Here are 17 destinations that look especially fetching right now. The list includes cities, countries, islands and national parks on five continents; bohemians and Slovenians; spherical Canadian treehouses; vast Vietnamese caves; train tracks at 14,000 feet; and the mother of all Marimekko stores.
Some of these spots are in the middle of building booms. Some are celebrating historic anniversaries. Some have matured in subtler ways, thanks to tour guides, chefs or hoteliers.
Bordeaux, which straddles the Garonne River in southwestern France, is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its wine and food. And the city’s attractions are multiplying. In the last three years, at least four river cruise companies have added Bordeaux itineraries.
Waterfront redevelopment and a growing tram system have improved downtown, allowing the city’s many 18th century buildings to shine more brightly.
La Cité du Vin, a museum devoted to the history of wine, opened in 2016. And as soon as July, a new LGV high-speed train line from Paris is expected to cut travel time from three to two hours.
Tip: Avoid travel to the area from June 18 to 21, when the global wine-industry conference Vinexpo takes up many hotel rooms and boosts prices.
Meanwhile, the Godfrey Hotel Boston, a luxury boutique lodging in the Downtown Crossing area, opened in early 2016, as did Aloft and Element hotels on D Street near the city convention center. A 326-room Yotel micro-hotel is due to open this year at Boston’s Seaport Innovation District.
The ruins of the Angkor Wat Temple, near Siem Reap, speak for themselves. Mekong River cruises are growing in popularity, and some visitors are eager to arrive ahead of an expected flood of visitors from China.
Though Cambodia’s infrastructure has a long way to go, tour operators such as REI Adventures are lining up trips.
Cuzco is best known as the jumping-off point for the train trip to Machu Picchu. But travelers from Cuzco also can journey by rail to the edge of Lake Titicaca — a stark, startling, 10 1/2-hour trip across the high Andean plains to the lakeside city of Puno. (This is one of the highest train trips in the world, topping off at more than 14,000 feet above sea level.)
Starting in May, a new luxury sleeper train, the Belmond Andean Explorer, will offer three-day, two-night itineraries from Cuzco to Puno and on to the city of Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage site built with white volcanic rock.
At $1,283 per person and up, the Andean Explorer fare includes meals, open bar, side excursions and extra oxygen to combat altitude sickness.
Belmond (formerly Orient-Express) and PeruRail will operate the trains. Andean Explorer service is also offered for two-day Arequipa-Cuzco, Cuzco-Puno and Puno-Cuzco trips at $462 and up. PeruRail will continue to offer more basic service too.
It’s been almost 20 years since Britain handed over Hong Kong to China. As Chinese travelers rush in and authorities push the island toward greater compliance with the mainland, Westerners may want to travel sooner, rather than later, as vestiges fade from Hong Kong’s 150 years as a British colony.
Take a walking history tour with Walk Hong Kong. More than a dozen hotels are opening in 2017, including the luxury Murray hotel beside Hong Kong Park.
In the Chinatown district of Honolulu, the new Tchin Tchin! is a rooftop bar and small-plates eatery. Also in Honolulu, there’s SALT at Our Kaka’ako, a recently opened collection of eateries and shops at 660 Ala Moana Blvd.
And don’t overlook the 15th annual Waikiki Spam Jam (a street festival that features Spam dishes from local restaurants, live music and related merriment), coming April 29.
Park City is 45 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport. It has an old-fashioned Main Street. And it has the biggest ski resort in the country: Park City Mountain Resort, which combined with Canyons Resort in 2015, setting off changes all over town.
This park’s enormous cave system, added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2003, dates back about 400 million years.
Even now, exploration continues. The Son Doong Cave, discovered (or perhaps rediscovered) in 2009, may be the largest cave on Earth, and tour operator Oxalis Adventure Tours offers expeditions there (for travelers who are ready for30 miles of jungle and mountain trekking and various rope climbs and descents).
There are other caves with far easier access, including Phong Nha, big enough for boats to ply its waters, and the Tu Lan system, where visitors hike and swim in an underground river.
Adventure tour operator Geo Ex has added the Tu Lan cave system to a new Vietnam trip for 2017. The area is about 300 miles south of Hanoi.
This Mexican Caribbean coastline, which extends south of Cancún along the eastern edge of the Yucatán Peninsula, has been steadily adding resorts that capitalize on dense greenery and turquoise waters.
At the luxury end, El Dorado Resort, about 30 miles south of Cancún, recently opened 30 palafitos — above-water bungalows with glass floors and private infinity pools. The 92-room Thompson Playa del Carmen, a luxe lodging that opened in 2015, added a 27-unit Beach House in 2016.
Find Jimi Hendrix’s old house at 1524A Haight St. (the apartment, above a tobacco shop, is a private residence) and the North Beach coffee shop where Janis Joplin did some singing. Now it’s Maggie McGarry’s Irish Pub, and there’s more singing than ever.
This capital city on the Han River is as urban as they come with a population of about 10 million, but it’s been renewing its natural connections.
Explore the Cheonggyecheon, a seven-mile-long restored urban stream that replaced an elevated highway and acts as a linear park through the center of the city.
In late 2017, the Seoul Skygarden,an urban overpass replanted with local plant species, will reopen for pedestrians, creating an arboretum above the Seoul Station transportation center. Visit soon and you’ll beat the crowds expected for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang (80 miles east of Seoul) Feb. 9 to 25, 2018.
Slovenia, part of Yugoslavia until the 1990s, has been gaining momentum for years.
The site of bloody conflict during both world wars, it’s now a treasure trove of scenery. Its capital,Ljubljana,is just two hours’ drive from Italy’s Friuli wine region.
Bike tour company Backroads has added a 2017 tour that combines Slovenia and Friuli. Ljubljana is a short drive to placid Lake Bled and the Soca River Valley — lots of cycling and rafting — and the cave system of Postojna, about 30 miles southwest of Ljubljana.
Postojna is also the beginning of the Via Dinarica, a recently developed mountain hiking trail that runs through several Western Balkan nations. Many adventure tour operators now are running Slovenian trips.
Todos Santos is an artsy, expat-friendly beach town an hour’s drive north of Cabo San Lucas.
The quaint restaurants, shops and uncrowded rough-water beaches are enough to attract visitors, especially surfers.
If you’re a growth-friendly optimist, you may be eager to see the first signs of Tres Santos, an ambitious new resort and wellness community whose short-term plans include 29 residences, restaurant, farm, farmers’ market, desalination plant and the 32-room Hotel San Cristóbal, which aims to open in March. If you’re a skeptic, you might have doubts about the project’s water use, its effect on the beach, its potential to grow to more than 4,000 units — and you might be eager to see Todos Santos before there are too many changes.
It’s a short hop from big-city Vancouver, yet the island’s wild feel is drawing adventurous travelers to the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort (open mid-May through late September) and the Free Spirit Spheres treehouses (near Qualicum Beach), which hopes to add a fourth sphere in time for summer.