These places are so wonderful, we can’t wait to go back.
The ultimate travel quandary: go experience a new place, or return to one of your favorites? This question plagues most travelers on a daily basis. While there’s nothing quite like visiting a new place for the first time, returning somewhere can be eye-opening. Once you’ve seen all the touristy sights and eaten at the essential restaurants on a first trip, you can explore a little more off-the-beaten-path on your next trip. Returning somewhere is the chance to relax, settle into local life, and find a new routine. Here are the places we went in 2018 that we can’t wait to get back to—consider them our new favorite places.
If there’s only one place I could return to in 2019, I would make it Brazil—I spent my honeymoon last year in Rio and Trancoso and I fell head over heels in love with every aspect of Brazil. Nothing makes me happier than a chic and simple hotel, a beach with clear warm water, fresh-caught seafood cooked in a spicy stew, a caipirinha to wash it all down, and good music. A husband to put your suntan lotion on is a good addition too. We stayed at UXUA, which I’ve had my eye on for years, and I have to say that it’s a nearly perfect hotel—our room had no doors and a private pool surrounded by the jungle.
I spent barely 36 hours in Hong Kong, and it was such a chaotic, bustling, and delicious place that I know I need to go back and explore further (and eat way more). I also fell in love with Joshua Tree National Park and the surrounding desert towns that are the perfect amount of laid-back and weird. I’ll be back to take more pictures of those strange Joshua trees and marvel at the stars in the night sky.
I was going to say Uluru because of all the ancient feels and also because every time I look at my table, I regret that I did not buy that decorative Piti bowl from the Anangu artist, but what I really want to return to is the Mama Shelter hotel chain. I visited the new Mama Shelter Prague hotel this year and fell hard for the brand. From the quirky, authentically cool design, to the excellent food, the locations in up-and-coming neighborhoods, and the playful branding i.e., “Come to Mama!” and “Mama Loves You!” I really want to visit more. They just opened one in Belgrade and I’d love to visit the original location in Paris … and there are 10 in construction right now with 10 more in development. Plenty of opportunities to wear the Mama sweatshirt I bought at checkout.
Banff National Park
At the top of the world is a mountaintop worth seeing in every season: Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, offers the most incredible variety of natural wonder: glacial lakes and rivers, mountaintops frosted with snow, gurgling hot springs, and the merriest woodland creatures. In bloom or inanimate, this wild landscape is as inviting as it is foreboding. Get your awe on any time of year.
I can’t get enough of Miami. I’ve been a few times this year and am already planning to go back when it gets cold–to bask in the sun, yes, but also to explore the incredible changes I saw happening across the city. Cool cocktail bars, down-to-earth dives, and rooftop spots are multiplying, and the art scene in Wynwood is still going strong. I had one of the best meals I’ve had all year at Chotto Matte, a Peruvian Japanese fusion restaurant on Lincoln Road. I also loved the wide range of amazing places to stay, from the quiet luxury of Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles to the impossibly glamorous Faena in Mid Beach to the brand new–and affordable–Generator Hostel, (the first U.S. location for the young cool brand). And seriously, there’s nothing like escaping a blizzard for South Beach.
In Chile we hiked to the top of Manquehito, at the foothills of the Andes. Next time, I want to reach the peak of its larger neighbor, Manquehue, and go further into the Andes. I know I’ll never find one, but I’m determined to spot a condor one of these days. Surprisingly, there’s a lot to do in Pittsburgh, and I want to go back to spend more time at the Mattress Factory and go to this reptile and hot rod show with live tattooing and moonshine tastings.
California’s Highway 1
In April, I drove up the Pacific Coast from LA to San Francisco, including the winding Route 1 from Carmel to Big Sur (the road was still closed then just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park). I’m not a great lover of long drives, but this one (with plenty of stops along the way for wine-tasting and Hearst Castle) was the best road trip you might imagine. Now that Highway 1 is open again, I want to do the full route, including the stretch between San Simeon and Carmel. I also went to the Arabian Peninsula for the first time in 2018 (to Doha, Qatar). I was impressed enough to recommend the destination for our Go List and would love to visit more places in the desert, perhaps Abu Dhabi and Dubai next time.
There’s something about Mexico that keeps me coming back for more. From the crystal clear cenotes of the Mayan Riviera to the cultural hub that is the state of Oaxaca, Mexico’s heritage and beautiful landscapes draw me in. A land of wonderful people who are continually misrepresented by our media in the US, Mexico is worth taking another look. Oh, and the mezcal. Sip it straight slowly and you will reap the benefits of a happy drunk without that dreadful hangover.
I spent a weekend up in Humboldt County, CA at the Redwood National and State Parks earlier this year, and my jaw still has not recovered. I can’t wait to go back and bring every single person I know with me because nothing will prepare you for how magical it is to walk through this prehistoric forest with the world’s tallest trees. It’s such a beautifully remote part of the world with a fascinating history and is in dire need of preservation support. If you visit one place in the U.S. this year, make sure it’s this National Park. I promise it will not disappoint.
The Badlands & Disney
One of the most transformative travel experiences I have had in 2018 was driving through Badlands National Park. I’m pretty sure I will never get to see the likes of that landscape anywhere else, and I cannot wait to go back again to experience the same euphoric “Oh, my god” moments again. I have never been a big Disney fanatic, but spending a week on a Disney Cruise with my children has proved otherwise. The look of pure joy and amazement on my daughter’s face when she met Ariel and Cinderella, or, when she got to see herself post-Bippity Boppity Boutique princess makeover will stay with me forever. I now get it.