Summer is here and it’s time to get out and see the world. Here is a list of some of the top 2018 destinations for the year.
Ishigaki, Japan (#1)
Ishigaki’s location is actually a bit misleading; though it belongs to Japan, it sits just off the east coast of Taiwan, making it considerably warmer than other Japanese isles. Overrun with sugar cane and other tropical foliage, Ishigaki is home to an endless array of secret, white-sand beaches, whose coral reefs and active fish communities come alive through the lens of a glass-bottom boat. Palm tree forests and pineapple plantations cover the island, causing many to call Ishigaki the most beautiful place in Japan.
Nairobi, Kenya (#2)
Battle the traffic and general chaos to get to Village Market Mall in northern Nairobi, then haggle your way into some bargains on Kenyan souvenirs. Get a breath of fresh air at Mount Longonot National Park, hiking the hour-long route to the top of the dormant volcano. The views from up there are to die for: zebras, buffaloes, the city from afar.
San Jose, Costa Rica (#3)
Costa Rica’s capital built on coffee. Those with a green thumb will love the leafy Hotel Grano de Oro, a former Victorian home with a hot tub on the roof, with a day trip to the Else Kientzler Botanical Gardens to boot. Stop in to Sarchi on the way home, a town renowned for its exquisitely-painted oxcarts, before settling down for a casado and fresh pineapple juice. Many travelers to Costa Rica are so eager to get out of San Jose to explore the beaches, volcanoes and world-class wildlife that they don’t give the city a try.
Rovinj, Croatia (#4)
Located on the Adriatic Sea. The homes of Rovinj are packed tightly together, connected by cobbled streets that lead up to the hilltop Church of St. Euphemia, whose steeple dominates Rovinj’s picturesque skyline. If you fancy some island-hopping, take off for one of the Rovinj archipelago’s fourteen islands, which sit just off of the mainland and offer some exceptional views of their own.
Casablanca, Morocco (#5)
A former French colonial post, Casablanca today is the closest thing to cosmopolitanism you’ll find in Morocco. The Hassan II Mosque is nothing short of remarkable, a beacon of strength and splendor in the blazing heat of the Moroccan desert. Make time for a day trip to the beach in Azemmour, sixty miles along the coast from Casablanca, and stay in a riad hotel while you’re there, a must in Morocco.
Louisville, Kentucky (#6)
“Louisville is all about good times and good vibes, with vibrant music and art, and a burgeoning food and drinks scene, all characterized by notable southern hospitality,” says Tom Marchant, the co-founder and owner of Black Tomato. It’s also home to some excellent places to stay, from the storied Brown Hotel to the buzzy 21c boutique hotel that also serves as a contemporary, multi-venue art museum. “You can get to the heart of a city by looking at its drinking culture,” he continues. Kentucky is bourbon country, and “the nearby home of Bulleit Bourbon at Stitzel-Weller Distillery is a must-see.”
Savannah, Georgia (#7)
“One of the best-preserved vestiges of the American South, Savannah proudly displays gracious hospitality, beautiful architecture, rich history and classic charm,” says Biggs Bradley. Creativity is a big part of the city’s fabric, as it’s home to the Savannah College of Art and Design. This year, exciting debuts abound, such as the new Perry Lane Hotel in the heart of the historic district. The low country culinary scene is also heating up with the addition of Sean Brock’s fourth Husk outpost, as well as hot spots like the retro-chic Little Duck Diner for Asian-influenced Southern fare, the vegan café Fox & Fig, and the Grove, an upcoming restaurant and rooftop with panoramic views of downtown.
Richmond, Virginia (#8)
According to Marchant, Virginia’s historic capital is “buzzing with young energy and signature southern charm. Its culinary offerings are cutting-edge and reason enough to visit, with new restaurants popping up all the time.” Shagbark in the Libbie Mill Midtown neighborhood is exceptional, as is Saison in Jackson Ward. For craft beers, the Veil Brewing Company in Scotts Addition is a must. “Richmond is effortlessly stylish, and for one of the most expertly curated men’s, women’s and home stores in the country, Need Supply continues to set the bar very high.” Stay at the recently remodeled Jefferson Hotel for opulence (or an exceptional martini) or The Quirk for a more boutique setting.