Travel — 04 January 2014
Editor’s pick: Top Travel Destinations for 2014

By Jeanine Barone

Cape Town, South Africa

Awarded the World Design Capital 2014 title, Cape Town shows off its manifold creative energies. Curated studio visits and a documentary film series are a window into the minds of dancers, architects, chefs and singers. Along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, No. 1 Silo, considered one of Africa’s most sustainable buildings, offers an interactive exhibition of a green workspace. Visitors can explore the restoration of a Dutch merchant food garden, the Company’s Garden, recreating what was planted 300 years ago for ships sailing the
Spice Route.

Riga, Latvia

Selected as the 2014 European Capital of Culture, Riga welcomes a year of cultural events. Closed since Latvia gained its independence, the old KGB house will be open for the public to view exhibitions on the top floors and tour the cellars. The Latvian National Library’s new addition, the Castle of Light, is no ordinary library, boasting 360-degree city views.
Los Cabos, Mexico

It’s easy to get swept up in the sublime luxury of San Jose del Cabo, an art gallery-dotted community. Hotel El Ganzo ties into the creative vibe, holding an ever-changing array of art and live music events, thanks to an on-site recording studio and artist-in-residence programs. Adding to the luster factor: Tiger Woods’ first non-U.S. course, the championship El Cardonal at Diamante that opens in the spring.
Reykjavik, Iceland

Everything, including the cosmos, is conspiring to make 2014 a banner year for the land of fire and ice. NASA predicts that the Northern Lights will be at their most intense in over a decade, with brilliant auroras visible even in downtown Reykjavik. Celebrating the longer, brighter days in March, the annual Winter Lights Festival promises to be especially memorable, given the trove of light works commissioned by critically acclaimed international artists.

 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

With Brazil poised to host the World Cup, Rio has been polishing its image. So much so that the new Museum of Sound and Image, a cultural center highlighting everything from Carnival to Carioca nightlife, will open in a striking structure resembling a deconstructed diamond. The Radisson Hotel Rio de Janeiro will debut along Barra da Tijuca, a seven-mile stretch of golden sand, with in-house activities, including a squash court.
Panama City, Panama

The legendary canal turns 100 and what better way to celebrate than with the opening of the Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo bearing the expected bold, convoluted and dramatic beauty. Video and 3D installations tell the story of the country’s trove of ecosystems and the birth of the Isthmus. For a taste of the colonial era, head to the city’s burgeoning old quarter, Casco Viejo, where the new American Trade Hotel, a 50-room luxe boutique property set in four historic buildings, offers world-class jazz and cuisine prepared by a top Latin American chef.

 

Porto, Portugal

Noted for its fortified wines, Porto is often overlooked for its other stellar features. In the soon-to-open (in June) Hotel Alianca Cale Porto, guests can receive breakfast in bed and access a private boat for Douro River explorations. Celebrating the 600th anniversary of when Portuguese maritime expeditions began, the World of Discoveries museum, a 6 million euro investment, opens in the spring, relying on multi-media exhibits and a boat trip along a water channel to bring the explorations to life.

 

Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark has long been über green, so it’s no wonder Copenhagen has been named Europe’s Green Capital for 2014. Here you can sleep, eat and exercise green. The Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers, where luxury melds with sustainability, is the greenest of the green hotels. BioM, a gastronomic hotspot, makes everything environmentally friendly, including the organic candles.

Beverly Hills, California

Happy birthday, 90210. Yes, the city of the rich and famous turns 100. And rather than making it an exclusive event, Beverly Hills is rolling out the red carpet for the public. The year-long celebration includes a block party in March on Rodeo Drive with a giant Guittard chocolate cake, city-wide art installations inspired by their iconic palm trees, and the Beverly Hills Hotel and five others each decorating one suite in the style of a decade from the past 100 years.

 

The Galápagos Islands

Charles Darwin and the biodiverse Galápagos are so linked that, of course, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the oldest private scientific research foundation in the archipelago, the Charles Darwin Research Station, is being celebrated. Their new visitor’s center and interpretive loop will explain Darwin’s work and the efforts to protect the Galápagos. Travel through Guayaquil, the gateway city, on Jan. 28 and partake in a celebratory seven-course degustation menu at the Ora Verde Hotel based on contemporary interpretations of recipes Emma Darwin, Charles’ wife, once cooked.
St. Vincent & the Grenadines

This necklace of 32 islands and cays strung in the southern Caribbean gets its first international airport in late 2014, making it easy to get to this unspoiled mecca for sailing and snorkeling. Located on the main island of St. Vincent, the $240 million Argyle International Airport, the costliest capital project in the nation’s history, will allow visitors to fly direct from the United States, Canada and Europe for the first time. Choose from among the nine inhabited islands, including Petit St. Vincent, a luxe private resort that recently received a top-to-bottom face-lift.

Prince Edward Island, Canada

A year of partying is expected on Prince Edward Island where the plans were first set in motion for what would later become Canada. That was 150 years ago and the islanders will celebrate this anniversary with a medley of PEI- and Canada-centric events. Between July and September, historic Confederation Landing Park will hold food tastings, concerts and cultural exhibitions daily, and in late August, the Tall Ships will sail into port.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia is pulling out all the stops for their Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign showcasing the best of this multicultural Asian nation. From July to September, the KL Arts & Cultural Festival, held throughout the capital, will feature visual art in all its forms, from photography to multimedia expositions. From Nov. 22 to 25, the Malaysia International Performing Arts Festival will present, among the offerings, international contemporary art and a children’s art exhibition.

 

Islamorada, Florida

Though it’s sportfishing that attracts most of the attention in Islamorada, the arts and culinary scenes are seeing a resurgence, especially between Mile Markers 81 and 82, now referred to as the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District. A five-course outdoor culinary event, the “Last Mango Tango,” is expected in October. And the non-profit Morada Way U is set to offer visitors creative hands-on programs, from writing seminars to artist workshops. Interestingly, a melding of the art and angling ethic is coming to Islamorada in the guise of the renovation and rebranding of the informal Islander Resort as a Guy Harvey Outpost Resort, complete with a 200-foot fishing pier and regular art exhibitions.

 

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