The 50 biggest, buzziest destinations to visit this year include France’s new culture hub, a revived Hawaiian hideaway, and Mexico’s next great arts city.
10. Asbury Park, New Jersey
Best Places to Travel in 2016
10. Asbury Park, New Jersey
In the song “My City of Ruins,” written in 2000, Bruce Springsteen described Asbury Park as a city of boarded-up windows and empty streets. A battering by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 didn’t help. But the Jersey Shore town, 90 minutes south of New York City, has started to recover, led by its gay and live-music scenes. Visitors to Asbury’s boardwalk can still have their fortunes told at Madam Marie’s Temple of Knowledge and play on vintage pinball machines (preserved at the Silverball Museum), but now they’ll also find clothing and jewelry at the Market at Fifth Avenue, sushi and tacos at Langosta Lounge, and surfboards and skateboards at Lightly Salted. A short walk from the beach, the Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten serves almost 100 varieties of beer, and famous venues like the Stone Pony—a Springsteen haunt—are still packed. The Empress Hotel on the oceanfront is the place to stay, at least until the 110-room Asbury opens this year. The first new hotel in the city in 55 years is part of a multimillion-dollar plan to revive a one-mile stretch of beachfront. Also in the works: a face-lift for Asbury Lanes, the beloved 1930s-era bowling alley. —David Shaftel
To compile our annual list of the best places to travel in the upcoming year, T+L editors thoroughly and meticulously consider a variety of factors. Which under-the-radar gems are most exciting to our network of contributing writers and global correspondents? Which destinations are our A-List travel specialists fielding requests for? Which classic vacation spots are starting to emerge—but for entirely new and compelling reasons? Which global events and changes in travel restrictions have made certain destinations easier to get to?
This year’s list ranges from the Andaman Islands, off India (which impressed even the most discerning ocean-lover, Jacques Cousteau), to an unspoiled stretch of the Caribbean, and nine other beach destinations with sun, sand, and beautiful views. For food lovers, we’ve got everything from Ghent, Belgium (where a group of young chefs is leading the culinary revolution and plans for a massive food hall are under way), to the canal town of Aarhus, Denmark, which is stepping out of Copenhagen’s shadow with three Michelin-starred restaurants of its own.
Closer to home, once-overlooked spots have proven themselves worthy of another glance. The bike-friendly town of Richmond, Virginia, has standout architecture, a burgeoning art and food scene, and a brand-new design hotel. Detroit’s renewal has been on our radar for a while, and with signs of life springing up in its abandoned buildings—including a hotel that set up shop in a historic fire-department headquarters—it’s finally earned a much-deserved spot on this list. And in San Antonio, the Roman and Williams–designed Hotel Emma, in a former brewhouse, sits at the heart of the restaurant- and shopping-packed Pearl district.
In the geopolitical sphere, the recently signed nuclear deal between Iran and the UN security council has opened up opportunities for Americans to more readily visit the cosmopolitan capital of Tehran and the mosques of Kashan. And while Cuba was on last year’s list, a spate of new cruises that dock in Havana—all thanks to eased travel restrictions for Americans—mean the destination is continuing to blossom. Cruise ships are also heading to Batumi, in Georgia, with its gorgeous botanical garden. It’s a Black Sea port that’s gaining attention from the big cruise brands given the safety concerns in Ukraine.
Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway close to home, a farther-flung bucket-list trip—or even a multi-stop tour that combines, say, the art- and design-filled Taipei, the classic Chinese retreat of Hangzhou, and the hip surf community of Canggu, Bali—consider the 50 incredible destinations on this list a road map for your planning and inspiration in 2016.
Flip through the slideshow for the full list, and share your thoughts (and travels) with us on social media with the hashtag #TLBestPlaces.—Stephanie Wu