10 Places to Travel In 2020—Before Everyone Else Does

Barichara, in Colombia’s eastern mountains. Photo: Alamy

One of the wilder Caribbean islands, Dominica has been working to recover from the devastating storms that swept across it in 2015 and 2017. The rainforest is green again, classic resorts have rebuilt and upgraded, and posh new ones are springing up. Longtime favorite Jungle Bay reopened this summer in a new spot overlooking Soufriere Bay (from $325 a night, junglebaydominica.com) and there’s a new 151-room Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski next to one of the island’s three national parks (from $555 a night, kempinski.com).



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Sophisticated, intrepid travelers are increasingly seeking out the natural and cultural riches of the oldest independent country in Africa. Particularly notable: Simien Mountains National Park, medieval rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, and Lucy, one of the oldest hominid fossils. At the start of 2019, Bole International Airport unveiled a major expansion, and despite the 737 MAX crash earlier this year, Ethiopian Airlines is pursuing an aggressive growth plan. Next year, pioneering travel outfitter MT Sobek offers a new 10-day trip that includes a lodge-to-lodge trek in the Simien Mountains (mtsobek.com).


Bucking its beer-and-brats image, Milwaukee had five James Beard Award semifinalists this year, including Karen Bell of modern butchery and cafe Bavette La Boucherie, and Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra unveils its first permanent home, in the transformed Warner Grand Theater movie palace downtown. America’s Black Holocaust Museum will reopen this year in a renovated space in the historically African-American Bronzeville neighborhood.

Sonoma County
Sonoma County, Calif. Photo: Alamy Stock Photo

As of this year, 99% of the vineyard acreage in this California county has been certified as sustainable thanks to, among other programs, ambitious water conservation and energy-efficient practices. And with a new tourism board initiative, visitors can opt to donate to local charities when booking rooms. All this do-gooding doesn’t mean travelers need to feel deprived: Next year sees the opening of the posh Montage Healdsburg, which will have 130 rooms and a spa spread over more than 250 acres (montage.com).


D-town’s lodging options are about to be taken up a notch. This winter, the luxury Hall Arts Hotel debuts. The only hotel in the 19-block Dallas Arts District, it will overlook several starchitect-designed buildings, including Sir Norman Foster’s Winspear Opera House, I.M. Pei’s Meyerson Symphony Center, and the Wyly Theatre, in which Rem Koolhaas had a hand. It’s also (unlike so many other hotels) genuinely art-focused: It held a juried competition to source photography for the 183 rooms, and the Hall’s sculpture walk features work by Texas artists (from $279 a night, hallartshotel.com).What’s more, the peppy Virgin Hotels Dallas is about to open in the formerly industrial Design District, while the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek completes a sizable renovation (from $430 a night, rosewood.com). And as sports fans already know, the Texas Rangers will move into their new home in the spring.

Somerset, U.K.
At the Chapel in Somerset.

Hauser & Wirth made a splash when they opened in Somerset a few years ago, but the art center isn’t the only reason to explore this bucolic county in southwest England. Chic hotels and eateries like At the Chapel, a restaurant, bakery and B&B in an 18th-century worshiping space are a big draw too. Now comes the Newt, a Georgian country estate with 23 individually designed rooms, two restaurants, and an apple-tree maze in the acres of garden and woodland (from about $385 a night, newtinsomerset.com).

Barichara, Colombia

A small, picturesque colonial town in Colombia’s eastern mountains, Barichara makes a great base for outdoor pursuits such as white-water rafting, mountain biking and rappelling. Fly into Bucaramanga and take an hour-long cable-car ride over a canyon. Travel operator Almaz Journeys can arrange all the above, as well as a booking at the stylish new Yahri villas, a trio of homes in town, with terraces that provide views of the surrounding mountains (almazjourneys.com).

Rio de Janeiro

Attention building buffs: Rio de Janeiro was named Unesco’s first World Capital of Architecture for 2020. Special events will be held throughout the year—but you don’t need a schedule to start planning visits to iconic structures like Oscar Niemeyer’s Hotel Nacional and flying saucer-shaped Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, Santiago Calatrava’s jutting Museum of Tomorrow and Christian de Portzamparc’s Cidade das Artes.

Suzhou, China

China’s network of high-speed trains has opened up vast swaths of the country to time-pressed travelers, including this canal city known as the “Venice of China.” Suzhou’s crisscrossing canals and humpbacked bridges are now reachable by a 30-minute train ride from Shanghai. High-end hotel chains have been building outposts in Suzhou, including a second hotel under the Shangri-La Group that opened in June (from about $155 a night, shangri-la.com). Among the area’s key attractions: centuries-old gardens that belonged to the city’s merchant class and the I.M. Pei-designed Suzhou Museum, which pays homage to the architect’s ancestral hometown.

‘The ‘Venice of China’ is now 30 minutes by train from Shanghai.’

Grampians, Australia

Little known outside of Australia, the sandstone mountain range lies just a couple of hours west of Melbourne. The area is home to a historic winemaking region, important Aboriginal art and a new hiking trail that in 2020 will extend to a two-week circuit. A 21.5-mile loop is already open; the rest will debut at the end of next year, for a 100-mile trek.

—Additional reporting by Shan Li

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