We know you’re jonesin’ to travel this year; after all, the world is your oyster!
Have you taken our travel quiz? If not, do so to find out what type of traveler you are and then ponder these 19 places that beckon your arrival! You’ll learn about Texas treasures first and then jewels outside of the Lone Star State below.
1. The Wayback, West Austin
You’ll find a zen-like overnight stay with a splash of culinary perfection tucked into a grove of trees on the side of bustling Bee Cave Road. The 8-cottage property, with a small saltwater pool, cafe and drive-through coffee shop, is uber peaceful, with no TVs—-although there is wifi. Even the 15 year-old boys that went along with me found it just the oasis they needed overnight.
The jewel of The Wayback is the cafe, serving biodynamic organic wines, and local beers. Even the coffee is purchased locally. For dinner, I was wowed by the Salmon Potato Cakes and the boys couldn’t stop talking about the Burger and the Gruyere Grilled Cheese. We recommend breakfast on the terrace. You can’t go wrong with the weekend brunch menu—-don’t leave without eating their scratch-made biscuits and gravy. This place is great for a romantic getaway, a quiet girls overnight or rent out the property for a family reunion.—Marika Flatt
2. Prince Solms Inn and Muck & Fuss, New Braunfels
Plan an overnight stay at the historic Prince Solms Inn (est. 1898) on New Braunfels’ main drag, just down from the town square and the new section of Schlitterbahn Waterpark. Book the Klein House out back for a stay in a restored pioneer house. The carriage-type house has a king bedroom, a living room with a daybed and trundle, a bathroom and kitchen. Note that the Inn does not allow kids under 12. And, due to the thin walls and the basement speakeasy bar, Sidecar, there might be noise in the courtyard that can be heard from the rooms, so plan to be flexible. Guests receive vouchers for breakfast at Union Station, a quick walk down the road, where you can fill up on omelettes and house-made biscuits.
Lunch or dinner is next door at Muck & Fuss. This hip eatery has all the Texas beer on tap that your heart could desire (mine desired a Pearl Snap!). Start off your meal with their unique pimento dip, which is the consistency of queso, and some poutine (fries covered in melted cheese curds and gravy). The Great Southern is what dreams are made of! Sink your teeth into this patty covered by a fried green tomato, pepper jack pimento cheese, fried onion strips and Alabama white sauce.—Marika Flatt
3. Geronimo Creek Retreat, Seguin
One of the best kept secrets, this simple property features four “treehouses” and also yurts and teepees. Fire pits are scattered around the small retreat and the creek runs alongside the treehouses. In the summer, guests can kayak, stand-up paddle board or swing on the vintage rope swings.
The layout of the treehouse is ideal with a king bedroom downstairs, a complete kitchen, living room and bathroom; and upstairs, you’ll find a loft with two double/queen beds. The best part is the wooden deck (shared by two treehouses) that overlooks the creek. This place was quiet and serene in the winter but I imagine it to be hopping in the summer!—Marika Flatt
4. Hotel Alessandra, Finn Hall & Irma’s Southwest, downtown Houston
From the delicate touch at Spa by Alessandra to a poolside bar and its proximity to Discovery Green, Minute Maid Park, and the Toyota Center, Hotel Alessandra is ideally situated. Finn Hall on Main Street is home to 10 independently-owned eateries and two bars. Find breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with each eatery serving a separate taste bud. We recommend Goode Company Taqueria, part of the Goode Co family of restaurants.
If your stomach is set on something more specific, hone in on the family-owned Tex-Mex restaurant, Irma’s Southwest. Irma Galvan, a James Beard award recipient, began the restaurant in 1988 in an old house as a sandwich shop. Louis and Patricia Galvan have moved Irma’s dream from Chenevert Street to a view of Minute Maid Park, serving Texas food with a Mexican spirit.
5. Spider Mountain Bike Park, Burnet
The first lift-served downhill mountain bike park in Texas is located on the banks of Lake Buchanan in Burnet. The bike park offers 350 vertical feet of beginner (green), intermediate (blue) and expert (black) trails which feature downhill flow trails and technical trails with bridges, berms and jumps. These trails are served by a four-person chair lift while bikes ride on the back of lifts.
With bike and gear rentals, the park’s currently open weekends, plus holidays and spring break. Later in the season, it will be open during the week. Only comfortable on two feet? Spider Mountain offers scenic rides to the top and hiking only trails.—Doug Flatt
6. Devil’s Backbone Tavern, Fischer
This legendary Texas music venue, which revitalized the era of honky-tonk, country music and Todd Snider, hosts a Wednesday night shuffleboard tournament while friendly ghosts roam around to casually judge and sip your beer of choice. Updates include an ATM to keep the night rolling at their cash bar, no smoking inside the premises, and a full liquor license. Todd is sure to stop by and remind everyone of that time he made the tavern an idol in Texas history with the song “Ballad of the Devil’s Backbone Tavern”. As a treasure to the state, it is still full of grit, mojo, and locals. —Alexis Higgins
7. Hill Country Haven, Spring Branch
Wanna get away? This secluded manor-like home near Canyon Lake might be just what you’re looking for. Whether it’s for a girls weekend, a writing retreat, a family reunion or a small company retreat, you’ll find yourself enjoying comfort and solitude with this Airbnb home.
The beautifully restored historic home reminds us of a plantation in New Orleans. Beautiful views stretching around the seven acres provide an oasis of Hill Country calm. Bring a small group with you to utilize the five bedrooms (one of them is in an apartment out back) and four baths sleeping nine guests total. The updated kitchen will be where you enjoy cooking a great comfort meal and sipping on a glass of vino. Also beckoning is the large fireplace in the spacious living room and the formal dining room where your group can laugh and bond for hours after a great meal. —Marika Flatt
8. Horseshoe Bay Resort, Horseshoe Bay
Horseshoe Bay Resort is Texas’ original lakeside resort. Located in the picturesque Texas Hill Country Wine and Lake Region, the 7,000-acre, 400-room AAA Four Diamond-rated resort sits along the shores of constant-level Lake LBJ and is home to three championship golf courses, the largest hot tub in Texas, a private airport, bike rentals, and a full-service marina. The spa, fitness centers and nearby wineries all add to the extraordinary experience. Aside from the great accommodations available on property, the resort also recently announced its debut Comedy Festival Weekend February 16 -17, while the visually stunning 7th Annual Balloons Over Horseshoe Bay Resort is slated for April 19 – 21.
9. Collective Hill Country, a Retreat at Montesino Ranch, Wimberly
Nestled on a sprawling ranch, this peaceful retreat offers an aesthetic southern experience. From weddings, rehearsal dinners, engagements, or birthdays, it is also perfect for weekend getaways, clearing mental clutter, and a good old fashioned camping trip. If you’re looking for a local experience, try horseback riding or golfing. Or immerse yourself in art galleries, musical venues, and the ample wineries in the area. (Pets under 50 lbs are welcome with a $50 pet deposit.) —Marika Flatt & Alexis Higgins
10. Rockin’ B Ranch, Pipe Creek
For a restorative time away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Rockin’ B Ranch is nestled over 55 peaceful acres in the Hill Country between Boerne and Bandera, with plenty of hiking trails, a catch-and-release spring-fed creek for fishing or kayaking. If you’re searching for the perfect romantic weekend getaway, to celebrate a special anniversary or maybe even a quiet honeymoon, Rockin’ B earns an “A” in hospitality, with special touches, like your initials on the entrance gate and fresh flowers upon check-in.
One of four properties on the ranch, the “Love Shack” has a queen bed for two and a private hot tub for soaking away your stress. If you’re seeking a bigger nest than the “Love Shack,” choose one of the three larger homes on the property. The Bluff house sleeps up to eight and offers an incredible bird’s eye view of the Hill Country and an expansive deck with a hot-tub that’s comfortable enough to seat the whole house. Perfect for a reunion of up to six friends or several couples, the “Creek View Quarters” offers three king bedrooms and two custom bathrooms with a second floor balcony. The Summit House is another option for a larger group. Guests may also bring their dogs or horses along to this equestrian-friendly destination.— Dana Kent
11. Sugar Land, near Houston
The sweetest city in Texas, originally got that moniker because it’s home to the Imperial Sugar Company. If you’re looking for more than just sugar, The Toasted Yolk Cafe recently had its grand opening in Sugar Land Town Center. A flavorful breakfast or brunch menu will entice the taste buds. Stay in the convenient Sugar Land Marriott Town Square to be in the middle of the action. I loved their ode to Imperial Sugar in much of their lobby art.
Vino & Vinyl is where you can listen to sweet vinyl records while you sip your wine flight (like an Edna Valley flight) and dine on an array of delicious dishes. Wednesday is BYOV (Bring Your Own Vinyl); they also have a mini record shop.
12. Vista Brewing, Driftwood
Vista Brewing husband and wife owners Kent and Karen Killough were inspired by their time living in Europe (their hobby was visiting countryside brew pubs) and they wanted to bring that same experience to The South. The sustainably-built property features a brewery and tasting room, a local food program, an on-site farm and apiary. There are even long-term plans for overnight accommodations, allowing you to spend the night and get a beautiful night’s sleep under giant oak trees.— Dana Kent
13. Las Catalinas, Costa Rica
This charming seaside town is set along a picturesque cove and cradled by a stretch of pristine tropical forest in Costa Rica’s northwestern province of Guanacaste. Designed to be both walkable and interwoven with nature, every facet of the car-free town is geared toward outdoor living, interacting with people, and connecting with the stunning surrounding environment.
Las Catalinas also features a world-class ocean view singletrack mountain bike trail system — now more than 40kms — making it the most prominent mountain biking destination in the American tropics, and the 45-room Santarena Hotel, opening this February. A new Tropical Agroforestry Tour is a unique chance to walk through the town’s entire agroforestry system to better understand the holistic approach they’ve taken toward creating a more resilient, place-based, and permanent dry tropical forest.
14. Tuscany, Italy
Exclusive Resort’s Villa Monterotondo on the Tuscan Casali di Casole estate is off the beaten path but close enough to enjoy many of the region’s fairytale small towns and villages. A restored farmhouse, the main villa features two large bedrooms upstairs with private baths and one smaller room. On the bottom floor, vacationers enjoy a large living room with fireplace, a dining room with an extra long table and a kitchen. Two separate guesthouses sit apart from the main home. Each guesthouse features a small sitting area with king size bed and spacious bathroom (you’ll love the old stone walls). Did we mention the pool out back overlooking the hills?
Old and new are combined in the most glamorous ways at this property. The location is remote, yet you have wifi. The kitchen is big enough to feed a large group, yet there’s a brick oven for pizza making outside. The interior of the guesthouses features vintage stone walls and the most plush bedding.—Marika Flatt
15. The Kelpies, Scotland
Think of Scotland, and we all think of whisky, golf, castles and kilts. Yet, located just 45 minutes from majestic Edinburgh, you have to see the unique Kelpies up close to fully appreciate them. You can even go inside on a guided walking tour to marvel at the complexity and the engineering which created these fantastic pieces of art.
The world’s largest equine sculptures tower a colossal 100 feet above the Forth and Clyde Canal and form a dramatic gateway to the canal entrance on the East Coast of Scotland. Created from 18,000 individual pieces by Scotland’s leading sculptor Andy Scott, The Kelpies are a monument to horse powered heritage and rose from the ground in just 90 days in late 2013. The Kelpies sit in the heart of the 850-acre Helix Park – complete with Visitor Centre, which includes a cafe and gift shop, adventure play park, splash play fountains, lagoon and miles of cycle paths. And, just 5 miles from The Kelpies, you’ll find the breathtaking Falkirk Wheel—the world’s only rotating boat lift, where you can sail 115 feet into the air on an unforgettable boat trip. —Julie Tereshchuk
16. North Michigan
The lake shores of this region feels much like a beach without the scorching summer heat, yet a snowy wonderland during the winer. Dotted by some of the most charming towns, you’ll never bore of a Pure Michigan vacation. There’s a reason why Ernest Hemingway spent many summers at his family’s vacation home in Petoskey. Check out some of his works at McLean and Eakin Booksellers in the endearing downtown Petoskey. Hunt for your very own Petoskey stones on the lake’s shore for which the town got its name.
Michigan’s largest independently-ran Pride Festival (Up North Pride) happens in Traverse City each June where the craft beer flows as freely as the town’s spirit. Over in Charlevoix, self-taught builder Earl Young started building the now infamous Mushroom Houses out of indigenous materials in 1919. Situated between Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix, water activities are plentiful and so is the shopping. Less than 50 miles up US-31 is a secluded paradise from another era– Mackinac Island. The entire island is considered a National Historic Landmark located on Lake Huron. The 3.8 square-mile island can only be accessed by ferry or small boats and does not allow motorized automobiles. —Melissa Corbin
17. The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
Running along Europe’s Adriatic Sea, this coast has become a bucket list adventure ranking one of the world’s top luxury destinations. The largest Dalmatian city and second largest countrywide, Split serves as a favorite metropolitan choice. Home to Diocletian’s Palace, you’ll be able to soak up ancient history while strolling the town’s narrow streets behind the UNESCO-protected fortress walls.
Make a short trek from Split to the Fortress of Klis in Salona dating from 350 century BCE which is a famous Game of Thrones location. Scratch that adventurous itch in Omiš by zipping your way through the Mosor Mountains and over river Cetina with Zipline Croatia. Sipping more your speed? All over this region are some of the world’s most sought after wines. Take a ferry to the island of Korčula and sip local Croatian-style at family-owned wineries where some have been in operation for more than 300 years. A must sip is at award-winning Bačić Winery.
Still, no trip to Croatia is complete without time spent in picturesque Dubrovnik–– also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour the same streets of Olde Town which can be seen in Star Wars The Last Jedi, Game of Thrones and Robin Hood. Just prior to this coastal town’s high season, Dubrovnik Festiwine happens April 22- 28 and is a perfect way to explore the terroir of this extraordinary country all in one week. —Melissa Corbin
18. Québec City, Canada
Old Québec is the cradle of North America’s French civilization where the city’s official language is French and its people are their own blend of North American and European culture. Walk the cobblestoned streets of this 400-year old city and discover “la belle vie.” Enjoy a traditional Sugar Shack brunch at La Bûche where Canadian maple syrup is star. Let Le Cloche Penché introduce you to the bounty of Canadian growers and artisans from the region with their seasonal daily menu.
Poutine was born here and several restaurants claim to be the birthplace of this dish composed of french fries with cheese curds smothered in gravy. Speaking of birthplaces, the Canadian Arctic natives are known as Inuit. The Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec offers an ongoing exhibit. You’ll learn of Canadian ancestral values and skills and perhaps gain appreciation for North American roots. When it comes to modern culture, Québec City is the mothership for music festivals. Le Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ) is an annual 11-day festival which has been happening since the summer of 1968 (a full year prior to Woodstock.) With over 250 acts performing on multiple stages throughout the city, it’s completely free and draws more than 125,000 attendees. Mark your calendars for this year’s festival when major international and local acts will ascend upon this most historic city July 4-14, 2019. —Melissa Corbin
19. Indianapolis, Indiana
On May 26, the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 happens. But before those checkered flags even wave, you’re going to fall in love with this mid-western city Forbes named “America’s Most Underrated City.” Nearly half of Indiana’s craft breweries hang their hats in Indy, making the town a mecca for the craft culture. Grab a pint at Sun King Brewery—a leading pioneer and tastemaker. The food scene is equally impressive with favorites like Milktooth, Spoke and Steele, Livery and The Loft Restaurant at Traders Point Creamery. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the world’s largest children’s museum and attracts children from ages 1-92. Newfields is a 152-acre campus that is home to the Indianapolis Museum of Art along with inspiring gardens, a cafe and even a beer garden.
And, while on the subject of museums, The Indiana Medical History Museum is one of those places that will make you go “hmm…” On the grounds of the former Central State Hospital, the nation’s oldest surviving pathology facility houses actual brain specimens and other remains along with a host of artifacts. Explore the beginnings of scientific psychiatry and modern medicine and don’t forget to check out the medicinal garden while there. The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is one of those features that makes the town so unique. There are 8 paths highlighting some of Indy’s finest attractions. —Melissa Corbin
Cover photo Benjamin Davies/Unsplash