Winter is creeping in quickly with the anticipation of stringed lights and evergreen scents that waft through busy streets. Even when the excitement of gifting looms, travelers have one thing on the mind: where to next? Time ticks on still, and before you get swept up in the buzz of the holidays, make sure you check out some of these must-see destinations and book your perfect, last-minute getaway this season.
Off the radar for decades, Nicaragua is emerging as the Central America’s fastest growing destination. Visitors can watch exposed lava lakes boil from Masaya Volcano, where they can drive up to the crater edge and look straight into the Earth’s fascinating, but dangerous and violent womb. Masaya’s crater just opened less than a year ago, and no one can predict when it will close again. From coffee farm cooperatives to sand boarding down a volcano a Cerro Negro, Nicaragua offers unforgettable and vibrant memories to be created.
Defined by both its past and its present, Jerusalem is a centuries-old city and modern-day metropolis all in one. A true paradox, the city represents an intriguing crossroads of history, culture, entertainment and leisure, and it just keeps getting better. The opening of the The Orient Jerusalem – a brand-new hotel that’s part of Isrotel Hotel Chain’s Exclusive Collection of 5-star properties – marks a significant milestone in a line of tourism improvements in Israel’s capital city. Between visits to historical sites, try any one of the city’s walking tours like a Shuk Tasting Tour & Cooking Workshop in Mahane Yehuda. Along with a Master Chef, learn as you choose the best produce and spices and then cook with them.
Palm Beach, Florida
Yup. The Palm Beach you know from yearly visits to Gram and Gramps with not much to do. Palm Beach has gone through a resurgence that is bringing millennials back to the location brimming with the ghosts of old Hollywood romance. Whether guests are experiencing beachside activities during the winter weather (the envy of all those following along on Instagram) or shopping down Worth Avenue, this Floridian getaway is ideal for luxe relaxation. A favorite of the likes of Judy Garland, John Lennon and Frank Sinatra, spend your stay at The Colony Palm Beach. The classic bright pink hotel’s corners pop with vibrancy inside and out, and everyone there welcomes you in like family, because that’s what they are. After spending over 20 years at the property, the new owners are ramping up new activities like morning yoga, fitness classes, new programming and so much more.
Those wondering where to head to in the Caribbean after the wreckage of the hurricanes need not worry when they head to Aruba. Situated outside the hurricane belt, women looking for a place with heart-pumping adrenaline rushes followed by deep tropical relaxation can look no further than Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa and Casino. Aruba is considered one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean, and was rated the happiest island in the world in 2016. Resort staff, including an Adventure Concierge, can help assist in booking activities like ATV tours around the island’s national parks, or scuba school to get PADI certified swimming through wrecks and coral formations. Fearless women can fly over the ocean 30 feet in the air with a JETLEV, unlike any thrill ride they’ll ever experience.
After the adventure, the resort makes it easy to sit back, relax and enjoy the sun. You can take leisurely strolls through town, alone or with guided tours, to view Aruba’s unique Dutch and Caribbean heritage. Or, soak up the sun with a good book on the white sands of Palm Beach and after indulge in a much deserved massage package at Zoia Spa.
If you’re looking for a winter straight out of a storybook, look no further than Hallstatt, Austria. The small lake town is the perfect romantic getaway, or a place to center and find yourself. An easy train from Salzburg, the tiny town is accessible by foot or by boat and is more picturesque than you could dream. Nestled in the base of a mountain, the calming quietness of the place is not only breathtakingly beautiful but a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle of a typical city vacation. If a picture says 1000 words, Hallstatt could write a novel.
Fiji is the new hot destination – and not talking temperature. More and more people are discovering the South Pacific paradise of 333 islands, each with opportunity for adventure on land or water. The islands are already ahead of the uptick in visitors with new resorts under construction, like Six Senses Fiji and Vatuvara. Tourism Fiji was awarded “Hottest Destination of the Year” for 2017 by Virtuoso. Lucky for San Fransciscans, Fiji Airways recently began nonstop flights from San Francisco to Nadi, providing U.S.-based visitors with another direct flight to the islands.
Slovenia is possibly one of the most underrated destinations to visit. The capital, Ljubljana, sits on a river and breathes reminiscent of Venice. The small pastel buildings set the backdrop for warmer strolls into a cafe, an up and coming scene in the city. To the south, travelers can visit Piran with romantic medieval architecture on the Adriatic coast—Fresh seafood here is a must. Just a couple hours’ drive from Ljubljana, you can visit hundred year old vineyards or visit Lake Bled.
As if a stone was tossed into a glacial lake by giants, an iconic church is situated on a tiny island which can be viewed from a Gothic castle built atop a 100-meter cliff. Close enough to Italy without the overwhelming number of tourists, this under the radar location will check a plethora of travel boxes you’ve been meaning to tick off, and is much less expensive to tour!
Somewhere not on this list that we should know about? Add to the comments!
Images via Michelle Kim