With its recent 150th anniversary celebration, pop-culture cred (Drake, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Bieber have Canadian roots), and charismatic prime minister, the Great White North has finally begun to receive the international recognition it deserves — and Toronto has been preening itself for this lead role. Luxe properties and forward-thinking restaurants have been popping up across the city: there’s Queen Street’s historic Broadview Hotel, which reopened in the burgeoning East End with guest-room details like vinyl turntables and burgundy velvet drapes, and the stylish Bisha Hotel downtown, where the likes of Lenny Kravitz and celebrity chef Akira Back have lent their design and culinary expertise. In stereotypically modest Canadian fashion, Brothers Food + Wine — one of the city’s most exciting new openings — is housed inside a tiny, nondescript space just above the Bay Street subway station, but dazzles with seasonal dishes like crispy steelhead trout with braised gem lettuce and yogurt-and-caper sauce. Next up: in Spring 2018, the Museum of Contemporary Art will move into a century-old former factory in the Junction Triangle. —Jennifer Salerno
Last summer, the museum expanded its artistic footprint by over 130,000 square feet, making it the largest contemporary art space in the country. The new Building 6 houses long-term installations by artists like James Turrell, Louise Bourgeois, and Jenny Holzer. Two new museums are still in the works for North Adams, both spearheaded by former Guggenheim director Thomas Krens. At the Global Contemporary Art Museum, curators will work directly with artists to acquire and commission site-specific pieces, while the Extreme Model Railroad & Contemporary Architecture Museum will showcase works by the likes of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid, all built in miniature as part of an elaborate model train system. Design is also top-of-mind at Tourists, a modern take on the roadside motel that’s set to open this summer. The resort — situated on 55 acres at the convergence of the Appalachian and Mohawk Trails — will have 48 rooms, each with floor-to-ceiling windows that put the focus on surrounding vistas. —Fiorella Valdesolo
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
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
Thai tourism is as robust as ever: more than 21 million international visitors poured into the capital in 2016, making it the world’s most visited city. To accommodate all those arrivals, the metropolis is welcoming a bevy of posh new hotels in the coming year. The Waldorf Astoria Bangkok will have a spa, rooftop bar, and outdoor infinity pool overlooking the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, while the 155-room Bangkok Edition will open this summer in MahaNakhon, a towering skyscraper with a swirl of cubical cutouts wrapping around the building. Four Seasons and Capella both have properties in the works on the Chao Phraya Estate, a lush riverfront development that’s part shopping and dining destination, part tropical escape. The Michelin Guide will make its long-awaited debut here this year, drawing attention to one of the world’s most dynamic culinary scenes. And for art lovers, there’s a flock of brand-new multipurpose creative spaces to explore, including the Thailand Creative & Design Center, which just relocated to a former General Post Office on historic Charoen Krung Road; Warehouse 30, a series of World War II-era warehouses revamped by starchitect Duangrit Bunnag; and ChangChui, an immense complex of bars, shops, and restaurants constructed out of upcycled materials, including an airplane salvaged from the scrap pile. —Diana Hubbell
Almost all of the Earth's islands are natural and have been formed by tectonic forces or volcanic eruptions. However, artificial (man-made) islands also exist, such as the island in Osaka Bay off the Japanese island of Honshu, on which Kansai International Airport is located. Artificial islands can be built using natural materials (e.g., earth, rock, or sand) or artificial ones (e.g., concrete slabs or recycled waste). Sometimes natural islands are artificially enlarged, such as Vasilyevsky Island in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, which had its western shore extended westward by some 0.5 km in the construction of the Passenger Port of St. Petersburg.
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