Jumping into a new year means a whole ‘nother year of vacation days to plan. And while it’s easy to map out your travels from your friends’ Instagram accounts or large lists of top trending destinations, how do you know if a place is genuinely right for you?
That’s why our “where to go” list is a little bit different. We don’t just rely on the places you saw on Instagram this year or what’s trending overall. Using data from our Editors’ Choice Awards and the first-hand knowledge of our team of editors and writers around the world, we hand-selected 19 places around the world (some big and some small) that are perfect for each type of traveler, whether you’re traveling with kids in tow, bringing back an empty suitcase for souvenirs, or only packing a trusted pair of hiking boots and a map.
Some of our picks might seem like obvious choices: Melbourne has long been a destination for coffee lovers, and Washington, D.C., is (quite literally) a capital for history buffs, but other picks might surprise you. Boozehounds might be shocked to hear that Richmond, Virginia, has one of the most dynamic bar and distillery scenes in the country, while beachgoers looking for sun and sand might be floored to know that a tiny Balkan country should be top of your list for 2020.
Read on and pack your bags—consider this your trip planning guide through 2020.
Destination of the Year: New Orleans
If you haven't been to New Orleans since a bachelorette party a decade ago, let us tell you: it's time. The city's always been a hub for exceptional cuisine and rich history, but new openings—from museums to hotels, even an entire airport—mean there's never been a better year to tackle the Big Easy. And yes, your kids can come too this time.
Just flying into this Southern city is a transformed experience, thanks to a brand-new, state-of-the-art airport that just opened in November. An innovative partnership with local eateries means that the offerings here—think a spinoff of the famed Dooky Chase, or freshly-shucked Gulf oysters from Folse Market—are so good that non-flying locals come to dine.
On the museum front, the Louisiana Children's Museum opened in its new home at City Park with two floors of interactive exhibits, and the New Orleans Museum of Art christened the expansion of its Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a lush landscape dotted with sculpture from some of the world's greats, including Sean Scully, Frank Stella, Beverly Pepper, and more.
Back in the Warehouse District, the World War II Museum just opened its adjacent Higgins Hotel & Conference Center, as part of its $400 million capital improvement plan. The stunning Art Deco-inspired property is named for Andrew Jackson Higgins, a New Orleans native whose innovative watercraft was critical to the war efforts. And as always, no trip to New Orleans is complete without great meals (and drinks): the Sazerac House, a new interactive cocktail museum on Magazine Street, takes visitors on a boozy, historical tour of world-class spirits (including the eponymous whiskey) while welcoming tables like Compère Lapin, Herbsaint, and the Elysian Bar, housed in the utterly chic Hotel Peter & Paul, ensure you won't go hungry. — Laura Ratliff
Best for a Bucket List: Rwanda
Rwanda’s been on intrepid travelers’ bucket lists for years now, primarily due to its popularity among visitors hoping to see the endangered mountain gorillas that populate the northern part of the country. But with an evergrowing roster of world-class resorts and logistical improvements that make visiting more accessible than ever, 2020 is prime time to check this one off your list.
This tiny country, roughly the size of Maryland, has overcome a horrific past—a genocide and civil war, resulting in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans—to become a modern-day tourism success story, with eco-friendly and progressive measures that rival its “developed” counterparts. Rwanda banned plastic bags and packaging 12 years ago, has implemented mandatory education and universal healthcare and boasts more women serving in Parliament than any other government. Not surprisingly, it’s also among Africa’s safest countries.
Tourists have taken note—and with $400 million in tourism revenue in 2016, the supporting infrastructure needed to become a vacation destination has followed. One&Only just opened its intimate Gorilla’s Nest, situated in the foothills of the Virunga mountains with views of Pyrethrum farmland, while eco-friendly Singita opened the Kwitonda Lodge, an eight-suite compound, and Kataza House, a private villa, in August. A stay at either won’t come cheap, but both companies actively support initiatives in reforestation and conservation, ensuring that generations to come can enjoy Rwanda’s natural beauty and wildlife wonders. One of the original lodges in the region, Volcanoes Safaris' Virunga Lodge, celebrated its 15th birthday in 2019 and is undergoing a complete refresh, set to be finished before the end of the year.
As an added perk, making the trip has never been easier. Rwanda implemented a simple visa-on-arrival system in 2018, and the highly-regarded national carrier, RwandAir, is looking to launch a direct flight from New York to Kigali sometime this year. — Laura Ratliff
Best for History Buffs: Washington, D.C.
The world’s eyes will be on Washington, D.C., as Election Day nears, but the nation’s capital has shown no signs of feeling the pressure. In fact, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the passage of women’s suffrage, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History will curate an exhibition reflecting on the right to vote entitled “Creating Icons: How We Remember Women’s Suffrage,” slated to open this March. The Capitol Building is also honoring the women who fought to help pass the suffrage law with a recently rolled-out portrait monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony. The National Archives Museum is currently featuring photos, documents, and original audio recordings from the suffrage movement in their new exhibit, “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Right to Vote.”
For language lovers, the Planet Word Museum, dedicated to the history of language, will open its doors in 2020. And for photography buffs who want to get up close and personal with prominent cultural figures, the National Portrait Gallery is rolling out several new portraits beginning this month, including those of Vogue honcho Anna Wintour and "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
For history buffs hungry to learn more about the nation’s past, 2020 is the perfect time to visit—and with a number of new hotels slated to open this year, they will have plenty of accommodations to choose from. This spring, Viceroy will debut its 191-room, female-charged Hotel Zena, whose robust art program will include an extraordinary mural of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Other top options include the Generator and the Riggs, as well as the upscale Thompson, in the city’s rapidly revitalizing Navy Yards neighborhood. — Astrid Taran
Best for Sports Fans: Las Vegas
Las Vegas football fans might have a problem. When the National Football League’s Raiders call the city home this year, the brand-new Allegiant Stadium might be the only stadium in the league where visiting fans outnumber the hometown crowd.
After all, who wouldn’t want to take a trip to Sin City to cheer for (and bet on) their favorite team? The city’s new stadium, a $2 billion behemoth overlooking the strip, natch, is another big leap forward for a city that, three years ago, had never been home to a professional sports team.
Now, Vegas locals don their black and gold on the Strip on game days for their professional hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights, who play at the T-Mobile Arena, and even head to the City National Arena, the team’s public practice facility on off days. (When the Raiders come to town, their practice facility, in nearby Paradise, Nevada, will boast a similar, climate-controlled setup.)
The Knights, the nascent Raiders, and the Las Vegas Aces (the city’s WNBA team) are among the reasons why Vegas—a town mostly known for world-class boxing matches and sportsbook—is our pick for sports fans in 2020.
P.S. College sports fans: a trip to Vegas might be in your future, too. Last May, a 40-year NCAA ruling that prohibited college championships from being held in states that allow single-game sports betting was finally rescinded. — Laura Ratliff
Best for Booze Hounds: Richmond, Virginia
The nation’s top mixologists and craft beer brewers have their eyes on Richmond, Virginia. With a bustling cocktail scene and breweries revitalizing historic neighborhoods, Virginia’s capital city is a diamond in the rough for those looking for some of the best drinks in the country.
The buzz began in 2018 when Mattias Hägglund and Thomas Leggett opened The Jasper in Richmond’s Carytown neighborhood, an all-purpose cocktail bar with a speakeasy-style and an inventive drinks list. Over the past year, the city’s bars and restaurants haven’t slowed down, with hot spots like Alewife, Perch, and Heritage offering extensive and unique cocktail menus (Alewife’s Electric Jellyfish, featuring ostervit, green chartreuse, and spirulina is shockingly delicious), as well as fun twists on the classic dive bar, such as Cobra Cabana and Fuzzy Cactus. In the city’s Jackson Ward area, Saison has continued to find inventive twists on traditional South American drinks like the Pisco sour, and the Quirk Hotel’s Maple & Pine serves up excellent drinks in the hotel’s minimalist chic bar area (order the Annabel Lee). The unique cocktail program at Brenner Pass is also not to be missed—one of their most popular drinks, The Middle, features cognac, pear, and cardamom.
Beer lovers shouldn’t feel left out. The city’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood has seen a complete transformation based on the success of many top-notch breweries, including Strangeways Brewing, Vasen Brewing Company, and Isley Brewing Company. The newly opened Tabol Brewing in the city’s Battery Park neighborhood has proven that it’s not afraid to get experimental, focusing on unique barrel-aged sours. Brewery fever has even spread to the historic Manchester neighborhood, which in the last year alone has seen the openings of two new breweries, Dogtown Brewing Co. and Basic City Beer Company. If you’re in the mood for a drive, head to Fine Creek Brewing, 30 minutes from Richmond’s downtown, a family-owned farmhouse brewery that has on-site cottages you can book for an overnight beercation. — Astrid Taran
Best for the Food-Obsessed: Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's pristine beaches and natural beauty might be some of the biggest draws for visitors, but the culinary scene on the island is our top reason to go.
Puerto Rico’s currently thriving food scene has been partially fueled by tragedy and the subsequent persistence of locals to not only rehabilitate the island but also seize the opportunity to create a sustainable and long-lasting agricultural environment. In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused significant delays and problems with importing food (Puerto Rico imports about 85 percent of its food). Local relief efforts initially concentrated on feeding residents with whatever food was available. Still, soon, the focus shifted to buying products from local farms to provide people with fresh, healthy food and also support local agriculture, which over time, led to a rise in farm-to-table cuisine. Several talented chefs also pitched in. Celebrity chef and restaurateurs José Andrés and Jose Enrique made headlines for their leadership in providing food to the San Juan community during the recovery, and Andrés was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Even though the hurricane relief efforts undoubtedly played a significant role in the island’s growing culinary scene, the food scene has moved beyond relief and onto recognition. Local chef Mario Ormaza, who set up a relief center at one of his restaurants (Café Tresbé), in the aftermath to serve as a gathering place for people, has since reopened all five of his restaurants and has been expanding another, Sabrina, in the food-centric Santurce neighborhood. Other chefs like Francis Gúzman also saw opportunity for progress—after spending time in fine-dining capitals like San Francisco and New York City, he eventually moved back to his hometown of San Juan and converted an empty storefront into Vianda, a farm-to-table restaurant that was a semifinalist in Best New Restaurant category of the James Beard Foundation’s 2019 awards.
The list of talented chefs and must-visit restaurants in Puerto Rico, and especially San Juan, is long; book a tour with Spoon Food Tours to sample some of San Juan’s best bites while also learning about the local history, an evidently crucial ingredient in what’s on your plate. — Jamie Hergenrader
Best for Romance: Rome
It’s time to put a little Roma in your romance, our top pick for a romantic holiday in 2020. The Eternal City is blessed with views that warm the heart and stir the senses. Rome is at its best at twilight when the day’s light starts to fade and streetlights, floodlights, fairy lights, and if you’re really lucky, even the full moon casts a swoon-worthy glow over its streets and monuments and across the Tiber River, which winds through the city.
Our favorite spots include the Capitoline Hill, overlooking the iconic, floodlit ruins of the Roman Forum, and the scene of many an on-bended-knee proposal. Or climb the Janiculum Hill to take in the sweeping city views and twinkling lights from the Baroque, aqueduct-fed Fontana dell'Acqua Paola. (If you’ve seen the 2013 film, "La Grande Bellezza"—and if you haven’t, you should—you’ll recognize this location.)
For romantic lodgings, look to the newly-opened Sofitel Roma Villa Borghese and artsy Chapter Roma, the regal Palazzo Naiadi, part of Marriott’s upscale Autograph Collection, or the wine-centric Hotel De’ Ricci, where every room is a suite and where every suite has its own wine cellar. For a memorable meal for two, find a candlelit table in a simple trattoria—preferably on a small piazza—and the setting is ripe for romance. — Elizabeth Heath
Best for Brunch: Victoria, B.C.
The natural beauty of British Columbia’s capital city is what draws visitors to Victoria. Still, the garden city has also been recognized as the brunch capital of Canada by the Food Network’s "You Gotta Eat Here"—and for a good reason.
Boasting a bevy of brunch spots on every block, this harbor-front haunt will keep late risers from going hungry. From healthy fare to the best bennies and bacon in town, Victoria is the top pick for brunch lovers to fill their bellies. Steeped in tea history (a tradition introduced by the British in the 1840s), Victoria’s high tea scene is strong, and Venus Sophia Afternoon Tea Room & Vegetarian Eatery, a real hidden gem nestled in the heart of Victoria’s historic Chinatown, is the best spot. This chic tea room will satisfy your cravings with sweet and savory treats like the Egyptian date cake (created using a family recipe belonging to the owner’s aunt), and the smoked cheddar raclette sandwich.
For a fancy brunch feast, head to The Courtney Room and indulge in the Crab & Chives Benny with a side of Potatoes Courtney, a rich appetizer of potatoes fried in duck fat with a house-made onion dip (like tater tots for grownups). The farm-fresh Sleeping Beauty Pancakes from Nourish, made of cardamom oatmeal, fruit compote, organic lemon, and vanilla whipped cream, topped with bee pollen sprinkles will have you drooling; or head to Saveur, the ultimate crowd-pleaser (recognized as Victoria’s Best Brunch Spot of 2019 by a local magazine), for an Egg “McDuckin” Breakfast Sandwich, stuffed with duck bacon and duck confit. — Bianca Bujan
Best for Geeks: Tucson, Arizona
Home to a bounty of museums, ecological preserves, and the University of Arizona—a public research university that fosters a deep sense of exploration and discovery within the community at large—it’s easy to see why Tucson has earned the title of Science City of the Southwest and is our top pick for geeks in 2020.
Visitors can ogle the 150 moving sculptures at the Museum of Kinetic Art, get a lesson in missile history at the Titan Missile Museum, dazzle themselves at the massive, internationally-heralded Tucson Gem and Mineral Show (held in mid-February), and immerse themselves in planetary discovery at the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium.
There’s also the History of Pharmacy Museum, which features one of the most robust pharmacy artifacts collections on the planet; the Mini-Time Machine of Miniatures, a 500-piece assortment of dollhouse and roombox artifacts from across history; and the Pima Air & Space Museum, home to Arizona's Aviation Hall of Fame and more than 300 aircraft. BioSphere 2.0—a human-crafted "wonder of the world” that is currently used for large-scale ecological research projects—is another noteworthy science pit stop.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention Tucson’s booming sky and star viewing opportunities. There’s Kitt Peak National Observatory, which is one of three National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) in the country. It sits about 7,000 feet above sea level and boasts an outstanding visitor program that allows guests to discover constellations, planets, and our moon via powerful telescopes and docent guidance. In addition to Kitt Peak, Tucson is home to the Mt. Lemmon Skycenter and Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab. — Wendy Rose Gould
Best for Shopping: Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires has more to offer the erudite shopper than leather stores nowadays. Designer boutiques, secret showrooms, weekly open-air markets, vintage shops, and traditional flea markets are the MO of this spicy metropolis.
For colorful handmade designer boots or heels, slim wallets, and delectable sunglasses, waltz over to one of Jessica Kessel’s bubblegum pink showrooms in San Telmo or Recoleta. If you’re craving a piece from an internationally acclaimed designer, head to the original factory-turned-boutique of Jessica Trosman in Villa Crespo. There you can purchase her designs, as well as watch her select her signature involved patterns in the dual-purpose space. For less pricey but still beautiful finds, stock up on vintage at Justo y Necesario in Palermo. Pick up hand-carved mate gourds, earthenware dishes, more vintage clothing, antiques, paintings, and hear live music at the San Telmo Street Fair every Sunday afternoon.
Want more home furnishings and art but fewer crowds? Go up north to the Mercado de La Pulgas for Buenos Aires’ most famous flea market. Finally, discover secret showrooms that are open by appointment only by calling them yourself, or find them on a Shop Hop BA tour with a personal shopper. — Christine Gilbert
Best for Beach Bums: Montenegro
With plenty of secluded beaches and blue-crystal sea, Montenegro’s coastline is one of the Adriatic's hidden treasures. The coast is dotted with plenty of beaches for all tastes, lively nightspots to unwind, and deep fjords to explore pristine nature. Just a few miles from Budva, Jaz Beach hosts music festivals in summer and is the perfect place to go for big concerts of world and local stars (Madonna, Rolling Stones, etc.). Meanwhile, near the Albanian border, Velika Plaža is the longest beach in the country and a paradise for water sports lovers, especially beginner kite-surfers. Montenegro’s jaw-dropping coastline is also home to well-preserved medieval towns (Budva, Kotor, Perast), historic monasteries, and ancient museums full of history and art, which can complement a seaside vacation.
As one of the youngest countries in Europe, Montenegro has had a positive economic record since its independence from Serbia in 2006. Not a member of the European Union yet, the country’s EU orientation is clear and robust, and you can still count on great prices compared to other Mediterranean seaside destinations. Recently, Montenegro’s coastline has seen a boom in new hotel developments and is arising as a go-to luxury heaven. Consider staying at the brand-new Chedi, located in the scenic Luštica Bay, a secret spot with arresting views of the marina and the Adriatic Sea, or the upcoming One&Only Portonovi. On the Budva Riviera, the Aman is one of the country’s most high-end, village-style resorts and stands next to the iconic Sveti Stefan island with its centuries-old monastery. — Iuliana Marchian
Best for Fine Dining: Bangkok
When you think of dining in Bangkok, does your mind wander to cart-lined streets with vendors serving moo satay and khao man gai? Ours too, but we also love Bangkok as a culinary destination of a different kind.
Bangkok is home to many top-tier fine dining restaurants, boasting Thai chefs using Thai ingredients and Thai techniques—a departure from the French and Italian influence that so often permeates the world of haute cuisine.
Sorn, housed in a 90-year-old house down tiny Bangkok soi (alley), was one of two Thai restaurants that were upgraded to two stars in the city’s latest Michelin guide. Seating just 40 guests, Sorn reserves only 10 percent of its seats for foreigners, instead inviting locals in to try its southern Thai cuisine. Diners can expect traditional dishes like yellow curry, “stinky” beans, and crispy grilled pork, spread across 14 different courses.
R-Haan, serving royal-style Thai food, was another newcomer to Michelin’s list of two-star establishments this year. Chef Chumpol Jangprai makes ingredients like coconut cream and curry paste inhouse and sources ingredients from nearby in Thailand wherever possible. Sea bass, for instance, comes from the Bang Pakong River in eastern Thailand, and fragrant jasmine rice is brought in from Chiang Rai and Ubon Ratchathani.
Other upscale Bangkok notables: the Michelin-starred, zero-waste Bo.lan, whose chef, Bo Songvisava, was the subject of a Netflix “Chef’s Table” episode; Le Du, which, despite the French-sounding name, is very much Thai; and Nahm, a stalwart of the dining scene led by Pim Techamuanvivit, a Bangkok native whose globe-trotting led her to cook in some of the best restaurant kitchens in the world before returning home. — Laura Ratliff
Best for Culture Vultures: Galway, Ireland
Situated along the Wild Atlantic Way on Ireland’s west coast, Galway is a compact city overflowing with old-fashioned pubs and Michelin-starred restaurants centered around Eyre Square, the heart of the town. The meandering cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter is the place to shop for local goods like the Claddagh Ring or Aran sweater while street buskers and performers entertain the crowds. Galway may be a small city, but it has the big reputation of being known as the city of festivals since it hosts about 122 festivals and events every year, including the famous Galway Races and the Galway International Arts Festival.
Already acknowledged as a cultural hub for traditional Irish Heritage, Galway will come alive this year as the European Capital of Culture. Kicking off with the opening ceremonies Feb. 8, 2020, these festivities run until January 2021 with nearly 2,000 events, ranging from visual art projects to musical performances featuring local and international artists besieging Galway for a year-long bash. And no doubt that this year will be magical as Galway showcases its diverse cultural heritage with the core themes of migration, landscape and language shaped around the ancient Celtic calendar of Imbolc (spring), Bealtaine (summer), Lughnasa (the harvest), and Samhain (end of harvest). — Yolanda Evans
Best for Outdoor Enthusiasts: Michigan
With more than 19 million acres of forest and 3,000 miles of shoreline, Michigan is an underappreciated outdoor playground. In the mitten of lower Michigan, hike the sky-high dunes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020) and race down to Lake Michigan’s turquoise waters for a dip. Take a coastal detour as you head north towards the Mackinac Bridge winding along the lakeshore beneath the dense canopy of The Tunnel of Trees on M-119.
The Upper Peninsula is home to hundreds of waterfalls, but standing 50 feet tall, Tahquamenon Falls, near Paradise, Michigan, is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi. Its tannin-rich waters pour over at 6,000 gallons of water per second. In Munising, kayak or paddleboard beneath large sandstone cliffs along America’s first National Lakeshore, Pictured Rocks. Those same cliffs create frozen curtains of ice that present an exhilarating challenge for ice climbers all winter long.
Further west in Marquette, hike around Frederick Law Olmstead’s 300-acre Presque Isle Park finished with a plunge off Blackrocks, an ancient lava formation on Superior. Get your heart pumping with cross-country skiing through a winter wonderland on miles of groomed trails. Channel your inner John Muir and go off the grid in one of the least visited National Parks in the U.S., Isle Royale National Park. Only accessible by boat or seaplane, this remote island archipelago is open annually, April through October, and is a sanctuary for hikers, shipwreck divers, and fishermen. See the Mirror of Heaven, Kitch-iti-kipi, in Manistique, Michigan. Meaning "big spring," it’s Michigan’s largest and bubbles year long so visitors can peer down into the crystal-clear underwater oasis. — Emily Hines
Best for Families: St. Louis
With sprawling green spaces, plenty of museums (a few of which actually encourage touching and playing), and even a few attractions for seeing and learning about wildlife, St. Louis is an ideal family destination. Another perk for families? It’s very budget-friendly, offering enough free attractions to fill up your entire itinerary. One of the most popular freebies is the Saint Louis Zoo, which will only have you reaching for your wallet if you want to enter certain attractions; otherwise, you can spend the better part of a day wandering through the habitats of more than 17,000 animals. (Adding to that number, one of the Asian elephants Rani, is due to give birth to a calf sometime this summer.) The zoo is located within the 1,371-acre Forest Park, where you’ll find ample green space for running around and playing, the St. Louis Art Museum (free), and the Missouri History Museum (also free).
But a museum that might be of more interest to the kids is the City Museum, a warehouse that’s been repurposed as essentially a giant, beautiful playground created from materials that cities are made of, such as concrete, bricks, wheels, and even buses and planes. Adults can admire the architecture of the structures while children (or those who are children at heart) can be more hands-on: climbing, sliding, crawling, and more. Or head to The Magic House, a children’s museum in Kirkwood (just outside the city), that has interactive exhibits to let children be creative and learn about a variety of subjects. Don’t leave the city without stopping by one of the two Ted Drewes locations for a treat; order a concrete, a custard so thick that it stays put when served to you upside down. — Jamie Hergenrader
Best for Plant Moms: Central Coast, California
The rugged shores of Big Sur, San Luis Obispo’s rolling hills, and the well-maintained gardens of Hearst Castle (celebrating its centennial in 2020), coupled with a focus on conservation and sustainability make California’s Central Coast our 2020 pick for plant moms. It’s a departure from usual favorites like Portland, but that’s why we’re so enchanted.
You can relax in natural hot springs while staring at a starry sky at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa or hike one of the Nine Sisters in the college town of San Luis Obispo. Moreover, wine lovers can taste along the entire coast—often with fantastic views— from Monterey to Santa Barbara. More intrepid travelers can hike through beneath massive redwoods and along coastal cliffs in parks like the famous Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and lesser-known wilderness like Harmony Headlands State Park.
Worried about your environmental impact, too? Staying on the Central Coast can also be a guilt-free experience with an influx of sustainability-focused restaurants and hotels like the soon-to-open Hotel Cerro, which has a rooftop garden supplying its restaurant and gives reusable water bottles to all guests. No matter how you like your nature, the Central Coast has an abundance of locales just waiting to awe you. — Sherri Gardner
Best for a Quick Bite: Seoul
Glazed strawberries, spicy rice cakes, dumplings, cheesy egg bread, fried potatoes, and more served fresh all day, every day. If that sounds tempting to you, then Seoul should be your next vacation. The capital of South Korea is continually growing in popularity, partially because of K-pop, partly due to the cult status of Korean beauty products, and partially because of the deliciousness that is Korean food. The abundance of delicious street food and quick-serve restaurants coupled with the city’s trendiness is why Seoul is our 2020 pick for a quick bite.
You’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to having a fast, cheap meal, and while you can’t go wrong, there are a few places we love. Try a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on garlic bread at one of the Egg Drop locations, or have an equally swift, equally delicious toast sandwich at an Isaac Toast. For a taste of a fantastically chewy hotteok filled with everything from cheese and corn to cinnamon sugar, head straight to the Ikseondong location of Gil Juki Hotteok. You can also wander around the Myeongdong neighborhood sampling tteokbokki, fish cakes, fruit juices, and whatever else is on offer while you shop.
No matter where you go in Seoul, you’ll be in a foodie’s paradise—all you need is a few thousand won and a little bit of time. — Sherri Gardner
Best for Cafe Culture: Melbourne
This city has topped lists of the best coffee cities for years, but there’s a reason for that—it’s genuinely one of the best. You know the city takes the beverage seriously because it has hosted an annual coffee expo since 2012 (the Melbourne International Coffee Expo), and this year’s World Barista Championship will be held in—you guessed it—Melbourne.
And cities in the U.S. (and around the world) are seeing a rise in cafes inspired by this coffee capital. Bluestone Lane, though New York-born in 2013, is inspired by the “Aussie approach to life” as much as it's influenced by the “coffee culture hub of Melbourne,” and now has locations all over the states. Even Starbucks added the flat white, a coffee drink that’s said to have originated and become famous in Australia, to its menus in 2015.
Even though Melbourne is home to world-renowned baristas and holds a strong reputation is a coffee capital, we can’t forget to dive into the second part of this award: the culture. And the best way to truly understand that is to visit some of the city’s best cafes for yourself. You can spend a day bouncing from cafe to cafe, and you’ll likely be impressed at each stop, not only by the quality in your cup but also by the atmosphere. While it’s possible to tuck away into a corner with your cup of joe and read or work, you won’t find everyone inside huddled over laptops in silence—cafes in Melbourne also have a social atmosphere, exhibited by long, communal tables facilitating indistinguishable chatter of friends, groups, and strangers. Plus, many popular spots are (of course) trendy and Insta-worthy, adding to the ambiance. Kettle Black is located inside a terrace house, St. Ali moved into a refurbished warehouse, and Brother Baba Budan keeps its interior interesting with a ceiling of hanging chairs. — Jamie Hergenrader
Best for a Sweet Tooth: Copenhagen
Thanks to a new wave of bakeries (called a “bageri” in Danish) from Denmark’s food elite, the baked goods scene in Copenhagen is better than ever.
If you want to get down with the real Danish stuff, look for rye bread or rugbrød, full of cracked rye, seeds, and grains, offset with earthy acidity from a slow-fermented rye starter. The Danes love to use it for smørrebrød, a savory open-faced sandwich often featuring seafood and pickled veggies.
Head to the buzzy Hart Bakeri from former Tartine head baker Richard Hart and René Redzepi of Noma for rye bread, sourdough, and pastries. After you brave the long line, grab a loaf of bread or any of their traditional Danish pastries, like kanelsnegle, the flaky Danish take on cinnamon buns or wienerbrød, meaning “Viennese bread” or what Americans call a “Danish.”
For charming and delicious takes on traditional Danish butter cookies, head to Leckerbaer, which offers an array of sweet Danish pastries. Then, head to Lille Bakery for its famed fluffy donuts. You also won’t want to miss the cardamom buns at Juno, a Swedish-style bakery.
With a few locations around Copenhagen, Meyers Bageri from Danish culinary innovator Claus Meyer is also known for its savory and sweet baked goods—bread, pastries, the like. Their cinnamon buns and croissants are said to be the best in Copenhagen. Make sure to compare them with the excellent sourdough croissants at Mirabelle from ex-Noma chef Christian Puglisi.
Danish pastry crawl, anyone? — Christine Clark