1. Bocas del Toro, Panama: The Isthmus of Panama is home to some of the purest natural beauty in Latin America: dense tropical rain forests, wide savannas, coral reefs bursting with aquatic life, and delightfully deserted beaches. The latest idyllic spot to emerge on travelers’ lists is Bocas del Toro, an archipelago made up of nine islands and hundreds of cays and islets.
2. Guadalajara, Mexico: Mexico’s second city is a hotbed of creativity, thanks to an ebullient jazz scene, the popular Guadalajara International Book Fair, a prestigious film festival, and a well-supported community of visual artists.
4. Lille, France: With cobblestoned streets, historic buildings, and preeminent museums, Lille, just an hour from Paris, has all the trappings of a charming destination. And now, with exciting developments in dining, fashion, and art, it’s emerging as France’s cultural cradle of the north.
6. Lanai, Hawaii: With no traffic lights and just one airport runway, Lanai is the anti-Oahu. And last June, one of Hawaii’s quietest islands got even quieter when its owner, Larry Ellison, shut down both its Four Seasons resorts for renovations—leaving only the 11-room Hotel Lanai, in Lanai City, open to guests.
7. Hangzhou, China: For more than a millennium, artists, poets, traders, and explorers have been drawn to the idyllic scenery of Hangzhou’s vast West Lake. Thanks to the lucrative manufacturing and tech industries (Alibaba’s headquarters are in Hangzhou), the city is one of China’s wealthiest.
8. Douro Valley, Portugal: For centuries, Portugal’s Douro Valley, the world’s first officially designated wine region, has drawn people for not only its port but also for the postcard-pretty landscapes—steep terraced vineyards carved into mountains along the Douro River and whitewashed quintas (wine estates) atop granite bluffs.
9. Frankfurt, Germany: Many think of Frankfurt as a city of straitlaced bankers and nondescript towers. But over the past few years, Germany’s business capital has loosened up. The city’s tastemakers are opening hidden spots, many of them in Bahnhofsviertel, the red-light district next to the main train station that is starting to gentrify
10. Asbury Park, New Jersey: In the song “My City of Ruins,” written in 2000, Bruce Springsteen described Asbury Park as a city of boarded-up windows and empty streets. A battering by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 didn’t help. But the Jersey Shore town, 90 minutes south of New York City, has started to recover, led by its gay and live-music scenes.
11. St. Helena: For the tiny number of history and nature buffs who have made it to St. Helena, Napoleon’s final port of exile, much of the appeal was the British territory’s ultra-remote location, almost 2,000 miles from South Africa.
12. Canggu, Bali: Sun-wizened surfers have been riding the waves off the island’s southwestern coast for decades. But with a crop of Australia-inflected, eclectic establishments designed to appeal to a relaxed crowd, it’s recently become favored for more than just its breaks.