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The world is getting smaller, but the chances of having an extraordinary new experience are only increasing. Whether it's an emerging style hub in North Africa or a quiet stretch of sand in the Caribbean, this year's standout destinations are changing the travel map.
Best Places to Travel in 2015
Revival is well under way in downtown Cleveland, as young professionals move in and historic buildings are repurposed. The Westin Cleveland Downtown and Marriott’s Metropolitan at the 9 (with a theater and an indoor dog park) began welcoming guests in 2014, joining the Downtown Aloft, est. 2013. Several hotels will follow as the city preps for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Keep an eye out for Ohio’s first Kimpton—in the 1901 terra-cotta Schofield Building—and the 30-story Hilton Cleveland Downtown overlooking Lake Erie. One of downtown’s most buzzed-about 2015 openings is Mabel’s BBQ from Iron Chef and native son Michael Symon, who wants to establish a Cleveland-style barbecue. (He’s finessing the sauce, likely a mix of mustard, Ohio maple syrup, and vinegar.) The innovative local food scene also counts farm-to-table Flying Fig and Mitchell’s Ice Cream, which began churning out seasonal small-batch flavors in April 2014. Both are in the hip Ohio City neighborhood, near the West Side Market, linked to downtown by new bike lanes. Over in Uptown, the Cleveland Institute of Art’s expansion nears completion. It’s a short walk to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which got a shiny new home in late 2012. And don’t forget game-changer LeBron James, who’s back in town and eager to give Cleveland more reasons to be proud. —Kate Appleton
“Fez is multilayered, multifaceted,” says resident Tara Stevens. “Every time I go out the front door, I discover something. This is a city on the cusp of change—and it’s exciting to be a part of that.”
Stevens, a British food writer, and American Stephen Di Renza are behind Fez’s stylish Restaurant No. 7, which hosts a rotating series of guest chefs. They’re part of a group of expats restoring riads and encouraging experimentation—along with enterprising locals like Anis Sefrioui, who recently unveiled Hotel Sahrai, with 50 contemporary rooms overlooking an infinity pool and a light-filled spa with elaborate latticework.
The world is getting smaller, but the chances of having an extraordinary new experience are only increasing. We’ve identified 50 standout destinations, based on industry news and trends, with input from contributing writers, A-List travel agents, and our new local experts. These are the places changing the travel map, whether it’s an emerging arts hub in Germany or a quiet stretch of sand in the Caribbean.
So where else can 2015 take you? The panda capital of Chengdu, China, is appealing to a broader range of travelers with a new 72-hour no-visa policy and a packed lineup of hotel openings: Six Senses, Fairmont, and Swire’s Temple House. In Japan, meanwhile, the dollar has hit new highs—good timing for powder buffs who can also now use Vail’s Epic Pass at Hokkaido’s Niseko United resort.
And you may be surprised by what’s brewing close to home. We selected a dozen destinations in the U.S., including Houston, for its ambitious food scene, and Miami, where the spotlight has turned to the Mid-Beach neighborhood. The latest art-centric 21c Museum Hotel will open its doors in Durham, NC, a once-sleepy college town that now thrums with fair-trade coffee shops, micro-distilleries, and some of the best barbecue around.
What inspires a trip varies from person to person, of course. But as a head start, we’ve mapped out 12 months' worth of places with the kind of "it" factor that Fez's Tara Stevens describes.
Read on for our picks, and join the conversation with hashtag #bestplaces2015.