25 New Tourist Attractions Worth Adding to Your Bucket List
The year 2015 is all about reimagining old icons in new ways: from Paris to Singapore, architects are transforming existing spaces to the surprise and delight of visitors.
Take, for instance, the Eiffel Tower, or London’s Tower Bridge, both of which have lately been outfitted with impressive new glass floors, providing never-before-seen perspectives of much-loved cities that seem to have been viewed from every possible angle.
Sydney is following the lead of New York City’s High Line elevated park, repurposing its own abandoned railway line into a beautiful new public space. Starchitects are cashing in on this trend in a big way: Thomas Heatherwick embedded staggering glass fixtures into a Victorian-era building in England’s new Bombay Sapphire Distillery, while Renzo Piano improved on Harvard’s existing art museums to create a dazzling new complex for the university.
That’s not to say there’s nothing new-new on the horizon. Gleaming cultural spaces are descending upon cities not previously known for their arts scenes, like Orlando, FL, and Kraków, Poland—in a few years, perhaps we’ll find ourselves mentioning them in the same breath as New York and Paris. Sound far-fetched? Visit the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando and the ICE Kraków Congress Centre before making up your mind.
Even hard-to-impress design connoisseurs will be wowed by some of the outlandish new buildings that have recently opened or are on the verge of completion: The Netherlands's horseshoe-shaped marketplace comes to mind, as does China's Shanghai Tower, poised to become the world's second-tallest building, and Latvia's confounding new national library, the Castle of Light.
Whether you're prone to nostalgia or keep an eye firmly fixed on the future, there are plenty of exciting new attractions to add to your travel wish list.
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
This must-see attraction floats like a cloud of glass above the treetops of the Bois de Boulogne. The Fondation Louis Vuitton, devoted to contemporary arts and culture from France and beyond and supported by the luxury fashion conglomerate LVMH, opened in October 2014. The building, designed by Frank Gehry, has galleries for its art collection (Daniel Buren, Rineke Dijkstra, Ellsworth Kelly), spaces for site-specific works, and an auditorium for music and dance. Find out more.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg
Leave it to the Canadians to come up with an entire museum dedicated to human rights. Jazzing up the Winnipeg skyline with a swirly glass design culminating in a single gleaming spire, the 260,000-square-foot ode to tolerance and hope opened in September 2014. It's the handiwork of architect Antoine Predock. Inside, you’ll find thought-provoking exhibits encompassing the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and leaders like Nelson Mandela and Gloria Steinem.
Eiffel Tower, Paris
How do you update a 125-year-old landmark? For the Eiffel Tower, the answer came in the form of a glass floor from the 187-foot-high first-floor level. Visitors can now be transfixed by not only the city views unfurling all around them, but also those below them—in the latest example of a recent trend that includes the Grand Canyon’s Skywalk and Chicago’s Willis Tower. The first floor’s $38 million renovation includes restaurants, solar panels, shops, and a museum. But the highlight remains this new see-through floor. So next time you’re at the Eiffel Tower, keep an eye out lest you trip over selfie-takers lying down on the glass.
Goods Line, Sydney
New York City’s wildly successful High Line elevated park has set off a global chain reaction of inventive urban spaces reclaiming run-down zones. Case in point: Sydney’s planned corridor from Ultimo (by the also-new Frank Gehry–designed business school at the University of Technology, Sydney) to Darling Harbour. The 800-foot-long North Section, to be revealed first, will feature cafés and a new Mary Ann Street amphitheater for outdoor events. Look for an early 2015 opening, in conjunction with the unveiling of the Gehry building.
Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke, England
What the Guinness Storehouse is to Ireland's favorite stout is what the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Bombay Sapphire Distillery aspires to be for England’s popular gin brand. The celebrated British starchitect constructed sinuous glass houses that seem to sprout from the walls of the historic paper mill he was tasked to revamp. It’s a whimsically beautiful home for a product that, as some critics point out, is short on heritage (Bombay Sapphire gin only launched only in 1987). Still, the distillery is sure to be a hit with travelers who may not have otherwise ever discovered the village of Laverstoke.
Markthal Rotterdam, Netherlands
It’s a building that appears to defy logic at first glance: a giant horseshoe-shaped arch in Rotterdam houses 228 apartments inside, and underneath, you’ll find the world’s funkiest covered market. Officially unveiled in October 2014, the space beneath the 130-foot roof showcases 100 produce stalls and dozens of restaurants and shops, making it the city’s hottest new gathering place. A massive 36,000-square-foot mural by Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam called Cornucopia—with a rainbow of colorful fruits, vegetables, and other food finds—covers the entire inner arch. The humble food market has never looked so cool.
Harvard Museum Extension, Cambridge, MA
Natural light pours into the dramatic new extension of Harvard’s art museum complex, courtesy of a five-story glass atrium. Renzo Piano stripped the buildings housing the hallowed university’s Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, and Arthur M. Sackler Museum of all post-1925 additions, and instead focused on preserving existing façades and adding airy new spaces for both viewing and studying art. It’s a shiny new home for an age-old collection, showcasing everything from ancient Greek vases to sculpture by Rodin—and a work of art in itself.
While Dubai’s Burj Khalifa continues to hang on to the world’s-tallest-building title (for now), there is a new behemoth on the block: at more than 2,000 feet high, China’s almost-complete Shanghai Tower vies for second place. In the Pudong financial district, it towers over the Huangpu River with a 125-story spire; the twisting shape comes courtesy of U.S. architectural firm Gensler. Plans call for a mix of office and event space, high-end shops, and a sightseeing platform accessible by a speedy one-minute elevator ride.
Batman: The Ride, Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio, TX
Just when you thought the theme park wizards couldn't think of anything else: Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio is preparing to unleash a 120-foot Batman roller coaster, but this one in 4-D (and in time for summer 2015). What might that entail? Expect plenty of spinning around forward and backward in your seat as you navigate sheer drops and undulating tracks, all at 40 miles an hour and for 1,000 gut-wrenching feet. This 4-D free-spin coaster will be one of a kind.
ICE Kraków Congress Centre, Poland
When the ICE Kraków Congress Centre opened in October 2014, it signified not only the debut of a world-class performing space but a triumph over a bleak chapter in Poland’s history. With the decimation of many of its concert spaces in World War II followed decades under Communist rule, Poland’s rich cultural heritage had fallen by the wayside. This angular 2,100-seat auditorium is part of a concerted revival effort.
Starry Night Bicycle Path, Nuenen, Netherlands
Bicycling and Vincent van Gogh: as of November, the ever-inventive Dutch have managed to find a way to combine two of their country’s icons in the form of a creative bicycling path in Nuenen, two hours south of Amsterdam. Designed by Daan Roosegaarde, the solar-powered route looks like any other during the day; but come nightfall, 50,000 glow-in-the-dark stones light up in a luminescent swirling pattern that’s a tribute to van Gogh’s classic Starry Night. Safety and beauty all coalescing in an energy-efficient way—we expect no less from the Dutch.
Museum of Tomorrow, Rio de Janeiro
The World Cup has come and gone, but the Olympics are just a year away, so Rio is still in rejuvenation mode: in 2015, visitors will be welcomed by an unusual new structure, a fish-shaped marvel alongside the water conjured by Santiago Calatrava. Museu do Amanhã (the Museum of Tomorrow) will examine science, humanity, and how our choices and actions are impacting our future. Expect interactive exhibits dedicated to population growth, climate change, and human behavior—and to leave with a newfound awareness of our planet and resources.
Albertine Bookstore, New York City
The most comprehensive selection of French-language books and English translations in the U.S. awaits within Albertine, a quietly spectacular bookshop that opened in September 2014. (Expect more than 14,000 titles, including novels, nonfiction, art and rare books, comic and children’s books, plus DVDs, magazines, stationery, and beautiful paper goods.) Antonin Baudry, cultural counselor of the French Embassy, is the dynamic force behind what he describes as “a place for French-American cultural exchange and debate, a place of ideas.” To that end, the bookstore—which has an upstairs reading room with a gorgeous gilded ceiling and sofas and tables—hosts an ambitious lineup of events. Find out more.
Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
At a time when Muslims are often misunderstood, a museum opening in Toronto hopes to bridge barriers and celebrate centuries of artistic achievements. The wealthy Prince Aga Khan tasked Pritzker Award–winning architect Fumihiko Maki with creating a magnificent space to house his impressive collection of more than a thousand Islamic artifacts, among them, 16th-century Chinese pottery inlaid with Arabic calligraphy and 15th-century Indian Qur’ans inscribed on cloth. It's the first museum of its kind in North America and hosts a robust calendar of events, from lectures to spoken-word performances to musical productions.
National Library of Latvia, Riga
As you drive along Riga’s Krasta Iela, the road seems to bisect history: on your right is the lovely walled old city, meticulously preserved; on the left, across the Daugava River, you'll spy a fantastical futuristic building. Upon further investigation, you'll discover that the angular glass structure in question is the new digs of the National Library of Latvia, designed by Latvian-American architect Gunnar Birkerts and unveiled in August 2014. Known as the Castle of Light, the library promises to be a distinctive venue for cultural events; for an up-close look, book an hour-long guided tour.
Common Ground, Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct has been heralded as one of the world’s most successful urban renewal projects: a privately funded revitalization of a once-derelict inner-city neighborhood has resulted in a thriving area full of galleries, restaurants, an indie movie theater, and hip boutiques galore. Since Joburg’s trendiest denizens have been descending by the droves, a new public space was long overdue; with that in mind, Maboneng welcomes its newest development in February, the Common Ground urban park. With sports facilities and a venue for open-air concerts and events, the park promises to be the latest community hub in an already booming part of the city.
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando
Orlando isn’t the first place that comes to mind for a world-class cultural experience (at least one that doesn’t involve a certain mouse and his friends). But the opening of this gleaming new space under a cloud of confetti in November will make you think again. The $500 million structure spans two city blocks and includes an art-filled urban park and multiple performance spaces. That mouse still manages to make his presence felt, though: the main venue, with 2,700 royal blue seats, is named the Walt Disney Theater.
Singapore National Gallery
In downtown’s Neoclassical former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, the Singapore National Gallery will showcase a vast collection of 19th- and 20th-century Southeast Asian art. In fact, the $530 million project is angling to become the region’s premier art destination, similar in size to Madrid’s Prado and Paris’s Musée d’Orsay. The interiors promise to be as exquisite as the exteriors, with galleries in former courtrooms, while rooftop gardens feature reflecting pools.
Titlis Rotair, Engelberg, Switzerland
For anyone who’s risked losing a camera while craning for a better shot as a gondola travels up a ski slope, this report out of Switzerland brings welcome news. The first of its kind for skiers (other revolving cable cars exist in Palm Springs, CA, and Cape Town, South Africa), the new rotating gondola transports riders up 10,000 feet to the top of Mount Titlis in a five-minute journey with 360-degree views over the snowy peaks and valleys. Give it a spin—your camera will thank you.
Architecture and Design Center, Palm Springs, CA
Palm Springs itself can feel like a museum of Modernist architecture, so it makes perfect aesthetic sense that the California desert city has welcomed the Palm Springs Art Museum’s new Architecture and Design Center. Set in a Midcentury Modern bank designed by E. Stewart Williams—a pioneer of the area’s Desert Modern style (a retrospective of his work, “An Eloquent Modernist,” was the center’s opening exhibition in fall 2014)—the striking glass-and-steel structure houses a trove of inspiration for aspiring architects. Browse the archives of celebrated architect Albert Frey, drawings by Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind, and images of modern California architecture by photographer Julius Shulman.
Springfield at Universal Studios Hollywood, Los Angeles
The masterminds behind Universal Studios (also responsible for vividly re-creating the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) are bringing the Simpsons' hometown, which has already become a popular destination in their Orlando theme park, to Hollywood. When it debuts this spring, prepare to see the animated Springfield you've been watching for more than two decades come to life—complete with landmarks like Krusty Burger, Mr. Burns's mansion, and the nuclear power plant.
Tower Bridge Glass Floor, London
As of November 2014, there's a new way to walk across a very old bridge. But if you suffer from vertigo, you may want to give this one a skip. In what seems to be a growing trend, Tower Bridge has added its own 36-foot-long, $1.5 million glass walkway, so you can see the Thames River flow by underfoot. If you've ever wanted to walk on water, this one might be for you.
At the Top, Burj Khalifa, Dubai
With the Shanghai Tower nipping at its heels, the world's tallest building (for now) had to get pretty inventive to keep visitors excited. The solution? World’s tallest viewing deck, of course. A disconcertingly quick elevator ride whizzes you to the 148th floor, where you’re greeted with dizzying views. And since this is Dubai, the new deck is an exercise in exclusivity: a whopping $109 price tag for advance bookings (walk-ins are $136) and a limit of 50 people per hour means you’ll be amid intimate, and rarefied, company at the top of the world.
Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC
When an art-museum stalwart decides to abandon Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side to move downtown, you know something exciting is afoot. Come May 2015, the Whitney Museum of American Art will open its spectacular Renzo Piano–designed building to the public—in a prime Meatpacking District spot overlooking the High Line. Inside the slick ivory structure, you’ll find 50,000 square feet of gallery space to display the Whitney’s collection of 20th- and 21st-century art, a theater overlooking the Hudson River, and a Danny Meyer restaurant. Outside, soak up High Line views from a sprawling outdoor plaza off Gansevoort Street.
American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, Washington, D.C.
President Obama was among the people who gathered in October 2014 for the opening of the first-ever memorial in honor of disabled veterans, those who suffer from physical injuries or emotional ones like PTSD. The monument, set on a 2.4-acre site near the Capitol, features a reflecting pool with a star-shaped fountain, glass and granite walls, and a grove of trees. It's an unusual and much-needed memorial, as it honors living heroes.