Things to Do in May

While you wait for summer’s official arrival, there are still plenty of things heating up in May. Don’t miss May’s must-dos like the Kentucky Derby, National Bike Month, Cinco de Mayo and more.

You Might Also Like

Santorini Caldera Lagoon, Greek Islands
Santorini Caldera Lagoon, Greek Islands

Santorini Caldera Lagoon, Greek Islands

I would gift my mother the $10,000, no hesitation. My mother went to Greece a very long time ago for a very short time — a few hours on a layover. Now that she’s a single mother and grandmother, I would accompany her back to Greece and hit all the must-see, off-the-beaten-path spots, including a stop at world-famous chef Lefteris Lazarou’s Varoulko restaurant in Athens. We’ll bypass the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum (she’s seen them) and board a 100-foot, 2-masted schooner to sail to the beautiful islands of Hydra, Santorini, Mykonos and Naxos, which is said to be the hometown of none other than Zeus, king of all the Greek gods. – Rani Robinson, Managing Producer

Enter to win $10,000 in cash to pay for your next trip!
960 1280

Oversnap/ E+/ Getty Images  

Pailon Del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador

Pailon Del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador

One of my good friends got married this year and (being the amazing woman she is) spent her honeymoon volunteering in Haiti; she also spends half her year and all her extra money working toward improving Haitian education. So she's the person I'd give a $10,000 vacation, but a typical luxe beach retreat wouldn't be her and her new hubby's style. Instead, a high-adventure hiking and biking tour through Ecuador and the Galapagos would fit this couple’s outdoorsy personalities. From enjoying the snowcapped mountain views of the Andes to seeing wildlife up close in the Galapagos, this couple would deserve every unforgettable moment. – Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Estivillml/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Canal Grande at sunset, Venice, Italy

Canal Grande at sunset, Venice, Italy

I would give a gift of $10,000 to my parents, no question. They both just finished helping me plan my wedding, are nearing retirement and deserve every penny. They had to cancel a trip to Italy a couple of years ago because of an unexpected medical issue. They were heartbroken, and I know they would definitely use the money to finally take their much-deserved vacation to explore Italy. A stop in Venice would be a must for my mom so she could take a ride on a gondola, while the vineyards throughout Tuscany would be calling my dad’s name (although I’m sure there would be quite a few winery visits for them on this trip). They’ve done so much for their children and family, especially over these past couple of years, and they deserve their trip to Italy, plus so much more. – Kristen Kochanski, Photo Editor 960 1280

Inge Johnsson/ AEG Fotostock/ Getty Images  

Car on winding highway, Aspen Colorado

Car on winding highway, Aspen Colorado

I’d give $10,000 to my dad so he could go on the ultimate United States road trip. He’s already camped his way from Maryland to California, but the money would go a long way to ensure he could visit all 48 contiguous states. And maybe I could persuade him to upgrade his tent for a more luxurious camping experience. – Josh Levin, Digital Operations Manager 960 1280

Seth K. Hughes/ Image Source/ Getty Images  

Downtown Beirut, Lebanon

Downtown Beirut, Lebanon

My dad would definitely be a deserving recipient of a $10,000 holiday gift for travel. He works long hours as a doctor and hardly ever gets to take a real vacation. I would send him on a trip to Lebanon, where he was born and raised. He hasn’t been back in more than 40 years, and I know it would mean a lot to him to return. With $10,000, our whole family could go and learn more about his roots, and our own. We’d explore the rebuilt city of Beirut, hike among the famous cedars of Lebanon, and meet relatives we never knew we had. My dad would especially love to visit the traditional souks (markets) and get some of his favorite authentic Arabic dishes — not to mention that oh-so-strong Lebanese coffee. – Hannah Prince, Digital Copy Editor 960 1280

Ramzihachicho/ Getty Images  

Canal in Copenhagen

Canal in Copenhagen

If I had $10,000 to give to 1 person for a trip of a lifetime, I would absolutely give that money to my wife. For years, she has talked about her time as a high school exchange student in Denmark (the food — the people — the fun!) and has never had the chance to go back. This gift would finally give her the opportunity she has waited decades for. Coincidentally, she has a surprising number of childhood friends who now live overseas. What a lucky problem to have for someone who likes to travel! With people to visit everywhere from Singapore to Prague, she could definitely put this money to good use. Oh, and let me be honest here: I selfishly hope to tag along on this European adventure! – Matt Dewhurst, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Visions Of Our Land/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images  

Costa del Sol, Malaga, Spain

Costa del Sol, Malaga, Spain

I would definitely give my mom a $10,000 gift to travel on a luxury cruise ship. She would probably feel more comfortable visiting the Caribbean, but I would encourage her to expand her travel horizons and take an all-inclusive luxury cruise around the Mediterranean that would include stops at ports of call including Lisbon, Portugal; Costa del Sol, Spain; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Portofino, Italy; and Rome. Of course, I’d drop everything to travel with her. My dream would be to whisk her away and be her guide in some of my personal favorite places, such as Paris; Barcelona, Spain; and Salvador, Brazil. She rarely takes time to pamper herself, so a little forced rest and relaxation never hurt anyone, right? And honestly, she probably deserves more than a $10,000 gift. – Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280

Wolfgang Kaehler/ LightRocket/ Getty Images  

Wanderlust festival in O’ahu, Hawaii

Wanderlust festival in O’ahu, Hawaii

If I HAD to give someone close to me (other than myself!) $10,000 to travel with, it would definitely be my brother. A yogi, my brother works tirelessly on his craft, teaching on an everyday, almost-every-hour basis, which leaves him with hardly any money and, even worse, hardly any time to travel. That would all change with this $10,000 gift of travel. The first place that comes to mind for someone like my brother — someone who loves yoga, music and adventure sports — is Hawaii during the Wanderlust O’ahu festival. It’s the perfect opportunity to relax, be of a peaceful mind, exercise and take in all the beautiful surroundings Hawaii has to offer. – Ben Breslerman, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Amanda Bjorn for Wanderlust Festival  

Jetliner over New York

Jetliner over New York

I would give a friend a $10,000 gift to travel so that he can join me on my round-the-world adventure trip. We would begin in London and continue on to Budapest, Hungary; Nairobi, Kenya; Bali, Indonesia; Brisbane, Australia; and Honolulu, HI, before heading home. While I’ll be sitting in business class, the $10,000 isn’t enough for an equivalent ticket, so he would be sitting in economy — but that would leave enough remaining money to enjoy some quality food, hotels and booze around the world. – Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager 960 1280

John Lund/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images  

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy

My younger brother is getting married in December, and I'd love to gift him and his fiancée a $10,000 honeymoon in romantic Italy. Whether they choose to do a cycling tour through the Tuscan countryside, complete with wine tastings and cooking classes, marvel at the Venetian architecture aboard a luxurious water taxi, or charter a yacht on the Italian Riviera — or, better yet, all 3 — it would surely be a trip to remember. After honing their culinary skills, I'd expect they'd show their appreciation stateside with a homemade pasta dinner. – Sara Gilliam, Senior Producer 960 1280

Zoonar/ P.Jilek/ Getty Images  

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy

My younger brother is getting married in December, and I'd love to gift him and his fiancée a $10,000 honeymoon in romantic Italy. Whether they choose to do a cycling tour through the Tuscan countryside, complete with wine tastings and cooking classes, marvel at the Venetian architecture aboard a luxurious water taxi, or charter a yacht on the Italian Riviera — or, better yet, all 3 — it would surely be a trip to remember. After honing their culinary skills, I'd expect they'd show their appreciation stateside with a homemade pasta dinner. – Sara Gilliam, Senior Producer 960 1280

Zoonar/ P.Jilek/ Getty Images  

Philadelphia
Philadelphia

Philadelphia

Philadelphia was already on the national radar as a foodie and cultural destination, but the Pope’s visit in Sept. 2015 launched the city into the global spotlight. Just 2 months later, it received the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage City designation—making it the first US city to nab the distinction. (The fact that Independence Hall was already deemed a World Heritage Site in 1979 was part of the clincher.) Expect Philly to remain in the spotlight since it will host the Democratic National Convention in July 2016. 960 1280
Iceland

Iceland

Iceland has experienced a steady increase in tourists for the past 5 years, and 2016 should be no different. Chalk it up to a combination of new low-fare flights on WOW Air and Norwegian Air, more airlines offering direct routes (Delta), and Game of Thrones fans eager to visit film locations. Besides the must-see Blue Lagoon, don’t miss the recently opened Into the Glacier tour, which provides unprecedented access inside a glacier via a man-made ice cave. 960 1280
Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Start planning now for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, which will be held from Aug. 5-21. Tickets are still available on Rio’s official site, and hotel package deals with tickets are also available through authorized reseller CoSport. This will be the city’s first time hosting the Olympics, and massive improvements to Rio’s infrastructure are underway. Can’t get into every Olympic event on your wish list? Visit our guide of other top things to do while in Rio. 960 1280
Dubai

Dubai

Dubai has built a reputation on offering the latest and greatest. It already boasts the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, and Dubai Ski, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. Now it can add a Hunger Games theme park to the list. Set to open in Oct. 2016, Motiongate Dubai will feature a fictional District 12 and a simulated hovercraft ride. (Unlike the movie portrayal, this version of Hunger Games will be family friendly.) Operated by Dubai Parks and Resorts, Motiongate Dubai will be joined by Legoland and a Bollywood theme park in 2016. Among the new hotel openings, The Langham, Palm Jumeirah, is the latest luxury property that will take up residence on Dubai’s man-made, palm-tree shaped archipelago. 960 1280
Cuba

Cuba

Although 2015 opened the door for US citizens to legally travel to Cuba, the tourism industry, both here and in Cuba, is still catching up. Part of that is due to the fact that while restrictions have been lifted, visiting for the sake of tourism alone is still banned. Luckily there are 12 exemptions for Americans, and traveling for educational purposes through a tour operator is a popular workaround. Expect more options for 2016 as an increasing number of travel companies enter the market. So far the biggest buzz surrounds Carnival Corp., which plans on adding weeklong cruises out of Miami starting in May. 960 1280
Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle

2016 is shaping up to be a big year for castles; for starters, it’s the last year that Downton Abbey fans will be able to enjoy new episodes. In travel news, Ashford Castle in Ireland -- a 13th-century castle cum 5-star hotel that could put the fictional Downton Abbey to shame -- has just completed a 2-year-long, $75 million renovation following new ownership. The entire interior received a complete refresh of everything from the carpets to the décor, and new additions include a 32-seat movie theater. However, perhaps the most impressive addition is the brand-new spa, an ornate, airy sanctuary with 5 treatment rooms, a hammam and indoor pool. 960 1280
Wrocław, Poland

Wrocław, Poland

Every year the European Union appoints 2 different European cities with the prestigious European Capital of Culture title. The chosen cities already have a strong cultural scene, but for those under the radar, the distinction helps provide a huge tourism boost. Wrocław (pronounced Vrots-swaf) is Poland’s fourth-largest city, a picturesque place with a town square that dates back to the middle ages. Visitors can expect a jam-packed lineup for 2016, since the city promises more than 1,000 events. A sampling includes the Theatre Olympiad, an international theater festival, the European Film Awards and famed pianist Lang Lang performing with the Washington National Symphony Orchestra.  960 1280
San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian is the other European Capital of Culture for 2016, and while it’s better known than Wrocław, it’s no less of a 2016 hotspot. This resort town in the northern Basque region is heralded for its food scene -- although that’s really an understatement, considering it has not one, but 16 Michelin-starred restaurants. Besides the culinary options, visitors can look forward to a cultural schedule with a twist: the city chose “Waves of Energy” as the theme, so anticipate that all of the capital of culture events will possess this conceptual bent. Other major events include the annual Jazz Festival in July and the annual International Film Festival in Sept. 960 1280
Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka often gets overlooked in favor of its more popular neighbors, India and the Maldives, but this small island nation offers 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, lush landscapes and no shortage of beaches or elephants. Tourism has rebounded since the decades-long civil war ended in 2009, and luxury hotels are opening at a breakneck pace. Cape Weligama, Ani Villas and Anantara Tangalle Resort & Spa are among the 2015 standouts for unrivaled quality. Anticipated 2016 openings include Shangri-La Hambantota Resort & Spa, a 300-room oasis on the southern coast offering a golf course, spa and Eco Centre, which will educate guests about the local environment. Anantara Kalutara Resort & Spa, a smaller property on the southwest coast, is set to open in January. Rooms will sport authentic Sri Lankan décor, and resort amenities include a yoga pavilion and two outdoor swimming pools. Or you can splurge on a pool villa and get your own private plunge pool. 960 1280

MYQUA  

The Final Frontier: Space

The Final Frontier: Space

There’s only one spot left on the most intrepid traveler’s bucket list: space. Virgin Galactic’s space flights are still light years away (or at least not happening in 2016). But thanks to the latest Nieman Marcus Christmas Book, those who have been nice have the chance to experience a modified version via a pressurized capsule attached to a giant high-altitude balloon that will carry passengers 100,000 feet above the Earth. The flight seats 6 passengers at a time and will take up to 6 hours, but luckily there’s a bar and bathroom on board. The trip isn’t scheduled until 2017, but the $90,000 gift starts in 2016 with a 3-night stay at Miraval Resort in Tucson, AZ, a tour of Biosphere 2, a scientific research facility with seven contained ecosystems ranging from the desert to the rainforest, and a behind-the-scenes peek at a World View test flight. Better hurry, only 10 packages are up for sale. 960 1280

Courtesy Neiman Marcus  

Photos

Santorini Caldera Lagoon, Greek Islands

Santorini Caldera Lagoon, Greek Islands

I would gift my mother the $10,000, no hesitation. My mother went to Greece a very long time ago for a very short time — a few hours on a layover. Now that she’s a single mother and grandmother, I would accompany her back to Greece and hit all the must-see, off-the-beaten-path spots, including a stop at world-famous chef Lefteris Lazarou’s Varoulko restaurant in Athens. We’ll bypass the Parthenon and the Acropolis Museum (she’s seen them) and board a 100-foot, 2-masted schooner to sail to the beautiful islands of Hydra, Santorini, Mykonos and Naxos, which is said to be the hometown of none other than Zeus, king of all the Greek gods. – Rani Robinson, Managing Producer

Enter to win $10,000 in cash to pay for your next trip!
960 1280

Oversnap/ E+/ Getty Images  

Pailon Del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador

Pailon Del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador

One of my good friends got married this year and (being the amazing woman she is) spent her honeymoon volunteering in Haiti; she also spends half her year and all her extra money working toward improving Haitian education. So she's the person I'd give a $10,000 vacation, but a typical luxe beach retreat wouldn't be her and her new hubby's style. Instead, a high-adventure hiking and biking tour through Ecuador and the Galapagos would fit this couple’s outdoorsy personalities. From enjoying the snowcapped mountain views of the Andes to seeing wildlife up close in the Galapagos, this couple would deserve every unforgettable moment. – Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Estivillml/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Canal Grande at sunset, Venice, Italy

Canal Grande at sunset, Venice, Italy

I would give a gift of $10,000 to my parents, no question. They both just finished helping me plan my wedding, are nearing retirement and deserve every penny. They had to cancel a trip to Italy a couple of years ago because of an unexpected medical issue. They were heartbroken, and I know they would definitely use the money to finally take their much-deserved vacation to explore Italy. A stop in Venice would be a must for my mom so she could take a ride on a gondola, while the vineyards throughout Tuscany would be calling my dad’s name (although I’m sure there would be quite a few winery visits for them on this trip). They’ve done so much for their children and family, especially over these past couple of years, and they deserve their trip to Italy, plus so much more. – Kristen Kochanski, Photo Editor 960 1280

Inge Johnsson/ AEG Fotostock/ Getty Images  

Car on winding highway, Aspen Colorado

Car on winding highway, Aspen Colorado

I’d give $10,000 to my dad so he could go on the ultimate United States road trip. He’s already camped his way from Maryland to California, but the money would go a long way to ensure he could visit all 48 contiguous states. And maybe I could persuade him to upgrade his tent for a more luxurious camping experience. – Josh Levin, Digital Operations Manager 960 1280

Seth K. Hughes/ Image Source/ Getty Images  

Downtown Beirut, Lebanon

Downtown Beirut, Lebanon

My dad would definitely be a deserving recipient of a $10,000 holiday gift for travel. He works long hours as a doctor and hardly ever gets to take a real vacation. I would send him on a trip to Lebanon, where he was born and raised. He hasn’t been back in more than 40 years, and I know it would mean a lot to him to return. With $10,000, our whole family could go and learn more about his roots, and our own. We’d explore the rebuilt city of Beirut, hike among the famous cedars of Lebanon, and meet relatives we never knew we had. My dad would especially love to visit the traditional souks (markets) and get some of his favorite authentic Arabic dishes — not to mention that oh-so-strong Lebanese coffee. – Hannah Prince, Digital Copy Editor 960 1280

Ramzihachicho/ Getty Images  

Canal in Copenhagen

Canal in Copenhagen

If I had $10,000 to give to 1 person for a trip of a lifetime, I would absolutely give that money to my wife. For years, she has talked about her time as a high school exchange student in Denmark (the food — the people — the fun!) and has never had the chance to go back. This gift would finally give her the opportunity she has waited decades for. Coincidentally, she has a surprising number of childhood friends who now live overseas. What a lucky problem to have for someone who likes to travel! With people to visit everywhere from Singapore to Prague, she could definitely put this money to good use. Oh, and let me be honest here: I selfishly hope to tag along on this European adventure! – Matt Dewhurst, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Visions Of Our Land/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images  

Costa del Sol, Malaga, Spain

Costa del Sol, Malaga, Spain

I would definitely give my mom a $10,000 gift to travel on a luxury cruise ship. She would probably feel more comfortable visiting the Caribbean, but I would encourage her to expand her travel horizons and take an all-inclusive luxury cruise around the Mediterranean that would include stops at ports of call including Lisbon, Portugal; Costa del Sol, Spain; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Portofino, Italy; and Rome. Of course, I’d drop everything to travel with her. My dream would be to whisk her away and be her guide in some of my personal favorite places, such as Paris; Barcelona, Spain; and Salvador, Brazil. She rarely takes time to pamper herself, so a little forced rest and relaxation never hurt anyone, right? And honestly, she probably deserves more than a $10,000 gift. – Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280

Wolfgang Kaehler/ LightRocket/ Getty Images  

Wanderlust festival in O’ahu, Hawaii

Wanderlust festival in O’ahu, Hawaii

If I HAD to give someone close to me (other than myself!) $10,000 to travel with, it would definitely be my brother. A yogi, my brother works tirelessly on his craft, teaching on an everyday, almost-every-hour basis, which leaves him with hardly any money and, even worse, hardly any time to travel. That would all change with this $10,000 gift of travel. The first place that comes to mind for someone like my brother — someone who loves yoga, music and adventure sports — is Hawaii during the Wanderlust O’ahu festival. It’s the perfect opportunity to relax, be of a peaceful mind, exercise and take in all the beautiful surroundings Hawaii has to offer. – Ben Breslerman, Interactive Producer 960 1280

Amanda Bjorn for Wanderlust Festival  

Jetliner over New York

Jetliner over New York

I would give a friend a $10,000 gift to travel so that he can join me on my round-the-world adventure trip. We would begin in London and continue on to Budapest, Hungary; Nairobi, Kenya; Bali, Indonesia; Brisbane, Australia; and Honolulu, HI, before heading home. While I’ll be sitting in business class, the $10,000 isn’t enough for an equivalent ticket, so he would be sitting in economy — but that would leave enough remaining money to enjoy some quality food, hotels and booze around the world. – Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager 960 1280

John Lund/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images  

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy

My younger brother is getting married in December, and I'd love to gift him and his fiancée a $10,000 honeymoon in romantic Italy. Whether they choose to do a cycling tour through the Tuscan countryside, complete with wine tastings and cooking classes, marvel at the Venetian architecture aboard a luxurious water taxi, or charter a yacht on the Italian Riviera — or, better yet, all 3 — it would surely be a trip to remember. After honing their culinary skills, I'd expect they'd show their appreciation stateside with a homemade pasta dinner. – Sara Gilliam, Senior Producer 960 1280

Zoonar/ P.Jilek/ Getty Images  

Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany, Italy

My younger brother is getting married in December, and I'd love to gift him and his fiancée a $10,000 honeymoon in romantic Italy. Whether they choose to do a cycling tour through the Tuscan countryside, complete with wine tastings and cooking classes, marvel at the Venetian architecture aboard a luxurious water taxi, or charter a yacht on the Italian Riviera — or, better yet, all 3 — it would surely be a trip to remember. After honing their culinary skills, I'd expect they'd show their appreciation stateside with a homemade pasta dinner. – Sara Gilliam, Senior Producer 960 1280

Zoonar/ P.Jilek/ Getty Images  

Philadelphia

Philadelphia

Philadelphia was already on the national radar as a foodie and cultural destination, but the Pope’s visit in Sept. 2015 launched the city into the global spotlight. Just 2 months later, it received the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage City designation—making it the first US city to nab the distinction. (The fact that Independence Hall was already deemed a World Heritage Site in 1979 was part of the clincher.) Expect Philly to remain in the spotlight since it will host the Democratic National Convention in July 2016. 960 1280
Iceland

Iceland

Iceland has experienced a steady increase in tourists for the past 5 years, and 2016 should be no different. Chalk it up to a combination of new low-fare flights on WOW Air and Norwegian Air, more airlines offering direct routes (Delta), and Game of Thrones fans eager to visit film locations. Besides the must-see Blue Lagoon, don’t miss the recently opened Into the Glacier tour, which provides unprecedented access inside a glacier via a man-made ice cave. 960 1280
Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

Start planning now for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, which will be held from Aug. 5-21. Tickets are still available on Rio’s official site, and hotel package deals with tickets are also available through authorized reseller CoSport. This will be the city’s first time hosting the Olympics, and massive improvements to Rio’s infrastructure are underway. Can’t get into every Olympic event on your wish list? Visit our guide of other top things to do while in Rio. 960 1280
Dubai

Dubai

Dubai has built a reputation on offering the latest and greatest. It already boasts the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper, and Dubai Ski, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East. Now it can add a Hunger Games theme park to the list. Set to open in Oct. 2016, Motiongate Dubai will feature a fictional District 12 and a simulated hovercraft ride. (Unlike the movie portrayal, this version of Hunger Games will be family friendly.) Operated by Dubai Parks and Resorts, Motiongate Dubai will be joined by Legoland and a Bollywood theme park in 2016. Among the new hotel openings, The Langham, Palm Jumeirah, is the latest luxury property that will take up residence on Dubai’s man-made, palm-tree shaped archipelago. 960 1280
Cuba

Cuba

Although 2015 opened the door for US citizens to legally travel to Cuba, the tourism industry, both here and in Cuba, is still catching up. Part of that is due to the fact that while restrictions have been lifted, visiting for the sake of tourism alone is still banned. Luckily there are 12 exemptions for Americans, and traveling for educational purposes through a tour operator is a popular workaround. Expect more options for 2016 as an increasing number of travel companies enter the market. So far the biggest buzz surrounds Carnival Corp., which plans on adding weeklong cruises out of Miami starting in May. 960 1280
Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle

2016 is shaping up to be a big year for castles; for starters, it’s the last year that Downton Abbey fans will be able to enjoy new episodes. In travel news, Ashford Castle in Ireland -- a 13th-century castle cum 5-star hotel that could put the fictional Downton Abbey to shame -- has just completed a 2-year-long, $75 million renovation following new ownership. The entire interior received a complete refresh of everything from the carpets to the décor, and new additions include a 32-seat movie theater. However, perhaps the most impressive addition is the brand-new spa, an ornate, airy sanctuary with 5 treatment rooms, a hammam and indoor pool. 960 1280
Wrocław, Poland

Wrocław, Poland

Every year the European Union appoints 2 different European cities with the prestigious European Capital of Culture title. The chosen cities already have a strong cultural scene, but for those under the radar, the distinction helps provide a huge tourism boost. Wrocław (pronounced Vrots-swaf) is Poland’s fourth-largest city, a picturesque place with a town square that dates back to the middle ages. Visitors can expect a jam-packed lineup for 2016, since the city promises more than 1,000 events. A sampling includes the Theatre Olympiad, an international theater festival, the European Film Awards and famed pianist Lang Lang performing with the Washington National Symphony Orchestra.  960 1280
San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian, Spain

San Sebastian is the other European Capital of Culture for 2016, and while it’s better known than Wrocław, it’s no less of a 2016 hotspot. This resort town in the northern Basque region is heralded for its food scene -- although that’s really an understatement, considering it has not one, but 16 Michelin-starred restaurants. Besides the culinary options, visitors can look forward to a cultural schedule with a twist: the city chose “Waves of Energy” as the theme, so anticipate that all of the capital of culture events will possess this conceptual bent. Other major events include the annual Jazz Festival in July and the annual International Film Festival in Sept. 960 1280
Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka often gets overlooked in favor of its more popular neighbors, India and the Maldives, but this small island nation offers 8 UNESCO World Heritage sites, lush landscapes and no shortage of beaches or elephants. Tourism has rebounded since the decades-long civil war ended in 2009, and luxury hotels are opening at a breakneck pace. Cape Weligama, Ani Villas and Anantara Tangalle Resort & Spa are among the 2015 standouts for unrivaled quality. Anticipated 2016 openings include Shangri-La Hambantota Resort & Spa, a 300-room oasis on the southern coast offering a golf course, spa and Eco Centre, which will educate guests about the local environment. Anantara Kalutara Resort & Spa, a smaller property on the southwest coast, is set to open in January. Rooms will sport authentic Sri Lankan décor, and resort amenities include a yoga pavilion and two outdoor swimming pools. Or you can splurge on a pool villa and get your own private plunge pool. 960 1280

MYQUA  

The Final Frontier: Space

The Final Frontier: Space

There’s only one spot left on the most intrepid traveler’s bucket list: space. Virgin Galactic’s space flights are still light years away (or at least not happening in 2016). But thanks to the latest Nieman Marcus Christmas Book, those who have been nice have the chance to experience a modified version via a pressurized capsule attached to a giant high-altitude balloon that will carry passengers 100,000 feet above the Earth. The flight seats 6 passengers at a time and will take up to 6 hours, but luckily there’s a bar and bathroom on board. The trip isn’t scheduled until 2017, but the $90,000 gift starts in 2016 with a 3-night stay at Miraval Resort in Tucson, AZ, a tour of Biosphere 2, a scientific research facility with seven contained ecosystems ranging from the desert to the rainforest, and a behind-the-scenes peek at a World View test flight. Better hurry, only 10 packages are up for sale. 960 1280

Courtesy Neiman Marcus  

National Christmas Tree

National Christmas Tree

Looking for ideas on where to travel in December? Kick off the month with a tour of the National Christmas Tree. Located on the White House’s South Lawn, a towering 40-foot evergreen spruce has been a seasonal fixture of the nation’s capital since 1923. 960 1280

Getty Images  

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

Keep the Christmas spirit going in San Antonio. Every December, more than a mile of the San Antonio River Walk comes alive with over 100 underwater lights, as well as LED rope lighting crossing from one side of the river to the other. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Hobbit Tour

Hobbit Tour

Hobbit fans, rejoice! With this month's release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tolkien fans have a reason to follow the Hobbit trail to New Zealand. Besides being a great time to visit (December is the start of New Zealand’s summer season), the country has a Hobbit movie set tour on upper North Island. 960 1280

Jeff Hitchcock, flickr  

Ice Fishing, Colorado Style

Ice Fishing, Colorado Style

This December, put Colorado on your outdoors adventure map: Colorado's robust winters lure ice-fishing enthusiasts to gear up and head out for the thrill of the catch. Prime spots include Wolford Mountain Reservoir, a 1,550- acre reservoir, about 100 miles west of Denver. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Caribbean Cruise: Early December

Caribbean Cruise: Early December

For an impromptu December getaway, set sail for the Caribbean. The first 2 weeks of December are your best bet for bargain prices on cruises and hotels, before fares rise come Christmas and New Year’s. Combine your warm winter escape with cool events, like the Bahamas International Film Festival. 960 1280

Royal Caribbean International  

San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker

San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker

The holiday season wouldn’t be quite the same without catching a performance of The Nutcracker. We suggest heading to the City by the Bay to see the sparkling 2-act ballet performed by the San Francisco Ballet, which first introduced Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece to American audiences in 1944. 960 1280

Erik Tomasson  

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating

For the quintessential NYC Christmas experience, take a whirl on the ice at Rockefeller Center. The world-famous ice-skating rink at the famed commercial complex, in the heart of Manhattan, has been a fixture of Rockefeller Center since 1936. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Take in the winter solstice at Stonehenge. Every year, more than 5,000 people gather at the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, to mark the time when the sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. And good news in 2013: Visitors can explore a new visitor center close to the ancient site that's set to open this month. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Santa Claus House in North Pole

Santa Claus House in North Pole

Just where does Santa Claus live? North Pole, AK, of course. Head to this small, wintery city in the heart of Alaska to see Santa Claus House: A storefront, built in the early 1950s, it’s the spot from which the Original Letter From Santa is mailed out, proclaiming the bearer to be “on Santa’s Good List.” 960 1280

Rosie Rosenberger, flickr  

Hit the Slopes

Hit the Slopes

Hit the slopes this month at North America’s most popular ski resort. In addition to being home to more groomed terrain than any other resort in the world, Vail, CO, boasts the country’s largest ski school for all skill levels. For the more seasoned skier, head to Jackson Hole, where over 90% of the trails fall into intermediate to expert categories. 960 1280

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NOLA Christmas Bonfires

NOLA Christmas Bonfires

Add a little spice to the holiday season with a trip to The Big Easy. Come Christmas Eve, dozens of bonfires light up along the Mississippi River levee to make way for Papa Noel, as locals in bayou country call Santa. Arrive by 7 p.m. to watch the fiery feu de joie (“fires of joy”)! 960 1280

Douglas and Charlene Guilliams of Baton Rouge, LA: A Father and Daughter Photography Team  

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Come December, the City of Brotherly Love transforms itself into a Christmas Village. This annual holiday market in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park features traditional German Christmas market items, displayed by more than 60 vendors in decorated booths and tents. Get your fill of holiday goodies like gingerbread cookies and mulled wine. 960 1280

Christmas Village in Philadelphia  

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days

Learn dog sledding in … Chicago? Yep, for outdoor winter adventure, head to the Windy City’s Northerly Island, site of the 9th annual Polar Adventure Days. Beginning in early December, the family-friendly event includes a toddler zone with outdoor “ice fishing,” an REI winter activity station and a dog-sledding demo with huskies. 960 1280

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days  

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