One of the nation’s leading global tour operators, the award-winning Travel Impressions, and top U.S. travel agents took a closer look at travel trends and booking demands for 2019. From beach paradise to exciting adventure and cultural exploration, whatever your vacation passion, their list has got it covered.
1. CANCUN & RIVIERA MAYA, Mexico
Situated on the northeastern edge of Mexico‘s Yucatan Peninsula, bordering the turquoise Caribbean Sea, Cancun is known for world-class luxury beach resorts, historic landmarks, and significant monuments—including a number of historical ruins–as well as lovely dining venues and fun-filled excursions.
Did you know:
- Cancun’s sand won’t burn your feet; it’s made of crushed coral, meaning it will naturally stay cool even on the hottest days!
- The Great Mayan Barrier Reef is among the largest in the world, second only to Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef.
2. PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic, The Caribbean
Located at the easternmost tip of Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is often referred to as the Coconut Coast for the coconut palms that dot its 40 miles of white-sand beaches. Despite its increasing popularity, Punta Cana’s beaches remain unspoiled—incredibly wide and evenly flat with clear, warm water that makes Punta Cana the perfect location for water sports and swimming.
And if that isn’t dreamy enough already, Punta Cana also offers plenty of luxurious all-inclusive resorts; places for trendy entertainment and activities; shops; lavish restaurants, bars, and nightclubs; and many magnificent golf courses with world-class facilities. You can tee up by the sea or along lush inland courses designed by some of the world’s most acclaimed golf course architects, including Pete B. Dye, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Gary Player, Tom Fazio, Nick Price, and Greg Norman.
Did you know:
- This destination was home to the late Oscar de la Renta, the world-renowned fashion designer who also designed the Tortuga Bay Boutique Hotel in Punta Cana.
- Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) is the most-connected airport in the Caribbean and Central America, receiving flights from 26 countries and up to two million passengers a year.
3. BERMUDA, Atlantic Ocean
Famous for its lovely pink sand beaches, you can relax while sipping Bermuda’s national drink, the rum-based Swizzle. Or, if you’re interested in history, the story of the Moon Gate and the magic behind the Weather Stone will make you fall in love with Bermuda even more. After all, getting to know the story of the city is half the fun!
Adrenaline-seekers can enjoy the thrills of year-round adventure whether horseback riding across the shore or diving beneath the waves. If you’re a foodie, its top-notch culinary highlights are a draw in and of itself. And for social butterflies, flutter right on over, because Bermudians are known to be over-the-top friendly. Take a scooter (the most popular way to travel around Bermuda) and get to know the locals. You’ll be bound to meet many who will touch your heart with generosity and treat you like their own neighbors.
Did you know:
- While many believe Bermuda to be part of the Caribbean, the island actually rests hundreds of miles north of the Bahamas in the Atlantic, a mere 650 miles east of North Carolina.
- Its unique location in the Atlantic provides an extraordinarily pleasant climate that rarely sees extremes of either hot or cold.
- John Lennon had a home there!
4. KEY WEST, Florida
Key West was once home to celebrities like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, and Robert Frost, all of whom discovered solace and inspiration in this island city. Experience Key West’s footprints from the past by visiting some of these historic sites: Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Harry S. Truman’s Little White House, Robert Frost Cottage, and Audubon House & Tropical Gardens.
Besides relaxing by the beaches or challenging yourself with fun water sports, a visit to Duval Street must also be at the top of your list. Duval Street is Key West’s center of entertainment and nightlife, where sumptuous restaurants and fun bars are waiting for visitors to explore. If you’re a party-goer, this is the right place for you!
Did you know:
- During Cuba’s unsuccessful war for independence from Spain, many Cubans sought refuge in Key West, bringing with them a thriving cigar-making industry. Cubans set up 200 factories in town, producing 100 million cigars annually.
- The term “key” is a corruption of the Spanish word, “Cayo,” which means small island.
- The climate of the Florida Keys is classified as tropical. The weather is hot and humid from June to October and relatively drier and cooler from November to May. The Keys are the only frost-free place in Florida.
5. BARCELONA, Spain
If it’s your first time in Barcelona, hitting the iconic sites like La Rambla, La Sagrada Familia, Picasso Museum, or one of Antoni Gaudi’s whimsical buildings is a must. And while a lot of people come to Barcelona for a beach getaway, there are also lesser-known sights and neighborhoods worth visiting, too. Places like Poble Espanyol featuring unique art and architecture; Parc del Laberint d’Horta, a historical garden known to be the oldest of its kind in the city; or Gracia neighborhood offering the real spirit of Barcelona with its relaxed promenades.
When it comes to a culinary scene, Barcelona is well-known as being one of the world’s food capitals. Embedded in the city’s heart and soul, its gastronomy offers fantastic dining experiences featuring plenty of great restaurants with a diversity of cuisines to savor. From paella to Ferran Adria-inspired dishes—especially when paired with a glass (or a bottle!) of vintage wine—gourmet lovers will find their food heaven in every corner of the city. No trip to Spain would be complete without a food feast in Barcelona!
Did you know:
- Barcelonians are huge fans of soccer. It is home to one of the world’s largest and richest football clubs, FC Barcelona. The Camp Nou stadium, home to the FC Barcelona, is the largest football stadium in Europe and the third largest in the world.
- Voted one of the best beach cities in the world by the National Geographic many years ago, Barcelona didn’t actually have any beaches until the early 90s, when the town council set about the creation of an artificial beach in preparation of the 1992 Olympics.