U.S. Travel: Best Places To Visit In 2016
The world is a giant place and we would love to explore every corner of it. Let’s start with our own big and beautiful backyard, the United States.
From the National Parks’ birthday to celebrating new museums, here are seven destinations to put on your American travel list in 2016.
Sure, minimalist sculptor Donald Judd may be the unofficial founder of Marfa, but Robert Irwin will be the latest artist leaving his mark on the grounds of Judd’s Chinati Foundation. You can see Irwin’s permanent installation there this summer along with works by Dan Flavin, Carl Andre and Claes Oldenburg. This dusty West Texas town continues to draw celebrities (yes, Beyoncé brought her private jet there, since the nearest airport is three hours away in El Paso). You can still get grilled cheese on weekends and homemade burritos from Ramona’s Kitchen (get ready to dust off your high school Spanish). Go before it gets even more overrun by tourists and big city dwellers. www.visitmarfa.com
Photo Credit: Jessica Lutz, courtesy of the Chinati Foundation
Though Lonely Planet named D.C. the top city to visit in 2015, the party isn’t over yet. Birthday celebrations this year include the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the 225th anniversary of the bill of rights and the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service. The National Zoo has a new panda baby (Bei Bei), too. Election fever will hit high drama and it seems wholly appropriate that The Trump International Hotel will open this year. Other hotel openings include two new Kimpton properties and The Watergate Hotel. The National Museum of African American History and Culture will also open this year and CityCenterDC continues to be the hip, happening centerpiece for the nation’s capital. www.washington.org
Photo Credit: Washington D.C. Tourism
St. Louis, Mo.
Music fans will flock to the opening of the National Blues Museum in April, where they can learn how to play blues riffs and attend concerts in the museum’s performance hall. It’s a good reminder of the city’s rich musical history. Still, the biggest draw in this gateway to the West is that famous, beautiful arch. From the top of the 630-foot ride, the newly expanded CityArchRiver project opens up below to renovated parks, beautiful promenades and underground plazas. And lest we forget, Lewis and Clark set off on their famous expedition from here, the expedition that ended 210 years ago. www.explorestlouis.com
Photo Credit: Explore St. Louis
American bourbon whiskey has been getting a lot of attention as of late, and there’s no better place to imbibe and enjoy in this piece of U.S. history than the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. With Jack Daniels celebrating its 150th birthday and five more distilleries scheduled to open this year, it’s the perfect excuse to enjoy a taste of the homegrown spirit. May is the optimum time to visit to catch the Tennessee Whiskey Festival. Nashville’s soundtrack will follow you through your travels from more than 100 music venues around the city. And when you work up an appetite from all the honkytonk, you’ll benefit from the exploding food scene. From fried chicken at Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack to old classics like Arnold’s Country Kitchen and Loveless Cafe, there are plenty of joints to pair with your Jack and Coke. www.visitmusiccity.com
Photo Credit: Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation
Does anyone ever need an excuse to go to Hawaii? History buffs will remember the day that “will live in infamy,” some 75 years ago in December, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor leading the U.S. to enter WWII. To commemorate the event, the U.S. Navy, the National Park Service and Pearl Harbor Historic Sites all have events planned throughout the year. More info can be found at PearlHarborEvents.com or PacificHistoricParks.org. Active visitors should check out the North Shore Bike Park on new mountain trails at Turtle Bay Resort. www.gohawaii.com/en/oahu
Photo Credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority
Grand Rapids, Mich.
The Grand Rapids Downtown Market is a prime example of what urban renewal can do for a city. Its 138,000-square-foot food hall was built using repurposed materials from the old buildings it replaced, earning the building LEED certification. The expansive Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. With the influx of arts funding, it has works from such internationally renowned artists as Rodin, Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor. www.experiencegr.com
Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids
As if the desert landscape and sunny weather wasn’t draw enough, a slew of new hotels and resorts are opening in Phoenix and Scottsdale this year, including The Camby Hotel, The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch, Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa and the new Ritz-Carlton in Paradise Valley. Mountain Shadows resort, brought to you by the same peeps who own mid-century gem Hotel Valley Ho, joins the fresh lineup in 2018. Phoenix is also seeing continued revitalization with the opening of the DeSoto Central Market in the Roosevelt Row Arts District and a whole bunch of new bars, restaurants and cafes for your dining pleasure. www.visitphoenix.com and www.experiencescottsdale.com
Photo Credit: Visit Phoenix
Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee is a writer, artist, photographer, chef and producer. A James Beard Award nominee, she has authored several travel guides and cookbooks, namely on Korea and Mexico. Her work can be seen in such places as Google, KLM airlines, MGM Studios, ABC TV, Frommer’s and her website: www.littlececilia.com. She is currently working on some super secret projects, that is, when she’s not packing for her next trip.