6 Buzzy Destinations That Should Be on Your RadarBy Melanie Wynne
When you’re ready to travel again, these buzzy destinations are worthy of your attention. With exciting developments happening in each of these emerging hot spots right now, it’s a good time to put these cities, routes and countries on your future vacation to-do list.
As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
With a traditionally buttoned-up mix of Nordic and Soviet culture, Estonia has been seeing some big changes.
Markers are being placed along the 1,300-mile Baltic Forest Trail, which is roughly divided into 50 different one-day hikes through several pine, birch and spruce forests, ultimately connecting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The trail ends in Estonia’s capital city of Tallinn, which blends 13th-century fairy tale architecture with modern, cutting-edge design, and whose prices are easier on the wallet than the rest of Scandinavia.
Less than an hour away, the small town of Viljandi, home to the Estonian Traditional Music Center and an annual Folk Music Festival each July, is now experiencing a commercial renaissance, with the opening of creative new cafés and shops, plus a recently extended tram line — music to any traveler’s ears.
With three rivers, dozens of hills and elegant, leafy enclaves that date to the golden age of industrialization, some of Pittsburgh has been lovely for ages.
Other sections of this former Pennsylvania steel town are better known for coal dust, labor struggles and post-industrial neglect. However, a wide ribbon of revitalization now runs throughout “the Burgh,” bringing a cadre of chefs, purveyors and makers with it.
Top-notch restaurants bring global flavors (plus vegan and vegetarian-friendly menus) to the whole city, from Shadyside to Lawrenceville and the funky Strip District. More than a dozen wine bars and 70 breweries call the area home, and the local distillery scene is deliciously on the rise.
Bliss out on river views, immerse yourself in modern art, nature bathe in expansive parks and gardens, and admire the jewel this Rust Belt city has become.
Called El-Djzaïr (rocky islands) in Arabic, Algiers is the rocky island capital of the North African country of Algeria, on the Mediterranean Sea.
Algiers is regaining global attention as a beautiful seaside city known for Islamic art and culture. Visitors can travel through time at the National Museum of Antiquities and Islamic Art and marvel at the medina’s mix of old and “new” architecture: Moorish from the eighth through 15th centuries and neo-Moorish from the early 1900s.
Visit French-designed cathedrals (Algeria is a former colony) and grand mosques, or stroll through the early 19th-century El Hamma Jardin d’Essai, a glorious, 79-acre botanical garden with towering palms, fluffy flowers and graceful fountains.
East of Madagascar off the southern coast of Africa, multicultural Mauritius is known for its white sand beaches and epic waterfalls, lush forests of ebony and eucalyptus, and a 13,000-foot-deep underwater gorge at the edge of a coral reef.
Water sports and ocean-gazing are the pastimes of choice here, along with dining on spicy Creole cuisine influenced by southern Africa, eastern China and northern India.
The country’s usual travel visa allows you to stay for up to 180 days a year, but in the likely event that you fall in love with Mauritius, its Premium Travel Visa enables you to stay and work remotely in this paradise for a whole year.
Meaning “river of the colorful birds” in the long-ago native Guarani tongue, the South American country of Uruguay has lately grown increasingly popular for its South Atlantic coastline.
The Uruguayan Riviera beach village of José Ignacio, not far from the urban-chic luxury of Punta del Este resorts, is swelling with sleek, modern waterfront developments and beach cafés helmed by the likes of famed Argentine chef Francis Mallmann.
The José Ignacio vibe is more laid-back than strictly swanky, but it’s still a far-from-rustic base from which to explore the museums and monuments of Montevideo, colonial Portuguese tile work in Colonia, pastoral estancias, and national parks like the seaside, forested Santa Teresa.
Florida Highway 30A
Unfurling along South Walton County’s Gulf of Mexico coastline, this 20-mile route runs through longleaf pine flatwoods, wetlands and marshes, as well as seagrass-covered dunes flanking gorgeous white sand beaches.
Constructed in the 1970s to connect road-to-nowhere offshoots of US-98, 30A is once again hitting its stride, delivering weary city dwellers to nostalgic beach-cottage communities where Gulf breezes, shorebird-watching and laid-back porch culture are a way of life.
Topsail Hill Preserve and Grayton Beach are actually Florida state parks, while 11 coastal dune lakes are an environmental rarity, combining freshwater and saltwater in a biologically diverse cocktail.
Dining along the route ranges from upscale beachside grills to shrimp shacks, plus old-timey candy shops and Airstream-trailer food trucks. Keep an eye out for purple wildflowers in spring, magnolia blossoms in early summer and golden asters in fall.