There’s never been a better time to explore our vast and diverse nation. And while we love quick trips to New York City and Chicago and Los Angeles, we’ve surfaced 13 lesser-known places—and some hidden sides of more familiar places—that are equally worth a weekend. On our list: a surprisingly diverse Midwestern city, a new Smoky Mountain hideaway, and what might be the mellowest town in California. So please read on, be inspired to explore, and share your experiences with us on Instagram using the hashtag #traveldeeper. —Julia Cosgrove, Editor in Chief
North Fork, New York
With its wineries, bucolic pastures, and farm-to-table food scene, Long Island’s North Fork feels a million miles from Manhattan. In reality, it’s less than 100 miles away.
For weekenders more interested in relaxation than ritz, Long Island’s North Fork is the ultimate getaway. Tranquil 19th-century towns and family-owned farm stands look out on the coastline. Tight community ties and a slower pace of life make the region a welcome retreat from big-city hustle. Here’s how to make the most of your escape.
Where to stay: Once a 1950s motel, the 55-room Sound View Greenport puts a nautical twist on classic motel motifs with laid-back interiors inspired by modernist beachside homes. Spend your morning sipping freshly roasted coffee in the ocean-facing lobby lounge, then take an art workshop. Don’t miss nights at the piano bar, where a partnership with New York City’s iconic Joe’s Pub brings intimate performances by up-and-coming musicians to the space every weekend. From $325.
Where to drink: The waterfront, wind-powered tasting room of family-owned Kontokosta Winery sits on 62 acres of coastal farmland in Greenport. Down the road in Mattituck, taste vintages from the Macari family, who started making wine in the 1930s in the basement of their home in Queens. Their Macari Vineyards merlot, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, and syrah pair well with the Neapolitan-style, wood-fired pizzas served by Avelino, the on-site food truck.
What to do: Day-to-day North Fork activities include leisurely bike rides, boat tours, and agricultural excursions. In Cutchogue, stop by 8 Hands Farm for a seasonally inspired breakfast or lunch at the food truck, and visit the farm store to pick up fresh eggs from pasture-raised hens or hand-knit goods made with wool from the farm’s Icelandic sheep. In downtown Greenport, sort through a superb selection of vintage clothes, vinyl records, and home furnishings curated by a father-daughter duo at Times Vintage, then walk to the welcoming street-front exhibition space of the North Fork Art Collective.
Where to eat: Don’t miss dinner (or the views) at Barba Bianca, Manhattan chef Frank DeCarlo’s restaurant that stands directly over the water in Greenport Harbor. The seasonal menu focuses on coastal Italian delicacies made with ingredients sourced from within a five-mile radius of the restaurant. —SARAH BUDER
The debate over immigration reform, among other issues, has exposed a deep rift within the U.S. public. But one state in the Upper Midwest has welcomed outsiders and celebrated diversity for decades.
Perhaps you already know that Minnesota has the largest concentration of Scandinavian Americans in the United States. What you might not realize is that the state is also home to tens of thousands of Somalis and Americans of Somali descent; the second-largest Hmong population in the United States; and sizable immigrant communities from Mexico, Myanmar, and beyond, not to mention the numerous Native American groups that have been there all along. A good chunk of that diversity is concentrated in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, making it easy to experience myriad cultures in just a couple of days. Explore these communities on your next visit.
Hmong: In the decades following the Vietnam War, many Hmong resettled in Minnesota. Today they dominate the local agriculture scene and run two of St. Paul’s largest and best marketplaces: Hmongtown Marketplace and Hmong Village Shopping Center. Expect a taste of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and China when wandering these sprawling hawker centers, as each of those countries had a hand in shaping the history, food, and fashions of the traditionally nomadic group. For modern riffs on classic Hmong cuisine (rabbit larb or smoked mushroom fried rice, for instance), look for Union Kitchen, the roaming pop-up restaurant of Chris Her and rising chef Yia Vang.
Native American: More than 35,000 members of the Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) and Dakota (Sioux) tribes have settled in and around the Twin Cities. Community leaders help run the Minneapolis American Indian Center, a multiuse space that supports arts of several varieties: traditional (Woodland Indian Crafts), contemporary (Two Rivers Gallery), and culinary (Gatherings Cafe, which serves wild rice bowls, bison patty melts, and walleye cake Benedict, all for under $10). Elsewhere in the city, two forthcoming restaurants from Sean Sherman—an Oglala Lakota chef and author of the acclaimed 2017 cookbook, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen—will be tied into his newly launched nonprofit, NĀTIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems), whose mission embraces the research and development of indigenous food knowledge.
Russian: With roots reaching back to the 19th century, Russians are one of Minnesotaʼs most established immigrant groups. The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis is the only cultural institute in North America devoted exclusively to Russian works; check the calendar for Orthodox choral concerts, lectures on the Russian avant-garde, and exhibitions about individuality and resistance in Russian women’s art. Foodwise, it’s a toss-up between the refined martinis and small zakuski plates (house-pickled vegetables, cured herring) at St. Paul’s Moscow on the Hill and the humbler, stick-to-your-ribs fare of Nikolai and Linda Alenov’s cultishly revered Russian Tea House, also in St. Paul. The latter is open just four hours a week, on Friday afternoons, and always packs in a crowd.
Somali: Scores of refugees—including newly elected U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar—arrived in the Twin Cities in the 1990s, at the start of Somalia’s ongoing civil war. The Minnesota-based diaspora now accounts for nearly one-third of the countryʼs Somali-American population, and the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis has earned the nickname “Little Mogadishu.” It’s mostly residential, so you’ll have to drive five minutes south to check out the small but fascinating Somali Museum of Minnesota, which helps put the communityʼs tumultuous history into perspective through a tightly curated selection of textiles, art, tools, and other cultural artifacts. Ask the guides for a restaurant recommendation after your tour, and they’ll probably send you to Safari Restaurant or Quruxlow for sambusas and spaghetti.
Scandinavian: Although there are more Norwegians living in Minnesota than Swedes, the latterʼs profile is slightly more visible in the Twin Cities, thanks in large part to the excellent American Swedish Institute (ASI). Arrive early if you want to sample the acclaimed cardamom buns at ASI’s Fika Café (they always sell out), then set about exploring the institute’s rotating exhibitions of work by the likes of Swedish painter Karin Broos, fashion designer Gudrun Sjödén, photographer Magnus Wennman, and others. Round out a crash course in Scandi culture with an aquavit cocktail at Norseman Distillery and a love-it-or-loathe-it helping of Norwegian lefse and pickled herring at the 98-year-old Ingebretsenʼs. (Don’t worry; they sell salty licorice, candles, and cookbooks, too.)
German: The largest ancestral group in Hennepin County, by a long shot, Germans have both progressive new breweries (Bauhaus Brew Labs, Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery) and old-school restaurants where they can go to celebrate Oktoberfest all year long (Gasthof Zur Gemütlichkeit, Black Forest Inn). For a deeper cultural hit, head to the 62-year-old Germanic-American Institute in St. Paul, which hosts a monthly Stammtisch, or home-cooked German luncheon, and puts on exhibitions like Geniale Dilletanten (Brilliant Dilettantes), about the radical artistic renewal of East and West German subcultures of the 1980s. —ANDREW PARKS
Providence, Rhode Island
Providence’s public art program encourages locals to get outside—and ask questions about the city’s past and present.
Walk the streets of Providence, Rhode Island, and you might stumble across Sam O. White’s “Party Shark,” a mural of a pixelated hot-pink, purple, and white shark adorning the historic Providence National Bank. You might also spot “Wild Horses,” an abstract sculpture by Rhode Island–based artist Peruko Ccopacatty, whose works are inspired by the indigenous Aymara culture of his native Peru. Then there’s Polish artist Natalia Rak’s “Adventure Time,” a mural of a young girl opening a door to a psychedelic world. All these pieces are part of the Avenue Concept, the city’s first privately administered public art program. Founded in 2012, it has installed more than 150 works of art, encouraging locals and travelers alike to get out and explore the city. (A map plotting every artwork is viewable at the Avenue Concept’s website.)
“I founded the Avenue Concept to bridge the gap between the creative sector in Providence and the municipal side,” says executive director Yarrow Thorne. “A lot of artists and designers didn’t have a way to connect with developers and the larger entities in the city.” The Avenue Concept celebrates the city’s diversity by making it visible. “There are 15 wards that make up Providence, and most have their own languages, foods, and culture,” Thorne says. “What would the walls say if they could talk?”
One recent answer to that question is a mural by the Baltimore-based artist Gaia. Close to Weybosset Street—which shares its name with an indigenous footpath and a trading post that later became one of the first customhouses in America—the mural’s site is also its muse.
The Avenue Concept partnered with the Tomaquag Museum in nearby Exeter to research the mural location’s past. Lynsea Montanari, a Narragansett tribal member and an educator at the museum, collaborated with Gaia and is featured in the mural holding a picture of Princess Red Wing, an elder from her tribe who founded the Tomaquag Museum 61 years ago.
“It was really fascinating to learn about our indigenous population and how a lot of that community is very active within Rhode Island,” Thorne says. “Rarely do you see Native Americans depicted in the everyday clothing they wear when they go to work or live their lives. The mural of Lynsea wearing her normal clothes was an interesting perspective that has opened up a conversation on many levels.” —CELIA SHATZMAN
Buffalo, New York
Western New York offers more than just Niagara Falls and chicken wings. Visit for monumental architecture, a rejuvenated waterfront, and a food hall that’s a veritable United Nations of cuisine.
A river runs through it: Downtown Buffalo’s revival has centered on the $300 million redevelopment of the Canalside waterfront. The calendar for the ambitious public works project is packed year-round, which offers kayaking, history tours, and concerts in the warmer months and curling, ice biking, and ice bumper cars in winter. This spring, entertain your young at Explore & More, a 43,000-square-foot children’s museum debuting at Canalside, or drive five minutes south to another big waterfront attraction: Buffalo RiverWorks. Here, teens and teens in spirit can swing like monkeys through a high ropes course and then whiz down a zip line strung up between disused grain silos.
Sleep in a former mental hospital: The 147-year-old Richardson Olmsted Campus, a National Historic Landmark formerly known as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, is now home to the city’s smartest boutique inn: the 88-room Hotel Henry. Airy king suites have vaulted 20-foot ceilings with exposed brick and original beams, plus elegant touches such as freestanding bathtubs and walls decorated in local art.
Catnip for art and architecture lovers: Also coming this spring to the Richardson Olmsted campus: the Lipsey Architecture Center of Buffalo, an interactive exhibition space that shares the stories of the region’s most celebrated buildings. Any tour should include Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building, an early American skyscraper prototype; Shea’s Buffalo Theatre, with the only surviving Tiffany-designed theater interior; as well as Graycliff and the recently restored Darwin D. Martin House Complex, two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most important designs. The art scene is anchored by the 157-year-old Albright-Knox Art Gallery, which hosts progressive exhibitions, and SUNY’s Burchfield Penney Art Center, which surfaces regional talent.
When wings aren’t your thing: Is it possible to talk about Buffalo without talking chicken wings? Yes, it is. And you should, because chicken-wing stalwarts Duff’s and Anchor Bar are just the grand marshals in a whole parade of deliciousness. Creative bakeries abound (BreadHive Bakery & Cafe, Five Points Bakery), as do third-wave coffee shops (Remedy House, Tipico Coffee). At the long-running West Side Bazaar food hall, entrepreneurial immigrants and refugees turn out authentic Lao, Burmese, and Ethiopian dishes from narrow kiosks. At the Dapper Goose, you’ve got beetroot tartines and Korean fried chicken lighting up the plate. The wood-burning oven works overtime at the Grange Community Kitchen, sliding out perfectly charred pizzas topped with delicata squash and caciocavallo cheese. Challenging cocktails such as the Bitter AF, a throat-scalding combo of amaro, fernet, and absinthe, can be found at Buffalo Proper, a slick bar in the theater district, while over at Sato Brewpub, a Japanese-style izakaya, pint glasses are frothing over with miso cream ale and pear ginger saison. Lastly, you gotta carb-load breakfast at Swan Street Diner, an 82-year-old prefab that was treated to a bottom-to-top restoration after being transplanted to Buffalo from Akron, Ohio. The cinnamon mini-doughnuts are mind-bendingly tasty. —ASHLEA HALPERN
A slate of new hotels and restaurants caters to visitors drawn to a thrumming cultural scene that gets stronger with the opening of each new gallery and bookshop. And now you can taste the freshest Guinness this side of Dublin.
Where to stay: The city’s first art-focused boutique hotel, Revival, opened its doors last May amid the brownstones of Baltimore’s leafy Mount Vernon neighborhood. Set in a former Baltimore Museum of Art exhibition space, the hotel’s 107 rooms are filled with works by local and established artists, plus chic touches such as vintage rugs and midcentury light fixtures. Other newish lodging options include the 128-room Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, a historic warehouse in Fell’s Point that once served as a landing point for thousands of immigrants; today, it’s a dreamy hangout for locals who gather at the Cannon Room whiskey bar and Rec Pier Chop House restaurant. Also, downtown, there’s the Ivy Hotel, whose 18 rooms occupy an elegantly restored 19th-century mansion.
Where to eat: Take in the 29th-floor view at the Bygone, the Gatsby-inspired hangout on top of the Four Seasons Hotel, which specializes in tableside-carved steaks and caviar service. The seats here look out over Baltimore’s aquarium and the Domino Sugar factory in the Inner Harbor, and Camden Yards. Downtown’s newest darling, the down-to-earth French bistro Chez Hugo, serves ruby-red steak in green peppercorn sauce. Longtime Fell’s Point favorite Peter’s Inn recently reopened after a fire and serves such dishes as smoked bluefish pâté smeared on hearty pumpernickel bread. There’s also a spate of new restaurants by New York City chefs who celebrate American classics through a Mid-Atlantic lens. Andrew Carmellini’s Rye Street Tavern serves daily crab specials, and the Turn House, owned and run by Thomas Zippelli, offers oyster mushroom tacos and other seasonally inspired dishes.
Where to drink: From his neon sign in Brewers Hill, Mr. Boh, the one-eyed, mustachioed mascot of locally popular beer National Bohemian, watches over a more diverse drinking landscape than he used to. In August 2018, Guinness opened its first stateside brewery and taproom since the last one closed down in 1954. It’s on the site once occupied by Maryland’s first post-Prohibition distillery. Ten minutes north of downtown, the warehouse complex Union Collective opened last summer in the Hamden-Medfield neighborhood, anchored by the taproom and beer garden at Union Craft Brewing. Baltimore Spirits Co. also makes its whiskey, brandy, and gin on site. Round out an evening of living large at the Elk Room in Harbor East, a modern speakeasy with an unmarked entrance.
Where to read: Print is alive and well in Edgar Allan Poe’s beloved city, where the long-running annual Baltimore Book Festival presents more than 200 celebrity and local authors, plus a host of readings, workshops, and panel discussions. The next festival, slated for early November, is being combined with Baltimore’s popular Light City festival, during which fantastically lit-up art is installed along 1.5 miles of city waterfront. In the meantime, swing by the newly opened Co_Lab Books, a highly curated architecture- and design-focused bookstore in the historic Old Goucher neighborhood. And don’t miss Red Emma’s in midtown, the popular worker-run collective bookstore and café that doubled in size last October. Come for the organic, ethically sourced coffee; stay for the author talks on Black Lives Matter, feminism, and other timely topics. If you’re still looking for a book that suits you, you’ll likely find it at Greedy Reads, a cozy independent bookstore that set up shop in Fell’s Point last March. Be sure to say hi to Audie, the owner’s labrador-greyhound mix.
Where to see, hear, and make art: Every first-time visitor to the city should explore the whimsical American Visionary Art Museum, which opened in 1995 and is dedicated to self-taught artists. Once you’ve done that, investigate the newer additions to the city’s creative community. Resort is a downtown contemporary gallery that provides a spotlight for emerging as well as established avant-garde artists. The crates at Hare’s Breath Records, in Fell’s Point, are filled with thousands of new and used vinyl discs of all genres, including limited-edition experimental recordings put out by the Hare’s Breath label. For a more hands-on experience, learn how to knot a macramé wall hanging and handstamp a set of tea towels at Maker Practice studio in nearby Catonsville, or take a candle-making workshop at the Homegrown Baltimore co-op in Harbor East. The boutique and workshop space are operated by a handful of local companies owned by women. —RACHEL TEPPER PALEY
The Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Blackberry Mountain, the new sister property of a beloved East Tennessee retreat, is both a passion project and an ode to nature.
When Mary Celeste Beall opened Blackberry Mountain in Walland, Tennessee, in February, she gave the world a piece of her family’s private Eden. She was also carrying out the vision of her late husband, Sam.
“His goal was to make Blackberry Mountain a place where people could connect intergenerationally,” Beall says of Sam, with whom she had five children. “I love that my in-laws or my parents can take my six-year-old on a one-mile hike, or I can do an incredible 10-mile hike with my 21-year-old.”
Located close to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Blackberry Mountain is a 5,200-acre parcel of land that the Bealls purchased more than a decade ago. In 2016, when Sam died at age 39 in a skiing accident, Mary Celeste vowed to continue his legacy. Sam was raised at Blackberry Farm, a separate 4,200-acre tract of land eight miles away from Blackberry Mountain, which his parents turned into a small B&B in 1976. He trained as a chef, studying at the French Laundry in Yountville, California, before returning home in 1999 to reinvent Blackberry Farm as a world-class retreat for foodies.
Blackberry Mountain shares the Farm’s culinary DNA but puts outdoor adventures and wellness centerstage. Five fitness studios offer spinning, yoga, Pilates, and other classes, and there’s a gymnasium with a rock climbing wall and a subterranean spa with eight treatment rooms.
Eighteen stone cottages and six cozy watchman cabins were built with reclaimed oak sourced from the mountain and outfitted with wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. A private 25-mile network of hiking and biking trails passes through forested land. Scattered among the paths are shelters where guests can practice yoga or enjoy lavish picnics arranged by the hotel’s kitchen team.
The flagship Three Sisters restaurant, located in the main lodge, is overseen by Tennessee-born Josh Feathers, the former corporate chef at the Farm. The menu highlights regional ingredients, such as whole roasted North Carolina trout. Closer to the 2,800-foot summit, Firetower restaurant was built next to a 1940s-era fire tower and serves breakfast and lunch featuring such dishes as Thai-style mussels, Mediterranean flatbread, and Farm-made salami. For a 360-degree view that takes in the adjacent national park, guests can climb the restored fire tower’s original stairway and take a peek from the lookout station.
“I can imagine [Sam] riding his bike all over the mountain,” Mary Celeste says. “He would have ended his ride with a meal at the Firetower and a great bottle of wine, looking out over the park. He would have loved that.” From $995, including meals and morning wellness classes.—JENNIFER FLOWERS
The Home of the Blues turns 200 this year, and the city is getting spruced up to celebrate.
Memphis is a strong contender for the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll⎯as evidenced by Sun and Stax recording studios (both now museums), and, of course, Graceland⎯and has made solid contributions to the country’s barbecue pantheon. Still, for many travelers, it has remained in the shadow of its larger-than-life Southern siblings Nashville, Charleston, and New Orleans. Memphis hopes to change that with this year’s bicentennial. To celebrate its 200th birthday, major infrastructure investments have been made along the Mississippi River and throughout the downtown area. It’s all part of the citywide Bicentennial Gateway Project, designed to “help people see something amazing when they cross the river,” says Paul Young, the city’s director of housing and community development. Here are five things to look for.
A redesigned waterfront: The Memphis riverfront is what most people see first when they enter the city via the Hernando de Soto Bridge over the mighty Mississippi. To reimagine and reconnect a riverfront that is presently divided into five separate parks, Memphis River Parks Partnership is teaming up with the architecture firm Studio Gang. Already under way, the plan includes revitalizing Mud Island (actually a peninsula), Tom Lee Park, and Greenbelt Park with trails, playgrounds, outdoor sculptures, and event spaces. These will complement the recently redone Beale Street Landing, where the riverboats dock, and the River Garden at Mississippi River Park, which features an event pavilion, a whimsical tree house, and human-size driftwood bird nests that visitors can sit inside to rest or play. The revitalized riverfront will be better equipped to host major events such as the Memphis in May International Festival, which honors the culture of a different country every year. This spring, however, Memphis in May will pay tribute to Memphis itself, with a Beale Street Music Festival, a World Championship BBQ Contest, and other events.
The Pinch District revival: Until 2004, the Pyramid was Memphis’s gigantic basketball arena. After sitting vacant for more than a decade, the glass pyramid was refashioned as a Bass Pro Shop—complete with lakes, a cypress swamp, bridges, 100-foot-tall trees, a wilderness hotel, two restaurants, a bowling alley, and an aquarium. It’s now the anchor of the Pinch District, where plans are underway to add even more family-friendly shops, restaurants, hotels, and residences.
Even more music and nightlife: Most tourists make a beeline to boppin’ Beale Street, but locals can often be found at venues such as Hi Tone, a rock club in the revitalized Crosstown; historic Lafayette’s Music Room in Overton Square, which has been open since the ’70s, when it hosted the likes of Billy Joel and Big Star; Wild Bill’s red-lit haunt for authentic blues; and Bar DKDC for eclectic decor, food, and music. If you’re looking for vinyl, head to Goner Records or Shangri-La Records. For a drink, swing by Old Dominick Distillery⎯opened in 2017 as the first distillery in Memphis to make whiskey since before Prohibition⎯or head to midtown to check out Railgarten, an indoor-outdoor version of a beer garden with music, ping-pong tables, and an ice cream shop.
Barbecue and beyond: You can’t be in Memphis and not eat barbecue—check out A&R Bar-B-Que,Tops Bar-B-Q, Payne’s Bar-B-Q, and Charlie Vergos’s Rendezvous, to name a few—but after you’ve had your fill of chicken and ribs, try the Gray Canary in the South Main Arts district, a new American restaurant from James Beard Award nominees Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman. Also check out Lucky Cat Ramen and Elemento Neapolitan Pizza, which bring authentic renditions of their eponymous foods to the city.
Hotels to call home: A slew of new accommodations will soon join the recently opened Hu Hotel, housed in a 1905 Beaux-Arts-style building with a coffee-and-cocktail bar, an all-day restaurant serving Southern grub, and a rooftop bar with views of the Mississippi River. Later this year, the Central Station Memphis hotel opens inside the city’s 105-year-old train station. And in a 1916 warehouse in the South Main Street Arts District, Arrive Memphis will debut 62 industrial-chic rooms, a doughnut shop, and Longshot, a gastropub with Memphis beers on tap and a stage for live music. Near the convention center a Hotel Indigo just opened, and a Moxy hotel and a 550-room Loews are coming soon. —DEVORAH LEV-TOV
Impassioned entrepreneurs have helped make a bourbon-themed Kentucky road trip a new American classic.
Of all the things Kentucky is famous for (thoroughbred racing, bluegrass, college basketball), bourbon is the biggest draw today. New craft distilleries and inspired chefs are breathing life into a region that has been distilling the spirit since the American Revolution. “It’s a really exciting time to be in Lexington,” says James Beard Award–nominated chef Ouita Michel, owner of eight restaurants, including the Thirsty Fox bourbon bar at Zim’s Cafe downtown and Glenn’s Creek Café at Woodford Reserve near Versailles. “In the last 15 years, there has been a steady beat of bootstrapping in the community by young chefs, brewers, and distillers launching projects,” Michel explains. In her own kitchens, Michel incorporates the homegrown spirit into such dishes as bourbon-brined squab, sharp white cheddar cheese spread, and bourbon-honey ice cream. “It’s like brandy in French cooking,” she says.
For travelers, there is no shortage of ways to sample the bourbon scene. The historic James E. Pepper Distilling Co., named for the master distiller of the Pepper bourbon dynasty, has been painstakingly resurrected by whiskey entrepreneur Amir Peay after sitting vacant for 50 years. As the anchor of Lexington’s 25-acre Distillery District, it shares a campus with another traditional bourbon maker (Barrel House Distillery), a craft brewery (Ethereal Brewing), buzzy restaurants (Middle Fork, Goodfellas Pizzeria), an ice cream lounge (Crank & Boom), two concert venues (Manchester Music Hall and the Burl), and artists’ studios.
Two well-organized distillery trails can guide you on multiday adventures beyond Lexington. The 14-stop Kentucky Bourbon Trail takes you to such stalwart heritage brands as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, and Four Roses. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour, by contrast, includes 13 microdistilleries making small-batch bourbons.
Another must-see is the new 113-acre Castle & Key estate, a restoration and update of Colonel E. H. Taylor Jr.’s legendary distillery in Frankfort. “We’re producing bourbon that honors Old Taylor’s legacy, using the same limestone aquifer with similar yeast strains and recipes,” says Marianne Eaves, Castle & Key’s master distiller. Visitors can book a tour to experience the production process and sample flights of house-made gin and vodka (the first batches of bourbon are still aging). Just leave plenty of time to meander through the botanical garden and admire the green pastures of the nearby horse farms. Booze aside, it’s these timeless landscapes that really put Kentucky on the map. —NORA WALSH
There’s more to eat in Orlando than Mickey Bars and Bloomin’ Onions. To find the tastiest grub, look to the city’s flourishing immigrant communities.
To many, Orlando conjures images of mouse ears, tourists, and I-4 corridor strip malls. But a closer look reveals one of Florida’s most diverse cities: According to U.S. census data, nearly one in five Orlando residents is foreign born, and more than one-third speak a language other than English at home. As new immigrants from Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean settle across Central Florida, they bring along their own cuisines; but it’s the culinary hybrids that best express the city’s mosaic of food culture.
Orlando’s Mills 50 district—also known as Little Saigon—welcomed an influx of Asian immigrants in the 1970s and remains the heart of the Vietnamese community. Its bánh mì joints and pho houses spread across 10 blocks on downtown’s Colonial Drive, but Viet-Nomz, which opened its second location farther east on Colonial Drive in 2018, updates the classics with inventive takes on tradition: crispy tofu tacos with lemongrass soy, Wa-Pho fries (waffle fries topped with pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, and spicy mayo sauce), and sticky fish sauce–glazed wings.
The murals at Hunger Street Tacos in Winter Park, designed by Lapiztola, a Oaxacan artist cooperative, and Los Angeles–born artist Liseth Amaya, reflect Mexican traditions, as do such menu items as Campechano brisket quesadillas and bone marrow and mushroom sopes made with blue corn masa.
However, the restaurant’s founders, Joe and David Creech, brothers whose parents served as missionaries in Mexico, and Joe’s wife, Seydi, who is Mexican, also offer weekly specials that put fresh spins on familiar concepts. Dishes such as vegan chickpea tlacoyos, pescado a la talla grilled over Japanese-style binchō-tan coals, and grilled cheese tacos with halloumi, mint, and serrano-lime salsa favor flavor over custom.
Also noteworthy is Orlando’s Puerto Rican community, which has expanded greatly since Hurricane Maria in 2017 displaced thousands to the Sunshine State. You can reap the edible benefits at a handful of new eateries. At Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa, located in a white-brick A-frame cottage shaded by live oaks draped in Spanish moss, Thomas Ward adds international flavors to his signature Florida barbecue. Don’t miss bento boxes stuffed with pineapple chopped chicken or Mongolian brisket, plus such sides as apple fennel slaw or jasmine rice and Cuban black beans. Butter chicken tacos and the Mills 50 Cheesesteak with oakwood-smoked brisket and house-made pimento cheese are delicious cultural fusions.
If it’s more traditional Puerto Rican fare you crave, track down Piñones en Orlando, a food truck that offers fried red snapper, mofongo (fried plantains stuffed with pork, chicken, or seafood), jugo de parcha (passion fruit juice), and cooling conch salads. It’s a small world—with a big appetite—after all. —ADAM H. GRAHAM
Las Vegas, Nevada
So long, Céline Dion. Hello, Lady Gaga. Whatever’s hot, chances are it will show up in early-adopting Las Vegas, as this year’s crop of glittering openings demonstrates.
Where to play: Order a Neapolitan pizza, catch a cooking demo, or shop for aged balsamic vinegar at the new 40,000-square-foot Eataly in a can’t-miss-it location at the entrance of the Park MGM. For something a bit wilder—a bit more Vegas—try the 10-person zip line at Fly LINQ. Sit side by side with your friends as you cruise 114 feet above the LINQ Promenade (pictured below), a busy shopping and entertainment district. Of course, you also need to see a show. Céline Dion wraps up her 15-year Caesars Palace residency this June, and Lady Gaga has launched her reign at the Park MGM, performing pop shows with a handful of “Jazz and Piano” sets sprinkled in.
Where to stay: The biggest hotel news is the opening of the NoMad LasVegas on the top four floors of the Park MGM. French designer Jacques Garcia appointed the 293 rooms with pedestal bathtubs, leather headboards, and minibars made from steamer trunks. The casino sits beneath a ceiling of Tiffany glass. With NoMad Restaurant (pictured above, right) and NoMad Bar, chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara, who also partnered on New York’s acclaimed Eleven Madison Park restaurant, make culinary magnets out of thehotel’s salon-like public spaces. The specialty: shareable cocktails and communal courses such as steak tartare and fruits de mer. Come spring, visitors can expect a pool deck trimmed in blue tile and cabanas inspired by the Majorelle Garden in Marrakesh. From $199.
Where to eat: The delicious newcomers at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas include the Cantonese Red Plate (which serves dim sum, roasted meats, and fresh seafood) and Block 16 Urban Food Hall, home to a new branch of Hattie B’s Hot Chicken from Nashville, Pok Pok Wing from Portland’s Andy Ricker, and New York City mezcal and tequila bar Ghost Donkey. Superchef Roy Choi unites Vegas and his hometown of Los Angeles with Best Friend at the Park MGM, which serves Koreatown tacos and rice bowls into the wee hours. (The fried bologna sandwich, street dog, and fries are pictured above, at left.) At the Venetian, Hong Kong favorite Mott 32 does Peking duck and honey-glazed Ibérico pork in a Joyce Wang–designed den with glittering neon signs. —ELAINE GLUSAC
Palm Springs, California
Beyond the golf courses and the swimming pools, good design permeates Palm Springs. A boom in new and renovated hotels makes it easier than ever to escape.
Set in the Coachella Valley of California’s Sonoran Desert, Palm Springs is known for its midcentury modern architecture and beautiful landscapes. But it’s also a bona fide design hub. “Historically, artists, designers, and architects have found inspiration and refuge in the desert,” says Jenny Gil, executive director of Desert X, a 10-week biennial art festival that runs from February to April in the Coachella Valley. For this year’s festival, more than 15 international artists were invited to create site-specific installations that contemplate the desert’s stark surroundings.
Running concurrently in February is Modernism Week, dedicated to the appreciation of the modernist residences and other structures erected during the 1950s and ’60s. The schedule includes tours, talks, and installations such as a full-scale replica of architect Paul Rudolph’s iconic 1952 Walker Guest House.
Some of the city’s most compelling modernist buildings can only be admired from the street; others, like the Albert Frey House II, are open for tours. Or you could spend the night: The 28-room Holiday House hotel, which opened in 1951, was recently overhauled, and artworks by David Hockney and Roy Lichtenstein hang on its crisp blue walls. Farther southeast, in Indian Wells, the Sands Hotel and Spa, built in the late 1950s, is a dusky-pink Moroccan-inspired hotel newly restyled by interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard.
But the Palm Springs hotel design buzz goes beyond midcentury modern. La Serena Villas, a Spanish-style property from 1933, features 18 bright, spacious villas recently redeveloped by architect May Sung. And the Andaz, a new glass-fronted hotel, is set to open in downtown Palm Springs in April.
Cool culinary offerings have arrived along with these new and revamped lodgings. Wexler’s Deli, a Los Angeles deli known for its smoked fish and New York–style bagels, opened an outpost at the Arrive Hotel last fall. Directly across the street, chef Engin Onural’s Sandfish serves elegant sushi and high-end Japanese whiskeys. At the nearby Kimpton Rowan Hotel, the glass-encased 4 Saints bar and restaurant serves such seasonal plates as house-made cavatelli and filet mignon with foie gras. Beyond downtown, at the Jonathan Adler–designed Parker Hotel, the intimate 18-seat wine bar Counter Reformation pours an extensive collection of wines accompanied by great tapas (shucked oysters and sautéed hen of the woods mushrooms, finished off with a foie gras macaron, for instance).
All of this has become more accessible to travelers throughout the country thanks to new non-stop air service from major cities including New York, Boston, and Atlanta. In other words, Palm Springs has never been hotter. —MARY HOLLAND
The first wave of Japanese immigrants came to Seattle in the 1880s. Today, you can immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant Japanese American culture by eating, drinking, temple-hopping, and more—no passport required.
Stay here: To sleep where history was made, book a no-frills room at the 109-year-old Panama Hotel. An inn and teahouse built by Japanese American architect Sabro Ozasa, it housed laborers in the part of Seattle’s International District known as Nihonmachi, or Japantown. During World War II, local residents stored their belongings there when they were forced into internment camps. Guided tours of the sento, the last intact Japanese bathhouse in the United States, are available upon request—sorry, no bathing allowed.
Learn from the past: In 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 forcibly incarcerated more than 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans. The exhibit of artifacts from the permanent collection at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience addresses these grave injustices and draws parallels between the persecution of the Japanese during World War II and the discrimination Muslim Americans and other marginalized groups face today. The museum, located in the International District, also trades in lighter fare: In “Worlds Beyond Here,” an exhibition running through September 15, curators dive into contributions to the science fiction realm made by Asian Pacific Americans such as Star Trek actor George Takei and sculptor June Sekiguchi.
Commune with nature: Kubota Garden is the pièce de résistance of master landscaper Fujitaro Kubota, who modeled its 20 acres after Japanese gardens but planted them with greenery native to the Northwest. After you’ve strolled its paths flanked with weeping spruce and spring-fed ponds, hop over to Kobe Terrace Park in the International District, a gift to Seattle from its sister city, Kobe; it has knockout views of Elliott Bay and the downtown skyline, plus an explosion of colorful Japanese cherry trees in spring.
Eat, drink, and eat some more: Whether you’re sampling delicate nigiri at Mashiko, the first fully sustainable sushi bar in Seattle; tucking into a bowl of handmade Nihachi-style soba noodles at Mutsuko Soma’s Kamonegi; or unhinging your lower jaw to chomp on a deep-fried tonkatsu burger at Hajime Sato’s culty microchain Katsu Burger, you’ll have discovered the city’s broad range of Japanese eats. Just be sure to save room for dessert. At Fuji Bakery that might mean adzuki doughnuts and green tea Danishes. At Tokara, chef Chika Tokara specializes in wagashi, traditional Kyoto sweets made with seasonal ingredients such as sweet potato, chestnut, and persimmon. They’re almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Veer off the tourist track: Observe one of the twice-weekly practices at Seattle Dojo, the first judo dojo in North America; stop by the serene Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple for chanting and moon meditation; or make reservations to experience an ancient tea ceremony at the East-West Chanoyu Center, a nonprofit founded 38 years ago by the Urasenke Foundation of Kyoto. At Neko, A Cat Cafe, a Tokyo-style petting café in trendy Capitol Hill, you can cuddle adoptable felines with names like Mochi and Matcha. Or, for a slice of old-school Japantown, sidle up to the bar at Bush Garden, a divey ex-sukiyaki joint known for its wild late-night karaoke boozeathons.
Don’t forget the souvenirs! You can always drop a bundle on cheap housewares and cosmetics at Daiso, a stateside satellite of the popular Japanese 100-yen shop, but more distinctive finds, including handmade textiles and porcelain tableware, await at KOBO. The Japanese art boutique is housed in the former Higo Variety Store, an elder statesman of Nihonmachi and a historically significant gathering place for Japanese Americans in the aftermath of World War II. Hosekibako, located within the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, is a volunteer-run thrift shop reselling kimonos, wooden kokeshi dolls, and lacquerware. For something more modern, get fitted for your new favorite jeans at Blue Owl Workshop, a purveyor of rare Japanese selvedge denim; scout for manga at Kinokuniya bookstore, housed within Uwajimaya Village, a sprawling complex of Asian specialty products and groceries; or raid the racks at Tuesday, the storefront studio of half-Japanese fashion designer Rian Robison, who hand-dyes, cuts, and sews her own line of edgy, kimono-inspired clothing. —ASHLEA HALPERN
When the hurry and dash of San Francisco start to overwhelm, head north. It doesn’t get much chiller than Mendocino County.
Spring on the Mendocino coast offers the promise of gray whale sightings and Indian paintbrush blooming on the cliffs. The winding, three-and-a-half-hour drive from San Francisco rewards you with a backdrop of soaring redwoods set against the Pacific and a stillness that encourages travelers to unplug and recharge.
Begin by exploring the seaside town of Mendocino on foot. On weekends, Café Beaujolais serves wood-fired pizzas at picnic tables in the garden. A mile south is glamping spot Mendocino Grove, 37 acres with hiking trails, canoes, and morning yoga classes, plus all the comforts of a hotel: luxurious tents with beds, heated mattress pads, and Wi-Fi.
Once a bustling lumber settlement, the town of Elk, 17 miles south of Mendocino, is worth visiting for its driftwood-strewn state beach and the newly reopened Harbor House Inn. The remodeled 103-year-old property features private fireplaces, on-site massages, and a secluded beach and waterfall. At the inn’s restaurant, Matthew Kammerer, formerly of the three-Michelin-star San Francisco restaurant Saison, keeps things local. He uses ingredients sourced within 50 miles in dishes such as abalone with Mendocino wild rice and seaweed from the cove.
Southeast of Elk on Route 128 in the heart of the Anderson Valley is Philo, a hamlet known for its tasting rooms as well as the new Poleeko Roadhouse. The menu showcases heritage pork and slow-smoked meats. At Pennyroyal Farm, a winery and creamery in the neighboring town of Boonville, you can tour the vineyard and solar-powered barn, meet the dairy goats and sheep, and taste pairings of the house-made cheeses with estate wines. Grab some of the farm’s gold medal–winning Bollie’s Mollies cheese and a bottle of rosé to enjoy Mendocino for just a bit longer. —SUSANNAH CHEN