We celebrate the wonders of travel in every issue of Hemispheres, but once a year, we leave it to our readers to decide who should appear in our pages. Here are the cities, hotels, museums, attractions, and more that you chose as your winners in 2022. You’ve certainly earned our approval.
Best Cities for Families
Domestic: San Diego
It turns out the “Barcelona effect” might just be the creation of a happy family. Kids and adults alike love exploring the fountains, museums, and zoos in Ciutadella Park; riding the Montjuïc cable car; playing (and learning) at the CosmoCaixa Barcelona science museum; and marveling at the Dr. Seuss–like creations of Antoni Gaudí, such as the Casa Batlló. On the domestic side, San Diego bested two-time champ Orlando for family-friendly bragging rights. With its stellar zoo, North America’s first (and best) Legoland, the peerless Balboa Park, and more than 70 miles of top-notch beaches prime for sandcastle building and bodysurfing, the southern end of California is a kids’ paradise.
U.S. Finalists: Orlando, Indianapolis
International Finalists: London, Paris
Best American City
New York City
The Big Apple wins this category every year, because it really is the best city in America—just ask anyone who lives there. No matter what you’re into, you’ll find it here. There are the museums for the art aficionados, the wide-ranging dining scene for foodies, Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden for sports fans, Madison Avenue for fashionistas, Broadway for theater lovers … and then there’s that pulsing energy in the streets that perhaps no other place in the world can match. The City That Never Sleeps may have taken a quick nap during the pandemic, but it’s wide awake again.
Finalists: Chicago, Indianapolis
Best International City
Few places in the world are as beloved as Paris—and yet no matter how much hype the city gets, it lives up to expectations every time. Whether you’re digging through the depths of the catacombs, rising to the top of the Eiffel Tower, or just strolling the banks of the Seine, Paris will make you feel alive and, more importantly, in love with life.
Finalists: London, Rome
Best Wine Regions
Domestic: Napa Valley, California
International: Tuscany, Italy
There’s never any doubt as to what our readers’ favorite American wine region will be, but that wasn’t always the case. Fifty years ago, in fact, most Americans wouldn’t have given much consideration to any of our domestic vineyards. That changed in 1976, when two Napa Valley wineries, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena, beat France’s best in a blind tasting that became known as the Judgment of Paris. Now, Napa stands above all of its domestic competitors, and alongside any region in Europe. Speaking of beating the French, Tuscany can pour itself (another) glass of Brunello di Montalcino and toast to besting Bordeaux and Burgundy in this year’s international poll. Saluti!
U.S. Finalists: Sonoma County, California; Willamette Valley, Oregon
International Finalists: Bordeaux, France; Burgundy, France
Best American Beach Destination
The thing about Maui is that there’s not just one strip of sand to see; it’s the diversity of beach scenes that makes the island such a favorite. Surfers will hit the break at Ho‘okipa Beach, near Paia; snorkelers will dive into Honolua Bay; people-watchers will go to Makena Beach (although they shouldn’t watch too closely if they’re in the unofficial nude section); and those who want to get away from it all will find secluded spots such as Honokalani, a black-sand beach along the Road to Hana. You’d need months to visit them all—but we can’t think of a challenge we’d rather accept.
Finalists: Clearwater Beach, Florida; Miami Beach, Florida
Best Honeymoon Destinations
Hawaii, The Maldives
Is there anything more romantic than an island getaway? Both Hawaii, our domestic winner, and the Maldives, the international champion, lure newlyweds with their pristine beaches, epic sunsets, adventurous activities, and luxury resorts. Being in a constant state of bliss is inevitable.
U.S. Finalists: Napa Valley, California; New Orleans
International Finalists: Greece, Paris
Best International Beach Destination
The Maldives is one of those places that seems like it can’t be real: a chain of 26 atolls straddling the Equator in the Indian Ocean. It’ll feel real enough, though, when you run your toes through the powdery white sands of Milaidhoo, Kanuhara, or any of the archipelago’s other beautiful spits of land. Actually, who are we kidding—we all know it
still won’t feel real.
Finalists: Mallorca, Spain; Aruba
Best African Hotel
Royal Mansour Marrakech, Morocco
Some hotels are less a place to stay and more a sensory experience; this certainly applies to the Royal Mansour, a palatial property that comprises 53 individual riads, four signature restaurants (three of them supervised by star chef Yannick Alléno), and a jaw-dropping 27,000-square-foot spa. The most breathtaking aspect is the traditional design and architecture, which befits the nearby Jemaa el-Fna square and will make any entering guest feel like a sheik.
Finalists: Banyan Tree Tamouda Bay, Fnideq, Morocco; Billionaire Resort & Retreat, Malindi, Kenya
Best Hotel in Oceania
Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Everything about Bora Bora seems impossible, from the turquoise lagoon to the soaring peak of Mount Pahia towering above it. Perhaps the best place to take in this scenery (other than from a plane flying overhead) is the Four Seasons Resort. Get a massage at the Te Mahana Spa while looking at tropical fish through a glass floor, sip Champagne at the Arii Moana restaurant, or lounge in your robe on the deck of your overwater bungalow. It won’t be long before you’re taking the plunge into that legendary lagoon.
Finalists: Park Hyatt Sydney, Australia; The Langham Melbourne, Australia
Best South American Hotel
Copacabana Palace, A Belmond Hotel, Rio de Janeiro
The Copacabana Palace turns 100 next year, and even a century on it remains one of the world’s greatest hotels, having welcomed everyone from Walt Disney to Justin Bieber. The Art Deco landmark offers delicious Italian and pan-Asian cuisine, as well as a poolside brunch and a piano bar scene that’s the stuff of legend. The highlight of the day, however, will be its very first moments, when you throw open your luxe room’s curtains to watch the sun rise over Copacabana Beach.
Finalists: Rosewood São Paulo, Brazil; Alvear Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires
Best Mexican/Caribbean Hotel
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico
Credit where it’s due: this 28,000-square-foot array of suites, terraces, and infinity pools overlooking the Sea of Cortez merits its Spanish name, “Windows to Paradise.” The architecture blends Mexican and Mediterranean styles—hand-carved doors, terracotta hearths—that complement the succulent vegetation on the grounds. If the faultless service and impeccable rooms don’t carry you away, the preposterously high-end tequila bar will help.
Finalists: Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico; Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Best Hotel in the Middle East
Burj al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The 1,053-foot-tall Burj Al Arab eclipsed its Emirati competition, proving that height matters. Or maybe readers were won over by the 18-story atrium, helipad, Lamborghini shuttles, sweeping views, awe-inspiring infinity pools, water park, chartered
yachts… OK, all of it matters.
Finalists: Rosewood Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Best Canadian Hotel
Four Seasons Hotel Toronto
The first Four Seasons opened in Toronto in 1961, and this 259-room flagship, which debuted in 2012, carries on the brand’s legacy. This is urban luxury at its best, offering superb service and featuring timeless, sophisticated design—from the grand lobby to the spacious and calming rooms and suites. The food is just as much a reason to book a night here: Enjoy steak tartare and morel risotto at Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud or, if you’re feeling lazy, feast on his signature rotisserie chicken and fingerling potatoes from the comfort of your king-size bed.
Finalists: Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Vancouver; Club Med, Québec-Charlevoix
Best European Hotel
Castell Son Claret, Mallorca, Spain
The Balearic Islands are known for their beach resorts, but our readers’ favorite hotel on the island (and in all of Europe) isn’t on the water at all. Castell Son Claret, in the interior of Mallorca, just 30 minutes from the capital city of Palma, takes advantage of the bounty of the land on a centuries-old estate at the base of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. Stay in the renovated 19th-century manor house, dine on gourmet locavore cuisine, stroll the manicured grounds, and even take in an opera. Who needs the beach, anyway?
Finalists: Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland; Adare Manor, County Limerick, Ireland
Best Asian Hotel
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands
The Ritz-Carlton Maldives opened last year and is among the last wonders created by the venerable late architect Kerry Hill. Most stunning is the arrangement of 39 overwater villas (each with its own infinity pool) around a spa complex that looks like a spaceship hovering over the lagoon. Guests here are encouraged to learn about the ocean, not just look at it from panoramic windows: The resort offers Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, in which people engage with the natural world.
Finalists: Joali Maldives, Raa Atoll; The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, Japan
Best American Hotel
Wailea Beach Resort — Marriott, Maui, Hawaii
You certainly won’t run out of things to do at this family-friendly resort on the west side of Maui. Swim and snorkel in the Pacific, lounge on the pristine sand of Wailea Beach or in a private floating cabana, zoom down the water slide, or enjoy the combined meal and cultural experience at the fantastic Te Au Moana luau. The best part, though, is when the day comes to an end, and you can take in one of the world’s most spectacular sunsets.
Finalists: JW Marriott Nashville, Tennessee; Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club, Dana Point, California
Best Ski Destinations
Aspen, Colorado; St. Moritz, Switzerland
When it comes to ski resorts, these two are tough to beat. St. Moritz was the first all-around winter sports resort to open in the world, way back in 1864, and it has twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Aspen, meanwhile, boasts four mountain resorts (Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands), with terrain suitable for every type of skier or snowboarder. What’s more, the exclusive nature of the towns that support the slopes has drawn A-list devotees to each, ranging from Kate Moss in the Alps to Hunter S. Thompson in the Rockies.
U.S. Finalists: Park City, Utah; Vail, Colorado
International Finalists: Whistler Blackcomb, Canada; Kopaonik, Serbia
Best State for Adventure
Aside from being America’s ski capital, the Centennial State provides ample opportunity for mountain bikers, whitewater rafters, fly-fishermen… and pretty much any other type of outdoors enthusiast. It turns out the Rocky Mountain high is actually just an adrenaline rush.
Finalists: California, Wisconsin
Best Country for Adventure
Swinging into the pool of water at the bottom of Cenote Oxman, a stunning natural sinkhole in the Yucatán Peninsula, is one of the many adventurous activities available in Mexico. From surfing in Sayulita to sportfishing in Los Cabos, hiking Copper Canyon to climbing Iztaccíhuatl, our neighbor to the south offers a thrill ride for every kind of adrenaline junkie.
Finalists: Switzerland, Ireland
Waldorf Astoria Spa, Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club, Dana Point, California
Joali Spa by Espa at Joali, The Maldives
In need of a little pampering? Those looking for wellness close to home singled out the new spa at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort & Club, thanks to its partnership with 111SKIN and treatments such as a Dramatic Healing Facial. Farther afield, in the Maldives, Joali Spa by Espa wows with its cast of visiting healers, including Dr. Sohal Shah, and its Healing Garden, where the herbs for many treatments are grown.
U.S. Finalists: Spa at Civana, Carefree, Arizona; Spa Alila, Alila Marea Beach Resort, Encinitas, California
International Finalists: The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Tokyo, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo; Banyan Tree Spa at Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Best American Restaurant
Camphor, Los Angeles
The chefs behind Camphor met several years ago while cooking at Blue by Alain Ducasse in Bangkok, and they bring their old boss’s sophistication and creativity to this Downtown LA hot spot. The menu is mostly French, but with enough Southeast Asian touches to keep things interesting. Start with the gunpowder shrimp, which will wake up your mouth with a boatload of red chilies, then get funky with an Époisses and butter melange atop delicious house-baked bread. The chicken—a combo of perfectly poached breast in a thyme jus and a light, masala-kissed mousse—is the right move for your main. Toast to your good fortune at scoring a res with the Provence cocktail, a next-level martini made with vodka infused with herbs de Provence, pear eau de vie, and vermouth.
Finalists: Bourbon Steak Orange County, California; Rainbird, Merced, California
Best International Restaurant
Located on the 45th floor of Tokyo’s Ritz-Carlton, this restaurant offers views almost as astounding as the food, and it takes advantage of its prime real estate by offering intimate two-tops that face the floor-to-ceiling windows. Hinokizaka is divided into four sections, each highlighting one of four Japanese cuisines: kaiseki, sushi, tempura, and teppanyaki—which means you really should dine here four times.
Finalists: Dins Santi Taura, Palma, Mallorca, Spain; La Marea Restaurant by
Viceroy, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Best American Food City
New York City
From three-Michelin-starred temples of fine dining such as Le Bernardin to humble hot dog carts, New York has everything you’d ever want to eat—and we do mean everything: authentic Chinese food in Flushing, Queens; red-sauce Italian on the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue; Yemeni cafés in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge. Oh, and we forgot the bagels and lox and pastrami on rye and pizza by the slice and natural wine and cutting-edge cocktails and Tsukiji Market–level sushi and Mad Men–worthy steak houses and…
Finalists: New Orleans, Indianapolis
Best International Food City
Croissants at La Maison d’Isabelle. Macarons at Ladurée. A jambon-beurre from Caractère de Cochon. Beef bourguignon at Joséphine Chez Dumonet. An apricot and frangipane tart at Frenchie. A glass of Chignin-Bergeron at Juveniles. Have you booked your flight yet?
Finalists: Rome, Tokyo
Peacock Room, New Orleans; The Cane Bar, St. Lucia
Most travelers make a stop at their hotel bar, and these institutions dominate this category. While New Orleans has its share of legendary lobby watering holes—The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt, for one— our readers favored a relative newcomer, the Kimpton Hotel Fontenot’s Peacock Room, which earns its name with an ornate French salon–style interior and cocktails that reference Dr. John and Tennessee Williams. On the other hand, The Cane Bar, at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, is lauded for its cool interior and blend of Japanese food and rum drinks. Cheers!
U.S. Finalists: The Great Hall at The National, Autograph Collection, Oklahoma City; The Chandelier, Las Vegas
International Finalists: Zapote Bar, Riviera Maya, Mexico; Pique Ski Bar, Kopaonik, Serbia
Best International Museum
The Louvre, Paris
You just can’t beat The Louvre, the world’s most visited, most stunning museum inside and out. The rambling 18-acre palace of world-historic art consistently earns its pride of place on the Seine’s majestic Right Bank. You can spend a day under these vaulted ceilings, not seeing the Mona Lisa, not seeing the Venus de Milo, missing scores of other A-list treasures, and still leave the place transformed, finding the adjacent Tuileries Garden somehow enhanced and more vivid than when you entered.
Finalists: Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museum of Old and New Art,
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Best American Museum
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
America’s Louvre, the Met is impossible to fully digest in one visit—maybe even in 10 visits. It boasts a reconstructed Egyptian temple, medieval suits of armor, Hokusai’s wave, Van Gogh’s cypresses, Monet’s water lilies, and so much more. If there’s somehow not enough diversity in the permanent collection for you, there’s always an interesting temporary exhibit: This fall, the museum hosts shows on Black potters from South Carolina, the Tudors of England, and Maya sculptures of the gods.
Finalists: The Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Conner Prairie, Fishers, Indiana
Best Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean Cruises
Variety and innovation are what make Royal Caribbean such a standout in the cruise industry. It’s impossible to be bored on one of these megaships: There are rock-climbing walls, simulated skydiving, escape rooms, Broadway shows, an Adventure Ocean program for kids… There’s also a huge selection of cabin styles—from interior staterooms with virtual views to two-story Royal Suites—making a cruise to Alaska or New Zealand financially doable for a wide variety of people.
Finalists: Ponant, MSC Cruises
Best Theme Park
Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista, Florida
This one is a given. How could Disney World not win? Last October, the resort kicked off the World’s Most Magical Celebration, honoring its 50th anniversary, and the festivities continue through next spring. On top of that, there are enough new attractions to keep visitors coming back year after year, including the soon-to-debut Tron Lightcycle Run rollercoaster and the immersive Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser adventure.
Finalists: Disneyland, Anaheim, California; Universal Studios Florida, Orlando
Best City for the Arts
New York City
The Met. MoMA. The Guggenheim. The Whitney. The Frick. The Brooklyn Museum. Really, that collection of museums alone is enough to make New York the world’s finest city for the arts— but the Big Apple’s true artistic spirit transcends institutions. It’s found in the small galleries of Bushwick, the off-off-Broadway stage productions, the graffiti murals, the comedy clubs, the food on your plate, the drink in your hand. New York is a great city for the arts because the city itself is a work of art.
Finalists: Chicago, Indianapolis
Best Up-and-Coming City
These days, Nashville is so much more than Music City. Yes, the Opry is still a must-visit, but now Nashville is Food City, Startup City, Sports City—and people are coming in droves. From 2010 to 2020, the population here increased by 20 percent, with the city adding 82 people per day on average, and 200,000 more are expected to move to Nashville in the next five years. More than 30 hotels have opened in the city in the last three years—giving you approximately 30 more reasons to book a stay.
Finalists: Indianapolis, Milwaukee
Best National Park
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho
America’s first national park celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and it remains the crown jewel of the National Park Service. The vast preserve spans nearly 3,500 square miles that are populated with bison, elk, grizzly bears, wolves, and more than half of the world’s active geysers, most notably Old Faithful. Summer is the busiest season (make sure to reserve a campsite far in advance), but don’t sleep on wintertime in the park, when you can explore a white wonderland on skis, snowshoes, or snowmobiles.
Finalists: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Yosemite National Park, California
Monterey Bay Aquarium, California
Built in a reimagined factory on Monterey’s Cannery Row (a strip made famous by the
novels of marine biology enthusiast John Steinbeck), this bayfront institution introduces visitors to a whole new underwater world, one of kelp forests, schooling sardines, diving penguins, radiant anemones, tranquil sea turtles, and the luminescent creatures of the deep. But really, all you need to know—especially if you have kids—is the following two words: sea otters.
Finalists: Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta; Shedd Aquarium, Chicago
San Diego Zoo, California
Home to more than 12,000 rare and endangered animals, this 100-acre zoo is the one against which all other zoos in the world are measured. How comprehensive is the list of animals you can see wandering enclosures that match their natural habitats? Let’s go alphabetically: anaconda, bonobo, capybara, dung beetle, elephant, fossa, Galápagos tortoise, harpy eagle… you get the point.
Finalists: Indianapolis Zoo, Indiana; Milwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin
Best Cultural Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
New Orleans’s identity is inextricably linked with music, and Jazz Fest, which was founded in 1970 and is held at the Fair Grounds Race Course each spring, is the apotheosis of the Big Easy’s soulful essence. While the headliners these days lean mainstream (the 2022 lineup featured The Who and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), stages dedicated to the blues, gospel, and traditional jazz are where visitors can dig deep into the Louisiana soundscape. Be sure to save some energy for later; clubs throughout the city pulse with after-hours shows all week long.
Finalists: Summerfest, Milwaukee; Foo Foo Festival, Pensacola, Florida