Even seasoned travelers can rattle off countless places they still want to go. But there are only so many trips you can take each year—so where should you go in 2018? Here are a few of the best choices. Even if you've been to some of these cities, like Chicago and New Orleans, there are good reasons why you should go back in the coming year.
Don't go to Chile in 2018 just because it's the bicentennial of the country's declaration of independence from Spain. Go for all the other reasons why it's one of the best destinations in the Americas. There's a hotel boom in bustling Santiago—and it's within a 90-minute drive of world-class wine regions (notably the Casablanca and Maipo Valleys), several great beaches, the culturally dazzling city of Valparaiso (where the historic quarter is a World Heritage Site), one of Chile's many observatories (Pailalen) and Andes foothills hikes. Plus, Chile's stable democracy makes it one of the hemisphere's safest and most prosperous countries. But don't forget that our winter is Chile's summer—so it's best to go soon.
Illinois also celebrates its bicentennial year in 2018, with events planned all year in Chicago and statewide that climax with a celebrity-studded bash at Chicago's United Center on December 3. Another reason to visit is the red-hot cultural scene, which has heated up even further with the 2017 opening of the American Writers Museum and performances of “Hamilton" at the CIBC Theatre through April 2018. The Chicago Riverwalk and 26-mile-long Lakefront Trail have both been newly expanded for the outdoors crowd. And it's never too early to get Cubs tickets, with Wrigley Field sellouts as routine as the winds that whip in from Lake Michigan.
Belfast, North Ireland
Belfast and the nearby Causeway Coast were named best region in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet, and there are many reasons. A city tormented by violence for decades during “The Troubles" (tours that trace this history are now offered) has become a safe and satisfying tourist destination. The Titanic Belfast museum is the main attraction in The Titanic Quarter, Northern Ireland's biggest attraction, where you can now stay at the new Titanic-themed Titanic Hotel. As for the Causeway Coast to the north—where visitors can tour the Old Bushmills Distillery—viewers of “Game of Thrones" will feel right at home. Many scenes were filmed there, with “Game of Thrones" tours—by bus, van, bike and boat—a popular diversion.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Southern city that knows how to party has one more excuse in 2018: the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Orleans by the French. Count on even more celebrating than usual during Mardi Gras (February 2-13), but also throughout the year at dozens of events. They kick off with Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve Countdown to Tricentennial, the only event in a Central Time Zone city to be featured in the Ryan Seacrest-hosted telecast, with a major concert at Jackson Square and fireworks over the Mississippi River. But it will also be “Big Easy" to take in other tricentennial events during the year, ranging from ballets and a “burlesque opera" to special art exhibits and jazz concerts.
In Taiwan, you can see nearly all of the kinds of places one might find in China, but it's small enough that you can drive the length of the island country in a day—though that wouldn't allow time to stop at any of the dozens of beaches that line both coasts, or to explore the volcanic mountains, lakes or national parks in the island's lightly populated interior. In the main city of Taipei are attractions that include Tapei 101 (a 101-story tower topped by a viewing platform), countless temples, and at Liberty Square, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, the National Theatre and the National Concert Hall.