As you start planning your vacation days for 2019, consider visiting somewhere no one else on your social media feeds has been — yet. Sure, this past year everyone was talking about their recent trips to Iceland (now suffering from over-tourism) and Mexico City, but with so many travel-worthy spots across the globe, why not check out a new corner of the earth that New Yorkers have yet to congregate in? Here are our suggestions.
Instead of Reykjavik, Iceland: Fairbanks, Alaska
If the idea of traveling north already has you stocking up on Heattech at Uniqlo’s post-holiday sale, book a trip west instead of east, to Alaska’s largest interior city (population nearly 32,000, less than half that of Astoria). Here, you can mush sled dogs across the boreal forest, stay up late to view the Northern Lights and even soak in hot springs at the Chena Hot Springs Resort. A short flight from Anchorage, Fairbanks can also be the starting or ending spot of a longer Alaskan getaway.
Instead of Mexico City: Guatemala City
CDMX is still super popular — and for good reason — but its southern neighbor is certainly worth a visit. Accommodations, meals and tours are all super cheap, the scenery is gorgeous and the tortillas are top-notch. The city, split up into zones, can be dodgy in some areas, but Zona 4 is a traveler’s paradise, loaded with trendy bars, restaurants and coffee shops. From Guatemala City, visitors can also transfer to Antigua, the charming colonial city known for historic architecture, and Lake Atitlán, situated in a volcanic crater.
Instead of Sedona, Arizona: Sonoma, California
OK, there’s no place like Sedona, but if you want a shorter drive and better local booze, head up the California coast to Sonoma, about an hour from San Francisco proper but an entire world away. Small towns like Sebastopol, Healdsburg and Petaluma each have their own distinct charm, with farmers markets, local farm-to-table restaurants and, of course, surrounding wineries.
Instead of Porto, Portugal: Rioja, Spain
Everyone and their parents are bringing back preserved seafood and pottery from Portugal, but if you love culinary adventures and incredible scenery, head to this Spanish wine region for tapas and plenty of vino tinto. La Rioja consists of several small towns and cities, all a quick trip from each other and the surrounding vineyards and bodegas (aka wineries). Stay in Logroño, a town which dates back to the Middle Ages and is known for its bustling Calle Laurel, a street packed with tapas and wine bars where you can taste your way through regional specialties until nearly dawn.
Instead of Austin, Texas: San Antonio, Texas
Just over an hour’s drive from downtown Austin, San Antonio is rich in history and culture and a worthwhile weekend getaway for Austinites and New Yorkers alike. An official UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, San Antonio is known for its culinary offerings, often from small, chef-driven restaurants, as well as calendar of food and drink centric events, like the San Antonio Cocktail Conference (January) and Culinaria (May).