The Emerging Arts Destination
1. Garzón, Uruguay
This small town 30-minutes from José Ignacio is cementing itself as as a bonafide arts destination in 2018. Artist and Photographer Heidi Lender’s CAMPO AIR, an artist-in-residency program hosting artists and chefs in an abandoned puebla, began December 15 and will run through January 31, 2018. More permanent cabins and a clubhouse are expected to open in the fall. La Madriguera Café, one of the best coffee shops in Montevideo, is taking over Garzón’s corner cafe for the next few months.
Garzón was originally a staging post founded in 1892 and it has an undeniably western feel surrounded by ranches and pasture. Wide and dusty roads lead to a palm tree filled main square. Colonial buildings are occupied with art galleries and boutiques. Alium stocks Uruguayan handcrafts such as knit ponchos and leather handbags. The Black Gallery specializes in the work of Uruguayan contemporary artists. While not on the main square, The Piero Atchugarry Gallery is located in a historic stable and offers a 54-acre sculpture park for public viewing. Food and wine lovers will find plenty to love. Francis Mallmann’s Hotel and Restaurant Garzón serves wood-fired meats and seafood and spritzy cocktails beneath the stars. Bodega Garzon, Uruguay’s most well-regarded winery, is located a short drive from town.
A Touristy City Becomes a Creative Hub
2. York, England
In December 2014, York became the first city in the United Kingdom to earn a UNESCO City of Media Arts designation, and this year the city’s digital and creative excellence will be felt on a wider scale. The first York Mediale, a ten-day long international media arts festival that will celebrate film, TV, visual art, digital art, theatre, and multimedia with performances, art installations and workshops will take place September 27- October 6.
Home to the University of York and York St. John University, the city’s youthful energy shows on weekends when the cobblestone streets lined with medieval edifices and Georgian townhouses are packed with revelers late into the night. Walk along The Shambles, reportedly the inspiration for the wizarding alley Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter novels. On Sunday afternoon, join the locals packing the picnic tables on the patio at Eagle & Child, located in a 1640 timber framed building, for honey glazed ham, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. Fortified since Roman times, York has the most intact walls of any city in England. A two mile loop allows you to walk along the preserved parts of the walls and through medieval gatehouses.
A French City Becomes Even More Family-Friendly
3. Bordeaux, France
Two new museum openings, faster transportation from Paris and a burgeoning food scene make France’s most family-friendly city a must visit in 2018. The Maritime and Sea Museum, housed in a modern structure by Norbert Fradin, will open in June. The inaugural exhibition Monet and the Sea will feature 40 works from the Impressionist painter. This fall, the 150-year old natural history museum next to the Jardin Public is reopening following an extensive renovation that will make the museum even more family friendly with sections geared towards particular age groups. A new direct train from Paris Gare Montparnasse to Bordeaux transports visitors in a mere two hours and four minutes.
A variety of good restaurants can be found in the St.-Pierre neighborhood near Rue Sainte-Catherine, Bordeaux’s main shopping drag. Madame Pang serves dim sum and excellent cocktails. Miles is a tasting menu bistro serving globally influenced dishes while next door Soif serves excellent wine with small plates to share. The seafood restaurant Le Petit Commerce has a laid back ambience, friendly staff and a kids menu adults will drool over. Salmon with roasted vegetables and molten chocolate cake is just ten euros. The one-Michelin star restaurant Le Prince Noir is short taxi ride from the center of town and located in the stables of a château.
Land’Art, a new attraction at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte featuring woods and installations by up-and-coming artists opened in 2017. Children can scale a rope bridge to an island with a sound art installation. There are plenty of farm animals to see, including goats and lamas, as well as a solar-powered winery.
Mexico Wine on the Rise
4. Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
While an exceptional food scene has been humming along in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s main wine growing region, for several years now, a recent visit to the Valle has convinced me the wine is on its way up as well. Valle de Guadalupe is just a two hour drive from San Diego. Go to Casa de Piedra for outstanding sparkling wines including a Blanc de Blanc a Blanc de Noir and a sparkling Rosé. The Blanc de Blanc is mineral and crisp with the tiniest hint of residual sugar making it an excellent pairing with much of the Baja-Med food found in Valle. All can be sampled and purchased in the Casa de Piedra tasting room that opened in 2017. Family owned Bodegas F. Rubio is making excellent complex and concentrated wines like a Malbec laced with red fruit and spice and an elegant 2013 Reserva, a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec.
Ofcourse, food is still a major draw in Valle de Guadalupe. Bruma’s tasting room and excellent restaurant Fauna opened in fall 2017. Famed Baja-chef Javier Plascencia’s Lupé torta shop was another new and welcome addition in 2017. Order the tangy cochinita pibil and a cold beer from Ensenada-based Wendlandt brewery.
A Secret Passageway Opens to the Public
5. Florence, Italy
The Vasari Corridor, popularized in Dan Brown’s Inferno, will open to the public for the first time in 2018. The half-mile-long passageway was built in the 16th century so the Medicis could go between the Uffizi gallery and the Pitti Palace undetected and is reportedly lined with original frescos. In October, Bill Gates is loaning his collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s writings and drawings to the Uffizi for a special exhibition. The Hotel Lungarno’s reopening into 2017, following a six month renovation, is another noteworthy piece of travel news. Designer Michele Bonano amped up the hotel’s original nautical design inspiration with a palette of blues and whites meant to play off the riverside location. The hotel, which boasts one of the world’s largest 20th century art collections including works by Picasso and Bueno, overlooks the Ponte Vecchio.
A Beloved Wine Region Overcomes Tragedy
6. Sonoma, California
Following the devastating fires that ravaged the region, Sonoma could use some love. Consider making the trip in 2018. There’s plenty of news too.
The Astro Motel, originally built in 1963, has reopened in Santa Rosa with a modern makeover orchestrated by Liza Hinman, chef and owner of Spinster Sisters restaurant. Its 34 rooms face onto a garden courtyard, and are filled with original mid-century-modern furniture, fixtures, and art. Sonoma County artisans contributed concrete sinks cast in Geyserville and retro tiles made in Windsor.
Scribe Winery opened a tasting room in its historic Hacienda in 2017. The 19th century estate sat abandoned for 20 years and was pretty much crumbling when the Mariani brothers purchased the property. During the renovation, they preserved original features such as built-in cabinets and event walls covered in newspaper, but they’ve juxtaposed it with Scandinavian style furnishings, and ceramic fixtures. The new Mexican-style street food joint Barrio in the Barlow features dishes made with organic ingredients sourced from local farmers and ranchers. Chef and owner Carlos Rosas has worked at Jardiniere, Kokkari and The Slanted Door.
After several decades in San Francisco, Umbrian chef Giulio Tempesta has transplanted his culinary vision to Glen Ellen in eastern Sonoma County. Umbria Glen Ellen is located in the Jack London Lodge and the menu includes homemade oven-baked lasagna with tomato-meat sauce, homemade pappardelle pasta with oxtail rage sauce and homemade ravioli filled with butternut squash.
The World’s Most Famous Restaurant is Reborn
In 2017, I planned a trip to Tulum so I could eat at noma’s pop-up restaurant. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine I’ll find a way to get to Copenhagen this year to experience Rene Redzepi’s reimagined noma opening in February. The new concept is built around three distinct dining seasons. The opening menu will celebrate Scandinavian seafood, which is at its absolute best during the cold, winter months. Vegetable season is early summer to early fall. This menu will make full use of noma’s new urban garden. Game and forest season is from early fall to January. Other ingredients that will be featured include berries, mushrooms, nuts, and wild plants.
The new Nobis Copenhagen hotel from architect Gert Wingårdh is another noteworthy reason to visit Copenhagen this year. Wingårdh preserved original architectural details like a grand staircase, but added bold, contemporary accents and natural materials like marble, copper, stone, hard oak, and glass. The new Tivoli Food Hall has brought a vast array of eateries under one roof next to the Tivoli Gardens theme park.
For more on what to do in Copenhagen go here.
Seattle’s Entrepreneurial Spirit is Celebrated
8. Seattle, Washington
It was recently announced that the world’s two richest people live in Seattle and it’s my guess many people will be visiting, and possibly moving, to the city in 2018 to see if this success might rub off. Regardless, Seattle is always a fun city to visit and the opening of Hotel Theodore at the end of 2017 is a worthy reason to put it on your travel list. The 151-room hotel pays tribute to Seattle’s makers and creators with photography and patent drawings illustrating Seattle innovations such as Sonicare’s electric toothbrush, Nordstrom’s original store and REI’s all-weather gear. The hotel has a floor dedicated to local record label, Light in the Attic, who has worked with Willie Nelson, the Grateful Dead, Betty Davis and Sly Stone. And the hotel’s Rider restaurant celebrates the ingredients found in the nearby forest and the sea.
A Spectacular Museum Shines a Spotlight on Marrakech
The opening of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in October brought a lot of press to Marrakech in 2017. It’s my guess the buzz will linger well into 2018, but the museum’s large opening crowds may begin to diminish. Designed by the French architectural firm Studio KO, the exterior of the building includes intricate brickwork reminiscent of fabric. Inside, visitors can view the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture Collection, a treasure trove of garments and works of art as well as temporary exhibitions. The museum sits adjacent to the stunning Marjorelle Gardens, the former vacation home of Saint Laurent and Bergé where you can stroll the gardens and photograph the cobalt blue house, originally built as the studio of French painter Jacques Marjorelle.
For more on what to see and do in Marrakech go here.
New Eco-Friendly Stays
10. Tanzania and Zanzibar, Africa
The Zuri Zanzibar, a chic design hotel opening in May on the northern coast of Zanzibar’s main island, is helping the destination step out of the shadow of retreats such as the Seychelles and the Maldives. Boasting sustainable architecture and a private beach, the hotel will be stylish and serene. The 55 bungalows, suites and villas have uninterrupted views over Zanzibar’s turquoise waters. Recalling Zanzibar’s past as a prominent trading post, the hotel’s three restaurants and four bars will be inspired by a variety of culinary traditions. Upendo Restaurant is inspired by Europe, Africa and Arabian cuisine. Maischa serves specialty dishes from a Josper oven. The Bahari and Peponi Bars will have an impressive gin collection. The hotel’s Zuri Garden will be a wild, verdant oasis with a variety of native plants. The Indian Ocean is ideal for diving and snorkeling, as well as swimming with dolphins and turtles.
Back on the mainland, the Selous and Ruaha Game Reserves in Tanzania have become more accessible thanks to two lodges that opened in early fall 2017. Roho ya Selous and Jabali Ridge are both operated by Asili Africa and featured luxurious amenities such as an infinity pool and air-conditioning but eco-friendly designs that mesh with the landscape.