Time off from work or school is likely in your future. Perhaps it’s finally the season to take that road trip you’ve been dreaming about. Maybe RV travel or vacation rentals have been on your radar. Exploring your own city for a staycation has its perks as well. And should you be dreaming about traveling further afield, there are plenty of places to go internationally to satiate wanderlust.
Whether you’re thinking about an extended weekend getaway, a spring break vacation, or upcoming summer travel, here are six wonderful places to visit in the new year.
Chicago is a big and bold city and there are, of course, many things to do, see, and explore here. Now through mid-February, you can experience the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit—date night packages, yoga classes, and Taste of France wine tastings are offered as well. The Office Experience is delighting Dunder Mifflin fans on the Magnificent Mile.
The Chicago Athletic Association hotel, the home of the popular Cindy’s rooftop bar and restaurant, has a number of fun events and activities to take part in, including indoor roller skating, golf at the Topgolf Swing Suite, and pool and shuffle board entertainment in an enormous game room.
And, big news, the Langham Chicago’s famous Afternoon Tea, complete with live music every Saturday and Sunday, is back in their lovely pavilion.
Stay: The heart of Chicago exists in the neighborhoods. Stay at the Neighborhood Hotel, located in Lincoln Park, for a sweet little pastel-colored oasis in the city.
Nestled on the coast of Iceland, Reykjavik, the island’s capital, and largest city, is a popular destination year-round. You’ll want to wander along the shoreline to see the boats in the harbor and mountains on the horizon. Try your luck at spotting the northern lights at nighttime.
Snap photos of the Sun Voyager and peek inside of Harpa Music Hall. Make your way downtown on foot to explore Skolavoroustigur, Laugavegur, and Bankastraeti Streets. See Hallgrimskirkja Church, dozens of boutiques, and plenty of street art. Enjoy coffee at Kaffibrennslan and dine at Rok Restaurant or Apotek. If your time is limited, sign up for a foodie tour with Wake-Up Reykjavik for an insider’s look into Reykjavik’s bar and restaurant scene.
New to Reykjavik (2019), Pursuit’s FlyOver Iceland, located in the newly developed and trendy Grandi Harbour District, is a fun way to orient yourself to the country. You’ll feel like you’re flying, as your boots dangle over the edge of your seat. A globular futuristic screen, as well as special wind and mist effects, fully immerse you into the ethereal experience. You’ll see Iceland’s rugged natural landscapes from a bird’s eye perspective. Afterward, enjoy coffee and bites at Kaffi Grandi, located in the same building, and then wander over to Omnom chocolate factory for small-batch bean-to-bar sweets.
No trip to Reykjavik is complete without a visit to the newly opened Sky Lagoon, where guests are encouraged to unwind through a seven step Icelandic bathing ritual. This stunning geothermal spa, with coastal views of the North Atlantic Ocean, will be a trip highlight for sure. Sip local beer or a glass of champagne from the Lagoon Bar and let the stress of travel melt away as you relax in the warm water. Afterward, refuel with healthy seasonal noshes from Sky Café and Smakk Bar.
Stay: Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina is ideally situated to explore the city on foot. There’s a complimentary breakfast and workout room on the first level as well as a library and bar. Plus, the up-close views of the large ships in the harbor are incredible.
Easy to get to, Belize, which operates in the Central Time Zone, is an adventurer’s paradise. This vivacious country has the lowest population density in Central America—there’s plenty of space to roam. From diving and snorkeling excursions with nurse sharks to visiting Mayan ruins and archaeological sites to boating experiences at the Great Blue Hole to wildlife sightings to eating all the delicious seafood your stomach can handle, this country is worth a visit.
Stay: For luxurious accommodations, spectacular swimming pools (including one on a rooftop), and stellar service, book a stay at Alaia Belize, an Autograph Collection hotel. Will you be traveling with a large family or group of friends in tow? Treat yourselves and rent one of their contemporary beachfront villas or three-bedroom suites. There’s an on-property dive shop for all your snorkeling and diving needs.
Don a tropical lei and enjoy the island of Maui as you indulge in a culinary tour that will spark joy. In Makawao, dine at the local favorite, Hali’imaile General Store—if you’re lucky, you’ll get to meet chef and owner, Bev Gannon (she has the best stories to tell); visit the Haiku Marketplace or Azeka food trucks; taste fresh Maui Gold pineapples at Hali’imaile Pineapple Co.; sip pineapple vodka at Hali’imaile Distilling Co.; and shop for grab-and-go, locally-made snacks at Pukalani Superette (perfect for a lunch break if you’re hiking at Haleakala National Park). Surprisingly, Havens Maui, located inside a Kihei gas station, has some of the best local comfort food on the island—come hungry. Look no further than Maui Brewing Company for local beers and be sure to try some KUPU Spirits while there.
If you’re looking for a night out at a bustling restaurant, designed with a contemporary yet laid-back flair, reserve a table at Marlow. For a quiet evening out, featuring outdoor seating at a Zen-like retreat, dine at Lumeria Maui’s Wooden Crate. Sunset views abound at Wailea Kitchen, the best choice for vegetarian and vegan options. If wine and house-made Italian fare is your preference, select a table at Matteo Osteria. And, possibly one of the best new restaurants on the island, Huihui’s modern Hawaiian dishes will sit in your memory for a long time to come.
Stay: For beachside accommodations in a luxurious hotel, book a stay at Wailea Beach Resort, situated along the Wailea Beach Walking Path and near The Shops at Wailea. For a romantic and private dinner, reserve a beachside table Makani Point, complete with live music and entertainment.
Beautiful at any time of the year, Jackson is well worth a visit during the winter months. From the National Elk Refuge, where you can ride on a horse-pulled sleigh to see thousands of elk feed in a pasture to boutique shopping in Jackson Town Square to backcountry snowshoeing with Eco Tour Adventures along the Snake River to insane views of the snow-covered craggy peaks in Grand Teton National Park to snowmobiling in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, there’s much to do to keep you and your family busy and entertained all season long.
Stay: Well-located and complete with an outdoor hot tub and indoor swimming pool, the Lodge at Jackson Hole is perfect for an extended vacation.
Dubai is unlike any other city (or emirate) you’ll ever visit. This desert city is known for its high-end dining and nightlife scene, modern architecture—the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, and luxury hotels with exceptionally pricey rates like the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Atlantis The Palm, Armani Hotel Dubai, and Four Seasons Dubai at Jumeriah Beach.
Top things to do include visits to the Dubai Frame, the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood, The Dubai Mall, and The Dubai Fountain. Expo 2020 Dubai, home to the World Expo, is an architectural marvel, full of innovative experiences and celebratory looks into 192 other countries.
And, if you’ve never flown on an Emirates flight before, you’re in for a real treat—First and Business classes offer an abundance of amenities including luxury seating that reclines all the way back into a lie flat position, excellent dining options, lounges, and a chauffeur when you land.
Stay: For luxurious accommodations that won’t break the bank, stay at the SLS Dubai. The rooms are designed with a trendy and sexy aesthetic, there’s a rooftop swimming pool, and the on property restaurants, Carna by Dario Cecchini and Fi’lia Dubai are stellar.