Three Perfect Days: Los Cabos - United Hub
Hemispheres

Three Perfect Days: Los Cabos

By The Hub team , December 01, 2017

Story by Joshua David Stein | Photography by Brad Torchia | Hemispheres, December 2017

Due to linguistic laziness, perhaps, the diverse cluster of settlements on the southern tip of Baja California have been bundled into one word: Cabo. But cabo simply means “cape." Dotted along this spit of land, the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other, the towns are uniform only in their seaside beauty. Cabo San Lucas, the best-known, is commonly associated with youthful hedonism. San José del Cabo, 20 miles up the coast, has always been the shy sister with artistic ambitions. Farther still, past some of Mexico's best surfing beaches, is the village of Cabo Pulmo, whose lifeblood is a majestic marine preserve. What this all means is that while Cabo may not have something for everybody, Los Cabos probably does.

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Day 1 Graphic

The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea

I see the marlin twice, but only once alive. Jostled from a fitful nap on the deck of a fishing boat, the Valerie, 25 miles off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, I awake to see the fish arcing in the air, its cobalt skin iridescent against the brilliant sky. The captain, a wiry 55-year-old named Roberto Sandez, and his somewhat broader first mate, 54-year-old Salvador Flores, clomp down the steep ladder from the bridge to secure the rod. The boat ride, which had previously felt like a pleasure cruise, is now a hunt.

Earlier this morning, under a sky the color of a ripe eggplant, I drove to the Cabo San Lucas Marina. My family was still asleep under comforters in the battlements of the nearby Westin as I headed toward a body of water teeming with life: great shimmering masses of tuna and marlin, dorado, roosterfish, crevalle jack, and hundreds of other gamefish that have made Cabo the sportfishing capital of the world.

The sea began it all. Before Cabo San Lucas became known simply as “Cabo" in the mid-20th century, it was a fishing village of about 100 inhabitants. In 1955, the owners of Empresas Panado, the largest tuna cannery in Mexico, brought in a young Spaniard named Luis Bulnes Molleda to manage the plant. One day, Bulnes saw a boy catch a marlin on a handline from the dock and this, so big a fish caught by so young a boy so close to shore, made an impression on him. He later bought a stretch of undeveloped land and he and a partner built a hotel, Finisterra (now the Sandos Finisterra). He was convinced crowds would come for the marlin.

Playa del Amor, next to El ArcoPlaya del Amor, next to El Arco

When I climb aboard the Valerie this morning, there are no empty slips or vacant lots near the shore. Hotels occupy every sun-kissed plot of land, like turtles on a log, and on the water all types of vessel, from huge pleasure yachts to dented old pangas, bob gently, packed tightly. As we head out to sea, a lone pelican peers from the famous rock formation El Arco del Fin del Mundo (the Arch at the End of the World) into an ocean uninterrupted until Antarctica. I wonder if Molleda could have possibly imagined how right he would be. Marlin no longer swim shoreside, says Captain Roberto, who has been running charters here for more than 30 years. “I remember when we used to fish close to the land," he notes. “Now we have to go out for miles." Knowing this, I take a quick doze on the deck.

“Back at the marina, the fish causes a stir. It's nearly 350 pounds, too heavy to lift."

Then it happens: the shimmering marlin taking to the air and the clamor that follows. The men gesture for me to take my place in the fighting chair, a swiveling contraption at the stern. Rod in hand, I realize that I have no idea what to do. They mime reeling in the line, then pulling up on the rod, which is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. I vaguely recall that it took the old man from Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea three days to haul in his marlin. I ask the captain how long it might take me. He shrugs. “Anywhere from 45 minutes to eight hours." It's hot. I'm sweaty. I'm fighting an animal. I hope it doesn't take that long.

An hour or so later, the epic struggle over and the onboard selfies taken (the fish, which normally would have been released, died of exhaustion), I ask the captain what he'd be doing if not for sportfishing. “Nothing," he says, his eyes fixed on the horizon. “There'd be nothing to do."

Back at the marina, the fish causes a stir. It's nearly 350 pounds, too heavy to lift by hand. A crowd gathers as the dockmaster wraps a loop of rope around its tail and winches it up. Next, we haul the fish across the harbor to be filleted. As a guy with broad shoulders and a sharp knife gets to work, a kitten waits under the table for scraps. Outside, a wrinkled old man hangs his hands on a gate. “Nice fish you got there, brother," he says. “Can you spare any?" His name is Ernesto. He was born in Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost state, but spent 30 years in Dallas before being deported a few weeks ago. I take a small portion of the fish for myself and give the rest to Ernesto and the crew.

A sea lion hoping for fish from the day's catchA sea lion hoping for fish from the day's catch

With a marlin steak in a plastic bag in the trunk—an ignominious end, I suppose, for so great a fish—I drive 10 miles north of town to the Chileno Bay resort. For the last six hours, my wife, Ana, and two children have been splashing in the resort's cascading infinity pool, which forms a sort of cabana-flanked stairway to the ocean. In our suite, which is much larger than our home in Brooklyn, my sons Auggie and Achilles—ages 4 and 5—keep repeating “This is sooo fancy," as they jump on all the beds and open every closet door.

After a delicious sunset dinner—chicken fingers my kids declare the ideal form; tremendously flavorful totoaba, a type of drum fish, for my wife and I—at Comal, the resort's fantastic restaurant, I head back into Cabo, alone, to party. Post-dusk is very different from pre-dawn. Neon signs blink. Young women in tube tops drink from outsize goblets while young men in cargo shorts gawk and sip beer. But it's not all lurid indulgence. I head past the kitschy Señor Frog's club to a new bar called the Blind Boar, which is said to have some of the best cocktails in town. These come from the hands of William Fox, a second-generation transplant from Chicago whose repertoire runs from classics like the Vieux Carré to in-house creations like the Hemingway, a play on the daiquiri.

“Basically," Fox tells me, “a bunch of us local bartenders were tired of making margaritas and shots." Later, sipping a tequila negroni, a neat twist on the classic, my thoughts turn to that marlin, caught for a moment in the light and then caught for good by my line. I step out into the hot night, amid shoals of tourists and neon lures, and quietly make my way back to my family.

Day 2 Graphic

Sea-to-Field-to-Table in San José del Cabo

Where Cabo San Lucas is most itself at night, the quiet cobblestone streets of San José del Cabo are best explored during the morning hours, before the sun sizzles the plazas. After an early breakfast of huevos motuleños, a Yucatecan dish with poached eggs, tortilla, and ham, at the Cape Hotel—a two-year-old Thompson property just outside Cabo San Lucas—we make the half-hour drive north to the party town's artsy sister.

Walking through streets lined with bougainvillea, we find the Gallery District, a few blocks behind the old town square. The two most prominent artists here—that is, those with eponymous galleries—are Frank Arnold and Ivan Guaderrama. Both specialize in cheerful, colorful, and crowd-pleasing paintings. Their galleries are worth a detour—especially Arnold's, as it comes with the offer of a glass of mezcal—but I'm drawn more to the traditional galleries that line the town's narrow streets.

Admittedly, the man-size fiberglass giraffe sitting on a pile of books at La Sacristía gallery is a bit schlocky. Ditto the hippo playing a tuba. But in the back room, we find some gorgeously intricate beadwork. Nearby, an elderly woman with a weathered face and nut-brown eyes sits on a folding chair, focused intently on a half-beaded mask. The woman doesn't speak English or even Spanish but Huichol, an Uto-Aztecan language used by around 35,000 people. She is here from the state of Nayarit, the gallery owner tells me, and will soon head back into the mountains. Crouching in the middle of the room is a brilliant psychedelic jaguar; she spent months turning its hide Technicolor. That piece is out of my price range, so I settle for a small beaded ornament and head into the blazing sun.

Octopus at AcreOctopus at Acre

Luckily, we spot El Tropical Paleteria on the town square, which has been selling handmade fruit popsicles, or paletas, for 50 years. There are four of us, with two hands each, and so we depart with eight popsicles. The kids wonder if this is what heaven is like. A few minutes later, under the sun's furnace-like rays, we are wandering around licking guava juice from our wrists. We are cooled and sticky but still hungry so we head off in the direction of Acre, one of the few lauded farm-to-table restaurants near San José.

A few minutes outside of town, it feels as if we're in the desert, but following the signs along a steep bumpy road we come to what looks like an Amazonian jungle. This is Acre, the project of two Vancouverites who fell in love with Los Cabos four years ago. Today, in a thicket of mango and palm trees, they've built a modern restaurant with an emphasis on local cuisine. As my wife and I eat, we let the kids wander. Eventually they return, red-faced and happy. “Daddy! Daddy! Come see!" I follow them past the pool to the shade of the palms, where a scraggly dog looks after her litter of newborn puppies falling over themselves in the dirt.

“The peach-colored cliffs are at my back; the sun-dappled sea stretches before me. Who needs adrenaline?"

The kids are tired out, so I deposit the family back at The Cape to lounge poolside and to drink virgin daiquiris. I, meanwhile, quickly change into a bathing suit and head to the beach, because it would be unconscionable to come here and not surf.

Perhaps the most famous surf spot in Los Cabos is a fast right break called Zippers in San José del Cabo. But I go over to a mellow right-hand break a bit farther west, in Costa Azul, to join a class of newbies from the High Tide Los Cabos surf school. As Alex, our laid-back instructor, helps a family of South Korean beginners, I paddle farther out. We're on the watery equivalent of a bunny slope, but that's OK. The peach-colored cliffs are at my back; the sun-dappled sea stretches before me. Who needs adrenaline?

Casting shadows on San Jos\u00e9 del CaboCasting shadows on San José del Cabo

Mildly amped, I head back to the family, to their pool-shrunk toes and fingers and cries for dinner. I'm ready to eat too—and particularly excited to check out Flora Farms, one of the oldest organic farms in Baja California. Founded in 1996 by expats from Sonoma, California, Gloria Wallace Greene and her husband, Patrick, it has become a Mexican Chez Panisse, a restaurant wrapped in a philosophy of something bigger. But even I am not prepared when we pull up. The owners seem to have cut a deal with Horus, because the sun filters in gold, piercing a small pond full of turtles. Off to one side, there's a mango orchard, and on the other, a boutique by James Perse.

It's hot in the sprawling outdoor restaurant, and periodically the diners are misted like produce in a supermarket. The cocktails, served in Mason jars, are photogenic and herbal. The menu nods to all of Mexico but gazes primarily at the fields a few feet away. As the night grows deeper, the children drift off to sleep in our laps, and a local band, three handsome surfers who call themselves the Shamans, break into a mellow version of “Hotel California." I sing quietly along—“such a lovely place (such a lovely place)"—and then, because those are the only words I know, I remain silent, sipping my margarita in the golden light.

day 3 graphic

Just Me and the Seals

A long and bumpy car ride takes us from San José to Cabo Pulmo, a tiny village about 60 miles up the coast. We could have jumped on the highway, and it would have been smooth sailing. But at Flora Farms last night, Cecilia Escribano, a tall, stylish Argentine who handles the restaurant's media, told us to snake up the coast: “You'll find the most beautiful beaches in the world."

So, crabbity-scrabble, we bounce up the unpaved road that runs alongside the beach. Our rented sedan complains of the bumps, though not nearly as loudly as the kids. We pass scrub brush and tall cardón cacti, but luxury resorts are nowhere to be seen. This is exactly what I had hoped for.

The story of Cabo Pulmo is uplifting. In the mid-1990s, a group of fishermen, realizing local fisheries were in danger, petitioned the government to preserve the area. In 1996 they prevailed, and Cabo Pulmo, with its astonishing coral reef, was declared a National Marine Park. It's now home to more than 200 species of marine animal.

A surfer ready to hit the waves at Costa AzulA surfer ready to hit the waves at Costa Azul

As we sit in the second-floor restaurant of Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort, owner Cole Barrymore tells me how his dad, Dick, first came across the area. Barrymore is something of a local celebrity, although that isn't hard when there are only 130 people in town. He calls for a Tecate and begins: “My dad was a ski filmmaker, but he loved to come down here. One day in the early 1980s, we were flying our little Cessna, and we looked down and saw a small runway. We landed, pulled everything out of the plane, pumped up the boat, and went out to the first reef." Barrymore remembers the welter of fish just below the surface. His father dove in, forming caverns as the fish fled. He then surfaced, demanded his spearfishing gun, and said, “It's lunchtime!"

“I can see my wife and kids walking the shoreline, their tiny figures hopping inch-high waves, peals of laughter in the air."

A few years later, Dick Barrymore bought a tract of land and built many of the thatch-roofed, open-sided, palapa-style houses that make up the village today. In the '90s, Cole joined him, and today he runs the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort. (Dick passed in 2008.) With fishing off the table, activities in the sea are confined to SCUBA diving and snorkeling. Untrained in the former, I opt for the latter. As I head out to sea, I can see my wife and kids walking the quiet shoreline, their tiny figures hopping inch-high waves, peals of laughter in the air.

A few minutes later, I'm facedown in the water, peering at a shoal of big-eye jacks. I trail the fish for a while, interested to see how those on the periphery act as bouncers, herders, and guides. I also come across a shoal of black-striped sergeant majors that, collectively, look like a jailbreak. I poke my head above water, and for a moment the vastness of the mountains on the shore, the sky above, and the sea all around is overwhelming. I climb back into the boat.

In Brooklyn, where I'll be tomorrow, there are a few sea lions at the Prospect Park Zoo. My kids and I go see them sometimes and watch them gulp fish from the trainer's hand. But those sea lions and the ones who live here are very different. As I jump back into the water, a few feet from a colony, their amusing ungainliness is gone. A large male clambers off the rock, becoming immediately graceful as he hits the water. I duck my head under the surface to watch him dart and loop. We're only a few hundred feet from the shore, but it feels otherworldly. Then he surfaces and I do too. Both of us blink a few times to accustom ourselves to the brilliant sun, the jagged rock crashed upon by the roiling sea, and the vibrant blue sky above. For him, it is home. For me, it's as close to paradise as I'll ever get.

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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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