Frommer's Best Places to Go in 2019
In an era of social and political movements propelled by fear and resentment of others, travel is more crucial than ever. After all, if you leave home to experience someplace else, you’re liable to pick up some appreciation for how life is lived there. Before you know it, that could develop into a full-blown case of empathy—the antidote to kneejerk bias.
A model for the best kind of traveler—curious, adventurous, full of gusto, and bullish on diversity—was renegade chef, author, and TV host Anthony Bourdain, who died in June 2018. “[Travel] changes you,” he wrote in his book No Reservations. "It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
We have the same hopes for your travels in 2019, and our staffers and contributors think that the 19 places gathered here will supply the most enriching journeys. Our choices rose to the top because they’re reaching major milestones, opening important new attractions, overcoming past obstacles, or emerging as previously overlooked spots due for discovery. As always, some deserving destinations fell just shy of selection. Among them: Alabama, celebrating its bicentennial while appraising a troubling history via a recently unveiled memorial to lynching victims; an on-the-mend Puerto Rico, still recovering from devastating hurricanes and government inaction; and Chile’s Elqui Valley, where a total solar eclipse promises to offer the year’s best sky-gazing.
And what did make our list? Nineteen places to inspire wonder, reflection, joy, connection, and—let’s hope—positive change.
So. Let’s get going.
Here, in no particular order, are the Best Places to Go in 2019.
While the French hold it dear to their hearts, this tiny and ancient Mediterranean town is mostly undiscovered by foreign travelers, as it’s often overshadowed by France’s more bougie and touristy Côte d’Azur. Long a hub for art and anchovies, Collioure is located where the Pyrenees slide into the sea—13 miles from Spain and in the heart of French Catalonia. At the beginning of the 20th century, this was where the Fauvism art movement was born, summoning the likes of Henri Matisse and André Derain. Think of Matisse’s famous Open Window (1905), with its candy-colored shutters, flowerpots, and fishing boats, and you’ll get a good idea of the laid-back, whimsical vibes Collioure embodies. Art lovers can follow a trail marked with bronze frames outlining the views captured by the Fauvists or visit the many contemporary studios tucked into pastel alleyways.
And those fishing boats? At one time, Collioure claimed to catch the world’s best anchovies. Two relics of that prosperous era remain: Anchois Roques and La Maison Desclaux. At the latter anchovy house, you can watch employees debone the fish, a delicate process still better done by hand than machine. Other historic sites packed around the little harbor include the 13th-century Château Royal de Collioure—once the seat of Majorcan Kings—and the 17th-century Notre-Dame-des-Anges, surrounded on three sides by water with an iconic tower that defines the skyline. Visit before the rest of the world discovers its charms. —Alex Cipolle
2019 is a banner year for New York state, with a wide-ranging slate of milestone events to mirror its head-spinning diversity. In June, New York City welcomes thousands for WorldPride NYC, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising, a seminal event in the battle for gay rights. Downtown, where the post-9/11 cityscape buzzes with a brawny vitality, the Jackie Robinson Museum premieres later in the year. (On January 31, what would be the baseball pioneer's 100th birthday, the Museum of the City of New York opens a companion exhibit of photos and memorabilia.) Over on Manhattan's West Side, the grandly envisioned, multi-tower mini-city known as Hudson Yards will be opening one-half of its campus on March 15; fittingly for the Big Apple, the 28-acre complex is the largest private real estate development in American history. Out at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the iconic Eero Saarinen–designed TWA Terminal has got its swinging '60s mojo back with a $265 million overhaul—and rebirth as the swooping, 512-room TWA Hotel. Expect a fleet of '66 Chrysler Newports, mod tulip chairs, and other relics from the Jet Age.
It's a big year upstate, too. We say the folks who picked the location of the brand-new, 37,000-square-foot National Comedy Center pretty much nailed it—Jamestown was the hometown of comedy mogul Lucille Ball. Among the museum's zany immersive activities: faux pie fights. More milestones: the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote via the 19th Amendment and Walt Whitman's 200th birthday, to be marked in Seneca Falls and Brooklyn, respectively. That's just one of the things to watch in New York state in 2019. —Alexis Lipsitz
Photo: Hikers in front of Buttermilk Falls in the Finger Lakes Region, New York
The hit movie Crazy Rich Asians made Singapore a star. Sweeping shots of the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool and 160-foot “Supertrees" planted with vertical gardens inspired viewers to add this futuristic hotspot to their wish lists. The publicity was perfect timing for the globe's only island city-state. Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of modern Singapore by the British, and the former colony is springboarding off its bicentennial to honor the 500 years that came before Sir Stamford Raffles even landed. Around town, historical trails and public projection installations will supplement exhibits from various museums. The eponymous Raffles hotel, the world-famous 19th-century institution, is reopening in mid-2019 after a lengthy renovation. In addition, Singapore Airlines has reestablished the world’s longest flight—Newark to Singapore—at close to 19 hours, and fliers will pray for delays at the consistently award-winning Changi Airport, where in 2019, a $1.7 billion expansion will add crucial improvements such as a 130-foot indoor waterfall.
It's true that some travelers have criticized this Southeast Asian destination as too "Western," but they overlook the distinct fusion of Chinese, Malay, and Indian traditions that runs beneath the lacquer of high-rise prosperity. The city even has four official languages—English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil—though the irrepressible patois, "Singlish," melds all of these tongues and more. Visitors will find it easiest to learn Singapore’s fifth language: food. Hawker centers, outdoor food courts serving regional delicacies, may soon be nominated for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status. They're also where frugal tourists can find the most inexpensive Michelin-starred restaurant on Earth: Hawker Chan’s acclaimed soy sauce chicken is a crazy-cheap US$1.80. —Dika Lam
Bulgaria has long been at a crossroads of civilizations. Everyone nearby, it seems, left a mark on this southeastern European country: Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Bulgars, and Ottoman Turks. Those wide influences come together in Plovdiv, which is among the world’s oldest inhabited cities—there's evidence that people were living here as long ago as the 7th millennium BC. In 2019, the world descends on Plovdiv again when it is designated one of the year’s two European Capitals of Culture. All year, it will host hundreds of cultural events, dazzling visitors with its Ancient Roman theater, jewel-toned Bulgarian Revival architecture, and a creative district called Kapana filled with artists’ workshops, boutiques, galleries, and cafés.
Just outside of town, the Valley of the Thracian Kings is filled with hundreds of burial mounds and studded with brilliantly crafted gold artifacts. While that gold was prized by the Thracians, today it's rose oil that is treasured—the nearby Rose Valley is where the bulk of the world’s supply is produced. In the town of Kazanlak, residents celebrate the flower harvest by filling wicker baskets with fragrant pink blooms and crowning a rose queen. Elsewhere in the nation, travelers tour Bulgaria’s magnificent, 1,000-year-old Rila Monastery, the fortified medieval capital of Veliko Tarnovo, Black Sea beaches, dense forests, enchanting mountains, and hulking Communist-era monuments. Foodies will also delight in Bulgaria’s diverse cuisine, which has Greek and Turkish influences. From crispy, cheesy banitsa to fiery shots of rakia, Bulgaria has something for every appetite. —Tricia A. Mitchell
With a new regime in charge following Robert Mugabe’s demise, Zimbabweans, as well as many visitors, remain guardedly hopeful. For too many years, tourists substituted Zambia for Zimbabwe on their southern African itineraries, but once an expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport enabled more flights and wide-body aircraft to land, arrivals surged 25% in the first half of 2018, and that number may rise as tourists avoid Tanzania for its recent human rights abuses. In addition to the newfound benefits of political stability and added access, credit relatively low prices—a Zimbabwe trip can cost one-third less than comparable travels in neighboring Botswana.
But the wilderness is just as incredible. In Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe’s biggest national reserve, you might see 60 elephants in a single day—Hwange’s 45,000-elephant herd is among the largest left in Africa. The 5,600-square mile expanse, which is roughly the size of Connecticut, has primarily lured only seasoned safari-goers, but that is about to change as Zimbabwe re-emerges as a wildlife destination worthy of Africa's short list. Another plus: Victoria Falls, the world’s largest waterfall based on volume, churns for more than a mile between Zambia and Zimbabwe. In just the right light, the spray births rainbows, a fitting metaphor for the future promise of Zimbabwe tourism. —Candyce H. Stapen
Parintins is one of the most exciting destinations in Brazil, yet it remains an under-the-radar idea. Located on Tupinambarana island in the middle of the Amazon River, the small city is only accessible by regular ferries from the mainland. What makes this forest-hidden place intriguing is the second-largest annual festival in Brazil after Carnival. Bumba Meu Boi is a three-day folklore celebration held at the end of June and centered on a regional legend of a resurrected ox. The party's main event takes place in a stadium called the Bumbodromo, where two teams compete to outdo each other in reenacting the fable through extravagant performances that include dynamic parades, colorful costumes, and wild dancing. Outside the arena, the streets are filled with live music and an exuberant spirit.
Beyond the festival, Parintins is known as a gateway to the Amazon Rainforest, with boat trips that will take you right into the heart of the jungle. Low water levels during the dry season, between June and December, form river beaches, where locals set up makeshift stalls to sell fresh fish and other regional specialties. What's more, the timing is perfect. Brazil hasn't been this easy to visit for many years; in 2017, the country's tourist visa finally became faster and cheaper to obtain, and now visitorship by Americans is up by almost 50%. —Sarah Brown
Call it a comeback with caveats. Tourism is once again on the upswing in Egypt, a bucket-list mainstay that has nevertheless seen a decrease in international visits due to political unrest and terrorist violence following the 2011 overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak. But as the situation has grown more stable in the last couple of years, travelers have begun to return—an inevitability, given the country’s storied ancient monuments, exciting capital city of Cairo, and impressive beach resorts at Sharm el-Sheikh in South Sinai. There are still regions you’d be wise to avoid, including the sparsely populated Western Desert (never a huge draw anyway) and northern Sinai Peninsula, where extremists continue to pose a threat. Additionally, many women visitors have complained of widespread verbal harassment, and the government has been known to jail out-of-towners who criticize the regime online.
That said, security has been beefed up considerably at all the major tourist areas, which should give you some peace of mind to go along with your awestruck goggling at legendary Nile-side sites such as the Pyramids of Giza and the pharaohs’ tombs and temples in Luxor. Starting in late 2018 and carrying into 2019, the $1 billion Grand Egyptian Museum begins opening in stages. It's a massive trove of artifacts (the King Tut collection alone encompasses around 3,500 items) housed in a gleaming, glass-fronted building overlooking the Pyramids. Luxury hotel brands are showing faith in the rebound, too, as St. Regis adds a new presence in Cairo. And an exchange rate that remains favorable to Western tourists puts all that pharaonic ritz within reach. —Zac Thompson
As Elvis once sang, "Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby." In 2019, the birthplace of rock 'n' roll is throwing itself a 200th birthday shindig with concerts and historical exhibits throughout the year. We think peak fun will arrive in spring, with the annual Memphis in May, featuring live music, food, art, and film. The festival usually showcases a different country each year, but in 2019, for the first time, it will honor its own hometown and its founding contributions to rock, soul, and blues—a perfect occasion for the rest of us to join the party.
Memphis has seen a host of intriguing developments in the past few years. Graceland underwent a $45 million, 40-acre expansion, adding a state-of-the-art entertainment complex with interactive exhibits on Presley's life. For diehard fans of The King, there's now a 450-room, estate-approved hotel right at his doorstep. The superlative National Civil Rights Museum just marked 50 years since Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated there (when it was the Lorraine Motel). Newer draws have opened, too, including the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and inside the long-disused Memphis Pyramid on the Mississippi River, a Bass Pro Shop with a uniquely oddball sight at its heart: an indoor alligator swamp. In 2016, Big River Crossing, the country’s longest pedestrian/bicycle/train bridge, debuted. It's a hoot to traverse; the city's recently launched bike share program can supply the wheels. Come evening, the Mighty Lights installation simultaneously illuminates two bridges over the Mississippi with light shows on the hour. Additionally, the city is enjoying a beyond-barbecue gastronomic growth spurt that has spawned new restaurants, breweries, and spirit-makers like Old Dominick Distillery, whose owners used their great-great-grandfather’s 168-year-old bottle of bourbon toddy to recreate his recipe. It may be Memphis' birthday, but it's visitors who'll enjoy the gifts for years to come. —Dika Lam
Tourism is booming on Portugal’s sun-kissed beaches and in coastal cities like Lisbon and Porto, but canny travelers can get ahead of the crowds by exploring the beautiful, often-neglected interior. Estrada Nacional 2 is Portugal's Route 66 equivalent, offering an iconic road trip through the headlands, winding 450 miles from the Roman city of Chaves, by the Spanish border in the north, down to the balmy southern beaches of the Algarve coast. The road cuts through rugged and little-visited scenery, passing four UNESCO World Heritage sites, wild mountains, elegant spa towns, pristine lakes, and a string of historic towns and photogenic villages. Highlights include the majestic Douro Valley wine region, where riverside vineyards produce superlative vintages; the Casa de Mateus (pictured), an extraordinary Rococo palace; and the rolling plains of the Alentejo region, dotted with whitewashed villages famed for rustic cuisine.
This ocean-focused country long turned its back on the interior, but the tragedy of bush fires that killed dozens in 2017 has led to a surge of interest in the hinterland crossed by Portugal’s mother road, the EN2. Although you could speed inland along a network of new freeways, the EN2 lets you linger in fabulous accommodations along the way, like the Vidago Palace, a recently restored spa-and-golf resort built on a grand scale in 1910; Convento da Sertã, a 17th-century convent turned boutique hotel that’s a hub for hikers, bikers, and kayakers; and L’and Vineyards, an ultramodern winery complete with Michelin-starred restaurant. —Paul Ames
French Polynesia, best known for the lush green islands and blue lagoons of Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora, is a dream destination for many. But limited air service and hotel rates for those iconic overwater bungalows have made this paradise hard to reach and hard to afford. In late 2018, though, that changed. Both United Airlines and discount French airline French Bee began offering nonstop service from the U.S.A. to Papeete, Tahiti—finally introducing some competition for Air Tahiti Nui, and leading to significant price drops.
The Austral Islands, a seven-isle chain some 350 miles south of Tahiti, are an affordable and delightful alternative to the luxury resorts on the main Society Islands. On Tubuai, Rurutu, Raivavae, and Rimatara, family-run inns with beachfront bungalows and small hotels provide moderately priced lodging—some for under $100 a night. That's less than a tenth of what you'll pay for an overwater bungalow on Bora Bora and is a big enough discount to offset the cost of Air Tahiti’s short connecting flights from Papeete. On the islands, volcanic hills and fringing reefs form the scenic backdrop to tiny villages, where a grand total of 6,500 year-round inhabitants live in coral limestone cottages and produce traditional arts and crafts. Dotted with sandy coves and intriguing caves in fossil coral cliffs (like Toarutu, known as the Monster's Mouth), Rurutu also beckons to travelers with a unique opportunity to view migratory southern humpback whales. Visitors can swim in the same crystal-clear waters where those huge sea mammals nurse their young. —Jeanne Cooper
The first feature made in Hollywood, The Squaw Man, lit up screens in 1914. That's more than a century of heritage, but astonishingly, Los Angeles has never had a permanent, pedigreed museum devoted to the pictures. People have tried—Debbie Reynolds famously assembled a world-class memorabilia collection, hoping for an institution to house it, before giving up and dispersing the horde through auctions. But in 2019, the flickers finally get their due when the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opens mid-year. This is the movie museum Hollywood has been waiting for: The collection draws from a deep treasure trove worthy of the creator of Oscar, from shooting scripts to iconic costumes to a pair of The Wizard of Oz's ruby slippers (pictured). Until now, most of the Academy's priceless pop culture artifacts, often donated by the stars themselves (from Alfred Hitchcock to Jim Henson), have been locked away in archives for scholaraly use, but now they'll be in 50,000 square feet of exhibition space in the former May Company department store, a Streamline Moderne landmark where Hedy Lamarr was once accused of shoplifting. Architect Renzo Piano has updated the 1939 building by adding a head-turning 130-foot-tall sphere for a theater, and an observation deck facing the Hollywood sign. The complex flows into the world-class galleries of LACMA next door.
Meanwhile, on Hollywood Boulevard, the iconic grill Musso & Frank, where the red-leather booths have been the favored hangouts of everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Ernest Hemingway, notches its 100th birthday on September 27, still feeling frozen in time. And throughout the city, there'll be a flurry of new hotel openings, including accessibly hip properties by Proper, Thompson, Marriott Edition, Mexico's Grupo Habita, and London's cool Hoxton. Underground, the Metro subway system burrows away, including beneath the Academy Museum, as line extensions shoot in every direction in advance of the 2028 Summer Games, the city's third crack at hosting the Olympics. This is not the dystopian Los Angeles of 2019 that Blade Runner predicted. This real Los Angeles is finally taking itself seriously as a city, honoring a multifaceted past and cultivating a promising future. —Jason Cochran
June 6 marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, when 156,000 Allied troops pulled off the largest amphibious military operation in history, setting the stage for liberating France from its Nazi occupiers and, ultimately, helping to end World War II. Normandy’s chalky cliffs, sandy beaches, stylish port towns, and sheep-dotted meadows may seem anathema to bloody battles, but the many D-Day memorials, museums, and cemeteries—such as the clifftop expanse of white grave markers in Colleville-sur-mer (pictured) over Omaha Beach—pay somber tribute to the thousands of U.S., British, Canadian, European, and Australian service members who lost their lives in fierce fighting here.
Several sites were refurbished or newly installed in time for the 70th anniversary of the invasion in 2014 (for example, the Overlord Museum, with its military vehicles and dioramas, was added the previous summer). For the 75th, this northwestern region of France (about 2.5 hours from Paris by car) will host summer parades, fireworks displays, foreign dignitaries, and even a ceremonial reenactment involving paratroopers leaping from vintage aircraft. Though the number of surviving WW2 vets has dwindled with time, there are still stories to be shared, and the conflict continues to resonate with contemporary politics. As neo-Nazi ideologies have gained a dispiriting degree of traction around the globe in recent years, Normandy remains a stirring reminder of fascism’s most resounding defeat. —Zac Thompson
Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Denali National Park. When discussing America’s most pristine, soul-stirring wilderness, these are the names, along with several others, that tend to come first. Which is good news for visitors to Olympic National Park because it remains under the radar despite its vast size (nearly 1 million acres—bigger than Rhode Island) and spectacular biodiversity. Towering alpine peaks clad in glaciers! Dense temperate rainforests! Some 58 miles of wild beaches that you'll probably have all to yourself! Yes, it's rainy much of the time, but that only makes the scene feel more primordial, with moss growing as thick as lion manes at the bases of mammoth trees in a nearly roadless landscape.
Our favorite Olympic gateway is Sequim (pronounced "skwim") for both its location, on U.S. 101 just north of the park and within easy reach of Seattle, and for its unusual weather patterns. Because Sequim lies in the "rain shadow" of Mount Olympus, it gets far less precipitation than the rest of this drenched state. That has enabled lavender farms to spring up around town, perfuming the air in summer and giving the Sequim-Dungeness Valley the nickname "America's Provence." Sequim is also home to blackberry picking in September, fresh seafood year-round, the country's longest sand spit (nearly 7 miles long and growing by 20 feet a year), and the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, a rich area for birders because of its choice position on migratory routes. Considering all that, it's hard to believe this region isn't more famous. —Pauline Frommer
For too many years, the Australian government gave little more than lip service to its Aboriginal inhabitants. While the country did fleetingly inform tourists that the big red rock at its center was sacred to native peoples, officials did a lot of other things to desecrate the site, from renaming it after an English politician (Ayers Rock) to setting up campsites at the base to, worst of all, allowing thousands of visitors to clamber up and take selfies on top, 348 m (1,142 feet) over the desert. In October 2019, that changes. Once and for all, climbing the Rock, as it's often known, is banned. A new era begins for the natural wonder.
And that isn't the only change. In Yulara, the lodging cluster built a respectful 20 minutes away, three of the hotels (Desert Gardens, Lost Camel, and the luxe Sails in the Desert) have been renovated or are about to be. Artist Bruce Munro's Field of Light Uluru, a transfixing sculpture of 50,000 stem-like lights undulating over the desert brush, has been so popular it was extended to the end of 2020, three years past its pre-announced end date. And locally owned tour operators, such as Karrke Aboriginal Experience, are thriving with new experiences exploring "bush tucker" (food foraged from the desert), bush medicine, spear demonstrations, and more. It's true that a trip to Uluru remains a luxury to most people, but if you've waited this long to go, be glad, because a visit to Uluru in 2019 will be a more authentic experience. It's just a shame that most Americans tend to fly in and out. We suggest, instead, that you lose yourself in the time-stopped expanse of the Outback by flying into Alice Springs, seeing the settled side of the Outback there, and then driving six hours through this soothing, red-earthed wilderness. —Jason Cochran
Welcome to the past—and the future. A city of caves, Matera has been continuously inhabited for over 9,000 years, longer than all but two other cities on the planet. Archaeologists believe the chalk cliffs here, which are pocked, Swiss-cheese-like, with thousands of caverns, were first home to our hunter-gatherer forbears; a 150,000-year-old hominid skeleton was found nearby. Happily for tourists, this southern Italian destination has been only lightly modernized, so it looks ancient as well. For decades, filmmakers have used the town's sassi (cave dwellings) and the crumbling golden limestone tufa houses and streets built atop them as a stand-in for biblical Jerusalem, most notably in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ (2004).
But the future comes to Matera in 2019, when it begins its yearlong reign as one of Europe's two Capitals of Culture (the other is the similarly ancient Plovdiv in Bulgaria, which is also on this list). Matera will host thousands of dancers, visual artists, musicians, theatrical performers, and others, all coming to create cutting edge, onsite works, many of which will explore the intersection of art, science, and technology. We suggest that if you want to get a room in one of the city's cave hotels (recommended), book well in advance. And schedule a good amount of time to get to Matera. It had been hoped that a new, high-speed train would be ready in time for the festivities, but that project is far behind schedule. —Pauline Frommer
The year 1619 was a momentous one in the fledgling Virginia colony, and, as often happens in history, great promise was mixed with great cruelty. In late July and early August, the first English-style representative legislative assembly in the Western Hemisphere was convened in Jamestown, planting a seed that would grow into the U.S. system of democratic government. Weeks later, the first enslaved Africans arrived, establishing the most heinously undemocratic institution in America. The dichotomy was the foundation for modern U.S. society.
To mark the 400th anniversary of those events, as well as 1619’s impact on the colony’s European women (freshly recruited to cross over from England), Native peoples, and business interests, Virginia’s yearlong American Evolution program will bring cultural performances, talks, historical exhibits, and art installations to museums, theaters, and universities throughout the commonwealth. The Historic Jamestowne site near Williamsburg will open a permanent exhibit on democracy and diversity. In May, the Virginia Arts Festival in Norfolk will debut a newly commissioned ballet from Dance Theater of Harlem about the arrival of European women and African slaves. The Virginia Museum of History & Culture in Richmond will pick up the story from there, using artifacts and digital displays to examine the African-American experience in the state, from Jamestown to Charlottesville. And in October, a monument to women’s rights will be unveiled in Richmond’s Capitol Square. In other words, Virginia intends to stay woke all year long. —Zac Thompson
Pictured above: Fort Monroe is where the first Africans in English North America arrived 400 years ago.
Somber memories are associated with Nagasaki. But like the proverbial phoenix, the city and its surrounding prefecture have risen from atomic ashes to become one of the most vibrant, diverse, sight-rich areas in all of Japan. Along with the moving and illuminating Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park in Nagasaki itself, visitors to this part of the Japanese island of Kyushu also spend time touring the exquisite Hirado Castle (built in 1704), Saikai National Park (with its 200-plus pristine and, in places, densely forested isles), and the oddball Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park filled with windmills, canals, tulips, and other greatest hits of Holland.
In 2018, the United Nations named Nagasaki to the UNESCO World Heritage list for its hidden Christian sites. They speak to a fascinating history that began in the 1540s, when Portuguese missionaries converted large numbers of islanders, enraging locals. After a series of crackdowns (one of which, in 1597, led to the crucifixion of 26 Catholics, shocking the world), Christianity went underground for two centuries. Visiting these churches and monuments today offers a compelling insight into the ever-evolving tale of Japan’s spiritual life and its interactions with the outside world. —Pauline Frommer
It's huge (the size of Jamaica), mostly untrammeled, and as pristine a wilderness as exists on the planet. Canada's newest national park, Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve, protects one of the largest swaths of undisturbed terrain in North America. Stretching along the nation's Labrador seacoast, it's a natural beauty, where rugged peaks, rounded by eons of glacial activity, shadow sparkling lakes, tundra, and wetlands. Boreal forests limn a spectacular 55-km (34-mile) coastline of hard white sand, a stretch of beach so lyrical the Vikings called it the Wonderstrands.
From the shore you can spot whales and icebergs and skies shimmering with kaleidoscopic Northern Lights. On land, the park preserves critical wildlife habitats, including a herd of threatened woodland caribou. Coiling through the Mealies are salmon-rich rivers, feeding grounds for a healthy population of black bears. The Innu and the Inuit peoples have hunted and fished these territories for thousands of years—and will continue to do so through a cooperative management arrangement between the park and its indigenous communities. Much of the park is not easily accessed—which itself is another part of its appeal—although local operators arrange hiking, backcountry camping, fishing, and skiing trips, and visitors can explore the coast by kayak or other small boats. —Alexis Lipsitz
A long time ago in our own galaxy, the United States landed human beings on the moon for the first time, but the memory is so far, far away that to many, it might as well be a movie. July 2019 marks the Golden Anniversary of the moment America reached for the heavens and touched them, an awesome chapter in U.S. history that most people have come to take for granted. Attractions abound: At the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the late Neil Armstrong's small-stepping spacesuit goes on display, and at Space Center Houston, the original control room is undergoing restoration to its 1969 appearance. But the most events are going down where Apollo went up—Kennedy Space Center on Florida's Space Coast, where the original launch pad, astronauts' walkway to the moon rockets, and a horde of Apollo-era equipment will once again take the spotlight. Since 2019 is also NASA's 60th anniversary, it's hoped that surviving moon luminaries like Buzz Aldrin will make appearances, too.
But 2019's most anticipated celebration of space travel is opening on two coasts. Twin, 14-acre Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge areas will be unveiled at Disneyland (in the summer) and Orlando (in the autumn). The additions, which together cost a reported $1 billion, depict Black Spire, a smuggler's-den outpost on the fictitious planet of Batuu (pictured in a pre-construction model), where theme park guests can evade the First Order on one elaborate ride and pilot the Millennium Falcon (firing blasters, flipping switches, and all) on another. At Walt Disney World, in an amusement park breakthrough enabled by tracking technology, how guests perform on their rides will determine their interactions with role-playing cast members throughout the rest of the land. For the first few years of their operation, expect elbow room at Galaxy's Edge to be as tight as an Apollo capsule. Perhaps Americans have not forgotten how to be inspired by their capacity for breakthroughs and explorations after all. —Jason Cochran