Annually, the editors and writers at TravelSquire.com create the TravelSquire 28 Hot Destinations List. The goal is to cover the globe and sprinkle in places of interest on every continent from grand destinations and dream locations to the easy, close to home charmers. To give you a sample of what we love this year, we’ve selected seven destinations, from the total of 28, that touch on each part of the globe. Check out the entire list at
Lexington & Staunton, VA
While we can’t get enough of historic and trendy Richmond, Virginia, just over an hour away up on US 81 are the “side by side” towns of Lexington and Staunton, Virginia. These charming, very historical towns are tucked into the picturesque mountains of Virginia’s magnificent Shenandoah Valley. Both are centers of education; Washington & Lee University and Virginia Military Institute are in Lexington. Mary Baldwin and Bridgewater call Staunton home.. The towns’ architecturally important historical districts are filled with shops, museums, food markets and amazing regionally inspired restaurants… a few of the best include The Red Hen, The Southern Inn and The Bistro in Lexington and Zynodoa and The Shack in Staunton. Enjoy an artistic performance at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Staunton or visit art galleries in Lexington, former home to the renowned Cy Twombly. Or explore the natural wonders of the Shenandoah.
The Finger Lakes of New York
New York’s Finger Lakes region is home to over 120 world class wineries sprinkled around the shores of the four major glacier made lakes…all about 4 hours from Manhattan. The views are stunning. Driving along the lakes and wineries is an almost Zen experience. Arrange for a wine tasting tour; designated driver or private driver a must. Good wine attracts good food. All along the wine route you’ll discover excellent cuisine. Several of the wineries have their own restaurants with menus featuring local products and produce. Micro-breweries and distilleries complement the wine offerings. Festivals abound all year long from music to food. Watkins Glen is home to NASCAR races; state parks offer hiking, kayaking, and gliding. Several museums explore various medium from glass at the Corning Museum to Hudson Valley painting at the Arnot Art Museum.
Celebrated as the country-music capital of the world, and acknowledged as Music City, USA, Nashville merits a place on your travel bucket list. It offers attractions such as the Parthenon, a full scale replica of the Athens original which doubles as an art museum; the Ryman Auditorium; and RCA Studio B, the recording studio of music industry legends like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, and Willy Nelson. It has plenty of sights for anyone visiting but to experience it to the fullest, one must take in a live performance. And, if you’re a shopaholic, head to downtown Nashville where you’ll find local favorites like Ceri Hoover, Nisolo, and more.
This gorgeous and ancient city traces its roots back almost 10,000 years. In the early Middle Ages Edinburgh began its trek into the magnificent architectural wonder it is today. One of the great landmarks of the city is the 11th century Edinburgh Castle which dominates the sky line. Thanks to its rich cultural heritage that features well preserved Medieval, Georgian and Victorian architecture, Edinburgh is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although ancient, the city sports a modern and comfortable lifestyle. There are great places to shop, excellent restaurant, coffee shops, pubs, and places to drink the national beverage, Scotch. Stroll along The Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace and visit the 16th century Historic Apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots and the State Apartments of the British Monarchy. Visit The Scottish National Gallery, The Scotch Whiskey Experience, or any of the dozens of stunning ancient places. Be there for one of its famous festivals.
The second largest city in Portugal, Porto sits alongside the Rio Douro. It is an urban mix up of styles blending the medieval, Baroque, Rococo and even 20th century. And if you literally dig deep enough, it is Roman. The city is at once both elegant and humble. And it is home to the port wine trade, considered one of its biggest attractions. When in Porto, visit stunning churches and cathedrals, stroll through elegant old plazas, wind your way along medical alley ways, stop into museum’s and of course, sample port. although quite British, Taylor’s is an excellent place to taste this divine beverage. Port was actually a British creation starting in the 17th century. To reach all the port lodges just cross the Ponte Dom Luís I to Vila Nova de Gai on the other side of the Douro. The dining scene ranges from local to haute…with a strong focus on fresh sea produce and excellent local meats and regional delicacies pair with local wines.
Palawan is all about the water; pristine waters, stunning seascapes, endless vistas combined with jungle covered mountains. If you are into the sea and adventure, this is a wonderful place to be. It is rather remote so it’s not overrun with tourists. Using Puerto Princesa as your gateway one can head north to El Nido or Coron for water friendly activities like diving and snorkeling. And from here you can be your own Robinson Crusoe and venture to dozen of uninhabited islands. Head south for the remoteness of near isolation and the mountainous jungles. Often described as the “new” Bali, the beaches in Palawan are gorgeous…long, sprawling and not over run with visitors. You can also trek to visit the poetic waterfalls like Nagkalit-kalit Waterfalls or just simple wander the awe-filled jungle forests. Paddle Puerto Princesa Underground River in the National Park designated a World Heritage Site. Arrive in spring and be greeted by an incredible display of cherry blossoms…as if you were in Japan. Dine on very fresh seafood!
St Martin/St Maarten
One tiny Caribbean island, two nations and 127 nationalities. That defines St Martin/St Maarten. In 1648, the Treaty of Concordia split the island into two parts: French and Dutch. It’s the only border (outside the EU) where you can enter a foreign country without a passport. Today, its the Caribbean’s #2 private jet port and the #1 island for living plus it’s become a major mega-yacht center. All of this change has taken the island’s low key food scene into a new status as Food Capital of the Caribbean. Over 400 restaurants offer everything from foie gras and caviar to hamburgers and Creole food. Chefs have access to the best of the world and local ingredients. As one chef said “If it is in Paris in the morning, it is in St Martin that afternoon courtesy of Air France”. The wine lists make you feel as if you were in Paris! But a cool beer is always available. The music scene is beyond pumped up. A favorite Sunday pastime of the expat locals is to hit a fabulous beach restaurant like Le Sand for great food, wine and music. While the hotel scene is OK, the best way to stay is to rent a villa or condo. We like Carimo Villa Rentals.
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Patricia Honeycutt Cantor, TravelSquire.com | February 22, 2016