti’s son, Barnaba, curated the more than 700 pieces that will be on display through February 9. triennale.it

    3. Expand your Italian wine knowledge beyond the three B’s (Barolo, Barbera, and Barbaresco). The region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in northeastern Italy is home to such esoteric varietals as the indigenous white grape vitovska. Visit the cellar at Zidarich winery for a taste. zidarich.it

    Image courtesy of the Triennale Design Museum
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    Beyond Brazil

    All eyes are on Brazil as buzz builds for the 2014 World Cup, June 12–July 13. Those who make the journey but don’t have tickets to a game should hit one of the game-watching parties at the six-room Maria Santa Teresa pop-up hotel (designhotels.com) in Rio de Janeiro. If big crowds aren’t your thing, the rest of South America beckons with new experiences.

    Bolivia
    Visit the lunar-like landscapes of the Bolivian altiplano and the Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest and highest-altitude salt flat, on a 10-night camping adventure with Explora Travesías. explora.com

    Chile
    Discover the red wines of the Cachapoal and Colchagua valleys. Santiago Adventures’ tour of the regions includes an overnight at the new Viña Vik winery. santiagoadventures.com

    Peru
    Ecotourism pioneer Inkaterra has a new hotel in Cabo Blanco, a fishing village in northern Peru. The company is helping to revive the area’s marine life by teaching locals sustainable fishing practices. inkaterra.com

    Image courtesy of Explora Travesías
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    Raising the Bar

    Buck & Breck, Berlin
    Reservations are highly suggested if you want to score one of Buck & Breck’s 14 seats (no standing allowed). Perfectionist bartenders carefully mix the bar’s namesake absinthe-based drink or whatever you fancy. buckandbreck.com

    Barmini, Washington, D.C.
    At this “cocktail lab” by avant-garde chef José Andrés (shown), a rotary vacuum distills spirits for the more than 100 drinks served. minibarbyjoseandres.com

    White Lyan, London
    Don’t expect anything shaken or stirred. This innovative bar in the Hoxton neighborhood cuts your wait for a drink in half by serving top-quality, premade, and pre-bottled cocktails. whitelyan.com

    Photo by Ken Wyner
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    Where to Hang Ten

    Discerning wave riders should book a stay at Surfers Lodge Peniche. The new surf camp in Peniche, Portugal, has an ecosleek aesthetic, a top chef who cooks Scandinavian-inspired cuisine, and a retro VW bus to take you to the beach. From $530. surferslodgepeniche.com

    Image courtesy of Surfers Lodge Peniche
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Where to Go in 2014