52 Must-sees of 2015, part 3

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“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

– Marcel Proust

Domestic, international, humanitarian or leisurely — whatever your next adventure entails, we hope that you discover yourself along the way. Enjoy the final installment of our 52 Must-Sees of 2015. Happy travels!

  1. Shikoku, Japan

Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands, is the site of a pilgrimage trail established in 815 that winds past 88 temples. Since celebrations of the ancient route’s 1,200th anniversary were held last year, the 750-mile trail can be enjoyed in relative peace. And a new Japan Rail pass, released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the high-speed Tokaido Shinkansen, will make traveling between Tokyo and the island by train even easier this year.

  1. San Antonio

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San Antonio’s riverside promenade, River Walk, one of Texas’s most visited attractions, was expanded in 2013 from three to 15 miles, linking to four of the city’s historic Spanish colonial missions, a $358 million investment that has inspired a path-side development boom. The River Walk now reaches the redeveloped Pearl Brewery, home to restaurants, a cooking school and, in spring, the 146-room Hotel Emma from Kimpton Hotels.

  1. San Jose Del Cabo Mexico

The two Cabos- capes that make up Los Cabos offer equal access to sun and sea, but San José del Cabo feels mellower than its sibling city, Cabo San Lucas. Yet it is developing an increasingly appealing dining and hotel scene. Both of the Cabos are coaxing visitors back with discounts after Hurricane Odile wreaked havoc last fall.

  1. Alentejo, Portugal

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“Wine is nectar for a sweet life” reads a quote on the wall of the new Torre de Palma, Wine Hotel, which opened last year in the Portuguese region of Alentejo. If so, then Alentejo a big-sky expanse of grain fields, olive groves, cork forests and vineyards is in a sweet spot indeed. Chic wine-themed hotels and resorts have been sprouting in bunches, showcasing the area’s complex red wines and sun baked terroir. An homage to wine’s constant companion (and a regional staple), the two-year-old Ecorkhotel bills itself as the world’s first cork-covered hotel, complete with Chroma therapy spa and an “eno-gastronomic” restaurant. With the opening this fall of L’AND Reserve a bolder wine resort with nearly 40 more such suites the sky’s the limit.

  1. The Catskills, New York

Something funny is happening in this mountainous region 100 miles north of New York City, where Jewish comedians like Woody Allen once performed at Borscht Belt resorts: The Catskills are being reshaped by a new generation of fresh air-seeking urbanites. What hasn’t changed is the abundance of outdoor activities: world-class trout fishing, rafting on Esopus Creek and skiing at Hunter Mountain and Belleayre Ski Center.

  1. Quebec City, Canada

Long overshadowed by nearby Montreal, Quebec City is stocking up on attractions, and seeking an N.H.L. team to again call its own. To that end, the city has been building Quebecor Arena, a state-of-the-art stadium costing an estimated $400 million to open before the 2015 season. It may take years to score an N.H.L franchise, but even without a big-time team to cheer, the capital of Quebec and French Canada has many new draws to keep visitors entertained, from the newly hip St.Roch neighborhood to innovative restaurants serving nouveau Québécois cuisine to rival its neighbor’s finest.

  1. Canton Valais, Switzerland

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Switzerland’s bilingual Canton Valais home to the ski destination Zermatt and the iconic Matterhorn is celebrating two milestones: the 150th anniversary of Edward Whymper’s ascent of the Matterhorn and the canton’s 200th birthday. To mark the occasions, officials are throwing a canton-wide fete that includes a bonfire light show atop 26 different summits; open air theatrical performances; There’s also a new wine museum in Salgesch, which opened in 2014 and showcases the region’s unusual varietals, like petite arvine and humagne rouge. Say pröstli or santé (depending on whom you’re drinking with) and enjoy a glass.

  1. Ile de France

The Île-de-France, the district that encompasses the city and its outskirts, has become a destination in its own right, one that will welcome tourists back. The outward expansion began in 2012 with Larry Gagosian’s 17,760-square-foot gallery Gagosian Le Bourget, seven miles north of Montmartre, and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris Pantin, housed in a former factory. Fall 2014 saw the opening of Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton, in the Bois de Boulogne, with its dazzling facade outside and pieces by Ellsworth Kelly and Olafur Eliasson inside. At the other end of Boulogne, the Molitor, a derelict 1960s swimming hall turned art-stuffed hotel, offers upscale lodging. The 2,400 seat Philharmonie de Paris’s Grande Salle, designed by Jean Nouvel, is scheduled to open this year in Parc de la Villette just barely inside the Périphérique.

  1. Danang, Vietnam

For the last couple of decades, Danang, on the central coast of Vietnam, has been the place travelers flew into to get to historic Hoi An, a Unesco-protected but tourist-swarmed neighbor 20 miles to the south. But this city of almost a million people has become a worthy destination in its own right. And Danang’s charms long, sandy beaches and kiosks selling bahn mi sandwiches overflowing with pork and pickled papaya and fresh herbs — are even easier to reach since Dragon Air began direct flights from Hong Kong.

  1. Chengdu, China

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Pandas are this city’s drawing card, but adventurous chefs and boutique hotels are now giving visitors a reason to linger after seeing the star residents. Chengdu’s food is known for its fire, but at restaurants like Yu Zhi Lan, where an exquisite 20-course meal is served on the chef’s homemade pottery, it’s also refined.  Getting to Chengdu is also faster since United’s introduction last year of direct flights from San Francisco the first from the continental United States.

  1. Miami Beach, Florida

After months of buzz, the Faena District will finally welcome visitors in the summer. This sprawling development, spanning six blocks north of South Beach, includes residential towers, a hotel and an arts center, all promising unprecedented splendor. The hoteliers Ian Schrager and Jason Pomeranc designed gleaming new properties—Edition and Nautilus, respectively and the fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger just purchased the 1940s Raleigh hotel with plans to refresh its classic glamour

  1. Shanghai, China

Shanghai used to be a fishing village called “Hudu”, derived from the name of a wooden fish trap once used by local inhabitants. There’s a reason why you (mainly) can get away with just speaking English in Shanghai: the language is taught as a mandatory course from first grade in the public education system. The Cultural Revolution has hit Shanghai it is a cultural awakening in a city both glitzy and historic. The Criticism on Chinese museums is that they look impressive on the outside, but the art isn’t worth the price of admission. This is changing in Shanghai, thanks to the opening of several private museums with curatorial aspirations to match the beautiful facades.

  1. Tulsa, Oklahoma

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When the rest of the country was still recovering from the Great Recession, Tulsa was flush with oil money. Its historic Art Deco city center received a much needed investment boom, fueling two major new museums opening in the Brady Arts District in 2013 and another the OK Pop Museum, dedicated to Oklahoma’s place in pop culture still to come. Nearby, the new Route 66 Experience, an interpretive center devoted to the Mother Road, is set to open as early as late 2015.

  1. Rome, Italy

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The eternal city no matter your favorite era, Rome has something new for travelers in pursuit of history. To commemorate last year’s 2,000th anniversary of Augustus’s death, sites related to the first emperor have been refurbished and reopened to the public: In September, the Palatine Museum, which showcases objects excavated from Imperial palaces, reopened, and the Villa of Livia in suburban Prima Porta unveiled refreshed artworks and new exhibition space. Elsewhere, restoration of the Pyramid of Gaius Cestius, an Augustan-era funeral monument, concluded late last year. Nero’s Domus Aurea, a sprawling first-century villa, partly reopened in October and will welcome visitors at least until March. A more recent monument, the 18th-century Trevi Fountain, is being restored by Fendi; completion is scheduled for the fall.

  1. Caceres, Spain

Cultured gastronomes are rushing to Cáceres, an ancient walled city blending Roman, Moorish, Gothic and Renaissance architecture halfway between Madrid and Lisbon. The buzz is all about food and art and started with the opening of Atrio, a breathtaking modernist hotel and restaurant with two Michelin stars and perhaps the best wine cellar in Europe. Now with Cáceres reigning as Spain’s Gastronomic Capital for 2015, everyone is upping their game, especially the bustling tapas joints around the newly restored Plaza Mayor. A new arts center showcases the collection of cutting-edge contemporary art donated by the renowned Madrid dealer

  1. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

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Despite its rugged scenery and Old World Alpine charm, Taos Ski Valley has been outshone by its megaresort competitors. But with the ski area’s sale last December from the Blake family, who founded it 60 years ago, to the billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon the resort is getting a much-needed shot in the arm. The most notable change this winter is the addition of a chairlift to 12,481-foot-tall Kachina Peak, opening up expert runs that had been reachable only by hiking, skis in hand, for 45 minutes, from the top-of-mountain ski patrol headquarters.

  1. Baku, Azerbaijan

Baku’s mix of ancient culture and Dubai-style extravagance is putting it on the tourist map at last. A second oil boom — the first was in the early 20th century in the Azeri capital has brought enormous wealth to this city on the shores of the Caspian Sea, and with it, a new skyline. The government has recently been converting oil money into rich architectural projects that encircle the Unesco-protected walled historical center

  1. Kas, Turkey

Kas, Turkey

The Mediterranean coast of Turkey, is a gem notably the village of Kas. While the nearby town of Kalkan has fallen victim to hordes of hard-partying Brits many of the Kalkan restaurants now serves “Full English” brekkies), the old fishing village of Kas remains relatively untouched. Known largely as a divers’ paradise, the city has a bohemian sensibility, partly owing to a number of jazz-playing waterfront watering holes. Visitors interested in the past can use Kas as a base for visits to the nearby Lycian cities of Patara and Xanthos.

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends… The mind can never break off from the journey.”

– Pat Conroy

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