For a destination to officially be having “a moment,” it needs more going for it than mere festivals or a few restaurant openings. The city has to be experiencing a shift in the way it looks and feels. Maybe it’s posturing itself as a new cultural mecca with gallery or museum openings. It could be establishing itself on the epicurean radar with fresh food halls or eateries from top-notch chefs.
Those are the sorts of things that caught our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ eyes with the following cities. Some are traditional hot spots that somehow keep reinventing themselves. Others are new stops prepping for their first time in the spotlight. All are having monumental moments that are worthy of a visit in 2019.
The spotlight shone on the country in 2018 with the release of Crazy Rich Asians and the Trump-Kim summit at Five-Star Capella Singapore. This year promises much more. Singapore celebrate its bicentennial with exhibits, festivals and a host of openings. Changi Airport will debut the Jewel complex, a glass-and-steel dome housing lush gardens, attractions (the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 131 feet), shops, restaurants and more.
The Lion City also welcomes new properties (The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore), major reopenings (Raffles Singapore) and hot nightlife (Marina Bay Sands’ Marquee Singapore will have a full-sized Ferris wheel inside).
Start planning: The ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Cast’s Guide To Singapore
Hudson Yards, New York
There’s always something going on in New York to capture our interest, but the 28-acre, multi-purpose Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the country, has us fixated on Chelsea. The Shed is a dreamy architectural wonder featuring a theater, art galleries and more opening in April. The Shops at Hudson Yards, debuting in March, has nearly 100 retailers, including the city’s first Neiman Marcus. Still, June’s Equinox Hotel, a 200-plus-room first from the fitness brand with a restaurant, a SoulCycle and the biggest Equinox gym in the world, may be the biggest draw.
Start planning: Where To Find The Best Shopping In New York City
To commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first legislative assembly and other landmark occurrences, Colonial Williamsburg (and neighboring towns) has a slew of history-rich programs on the 2019 agenda. But not every story has a scholarly slant in these parts. Busch Gardens (Finnegan’s Flyer) and Water Country USA (Cutback Water Coaster) are debuting new rides. And, as always, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Williamsburg Inn proves an ideal resting place for all the excitement.
Start planning: Your Essential Williamsburg Guide
California’s Central Coast
There’s just something about Carmel-By-The-Sea’s craggy coast that will forever make this corner of California a worthy stop. But with Pebble Beach Resorts celebrating its 100th birthday in grand style (complete room renovation across its three hotels, hosting the 2019 U.S. Open) and Santa Barbara taking its high-end hospitality up a few notches (the new Rosewood Miramar Beach, the renovated San Ysidro Ranch), we’re especially excited about the area right now.
Start planning: Curtis Stone’s Guide To California’s Central Coast
Eclipsed by other Asian cities, Vietnam finally is getting its moment. Yes, the pho is always flavorful, the Buddhist pagodas remain breathtaking and the festivals continue to be vibrant. But add on some elevated experiences: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An’s new spa services (Visiting Masters and Mindful Moments initiatives); InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort’s basket boat piloting and lantern-making lessons; and Pullman Danang Beach Resort’s unique coffee-making class.
Start planning: 10 Top Hanoi Attractions
A pinnacle U.S. destination for adventurers and artists alike, this beloved national park marks its centennial on February 26. To commemorate the milestone, the landmark is hosting a year-long roster of cultural events and exhibits. Get an intimate look at this national treasure with L’Auberge de Sedona, which will send you out on a special 100th anniversary Pink Jeep tour for a 10-hour journey.
Start planning: 10 Top Canyon Point Attractions
Hurricane Irma battered the French-Caribbean island, but it’s back. Most hotels have reopened: Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France added 19 rooms, Le Sereno has a new restaurant and an expanded spa with Valmont treatments, Hôtel Le Toiny incorporated eight new suites and a beachfront pool, and Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa debuted rooftop bar Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot.
Later this year, Le Guanahani will wrap up restoring the property to its original charm, and also will reveal more beachfront suites and a new restaurant. Eden Rock – St. Barths will unveil three new suites, a reimagined Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant and the new Rémy Room and Bar.
Partake in all of the usual St. Barts activities: dining (Bonito and Bagatelle are open), yachting (St. Barts Bucket Regatta, March 21-24; Les Voiles de St. Barth, April 14-20) and, of course, carousing at Nikki Beach.
Start planning: 10 Top St. Barts Attractions
The Turkish city is modernizing its cultural offerings in 2019 by breaking ground on a brand-new Atatürk Cultural Center. The reimagined, multi-million-dollar complex is expected to include a movie theater, exhibition space, a rooftop restaurant and the state-of-the-art, 2,500-seat Istanbul Opera House when it reopens in 2021.
To accommodate adoring fans, the city offers opulent overnight options (Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, Raffles Istanbul) and also will debut the world’s largest airport in March, projected to welcome 200 million visitors annually.
Start planning: Spending Two Perfect Days In Istanbul
The SoCal city hits many milestones in 2019: it’s the 250th anniversary of San Diego’s birthplace, the 50th season for the Padres, the 50th anniversary of Comic-Con and the inaugural year for the ANOC World Beach Games (October 9-15), which melds beach, surf and extreme sports into one competition.
Yet what has us most excited to visit is its rise as an up-and-coming foodie city. Fine-dining stalwarts like Five-Star Addison Restaurant and Four-Star Veladora have been impressing for years, but an influx of new foodie spots is finally capturing people’s appetites. Taiwanese xiao long bao purveyor Din Tai Fung recently brought its beloved soup dumplings to town, and spring will see the debut of both chef Michael Mina’s barbecue-centric International Smoke and celebrity chef Akira Back’s modern Japanese restaurant Lumi.
We can’t discuss San Diego’s culinary explosion without mentioning its strong craft beer scene. Get a taste of it at Pendry San Diego’s Nason’s Beer Hall.
Start planning: 8 Great San Diego Activities Beyond The Beach
A hidden gem in the Middle East, Oman’s picturesque capital is earning its place in the sun with a host of luxury hotel (Six Senses Zighy Bay Resort, The Chedi Muscat) and monumental museum (The National Museum) debuts in recent years.
And thanks to the grand opening of the 6.2 million-square-foot passenger terminal at Muscat International Airport in November 2018, more visitors than ever can experience this historic hideaway for themselves.
Start planning: 10 Top Muscat Attractions
Exciting things are happening Down Under, thanks to an array of recent urban development in Western Australia’s capital. Last year saw the grand opening of Yagan Square (part park, dining destination, art display and transportation hub) and the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium.
And in 2019, brand-new foodie fest Western Australia Gourmet Escape (an expanded edition of Margaret River Gourmet Escape) will extend into Swan Valley wine country and Perth for a 10-day culinary celebration (November 8-17). After you finish sampling and sipping, head over to the region’s premier destination resort, Crown Towers Perth, to recharge overnight.
Start planning: 10 Top Perth Attractions
This year marks the 350th anniversary of renowned painter Rembrandt van Rijn’s death, and the city is going all out with special exhibits and events to celebrate the storied artist’s life.
The nearby Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam may not be home to many Rembrandts, but its grand halls spanning six adjoining 17th-century mansions feel like a gallery.
Start planning: The Best Things To Bring Home From Amsterdam
There’s always a reason to visit the City of Light. But if you need an excuse, the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in France during June. Paris will be one of the host destinations, and the final will be at Stade de France, just north of the city.
Plus, Paris’ cultural offerings never disappoint. The new Atelier des Lumières mesmerizes with immersive installations that turn paintings into projectable 3D art throughout the walls of an industrial space set to music. “Van Gogh, The Starry Night” runs February 22 to December 31. The city also will get its first permanent fashion museum when Palais Galliera opens new Chanel-sponsored spaces dedicated to fashion history from the 18th century onward.
Cap it off with a stay in one of Hôtel Le Fouquet’s Paris’ 19 luxurious new rooms and suites looking out on the Champs-Élysées.
Start planning: How To Explore Paris By Bike
Not only did the resilient island bounce back from the devastating 2017 hurricanes, it’s working to become even better than before. To make it easier to access Anguilla, Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport is expanding (now you have to fly into St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport and then transfer via boat unless you’re flying private jet).
Among the many post-hurricane reopenings, Belmond Cap Juluca kept the best parts of its former self (the distinctive Greco-Moorish architecture) but added fresh amenities (an infinity-edge pool and 25 beachside accommodations). The island even had a new opening: the intimate, nine-suite Quintessence Hotel.
Start planning: Anguilla Makes A Big Comeback