A Bostonian’s Guide to (Hopefully) Traveling This Year
Most people aren’t going anywhere this winter—that much is certain. But as we inch toward the one-year anniversary of the pandemic that changed our lives, it’s fun to dream about the places we want to go the moment things finally start returning to normal. Are you ready to come along for the ride?
If there’s any place in the world that loves to do things over the top, it’s this Mediterranean micro-state, the capital of mega-yachts, billionaires, high-stakes gambling, and all that glitters. For 2021, Monaco plans to make history by hosting not just its famed Grand Prix motor race in May, but three consecutive confetti-filled, champagne-drenched events. Not the car-racing type? Consider visiting in July or August for Monaco Art en Ciel, an internationally recognized fireworks festival. Just be sure to pack your black-tie attire and leave time for a round of roulette at the Monte Carlo Casino.
Numerous airlines have connecting flights from Boston to Nice; it’s then a 30-minute drive from the airport to Monaco. But we suggest leaning into the adventure and booking a Monacair helicopter transfer for 130 euros per person for the real 007 experience.
Book a room at the Hôtel Metropole and you’ll have exclusive access to the Metropole restaurant and terrace, with views of the only downhill stretch of the circuit. For a quieter seaside respite, try the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel, located on its own private waterfront but only a short walk from the action.
This is it—this is the year you book that trip to Venice. With climate change and rising sea levels, you might not get another chance. When you do finally get there, you’ll see that the floating city isn’t just about gelato cafés, gondola rides, and centuries’ worth of Italian arte classica—it’s also a haven for architecture buffs, who have studied it for decades. This year Venice will offer its Biennale Architettura 2021, an immersive citywide exhibition of conceptual displays put on by the world’s most interesting builders and thinkers between April and November. When you’re not picking up some design inspo to bring back home, consider venturing beyond the famous city to take in the mountains, lakes, and fresh air of the breathtakingly beautiful Veneto region.
Alitalia has a convenient overnight nonstop from Logan to Rome-Fiumicino that takes less than eight hours. From there it’s a painless one-hour connection onward to the City of Bridges.
It’s all about the iconic Gritti Palace, a 500-year-old former nobleman’s house turned luxury hotel. Ask to stay in Ernest Hemingway’s favorite suite so you can wake up to the sounds of the Grand Canal lapping below.
Let’s face it: The most exotic animals you’ve probably seen recently are the chipmunks and squirrels in your own backyard. Could there be a better time, then, to check a safari off your travel bucket list? While South Africa and Kenya are the obvious destinations for first-time Africa visitors, travel insiders know Botswana to be something of a hidden gem: The camps are luxurious and private (Prince Harry has been known to favor Meno a Kwena on the Boteti River), the crowds are sparse, and the wildlife is sublime. Head to the Okavango Delta or Makgadikgadi Salt Pans between June and October, and you’ll be rewarded with herds of elephants playing on riverbanks and more than a few lazy lions lounging in the sun.
It’s not a particularly quick or direct trip, but flying 12 hours on Qatar Airways from Boston to Doha, then grabbing a connection onward to Gaborone, makes the ride comfortable.
Long-standing favorite Jack’s Camp just got a total rebuild but still has the antique furniture, jacquard-flap tents, and 1940s vibes that its fans adore. Traveling with the brood in tow? Check out the brand-new Xigera Safari Lodge, which features a two-bedroom family suite.
Palm Springs, California
The desert is looking particularly hot this year. Long a must-visit for enthusiasts of midcentury architecture (and those looking to escape Boston’s frigid winters), Palm Springs is upping its cultural cred in 2021 with several distinctive experiences. First, the internationally acclaimed biennial art exhibition Desert X returns this February through April 11, letting visitors experience the unique landscape in a new way through site-specific outdoor art installations. Second, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, opening this year, offers a glimpse into the rich history of the region’s Cahuilla people.
And finally, July brings the debut of Palm Springs Surf Club, a recreational epicenter created by pro surfers and featuring an enormous wave pool that lets you hang 10 surrounded by views of sand dunes and mountains.
Take United via Denver, American via Phoenix or JetBlue via New York and you’ll be enjoying that dry desert heat in under 8 hours.
The 29-room Casa Cody, Palm Spring’s oldest operating hotel, just reopened following a full renovation (and still has one of the best locations in town, just steps from the Palm Springs Art Museum). Book the Olympic Cottage, which housed athletes during the Los Angeles 1932 Summer Olympics.
It might be the size of New Hampshire, but this small Caribbean nation teems with adventure at every turn—making it the ideal escape for those whose quarantine was painfully sedentary. Explore long-forgotten Mayan ruins hidden in the jungle; hike to a waterfall in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the only jaguar reserve on earth; swim with friendly nurse sharks in the North Islands; and sample some of the best tacos in the world at the Orange Walk taco festival this November. It says a lot about the destination that its miles and miles of unspoiled white-sand beaches are somehow the least interesting reason to visit—but don’t get us wrong, after so much exploration, you’ll definitely want to set aside at least a few days to recover beachside with a rum punch in hand.
A connecting flight through Atlanta on Delta gets you to paradise in under seven hours.
No need to vie for beach chairs or fight over restaurant reservations when there’s nobody else around—private island Cayo Espanto offers seven secluded beach villas, so you can go your entire stay without seeing another guest. For easier access to Belize’s activities and attractions, check out the brand-new Alaia Belize, Autograph Collection opening in March.
It’s been at the crossroads of the world for centuries—and thanks to recent investments in preserving the area’s iconic architecture and artifacts, it’ll continue to be for years to come. Start your Indiana Jones adventure in Cairo, where the government just last year unveiled a $6 million, 14-year restoration of Pharaoh Djoser’s stepped pyramid—the oldest colossal stone structure in Egypt, dating to the 27th century BC. Then continue on to the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza, which will be the largest archaeological museum in the world when it opens its doors this spring, with many pieces on display for the first time. After you’ve explored the pyramids and museums in the Greater Cairo area, hop on a quick flight to Aswan in the country’s arid southern region, where you’ll find Egypt’s greatest hits of tombs and temples.
You can connect through New York or Europe on numerous airlines, but a 12-hour Emirates flight to Dubai ensures you’ll have a restful overnight leg before transferring to Cairo.
The Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah is centrally located and features an extraordinary infinity pool overlooking the Nile. If Nile cruises are up and running when you visit, consider the Steamship Sudan—the last remaining belle époque vessel of its kind on the river.
After a year of being stuck at home, we’re all itching to explore uncharted territory. Enter the village of Tofino, British Columbia: Nestled on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the remote destination is a nature lover’s paradise where fishermen, surfers, and posh Vancouver weekenders live in harmony with the elements—all of them. Given that there isn’t much between here and Japan except a few thousand miles of open North Pacific, when a storm rolls in during the off-season, it’s truly a spectacle to behold. When you’re not exploring, try snagging a table at the award-winning Wolf in the Fog, where chef Nick Nutting’s potato-crusted local oysters with apple and truffle oil attract foodies from around the world.
You’ll have to hop, skip, and jump your way across our neighbor to the north on Air Canada or WestJet, but once you arrive in Victoria or Vancouver, BC, it’s a quick 45-minute flight on Pacific Coastal Airlines to Tofino, or a scenic drive across the heart of “the island.”
Each room at hotelier Charles McDiarmid’s luxurious Wickaninnish Inn comes with a soaking tub, fireplace, and picture window to experience Tofino’s famous storms from the comfort of your room—as well as a rain slicker and boots in the closet if you feel like braving the weather outdoors.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Leave the après-ski crowds in Aspen and the congested lift lines in Vail—social distancing is the name of the game in this charming ski village, which boasts some of the tallest lift-accessed vertical drops and biggest skiable acreage on the continent. Hit the slopes and you’ll see why many pro skiers keep coming back season after season to the quaint Wyoming hideaway, where the terrain offers everything from beginner hills to the gnarliest of the gnar. Traveling with lodge bunnies, or perhaps your quads need a break for the day? Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks make for a scenic daylong road trip.
Connect through Chicago, Minneapolis, or Salt Lake City—and keep an eye out for the Jackson Chamber of Commerce’s customary glass of bubbly (currently on hiatus due to COVID) upon arrival.
Pull out all the stops and book a suite at the over-the-top Caldera House, a swanky ski-in, ski-out hotel with an in-house ski shop. Grab a drink at the guests- and members-only bar, and chances are you’ll run into slope stars like Bode Miller.
Calling all vino lovers: If you’re tired of staring at the same bottles but aren’t ready to fly all the way to Bordeaux to upgrade your stash, a road trip from Massachusetts down to the other commonwealth is an equally transportive—and intoxicating—experience. C-ville has history, restaurants, and the University of Virginia, but it’s also located in the center of the Monticello American Viticultural Area, where Thomas Jefferson famously claimed the U.S. could produce “as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe.” There are more than 30 stops along the Monticello Wine Trail, each with its own distinctly American history to explore. And with tourism here a fraction of what you’ll find at wineries in California or Europe, you won’t have to worry about crowds as you savor cabernet franc amid views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The trip can be done in just under nine hours by car, or it’s a quick flight to Richmond, Virginia, and then a one-hour drive.
Take a break from sipping and swirling at the year-old Quirk Hotel, the first boutique property to open downtown. Or unwind in the countryside at the Keswick Resort, which reopens this year after a complete renovation—and with chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten overseeing all of the culinary operations.
After a one-year COVID delay, it’s all eyes on Tokyo for the Summer Games of the XXXII Olympiad. If you aren’t lucky enough to score tickets to the Games themselves, there are still plenty of reasons to visit right now, from sampling Japanese whiskey at one of the city’s hidden speakeasies to creating unforgettable Instagram posts among the otherworldly dots and immersive installations at the Yayoi Kusama Museum. Even just standing at Shibuya Crossing during rush hour and watching hundreds of pedestrians scramble-cross the intersection is worthwhile—because after the most chaotic of years, seeing something so large have such order is sure to be an unexpectedly comforting experience.
It may be on the other side of the planet, but at least you don’t need to make a connection: Japan Airlines offers a 14-hour direct flight from Logan to Narita International Airport.
An urban oasis in the heart of downtown, Hoshinoya Tokyo puts a deeply luxurious spin on the traditional ryokan, with an all-inclusive two-night, three-day relaxation program complete with spa treatments, deep-breathing exercises, hot-spring bathing, and immune-boosting fermented Japanese cuisine.