The Big Easy turns the Big 3-0-0 this year, and in this city where the good times roll, the parties will be epic — think citywide art shows, supersized Mardi Gras parades, and a festival of lights using landmark buildings as backdrops. Thirteen years after Hurricane Katrina, there is much to celebrate: The Central Business District, once a dead zone after dark, now crackles at all hours thanks to four new hotels (the Ace, Troubadour, Catahoula, and NOPSI), each with its own rooftop bar. The neighborhood is also home to new restaurants like Maypop — a Vietnamese-Creole joint from acclaimed chef Michael Gulotta. Another area coming to life is the three-mile riverfront, where a renovated Spanish Plaza will reopen this spring. More riverfront updates, including a new Four Seasons Hotel, will roll out in the next few years. Toast the tricentennial at the Sazerac House, a French Quarter museum dedicated to the official cocktail of New Orleans, opening later this year. —Allison Entrekin
Our travel experts — from travel writers around the globe to T+L's A-List travel advisors to our own editors — offer their recommendations. Then, we take a look at what places are now at the forefront of the global conversation, whether for new hotels and museums or major international events. In any given year, the cities and countries we recommend as the best places to travel in the world have a lot going on. And of course, we think about those travel destinations that are perennial favorites to determine which ones are reinventing themselves, ensuring there’s always something new to explore.
Flight Boston - London (BOS - LHR) $303+ Flight New York - London (JFK - LGW) $334+ Flight New York - London (JFK - LHR) $336+ Flight Newark - London (EWR - LHR) $340+ Flight Dallas - London (DFW - LHR) $358+ Flight New York - London (LGA - LHR) $372+ Flight Chicago - London (ORD - LGW) $374+ Flight Newark - London (EWR - LCY) $386+ Flight Chicago - London (ORD - LHR) $387+ Flight New York - London (JFK - LCY) $390+ Flight Newark - London (EWR - LGW) $399+ Flight Washington - London (IAD - LHR) $410+ Flight San Francisco - London (SFO - LHR) $417+ Flight Los Angeles - London (LAX - LHR) $422+
Flight Atlantic City - Fort Lauderdale (ACY - FLL) $89+ Flight Atlanta - Fort Lauderdale (ATL - FLL) $105+ Flight Denver - Fort Lauderdale (DEN - FLL) $107+ Flight Houston - Fort Lauderdale (HOU - FLL) $111+ Flight Houston - Fort Lauderdale (IAH - FLL) $111+ Flight Philadelphia - Fort Lauderdale (PHL - FLL) $111+ Flight Washington - Fort Lauderdale (BWI - FLL) $113+
When historic rainfall pummeled California last February, the damage to Big Sur was severe. Mudslides cut off access to Highway 1, the region’s only thoroughfare, from the south; then a crack ripped through the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, blocking the northern end. Almost overnight, this 90-odd-mile stretch of craggy coastline — long beloved for its sense of remoteness — became an island. Nearly a year later, Big Sur is stirring back to life. The bridge has been replaced and a major slide has been cleared. After an elaborate renovation, the 160-acre Ventana Big Sur has reopened as the first Alila property in the U.S. — and is a luxurious rival to Post Ranch. The place is a stunner, whether you’re facing a forested canyon from the pool or enjoying pink and orange sunsets from the terrace. In addition to the plush ocean-view suites, clad in weathered wood, there are now glamping tents nearby that marry rusticity and comfort, with amenities like luxury linens and fire pits. —Jonah Weiner
Rising above its associations with the annual hot-air-balloon festival, Albuquerque will this year set out to prove itself as a fully-fledged destination. The Sawmill District, just north of the historic Old Town, is being revived as a creative center, anchored by the arrival of the Hotel Chaco. The design of this boutique property, which opened in April, is inspired by the state’s indigenous culture, with handmade Navajo wool textiles and pueblo-inspired motifs. Come spring, downtown ABQ will also see the arrival of a new entertainment hub: the $40 million One Central, which will have a sleek bowling lounge, as well as upscale stores and restaurants. And just outside town, visitors will soon be able to experience the striking Sandia Mountains in a nail-biting new way. The proposed Mountain Coaster, an alpine sled-style ride that plunges riders down the mountainside in a total vertical drop of 380 feet, is due to open this fall. Getting to Albuquerque is becoming even easier, thanks to new nonstop flights from major U.S. cities via Southwest, United, and Alaska Airlines. —Melanie Lieberman
For proof of Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning status as the cultural capital of the Middle East, look no further than Saadiyat Cultural District, which is quickly becoming a treasure trove of world-class art and groundbreaking architecture. The multibillion-dollar initiative has already resulted in one major project, the Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in November. Though its construction was controversial, the museum has quickly become the premier creative beacon in the Emirates. Work is under way nearby on the Zayed National Museum, by Norman Foster; the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre, by Zaha Hadid Architects; and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which when completed will be the largest Guggenheim museum in the world. The city’s hotel-building campaign is also in full swing: this year Marriott debuted a 400-room hotel in the Al Forsan sports center, and next year will see the opening of the Abu Dhabi Edition and Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas. —Dylan Essertier
Just an hour and a half north of Melbourne, Nagambie Lakes is one of Australia’s oldest viticulture areas, with some vines dating back to the mid 19th century. This part of Victoria has long been considered a great day-trip destination for its outdoor activities — waterskiing, rowing, and sailing — and renowned wineries. Now there’s reason to linger, thanks to the November debut of the Mitchelton Hotel, a 58-room resort and spa at Mitchelton Winery. With its fine-dining restaurant, the Ministry of Chocolate, and 5½ miles of trails circumnavigating the vineyard, it’s the perfect base for a weekend in the region. Start your trip with a tasting on-site — Mitchelton is known for its Riesling — before venturing to other nearby wineries like Tahbilk, which has been producing quality vintages since 1861, and Goulburn Terrace, which specializes in natural wines. Other popular local vintners include McPherson Wines, David Traeger Wines, and Box Grove Vineyard. —John Scarpinato