19 Places That Are About To Be The Next 'It' Spots
Once a destination, city, or country is established as the place to be, it’s hard to change that. It’s covered in every travel magazine and woven through everyone’s Instagram feed. So tourists flock to it in droves...
Once a destination, city, or country is established as the place to be, it’s hard to change that. It’s covered in every travel magazine and woven through everyone’s Instagram feed. So tourists flock to it in droves and that part of the world may ultimately change because of it. But there are SO MANY other places to experience—so many cuisines to savor, so many activities to try, so many adventures to have. This year, choose the unfamiliar over the popular. Travel to new cities, lesser known regions, and off-the-beaten-path spots. If you’re wondering what such a spirited travel plan might look like, we’re put together a pretty radical list to get you started on your journeys.

Reporter: Jake Kilroy

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Tasmania INSTEAD of Melbourne

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Melbourne is a vibrant cultural hub, which is one of the many reasons why everyone goes there. But to really capture how downright stunning Australia can be, without all the distractions, you might want to leave the metropolises. The island of Tasmania, for instance, delivers from the get-go. It’s also a celebrated place to eat and drink, known for producing everything from apples to beer to chocolates to cheeses to wines. There are mountains to hike, museums to wander, and national parks to explore. There’s also one location that we find to be a particularly good escape from the bustling world and that’s Pumphouse Point. Inside Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, this boutique wilderness retreat gives its guests 360-degree views of unspoiled wilderness. Once an industrial pumphouse in the 1930s, the magnificently refurbished structure is now an 18-room beauty of art deco design. It’s incredible.

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Casablanca INSTEAD of Marrakech
Casablanca, Morocco

Marrakesh is an epic city that can feel seemingly timeless. But if you’re in search of more balance and less mayhem, find yourself in Casablanca. You can do it all in Casablanca. There's art to be seen, tea to be drank, mosques to be beheld, markets to explore, and clubs to be danced in. There's also the Parc de La Ligue Arabe, the largest green space in the city. It's adjacent to a tree-lined street that's also lined with cafés. Plus, if you have the chance, and assuming you’ve actually seen the classic Casablanca, stop by Rick's Café, just for the sake of Hollywood nostalgia. It's a bit hokey, but it's good fun.

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Jura INSTEAD of Burgundy
Jura, France

Photo by Mathieu G.U.Y
Burgundy is gorgeous and marvelous, which is why everyone goes there. But if you want to explore the country’s best kept secret, travel to Jura. It’s a quainter, quieter region, given that it has no industrial cities. Instead, Jura recently become extremely notable for its distinctive wines, such as vin jaune (similar to sherry). The vineyards in Jura have been producing wines that are making it onto American sommelier lists these last few years. And its natural beauty isn’t just focused on wine. Jura’s also known for its mountains, which, unlike the dynamic and craggy Alps, are wooded wonderlands that are spectacular for hiking and skiing. Plenty of rolling green hills, lakes, and waterfalls can be found in Jura. It’s a relaxing way of life to be had.

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Jerusalem INSTEAD of Tel Aviv
Jerusalem, Israel

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Given that Tel Aviv has a nightlife so wild that it's known as the "Party Capital," you know it’s not for everyone. Not every traveler wants to hit nightclubs and dance bars until sunrise. If you’re someone who’s after culture without the chaos, your best bet is surely Jerusalem. The fascinating city gives you the extraordinary chance to explore temples, churches, tombs, and museums. There's the Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and Temple Mount, featuring the Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem’s Old City is a sincerely breathtaking exploration of sites that are significant and sacred to several religions. Plus, after a long day of learning, you’d be keen to discover how far the city’s culinary scene has along in recent years.

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St. John INSTEAD of St. Barths
St. John, Virgin Islands

Simply put, Saint Barthélemy is a very popular getaway. While there are seemingly endless islands to choose from in the Caribbean, there’s a case of tourists always hitting the few they’ve heard of. But if you’re after quiet time amid dazzling green tropical forests and rich blue waters, you want to hit an island with all the beauty and half the population. Enter St. John, a total paradise that makes it impossible not to relax. So find yourself eating, drinking, and napping on sandy paradises like Caneel Bay Beach, Cinnamon Bay, Gibney Beach, Hawksnest Beach, Honeymoon Beach, Salomon Beach, Salt Pond Beach, and Trunk Bay. The list goes on. Live a grand resort life and take it easier than you ever have before.

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Cappadocia INSTEAD of Istanbul
Cappadocia, Turkey

Istanbul is one of the most photogenic cities in the world, but if you’re looking for unique, go southeast instead to Cappadocia. It makes sense that hot-air ballooning is so popular here, given how wild, rocky, and striking the landscape is here. It’s hard to believe it’s all real, but your experience is up to you. Explore a national park, an open-air museum, an underground tunnel, a cave dwelling, a fairy chimney, a rock-cut temple, a church, or a monastery. The region’s a geological wonder that has a lot to offer. Step far outside your normal for an exciting change of scenery.

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Whistler INSTEAD of Vancouver

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There are a million awesome things about Canada. Vancouver is definitely responsible for a helping of them, but it’s the country’s natural beauty that’ll make your jaw drop. That’s why Whistler such an exciting escape. People hit Whistler for skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking and mountain biking in the summer. It's a glorious, gorgeous mountain town that offers so much to explore, like the 2010 Winter Olympic Park, Alexander Falls, and Blackcomb Glacier Provincial Park. Additionally, there’s a good number of lakes for fun times, such as Alta Lake, Green Lake, Lost Lake, and Wedgemount Lake. And then there's the Whistler Sliding Centre or Whistler Bungee for the adrenaline junkies.

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Stockholm INSTEAD of Amsterdam
Stockholm, Sweden

People who have never left their hometown could probably talk about Amsterdam (and its world-famous red-light district) like they’ve been there. It’s just that ingrained into pop culture. Meanwhile, Stockholm has a similarly rich, charming, and colorful vibe, without an inherent familiarity. Yet, it’s oddly left off lists of like-minded travelers, despite it having some of the world’s coolest places ever to learn. You can visit a museum dedicated to a 17th Century warship, admire a baroque-style palace with three museums and a gigantic library, and dive deep into a museum that's entirely dedicated to the pop group ABBA. Plus, there’s the theme park Gröna Lund, the old town Gamla Stan, and the cultural hub of Kulturhuset. The list seriously goes on forever. You could spend a month in Stockholm.

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Belfast INSTEAD of Dublin
Belfast, Ireland

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Dublin is a terrific city where you’ll hear more languages than you can possibly imagine. The reason for such a busy international scene is that it’s sometimes the only city tourists will visit while on the Emerald Isle. Meanwhile, Belfast is an exceptionally charming Irish city with plenty to do and a significant cut in tourists. Explore the wondrous Botanic Gardens, learn about 9,000 years of Irish history and culture at Ulster Museum, or take in a show at the Grand Opera House, a restored Victorian theatre. Try life in Northern Ireland for a change of pace.

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Islamorada INSTEAD of Tulum
Islamorada, Florida

Tulum has become one Mexico’s most beloved tourist spots for its balance of resorts and archaeological sites. But you can hit tropical fun zone right here in the United States: Islamorada. Known as the "Village of Islands" down in the Florida Keys, Islamorada has a lot to offer for fun in the sun. For starters, you can watch dolphin and sea lion shows at Theater of the Sea, the second oldest marine mammal facility in the world. Then there's Indian Key State Park if you're down to snorkel or kayak. Otherwise, feed fish in the marina or take a trip to Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park. There's also a historic quarry known as Windley Key Fossil Reef. Seriously, a grand time in the tropics awaits.

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Paros INSTEAD of Mykonos
Paros, Greece

Tourism floods the Greek island of Mykonos, where daytime crowds and a hectic nightlife awaits. Everyone hits the beach and then everyone hits the bars. But there's another Greek island that has what you want with less of a crowd: Paros. While the island maintains the traditional look of fishing villages, don't let its classic Cycladic architecture fool you. For example, the village of Naoussa has a wonderful nightlife that doesn’t go overboard and is continues to add to the scene. Beyond that, Paros gives guests the chance to embrace a diverse itinerary that ranges from old ruins to dazzling beaches to a valley that’s filled with butterflies in the summertime.

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Belize INSTEAD of Costa Rica

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The 1990s tourism boom in Costa Rica never really went away, having hit an all-time high in 2015. It’s changed the country, which is still a remarkable nation to visit. If you're looking for a similar Latin America experience without the rapid growth, just look a few countries north, to Belize. And there are a crazy amount of reasons to explore Belize—ancient Mayan ruins, immaculate cayes, and wildlife sanctuaries to name a few. Most notably, there's the Great Blue Hole in Lighthouse Reef. You've likely seen picture after picture of it. It's a an underwater sinkhole that Jacques Cousteau claimed to be one of the best scuba-diving spots in the whole world. That’s just the sort of fun, colorful, and mysterious world that awaits you in Belize.

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Angra dos Reis INSTEAD of Rio de Janeiro
Angra dos Reis, Brazil

It’s not like Rio de Janeiro was ever quietly tucked away, but the Olympics definitely put the big city on every traveler’s map. That’s why hip locals and those in the know head to Angra dos Reis. It’s popular enough to have a lively established scene for activities, but still has enough of an up-and-coming quality to be not be overrun with tourists. There are more than enough beaches and bars. The coolest move you could pull here, however, is island-hopping. There more than 350 islands in the municipality, and they are all rich splotches of dense green surrounded by crystal blue waters.

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Valle de Guadalupe INSTEAD of Napa
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

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You already know what to expect from Napa. Even people who don’t care for wine could probably describe what Napa’s like. It’s time to try somewhere new, somewhere like Valle de Guadalupe. A wine region in Baja California, Valle de Guadalupe is one heck of a place to—you guessed it—drink wine (and eat like crazy). Just over an hour south of San Diego, this region of Mexico has been seriously gaining ground in the culinary game. We're talking much-talked-about wines, olive oils, and cheeses, amidst highly touted restaurants. It's a tremendous area to unwind, dotted with vineyards, ranches, and an eco-lodge or two. Eating and drink around these parts is no joke, and it’s likely spots your friends and family back home have never tried or even heard of.

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Antarctica INSTEAD of Iceland

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Iceland has been a hot spot for jetsetters these last few years. Social feeds pop with shots of Iceland, often looking like an entirely different planet. People enjoy its uniqueness. But, simply put, there’s nowhere on Earth more alien than Antarctica. It’s a vast, surreal icy landscape. It's a dramatic mix of mountains, islands, icebergs, and volcanoes. Plus, there are hot springs. Meanwhile, there happen to be a number of activities that seem familiar, but it's a whole new experience at the South Pole—things like camping, kayaking, and whale-watching. Activities like touring about Deception Island or through the Lemaire Channel are unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experiences. And Antarctica’s tourism is only getting better.
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Borneo INSTEAD of Thailand

Tourism has evolved into a seriously thriving industry in Thailand. Its total of annual arrivals has more than doubled in the last decade, ultimately and inevitably tweaking the culture of urban and rural territory alike. Borneo, on the other hand, is a wonderfully diverse island, divided amongst Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Home to some of the oldest rainforest in the world, the island's jungle terrain has a spirited sense of mysticism to its atmosphere. On the coasts, you’ll find some seriously spectacular resorts to mellow out and melt at. The island best serves the outdoorsy types, given that you can backpack, camp, climb, dive, hike, and snorkel through some of the most magnificent land and sea Earth has to offer.

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Hamburg INSTEAD of Berlin
Hamburg, Germany

With its history, Berlin can prove to be an overwhelming city that makes for a heavy experience. It's truly something to behold, but it's not exactly somewhere you head to mellow out—at least not when you could hit Hamburg. Germany’s charming port city is becoming much more than just a haven for commerce. While Hamburg keeps its appreciation for its maritime history and culture, the spirited city’s quickly evolving into one of beer, art, and music. Hamburg's HafenCity has been the biggest urban redevelopment project in Europe, turning part of the old port into shops, hotels, and the like. In fact, that's where you'll find The Elbphilharmonie, a dramatic waterfront concert hall that only opened earlier this year. Then there’s Wilhelmsburg, a transformed neighborhood that’s earning comparisons to Brooklyn’s young and vibrant Williamsburg. It’s a lovely, lively city to find yourself in.

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Botswana INSTEAD of South Africa

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With big cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg, it's no wonder South Africa ends up being a more popular choice for tourists. But if you’re heading to the continent for a safari, there are a lot of nations to choose from—and just above South Africa lies Botswana. Consider this: 38% of Botswana is national parks, reserves, and wildlife management areas, and most of that is unfenced. So animals, in their beautiful and mighty glory, roam free. The country’s home to the world's largest intact inland delta (the Okavango) and the world's second largest game reserve (the Central Kalahari). The best offerings aren't always found in the city, and that's definitely true when it comes to safaris. Wild animals living out in the open, spread across epic landscapes and beneath endless big skies, are ten-fold in Botswana.
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Pisco INSTEAD of Machu Picchu
Pisco, Peru

If you want to see Machu Picchu, by all means visit Machu Picchu. It's beautiful. But if you're on the prowl for more bank for your buck, it's time to hit Pisco. Since its airport expansion in 2015, the port city is seeing new life. While delightful, the city typically plays as headquarters for travelers to explore the region beyond. There, you can behold the natural beauty of places like the Paracas Peninsula and the Paracas National Reserve. You can also take a boat to the rocky Ballestas Islands, known for being a sanctuary for adorable animals like blue-footed boobies, guanay guano bird, Humboldt penguins, fur seals, and sea lions. Most importantly, don't forget to embrace and enjoy pisco itself, a brandy that’s sweet to sip on and made in the region.

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