Where to Go in 2019
Your guide to where, when, and how to travel this year.
When to Go In mid-December, the annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers—the largest transoceanic sailing event in the world—ends in Rodney Bay, over 3,000 miles from its starting point in Spain’s Canary Islands. St. Lucia also celebrates its National Day on December 13.
Why Now St. Lucia is best known for its natural beauty—most notably, the verdant Piton mountains that rise from the Caribbean Sea like two canine teeth. But now, the island’s rich cultural traditions finally take a spot in the limelight. Throughout 2019, visitors can get glimpses into local life on several tours. Among the first to launch was the Bon Nouvel Experience from Heritage Tours of St. Lucia. The tour takes travelers into Esperance, one of the last working agricultural estates in Choiseul on the southwestern coast. Guests can help harvest cacao, hike on one of the estate’s four trails, and watch the long process of extracting coconut oil from copra, or dried coconut meat. A 90-minute drive north, the tour at Lushan Country Life Nature Park offers insight into the way people lived centuries ago—complete with recountings of folk stories and tastes of fish cakes and cocoa tea. Not far from Lushan, artisans at the organic chocolate factory at Howelton Estate 1886 teach newbies how to make their own chocolate bars. In late 2019, the villages of Gros Islet, Soufrière, and Anse La Raye will offer travelers the chance to explore rum making and island art, as well as visit renovated chattel houses.
How to Get There American Airlines recently launched nonstop service to St. Lucia from Charlotte, N.C., Miami, and Philadelphia. JetBlue expanded its business-class Mint service Boston in November and will resume Mint service from New York in February. —JILL K. ROBINSON
Mattias Evangelista - GIF
When to Go During Japan’s ski season (from mid-December through April), the country’s famous snow refills many slopes almost every night.
Why Now When it comes to skiing, Hokkaido gets a lot of attention—and tourists. But it’s Honshu, the country’s mainland, where most Japanese snow lovers spend their weekends. By day, they ski down slopes surrounded by ancient temples, and by night, they soak in some of Japan’s historic onsen (some of the hot springs in Nagano date back 1,300 years). There are more than 330 ski areas on Honshu, and those in the mountainous northwest get the same famously soft, dry powder that falls on Hokkaido. In recent years, some of Honshu’s resorts, including two in sight of Mount Fuji, have begun to attract international tourists. Snowtown Yeti is increasing its night-skiing dates in 2019, and Fujiten Snow Resort, 32 miles north, will offer snowplow safaris, fireworks displays, family ski days, and beginners’ camps. Hotels are also getting a refresh. The design-minded Hoshino Resorts recently overhauled Kai Sengokuhara in the mountainous town of Hakone, where cypress soaking tubs fed by mineral-rich spring water afford après-ski enjoyment, and Kai Alps in Nagano, the gateway to the northern Japanese Alps. In the past couple of years, the Karuizawa Prince Hotel group has refurbished three of its resorts, including the Prince Grand Resort Karuizawa, a ski-in/ski-out resort with modern rooms and wood-clad cottages. In 2019, the Karuizawa Asama Prince Hotel will expand with new villas. Farther afield in Hyogo Prefecture, Mineyama Kogen Resort recently launched White Peak, Japan’s first new ski hill in 14 years, with three trails and two lifts.
How to Get There Japan’s national airline, JAL, will add routes in 2019, including a nonstop flight from Seattle to Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. The easiest way to get around Honshu is via train. From Tokyo, it’s a 90-minute ride to Nagano and two hours to Mount Fuji. Purchase a Japan Rail Pass, which allows up to three weeks of unlimited rides. Remote Lands, a tour operator specializing in Asia, has created new Japan ski itineraries for 2019 including one to Tohoku in northern Honshu. —ADAM H. GRAHAM
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When to Go Even in winter, temperatures in the Caymans are warm enough for swimming and sunbathing. From January 16 through 19, renowned chefs including Eric Ripert, José Andrés (a 2018 AFAR Travel Vanguard winner), and Emeril Lagasse fly in for the Cayman Cookout, a food and wine festival that takes place at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. And February 15 and 16, KAABOO, a multisensory festival—new at this location—with music, art, comedy, and cuisine, debuts on Seven Mile Beach.
Why Now The Caymans, a cluster of three Caribbean islands covered with tropical forests, punctuated by stalactite-filled caves, and lined with miles of beaches, have always been an easy getaway for those on the East Coast: Grand Cayman, the largest of the islands, is just a 90-minute flight from Miami. Now a $66 million expansion of Grand Cayman’s Owen Roberts International Airport will make it easier for travelers coming from other parts of the United States to reach the islands. (The Caymans have been removed from the CDC’s Zika list, making it a safer choice for pregnant women.) Hotels and resorts have also been upgraded in recent months. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, with a coveted location on the white-sand Seven Mile Beach, has followed up the renovation of its 365 rooms with a refresh of its Caribbean-facing lagoon-style pool. On Little Cayman, famed for proximity to scuba-diving sites known by divers around the world, the 11-room Pirates Point Resort recently updated its rooms, as well as its dining room and a lounge filled with sea-inspired painting and sculptures by local artists. The retreat is a draw for dedicated divers, who have easy access to Bloody Bay Wall, one of the most dramatic underwater cliffs in the Caribbean.
How to Get There Direct flights from the United States to the Cayman Islands are offered by a variety of airlines, including JetBlue from New York and Cayman Airways from Chicago; each takes about four hours. There are new nonstop services from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport on JetBlue and Denver International Airport (beginning in March) on Cayman Airways. —JILL K. ROBINSON
Courtesy of Shinta Mani Wild (GIF)
When to Go December to April are the warmest and driest months for exploring Cambodia, including the country’s rain forest corridor, which connects the Bokor and Kirirom National Parks in the southwest region of the country.
Why Now To the south of Cambodia’s fabled temples of Angkor, a remote river valley in the largely unexplored Cardamom Mountains is now on the radar of intrepid travelers. That’s because of Shinta Mani Wild, a recently opened luxury camp that embraces both conservation and design. By partnering with Wildlife Alliance and the Cambodian government, the project aims to protect 400 acres along the Tmor Rung River from mining, logging, and the poaching of endangered animals. The camp also employs locals and supports farming and fishing in the area. The four-acre camp, created by Bangkok-based designer Bill Bensley, features 15 sprawling tents that sit along a riverbank. One of the camp’s two zip lines traverses rushing rivers and waterfalls before depositing guests directly in the camp’s Landing Zone Bar, where a muddled lemongrass cocktail might await. Guests who want a glimpse of conservation efforts can visit the on-site naturalist research center, take walks with expert botanists to spot rare orchids, or join rangers on motorbikes as they patrol for trespassers and clear the forest of snares set for wildlife. From $1,900 per night, all-inclusive.
How to Get There From New York City to Cambodia’s Phnom Penh International Airport, the best itineraries are on EVA Air, Cathay Pacific, and China Southern Airlines. From LAX to Phnom Penh, the quickest trips with one connection are via Asiana Airlines and EVA Air. Three-hour land transfers to Shinta Mani Wild from the airport are included in each booking. Helicopter transfers are available for an additional fee of $2,900. —NORA WALSH
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When to Go In the winter months, the skies are clear and the temperature hovers in the upper 70s. December through March is the prime time to spot migrating gray and humpback whales—and to catch a polo match at the Careyes Polo Club.
Why Now It all started in July 1968, when Italian banker Gian Franco Brignone spotted a large plot of rugged jungle on a flight along Mexico’s western coast and decided to buy it. Over the last 50 years, more than $350 million has been invested to preserve the 20,000-plus-acre nature reserve—and to create the exclusive Costa Careyes development. What began as a Mediterranean-inspired getaway for Europeans jet-setters is more accessible than ever, thanks in part to the recent opening of El Careyes Club & Residences. Previously, travelers had only three rental options: a staffed villa, one of the resort’s casitas, or a thatch-roofed beach bungalow. Now, El Careyes is the closest thing to a hotel in the area, with 36 apartment-style accommodations—each with a fully equipped kitchen and ocean-facing terrace—and five infinity pools. The town exudes both luxury and a bohemian spirit that springs from the owners’ dedication to the arts. Visitors can attend weekly film screenings, explore works created by artists in residence, and tour a contemporary gallery in the Plaza de los Caballeros del Sol, the petite downtown. Guests can also take advantage of a complimentary concierge service to arrange activities such as ocean kayaking, horseback riding, and even trips to release baby sea turtles at Teopa beach with the nonprofit Careyes Foundation.
How to Get There Most travelers fly to Manzanillo’s Playa de Oro International Airport (via Mexico City, if coming from anywhere but Los Angeles) and rent a car for the 90-minute drive north to Careyes. —BROOKE PORTER KATZ
When to Go Dominica’s tropical climate means it’s hot and humid year-round, but the winter months of January and February are cooler (and, come February, drier) compared to the rest of the year, with highs in the low 80s.
Why Now This winter, Dominica, the tiny island nation sandwiched between Guadeloupe and Martinique, is finally ready to receive visitors again after Hurricane Maria caused $1.3 billion in damage in 2017. Known for its volcanic mountains, abundant waterfalls, hot springs, and top-notch snorkeling and diving, the island has implemented an ambitious post-hurricane comeback effort focused on sustainability. The government has established a new Climate Resilient Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) devoted to hurricane-proofing the island’s infrastructure, and has restored natural attractions including Boiling Lake, the world’s second-largest hot spring. Many major hiking trails and dive sites have been cleared of debris, and for sites that are still damaged, visitors can pitch in on the cleanup effort. The capital city, Roseau, has fortified and reopened its restaurants, and the weekly farmers’ market is hawking locally grown tropical fruits such as pawpaw and genip (a type of lime) once again. More than half the island’s hotel rooms have reopened, too, including the romantic villas at the cliff-top Secret Bay and the riverside cottages and lodge at Citrus Creek Plantation. New for 2019: the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica, a seaside-meets-jungle retreat next to Cabrits National Park in the northern part of the island.
How to Get There The island has two airports, with most planes flying into Douglas-Charles on the northeast coast. One of Dominica’s major carriers, Air Antilles, has added two weekly flights from Guadeloupe between November and March. Flights from the United States connect through neighboring islands including Antigua, Barbados, St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe, and St. Lucia. Ferries operate between Dominica and Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St. Lucia, and there are three cruise ship berths on the island. —DEVORAH LEV-TOV
When to Go In February, the tail end of Australian summer, the seasonal crowds die down, just in time for the Byron Bay Surf Festival (February 20–24), a soulful celebration of surfing, music, and art.
Why Now Surrounded by tropical farms, jungle, and the turquoise waves of the Pacific, Byron Bay is a coastal paradise just two hours south of busy Brisbane. Hippies and surfers have known this for decades, but Byron’s “cheer up, slow down, chill out” mantra has recently attracted a new generation of artisans, chefs, and entrepreneurs who are reshaping the small beach town. Try on the Byron life at Rowie, a clothing boutique that emphasizes beachy styles made from natural fibers, and Pop and Scott, stocked with minimalist furniture, ceramics, and clothing by Australian designers. But what’s really turning eyes to Byron Bay is the food and drink scene, which puts Byron Bay’s acclaimed local produce to creative new use. The team behind the farm-to-table restaurant Harvest Newrybar has created a mini dining empire that includes Chupacabra, a taquería that prepares Mexican dishes from regional ingredients. (Order the Yucatán-style grilled fish taco and a mango-chili slushie.) The vegetarian restaurant Folk, a local favorite for its plant-based dishes, recently added a sister café, Woods, 20 minutes away in the town of Bangalow. In early 2019, the Byron craft brewing company Stone & Wood will unveil a new community brewery, and Cape Byron Distillery will lead tours that begin with a cocktail made from Brookie’s gin, flavored with native aniseed myrtle and finger limes. And the masterminds behind Three Blue Ducks—a restaurant on an 80-acre property known as the Farm—recently opened Locura, a Latin-inspired bar and restaurant serving tepache (a fermented pineapple drink) and fresh ceviche.
How to Get There Qantas and Virgin Australia offer direct flights between LAX and Brisbane. From Brisbane, it’s quickest to rent a car and drive the two hours to Byron Bay. —SERENA RENNER
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When to Go During winter, temperatures in the Dominican Republic stay comfortably in the 70s and 80s. Holiday celebrations continue from Christmas to Carnival in February and March, and whale-watching season in Samaná Bay kicks off in mid-January as humpbacks migrate north.
Why Now The mega resorts that line this Caribbean island’s east coast may have put it on the map, but new developments are beckoning visitors to the D.R.’s quieter side. In 2019, two hotels will open in the agricultural town of Miches, on the northeastern coast, an hour’s drive from the better-known region of Punta Cana. The Tropicalia resort development will include a 169-room Four Seasons on Playa Esmerelda. Occupying 93 acres on the same expansive stretch of pristine beach, Club Med Miches is scheduled to open in December 2019. The Club Med will have two sections: a tranquil, adults-only area with wellness facilities; and a family-friendly zone with a children’s club. Guests can kayak among the mangroves, hike through coconut plantations, and snorkel and scuba dive past miles of coral reefs. This year marks the 175th anniversary of the nation’s independence: In the capital, Santo Domingo, expect military parades and air shows along the Malecón, the city’s seafront promenade, throughout the year.
How to Get There Major airlines service D.R., and in 2019, travelers can take advantage of new direct daily flights on Spirit Airlines from Newark to Santo Domingo, while Frontier Airlines adds weekly routes from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport to Punta Cana. Frontier will also add nonstop flights three times a week from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to Punta Cana. —KATHLEEN SQUIRES
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This year, there are more ways than ever to appreciate the Big Easy.
When to Go The Crescent City is especially lovely in spring, after the glitter from Mardi Gras has settled and before the notoriously steamy summer arrives. It’s also the season for the Jazz & Heritage Festival, which marks its 50th anniversary this year (April 25–28, May 5–8).
Why Now Fresh off its tricentennial birthday in 2018, New Orleans is about to welcome several new institutions that celebrate its iconic food and drink traditions. The Sazerac House Museum will devote three stories to the city’s official cocktail, the Sazerac, created in the 1800s by local Creole pharmacist Antoine Peychaud as a vehicle for his bitters. Interactive exhibits will also pay homage to other cocktails, such as the NOLA-born Hurricane and the French 75, along with the famous bars that serve them, and virtual bartenders will help visitors create their own cocktails. The New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI), which opens in January, will offer classes led by Big Easy chefs; a ground-floor café, NOCHI Café by Gracious, serving traditional and modern American food will also be open to the public. Come April, James Beard Award–winning Louisiana chefs Donald Link and Rebecca Wilcomb will open Gianna, a restaurant named for Wilcomb’s Italian grandmother and featuring dishes inspired by the Veneto region she calls home.
How to Get There Sixteen airlines fly into New Orleans, with nonstop flights from 55 U.S. cities. A $1 billion terminal at the Louis Armstrong International Airport debuts in May 2019 and will include a streamlined TSA security checkpoint, a jazz garden with live music, and outposts of popular local restaurants such as Emeril’s and MoPho. —KATHLEEN SQUIRES
When to Go In April, the gloom of winter gives way to the cheer of budding fruit trees, and the highly anticipated Bauhaus Museum Weimar opens.
Why Now The Bauhaus school of design championed clean lines, functionality, and affordability and is widely credited with ushering in the modernist era, reimagining everything from household items like clocks, lamps, and chairs to architecture. Walter Gropius founded Bauhaus in Weimar in 1919, but the school moved twice, first to Dessau and then to Berlin, and all three cities are celebrating the centennial. Weimar’s new museum will house the city’s extensive collection of Bauhaus pieces, such as colorful nesting tables from Marcel Breuer or a minimalist chess set crafted by sculptor Josef Hartwig. Travelers can pop into an exhibit or take a design-focused walking tour of Weimar, offered by the Bauhaus Atelier. In Dessau, visitors will be able to tour the city’s new museum, a glass-and-steel structure topped by a black box, or overnight in one of the furnished studios at the Prellerhaus, formerly lodgings for Bauhaus students. Berlin’s renovated Bauhaus Archive is expanding to include a series of underground galleries and a new five-story, transparent tower. Throughout the year, other German cities will highlight their own modernist treasures, including socialist housing estates and homes that once belonged to key Bauhaus figures, a testament to the movement’s widespread and lasting presence.
How to Get There Daily nonstop flights to Berlin are available from most international airports. Trains to both Weimar and Dessau depart regularly from Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof station. The trip to Weimar takes a little more than two hours, with a transfer in Erfurt or Leipzig; to Dessau it’s about 90 minutes. —GIULIA PINES
When to Go Lyon reawakens between April and June. The mild, sunny days are ideal for a food crawl of the city’s culinary hits, including its legendary bouchons, bistros that serve traditional Lyonnais food.
Why Now With its wealth of Michelin-starred restaurants, its world-renowned bouchons, and access to the country’s finest ingredients, Lyon has long attracted chefs and food-lovers. And now, with the reopening of the Grand Hôtel-Dieu, the city gets a new culinary hub. Located on the banks of the Rhône River, the Grand Hôtel-Dieu—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—was built as a refuge for clergymen by the Catholic Church in the 12th century, operated as the country’s most important hospital starting in the 15th century, and was expanded by French architects Guillaume Ducellet and Jacques-Germain Soufflot in the 17th and 18th centuries. It took eight years of construction and painstaking restoration to transform the beloved landmark into its current incarnation: a nearly 13-acre village within the city, graced with boutiques, restaurants, gourmet food stores, and a convention center built around interior gardens and cloisters. Some of those restaurants opened in 2018, such as Beefhouse and Café Mokxa, but the site’s two marquee attractions will open their doors mid-2019: The five-star InterContinental Hotel, located in a 17th-century wing of the building, complete with 144 rooms and a restaurant specializing in modern twists on Lyonnais classics. And the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie will encompass 42,000 square feet and host ateliers and workshops, temporary exhibitions, and permanent collections tied to cuisine, nutrition, health, and the French art of gathering around the table.
How to Get There Daily nonstop flights to Paris are available from most international airports in the United States. From Charles de Gaulle airport, Lyon is a one-hour flight or a two-hour ride on the TGV train.—LINDSEY TRAMUTA
Courtesy of Conrad Bora Bora Nui
When to Go The island is temperate year-round, but spring is an especially good time to visit: The rainy season is over, summer crowds have yet to descend, and rates are often discounted.
Why Now Bora Bora was once the province of honeymooners, one of the many islands in French Polynesia where travelers could spend a week relaxing in an overwater bungalow or on an idyllic beach. You can still do those things, but thanks to a rise in immersive local experiences, there are more reasons than ever to step outside the bungalow. Conrad Bora Bora Nui, the newest five-star resort on the island, now offers ukulele lessons from Bora Bora musicians, introductions to Polynesian tattoo art, and tours of the Mount Otemanu cave. The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa recently expanded its activities to include helicopter tours of the island, scuba diving with sharks and sea turtles, guided hikes through the rain forest, and also offers on-site culinary demonstrations on the preparation of traditional Polynesian dishes. Or travelers can choose their own adventure: Local guides lead deep-sea fishing trips and Tahitian dance classes, and restaurants showcase more indigenous flavors. Bloody Mary’s specializes in fresh fish caught daily, and La Villa Mahana serves coconut bread wrapped in a banana leaf, Tahitian vanilla ice cream, and other elegant dishes made with island ingredients.
How to Get There In October 2018, United launched nonstop flights from SFO to the island of Tahiti. (Air Tahiti Nui offers direct flights from LAX.) From Tahiti, it’s a 50-minute flight to Bora Bora.—REBECCA HOLLAND
When to Go March and April are the most comfortable months to visit, when the mercury starts to rise but the heat and humidity of summer haven’t taken over yet.
Why Now This year, Houston will commemorate the Apollo 11 milestone by unveiling the reconstructed Mission Control Center at the NASA Johnson Space Center. But several other attractions are raising the city’s profile as a scientific and cultural powerhouse. At the 14-acre Museum of Fine Arts campus, visitors can stroll new promenades that lead past reflecting pools, tree-filled plazas, and such venues as the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation Center for Conservation, which will offer passersby a glimpse of art undergoing restoration. Nearby, the recently renovated Menil Collection—designed by Renzo Piano, of Centre Pompidou fame—introduced the Drawing Institute, a light-filled, 30,000-square-foot space by the architectural firm Johnston Marklee. The institute is home to modern and contemporary drawings, with a permanent collection that includes works by Max Ernst, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The coming year will also see the Holocaust Museum Houston double in size and the Stages Repertory Theatre add three new performance spaces just in time for its 2019-2020 season.
How to Get There JetBlue offers a daily nonstop from JFK into William P. Hobby Airport; from the West Coast, several airlines have daily nonstops into George Bush Intercontinental Airport. —CHANEY KWAK
When to Go The Azores have a temperate subtropical climate, and the weather, while mild all year long, may cycle through clouds, wind, rain, and sun in a matter of hours. Go in June, when it’s more reliably sunny and not too hot, and when flights are more frequent.
Why Now The Azores, a nine-island volcanic archipelago 900 miles west of Portugal, are home to deep-blue lakes, oceanside bluffs, and patchwork fields in every imaginable shade of green. Now that travelers can fly from New York City in less than five hours, the autonomous Portuguese region won’t be a secret much longer. On São Miguel, the biggest island, black and white cobblestones in geometrical designs called calçada portuguesa cover the plazas of regional capital Ponta Delgada; hiking trails surround the crater lakes of the Sete Cidades area; and the five-star Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico on São Miguel recently emerged from a renovation. On vineyard-filled Pico, grapevines grow out of black basalt rock; on Flores, named after its abundant flowers, hydrangeas bloom in the summer. The best way to see it all: via a new program from the tour company Azores Getaways that allows travelers to design their own island-hopping adventure (airfare included).
How to Get There Delta flies nonstop from JFK to Ponta Delgada between May and September. The cruise lines Azamara Club Cruises, Norwegian, and Regent Seven Seas will stop at the islands of São Miguel and/or Faial on their 2019 itineraries. —SARA BUTTON
When to Go Summer is the best time of year to take in the fresh air and experience the hiking trails and swimming holes of the Berkshires. Solid Sound, a biennial music festival at Mass MoCA, returns June 28−30.
Why Now In 1999, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) transformed a 19th-century factory mill complex in the state’s bucolic Berkshires region into a center for world-class art. Momentum has been building ever since. Last year, John Stirratt, the bassist with the Chicago alternative rock group Wilco, reopened the rundown Redwood Motel in the city of North Adams as Tourists, a sleek 48-room lodge. And MASS MoCA welcomed A-OK Berkshire Barbeque to set up shop in a disused guardhouse on its campus. Up next for Tourists is the spring 2019 opening of Loom, a restaurant that lured San Francisco chef Cortney Burns away from her prominent post at Bar Tartine. Located in a church-like space once home to a Welsh temperance society, Loom will feature locally sourced cuisine. About a mile south of Mass MoCA, Rising Glass Brewery is scheduled to open June 2019 in the repurposed Fraternal Order of Eagles lodge. Nearly 20 miles south in Pittsfield, the Museum of Dog, a canine-themed art collection, is slated to re-open in late spring. And 10 miles farther south in the town of Lenox, the summer abode of the Boston Symphony Orchestra—known as Tanglewood—will open a new Center for Music and Learning in summer 2019, complete with a newly built performance space and café offering year-round concerts and events.
How to Get There Most towns in the Berkshires are about a three-hour drive from Boston and New York City. The closest major airport is in Albany, New York, an hour’s drive northwest of the Berkshires. And 2019 could be the year that Amtrak initiates the Berkshire Flyer, train service that would run between Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and New York City and Albany on warm-weather weekends in the summer and fall. —LYNDSEY MATTHEWS
When to Go Winter in Chile, from June to August, is usually the slow season in this high-altitude valley, which stretches from the Pacific coast to the Andean foothills. Not this year. The 90-mile-wide region will be in the path of totality—the swath in which the moon completely blocks the sun—for the next solar eclipse on July 2, and more than 500,000 people are expected to gather to watch the action.
Why Now With 300 sunny days a year and minimal light pollution, the arid Elqui Valley offers some of the best stargazing in the world. More than a dozen observatories stand along the valley’s 65-mile Ruta de las Estrellas, or Route of Stars, which begins in the coastal town of La Serena and ends in the Andean village of Alcohuáz. Vicuña, the valley’s largest town, is the best jumping-off point for eclipse-related activities. Take in the celestial spectacle with astronomers from the Mamalluca or Pangue observatories or set up camp in the temporary observation spots local officials will set up for the event. While larger hotels throughout the valley are already booked, some campsites, private homes, and smaller hostales (inns) are still available, as are hotel rooms in La Serena and other towns on the coast. An alternative: Time your visit for the days following totality, when crowds are expected to disperse and the new moon allows skies to remain dark enough to see the Milky Way. Book a stay at Elqui Domos, where you can stargaze from the comfort of your own bed, either in a geodesic dome with a zippered viewing panel or in a cabin with a panel of skylights.
How to Get There La Serena, the gateway to Elqui Valley, is a one-hour flight or 5.5-hour drive north of Santiago. Officials recommend arriving at least two days before the eclipse to beat traffic: Highway 41 is the only route into and out of the valley. —SARAH FELDBERG
When to Go Just south of the equator, Rwanda has a pleasant semi-tropical climate due to the country’s high elevation, but that means lots of rain, too. Your best bet is the dry spell from June through September.
Why Now More than two decades after a violent civil war, Rwanda is peaceful again, attracting visitors with its coveted gorilla trekking experiences—by far the country’s biggest draw. But Rwanda offers even more than the chance to encounter the majestic apes. The capital of Kigali, treated by most travelers as a quick stopover before their safari, is home to a thriving arts scene and new restaurants that reward an extended stay. The year-old Heaven Retreat, with its sustainably grown teak furnishings and private patios, offers a central base. A 2.5-hour drive to the east, 433-square-mile Akagera National Park is home to 18 black rhinos, reintroduced in 2017, which means you can now see the Big Five without leaving the country. Wilderness Safaris is bringing luxury to the park for the first time with the debut in March of Magashi Camp, which will feature six tents facing Lake Rwanyakazinga. In the southwestern reaches of the country, the new One&Only Nyungwe House offers tours through misty tea plantations and hikes that track chimpanzees and colobus monkeys. And for those set on gorilla trekking, two hotly anticipated lodges are slated to open in 2019: One&Only Gorilla’s Nest and Singita Kwitonda.
How to Get There RwandAir’s direct flight from New York to Kigali is still in the works, but in the meantime, travelers can fly to Kigali via Nairobi with Kenya Airways on a new 15-hour flight from JFK in New York City, via Nairobi. Or they can take a connecting flight from JFK or LAX to Kigali via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines, via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, or via Amsterdam on KLM. —SARAH KHAN
When to Go Winters are gloomy and spring can be muddy, so summer, when the sun shines and tables spill out to the sidewalks and streets, is the best time to visit.
Why Now As Poland continues to emerge from the shadow of Communism, Warsaw is experiencing a widespread creative wave—including a vodka revival. In Praga, once one of the roughest parts of the city, the new Polish Vodka Museum tells the 600-year story of the spirit. In this former vodka factory, visitors can walk fragrant wooden floors made from old barrels, and finish with a tasting that showcases potato-, wheat-, and rye–based vodkas, then continue to consume innovative drinks along with some of the very best food in the city, at the new crop of vodka bars. At WuWu, the chef Adriana Marczewska, who went far on Poland’s version of Top Chef, puts an upscale twist on classic Polish pub dishes (even the Communist ones, including the “pork luncheon,” a Spam-like concoction served in its own tin, which turns out to be a tasty, salty wonder) and pairs them with a list of dozens of vodkas. The Roots, a snug bar across from the national opera house, distills its own spirits, including a vodka that’s barrel aged with Polish herbs for three months. And trendy Woda Ognista (or “firewater,” taken from the old Polish words for vodka) celebrates the interwar years in Poland, a time of freedom and intellectual ferment, in two ways: with its seasonal cocktails (a recent menu, called “cocktail melodies,” was based on famous national songs from that era), and via its small collection of historic, alcohol-themed art pieces (shakers and cocktail menus displayed in cases on the walls). Travelers can make their home base the five-star Raffles Europejski—once the most stylish address on the rail line between Paris and St. Petersburg—which reopened last June with 106 rooms, a carefully curated collection of Polish art, and a double-distilled vodka commissioned for exclusive use in the hotel.
How to Get There Many major European carriers—including British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, and LOT, the Polish national airline, which offers a nonstop flight from JFK—fly into the Warsaw Chopin Airport. —TIM JOHNSON
When to Go June into September is the stretch to enjoy New Brunswick’s outdoor wonders and explore the culture of the Acadian people (descendants of the region’s original French settlers). The city of Moncton, where a third of the population is French-speaking, will celebrate the World Acadian Congress August 16–23 with music, dancing, food stalls, and other festivities.
Why Now New Brunswick has always been known for nature—it’s home to the Bay of Fundy, the site of the world’s highest tides—but thanks to a handful of new additions, it’s easier than ever to adventure outdoors. Explore the bay and try your hand at marine research in the historic town of St. Andrews, where the Huntsman Marine Science Centre will be running new boat tours aboard the Fundy Spray. Help gather specimens, perhaps examine your finds under a microscope, then lunch on scallops while scanning the waters for seals. You can camp in comfort at several new rustic-meets-luxury accommodations. Cielo Glamping Maritime recently built five geodesic domes on the Acadian Peninsula, at the province’s northeast tip. Gather your own oysters by day, watch the sunset from a wood-fired hot tub, then stargaze from a cushy queen-size bed. To really get away from it all, head inland to hike a portion of the newly completed Nepisiguit Mi’gmaq Trail—87 miles along the Nepisiguit River, with spectacular views of Mount Carleton, the Maritimes’ highest peak. For centuries, the native Mi’gmaq people used this trail to reach tribal hunting and fishing grounds; it still traverses an unspoiled wilderness.
How to Get There New Brunswick is about a four-hour drive from Portland, Maine, and five and a half hours from Boston. Or fly into Moncton, Fredericton, or St. John; the last puts you closest to the Bay of Fundy. —BARBARA PECK
When to Go The annual California Wine Festival (this year, July 19–20) celebrates some of the best wines in the state, including those from the nearby Santa Ynez Valley, with two days of tastings and food-and-wine pairings.
Why Now A year after wildfires and massive mudslides in neighboring Montecito led Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency, Santa Barbara is back in full swing. The Hotel Californian, with its original 1920s Spanish colonial revival facade, has injected elegance and energy into the city’s historic waterfront. Martyn Lawrence Bullard—the designer behind many celebrity homes, including those of Cher and Eva Mendes—dreamed up the interiors, infusing the 121 rooms and suites with Moroccan elements such as geometric patterns, arched entryways, and gilded sconces. Step outside the hotel, and the best of the city is within walking distance. West Beach is just steps away, as is the innovative new MOXI discovery museum, where kids can play with 3-D printers and create their own movie sound effects. Also close: the tasting rooms of the Funk Zone and several new restaurants that round out the city’s maturing food scene. There’s Blackbird, a Mediterranean restaurant led by a French Laundry and Per Se alum who uses locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, and three new spots—including the Vietnamese restaurant Tyger Tyger—from the prolific Acme Hospitality group. Early 2019 will bring more hotel news, when the Rosewood Miramar Beach opens with 124 rooms and 37 suites on a secluded beach 10 minutes south of downtown.
How to Get There From Los Angeles, it’s a 50-minute flight or a three-hour Amtrak ride to Santa Barbara. —KIRSTEN WHATLEY
When to Go From July 18 to August 11, the Fête des Vignerons returns to Vevey, the gateway city to the lauded Lavaux wine region.
Why Now The Lavaux region’s winemaking history dates to the 11th century; its 1,000-year-old terraced vineyards have landed it on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and its famous chasselas white wine has landed it in the hearts of oenophiles everywhere. In tribute to that long history, the Fête des Vignerons is staged in Vevey once every generation, up to five times a century. The festival dates to 1797, when the Brotherhood of Winegrowers launched a small parade to mark the end of its annual meeting. Today it mounts a much bigger spectacle, featuring three weeks of ornate parades, pop-up restaurants, and cultural activities. The main event is an elaborate music-filled pageant that follows a young girl as she works and feasts with her grandfather during the harvest, learning about the winegrower’s life and the bounty of the vineyards. (This year, spectators can watch from a new 20,000-seat arena constructed specially for the festival.) Of course, there will also be wine. Sample one of two wines made specifically for the fête—one red and one white—at the many caveaux (open cellars). In between tastings and other activities, don’t forget to drink in the beauty of Vevey. Stroll the palm-lined lakeside promenade, bike and hike Les Pléiades and the nearby Alps, or hop on the Lavaux Express or the Lavaux Panoramic, trains that loop through the vineyards.
How to Get There Vevey is an hour from Geneva and 15 minutes from Lausanne by train. Buy a Swiss Travel Pass—which includes rail, water, and bus routes—for discounted rides. —BILLIE COHEN
When to Go Autumn is a perfect time to hike in Lebanon’s cedar forests and nature reserves, yet still warm enough to spend time at the beach. Plus, the summer crowds are gone, and harvest season—especially for grapes and olives—is in full swing.
Why Now For years, it was virtually impossible to take more than a day trip beyond Beirut and Tripoli, Lebanon’s biggest cities, simply because there was no place to spend the night. Then entrepreneur Orphée Haddad launched L’Hôte Libanais, a collection of 22 small guesthouses in the capital and less-trafficked areas of the country, all owned and run by locals. Each of the homes is selected for its preservation of Lebanese design and architecture, and each offers travelers more intimate access to locals. For example, the home Zita Fidar, located near Byblos on the coast, regularly hosts art and music events; Dar Linda is owned by a historian with a large collection of Lebanese handicrafts; and at Beit Douma, in the Batroun mountains, cooks serve a traditional breakfast with produce plucked straight from the garden. L’Hôte’s success has inspired a new wave of independent guesthouses, such as Beit Trad, a family mountain home in Kfour; and My Stone Cellar, an early 20th-century home with period interiors, in the ancient hilltop village of Douma.
How to Get There One-stop flights to Beirut are available from most international airports in the United States. Private guides are recommended for excursions and visits outside of Beirut. Or book a tour: Taste Lebanon leads fully guided one- to seven-day culinary trips. —LINDSEY TRAMUTA
When to Go In September, average temperatures range from the 70s to the low 80s. It’s also the month for Crush Walls, a weeklong annual urban art festival, when local and international graffiti artists use the area’s buildings as their canvases.
Why Now There’s a new energy in Denver, sparked by the arrival of young entrepreneurs who have moved to the city for its booming job market, high quality of life, and cool creative scene. At the center is the River North Art District (RiNo), where more than two dozen galleries have opened in former warehouses. New bars and distilleries, such as Ironton Distillery & Crafthouse, serve locally made beer and spirits, and boutiques sell handmade home goods. Among a slew of new restaurants, Julep stands out for its homey Southern fare, and Call (soon to be joined by sister restaurant Beckon) offers a Scandinavian take on café treats. An influx of hotels has also turned RiNo into an ideal base for exploring the city. The 50-room Ramble Hotel features three bars, all run by the cocktail mavens behind New York City’s Death & Co. For travelers looking to mix business with leisure, the new Source Hotel is attached to an artisan market hall with communal spaces (and free WiFi).
How to Get There Denver International Airport (DEN) is a United hub. The airline expanded service to more than 20 domestic cities last year, bringing its total number of domestic direct flight destinations to more than 150. In 2019, it will add nonstop flights to Charleston and Fairbanks. In November, the Denver Central Market food hall opened in DEN with offshoots of several popular Denver restaurants. —SARA BUTTON
When to Go The city gets 310 sunny days a year on average, but autumn, when temperatures cool and desert winds calm, is the season New Mexicans live for.
Why Now Sure, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 5–13) draws travelers from all over the world, but new offerings are putting this desert city on the traveler’s go list this year. A newly opened 50-mile trail for cyclists and hikers skirts the pink-toned Sandia Mountains, the Rio Grande, and downtown. (Travelers can rent bicycles from more than 41 locations via Pace, Albuquerque’s new bike-share service.) In the expanding Sawmill District—once the center of the city’s lumber industry—the 8,600-square-foot Spur Line Supply Co. is a symbol of the area’s revival. Founded in an Airstream trailer, Spur now offers space for New Mexican artisans, as well as rotating art exhibits, coffee, and classes from YogaZo, the city’s first mobile yoga studio. Elsewhere, long-dormant hotels dating back to the 1930s are getting a second life, including the remodeled 22-room El Vado Motel near Old Town, which was built in 1937 to cater to Route 66 travelers. In the Nob Hill neighborhood, the 80-year-old De Anza Lodge is set to reopen by early March after an $8.2 million renovation, which includes the restoration of Zuni Shalako murals.
How to Get There Frontier Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta have recently added nonstop flights to Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ) from cities including Los Angeles, Portland, Denver, and Austin. —NICK PACHELLI
When to Go As September wanes, typhoon season begins to slow down, and breezes cool the subtropical city. On October 1 each year, Hong Kong celebrates China’s National Day with a dramatic display of fireworks in Victoria Harbour.
Why Now Best known as a capital of commerce, Hong Kong has seen its arts offerings grow steadily in recent years. And 2019 will see the debut of world-class art spaces that will cement the city’s status as one of Asia’s most important creative centers. The place to explore this new energy is West Kowloon, which is poised to become one of the world’s largest cultural districts. The development will include the Xiqu Centre for theater; the M+ museum, showcasing contemporary visual art, design, architecture, and film; and Art Park, a public green space that will host live performances. In February 2019, Victoria Dockside’s Avenue of Stars—Hong Kong’s answer to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame—is expected to reopen as part of a harbor-front redesign by the team behind New York City’s High Line. Local hoteliers are overhauling the lodging scene in Kowloon: The recently opened Eaton HK hotel is built around the themes of art and social justice, and features performance spaces, a cinema, and work by up-and-coming Hong Kong artists. Just over a mile to the south along the Victoria Harbour waterfront, the Rosewood Hong Kong, slated to open March 2019, will occupy 43 floors of a multiuse tower and feature uninterrupted views of the city’s famous skyline.
How to Get There Cathay Pacific offers nonstop daily service to Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) from LAX, SFO, and all three major New York City airports. Last year, the airline unveiled the Deck at HKIA, a premium lounge for business and first-class fliers. Don’t miss the relaxation room. —DEVORAH LEV-TOV
Editor's note: This story was first published in December 2018. Due to the current political unrest in Hong Kong, we no longer recommend it as an autumn destination.