Prague. Credit: Prague City Tourism
While Elon Musk is hard at work trying to make Mars the next travel frontier, other places in this orbit demand a visit right now. You can easily deduce why cities hosting the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics might land on the list, but other out-of-this-world destinations are in such a fun, creative space right now that they should sit atop your travel plans, too.
As the Czech Republic celebrates its centennial, the capital city is the place to be for traveling exhibits and festivities commemorating the founding of the tiny independent nation of Czechoslovakia.
Amid all of the excitement around town, try to catch a few winks in Prague’s perfectly placed luxury lodgings, like Old Town’s sumptuous Four Seasons Hotel Prague or the stylish Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel on Wenceslas Square.
Asheville. Credit: ExploreAsheville.com
Asheville, North Carolina
This Blue Ridge Mountain hamlet already has a reputation for being a place where creative types gather for festivals and art consortia, but with the Biltmore Estate’s two massive shows coming this year — “Glamour on Board: Fashion From Titanic the Movie” (February 9 to May 13) and “Chihuly at Biltmore” (May 17 to October 7) — the city’s casting a much wider artistic net.
And, of course, after admiring these temporary exhibits, you can retire to the permanent work of art, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Inn on Biltmore Estate, for an evening of French Renaissance elegance.
NOLA’s French Quarter. Credit: Paul Broussard
With its colorful demeanor and non-stop energy, the Big Easy doesn’t appear a day over 200. But as you’ll see with a visit to the city in 2018, NOLA is proudly celebrating its 300th birthday. To commemorate the milestone, you’ll find a calendar full of revelry about town (French Quarter Festival, April 12 to 15), lots of foodie fun (New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, May 23 to 27) and great overnight promotions at top properties such as NOPSI Hotel (the goodie-packed New Orleans Tricentennial Package).
Start planning: 10 Top New Orleans Attractions
Toronto. Credit: Tourism Toronto
Exciting things are happening in Canada’s cultural capital. The new Bentway transformed space under the Gardiner Expressway into an urban park linking seven neighborhoods with farmer’s markets, gardens and an ice skating trail; an amphitheater will debut this year. The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada will reopen in the spring and reinvigorate the industrial Junction Triangle neighborhood.
An influx of Syrian restaurants (including Beroea Kitchen) from refugees and an indigenous cuisine movement (with spots like Kukum Kitchen) add more flavor to Toronto’s already diverse food scene. Plus, you’ll have more places to rest your head: Nobu and Canada’s first St. Regis also will arrive in the city.
Start planning: 5 Rooftops Bars To Visit In Toronto
Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Credit: Visit Seattle
As long as Amazon calls this Pacific Northwest metropolis home, it will have a buzz. While millennials may be flocking to Seattle this year to be one of the first people to make a purchase at Amazon Go or snap a selfie in front of Amazon Spheres, everyone else will appreciate the thriving city for the way its hotels keep their cool (Thompson Seattle), eateries keep flourishing (The Walrus and the Carpenter, Westward) and the arts keep blossoming (the smash Hamilton, February 6 to March 18).
Start planning: The Best Way To Spend Two Days In Seattle
Buenos Aires. Credit: Buenos Aires City Tourist Board
The Argentine capital is never dull, but 2018 promises to be an especially exciting year for the eclectic city. Sports fans can cheer on world-class tennis matches, polo tournaments and even the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics this October.
The arts are having a moment here, too, with the Buenos Aires installment of Lollapalooza in March, the ongoing Art Basel Cities creative partnership in September and the Tango Festival and World Cup come August. And we won’t even get started on all the visual stimulation to be had at the Philippe Starck-designed masterstroke, Faena Hotel Buenos Aires.
Start planning: 3 Ways To Explore Buenos Aires
Los Cabos. Credit: Montage Los Cabos
Longtime luxury enclave Los Cabos offers varied vacation options, from traditional hotels (One&Only Palmilla; Esperanza, An Auberge Resort; Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort) to boutique properties (The Resort at Pedregal) to elegant takes on Mexico’s all-inclusives (Grand Velas Los Cabos).
International visitors surged by 20 percent in 2017. That number likely will rise this year with a crop of new resorts, including Montage Los Cabos, Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas, Zadún, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve and Nobu. Plus, Vidanta Los Cabos and lifestyle purveyor Hakkasan Group will partner to bring the beachfront Omnia Dayclub, celebrity chef Brian Malarkey’s Herringbone restaurant and other soon-to-open hot spots.
Marrakech’s Essaouira Fortress. Credit: iStock_Mlenny Photography
This ancient Moroccan city is gaining new life as an upscale travel destination thanks in part to the opening of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum last October. Housing some of the world-famous designer’s best work, the palatial temple of trends is sure to attract the stylish set for years to come.
And with a recent rush of high-end hotels, like Four Seasons Resort Marrakech, mixing with opulent icons, like Royal Mansour Marrakech, you won’t have a reason to leave any time soon.
Sydney Harbour. Credit: Destination NSW Hamilton Lund
After a seven-month renovation, Australia’s most famous landmark reopened with a bang on New Year’s Eve. Debuting new machinery, lighting and improved acoustics, the Sydney Opera House is back and better than ever for the 2018 season.
For a sumptuous stay post-performance, just stroll a few blocks south to the brand-new Sofitel Sydney Wentworth Hotel and enjoy a retro-chic drink at the 1960s-inspired Soiree Bar.
Start planning: Your Guide To Sydney’s Hottest Neighborhood
Abu Dhabi. Credit: Abu Dhabi Culture & Tourism
With a slew of stylish gallery happenings (the just-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi), a recurring international arts fair and ambitious plans for a one-of-a-kind “culture island,” the capital of the UAE is poised to become a major player on the world’s art scene.
Even the city’s luxury hotels are getting in on the game — Rosewood Abu Dhabi boasts a collection of more than 250 unique pieces on display around the property.
Start planning: 4 Reasons Abu Dhabi Is An Art Lover’s Paradise
Puerto Rico. Credit: Puerto Rico Tourism Company
After devastating Hurricane Maria, recovery was slow in Puerto Rico. Lack of electricity and blackouts plagued the island, but the Puerto Rico Tourism Company reports that 82 percent have power. The best way to help is by giving the U.S. territory a tourism boost.
It’s a prime destination for a spa getaway. Four-Star Condado Vanderbilt Hotel’s spa remains open, and its standout hammam is the only one on the island. Foliage-filled Spa Botánico (Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve opens in October) puts you amid nature, especially in the tree house. Remède Spa Bahia Beach (The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in August) incorporates local ingredients to its treatments — rum is added to massage oil, and coffee exfoliates your skin.
Iguassu Falls. Credit: iStock-jin_tang
To find a natural wonder that outshines even Niagara Falls, you’ll have to journey to the border of Brazil and Argentina to visit this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. Popular among Argentine visitors, the massive water feature is beginning to glean interest from international travelers as well.
For an extra exclusive trip, book your stay at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, the only lodging within the national park.
Start planning: 5 Tips For An Unforgettable Visit To Iguassu Falls
The Bahamas. Credit: Hasselblad H5D
It’s an especially celebratory year for the Bahamas with the grand opening of the long-awaited Baha Mar. The immense Nassau resort complex, opened partially in 2017, features a Grand Hyatt, an SLS (the first in the region) and a soon-to-come Rosewood. The entertainment hub also offers 42 restaurants and lounges, an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course and the largest casino in the Caribbean.
For a more sedate stay, head down the beach to The Ocean Club, which Four Seasons took over in November. Revel in the beach-chic rooms, 35 acres of immaculate gardens and top-notch food from Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Dune restaurant.
Start planning: Explore The Bahamas’ Secret Playground
Detroit. Credit: Vito Palmisano
We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but the Motor City is revving to get back into the spotlight. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking in the world of cuisine (the spring-opening Detroit Shipping Company food hall), entertainment (the new Little Caesars Arena) or retail (Downtown Detroit Markets’ spring debut), the D gets a solid A for the way it’s changing outsiders’ antiquated perceptions of the blue-collar destination.
And when it comes to hospitality, the city may be making its biggest strides. The beautiful Detroit Foundation Hotel opened last May. In 2018, things get even more promising for discerning travelers as they’ll be able to check into The Siren Hotel, Element Detroit and the eagerly anticipated Shinola Hotel — all within walking distance of each other in the revitalized downtown sector.
Start planning: Slices of Heaven: 4 Cities For Pizza Lovers
Seoul Skygarden. Credit: Ossip Van Duivenbode
PyeongChang will take the spotlight during the Olympics, but there’s more to see than the Winter Games. About 80 miles away, Seoul Skygarden opened in late 2017 and is a great, green addition to the city. The Skygarden converted an abandoned highway into a more-than-half-mile-long urban park with 24,000 plants. Dotted with shops and restaurants, the park is illuminated with plant-friendly blue lights at night to allow 24-hour access.
Off the coast of South Korea, Jeju Island teems with beaches and natural wonders (dormant volcano Hallasan, underground lava caves). New resorts are in the works, including a Four Seasons and Jeju Dream Tower, whose 38-story twin towers will house an all-suite hotel and a tourists-only casino (locals are banned from most South Korean gambling halls).
Start planning: 6 Hot Spots For Eating And Drinking In Seoul
Minneapolis. Credit: Jennifer Kester
Even after the Super Bowl ends, you’ll want to stick around Minneapolis. Outdoor enthusiasts can play in and around 22 lakes, 197 parks or the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, whose 52 miles wind through gardens, golf courses and waterfalls. Art aficionados can visit the Walker Art Center, the recently renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum. Music fans will recognize the renowned First Avenue & 7th Street Entry music venue from Prince’s “Purple Rain” video. And everyone will enjoy beer from local breweries like Fulton and Surly.
Start planning: The Best Way To Spend Two Days In Minneapolis
Sanya. Credit: iStock-Igor Kirillov
Only savvy globetrotters have this tranquil stretch of the South China Sea on their radar. Aptly nicknamed the “Chinese Hawaii,” this secluded playground will only grow in popularity as the culinary scene continues to expand (Nothing Ordinary Food & Beverage Festival, December), high-end hotels keep opening (the 2017-debuted Rosewood Sanya, the upcoming Atlantis) and the sun keeps beaming down.
Start planning: Spending Two Perfect Days On China’s Sanya
West Palm Beach. Credit: Discover The Palm Beaches
The Palm Beaches
Palm Beach County, made up of 39 cities and towns, draws you in with 47 miles of sand. But there are plenty of reasons to head inland. The Norton Museum of Art is undergoing an expansion. The Warehouse District is becoming a culinary haven with the newly opened Grandview Public Market, a food hall featuring three eateries from Top Chef alum Dale Talde’s Three Kings Restaurant Group.
The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches debuted in 2017 and provides the spring training home for the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros. Watch out for surf veteran Kelly Slater’s 80-acre wave park to open in 2019. The unnamed attraction will include a 2,000-foot-long artificial lake that produces man-made waves and a surf school.
It’s now easier than ever to reach the Palm Beaches, too — intercity express train the Brightline began 30-minute rides to Fort Lauderdale in January. In the coming months, you will be able to travel to downtown Miami in an hour, and eventually to Orlando International Airport in two hours.