Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dubai New Year Fireworks Kick Off While Nearby Hotel Tower Blazes



Smoke and flames pouring from a residential building, which also contains the Address Downtown... Read more

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A massive fireworks display kicked off for New Year's at the world's tallest tower in Dubai, while plumes of smoke billowed in the air from a fire raging at a nearby luxury tower.
Undeterred by the fire, tens of thousands of people gathered near the Burj Khalifa skyscraper for the fireworks show. They whistled and cheered when the fireworks erupted, while teams of firefighters worked to put out the blaze that had engulfed a 63-story luxury hotel and residential building.
Just minutes before the fireworks began, large explosions could be heard from inside the burning building, which was cloaked in thick black smoke. It was not clear what caused the blasts.
At least 14 people were slightly injured and one person suffered a heart attack from the smoke and over-crowding during evacuation late Thursday, according to Dubai Media Office. The statement said another person was moderately injured, without elaborating further. No children were among those injured, it said.
Around 1 million people had been expected to gather around the Burj Khalifa to watch the fireworks. Dubai's economy depends heavily on tourism, and New Year's is one of the busiest seasons, drawing people from around the world to watch the fireworks that the emirate puts on at the world's tallest tower, as well as the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab and over a man-made palm-shaped island.
Organizers had installed 400,000 LED lights on the Burj Khalifa and used some 1.6 tons of fireworks for the seven-minute extravaganza. Two years ago on New Year's, Dubai broke the world record for the largest fireworks display.
The fire engulfed the Address Downtown, one of the most upscale hotels and residences in Dubai, which was likely to have been packed with people because of its clear view of the 828-meter (905-yard) tall Burj Khalifa.
The hotel towers over the Souq Al Bahar, a popular shopping area with walkways that connect to the Burj Khalifa and the Middle East's largest mall, the Dubai Mall.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which ran up the 63-story building. The Address is a 991 foot-tall (302-meter) skyscraper that has 626 luxury apartments and 196 hotel rooms, according to Skyscraper Center, which tracks such buildings.
Dubai's Media Office wrote on its official Twitter account that four teams of firefighters were working to put out the blaze. They said the fire appears to have originated on a 20th floor terrace.
The fire broke out about two hours before the midnight fireworks display was set to begin. To manage the crowds, Dubai police had closed off some roads and the metro before the fire broke out.
Nearly an hour after the fire began, some onlookers began to leave while others stood, pressed against crowd barricades, watching the blaze. Among them was Chris Browne, a tourist from London, who watched with her husband, Stephen, standing behind her. They said they hoped no one was injured.
"It's pretty scary stuff," she said.
Standing nearby, Stuart O'Donnell, a British intensive care nurse who works in Dubai, said he was worried for those inside the building as it was in a prime location to watch the fireworks display.
"You feel sad for the people inside... It spread so quickly when it started," he said.
He and others in the crowd wondered what had started the blaze. "I do feel suspicious of when a fire breaks out on New Year's Eve," he said.
The Dubai Media Office said that Dubai's tourism department would provide guests evacuated from the building with alternative hotel accommodation.
After the fireworks show, Girlie Omilda, a Filipina who works in the aviation industry in Dubai, said she was glad to have seen the fireworks, even as the tower continued to burn. She too was concerned about threats from extremists like the Islamic State group. She said Dubai's large expatriate, non-Muslim population made the city a tempting target.
"Sometimes it makes me feel unsafe," she said.
___
Associated Press writers Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Joseph Krauss in Cairo contributed to this report.

The Top 10 Things To Look Forward To In Philadelphia In 2016


Skyline
The arrival of 2016 brings along plenty of reasons to be psyched about what’s on the horizon right here in Philadelphia. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
Recently named the first World Heritage City in the United States, Philadelphia looks forward to an action-packed 2016 filled with attraction openings and expansions, only-in-Philly events and not-to-miss exhibitions — all happenings that will complement the immensely walkable city’s buzzed-about dining scene, vibrant art offerings, plentiful parks and public spaces and history galore.
2016 is a year that will see Broad Street turned into a sprawling street festival for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), the A.M.E. Church celebrate its 200th year in the city where it was founded and the groundbreaking of a long-time-coming renovation to iconic LOVE Park.
Of course, all eyes will be on Philadelphia in July when Democrats nominate their candidate for president during the Democratic National Convention.
Here are the top 10 reasons to visit Philadelphia in ’16.
1. Democratic National Convention
Next summer, Philadelphia will host the Democratic National Convention for the first time since 1948. Delegates, elected officials and citizens from around the nation will in the City of Brotherly love, where the Democratic Party will selects its nominee for president of the United States. No matter the nominee, the birthplace of American democracy will be abuzz with special events and activities throughout the city leading up to and during the four-day event.
When: July 25-28, 2016
Where: Citywide
MORE INFO
2. PIFA 2016
large-scale fire-and-sand performance, a circus built on a foundation of yarn, a traveling symphony performed in water fountains and a sprawling street fair on Broad Street can only mean one thing: the return of PIFA (Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts). With 60 performances embodying the curatorial vision We Are What We Make, PIFA weaves together a variety of art forms and genres by local and international artists in an arts extravaganza.
When: April 8-23, 2016
Where: The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and citywide
MORE INFO
A photo posted by Visit Philly (@visitphilly) on 
3. Bartram’s Trail Expansion
This new, 1.1-mile stretch will expand the pedestrian-friendly Schuylkill River Trail, which will now stretch from Grays Ferry Avenue to 56th Street. The $6-million section of path will connect Southwest Philly residents with the Schuylkill River Trail, increase access to parks and green spaces, and make it easy to explore Bartram’s Garden, the nation’s oldest botanical garden. Whether you’re interested in running or cycling, days with the family or romantic evening strolls, wait for the Bartram’s Trail experience starting in the fall.
When: Fall 2016
Where: Schuylkill River Trail in Southwest Philly
MORE INFO
Bartram's Trail
Greater Philadelphia’s multi-use trail network, the Circuit, meanders along the Schuylkill River bearing more than 20,000 runners, walkers, bikers and commuters every year. Soon, that trail will extend even further to connect the region. (Image courtesy Andropogon)
4. PHS Pop Up Garden: An Exploration of the Philadelphia Rail Park
The Philadelphia Rail Park at the Reading Viaduct, Philadelphia’s answer to the High Line, saw a great deal of significant investment in 2015 towards the completion of the Phase 1 portion of the Center City District-run project. The Rail Park spur will green a quarter-mile section of the unused rail line from Broad Street southeast across 13th and 12th Streets to Callowhill Street, and this summer, public installations will draw new visitors to the area around the Rail Park to continue to garner support. To give visitors a destination around the still-developing site, thePennsylvania Horticultural Society will install its ever-popular Pop-Up Garden in the area in summer 2016. With all of this investment, we can’t help but expect news of an official groundbreaking on phase 1 of the Rail Park itself to come any day.
When: Summer 2016
Where: Callowhill neighborhood
MORE INFO
Rail Park
This design rendering depicts what the Rail Park could look like once complete, with seating, landscaping and more. (Image by Studio Bryan Hanes/courtesy PHS)
More things to look forward to in 2016, below.
5. Taller Puertorriqueño’s El Corazόn Cultural Center
When the doors to Taller Puertorriqueño’s El Corazόn Cultural Center swing open, visitors will discover the largest Puerto Rican/Latino-based arts and cultural facility in the state of Pennsylvania. Ten years in the making, the 25,000-square-foot centerpiece of El Centro de Oro neighborhood will house a multipurpose 200-seat theater, exhibition and gallery spaces, education facilities, an enclosed playground, gift shop and cafe.
When: Fall 2016
Where: 2600 N. 5th Street
MORE INFO
 Taller Puertorriqueño
After a 10-year planning and development period, the El Corazón Cultural Center will soon open. (Image courtesy Taller Puertorriqueño)
6. 200th Anniversary of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2016, andthe core festivities will take place in Philadelphia, the city where the church was founded. Bicentennial events include a major gospel concert; a social justice forum; a tribute to Sarah Allen, the church’s founding mother; and an ecumenical worship service. In July, congregants head to Philadelphia for the AME’s general conference — complete with an unveiling of the Bishop Richard Allen Memorial Courtyard and a new mural dedication.
When: Bicentennial events, April 7-10, July 3-5, 2016; conference, July 6-13, 2016
Where: Various locations throughout the city
MORE INFO
Mother Bethel A.M.E.
Founded by the Reverend Richard Allen in 1787, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church is the mother church of the nation’s first black denomination. The current church building was constructed in 1889 and stands on the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African-Americans. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)
7. Multiple Targets Open
This summer, Center City Philadelphians will finally have access to the joys of Target shopping. The retailer has announced three stores will open in Center City in summer/fall 2016. The first store will open at 19th and Chestnut Streets in Center City’s Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, and the second will open at 12th and Chestnut in the Center City’s Midtown Village neighborhood, just a block from Market East. Both stores will be much smaller than a typical suburban-style Target, with a pedestrian-focused vibe that caters to both residents and visitors. The just-announced third store will go in at 22nd Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and Hamilton Street.
When: Summer/Fall 2016
Where: 19th and Chestnut streets; 12th and Chestnut streets
MORE INFO
Target
Target is finally coming to downtown Philadelphia next year with two boutique-sized stores meant to serve Philly’s continuing surge in residents and visitors. (Image via Target)
8. King of Prussia Mall Expansion
King of Prussia Mall is expanding and connecting The Court and Plaza, solidifying the sprawling retail mecca’s place as the largest mall on the East Coast and the second largest shopping center in the United States. The estimated $150 million expansion and renovation will bring the mall’s current 2.65 million-square-foot layout to a whopping 2.8 million square feet.
When: Fall 2016
Where: King of Prussia
MORE INFO
King of Prussia Mall
A huge expansion of King of Prussia mall will ultimately connect the Court and the Plaza, the campus’ two sections. (Image courtesy Simon Property Group)
9. Copa America Centenario
Score one for Philadelphia. On June 11, the United States Men’s National Team will play at Lincoln Financial Field, making the City of Brotherly Love one of the country’s 10 host cities to welcome the Copa America soccer tournament, which will be played outside of South America for the first time in its 100-year history in 2016.
When: Saturday, June 11, 2016
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, 1 Lincoln Financial Field Way
MORE INFO
Lincoln Financial Field
For the first time ever, the , the Copa America soccer tournament will be played outside of South America and one game will hit Philadelphia. (Photo courtesy Lincoln Financial Field)
10. Picasso at the Barnes and Other Blockbuster Art
Philadelphia museums and attractions overflow with amazing art and culture to see in 2016. Huge art exhibitions and cultural events not to miss include an important show of Pablo Picasso’s work at the Barnes Foundation; the year-long examination of race, class and community inHistoric Germantown Elephants on the Avenue; the electoral show Headed to the White House at the National Constitution CenterThe Science Behind Pixar at The Franklin Institute; the multisensory Dinosaurs Unearthed at The Academy of Natural Sciences; and, next fall, the groundbreaking Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism 1910-1950 at thePhiladelphia Museum of Art.
When: Throughout 2016
Where: Citywide
MORE INFO
Barnes Foundation
In the coming year, the Barnes Foundation hosts a huge exhibition of the works of Picasso, and that’s just one of the awesome art shows in store for 2016. (Photo by M. Fischetti for Visit Philadelphia)

For even more reasons to look ahead to 2016, check out

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: Can I Uber or Lyft After I land? It's Complicated....

Travelore Report, Monthly In Print Since 1971: Can I Uber or Lyft After I land? It's Complicated....: If all goes as planned, travelers soon may be able to summon ride-share providers such as UberX and Lyft to take them home after they depla...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

ABC Travel Guides for Kids Names Top 7 US Family Travel Destinations for 2016

Rocky is back on top as Philadelphia is named #1 destination for Family Travel for 2016!





Philly takes the top spot for best family destinations, 3 Florida cities are featured and Detroit's comeback continues. 

 1. Philadelphia, PA Time for an authentic Philly cheesesteak and a visit to the City of Brotherly Love as Franklin Square turns 10 and the National Constitution Center hosts Headed to the White House this election year. Kimpton, Omni and Loews Hotels love families. Best ice cream parlor is The Franklin Fountain.


2. Chicago, IL The Cubs are going to win the World Series in 2016 and Chicago's Museums, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Art Institute all remain among our nation's best.  Stay at Residence Inn's 700th hotel or the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel.

3. Orlando, FL More than just the theme park capital of the world, Disney Springs and nearby Kennedy Space Center's Heroes and Legends attraction features the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.  Stay at The Hard Rock Hotel.

4. St. Petersburg, FL Take a "Bird Quest" through the areas museums, parks and hotels and let your senses go wild at the hands-on exhibits at Great Explorations, Sunken Gardens and Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club is a great choice for families.

5. Detroit, MI  Only in Motor City can you visit the largest penguin facility in the world; stop at a LEGOLAND® Discovery Center and enjoy an afternoon of Beatles at The Magical History Tour at The Henry Ford.  For dinner kids will love the iconic Buddy's Pizza.  Hyatt Place Detroit/Auburn Hills or Hyatt Place Detroit/Utica are great options for families.

6. Miami, FL  A Miami Culinary Tour in Little Havana is life changing and GameTime Miami, Jungle Island, Coral Gables Venetian Pool and Lincoln Road provide unique experiences for everyone.  The Pizza Bar and Bodega are fun.  The Palms Hotel & Spa is incredible for families.

7. Hilton Head, SC Beaches, bike trails, kayaking and water sports, horseback riding and we're just getting warmed up. Families will think they are in the Caribbean at Omni's Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort.

For more details please visit: www.kidstravelguides.com

Top 6 World's Most Expensive Hotel Suites For 2016



Havens for the elite few, here are five of the world’s most expensive hotel suites. (Prices listed are subject to change without notice)

1. The Royal Penthouse Suite at Hotel President Wilson $80,000 per night

The Royal Penthouse Suite of the Hotel President Wilson is famous for being the largest one in Europe (1’680 sqm in total) and the most luxurious Suite in the world. The Suite has even been awarded “World’s Leading Hotel Suite” at the prestigious World Travel Awards. Located on the eighth and top floor of the hotel, the Royal Penthouse Suite offers to the most demanding guests 12 luxury bedrooms including marble bathrooms, as well as a private terrace with a unforgettable panoramic view over the lake and the Mont-Blanc. With every conceivable amenity, such as one of the 3 biggest Bang & Olufsen TV screen in the world (BeoVision 4-103 flat-screen) with sound system, a Steinway grand piano, a billiards table, a collection of ancient books and pieces of art, as well as a private gym, the suite leaves nothing to be desired. This truly unique suite stands for pure luxury with maximum security, from bulletproof windows and safe to a private lift to take guests directly to their majestic living quarters. View more photos

The Ty Warner Penthouse

2. The Ty Warner Penthouse $55,000 per night

When you stay at the Ty Warner Penthouse Suite at Four Seasons Hotel New York, you’re at home in an exquisite work of art. Designed by Peter Marino and I.M. Pei, who came out of retirement to complete his original vision, the 4,300-sq.-ft. (400-m²) Penthouse features one-of-a-kind furnishings and original works by international artists, all of which were hand-selected by Marino or Pei. Soaring 700 feet (213 meters) above Manhattan, guests of the Ty Warner Penthouse enjoy unobstructed panoramic views of Manhattan from the Suite’s four cantilevered glass balconies, the highest in the world. A chauffeured Rolls-Royce Phantom, a round-the-clock personal butler, and unlimited caviar, champagne and massages are also at your disposal. This one-of-a-kind suite truly is the crown jewel in Manhattan’s ultimate luxury hotel.

The Royal Villa at Lagonissi Resort

3. The Royal Villa at Lagonissi Resort $47,000 per night

Designed for royal and prestigious guests, the Royal Villa encapsulates the essence of luxury in its splendidly appointed interior and exterior spaces welcoming esteemed guests to experience the epitome of luxury living. The Royal Villa features two master bedrooms with king size beds, a spacious living room with a fireplace and dining table, a fully equipped business corner, a fully fitted kitchen and grill as well as outdoor BBQ facilities. The villa comes complete with an indoor and an outdoor heated pool, a fully equipped gym and steam bath, a private massage area with a massage-table, two oversized marble lined bathrooms and a guest bath. Furthermore there are the Butler’s quarters with a separate entrance and a bathroom. Privileged guests are welcome to sunbathe on the spacious outdoor terrace, dive in the crystalline waters of the pool, maintain their work out routine while on holidays and follow their own private path to the dazzling shore of the bay.

The Shahi Mahal Suite

4. The Shahi Mahal Suite at The Raj Palace Hotel $45,000 per night

The Shahi Mahal Suite offers unparalleled luxury in the Raj Palace, the oldest mansion in Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan. The lavish palace was converted into a luxury heritage hotel in 1996, and is an unmatched example of Rajasthan’s regal character, charm and grandeur. Each opulent suite has its very own museum inside, displaying a range of antique clocks, weaponry and jewelry. The suites are decorated in priceless antique Indian furniture. Walls are adorned with hand-painted murals and grand crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings. The hotel’s dining room is home to the world’s largest chandelier, along with a large collection of royal silverware.

Sky Villa at Palms Resort

5. 2-Story Hugh Hefner Sky Villa at Palms Resort, Las Vegas $40,000+ per night

The two-story 9,000 square foot, 3-Bedroom Villa includes a glass elevator, rotating bed, and a glass wall Jacuzzi that extends out over the hotel and offers amazing Strip views. Other amenities include: Terrace with Playboy Pool and sunbathing area, indoor water features, show tub, steam room, gym, media room, massage and spa rooms, poker table, wet bar, espresso machine, fireplace, three bedrooms, and pop-up plasma TVs.

Penthouse Suite at George V Hotel, Paris

6. Penthouse Suite at George V Hotel, Paris $37,000+

This $37,000 per night suite could be described as a perfectly decorated apartment. Its three bedrooms are detailed with white orchids that stand out against the golden walls. Each bedroom has its own private terrace and spacious wardrobes flooded with natural light. Through the large windows, guests can admire the most significant Parisian icons including the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré-Coeur Basilica and the wonderful architectural complex of Les Invalides. The common areas offer exclusive details, such as Baccarat glassware and Knoll chairs.

Spurce: www.luxurytravelmagazine.com

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The 25 Places You Must Explore In 2016

From Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016 and AFAR Media’s Where to Go in 2016.

Janny Chang / BuzzFeed Life

Ahh, January. A month to attempt to get your sh*t together, not guzzle wine every night, and, perhaps most importantly, plan out your entire year of travel.


Now about that last one. Of course you should go wherever you want, but there are some places that are in their prime this year, for various reasons — so this could be the best time to go.


Now about that last one. Of course you should go wherever you want, but there are some places that are in their prime this year, for various reasons — so this could be the best time to go.
Lonely Planet and AFAR Media selected the very best places to travel in 2016. (Lonely Planet released their book, Best In Travel 2016, and AFAR released their “Where To Go In 2016” issue, also available online.)
Some of these places are celebrating big anniversaries, some are in the midst of a resurgence, and some have landmarks that are nearing extinction — but all of them have something special going on right now. Here are the top 25 places you must travel in 2016. Choose one, or choose them all — whatever you do, happy adventuring!
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed Life

1. Botswana

1. Botswana
Ottoduplessis / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: Because this year, Botswana celebrates its 50th year of independence, which is huge. But also, Botswana is just beautiful, a country made primarily of desert and delta, with 17% of its lands devoted to its national parks.
Bonus: Lately, “car park pimping” is on the rise. It’s basically when the clubbers of the capital city Gaborone move the late-night party to suburban car parks, where they set up pop-up DJ tents and rage into the wee hours of the morning.

2. Japan

2. Japan
Jiratto / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: For starters, the government is trying to devalue the Japanese yen, which means that the country is more affordable than ever right now. Also, the 2020 Summer Olympics are being held in Tokyo and, even though that seems far away, the city is already gearing up for all Olympics everything.
Bonus: Japan is just a wild, wild place. Any country where you can literally buy everything from umbrellas to women’s underwear in vending machines (true story) deserves to be explored in this lifetime. Now’s your moment.

3. Any of the national parks, USA

3. Any of the national parks, USA
Lightphoto / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: Ours is always a land of treasures, but this year is extra special because it’s the 100th anniversary of America’s National Park Service (NPS). So hit up any of the national parks to take in the beauty, the purple mountains majesty, of the good ol’ US of A.

4. Palau

4. Palau
Dothow / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: Mostly because the country is killing it in the conservation department — which makes it insanely beautiful. “It has as much to fear from rising sea levels and environmental degradation as any other Pacific nation, but it’s tackling those fears head-on, and is leading conservation efforts in the region,” says Lonely Planet.
That makes its snorkeling and diving some of the best in the world; some people even call it an “Underwater Serengeti.”

5. Latvia

5. Latvia
Scanrail / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: The country is celebrating its 25th year of independence from the Soviet Union this year, and with it, its increasingly on-the-up-and-up culture. “A fleet of (new) Nordic chefs are catapulting local flavors to such artisanal heights that they would truly give Copenhagen a run for its money,” writes Lonely Planet.
Bonus: The country is also known for its pirts, i.e. hot birch saunas where you get showered with wildflowers and indulge in smoked fish and beer, that are not to be missed. SEE YOU THERE!

6. Australia

6. Australia
Artamaphotography / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: Australia is a perennial favorite that makes nearly every bucket list, ever. But this year just may be the year to really buckle down and book that ticket, because many of its key wildlife areas are under potential distress — so it’s a good idea to see them before it’s potentially too late.
Large parts of the Great Barrier Reef, for instance, may be torn up by a string of proposed mining ports. And some of Tasmania’s forests may be torn up for export. Go now to catch their full beauty while you can!

7. Poland

7. Poland
Karp85 / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: Because this year may be the year the country shines the most. Wildlife tourism is on the rise, Wroclaw is named as a European Capital of Culture (part of which includes an artist-in-residence program to promote artists without borders), and more budget airlines than ever are flying to the country.
If you’re planning to go, you may want to book your trip around Krakow’s Pierogi Festival in mid-August, Warsaw’s International Film Festival in October, or, you know, whenever. Because there’s always vodka.

8. Uruguay

8. Uruguay
Kseniya Ragozina / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: Well of course there’s the fact that weed is legal there. But aside from that, it’s an extremely peaceful place — it’s nicknamed the “Switzerland of America” — and tourism is on the rise (3 million visitors are expected in 2016).
The country has a very bohemian vibe; it’s filled with small surfing villages, empty beaches, and cute beach shacks. And it even has its fair share of cattle ranches and cowboys!

9. Greenland

9. Greenland
Koonyongyut / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: The Northern Lights, of course. But perhaps even more than that, it’s a great place to disconnect. Greenland has the world’s lowest population density — it’s about 80% ice covered — and the cell phone service is so spotty, many people actually use satellite phones. 
Also, the food is legit local. The island hardly has transportation, meaning chefs are forced to make do with what they have (like, kelp salad with reindeer bacon).

10. Fiji

10. Fiji
Zstockphotos / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: The country has gone through tumultuous times in the past decade, but it’s now back to its original peaceful self, says Lonely Planet.
That peacefulness includes crystal clear waters to swim in, welcoming singers who serenade you 24/7, and local Fijian music (a mix of hip-hop, reggae, and pop) to keep up your good spirits.
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed Life

11. The American Southwest

11. The American Southwest
Tonda / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: As I mentioned above, the National Parks are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, and the American Southwest in particular is a great place to toast to the occasionAfter all, it’s home to Arches, Bryce, Zion, Grand Canyon, and Capitol Reef National Parks — and most of those parks roll out special programming to celebrate the big event!

12. Nepal

12. Nepal
Kiwisoul / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: The country’s tourism industry took a huge hit following the devastating earthquake in April. But the tour operator company Intrepid Travel partnered with the Nepalese government and a team of experts to analyze the damage, and concluded that it’s actually safe and secure to go there now.
Bonus: Your money will likely directly fund relief efforts, so you’ll kill two birds with one stone, reminds AFAR.

13. Tasmania

13. Tasmania
Nyker1 / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: Newness is on the rise in TasmaniaIn 2016, there will be new cruise lines, new hotels, and new hiking trails, such as the new Three Capes Track, a 28-mile hike that takes four days to hike. In sum, Tasmania is in the spotlight this year!

14. Cuba

14. Cuba
Marc Borchert / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: Now that the American travel restrictions to Cuba have been lifted, the country has seen a big increase in tourism — and that’s likely to only get bigger, so it’s better to go now before it gets played out. “A new weekend tour from Insight Cuba will also roll out in January, making it even easier for Americans to get a taste of the island without taking too many vacation days,” says AFAR.

15. Portugal

15. Portugal
Sean Pavone / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: “Portugal is heating up as a cultural hub,” says AFAR. For starters, foodies are loving its capital city Lisbon, which has tons of amazing eats. Also, Porto has a major art scene going on, and the 200-mile beach between Porto and Lisbon is becoming increasingly popular.
But aside from those two cities, AFAR says that both locals and visitors are truly loving Portugal’s cute, smaller villages, which are just begging to be explored.

16. Granada, Nicaragua

16. Granada, Nicaragua
RafaÃ…? Cichawa / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: “Granada is quickly becoming the Portland of Nicaragua,” according to AFAR. That’s because coffee tourism is growing by the minute, with new cafes popping up throughout the area. What’s more, it’s in a great location.Travelers who want to ditch the city vibe for a minute can take advantage of easy outdoorsy half-day trips, like Las Islets in Lake Nicaragua or the Mombacho Volcano.

17. Mongolia

17. Mongolia
Heckepics / Getty Images
WHY GO IN 2016: In the past, going to Mongolia meant really throwing yourself off the beaten path. Like, really. But these days, it’s a destination on the rise.Expert trip companies like Nomadic Expeditions have trips there now, the wildnerness lodges have gotten an upgrade, and a Shangri-La even opened in the capital.

18. East Africa

18. East Africa
Larry Johnson
WHERE TO GO IN 2016: Always wanted to go on a safari? Make this year your year. There are lots of places to choose from, not least Tanzania and Zimbabwe. “In Tanzania, a new fleet of tented safari camps means you can get closer to nature than ever before—without sacrificing luxury.”
“And with a new airport, a stable political climate, and new resorts, Zimbabwe has emerged as a safari destination to be reckoned with,” says AFAR.

19. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

19. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
WHY GO IN 2016: Go for the party, right? Not always. Cabo is actually in the midst of shedding its party reputation and reinventing itself as a luxury destination. Of course, there are still affordable spots, too — but if you want to totally go all in and pamper yourself fully, this could be your place.

20. Ireland

20. Ireland
WHY GO IN 2016: Of course Ireland is always beautiful. You know this. But this year could be different, because the country has recently launched a bunch of new travel services that allow you to see it by land, sea and air.

21. Guadalajara, Mexico

21. Guadalajara, Mexico
WHY GO IN 2016: Guadalajara is “blossoming,” says AFAR. In the past year, lots of new boutique hotels have opened, largely due to the city’s big art scene. The city is landlocked, but it’s still great for a winter getaway because it’s loaded with culture. If you’re going, try to go in March for the International Film Festival.

22. Southeast Asia

22. Southeast Asia
WHY GO IN 2016: Southeast Asia pops up on quite a few bucket lists, and understandably so: It’s affordable once you get there, and filled with tons of culture in every corner. But what’s new this year is a whole bunch of new cruises on the Mekong River. River cruises are a great way to access small towns and villages that were harder to get to previously.

23. Iran

 
WHY GO IN 2016: Bookings to Iran are on the rise, according to AFAR, and it may be time for you to join the club. Check out the capital, Tehran, the ancient literary city, Shiraz, and more. Here’s everything you need to know before you go.

24. New Orleans, Louisiana

24. New Orleans, Louisiana
WHY GO IN 2016: Because new neighborhoods are booming! The city’s Bywater neighborhood, which is a short ride from the French Quarter on a new streetcar line, is definitely on the rise. Here’s what to do and where to go when you get there.
And of course, the other parts of the city are as fun and spirited as ever — and ready to be enjoyed.

25. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

25. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
WHY GO IN 2016: Well, as AFAR says, “We’re calling it.” Also, the Olympics are this summer — so Rio is in full-on festive mode. AFAR’s writer did Rio in just three days, too — which sounds crazy but was actually awesome.

So there you have it — your 2016 to-do list. Start planning!

So there you have it — your 2016 to-do list. Start planning!

For more information, Lonely Planet’s free New in Travel 2016 ebook is available here starting January 8th. And for more information on AFAR Media, visit their website here.

UPDATE
The photo of Iran was changed from sand dunes to a city view to more accurately depict the country. (Thanks, Aydin Tebyanian!) 
CORRECTION
The information about Tasmania in #13 has been updated. A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to it as a country.