On Nicaragua's Little Corn Island, the fresh lobster is cheap; the hammocks plentiful; and the pace slow. Factor in a new hotel and spa with 16 oceanfront cabanas, and vacationing here is more blissful than ever.
It's just one of the places that will appeal to travelers seeking what's new and notable in 2014. They remind us that there are still discoveries to be made, even in seemingly familiar destinations-and that with travel, too, timing is everything.
Consider Iceland, where NASA expects the northern lights to reach the vibrant peak of an 11-year solar cycle in December 2014. For prime views, book a stay at the Ion Hotel, where the bar has dimmable lights and wraparound windows, or a small-group tour with storm chaser George Kourounis that includes volcano hikes and glacier treks.
Culture seekers, meanwhile, will be drawn to Cape Town, which has more than 450 events in the works as part of its World Design Capital designation in 2014, along with hip boutiques and forward-thinking restaurants. StumbleUpon revealed that Cape Town is one of the top 10 destinations generating interest among its community of 30 million users.
Palermo, Sicily, is another destination capturing the collective imagination. TripAdvisor has noticed a recent uptick in searches and positive feedback-and we've noticed compelling reasons to visit, like a surprisingly sophisticated wine scene and affordable independent hotels.
Of course, you don't need to cross international borders to find a worthy vacation spot for the New Year. Enterprising chefs have congregated right in Nashville, where you can hop from Germantown's Rolf and Daughters to Josephine, a new farm-to-table spot in the emerging 12South neighborhood.
Find out the rest of our picks for the best places to travel in 2014-and share your to-visit list in the comments below.
Cape Town, South Africa
There's never been a better time to visit Cape Town thanks to a proliferation of edgy boutiques, independent galleries, and forward-thinking restaurants like Test Kitchen by Neighbourgoods Market, where biltong (cured meat) is topped with plum-cured foie gras. And the buzz is spreading: StumbleUpon noticed that Cape Town is one of the top 10 destinations generating interest among its community of 30 million users. The city has been designed the World Design Capital for 2014, with more than 450 events in the works. It's also an opportunity to pay tribute to the late Nelson Mandela with a visit to Robben Island, where he spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.
New hotels beckon travelers to two up-and-coming destinations. The beach town of Jose Ignacio attracts a high-wattage crowd that has included Shakira and Jason Wu, yet "the vibe here is not so precious: everyone is so low-key and relaxed," says insider Carrie Vik, who just opened her third hotel in the area: the 11-bungalow Bahia Vik, tucked among the dunes of Mansa Beach. "I love to horseback ride along the sand, or bicycle up to Laguna Garzon and watch the kite surfers, she adds." Return in time to catch the spectacular sunset over caipiroskas at La Huella, Playa Brava's iconic seaside restaurant. To the west, the boutique wineries and farm-to-table dining have made the Carmelo region a go-to weekend getaway for stylish Argentines. Casa Chic raises the cool quotient with its 20 rooms set on 250 acres of untouched forest and a showstopping pool overlooking the Río de la Plata. -Shane Mitchell, Paola Singer
Courtesy of Museum of the History of Polish Jews
Affordable, rich in culture and history, and filled with emerging creative energy. Stay at the refurbished Hotel Bristol. (Coming in 2016: a Raffles hotel.) Don't miss the expanded contemporary art gallery at the National Museum and the new Museum of the History of the Polish Jews.
Courtesy of Ion Luxury and Adventure Hotel
The Ion Hotel's proximity to Thingvellir National Park means you can fish on Iceland's largest natural lake-then let the hotel's chef cook your catch. The bar has dimmable lights and wraparound windows for aurora borealis viewing-and 2014 promises to be spectacular. According to NASA, the Northern Lights will reach the peak of an 11-year solar cycle in December 2014. Storm chaser George Kourounis will lead travelers on an eight-day Kensington Tours itinerary that includes volcano hikes, glacier treks, and zodiac safaris. -Lindsay Olander
Stationed in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, the avalanche control team has been hard at work this winter, ensuring the safety of public roads by triggering avalanches.Read Story >
When night sky photography friends get together, you’ll likely find them looking up in places like the shores of Wallis Sands State Park in Rye, N.H.Read Story >