The city has cemented its reputation as a must-visit destination with its most recent honor: it’s been named 2018 World Design Capital, the first ever in the Americas. It’s no wonder: despite challenges like the recent earthquake, young Mexican creatives are no longer searching for opportunities abroad but staying to build something meaningful at home. Their success is evident in arts initiatives like Zonamaco and the Material Art Fair in February, Design Week Mexico in October, and the Condo Fair, which will debut in Mexico’s capital in April. Aesthetes have plenty of design-forward places to stay and eat, too. Bed down at Downtown Mexico, the newest hotel by Grupo Habita, which plans to open another property, Catedral M X, nearby in 2018. Or book a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City, which unveiled an ambitious redesign by Gilles & Boissier in 2016. Dine at Enrique Olvera’s world-famous Pujol, which relocated last year to a mid-century house and has a fresh, pared-down look. The new space is outfitted in natural materials — a fitting design for a restaurant that celebrates wood-fired cooking. —Laura Itzkowitz
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
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
The Moroccan city has attracted an artistic crowd since the 1960s, when everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Mick Jagger fell for its vibrant sensory landscape. Now the city’s cultural scene is being reinvigorated, thanks to two landmark happenings in the world of art and design. First came last October’s launch of the YSL Museum — a striking geometric building next to the Jardin Majorelle, which Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, bought and restored in the 1980s. Then, in February, the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair will debut at the storied hotel La Mamounia. Marrakesh has had an art biennial since 2005 — the next is slated for 2020 — and the city is home to a number of well-regarded galleries. But the arrival of 1:54, which has editions in London and New York and draws names like Billie Zangewa and William Kentridge, is set to position the city as a hub for African art. There’s also hotel news. Oberoi is poised to open its third African property here, a lakeside resort surrounded by citrus orchards. And Royal Mansour has added a 6,450-square-foot pool flanked by seven air-conditioned cabanas. —Flora Stubbs
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Couples retreats are common along the coastal areas and several luxury hotels offer “pet packages” for those who choose to bring their pups. Sample local beer at one of the many breweries located throughout the state, many of which offer behind-the-scenes tours, along with dozens and dozens of fine wineries as well. Stay in a cabin where Wi-Fi signals are nil or enjoy a modern urban hotel with dozens of fine restaurants, trendy bars and cultural landmarks within walking distance.
This German town lays claim to not one but two of the world’s greatest opera houses. Most music lovers know about the acoustically perfect Bayreuth Festspielhaus, built in 1876 by composer Richard Wagner as the home for his summer music festival. But the city also contains the grandest Baroque theater in the world, the Margravial Opera House, built between 1744 and 1748 by Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012, the theater has been closed for repairs for the past six years. It reopens in April 2018 with a performance of Artaserse by the 18th-century German composer Johann Adolph Hasse (tickets go on sale in February). Bayreuth also makes an excellent starting point from which to explore the rest of the region, famous for its hundreds of Bavarian biergartens and vineyards producing internationally renowned Franconian wines. —Christopher Tkaczyk
Ever since Tolminc raw-milk cheeses and Slovenian marbled trout were featured on an episode of the Netflix series Chef’s Table with chef Ana Roš, Slovenia’s culinary star has been on the rise. Hiša Franko, the Soca Valley inn and restaurant that Roš runs with her sommelier husband, is now one of the region’s hardest tables to get — prompting the pair to open a small brewpub, Hiša Polonka. Surging demand for Slovenia’s natural and orange wines has driven local winemakers like Burja Estate and Movia to expand. And in the capital of Ljubljana, adventurous chefs at Monstera, Atelje, and Restavracija JB are helping redefine modern Slovenian cuisine, while the experimental farm and eatery Gostišče Grič has brought in a Swedish celebrity duck farmer and full-time forager to create one of Europe’s most unexpected dining experiences. —Nicholas Gill
Although the former Soviet republic might seem remote, Uzbekistan once sat at the very center of the world. In the first millennium, no traveler could pass from Asia to Europe without stopping in the Silk Road strongholds of Bukhara and Samarkand, and as a result these cities evolved into rich cultural centers. For intrepid travelers, today’s Uzbekistan is a promised land: a Muslim-majority nation that’s both safe and affordable, with few tourists and an abundance of well-preserved mosques and harems. And since the death of authoritarian president Islam Karimov last year, the new regime has taken steps toward reform that have given both Uzbeks and the international community reason for optimism. Improving relations with Iran could soon bring a rail link to the Persian Gulf, and in 2016, the Afrosiyob high-speed-train line began connecting the country’s major cities. Meanwhile, Uzbekistan should benefit from the so-called Iron Silk Road, or Trans-Asian Railway — a Chinese-funded network of routes knitting together Beijing and Europe — once a segment connecting the country through Kyrgyzstan is completed. Book a customized journey with Exeter International, which specializes in the region. —Heidi Mitchell
Travel to the Danish capital has jumped more than 80 percent in the past decade, thanks in part to René Redzepi’s influential Noma restaurant (slated to reopen in its new location in February), as well as Scandinavian Airlines’ ongoing flight expansion. Today, Copenhagen is teeming with inspiring places to eat and drink, in addition to a number of sleek new hotels — so much so that the New Nordic food, beverage, and design movement has now spread worldwide. Even before it debuted in July, Restaurant Barr — the beer-centric boîte by Redzepi and chef Thorsten Schmidt that occupies the old Noma plot — was already garnering international attention. Then there’s Apollo Bar & Kantine, the recently minted, design-focused restaurant in the Kunsthal Charlottenborg gallery from Frederik Bille Brahe, proprietor of hit café Atelier September. Brothers Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, of Mikkeller and Evil Twin Brewing, respectively, have in the last couple of years introduced the world to experimental Danish craft beer, and their brews can now be sampled at bars and beer halls across Copenhagen and beyond. Stylish new places to stay, such as Hotel Danmark and Sanders, as well as a revamp of the classic, Arne Jacobsen–designed Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, reinforce the reasons the Scandinavian aesthetic is so popular right now. —Kat Odell
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