Where to Go in 2012 Slideshow
Tokyo boasts the most Michelin stars of any city in the world, with a culinary landscape of incredible and incredibly expensive foods. And with an ever-increasing focus on Japanese food stateside, travelers are more and more excited about and willing to venture to Tokyo's crowded, bustling streets. What's more, beyond the Michelin-starred eateries, budget travelers can have a ball in Tokyo on the cheap.
Croatia has been hard to pin down. Travelers have had Croatia on their minds for years, but there hasn't been an obvious destination until now. Once the trail of fantastic food and wine in Istria was unveiled, more and more travelers have started to skip Tuscany to sip the wine, taste local olive oils, smell the infectious local truffles and herbs, and sample locally made cheeses in Croatia instead.
A royal wedding in 2011, followed by the Olympics in 2012, mean that the world is watching, and jetting to, London. Despite the traditionally gray and gloomy weather, it is a year-round destination with a calendar that's filled with cultural goings on. That's not to mention the steady stream of fantastic restaurant openings that have been dotting the landscape, with Dinner by Heston Blumenthal leading the pack.
With two Francis Ford Coppola-owned resorts, a new property in the works from Leonardo DiCaprio, English as an official language, and ruins and beaches that are less spoiled than those of neighbors like Mexico and Costa Rica, it's no wonder Belize is becoming a Latin American destination to write home about. The country's famous Marie Sharp's hot sauce, a brewery to call its own, and fry jacks smothered in tropical preserves for breakfast, are three of many delicious reasons to book a trip there now.
Santa Fe, N.M.
Discovering new places is the name of the game in 2012, but paying for these far-flung holidays is still touch-and-go, which is why Santa Fe, and a handful of other U.S. cities, are coming to the fore after years of being somewhat passed over. It's a year-round destination, with skiing in the winter, beautiful adobe architecture, stunning churches, expansive views, a thriving art and culture scene, and a unique culinary landscape that travelers are ready to explore.
Cape Town, South Africa
This seaside city has been drawing tourists in for years to see Table Mountain, head out on safaris, and visit the penguins on Boulders Beach. But now that South African wines have become permanent fixtures on menus in the U.S. and travelers have become more inspired to head further afield, Cape Town should ready itself for an influx of American jet-setters. That it has an endlessly booming food and drink scene, with places like Aubergine and Bizerca, only adds to the allure.
Repeat after me: "Noma." With the international success and acclaim that Noma (pictured) has garnered, handfuls of offshoots have sprouted up in and around Copenhagen, and Nordic cuisine has been thrust onto our plates. The city sits just right between tourist-heavy neighbor Stockholm and prohibitively expensive Oslo, as a good-value destination with a bevy of cultural outposts, a rich food scene, and a cool design vibe.
If there is one type of food that has seemingly come from nowhere to suddenly being on everyone's lips in 2011, it's Peruvian. And Lima is leading the charge as the Latin American destination of choice, despite being passed over for years by tourists heading to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca. The city's surging popularity is because of its newfound food scene, boasting stellar restaurants helmed by buzzed-about chefs, like Gastón Acurio.
Singapore is a busy port, with business travelers bustling through Changi Airport constantly. But the country has finally convinced travelers to not just pass through, but stay, and eat, awhile. The airport alone is impressive, with pools (and a swim-up bar), gardens, and incredible eats, but once you spend time eating in Singapore, it's clear why the multicultural cuisine is so addictive. The city is ready to step up to the plate and become the "it" destination for those wanting to try something new in an otherwise saturated area.
Canada's Atlantic provinces have long had a rustic and delicious appeal; Prince Edward Island conjures mouthwatering images of fresh lobster rolls and oysters alone. But with Will and Kate's first official royal trip hitting Prince Edward Island, travelers seem to have been reminded of the region's many draws. There are new distilleries opening up, wineries and tasting rooms nearby, plenty of outdoorsy activities, quaint lighthouses, and a constant farmers market feel to the whole place.
One part of the Middle East that has been really gunning to entice visitors to it's unspoiled shores is Oman. The country piqued interests by building an opera house; expanding gardens and parks; constantly opening more chic restaurants, bars, and hotels; and promoting its stunning coastline. That it's well suited for luxury travelers should come as no surprise, considering its oil-rich neighbors, so expect sleek hotels with beautiful rooftop views and a multi-faceted dining scene drawing influence from Lebanon, Turkey, and India.
As more American travelers are intrigued by Eastern Europe and are discovering slightly more off-the-radar places, Romania is sneaking its way into the spotlight. The allure of Dracula's castle (both the literary and the real) nearby; chic, design-conscious boutique hotels; a new surge of restaurants and bars; and a bustling beach party scene are appealing now to continental Europe and the U.K., but travelers from the U.S. are next.