As we approach the start of a new year, travel pundits all over the nation are compiling lists of where you should go in 2015. I, too, have such a list, one that names familiar destinations but also includes unusual places to a greater extent than normal. Here are a dozen options for your next trip:
Asheville, North Carolina: One of the fastest-growing of all American cities, it is surrounded by the spectacular nature of the Blue Ridge Mountains, attracting retirees and hip young people in almost equal numbers. Studded with Art Deco buildings of the 1920s and featuring the Biltmore Estate (the nation’s largest private residence), it also offers dozens of breweries, a pulsating cultural life, the home of Thomas Wolfe (who wrote about it in“Look Homeward, Angel”), and progressive civic policies. You really should see it.
London, England: In 2015, it will be celebrating two major anniversaries: the 800th of the signing of the Magna Carta, and the 63rd year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the longest in British history – and both are occasions for big ceremonies promising much fun for the visitors. Starting in September, the London Underground (the subway) will be staying open and active around the clock, greatly improving the nightlife pattern of this already remarkable city.
Yellowstone National Park: Surely among the outstanding natural wonders of the world, its fascinating display of the thin crust of the earth punctured by steam holes everywhere and geysers shooting high into the air, it simply must be experienced by every American. If you haven’t yet been there, you should go in 2015.
Argentina: Its currency is now selling at half the official level, provided you buy your pesos (as everyone does) on the black market, which is totally condoned by the Argentinian government. By obtaining your currency in that manner, the cost of your glorious steak dinners, tango lessons and concert attendance is lower than ever, with almost everything cheap.
Malaga, Spain: Once regarded as simply a gateway to the resorts found further down the Mediterranean coast, Malaga in recent years has sprouted with cultural opportunities, superb restaurants and shopping, and an enhanced beachfront that’s as good as any. With low-cost lodgings everywhere, it is now a vacation destination in its own right.
The Cunard Line: Three iconic cruise ships that are akin to destinations supplying a unique vacation experience, traditional, enchanting and dignified, with deck attendants still wrapping you in a blanket and serving hot broth as you lie in a chaise longue reading a fascinating novel). At one time in the year, the Queen Mary 2, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Victoria will meet at sea in a ceremony publicized around the world.
Belgium: Though its medieval cities, its world-beating cuisine, and its remarkable Flemish paintings of the 1400s are still its main highlights, it also will be marking two major anniversaries: the 200th of the Battle of Waterloo, the 100th of the World War I battle at nearby Ypres, both the occasion of historical ceremonies and discussions of strong interest.
South Dakota: Into this lightly populated state (less than a million people in a vast area), more and more visitors are currently coming, joined this year by hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists in a major gathering. And Mount Rushmore and Badlands National Park remain giant draws.
Other locations of note: Gallipoli, Turkey, of World War I fame; Washington, D.C., marking the tragic assassination 150 years ago of President Abraham Lincoln; Austria, hosting the giant Eurovision Song Contest; Tanzania, with a soon-to-be-extinct population of elephants and rhinos threatened by poachers; and Chaco National Park in New Mexico, to be seen before fracking destroys it are five remaining must-see destinations for 2015 that only a lack of space stops me from discussing here.
Arthur Frommer is the founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide book series. Find more destinations and read his blog at frommers.com.