Last year, savvy travelers flocked to Rio for the Olympics; Cuba, because they could; and America’s national parks, to celebrate the 100th birthday of the natural wonders in their own backyards. In 2017, we’ll see hot spots like Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Oman remain popular, but travelers will venture off the beaten path, beyond each country’s tried-and-true holiday escapes. Remote parts of the world will become more accessible than ever, thanks to new heli-skiing operations in the mountains of Georgia and a new walking trail that crosses the length of Jordan. Malaysia’s beaches are primed to become the new alternative to island getaways in Vietnam and Thailand, and there’s a Caribbean destination with just as much culture as Cuba, minus the crowds. You’ll want to get your passport ready to experience a fresh take on the African safari in Madagascar and the new capital of Nordic cool in Europe, and for something close to home, there’s a U.S. mountain town you’ll want to experience now, before the secret’s out.
Georgia (the country, not the state) has gotten buzz in recent years for its surprisingly great wine scene. But a stellar bottle of vino is just one reason to visit. The capital, Tbilisi, with its young, creative class and Brooklyn-esque undertones, has emerged as a hub of cool. The super design-y Rooms Hotel should be your base for exploring the city’s exciting art, music, and food scenes. Bassiani, a favorite local music venue, brings in the best electronic music performers from around the globe, while Fabrika, a Soviet-era sewing factory turned multiuse cultural space, highlights Tbilisi’s urban artists. Georgian food has begun to come into its own right, due to innovative restaurants like Le Montrachet, a neo-bistro run by former French Laundry alum Francesco Manalo. And thanks to a new partnership between Rooms Hotel and Kazbegi Helicopters, Georgia is primed to become a new winter playground for hard-core skiers and snowboarders looking to access untouched terrain in the Caucasus Mountains.