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Time flies. It seems like just yesterday we were singling out all the awesome places we believed tourists would be (or should be) rushing to in 2018. But in case you didn’t make it to Portugal’s Algarve Coast, rising-star Mexican resort town Mazatlan or Bible Belt breakout Nashville, you can wipe the slate clean and start anew. Based on criteria like booking trends, affordability, thrilling new developments and more, we’ve pinpointed 14 destinations we think you’ll want to visit in 2019. There’s enough here that you’ll want to start planning right now. We also know you’ll have some recommendations of your own, so go ahead and leave them in the comments below.
Taiwan is the best of East Asia rolled into a bite-sized package—and 2019 is the perfect time to tear it open. Beginning soon, Taiwanese carrier EVA Air will offer more non-stop flights (80+ per week) than ever to Taipei from its eight North American gateways, which means you can easily take a long weekend trip to this low-key foodie paradise (Michelin Guide launched its first ever Taipei edition in 2018), or stay a bit longer, rent a car and drive around the entire island! Urban-minded travelers will love gritty Kaohsiung City in southwest Taiwan, while nature lovers (and surfers) can scope out Asia’s most scenic beaches on the East Coast Scenic Route between Hualien and Taitung.
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil
Can you imagine trekking through miles of towering sand dunes, and swimming in colorful lakes in-between them? If you visit Brazil’s Lençois Maranhenses National Park in 2019, this vision of paradise can be your reality. To reach the park, fly to the city of São Luis, which is in northeastern Brazil approximately halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Amazon River. This last point adds another impetus to visit in 2019: President-elect Jair Bolsonaro (whose shocking 2018 election victory last month also weakened the Brazilian réal) has signaled his administration will quickly resume logging in the rainforest.
Any given year, visitors to the north of France can take in breathtaking seaside cliffs, long stretches of beach and charming medieval towns. But in 2019, the region takes on renewed historical significance with a slate of commemorative events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. In early June, visitors can expect military parades, special museum exhibits, concerts and military camp re-enactments. One of the highlights, though, is the Daks Over Normandy event, which will see about 250 men and women fly across the English Channel to jump into Normandy’s historic dropzones, just as Allied forces did 75 years before. Save time to explore other parts of Normandy, too, like the charming medieval city of Rouen; Mont St-Michel, a stunning abbey perched atop a rocky island; and Honfleur, a medieval harbor town that sits where the Seine meets the English Channel.
New York City
Because the cranes are as much a part of the Manhattan skyline as the Empire State Building, you’d be forgiven for not having noticed the glut of construction happening on the West Side between roughly 30th and 42nd streets. Those cranes portend the construction of an entire new Manhattan neighborhood called Hudson Yards. Although development on this mega project will continue for years, expect the tourist invasion to begin in 2019. That’s because its most Instagrammable feature, “Vessel,” is slated to open in spring. Colloquially called the “Stairs to Nowhere,” this 150-foot structure is made up of 154 interlocking flights of stairs which, from the surface, look like a giant honeycomb. Additionally, new drool-worthy restaurants will open at 10 Hudson Yards this spring, including entries from David Chang, Thomas Keller and a Spanish food hall from Jose Andres. If you wind up flying into LaGuardia, know that 11 gates at the new Terminal B are at last open!
In 2018, Singapore basked in the global spotlight like never before, as the setting of the blockbuster film Crazy Rich Asians. In 2019, the city’s iconic Raffles Hotel (famous, among other reasons, as being the birthplace of the Singapore Sling cocktail) will re-open after many years of renovation. If you were a super-fan of the movie like we were, you could create your own CRA itinerary, flirting beneath Raffles’ colonial eaves, having a romantic swim at the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands Hotel and even tying the knot, as Nick and Rachel did, at the 19th-century Chijmes church. Even if this sounds a tad bit dramatic—crazy, as it were—Singapore is still the perfect cross-section of Southeast Asia, where you can eat delectable street food at a hawker center, explore vibrant neighborhoods like Arab Street, China Town and Little India, or stroll amid the futuristic “Super Trees” of Gardens by the Bay.
Uluru is a natural wonder, an Australian icon and the second largest monolith in the world (beaten only by Burringurrah/Mount Augustus, also in Australia). It’s sacred to the Anangu people and a truly magical place to visit—especially while Bruce Munro’s Field of Light art installation is also running. The installation comprises more than 50,000 stems topped with glass spheres that light up the landscape at dusk. Check it out before Munro’s work finishes in 2020. There is no lodging within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, but head to Ayers Rock Resort about 9 miles away. The sprawling oasis contains multiple hotels within it, accommodating a variety of budgets including Sails in the Desert and the Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge.
You’ve taken the trek south from Cancun to Tulum to discover its sugary shores and laid-back vibe. Unfortunately, in 2018, so did everyone else. But keep heading south a bit and you’ll open yourself to a whole new world of possibilities. Just four hours down the road from Cancun sits Laguna de Bacalar, Mexico’s Lake of Seven Colors. The second largest lake in Mexico, Bacalar’s many shades of blue dance and sparkle as the sun moves across the sky throughout the day. It’s one of Mexico’s top spots for local travel, and has a selection of eco-friendly, boutique resorts that line its shores. We recommend booking a stay at the brand new Mia Bacalar Luxury Resort & Spa, featuring its own dock, stand-alone suites, restaurant, swimming pool, full-service spa and more.
Port Antonio, Jamaica
What is at this moment a quiet Jamaican resort town is poised on the edge of a boom. Port Antonio sits between twin harbors on Jamaica’s northeast corner. An eco-resort paradise, known for its outdoor adventures like cycling the Blue Mountains, sport fishing for marlin, and rafting the Rio Grande, a new highway connecting it to Kingston is going to take this sleepy hideaway and put it on the map. Port Antonio is rumored to be the birthplace of Jamaica’s native jerk style cooking. And while it’s all adventure by day, it’s relaxation at night with live music at local bars. The time to visit is now before the highway is finished and this eco oasis is discovered by the masses.
May the force be with you at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway ride, Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy show and highly anticipated Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge attraction make 2019 the year when you may finally want to splurge on theme park passes. Add to that Universal Orlando’s new Harry Potter roller coaster, SeaWorld’s Sesame Street area and Legoland Florida’s Lego Movie World expansion, and for visitors to Central Florida in 2019, everything is awesome.
French Polynesia has always been a true bucket-list destination for many US travelers, as much for its natural beauty and iconic overwater bungalows as for its remoteness and reputation for luxury (read: high prices). But the latter factor is becoming less of a hurdle, thanks to new direct United flights from San Francisco to Papeete (only 8 hours each way), as well as a slate of new hotel options, including the reopening of properties such as Hilton Tahiti and Village Tahitien, and the addition of a host of new vacation rentals. Suddenly, this far-off dream destination seems just a little bit closer.
Italophiles who’ve already checked the requisite big cities (Rome, Milan, Florence and Venice) off their lists and have also hit up coastal regions like the Italian Riviera, and the Amalfi and Positano coasts, will be delighted to unearth fascinating Matera. Named a European Capital of Culture in 2019, many a visitor will have their sights set on in it in the coming year and why shouldn’t they? Nestled in the arch of Italy’s recognizable boot, the old town or Sassi is famous for cave dwellings built into the hillside which point to its stature as one of the oldest continuously inhabited city’s on the continent (since the 10th century to be exact). The cave dwellings, the Matera Cathedral and the park of Rupestrian are enough to keep your camera busy, but so is just wandering the enchanting streets of the old city.
Wellness travel is a big trend to watch in 2019, and Belize has slowly been building its offerings. You could opt for a yoga-inspired retreat at an overwater bungalow at a resort like Thatch Caye, where you can soak up a laid-back Caribbean vibe, or head to the rain forests of the Cayo District, where eco-lodges such as the Lodge at Chaa Creek include visits to an on-site organic farm, botanical treatments at a hilltop spa and organic dining at the on-site restaurant. Add diving the reef and Great Blue Hole, hiking ancient Mayan ruins and just lounging in a hammock all day to the mix, and this coastal Central American nation has something for just about anyone looking to relax, stay fit and feel good.
Many of Croatia’s must-see destinations, like Split and Dubrovnik, are packed with the selfie-stick wielding masses and GOT-inspired guided tours. Skip the mayhem and head down along the Adriatic Sea to Croatia’s southern neighbor, Montenegro. With a small but dramatic coastline, Montenegro’s sunny Budva Riviera boasts an eclectic combination of medieval history, trendy nightlife and a wealth of sun-drenched beaches famous for their shimmering turquoise water. A half hour drive up the coast from Budva lies the medieval city of Kotor. Cradled by Montenegro’s famous purple mountains and fortified by 9th-century walls, Kotor’s rugged exterior gives way to historic charm and music-filled streets within. With so much to offer in a small scope of space, Montenegro is poised to become Europe’s next great summer escape.
Never heard of it? You’re not alone. That’s because the name is part of a recent rebranding on the part of the eight inland and northernmost counties in California in an attempt to grab a larger share of the more than 250 million visitors who flood the state annually. It’s a land of pristine lakes, Alpine villages, gushing waterfalls and impressive summits whose highlights include Lassen Volcanic National Park, snow-capped Mount Shasta and lively Redding. The region comprises 20% of the state’s landmass, but its remoteness means it sees only 3% of annual visitors. Basically, it’s as far away from the hustle of LA and San Francisco as you can possibly get. Isn’t that reason enough to give it a try?
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