Where to Go in 2016
From a city built by our forefathers to the final frontier, our picks for where to go in 2016 may surprise you.
PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia 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
IcelandIceland 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 JaneiroStart 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
DubaiDubai 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
CubaAlthough 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 Castle2016 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, PolandEvery 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, SpainSan 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 LankaSri 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
The Final Frontier: SpaceThere’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
Walt Disney World MarathonKick off the New Year by earning your Disney medals! The annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend unfolds in mid-January, with 4 days of events that include a 5K, 10K and half marathon. Here, Adriano Bastos of Brazil crosses the finish line to win the 20th annual marathon. See more ideas for where to travel in January. 960 1280
Tournament of Roses ParadeHead to the granddaddy of all college bowl games this January. The famed Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, has been played annually since 1916. Cap off festivities with an even older tradition -- the annual Tournament of the Roses Parade, “America’s New Year Celebration” since 1895. 960 1280
New Year's Plunge (Coney Island)Go ahead, take the New Year’s plunge! Every year, since 1903, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club has taken a dip in the chilly Atlantic come New Year’s. All you need is a bathing suit (or wacky costume), plus a little suspension of disbelief that you are actually immersing yourself in ice-cold water in the dead of winter. 960 1280
South Padre IslandConey Island’s waters too cold for you? Take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico at South Padre Island. With average water temperatures in the 50s and 60s this time of year, you can brave the annual South Padre Island Polar Bear Dip and still feel all your toes and fingers afterward. January is also a great time to stroll the Laguna Madre Nature Trail or go on a dolphin cruise. 960 1280
North American International Auto Show (Detroit)New Year, new car! See what the leading automakers have in store at the annual North American International Auto Show. As one of the largest auto shows in North America, the annual event reveals brand-new, shiny offerings like the 7th-generation Chevrolet Corvette, the C7, (pictured), at Detroit’s Cobo Center. 960 1280
Off-Season Pick: Florence, ItalyLooking for a great off-season destination? Skip the crowds, and head to Florence, Italy. Sure, it’s one of the Tuscan city’s coldest months, so just pack a scarf; with hardly any tourists, you’ll have ample room to explore Florence’s sites and attractions like the Duomo and Uffizi Gallery. 960 1280
Mexico City in JanuaryFor an off-season pick closer to home, set your sights on Mexico City. January is one of the best months to visit, with thinner crowds and weather still warm enough for sightseeing. Explore any number of museums (the city is home to more than 170!), plus stroll the oldest park in North America and check out trendy neighborhoods like La Roma. 960 1280
Year of the Snake (Chinatown, Boston)Ring in the Year of the Snake in Boston’s Chinatown. Right behind NYC and LA, Beantown’s Chinatown is the third-largest in the US, with roots stretching back to the 1880s. Pass through Boston Chinatown’s opening gate, flanked by 2 guardian lions on either side, and enjoy Cantonese cuisine served in small dishes at restaurants like Hei La Moon. 960 1280
Learn-to-Ski-and-Snowboard MonthDid you know January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month? Hit the slopes in New York State, home to more than 50 ski resorts -- more than any other state in the country. Among the top draws is Whiteface Mountain; just a short drive from Lake Placid, the ski area offers diverse terrain for both beginner and expert skiers. 960 1280
Grammys' Big Night in Los AngelesDidn’t get an invite to the Grammys this month? Don’t let that stop you from touring the City of Angels, especially anything to do with the Beatles this year. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles taking America by storm; while the Grammys will hold its own commemoration, tour sites like the Hollywood Bowl, where the Beatles performed 2 outdoor concerts. 960 1280
Yosemite’s Chefs’ Holidays: The AhwahneeTake a tour of the Ahwahnee, the grand Yosemite National Park hotel that has hosted its share of famous guests through the years, from Walt Disney to Queen Elizabeth II. Visit this January for the annual Yosemite’s Chefs’ Holidays, and embark on a Northern California cooking adventure. 960 1280
Sundance Film FestivalThis January marks the 31st anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival. The American film fest, held annually in Park City, UT, showcases dozens of films. There’s still time to book with the festival’s official carrier, Southwest Airlines; meanwhile, no registration is required for individual tickets to the festival in 2015. 960 1280
National Cheese Lover’s Day (Vermont)Don’t let New Year’s be the one day you celebrate this month; pencil in time for National Cheese Lover’s Day, too. Jan. 20 marks a very special day for cheese gourmands everywhere. Celebrate with a trip to Vermont, home to cheesemakers since the 1800s, and let this Vermont cheese trail map be your guide. 960 1280
MLK Day of ServiceCelebrate the life of the civil rights leader during the MLK Day of Service. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., hundreds of nonprofits and volunteer centers nationwide observe the federal holiday, named in King’s honor back in 1983, as a day of giving back to local communities and shelters. Grab a hammer and lend a hand. 960 1280
Elvis Presley's BirthdayCelebrate the life of another King: On Jan. 8, 1935, Elvis Presley was born in a 2-room house in Tupelo, MI. This month, Elvis’s Graceland estate hosts a 3-day-long birthday celebration. Rise bright and early for the Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony on Graceland’s North Lawn, and stay for the birthday-cake cutting. 960 1280
Aspen's Winterskol FestRaise a toast to winter in Aspen’s annual Winterskol fest. The winter tradition is more than 60 years strong, and was started by a lodge owner who wanted to enliven the Aspen winter season following Christmas. Today, the 4-day winter fest includes a snow sculpture competition, a soup cook-off and a downhill race, with apple strudel at the finish line. 960 1280
Backpack Through Brazil“Throw caution to the wind and live life with reckless abandon by backpacking through Brazil. Traverse the thick Amazon rain forest in Manaus, immerse yourself in the Afro-centric culture of Salvador, go nude sunbathing on Praia Mole in Florianopolis, witness the awe-inspiring beauty of Iguazu Falls, and stand at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain for panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro. Go -- you’ll be glad you did -- and prepare to get a lifetime of great memories.” -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer 960 1280
Camp in Canadian Backcountry“What better way to kick off your first step into the real world than by getting away from the hustle and bustle that you have come to call normal? There may be no better place to do that than the Canadian wilderness of Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Spread out over nearly 3,000 square miles of pristine backcountry, Algonquin boasts more than 1,900 campsites set along the shores of more than 2,400 lakes, with plenty of different ways to enjoy them. Grab a canoe, a backpack and a few friends, and paddle off into a sunset-drenched backdrop of the open water and woods to jump-start your trip. After a few days of traveling through the natural highway of portages and lakes, you’ll be relaxed, refreshed and ready to take that next step.” -- Matthew Dewhurst, Producer 960 1280
Live Out Your Own Euro-Trip“First time across the pond -- you don’t say! There’s not a better way to christen a newly minted passport than with a classic Europe trip. London is the perfect place to wet your whistle with a pint between checking off bucket-list attractions such as Big Ben and the Beatles’ Abbey Road. Then, ride the Eurail to your heart’s content. Hip hostels make traveling to stylish cities such as Paris, Barcelona or Prague possible even before you earn your first ‘big kid’ paycheck.” -- Sara Gilliam, Senior Producer 960 1280
Party Vegas Style“As 4-plus years of studying comes to a close, celebrate with 1 last hurrah in Las Vegas! Be a high roller for the weekend and spend some graduation money on high-stakes gambling and bottle service. Enjoy the beginning of summer with crazy Vegas pool parties at the Venetian’s Tao Beach and Mandalay Bay’s Daylight.” -- Michelle Tran, Ad Sales Producer 960 1280
Cuddle a Koala on Magnetic Island“Australia is a place on most people’s bucket lists, and it’s a fantastic destination to let go and have some fun after years of studying and exams. Make your way to Magnetic Island in the lower part of the Great Barrier Reef. Go snorkeling to see the colorful fish and coral, and take a free hike along the Forts Walk to catch the sunset while perched atop the historic World War II fortifications. Be sure to keep your eyes on the eucalyptus trees to spot koalas. If you don’t see any, go cuddle one at the Bungalow Bay Koala Village, which is also a backpackers’ hostel.” -- Arthur Hsu, Video Project Manager 960 1280
Island-Hop in Greece“Enjoy beautiful beaches, island-hopping and a warm but cooler 77 degrees during the month of June -- the perfect time to go, just before the rush of summer tourists. Charter a catamaran through Blue Lagoon Cruises, whose boats come equipped with swimming platforms, bars, trampolines and much more! Enjoy hidden bays and hot springs on and around the islands of Santorini and Mykonos.” -- Rani Robinson, Digital Director 960 1280
Cruise the Caribbean“Grab a few friends and book a cruise to the Caribbean. Even just a 3- or 4-night sailing is the perfect way to kick back, party till the wee hours, and see a few new places — all in 1 vacation. Not to mention it’s budget-friendly, with most meals and entertainment included. Try a 4-night Western Caribbean itinerary on Carnival, leaving from Miami and sailing to Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. Or, if you have the time and money, spring for a 7-night Southern Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean, leaving from San Juan with stops in places such as Aruba, Barbados, St. Thomas, Antigua and St. Lucia.” -- Hannah Prince, Copy Editor 960 1280
Chill Out in Newport Beach, CA“If you’re searching for a great domestic post-graduation destination that blends both relaxation and excitement, then Newport Beach, CA, is the place for you. Post up on the expansive plots of sand with a good book or your headphones and relax in the sun, enjoying some of the country’s best weather. Looking for a thrill? Newport Beach also offers a wide variety of adventure and fun, from Jet Skiing and cruising the waves on a surf or boogie board to setting up your teammate for the perfect spike on one of the many public volleyball courts. And if you start to feel parched after a long day in the sun, stop by Sharkeez -- a Newport staple --for a cold cocktail.” -- Ben Breslerman, Producer 960 1280
Celebrate in the City That Never Sleeps“Not everyone can afford a trip around the world to celebrate graduating, but you can take a budget shortcut and visit NYC instead! While it's still not the cheapest city in America, in 1 weekend, you can take the N/R train down to Chinatown for tasty soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai, walk up to Little Italy for some authentic Chianti from Parm, and then hop the A/C to Koreatown for homemade Miss Korea kimchi and barbecue. Not to mention the dozens of first-class museums, such as the Met and the Frick, that are also just a subway ride away. You'll leave having experienced the best of more than a dozen cultures without ever needing your passport!” -- Liz Fraser, Photo Editor 960 1280
Celebrate National Ice Cream MonthIce cream is an iconic American summer treat! Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with a visit to one of America's coolest ice cream shops.
Canada DayOttawa — the capital of Canada — is the place to be for the annual Canada Day celebration on July 1. Canada Day events to commemorate the anniversary of the country's birthday take place at Parliament Hill and Major's Hill Park and include ceremonies, family-fun activities, concerts, fireworks and more.
A Capitol Fourth (Washington, DC)Feeling patriotic? There's no better place to celebrate Independence Day than in the nation's capital! At the beginning of the day, experience the annual National Independence Day Parade along Constitution Avenue, complete with bands, US military units and celebrities. After the parade, head to the National Mall for A Capitol Fourth concert and fireworks — one of the best fireworks displays in the US.
Tour de FranceExperience one of France's largest annual sporting events, the Tour de France. This prestigious competition is a multi-stage bicycle race that begins in Utrecht, Holland, and cyclists will travel more than 2,200 miles through the European countryside to their final destination in Paris.
San Fermin Festival (Pamplona, Spain)Join thousands of locals and tourists in Pamplona, Spain, for the annual San Fermin Festival and Running of the Bulls. At 8 each morning, participants dressed in red and white will run for their lives as 6 wild bulls are let loose in the streets. The half-mile-long run begins at Town Hall and ends at the Plaza de Toros de Pamplona, where afternoon bullfights take place to celebrate the completion of the bull run each day.
Berlin Fashion Week (Berlin)Since July 2007, fashion icons, enthusiasts and designers have traveled to Berlin for the city's annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. There will be a variety of exhibits, ceremonies and shows, including eco-shows that highlight "green" fashion trends in Berlin.
Cool down at the Water Park (Blizzard Beach, Orlando)Looking for a place to cool down from the summer heat? Pack your bags for a fun, wet and wild visit to one of the best water parks of 2015. Located in Orlando, Disney's Blizzard Beach water park has something for everyone, including a 1-acre wave pool and a 120-foot waterslide.
The Open ChampionshipThe oldest of the 4 major championships in professional golf, the Open Championship — also known simply as "the Open" — will take place at the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Well-known players including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson will tee off for their chance to win the coveted Claret Jug, prize money and the championship title.
Bastille DayBastille Day, or French Independence Day, takes place each year on July 14 to commemorate the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution. Although Bastille Day is celebrated around the world, celebrations in Paris include a military parade along the Champs-Elysees and public dances, followed by fireworks over the Place de la Bastille. 960 1280
MLB All-Star GameStock up on Cracker Jacks, hot dogs and peanuts for when the American League and National League go head-to-head in the annual MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH. Weeklong events leading up to the game include the All-Star FanFest, the MLB 5K Color Run, the All-Star Legends & Celebrities Softball Game, and the Home Run Derby.
Redentore Festival (Venice, Italy)Famous for its fireworks show over St. Mark's Basin in Venice, Italy, the 2-day Redentore Festival celebrates the end of the plague that killed more than 50,000 people in 1576.
Nyon Paléo Festival (Switzerland)More than 230,000 people will travel to Nyon, Switzerland, this month for the annual Nyon Paléo Festival. One of Europe's most popular music festivals, Paléo features more than 250 concerts by artists from a variety of genres, including Elton John, the Black Keys and M.I.A.
San Diego Comic-Con InternationalSuperheroes, villains and aliens — you'll see that and more at the San Diego International Comic-Con Convention, the largest comics and pop-culture convention in the US. Comic fans and A-list celebrities will descend on the San Diego Convention Center for the 4-day event, which includes exhibits, vendors, celebrity meet-and-greets, a film festival and a masquerade ball.