Just like fashion, food, and music, travel destinations follow clear trends. One year, all of your friends are flying to Iceland for the weekend. The next, Disney Springs is the place to be in Florida. And every January, you see those trends repeated in “Where to Go This Year” listicles across the internet (shortly followed by a flood of pictures on your Instagram feed).
As travel editors, it would be easy for us to follow suit and recommend only trending destinations. But we decided to take a step beyond your classic list and analyze why a vacation is great for distinct types of travelers.
To do so, we combed through the results of our first-ever Editors’ Choice Awards—a massive analysis of 60,000 hotels, restaurants, and attractions around the world—to identify the best spots for every type of vacation.
Are you a beer nerd who could spend a week discussing hops? Atlanta stood out for its 20+ breweries—five of which earned top honors in our Editors’ Choice Awards. Are you an avid plant mom, who loves to explore the city but needs some greenery in her life? Go to Portland, Oregon, which houses a 5,100-acre forest reserve with more than 70 miles of trails. Do you just want to sit on a beach all day? Hawaii is the old-school choice that’s suddenly cool (and affordable) again.
You’ll see destinations both familiar (Chicago) and perhaps unexpected (Rapid City, South Dakota) on TripSavvy’s list of Where to Go in 2019. But trust that each destination was selected to make your vacation—not your Instagram account—incredible.
Best Overall Destination for 2019: Memphis
Memphis is a hotbed of activity. Formerly abandoned lots and buildings are now fun spots for tourists and locals. At Crosstown Concourse (in an old Sears distribution warehouse), you can dine in a dozen just-opened restaurants, including one that taps refugees to do the cooking. An overgrown yard has turned into Railgarten, a one and a half acre adult playground with a tiki bar, ping pong room, ice cream parlor, diner, sandbox, a stage for live music, and much more.
Old establishments are new again. Over the summer, the Memphis Pink Palace Museum reopened its historic mansion after a shiny renovation. The zoo now has a spacious new exhibit on hippos. At the start of 2019, CMPLX, a collective that showcases the work of local black artists, cut the ribbon on a new studio where art exhibits will rotate every three weeks.
Downtown Memphis is dotted with new, must-see sites. The Hu Hotel has opened on the site of the former Madison Hotel. In its enclosed rooftop, you can watch the city’s brand new light show, Mighty Lights, that airs every hour on the Hernando de Soto Bridge (and Big River Crossing). Down the street, you can visit Old Dominick, the city’s only whiskey distillery. It serves a hot toddy Memphis doctors used in previous centuries for medicinal purposes.
Nature lovers will cherish the bike paths that now connect all parts of the city. You can ride over the Mississippi Bridge or in forests with rare animals like blue herons.
If you’ve visited Memphis before, it’s time to go back. The city is alive with change; you might not recognize it.
Best Destination for Outdoor Enthusiasts: Rapid City
Rapid City, South Dakota, has long been the state's best starting point for those looking to explore the Black Hills, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park (where the buffalo roam), and the Pine Ridge Reservation. And it's a momentous year for many of these attractions: Custer State Park is turning 100, as is the Black Hills Roundup Rodeo, and Badlands National Park is celebrating its 80th anniversary. But between outdoor adventures, save some time to walk Rapid City's streets. This year, the "City of Presidents" exhibit (there's a different life-size president statue on most of the city's downtown street corners) will unveil Barack Obama's statue, created by local artist James Van Nuys.
On your walk around town, don't miss the Prairie Edge Trading Co. and the Dakota Drum Company, two shops supporting the large Native American population in the region. Around the corner, Lone Pine Kombucha is South Dakota's first-ever kombucha brewery. And further west on Main Street, Press Start is the ultimate arcade bar featuring all your favorite games, paired with 40 oz. bottled beers. Ask the bartender for a password to Press Start's sister speakeasy, hidden next to the basement kitchen of a nearby restaurant.
Best Destination for History Buffs: San Antonio
Founded in 1718 by Spanish explorers, San Antonio is a modern city with a long and fascinating history. The Alamo is best known as the site of a key battle for Texas independence, but it is also part of a group of five missions built in the 1700s by Spanish missionaries. In 2015, the missions were deemed to be so historically significant that they were collectively named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the mid-1800s, the city became a hub for both westward military expansion and commerce. Cattle barons and railroad magnates built luxurious hotels such as the St. Anthony and the brewery that later became the trendy Hotel Emma. This newfound wealth led to the creation of upscale neighborhoods such as the King William Historic District.
For those interested in the city’s longstanding connection to the Catholic faith, San Fernando Cathedral is just one of many historic churches around San Antonio worth visiting.
Best Bucket List Destination: Tokyo
As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approach, major industrial developments are changing the landscape of the metropolitan area. Traveling there in 2019 offers the perfect opportunity to explore the city before the crowds descend for that global event.
The Shibuya Stream project kicks off in July 2019, which seeks to connect the posh shopping district of Daikanyama with Shibuya via a previously underground waterway. The transformation also promises a new and improved Hachiko Square as well as expanded pedestrian walkways.
The popular Golden Gai in Shinjuku, famous for some of Tokyo’s oldest bars nestled between petite walkways, is rumored to be on the chopping block for 2020 renovations, so be sure to check out this landmark destination before it is replaced.
Best Destination for Plant Moms: Portland
Portland, Oregon, has long been celebrated for its greenery. Not only is the self-proclaimed City of Roses surrounded by old-growth forest, but it’s also full of plenty of inner-city green spaces of its own. Highlights include Forest Park, a 5,100-acre forest reserve with over 70 miles of trails, and neighboring Washington Park, home to the International Rose Test Garden and its collection of over 600 varietals of roses.
Also in Washington Park is the Hoyt Arboretum, home to a couple of thousand tree species and the Portland Japanese Garden, full of peaceful ornamental gardens that are equally celebrated for their beauty and authenticity.
Best Destination for Geeks: Los Angeles
Whether you worship science, Spielberg, or superheroes, Los Angeles (LA) is the top spot to let your geek flag fly in 2019. You can nerd out with (inter)stellar lectures and tours at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Griffith Observatory, and the space shuttle Endeavour exhibit at California Science Center.
See the other kind of stars in new ways too. Along with the 30,000 square-foot show dedicated to moviemaking, the Academy Museum will kick off with the first major U.S. exhibition about beloved animated filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Cinephiles should also hit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, which recently introduced elaborate exhibits on the DC Comics universe and Harry Potter complete with Aquaman costumes and a working Sorting Hat.
June of 2019 brought the galaxy far, far away to Disneyland when a Star Wars-themed land and Millennium Falcon ride opened. For more Jedi hijinks, line up with mega-fans for 10 days in December to catch the first screening of the Skywalker saga finale at the TCL Chinese Theatre. Sip droid-approved drinks (and Marvel margaritas) at the pop-up gone permanent Scum & Villainy Cantina, where the king of the dorks Kevin Smith records his podcast.
Also find your people at enthusiast conventions (Comic-Con or WonderCon), arcade game bars (Button Mash or EightyTwo), Game Empire where weekly Dungeons & Dragons tournaments and hobby nights are staged and the new Two Bit Circus, a self-proclaimed “VR amusement park” with escape rooms and updated carnival classics.
Best for Sports Fans: Toronto
Love sports? Toronto might just be one of the best destinations to consider in 2019. Home to multiple professional sports teams as well as the world-renowned Hockey Hall of Fame, the city can also thank Drake for elevating the Raptors, Toronto’s NBA team. The rap superstar has been the team’s global ambassador since 2013, and his partnership with the team continues to expand.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Toronto Blue Jays' first game at the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome). The landmark game happened on June 5th against the New York Yankees.
Best Party Town: London
With its mix of old and new, classy and cool, and wild and chill, London has what every type of partygoer needs for a good time in 2019. The city's nightlife is a mix that will fulfill any party mood.
Legendary establishments are still going strong. At Claridge’s Bar celebrities guzzle champagne and dance on tables. Members’ club Annabel’s, the only private establishment frequented by Queen Elizabeth II, just moved into a modern townhouse to serve its next generation.
London now has taprooms galore like the Redchurch Brewery that grew out of its founder’s apartment. The number of gin distilleries in the UK has risen 127 percent in five years. Many are in London and can’t wait to make you a G & T. Chug it and then head to the FOLD, a new East-end nightclub that never closes. Literally.
Best for Beer Snobs: Atlanta
Craft beer is hopping in Atlanta. The city is home to nearly 20 breweries, five of which made the cut in TripSavvy's Editor's Choice 2018 awards. Founded in 1993, Atlanta Brewing Company (formerly Red Brick Brewing) is Georgia's oldest brewery and offers nearly 20 beers on tap, including the Hartsfield IPA named for Atlanta's bustling airport.
Another longtime favorite, SweetWater Brewing, offers taproom tastings of everything from its ubiquitous 420 pale ale to its new cannabis-infused varietal as well as tours of its barrel-aging facility, the Woodlands. Visit Decatur's Three Taverns Brewery for Belgian-inspired brews and Monday Night Brewing's latest outpost, the Garage, for people watching and pints on the popular Westside Beltline trail.
Best Destination for Brunch: Denver
Denver might have a reputation as one of the most active cities in the country (outdoor recreation is practically built into the local lifestyle). It’s becoming a hotspot for just the opposite kind of leisure activity: relaxed and boozy weekend brunches.
Proof of the meal's popularity in Denver is found at any of the Snooze A.M. Eatery locations on weekend mornings when people wait in line for up to a couple of hours for a coveted table (and an order of the popular pancake flights) inside. People from all corners of the Mile High City are making the trip downtown—according to the 2018 Lyftie Awards (Lyft’s annual list of the most popular destination for ride-sharers), Snooze was the most popular destination for brunch seekers in Denver.
Other long-time local favorites include Sassafras for its Southern comfort food, Jelly, a retro-style spot with traditional American breakfast food, and Denver Biscuit Company for, of course, its biscuits and massive biscuit sandwiches.
Plus, several new restaurants with morning menus have opened up over the past couple years and are already gaining attention—and with that, positive reviews. Consider Wendell’s Breakfast, a brunch-only restaurant with an industrial city vibe. Julep offers a menu of southern cuisine with a modern, hipster atmosphere. Bar Dough is an Italian restaurant that’s been around for a while but gained more attention recently when its executive chef competed on season 15 of Top Chef. With such a booming food scene, there’s hardly a wrong choice of where to spend your weekend brunching in Denver.
Best for Café Culture: Miami
There’s plenty to do in Miami when it comes to watersports and nightlife, but first, there’s coffee. The city, explicitly known for its cafe con leche—like a latte, but with a ton of sugar—is getting into third-wave coffee. Also, in addition to the traditional Cuban brew, specialty shops are popping up around town that are just as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious, energizing, and, most importantly, high quality. Bring a book or a friend; chances are, you’ll probably stay a while.
Deco Coffee Co. in Allapattah is an art deco-style restaurant and roastery brought to you by the Relentless Roasters (and Threefold Cafe) team. A tiny pastel pink shop with plant-based milk options and artisanal goods for sale. Galleria is a place where West Coasters and Instagrammers will feel right at home. Then there’s All Day, a great space for caffeine or cocktails with an outdoor coffee window. Perfect quick stop when you’ve got your four-legged friend in tow.
A few Cuban favorites: Versailles, La Carreta, and Tinta y Cafe—the first two are a little more old school and traditional while the latter is younger and hipper in terms of ambiance and decor. Each is just right when you’re craving local culture and conversation.
Best for Fine Dining: Mexico City
Stalwarts Pujol, Quintonil, and Contramar should already be on your list. In 2019, Mexico City's fine dining scene is anything but stagnant. Chef Eduardo Garcia (of Maximo Bistrot fame) recently opened Havre 77, a chic and intimate spot for French classics in charming Colonia Juarez.
Further south, Sud 777—number 11 restaurant in Latin America according to "World's 50 Best"—receives a makeover from local design firm La Metropolitana, known best for furnishing Noma's Mexico pop-up in Tulum back in 2017. And much to the delight of the local community, hotspot Masala y Maiz has finally reopened a brick and mortar after being shuttered while refusing to pay a bribe.
Masala y Maiz, Pujol, and various others listed as the city's top tables source their produce from Yolcan, an educational organic farm in Xochimilco. There is a system of canals in the city's southern area known more for their booze cruises than for their ancient "chinampero" farming culture. The team at Yolcan is pushing to preserve these ancient farming methods while catering their crop yields directly to the needs of Mexico City's hottest chefs. Aside from filling regular produce orders, Yolcan also hosts farm-to-table dining experiences on its chinampa and runs a CSA.
Best for Your Sweet Tooth: New York City
But this year, we're feeling a little more sophisticated. Sometimes that means the boundary-pushing, like the off-the-wall, Insta-friendly croissants at Supermoon Bakehouse (cream cheese-mandarin-black pepper, anyone?). OddFellows and Morgenstern’s have opened new outlets in Nolita and the Village, respectively—spreading the gospel of innovative ice cream (from Morganstern's banana-kalamansi to OddFellows' Malt Maitake Peanut) ever-further.
And beloved bakeries continue to excel, as well. Butler Bake Shop has expanded to Dumbo, bringing its apple-miso crostata and chocolate-sea salt caramelia cookies along for the ride, while Mah-Ze-Dahr has transported its "Devil in Ganache" cake and cream-filled brioche donuts to the Ralph's Coffee pop-up uptown.
Best for the Food Obsessed: Houston
While the Tex-Mex in Houston is a well-known favorite, it’s not the only cuisine here worth checking out. Houston’s culinary scene is as ample and international as the city itself. From the fresh sushi at Izakaya WA to the chicken and waffles at the Breakfast Klub to the Viet-Cajun crawfish at Crawfish and Noodles,
Houston isn’t afraid to mix it up. To sample the many tastes of the city’s wide-ranging cuisine in 2019, check out local superstar chef Chris Shepherd’s new restaurant: UB Preserv. The eatery’s menu draws inspiration from dozens of the city’s most popular hotspots and reflects the cultural—and flavorful—diversity of the Bayou City.
Best Destination for Beach Bums: Hawaiian Islands
Hawaii is hardly a new destination for sun-seekers. Its iconic hotel upgrades, a brand new beach, and a certain old-school kitschy vibe that's suddenly cool again (hello, tiki bars) make 2019 the perfect year to visit the 50th state. Perhaps most notably? Southwest Airlines is launching routes to the four major islands from California, making flights affordable for even the most budget-conscious travelers. Add in the so-called "Southwest Effect"—when legacy airlines drop fares to compete with the budget brand on new routes—and you can expect plenty of great values on flights across the Pacific.
When you land in Oahu, consider staying at the iconic Halekulani's new boutique hotel, Halepuna; the Waikiki Beach property opens in the fall. Big Island visitors will be among the first to enjoy Pohoiki, the new black sand beach created by the 2018 eruptions. The Sheraton Maui on famous Kaanapali Beach completed its renovation last year, just a short drive to beautiful Kapalua Beach. And after much speculation, the Eddie Big Wave Invitational surf competition window will officially run through February at Oahu’s Waimea Bay.
Best Budget Destination: Berlin
Berlin’s known for being an inexpensive city to travel to — and for good reason. The city is full of free things to do, whether you head to Tiergarten (Berlin’s answer to Central Park) for some sun, take in street art at the East Side Gallery—which uses the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall as its canvas—or decide to stroll the runways of Tempelhof Field. The field is a decommissioned airport that’s been left largely intact and turned into a park for Berliners.
Plenty of museums, like Urban Nation (a street art museum that’s just a few years old), also offer free admission. Other free days for culture vultures? Hamburger Bahnhof, one of the city’s best art venues, recently started free Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Design-lovers should head to the Bröhan Museum, which is free on the first Wednesday of the month.
Families get a great break on public transit—kids under six travel free with parents, while those up to 14 are eligible for a discounted ticket. Parents should also look into the Berliner FamilienPass, which offers 300 coupons that offer significant savings for activities like the zoo for a reasonable six-euro price. With low-cost places to stay too—we love the Circus Hostel in Mitte for groups of friends or solo travelers—this is one vacation that won’t break the bank.
Our top tip? Keep an eye on VisitBerlin for an ongoing list of free exhibitions and events.
Best Destination for Families: Chicago
Chicago, always moving, has several newly opened family-friendly hotels. The Hotel Zachary, is located right across the street from the famous Wrigley Field. St. Jane, which use to be the Hard Rock Hotel, was recently revamped and rebranded, yet holds tight to its innovative Art Deco champagne bottle façade (a prohibition scoff). The chic newcomer is Hotel Julian, and a science and art-themed hotel, Hotel EMC2, comes complete with two robot butlers.
All of these properties have excellent dining, concierge services and they are well-located so families can reach world-class museums like the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium, and The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum plus both Lincoln Park Zoo and Brookfield Zoo. Also, new to the city is 360 Chicago’s TILT, which moves 1,000 feet out and over the Magnificent Mile.
Best Destination for Art & Design: Helsinki
The Amos Rex, an underground (literally), design-forward gallery space in Lasipalatsi square opened with an interdisciplinary exhibition from Tokyo-based teamLab, and will host Finland's first Magritte exhibit from February to May.
The Oodi library is a work of art itself—wander the library's three floors on a self-guided tour, or take in the scene from the first-floor cafe.
Visual art meets music at Helsinki's annual Flow Festival, where local and international acts perform amongst a historic, art-filled power plant. Keep the design-theme alive with a stay at the luxury boutique Hotel F6—the Finnish-style breakfast is worth booking in for alone.
Best Destination for LGBTQ Travelers: India
India’s Supreme Court ruled in September 2018 that gay sex is no longer a criminal offense and that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a violation of rights. The historic decision, which was celebrated widely across the country, overturned a 157-year-old law that criminalized gay sex, a law that was upheld just five years ago.
While LGBTQ tourism in India had already been on the rise, now is a great time to book your trip in light of the landmark decision. Book your trip to coincide with some of the biggest LGBTQ events, such as Mumbai Pride (usually held in February), or book a tour with Out in India, a tour company that specializes in authentic gay travel experiences.
Best for Romance: Milwaukee
Wisconsin’s largest city’s four-season climate pairs well with romance—from winter’s cozy fireside vibe at historic hotels like The Pfister Hotel to strolls along Lincoln Memorial Drive come summer, with Lake Michigan’s gentle waves rippling against the shoreline, framed by Santiago Calatrava’s award-winning architecture at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
This city by the lake has no shortage of eclectic dinner choices, such as small plates rotating with the seasons at La Merenda and Bacchus’s glam glass-enclosed conservatory overlooking Lake Michigan, plus neighborhood gems like Tenuta’s in Bay View (rustic Italian right on down to the wines).
Best for Coffee Snobs: Minneapolis
It’s tough to say if it’s because of the cold weather or the warm people, but Minnesotans love their coffee. Midwest coffeehouse chains Caribou Coffee and Dunn Brothers both have roots in the Twin Cities, but the independent coffee shops are the real reason coffee snobs flock here.
It’s not just the fresh-roasted beans or full-bodied brews that draw in the crowds. In Minneapolis, local coffee shops are where the community comes to gather. In 2019, sip a leisurely cup of Joe with a side of Minnesota Nice in the family-friendly Sovereign Grounds, the cozy Bordertown Library Room, or the colorful Peace Coffee Shop.