World's Coolest New Tourist Attractions 2014
Imagine viewing London’s eclectic skyline—the soaring glass Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern—as you cycle three stories above the street on an elevated pathway reminiscent of New York City’s High Line. When architect and cycling enthusiast Sir Norman Foster released his bold plan for the SkyCycle just before the new year, it sent the blogosphere abuzz, even if it might not be realized till 2030.
Similar futurist leanings pepper our list of cool new tourist attractions you can actually check out. From an office building in China that glints in the sunlight like a giant gold coin to a glass-bottomed platform that knee-quakingly arcs out over a 1,000-foot-high cliff, there is plenty to capture the imagination in 2014. Thrill seekers can strap on a pair of aqua rockets or strap into a wooden roller coaster with an almost 90-degree drop. More sedate travelers can check into a tropical archipelago turned eco-resort or kick back for a Rocky Mountain high.
Related: America’s Top Tourist Attractions
Museum lovers can especially rejoice: lots of projects we’ve been looking forward to will finally open their doors to the public this year. Blame the financial downturn, complicated architecture, or overoptimistic launch dates, but this particular scourge of tourism—the ever-shifting completion date—was a frequent theme among our picks.
Related: Best Places to Travel in 2014
From Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s Museum of Image and Sound in Rio to Paris’s long-delayed Picasso Museum and Gehry’s BioMuseo in Panama: all prove the old adage that the best things come to those who wait.
Well, the waiting is over. Read on for some of 2014’s must-see new attractions worth adding to your bucket list.
Guangzhou Circle, Guangzhou, China
Whether it looks like a donut or just some “flashy rich people’s circle” (as the local Guangzhou residents have dubbed it), at 453 feet tall, the world’s highest circular skyscraper sure makes a copper-plated impression as it glitters on the banks of the Pearl (Zhujiang) River in southern China. Visitors will eventually be able to contemplate the huge 164-foot hole from cafés and restaurants inside of it. When reflected in the water, architect Joseph di Pasquale’s design—based on ancient jade discs known as bi—also forms a figure eight, considered lucky in Chinese numerology (and hopefully lowering the chances it will roll away).
Funtasy Island, Riau Islands, Indonesia
Pun-tastic name aside, Funtasy Island resort will undoubtedly be a big hit with the eco-luxury set when it opens this fall just 20 minutes off the coast of Singapore. Promoting the destination as an “eco theme park,” developers intend to preserve 70 percent of the archipelago as a nature sanctuary—the 810-acre tropical surroundings will include an aviary trail, boat trips through the mangroves, a Water World Park, Beach Club, restaurants, and spa, plus 413 suites and villas. funtasyisland.com
Museum of Image and Sound, Rio de Janeiro
Copacabana’s long-delayed beachfront museum will finally open in the second half of 2014, construction willing, in time for this year’s World Cup (June 12–July 13), when the atmosphere in futebol-crazy Brazil will be cranked up to the max. The “folded” white building with a glass front will include exhibits dedicated to carioca culture (covering everything from Carnival to bossa nova to soap operas), a 300-seat theater, a shop, a café, and a terrace restaurant with views along the coast. Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s exterior “Vertical Boulevard” is a zigzaggy extension of the famous wave-inspired patterned sidewalk by Roberto Burle Marx. mis.rj.gov.br
Glacier Skywalk, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
Unobstructed views down past your feet to the Sunwapta Valley’s forests and glacier-fed waterfalls will be the big draw at Jasper National Park’s new Glacier Skywalk when it opens in May—that, and the thrill of edging out 918 feet above the ground on a piece of glass. Like the Grand Canyon Skywalk, it required a feat of engineering to build the curved walkway, which juts 100 feet from a cliff; the project won a design award before it was even constructed. glacierskywalk.ca
High Roller, Las Vegas
Come March, visitors to The Linq can view Vegas in all its flashy glory from atop the world’s tallest Ferris wheel—at least until the 630-foot New York Wheel starts soaring over Staten Island in 2016. (Although with 1,500 LED lights covering the outside, the High Roller will probably still be the glitziest.) The 28 glass pods can each hold up to 40 passengers for a 30-minute rotation. And, yes, cocktails can be brought aboard. thelinq.com
One World Trade Center and 9/11 Memorial Museum, New York City
This spring, the subterranean 9/11 Memorial Museum will educate visitors through multimedia exhibitions and artifacts from the attacks, like the burnt-out Fire Engine 21 and, in the glassed-in entrance pavilion, two 80-foot structural columns from the towers themselves. Meanwhile, (way) above ground, a three-story observation and dining complex occupying floors 100–102 of One World Trade Center will give visitors a bird’s-eye view of the city and beyond. At 1,776 feet (controversial spire included), the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere should be opened by the end of the year. 911memorial.org
Cinecittà World, Rome
The Eternal City has no shortage of attractions, from amazing architecture to The Vatican. But what it doesn’t have is a theme park—until now. Organizers say the much-delayed movie-themed Cinecittà World will finally open in the first half of 2014 just south of Rome, in a lot near to where classics such as Ben-Hur, La Dolce Vita, Cleopatra, and, more recently, Gangs of New York and the HBO series Rome were shot. The first phase of the $700 million project will include family-friendly rides with designs by Oscar-winning production designer Dante Ferretti, while following phases will add more thrill rides, restaurants, retail, and, naturally, movie theaters. cinecittaworld.it
BioMuseo, Panama City
Architect Frank Gehry makes his long-delayed Latin American debut in February with the multicolored, multi-angled BioMuseo, which tells the story of how the Isthmus of Panama changed the world (spoiler alert: species crossed continents; sea currents and weather, totally boggled). A walkway loops through the 13,000-square-foot museum’s eight galleries—five of which open in 2014—featuring such exhibits as “Worlds Collide,” where visitors can walk among mastodons, sable tigers, and an eight-foot giant sloth. Unfortunately, the double treat of visiting the nearby multibillion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, will have to be put on hold until 2015. biomuseopanama.org
Goliath Roller Coaster, Six Flags Great America, Chicago
Coney Island may be resurrecting the 1920s Thunderbolt as a metal-track thrill ride this Memorial Day, and the Banshee may be screaming over Ohio’s Kings Island in April, but roller-coaster cognoscenti know 2014 belongs to one beast, Six Flag Chicago’s aptly named Goliath. Leave it to coaster nerds to debate whether it qualifies as a true wooden ride (it has a steel super-structure) and instead know this: with an insanely sheer 85-degree drop from 180 feet, top speeds of 72 miles per hour, and a few inversions, it’s going to be one hell of a scary, record-breaking ride when it debuts this spring. sixflags.com
IMG Worlds of Adventure, Dubai
In a destination that combines the world’s biggest building, tallest hotel, and biggest man-made marina, you either go big or go back to the drawing board. And so, the largest indoor theme park (ever) will swing into action this year, covering 1.5 million square feet and accommodating in excess of 20,000 visitors a day. As you embark on your epic journey through four themed zones (Marvel, Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure, Cartoon Network, and IMG Boulevard), don’t miss the first-ever Ben 10 5-D ride (movement gets added to 3-D film and 4-D effects) before you finally emerge blinking into the sunlight days later. imgwoa.ae
Marijuana Tourism, Colorado and Washington
It’s not often that an entirely new tourism market emerges, but as Coloradans legally lit up on January 1, the advent of domestic pot tourism is nigh (and high); Washington State follows this spring. So far, the majority of the recreational marijuana stores have opened in Denver (selling at roughly $54 an eighth), with companies like Colorado Green Tours providing “cannabis enthusiast” tour guides and limos or SUVs to ferry the uninitiated through the process. Be aware that Colorado’s ski resorts ban toking on the slopes, and since the Federal Government still considers it illegal, the airport is a no-fly zone as is any transport over state lines.
Ponce City Market, Atlanta
Just off the BeltLine—Atlanta’s network of trails and parks that follow former rail lines—a $250 million redevelopment is turning a massive Sears, Roebuck & Co. into a multiuse beacon of regenerative cool. Openings this fall will include a Central Food Hall modeled after NYC’s Chelsea Market, retail, and an expansive rooftop garden, with mini-golf come spring 2015, as well as offices and residences. There’ll even be a BeltLine-accessible outdoor bar made from a repurposed boxcar. poncecitymarket.com
Imperial War Museum, London
To mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, London’s Imperial War Museum reopens in July following a $66 million renovation with interactive exhibits such as a life-size trench and soundscape, a Mark V tank, and love letters between soldiers and their sweethearts. A new atrium by Foster + Partners better showcases the museum’s iconic objects (Harrier and Spitfire jets, V2 rocket) from various wars around the world. iwm.org.uk
High Line Phase 3, New York City
While earlier stages of NYC’s now-iconic elevated railway turned linear park continue to mature—and draw more than 4.4 million visitors a year—its last stage is a grand finale of horticultural wow: renderings have revealed a bowl-like area on 10th Avenue at 30th Street containing dense layers of woodland and seating. The majority of the final section, which circles Hudson Yards and is called The Spur, will be opened late 2014 and complete the 1.45-mile skyway connecting the Meatpacking District to Hell’s Kitchen. With last year’s arrival of CitiBikes and a pedestrian-friendly Times Square redo by Snøhetta, NYC has never been greener.
Musée Picasso, Paris
Reports of infighting, budget hikes, multiple deadline changes—setbacks have plagued the renovation of this Paris institution, but 2014 might just be the year the doors reopen to the world’s largest collection of works by Picasso. Architect Jean-François Bodin has extended the exhibition space of the 17th-century property in the Marais to more than 60,000 square feet, changing the flow through five levels including a new rooftop gallery. And just in case any pesky Picasso-snatchers are gearing up for another heist come the June opening, security measures have also been improved. museepicassoparis.fr
The Broad, Los Angeles
Billionaire art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad’s $140 million museum will be no shrinking violet next to nearby MOCA when it opens at the end of the year. The exterior, with its white honeycomb-like shell designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, is a standout, while two floors of gallery space will be home to nearly 2,000 works by the likes of Cindy Sherman, Jasper John, and Barbara Kruger. And to top it off, entrance will be free, further reason to visit L.A.’s hotly developing Downtown ‘hood. A 182-room Ace Hotel just opened in the stunning 1927 United Artists building, and a new streetcar system on Broadway is in the works as well. broadartfoundation.org
Seven Stars in Kyushu, Japan
Take the bullet train from Tokyo, but then slow it down—and go a bit back in time—with Japan’s first luxury sleeper train, which first started chugging along the tracks of this lush southern island this past December. The seven-carriage, 14-suite train combines high-tech amenities wrapped in all the period charm of an Orient Express: fully automated toilets meet wood-paneled interiors painstakingly crafted by traditional artisans from rich rosewood and walnut. Itineraries winding through the seven prefectures of Kyushu (hence the name) range from two to four days and start at about $1,726 per person, including all meals and excursions. jrkyushu.co.jp
Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO
This is the year of the small museum: the August arrival of Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum is one of the many stateside gems by big-name architects, including the Renzo Piano pavilion at the Kimbell Art Museum and Tadao Ando’s addition to the Clark Art Institute. Ban’s purpose-built, downtown Aspen creation is covered in a woven wooden screen and holds 12,500 square feet of exhibition space over four levels—three times more than the current museum—plus a public rooftop that includes a café and bar, outdoor screening space, and sculpture garden. (Yes, the view of Ajax Mountain is amazing. And no, don’t even think about lighting up while you’re there.) Inaugural exhibitions include an exploration of work by Yves Klein and David Hammons, and admission is free. aspenartmuseum.org
This is the year to channel your inner Ironman, courtesy of a pair of jet boots spouting high-pressure water. Flyboarding, created by French Jet Ski designer Franky Zapata, can propel you to heights of up to 30 feet and, once you’ve got the thing under control, allows you to dive in and out of the waves like a dolphin. Now that the craze has officially gone global, you can try it anywhere from Ibiza (where Leonardo DiCaprio was spotted finding his rocket legs recently) to Key West to Fiji. Thrill seekers require only two things: a wad of cash and some nerve. Coordination may help, too.
Museo del Novecento, Florence
Think Florence is all about the Renaissance? Its new Museo del Novecento might just change that when it opens its doors on April 30. The five-level, $8-million complex makes its home in Piazza Santa Maria Novella’s historic Leopoldine convent, and will provide exhibition space for 2,300 contemporary works including Alberto Della Regione’s collection from the 1930s and the Second World War, plus strong showings by the likes of Filippo de Pisis and Ottone Rosai. Finally, a home for Florence’s 20th-century work, even if it is in a 15th-century building. museicivicifiorentini.comune.fi.it
LeFrak Center at Lakeside, New York City
Not since its construction 150 years ago has Brooklyn’s Prospect Park received such a facelift. Covering more than 26 acres in a little-used section of the Olmsted and Vaux green space, the revitalization features a 32,000-square-foot Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects–designed skating “pavilion” for all seasons—ice skating in winter and roller-skating in summer. Its wraparound windows and inspired ceiling (featuring a constellation of lights and gust-like swirls) create a nifty indoor-outdoor effect. The $74 million project also includes massive viewing terraces, a café, and restrooms. prospectpark.org/lakeside
Piano Pavilion—Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, TX
When a 1989 plan to expand the Kimbell was withdrawn after a critical firestorm calling it blasphemous to the museum’s original Louis Kahn design, the board had to find an unassailable architect for the job: Pritzker Prize–winner Renzo Piano. He designed an elegant, freestanding pavilion that faces the original landmark across a broad lawn, as though in respectful conversation with the master. The light-filled, low-slung horizontal structure of glass, shimmering concrete, and Douglas fir beams adds more than 100,000 square feet to the museum, much needed for its mind-blowing collection of African, pre-Columbian, Asian, and European art. kimbellart.org
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Osaka, Japan
Potter mania will have conquered a whole new continent when Universal Studios Japan (one of the world’s most-visited theme parks) opens its latest land toward the end of the year. Like the Orlando original, it’s more of a park-within-a-park, where Hogwarts Castle looms large and wizards and Muggles alike can raise a glass of Butterbeer at a traditional British tavern after battling it out on a Triwizard Tournament–themed coaster. Kids should save their strongest magic—giveume moneyish!—for shopping at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and the all-necessary wand purchase from Ollivanders. usj.co.jp
Mystetskyi Arsenal, Kiev, Ukraine
Partially opened in 2011 with temporary exhibitions, Kiev’s massive national art and culture museum will finally be completed in late 2014. Located in an 18th-century weapons arsenal built on Catherine the Great’s orders, the museum will have 1 million square feet of floor space, making it Europe’s largest art center. For the 2014 grand opening, a retrospective of the work of Kazimir Malevich, the Kiev-born founder of the avant-garde Suprematist art movement, is planned. artarsenal.in.ua
National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens
It’s not going to put the Acropolis out of business, but Athens’s National Museum of Contemporary Art will attract travelers interested in more than ancient ruins when it opens this spring. The collection itself is not new—the museum originally opened in 2000, in the Takis Zenetos–designed Fix brewery—but since 2003 its works have been housed elsewhere. Now the art of Nan Goldin, Ilya Kabakov, and others will return to the former brewery, whose dramatic renovation may give even the Arch of Hadrian a run for its money. emst.gr