Three Perfect Days: Denver - United Hub
Hemispheres

Three Perfect Days: Denver

By The Hub team

As far as American cities go, at a mere 160 years old, Denver is a lot like a youngest sibling. Founded on a barrel of whiskey—and a death threat—the Mile High City has always played by its own rules. When the transcontinental railroad bypassed the city in the 1860s, Denver started its own rail company and established itself as the preeminent metropolis in the West. More recently, in the midst of unprecedented development, Denver has made itself an alluring alternative to coastal cities, with the promise of easy Rocky Mountain access, 300 sunny days a year, and one of the most dynamic dining scenes in the country. It's as if the rest of America is finally seeing the Queen City of the Plains through the eyes of Jack Kerouac, who wrote in On the Road: “Now I could see Denver looming ahead of me like the Promised Land, way out there beneath the stars."

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The Daniel Libeskind-designed Frederic C. Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum

Day 1

America's most beautiful train station, Abstract Expressionist masterpieces, and the original pearl-snap shirt

If the railroad made the Mile High City, it's only fitting I start my first day gawking at the pristine beauty of Union Station. Since being restored to its Beaux-Arts glory in 2014, it has become one of the best places in town to eat, drink, and sleep. You won't find any burger chains here. Instead, commuters have their pick of three restaurants from two James Beard Award–winning chefs; a mezzanine cocktail bar, The Cooper Lounge, where drinks are literally served on a silver platter; and The Crawford, a boutique hotel named for local preservationist Dana Crawford where each floor is designed to reflect a different era in the station's history.

"Aglow with morning light, Union Station is a transit hub where people want to spend time"

The Terminal Bar at Union Station

As I walk through the Great Hall, aglow with morning light streaming through the massive arched windows, I notice that this is a transit hub where people want to spend time. Denverites gather over coffee on tufted leather couches and tap away at laptops on long wooden workstations straight out of a university library. There are even two millennial-approved shuffleboard tables. But I'm not here to play games; I want to eat—specifically at Mercantile Dining & Provision, a market and café from Alex Seidel, this year's winner of the James Beard Best Chef: Southwest award. While “farm-to-table" has come to feel like a menu cliché, Seidel actually owns the 10-acre farm that supplies Mercantile with its yogurts and cheeses—including the crème fraîche on my smoky citrus-cured salmon toast.

Satiated, I catch a cab 10 minutes south to the Clyfford Still Museum, a dense concrete building dwarfed by the sharp silver prow of the Denver Art Museum hovering just behind it. Inside, the museum traces the life and artistic evolution of Still, a postwar Abstract Expressionist who didn't quite manage the level of fame of his peers,

Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Still did, however, know how to secure his legacy: In his will, he stipulated that his estate must go to a city willing to establish a museum devoted entirely to his work. Having so much space devoted to one artist feels like a luxury, and the way the museum arranges the pieces—gently guiding the viewer from gaunt, Depression-era realist works to the color-splashed abstractions Still filled with what he called “lifelines"—helps you catch recurring motifs.

In one of the final, light-filled galleries, I encounter a middle school field trip and overhear the teacher asking the kids what they saw in Still's work. “Life and death," one girl responds gravely. Another boy eagerly chimes in: “Hope." Whoa. As the class begins to file out of the gallery, I hear another girl whisper, “I was so confused." I'm tempted to tell her that I think that's
the point.

The rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol

After a 10-minute walk along tree-lined Civic State Park, I arrive at the gold-domed Colorado State Capitol. In addition to marking the spot where the Mile High City reaches 5,280 feet above sea level (the exact location has been changed three times, with the current consensus placing it on the 13th step), the building offers some of the best 360-degree views of the city and surrounding mountains. The dome's observation deck is accessible only on one of the free hourly tours, so I join a group. Our guide, a University of Colorado student named Angela, is chock-full of memorable trivia, like how Bill Clinton's portrait in the presidential gallery is a replica because Clinton apparently liked the original so much he took it home with him. As we pass through the surprisingly magnificent House of Lords–inspired Senate chamber, one of my tourmates emits a low whistle and murmurs, “That's a big-a** chandelier." (Angela tells us it weighs 1.5 tons.) Up on the deck, the sun warms my face as I look across the park at the stately City Hall, hung with a massive “Denver ♥ Immigrants," banner, and the craggy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, which seem to watch over the city.

"I look across the park at the craggy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, which seem to watch the city."

Back on the ground, I undock a bike from a B-Cycle city bikeshare stand and follow 15th Street northwest to Larimer Square, a charming collection of Victorian brick buildings that makes up one of the oldest blocks in the city. Inside one of these historic structures is Rioja, where the city's first James Beard Award winner, Jennifer Jasinski, has been serving up Mediterranean cuisine since 2004. As I swoon over a cube of pork belly in garbanzo bean purée, Jasinski—hair tied up in a bandanna, fork-and-knife earrings dangling—swings by my table and tells me how the city's tastes have evolved over the 18 years she's lived here. “I remember when I first got hired in Denver, everyone said, 'First of all, no one is going to come downtown for dinner, and second, no one here eats fish,'" she recalls. “But I've seen Denverites really push the envelope and try to break that myth of the steak-and-cow town."

Cowboy hats at Rockmount Ranch Wear

After finishing a goat-cheese beignet with fig jam, I wander the three and a half blocks to Rockmount Ranch Wear, the family-owned Western-wear company that invented the pearl-snap shirt in 1946. Rockmount pearl snaps have since become a wardrobe staple of rockers from Jerry Lee Lewis to Jack White. I weave between racks stuffed with shirts in hundreds of prints, colors, and fabrics, from leopard velour to one emblazoned with ray guns, and end up leaving with a blue and teal granado-patterned fleece overshirt.

I swing by my room at the mountain-modern Kimpton Hotel Born to freshen up before venturing out for dinner at Bar Dough, an Italian restaurant in the Lower Highlands where recent Top Chef: Colorado finalist and Jasinski protégée Carrie Baird draws crowds for her “fancy toast," which tonight is a thick piece of ciabatta slathered with the cheesy, caramelized onion crust of a French onion soup. Though a wood-fired pizza oven dominates the kitchen, I opt for squid ink tagliarini, purple potato gnocchi, and a roasted chicken with lemony broccolini and crisp fingerling potatoes, washed down with pairings from the exclusively Italian wine list.

The secret bookcase entryway to the Williams & Graham speakeasy

Knowing that I'm just a few blocks from Williams & Graham, a cocktail lounge that's been listed as one of the World's 50 Best Bars, I have to pop in for a nightcap. The host swings open a heavy-looking bookcase and leads me downstairs into the dark, wood-paneled bar, which despite its cosmopolitan bona fides still has the feeling of a cozy neighborhood joint—Pixies playing on the stereo and all. As I sip a blackberry sage smash that tastes like summer in the mountains, co-owner Sean Kenyon tells me how his family's bartending heritage inspired this spot's look and feel.

“My father and grandfather taught me everything I know about taking care of people," he says, between sips of beer. “People don't visit drinks. They visit atmosphere. They visit people." Entranced by the shimmer of the bottles in the flickering candlelight, in the bar's cocooning darkness, which Kenyon calls “a suspension of reality," I order a second drink, the gin and raspberry Clover Club. Reality, suspended.

Day 2

Subversive street art, tacos with a mission, and urban winemaking in RiNo

RiNo (River North) is the city's new Wild West, and I wake up ready to explore. The RiNo Art District, as it's formally called, actually encompasses four historic neighborhoods on either side of the South Platte River, including the city's old manufacturing center—which was dominated by foundries, pattern shops, and warehouses until the 1980s and '90s—and Five Points, which became known as the “Harlem of the West" during the mid-20th century. As the city has grown, the area has undergone a development boom that has transformed it from a neighborhood that mostly attracted street-art crews to one that now draws out-of-towners for brewery-tour bachelor parties.

A mural by the artist Elle in the RiNo Art District

My first stop is Denver Central Market, a 14,000-square-foot food hall that made Bon Appetit's long list of Best New Restaurants in 2017. The former cabinet factory, Western curiosity shop, and used-car dealership is now home to 11 food vendors, including a fish market and a produce stand that hawks colorful acaí bowls. I opt for an Izzio Bakery paleo bowl—poached eggs topped with sweet plantains, chorizo, and green chili—and a cappuccino from Crema Bodega and settle in at a table next to a woman in a sweatshirt printed with the word “Kale."

Just as I'm finishing breakfast, up walks Tracy Weil, a visual artist and one of the cofounders of the RiNo Art District. In 2005, he and seven other artists established the neighborhood as an arts district and trademarked its name, “which we learned also stands for Republican in Name Only," he says, chuckling. Within the first year, membership ballooned from eight galleries to 50, and today the district's hundreds of members range from exhibition spaces to architecture firms to breweries.

"RiNo has transformed from a neighborhood that attracted street-art crews to one that draws out-of-towners."

“I always wanted RiNo to be its own small town," Weil says, “and the city wanted to keep the authenticity here." As he takes me for a spin around the neighborhood in his SUV—pointing out murals by local artists, like Jeremy Burns's Larimer Boy and Girl, which appears as a different gender depending on the angle from which the viewer sees it—it's clear that RiNo has long passed the small-town phase. Brighton Boulevard, the neighborhood's main avenue, has been gutted and is in the midst of a $30 million project that will add a new park and pedestrian bridge, Weil shows me the site of a World Trade Center campus, slated to open in 2020, and the 11 tiny homes (and one yurt) that comprise Beloved Community Village, a pilot project for housing the city's homeless. The rapid pace of RiNo's development makes these sorts of contrasts even starker.

Mother and daughter Mexican-American chefs at Comal

My insides are starting to rumble, so I bid Weil goodbye and cab across the South Platte River to Comal Heritage Food Incubator. Comal is not simply a restaurant—although the carne asada tacos and horchata are worth the trip alone—but a job training program for immigrant women with a passion for food and entrepreneurship. The menu changes depending on who's in the kitchen: Monday through Thursday it's Mexican; Friday it's Syrian and Iraqi food; Thursday afternoon there's an Ethiopian coffee service. Murals of Frida Kahlo and Malala Yousafzai look out over women working in the kitchen while Latin pop blasts from the speakers. I'm so happy with my lunch I ask the manager if I can say hi to the mother-daughter duo from Durango, Mexico, who made it, but the ladies demur, saying they're too sweaty and covered in food to talk.

Carne asada tacos at Comal Heritage Food Incubator

Anyone can tell you Denver is a craft beer town, but now it's making serious strides in viticulture as well, so I take a five-minute taxi ride over to The Infinite Monkey Theorem winery, one of the movement's pioneers. Founder Ben Parsons started making wine with grapes from Colorado's Western Slope in a Denver back alley a decade ago. In 2012, he moved his operation to a graffitied stretch of Larimer Street, and young locals flock to the industrial-chic tasting room, which feels more like a brewery taproom than a winery. From the company's name—inspired by the idea that if a monkey sat for an infinite length of time at a typewriter it would eventually type the works of William Shakespeare—to its early adoption of cans and kegs, IMT is known for its punk-rock approach to winemaking.

A winemaker at The Infinite Monkey Theorem

“The industry is very stuffy and pretentious," Parsons says as he pours tastes of IMT's sparkling, riesling, cabernet franc, and syrah. “We really wanted to create an atmosphere where people can come and feel comfortable and not feel talked down to by some guys in Napa who probably know way less than we do." With vintages like dry-hopped sauvignon blanc, which has the nose of an IPA, Parsons explains, IMT is looking to “redefine the line between craft beer and craft wine." He has even made a foray into liquor, partnering with The Block Distilling Co. to produce a series of vermouths. After I taste a rosé vermouth seasoned with coriander, basil, and wormwood, Parsons welcomes me into the “secret vermouth society."

Feeling buzzed and buoyant, I step into the dusky street and walk a few blocks to Hop Alley for dinner. From the name, which honors the city's old Chinatown, to the thumping playlist of Lil Wayne and Wu-Tang Clan curated by chef-owner Tommy Lee, this place is a true blend of new- and old-school Denver. I order a Negroni seasoned with sesame and Douglas fir, followed by a succession of umami-packed Chinese dishes, including a silky chilled tofu with smashed cucumbers, peanuts, and bang bang sauce; crispy, fatty Beijing duck rolls; fried chicken with mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorns and red chilies; and creamy bone marrow fried rice. Dessert is a banana-bread pudding dressed with fish-sauce caramel. I leave with a full belly and a bag full of leftover fried chicken, Weezy still ringing in my ears. I decide to turn in; I've got to get up early for a hike tomorrow.

Deer outside the city

Day 3

Red Rocks musical fantasies, John Denver's legacy, and secret custom cocktails

In Denver, we have four directions: north, south, east, and toward the mountains," says Dawn, my Tours by Locals guide, as we cruise west out of the city on I-70 to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the iconic venue and public park that's hosted every big name in music, from the Beatles and the Grateful Dead (who declared it their favorite venue) to Carole King and John Denver, the author of Colorado's state song, “Rocky Mountain High."

As we cover the 15 miles from Denver, Dawn explains how a rock formation with naturally perfect acoustics managed to rise out of the earth. The park's three landmark monoliths—Stage Rock, Ship Rock, and Creation Rock—came to be 65 million years ago, when the shifting of tectonic plates on the West Coast created the Rocky Mountains, pushing the sedimentary rock in today's Red Rocks into its current formations. It's almost as if Mother Nature were a Deadhead.

"Slabs of red rock slice the sky at such angles I can't help but think they were frozen mid shift."

OK, man played a role too. John Brisben Walker, the onetime publisher and owner of Cosmopolitan, used the proceeds from the magazine's sale to William Randolph Hearst to purchase the amphitheater, and hosted the first concert there in 1906. In 1927, he sold it to the city of Denver, which later enlisted WPA and CCC laborers to build out the seating. The stadium has held regular concerts since 1947.

We park at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. Out front, a 15-foot-tall statue of John Denver holds a landing eagle; inside, his bedazzled Canadian tuxedo from a 1970s tour is displayed behind glass. A volunteer eagerly shows us blurry laminated photos of a Bonnie Raitt signature in the “secret tunnel" backstage—where it's a tradition for every performer to sign his or her name—and then Dawn and I set off into the park.

We follow the Trading Post Loop Trail, an easygoing 1.4-mile walk through cacti, piñon pines, cottonwoods, and juniper bushes dotted with chalky blue berries. Behemoth slabs of red rock slice the sky at such dramatic angles that I can't help but think they were frozen mid-shift. I can see why Walker called this landscape “the Garden of the Titans."

On this bluebird morning, the only performance going on at the amphitheater is the horde of spandex-clad Denverites jogging and jumping their way up the stadium's 380 stairs. I eagerly bound down to the stage, imagining the reverberation of the first chord from an electric guitar, the roar of the crowd echoing off millions of years of history. I feel the urge to bow but instead huff it all the way back up to meet Dawn at the top, pausing to gasp for air on the 36th step.

An artist takes in the landscape at Red Rocks Park

Back in the car, we descend nearly 1,000 feet to Golden, a mining town founded during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush of 1859 that nearly beat out Denver to become Colorado's capital. Today, it's best known as the home of MillerCoors, the world's largest single-site brewery. Much of the city's original architecture remains—as Dawn and I walk down the main drag, Washington Avenue, which is lined with restaurants and outdoor-gear shops, I'm half expecting a stagecoach to pull up.

For lunch, we duck into Abejas, a New American bistro decorated with bright red climbing ropes and rustic wooden doors from a local ranch. Dawn and I wolf down porchetta sandwiches—the crispy skin of the pork crunches like potato chips with every bite, mingling with a bright fennel-apple slaw—as we listen to a “Take Me Home, Country Roads" cover.

On my return to Denver, I retrieve my luggage at the Kimpton Born and catch a cab to Cherry Creek, a neighborhood better known for its suburban-style shopping malls and country club than trendy bars and chic hotels. But, like the rest of Denver, that's changing. See: Halcyon, my digs for the night, where I find a coffee-bar check-in, a gear garage, and a rooftop pool. After a spin of Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life on the player in my room, I'm ready for dinner.

The rooftop of Halcyon

I take a car to the Uptown neighborhood, a residential district north of the capitol building, for dinner at Beast + Bottle. The rustic American menu—buttery lamb from Loveland's Ewe Bet Ranch served with root vegetables and squash agnolotti; bow-tie pasta in a creamy hazelnut sauce—offers plenty of quirky twists. My Karma Chameleon cocktail arrives at the table a clear glass of rum, cachaça, and butterfly pea flower; when the server pours in a small carafe of lime acid, it turns a Pantone-approved ultraviolet before my eyes.

Colorado lamb with root vegetables and squash at Beast + Bottle

The night is still young, and I have a reservation at B&GC, one of the city's most secretive speakeasies. (When I type the name into Google Maps, nothing appears.) I get a text with the location and, going against everything my mom taught me about personal safety, walk down a dark alley next to Halcyon to a cinderblock building marked “Deliveries." Next to a door labeled “Stair Three," there's a small sign with an Illuminati-like triangular symbol and, beneath that, a small golden doorbell. I buzz, and a woman with a headset appears and leads me down to the basement, opening a door to reveal a glowing Art Deco bar. Seductive lighting frames the faces of patrons seated on low-slung red leather banquettes; it feels like the kind of place Don Draper would bring a mistress.

The Art Deco B&GC bar at Halcyon

I decide on a Barcelona Wildwood (cachaça, Midori, Nardini Mandorla, lime, egg white, rosewater, and cucumber) but soon realize I've made a mistake choosing from the menu. The woman next to me asks for something gin-based with lavender bitters, and the bartender hands her a notebook; she gets to name the drink (after anything except herself), and it will be recorded in the book for the next time she comes. She settles on “Chelsea Clinton" (her name is Chelsea). As the man next to me flips through the book searching for his cocktail, I know I have to come back. Not just to this bar, but to this magnetic “young" city, still finding itself out here beneath the mountains and the stars, already a mile above the rest.

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Taking action to make a global impact

By The Hub team , January 17, 2020

Following the devastating wildfires in Australia and powerful earthquakes that shook Puerto Rico last week, we're taking action to make a global impact through our international partnerships as well as nonprofit organizations Afya Foundation and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency).

Helping Puerto Rico recover from earthquakes

Last week, Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake it experienced just days before. The island has been experiencing hundreds of smaller quakes during the past few weeks.

These earthquakes destroyed crucial infrastructure and left 4,000 people sleeping outside or in shelters after losing their homes. We've donated $50,000 to our partner charity organization Airlink and through them, we've helped transport disaster relief experts and medical supplies for residents, as well as tents and blankets for those who have lost their homes. Funding will go towards organizations within Airlink's partner network, which includes Habitat for Humanity, Mercy Corps and Americares, to help with relief efforts and long-term recovery.

Australian wildfire relief efforts

Our efforts to help Australia have inspired others to make their own positive impact. In addition to teaming up with Ellen DeGeneres to donate $250,000 and launching a fundraising campaign with GlobalGiving to benefit those impacted by the devastating wildfires in the country known for its open spaces and wildlife, our cargo team is helping to send more than 600 pounds of medical supplies to treat injured animals in the region.

Helping us send these supplies is the Afya Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve global health by collecting surplus medical supplies and delivering them to parts of the world where they are most needed. Through Airlink, the Afya Foundation will send more than $18,000 worth of materials that will be used to treat animals injured in the Australian fires.

These medical supplies will fly to MEL (Melbourne) and delivered to The Rescue Collective. This Australian organization is currently focused on treating the massive population of wildlife, such as koalas, kangaroos, and birds, that have had their habitats destroyed by the recent wildfires. The supplies being sent include wound dressings, gloves, catheters, syringes and other items that are unused but would otherwise be disposed of.

By working together, we can continue to make a global impact and help those affected by natural disasters to rebuild and restore their lives


Help us (and Ellen DeGeneres) support wildfire relief efforts in Australia

By The Hub team , January 08, 2020

Australia needs our help as wildfires continue to devastate the continent that's beloved by locals and travelers alike. In times like these, the world gets a little smaller and we all have a responsibility to do what we can.

On Monday, The Ellen DeGeneres Show announced a campaign to raise $5 million to aid in relief efforts. When we heard about Ellen's effort, we immediately reached out to see how we could help.

Today, we're committing $250,000 toward Ellen's campaign so we can offer support now and help with rebuilding. For more on The Ellen DeGeneres Show efforts and to donate yourself, you can visit www.gofundme.com/f/ellenaustraliafund

We're also matching donations made to the Australian Wildfire Relief Fund, created by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network. This fund will support immediate relief efforts for people impacted by the fires in the form of emergency supplies like food, water and medicine. Funds will also go toward long-term recovery assistance, helping residents recover and rebuild. United will match up to $50,000 USD in donations, and MileagePlus® members who donate $50 or more will receive up to 1,000 award miles from United. Donate to GlobalGiving.

Please note: Donations made toward GlobalGiving's fund are only eligible for the MileagePlus miles match.

In addition to helping with fundraising, we're staying in touch with our employees and customers in Australia. Together, we'll help keep Australia a beautiful place to live and visit in the years to come.

20 Reasons to Travel in 2020

By Hemispheres Magazine , January 01, 2020


20. Spot Giant Pandas in China

In 2016, giant pandas were removed from the endangered species list, and China would like to keep it that way. This year, the country plans to consolidate the creatures' known habitats into one unified national park system spanning nearly 10,500 square miles across Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi provinces—about the size, in total, of Massachusetts. —Nicholas DeRenzo


19. Follow in James Bond's Footsteps in Jamaica

Photo: Design Pics/Carson Ganci/Getty Images

When No Time to Die hits theaters on April 8, it marks a number of returns for the James Bond franchise. The 25th chapter in the Bond saga is the first to come out since 2015's Spectre; it's Daniel Craig's fifth go-round as 007, after rumors the actor was set to move on; and it's the first time the series has filmed in Jamaica since 1973's Live and Let Die. The Caribbean island has always had a special place in Bond lore: It was the location of one of creator Ian Fleming's homes, GoldenEye (which is now a resort), and the setting for the first 007 movie, 1962's Dr. No. Looking to live like a super-spy? You don't need a license to kill—just a ride to Port Antonio, where you can check out filming locations such as San San Beach and colonial West Street. Remember to keep your tux pressed and your Aston Martin on the left side of the road. —Justin Goldman


18. See the Future of Architecture in Venice

Every other year, Venice hosts the art world's best and brightest during its celebrated Biennale. But the party doesn't stop during off years, when the Architecture Biennale takes place. This year, curator Hashim Sarkis, the dean of MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, has tasked participants with finding design solutions for political divides and economic inequality; the result, on display from May to November, is the intriguing show How Will We Live Together? —Nicholas DeRenzo

17. Celebrate Beethoven's 250th Birthday in Bonn

Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images
Catch a Beethoven concerto in Bonn, Germany, to celebrate the hometown hero's big 2-5-0.

16. Eat Your Way Through Slovenia

When Ana Roš of Hiša Franko was named the World's Best Female Chef in 2017, food lovers began to wonder: Do we need to pay attention to Slovenia? The answer, it turns out, is definitely yes. This March, the tiny Balkan nation about two hours east of Venice gets its own Michelin Guide. —Nicholas DeRenzo

15. Star- (and Sun-) Gaze in Patagonia

Photo: blickwinkel/Alamy

Come December 13 and 14, there will be no better spot for sky-watchers than northern Patagonia, which welcomes both the peak of the Geminid meteor shower and a total solar eclipse within 24 hours. —Nicholas DeRenzo

14. Explore Miami's Game-Changing New Park

About 70,000 commuters use Miami's Metrorail each day, and city planners aim to turn the unused space beneath its tracks into an exciting new public space, a 10-mile linear park aptly named The Underline. Luckily, the Magic City is in good hands: The project is being helmed by James Corner Field Operations, the geniuses behind New York's High Line. “Both projects share similarities in their overarching goals," says principal designer Isabel Castilla, “to convert a leftover infrastructural space into a public space that connects neighborhoods, generates community, and encourages urban regeneration." When finished, Miami's park will be about seven times as long as its Big Apple counterpart. The first half-mile leg, set to open this June, is the Brickell Backyard, which includes an outdoor gym, a butterfly garden, a dog park, and gaming tables that call to mind the dominoes matches you'll find nearby in Little Havana. “We envision the Underline dramatically changing the way people in Miami engage with public space," Castilla says. —Nicholas DeRenzo

Photo: philipus/Alamy

13. Kick Off the NFL in Las Vegas

Photo: Littleny/Alamy

Former Raiders owner Al Davis was famous for saying, “Just win, baby." His son, Mark Davis, the team's current owner, is more likely to be shouting “Vegas, baby!" Swingers-style, as his team becomes Sin City's first NFL franchise, the Las Vegas Raiders. After years of threats and lawsuits, the Raiders have finally left Oakland, and this summer they're landing just across the highway from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in a 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion domed stadium that will also host the UNLV football team, the next two Pac-12 championship games, and the Las Vegas Bowl. Construction is slated to be finished July 31, just in time for the NFL preseason—and just in time to lure football fans from the sportsbooks to the grandstand. —Justin Goldman

12. Celebrate the Suffragettes in Washington D.C.

All eyes are on the ballot box this year, but the electorate would look quite different if not for the 19th Amendment, which was ratified 100 years ago this August. Many D.C. institutions, such as the National Archives Museum and the Library of Congress, are honoring the decades-long struggle for women's suffrage with exhibits. In particular, the National Museum of American History unveils Sarah J. Eddy's portrait of Susan B. Anthony this March, before putting on a 'zine-inspired show on girlhood and youth social movements this June. —Nicholas DeRenzo

11. Go for a Ride Through Mexico City

If you want to get somewhere quickly in Mexico City, try going by bicycle. During peak traffic, bikes average faster speeds than cars or public transportation—which might explain why ridership has gone up almost 50 percent since 2007. And riding on two wheels is getting safer and easier. In 2019, the city announced plans to invest $10 million (more than it had spent in the last six years combined) into the construction of about 50 miles of new paths and lanes. Now, you can cycle on a two-mile separated path along the Paseo de la Reforma, from Colonia Juárez and Roma to Chapultepec Park and Polanco. Future plans include a route along the National Canal between Coyoacán (where Frida Kahlo once lived) and Xochimilco (with its floating flower farms). “The goal is to finish the six-year [presidential] term with 600 kilometers of bike infrastructure," says Roberto Mendoza of the city's Secretariat of Mobility. Time to start pedaling. —Naomi Tomky

10. Consider the Mayflower's Legacy in Massachusetts and Abroad

Photo: Thianchai Sitthikongsak

Before they came to America in 1620, the religious separatists now known as the Pilgrims lived in England and the Netherlands. This year, the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing will be commemorated not only by those nations but also by a fourth: The Wampanoag, the confederation of tribes that live in New England and whose role in this world-changing event has been at best left out and at worst distorted.

“We're challenging the myths and stereotypes," says Aquinnah Wampanoag author Linda Coombs, a board member of Plymouth 400, Inc., which is planning cultural events such
as an Ancestors Walk to honor the native villages pushed aside by settlers, as well as
an indigenous history conference and powwow (plus an $11 million restoration of the replica Mayflower II).

Kerri Helme, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag nation and cultural programs manager at Plimoth Plantation, says that “people want to hear the whole story." She notes that it's a commonly held belief that the Pilgrims were welcomed by the natives, when in fact their first encounter was violent, since the English had been stealing the Wampanoags' food.

“The Wampanoag are key players in all of this," says Charles Hackett, CEO of Mayflower 400 in the U.K. “It's a whole other aspect of this history." In England, a Mayflower trail will connect Pilgrim sites in towns such as Southampton and Plymouth, and in Leiden, the Dutch town where the Pilgrims took refuge before embarking for the New World, the ethnology museum will run an exhibit about the natives.

“The most important thing for us, as the Wampanoag people," says Paula Peters, a former Wampanoag council member, “is to be acknowledged as a vital tribe comprised of people that, in spite of everything that's happened, are still here." —Jon Marcus

9. Discover Lille's Design Scene

Photo: Mark Bassett/Alamy

Previous World Design Capitals have included major cultural hubs such as Helsinki and Seoul, so it came as a shock when Lille, France's 10th-largest city, beat Sydney for this year's title. Judges cited Lille's use of design to improve its citizens' lives; get a taste for yourself at spots like La Piscine Musée d'Art et d'Industrie, a gallery in a former Art Deco swim center. —Nicholas DeRenzo

8. See Stellar Space in Rio de Janeiro, the World Capital of Architecture

Rio de Janeiro is renowned for the beauty of its beaches and mountains, but the Cidade Maravilhosa's man-made structures are as eye-catching as its natural features. For that reason, UNESCO recently designated Rio its first World Capital of Architecture, honoring a city that boasts such landmarks as the stained glass–domed Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading, the fairy-tale Ilha Fiscal palace, and the uber-modern Niterói Contemporary Art Museum.

"Rio is an old city by New World standards, having been founded in the mid–16th century," says architectural photographer Andrew Prokos, who took this shot. "So the city has many layers of architectural styles, from Colonial and Rococo to Art Nouveau, Modernist, Brutalist, and contemporary." In the case of this museum, which was designed by perhaps Brazil's greatest architect, Pritzker Prize winner Oscar Niemeyer, Prokos was intrigued by how the 24-year-old building interacts with its surroundings. "The upward slope of the museum complements the slope of the Pão de Açúcar across the bay," he says, "so the two are speaking to each other from across the water." – Tom Smyth

7. Join the Avengers at Disneyland

This summer, Disney California Adventure unveils its Marvel-themed Avengers Campus, with a new Spider-Man attraction, followed later by an Ant-Man restaurant and a ride through Wakanda. If the hype surrounding last year's debut of Disney+ is any indication, Comic-Con types are going to lose their fanboy (and -girl) minds. —Nicholas DeRenzo

6. Listen to Jazz in Cape Town

Photo: Eric Nathan/Alamy

Cape Town's natural wonders draw visitors from all over the world, but there's a hidden gem beyond the mountains, beaches, and seas: music. Much as jazz was born from America's diverse peoples, Cape jazz combines the traditions and practices of the city's multiethnic population, creating genres such as goema (named after a type of hand drum) and marabi (a keyboard style that arose in the townships). Cape Town has hosted an International Jazz Festival for
20 years (the 21st edition is this March 27–28), and now UNESCO is giving the Mother City its musical due by naming it the Global Host City of International Jazz Day 2020. The theme of the event—which takes place on April 30, features an All Star Global Concert, and is the climax of Jazz Appreciation Month—is “Tracing the Roots and Routes of African Jazz." During the dark days of slavery and apartheid, music became an outlet through which repressed people could express their struggle for freedom. What better way to mark a quarter century of democracy here than with a celebration of that most free style of music? —Struan Douglas

5. Take a Walk Around England

Many hikers love walking around England—but how many can say that they've truly walked around England? When it's completed, the England Coast Path will be the longest managed seaside trail in the world, completely circumnavigating the coastline, from the fishing villages of Cornwall and the beaches of Nothumberland to the limestone arches of the Jurassic Coast and the sandy dunes of Norfolk. Much of the trail is already waymarked (the 630-mile South West Coast Path is particularly challenging and beautiful), with new legs set to open throughout the year. If you want to cross the whole thing off your bucket list, be warned that it's no walk in the park: At around 2,795 miles, the completed route is 605 miles longer than the Appalachian Trail and about the same as the distance between New York and Los Angeles. —Nicholas DeRenzo

4. Get Refreshed in the Israeli Desert

Six Senses resorts are known for restorative retreats in places like Fiji, Bali, and the Maldives. For its latest location, the wellness-minded brand is heading to a more unexpected locale: the Arava Valley, in the far south of Israel. Opening this spring, the Six Senses Shaharut will offer overnight camel camping, off-roading in the surrounding desert, and restaurants serving food grown in the resort's gardens or sourced from nearby kibbutzim. While the valley is said to be near King Solomon's copper mines, the Six Senses is sure to strike gold. —Nicholas DeRenzo

3. Say konnichiwa on July 24 at the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, which plays host for the first time since 1964.

The Japanese capital plays host for the first time since 1964. This year, softball and baseball will return after being absent since 2008, and four new sports—karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding—will be added to the competition for the first time. Say konnichiwa at the opening ceremonies on July 24, which will be held at renowned architect Kengo Kuma's New National Stadium. – Nicholas DeRenzo

2. Score Tickets to Euro 2020

Still feeling World Cup withdrawal? Get your “football" fix at the UEFA European Championship. From June 12 to July 12, 24 qualifying national teams will play games in stadiums from Bilbao to Baku, culminating in the semi-finals and final at London's hallowed Wembley Stadium. Will World Cup champion France bring home another trophy? Will Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal repeat its 2016 Euro win? Will the tortured English national team finally get its first title? Or will an upstart—like Greece in 2004—shock the world? —Justin Goldman

1. Soak Up Some Culture in Galway

Photo: Ian Dagnall/Alamy

Galway has long been called “the cultural heart of Ireland," so it's no surprise that this bohemian city on the country's wild west coast was named a 2020 European Capital of Culture (along with Rijeka, Croatia). The title puts a spotlight on the city (population 80,000) and County Galway, where more than 1,900 events will take place throughout the year. Things kick off in February with a seven-night opening ceremony featuring a fiery (literally) choreographed celebration starring a cast of 2,020 singing-and-drumming locals in Eyre Square. “This is a once-in-a-generation chance for Galway," says Paul Fahy, a county native and the artistic director of the Galway International Arts Festival (July 13–26). “It's a huge pressure. There's a heightened sense of expectation from audiences, not just from here but from all over the world." Art lovers will no doubt enjoy Kari Kola's illuminating work Savage Beauty, which will wash the Connemara mountains in green light to coincide with St. Patrick's Day, or the Druid Theatre Company's countywide tour of some of the best 20th-century one-act Irish plays. Visitors would also be wise to explore the rugged beauty of Connemara on a day trip with the charismatic Mairtin Óg Lally of Lally Tours, and to eat their way across town with Galway Food Tours. But beware, says Fahy: “Galway has a reputation as a place people came to 20 years ago for a weekend and never left." —Ellen Carpenter

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