Choosing the best places to visit in the world is no easy task—which is why we leave it to our readers. Fortunately, you always prove to have great taste. Here are your Readers’ Choice Award winners for this year.
Best American City
Best American City for the Arts
New York City
Hit particularly hard during the pandemic, the Big Apple is showing its resilience, with a fresh wind blowing through its most iconic attractions. The Moynihan Train Hall—complete with stained-glass work by artist Kehinde Wiley—has brought a touch of elegance to the formerly bleak Penn Station, and Rockefeller Center is the hottest dining destination in town, hosting outposts from the city’s top chefs. Nearby, the Museum of Broadway is livening up Times Square; this season includes can’t-miss spectacles including a musical retelling of Back to the Future, the reteaming of Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells in Gutenberg! The Musical!, and star turns from the likes of Danny DeVito and Daniel Radcliffe.
Best American City Finalists: Chicago, Houston
Best American City for the Arts Finalists: Chicago; Austin, Texas
Best American Museum
American Museum of Natural History
Uptown, the American Museum of Natural History recently welcomed the new $465 million Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation. The new wing looks like a curvy cave dwelling, and it’s home to a butterfly vivarium, where you can walk among hundreds of fluttering insects; a leaf-cutter ant display, where you can watch the industrious critters at work; and an experience dedicated to microscopic phenomena such as brain neurons and plankton.
Best American Museum Finalists: San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, Texas; Underwater Museum of Art, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Best International City for Families
London As the home of real-life kings and queens and a slew of beloved literary characters, the United Kingdom’s capital is suffused with a sort of childlike whimsy, and its roster of family-friendly offerings is ever-expanding. Adventurous types can climb the rigging of the 19th-century clipper ship Cutty Sark, while the new BBC Earth Experience boasts epic projections of the planet and narration from Sir David Attenborough. The V&A Museum of Childhood also recently reopened as the Young V&A, with interactive spaces such as an oversize marble run and a finger skateboard park. As Shakespeare (sort of) wrote, “Play’s the thing.”
Best International City for Families Finalists: Rome, Paris
Best National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Last year, Yellowstone celebrated its 150th anniversary by welcoming 3.29 million visitors, and it’s easy to see why the park remains a perennial favorite: At 3,472 square miles spread across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, America’s first national park is bigger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and it’s home to gurgling hot springs (including Grand Prismatic Spring, pictured), gushing alpine rivers, wide-open valleys, craggy mountains, and all manner of wildlife (bears, wolves, bison…).
Best National Park Finalists: Zion National Park, Utah; Acadia National Park, Maine
Best American Food City
The Big Easy is, of course, the home of Cajun and Creole cooking, but it’s also one of the most forward-thinking food cities in the country, with restaurants that remix the region’s culinary roots while honoring its immigrant-driven future. Now, alongside classics such as Commander’s Palace and Galatoire’s, you can try a modern Senegalese tasting menu at Dakar NOLA or embrace the diverse global influences at Cambodian-American chef Sophina Uong’s “tropical roadhouse,” Mister Mao. Newer standbys are innovating as well: The folks behind cult sandwich shop Turkey and the Wolf (fried bologna for the win!) have opened the 1980s-themed Hungry Eyes, where you can order artichokes on a half shell, grilled pastrami skewers, and more.
Best American Food City Finalists: New York City, Chicago
Best Cultural Festival
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Food and culture go hand in hand, and this three-time Readers’ Choice Awards winner never ceases to impress: The lineup for Jazzfest 2023, which took place April 28–May 7, included Santana, Mavis Staples, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, and, most importantly, scores of local musicians.
Best Cultural Festival Finalists: Foo Foo Fest, Pensacola, Florida; PVD Fest, Providence, Rhode Island
Best International Beach Destination
Best International Honeymoon Destination
Last year marked 50 years since the first resort opened in the Maldives, an archipelagic nation in the Indian Ocean where more than 2,500 coral reefs teem with whale sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and kaleidoscopic tropical fish. Visitors can thank the parrotfish, specifically, for the beauty of the beaches here: They munch on the algae that grows on coral, and the undigested bits then form some of the finest, whitest sand anywhere in the world (don’t overthink it!). The island chain has become especially popular with seclusion-seeking honeymooners, with properties such as the new Six Senses Kanuhura accessible only via speedboat or seaplane—perfect whether you’re trying to escape from the paparazzi or just dodging emails from your boss back home.
Best International Beach Destination Finalists: Bali, Indonesia; the Bahamas
Best International Honeymoon Destinations Finalists: Bali, Indonesia; Paris
Best American Hotel
The Wall Street Hotel
Oysters loom surprisingly large over this hotel, which the Paspaley family, an Australian pearling dynasty, opened last year in their former New York City offices between—no joke—Water and Pearl Streets. The main attraction at the on-site restaurant, chef John Fraser’s La Marchande, is local oysters served with boozy mignonette. A sustainability-minded luxury package, meanwhile, gives guests the opportunity to volunteer on Governor’s Island with the Billion Oyster Project, a nonprofit that’s working to restore New York Harbor’s oyster reefs. If you don’t volunteer, you can still help the charity out by buying the bronze oyster-shell bottle opener for sale on your room’s bar cart.
Best American Hotel Finalists: Crossroads Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri; Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn
Your Favorite International Hotels… and Why We Love Them
Best Canadian Hotel
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto
It’s home to Canada’s only hotel-based cheese cave, at the on-site restaurant Toca.
Best Canadian Hotel Finalists: Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Alberta; Cabot Cape Breton, Inverness, Nova Scotia
Best African Hotel
Royal Mansour Marrakech
The Arab-Andalusian gardens at this Moroccan property (pictured above) provide produce for the kitchen, botanicals for the spa, and a greenhouse studio for art therapy classes.
Best Africa Hotel Finalists: Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa; Babylonstoren, Simondium, South Africa
Best Asian Hotel
Marriott’s Bali Nusa Dua Terrace
Floral wood carvings bring a touch of Balinese culture to the guest rooms at this Indonesian resort.
Best Asian Hotel Finalists: Joali Maldives, the Maldives; Park Hyatt Tokyo, Japan
Best European Hotel
Hotel Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, Venice
You may never feel chicer than when you hail the courtesy shuttle boat using a special phone in Piazza San Marco.
Best European Hotel Finalists: Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam; Adare Manor, Adare, Ireland
Best Oceanian Hotel
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort
You can splash around with French Polynesian locals (i.e., tropical fish and coral) in the hotel’s Lagoonarium underwater sanctuary.
Best Oceanian Hotel Finalists: Jackalope Hotel, Mornington Peninsula, Australia; Blanket Bay, Glenorchy, New Zealand
Best Mexican/Caribbean Hotel
The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancún
Endangered sea turtles love this Mexican property as much as you do—trained staff members released 53,031 baby turtles that hatched on the beach last year alone!
Best Mexican/Caribbean Hotel Finalists: Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico; Drift, San Jose del Cabo, Mexico
Best Middle Eastern Hotel
The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah
At this resort in Ajman, United Arab Emirates, you can take a guided kayak tour through mangroves at the nearby Al Zorah Natural Reserve.
Best Middle Eastern Hotel Finalists: Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai; Banyan Tree AlUla, Saudi Arabia
Best Central and South American Hotel
Hotel Mama Cuchara by Art Hotels, Quito
This Ecuadorian property has a rooftop bar offering dramatic views of Quito’s UNESCO-designated old town and cocktails made with local flavors such as naranjilla and Espíritu del Ecuador liqueur.
Best Central or South American Hotel Finalists: Copacabana Palace: A Belmond Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama
Best American Spa
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota Spa
Readers chose this Florida Gulf Coast spa as the winner not even knowing it was about to get even better: It’s re-opening later this fall after a dazzling renovation. If you visit while work is still underway, don’t worry—you can still get the signature massage or manicure elsewhere on property.
Best American Spa Finalists: Rancho Bernardo Inn Spa, San Diego, California; Calluna Spa at The Equestrian Hotel, Ocala, Florida
Best International Spa
The first wellness resort of its kind in the Maldives opened in 2021 in the Raa Atoll, offering treatment options such as sound healing, cryotherapy chambers, Watsu water therapy, and 3-D posture analysis. To aid in all that pampering, each villa comes with its own butler, or jadugar (“magician” in the local language).
Best International Spa Finalists: Ocean Spa, Jamaica Inn, Ocho Rios, Jamaica; The Spa at Adare Manor, Adare, Ireland
Best Up-and-Coming City
Providence, Rhode Island
We shouldn’t be surprised that a city with one of the most competitive art and design schools in the country (RISD) would have a cool streak, but the capital of America’s smallest state has begun to overshadow some of its more glamorous neighbors. New hotels include The Beatrice, which opened in 2021 in the 1887 Exchange Building, and the collegiate-themed Graduate Providence, which brims with artworks such as Ashley Longshore’s portrait of fashion legend—and Brown University alum—André Leon Talley (pictured). On the food front, two locals recently made it onto the James Beard Awards’ long list for Best Chef in the Northeast: Milena Pagán of Puerto Rican café Little Sister and Robert Andreozzi of Pizza Marvin, which might be the only place in America that tops its seafood tower with a pizza.
Best Up-and-Coming American City Finalists: Tampa, Florida; Sandy Springs, Georgia
Best International City
The City of Light is gearing up to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, and if you haven’t been here in a while, you might not believe all of its new or newly renovated splendors. There’s the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection, a modern art museum housed in the old commodities exchange; the glittering La Samaritaine department store, with its Art Nouveau and Art Deco detailing; the National Library of France, which houses items such as Charlemagne’s chess set; and the Musée Carnavalet, the city’s history museum, which reopened in the Marais after $70 million in renovations. Of course, there are all the old standbys as well. Take the Louvre, which, in addition to being the world’s most visited museum last year, with nearly 8 million guests, is proving to be a great neighbor: This October, its Richelieu wing will offer a temporary home to priceless objects from the Notre Dame treasury as the Gothic icon undergoes restoration work.
Best International City Finalists: London; Panama City, Panama
Best International Museum Winner: The Louvre
Best International Museum Finalists: The British Museum, London; The Tate Modern, London
Best American Wine Region
In the decades since the 1976 Judgment of Paris put Napa Valley on the world wine map, California’s premier viticultural region has developed into an unstoppable juggernaut that continues to grow and expand. Nearly all of the classic wining and dining spots are still here (Stag’s Leap Cellars, Opus One, Chateau Montelena, Inglenook, The French Laundry, Bouchon), but recent developments have included a Four Seasons Resort, the area’s third Auberge Resort, and updated tasting experiences throughout the valley, including Arch & Tower, a brand-new tasting lounge in downtown Napa from the Robert Mondavi Winery.
Best American Wine Region Finalists: Sonoma County, California; Willamette Valley, Oregon
Best International Wine Region
Tradition-bound Tuscany has been making wine for nearly three millennia, but that doesn’t mean Italy’s Sangiovese center is stuck in the past. One of the newest ways to appreciate its splendors is by staying at Borgo San Vincenzo, a boutique hotel named for the patron saint of winemaking that opened last summer in a 1780 building surrounded by the vineyards of Montepulciano. Want to wet your whistle before the trip? Pick up a bottle of Ruffino’s Romitorio di Santedame, which the venerable producer recently began exporting to the U.S. for the first time.
Best International Wine Region Finalists: Bordeaux, France; Cape Winelands, South Africa
Best American Honeymoon Destination
What makes the Aloha State such a perennial honeymoon favorite? Maybe it’s the gorgeous sunsets, the lush jungles, the mai tais, the dolphin and whale sightings, the always perfect weather… Or perhaps it’s the sense of new beginnings. After all, thanks to tireless volcanic activity, the shores are constantly expanding: Black-sand Pohoiki and Kaimu Beaches, on the Island of Hawaii, weren’t even twinkles in Pele’s eye a few decades ago.
Best American Honeymoon Destination Finalists: Napa Valley, California; the Florida Keys
Best American Beach Destination Winner: Maui
Best American Beach Destination Finalists: South Walton, Florida; Miami
Best American City for Families
Much like your kid, America’s theme park capital is growing so quickly it can be hard to keep up. In the past year or so, Walt Disney World Resort has introduced the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and TRON Lightcycle/Run rides, while Splash Mountain is getting a The Princess and the Frog–themed makeover when it relaunches next year as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. Across town, Universal Studios has gotten a little more “despicable” with the new Illumination’s Minion Land. Also in the works is a new theme park, Universal Epic Universe, which is set to house the East Coast location of Super Nintendo World.
Best City for Families Finalists: Providence, Rhode Island; Tampa, Florida
Best Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line
Nobody nails details quite like Disney. Last year, the company’s cruise line welcomed its first new ship in a decade, the 4,000-passenger Disney Wish, which includes immersive Avengers and Frozen dining experiences, a Star Wars–themed lounge, and the AquaMouse, a whiz-bang, high-tech water coaster that has been dubbed Disney’s first attraction at sea. Next year will see the debuts of a sister ship with an Aladdin-inspired design, the Disney Treasure, and Lighthouse Point, a private island resort in the Bahamas.
Best Cruise Line Finalists: MSC Cruises, Ponant
Best State for Adventure
The Centennial State is America’s undisputed winter playground champion, and there’s somehow still terrain left to explore. Aspen Mountain, for instance, is set to expand its skiable acreage by 22 percent, with a newly developed area named Hero’s (formerly referred to as Pandora’s) that is something of a bet on the future: It’s located at a higher elevation and faces northward, meaning it’s positioned better to hold snow in climate change–challenged ski seasons. Elsewhere around the state, adventures continue year-round, at places such as Beavers Loop, a high-altitude mountain biking trail in Arapahoe Basin, and Ouray’s Gold Mountain Via Ferrata, which expands Colorado’s reign as the U.S. state with the most via ferrata courses. For something a bit more relaxing—though no less outdoorsy—the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop recently added three new spots where you can soak in style.
Best State for Adventure Finalists: California, Utah
Best American Ski Destination Winner: Aspen, Colorado
Best American Ski Destination Finalists: Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Vail, Colorado
Best International Destination for Adventure
The pandemic put a pause on many Middle-earth-inspired journeys, but this almost mythically beautiful country got even wilder while its doors were closed. New Zealand welcomed its first UNESCO Global Geopark, Waitaki Whitestone, which is known for its massive boulders and ancient marine fossils, while Rotorua saw the development of the first-of-its-kind, Maori-owned Wai Ariki Hot Springs and Spa. If you can’t decide what kind of adventure you want, book a few nights at the South Island’s Flockhill Lodge, which sits on a 36,000-acre working sheep station in the shadow of the Southern Alps. The ranch is so vast—two and a half times the size of Manhattan—that you can go hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, bouldering, and even caving without ever leaving the property.
Best International Destination for Adventure Finalists: Costa Rica, Panama
Best International Ski Destination
As if it weren’t legendary enough, Zermatt recently welcomed an incredible new cable car that links the Swiss ski resort to Cervinia, Italy—making it the highest-altitude border-crossing cable car in the world.
Best International Ski Destination Finalists: Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada; Chamonix, France