Ah, the great outdoors. The fresh air, that all-encompassing quiet, the beautiful solitude, the quiet, the peaceful vibe, the quiet, the abundance of nature – did we mention the quiet? Sometimes that’s just what you need, but other times all that quiet can be just a little too, well, quiet. When those times come up, head to one of these on-the-radar cities for fun, food, art and a little of that hustle and bustle we all crave sometimes. Some of these destinations are bigger, some are smaller, but they’re all having a moment, showing up on must-visit lists from Condé Nast Traveler to Travel+Leisure. Since we can’t bring ourselves to rank them, we’ll go east to west. Now let’s see what all the buzz is about…
Excitement on the horizon includes the all new (and free) contemporary art museum, MassArt Art Museum, with jaw-dropping exhibits like a giant crochet-meets-inflatable installation. More artistic thrills await at the Institute of Contemporary Art, where the celebrated Yayoi Kusama fills entire rooms with pop art and psychedelia. In May, catch the revival of the musical 1776 by the American Repertory Theater before it moves on to Broadway. Food halls are all the rage, with several of these curated restaurant-and-bar roundups on the scene, including Time Out Market and Hub Hall.
Where to stay: From Boston to Cambridge, Kimpton gives you three boutique options for exploring the area.
The 19th amendment turns 100 this year, and our nation’s capital will attract travelers coming to celebrate at museums and institutions all over town—a fact that launched DC to the top spot on The New York Times’ list of “52 Places to Go in 2020.” Three exhibits in particular are poignant explorations of women’s history. Woolly Mammoth Theatre’s new director is purposefully partnering with female directors and playwrights to create boundary-breaking works. If you haven’t been to the Kennedy Center lately, this is the year: a brand-new addition called The Reach explores facets of the arts, including a Justice Forum, featuring acoustic “crinkle” concrete walls. If you’re here in May, cruise along with the DC Bike Ride, a 20-miles closed-road tour past iconic landmarks. And if all this culture is revving up your appetite, we highly recommend a fusion bowl or “fusion mylk” at Immigrant Food, and the bottomless brunch drinks at Urbana.
Where to stay: From a hilltop near Georgetown to the heart of DC, take you pick among six Kimpton hotels.
Miami’s flirty siren call is never-ending, but 2020 looks especially irresistible. For starters, the Miami art scene is even brighter with the Rubell Museum, newly relocated last December in the emerging Allapattah neighborhood and showcasing works by over 1,000 artists. Bursting into the art world at the same time: the Museum of Graffiti, evidence of just how far this art form has come since tagging New York subways in the ’70s. If you’re into festivals, there’s at least one every month in Miami, including the Coconut Grove Food & Wine Festival in March, the Miami Beach Polo World Cup (April 9-12; horses on the beach!) and the global Art Basel Miami—arguably the best place to be in December. Gastronomic gurus can barely keep up with new restaurants like the intimate NIU Kitchen downtown (Catalan cuisine) and Intimo in Miami Beach (Peruvian meets Japanese). Later, toast the day’s adventures at downtown tiki wonder Esotico or Miami Beach’s own Blind Barber, where you can get a haircut by day and cocktails by night. Classic American dishes and straight-up daily catches at Seawell Fish n’ Oyster will help soak up all those drinks.
Where to stay: With four Kimpton hotels, you can stay high in the sky downtown or close to the beach.
Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, eclectic Asheville is the smallest city on our list (fewer than 100,000 people live here). Yet it’s building some major momentum in the realms of art, culture, cuisine—and beer. Let’s start the conversation with the Asheville Art Museum, reopening last November with 70 percent more gallery space and a rooftop sculpture terrace with mountain views. An artistic flair flows into music, food and drink, as well. Just last year, Rolling Stone dubbed Asheville “the new must-visit music scene,” touting the town’s live music venues and studios. This September, the city will host the second-annual Chow Chow, a Southern Appalachian food festival with farm dinners and demos from chefs like Katie Button and John Fleer. Among our current favorite Asheville restaurants are Vivian (European-inspired, local ingredients), The Waterbird (try The Gobbler sandwich with apple garlic aioli), and “cure for the common cocktail,” Antidote. Asheville’s South Slope is home to a burgeoning brewery district, and we’re all in.
Where to stay: Kimpton Hotel Arras opened in late 2019 in the heart of downtown Asheville.
Kick any stereotypes out of your mind, because Nashville has evolved way beyond its country music roots. Sure, Honky Tonk Row is as lively as ever, but the modern music scene fills the air with everything from pop to hip hop, and rock to Americana. More than 50 musical genres will be honored when the National Museum of African American Music opens this summer. Here you can see clothing belonging to Ella Fitzgerald and Alicia Keys, and even produce your own “soul track” that’s transferred to the bracelet they give you at admission. When it comes to dining, Nashville’s no one-note town. Witness Thai Esane with its six-foot golden Buddha, Tex-Mex newbie Redheaded Stranger, and sometime this year James Beard winner Sean Brock is set to open a restaurant honoring the Appalachian fare of his youth. New cocktail accompaniments include the Prohibition-esque Red Phone Booth and Pearl Diver for classic mai tais in a tropical lounge that used to be a garage. Dozens of festivals sprout up throughout the year, with some of our favorites being Tin Pan South in March (world’s largest songwriter festival) and the quirky little Tomato Art Fest in August.
Where to stay: Kimpton Aertson Hotel offers views of downtown and our lovely neighbor, Vanderbilt University.
New Orlean’s diverse history is reflected in its cuisine—and we’re not just talking beignets and gumbo. Hit up Galaxie for Oaxaca-style barbacoa and mezcal flights and Dian Xin for dim sum in the French Quarter. Take in some old-school jazz at The Spotted Cat Music Club, sip apertivos at Gianna, all manner of wine at The Domino, and an expansive array of spirits at the sexy, moody Peacock Room. We’re not surprised if the annual Jazz Fest brings you to town, but did you know about Satchmo Summerfest (honoring the great Louis Armstrong) and the Bayou Boogaloo? At the latter, you can sway to the music from a boat or a kayak. And topping off your NOLA experience are travel niceties like the newly renovated Louis Armstrong International Airport (complete with a live music pavilion) and revamped streetcars and ferries.
Where to stay: Kimpton Hotel Fontenot, steps from the French Quarter.
The majestic backdrop of Mount Rainer may be the only thing that stands still in Seattle. This year, we can’t wait to set our sights on the Seattle Asian Art Museum, reopening in February after a $56-million expansion. Seattle has always been a dream for music lovers, who can catch the one-night-only fusion of music, dance and artists in “Black Bois,” at Moore Theatre in February, and local favorite Brandi Carlile—performing with Sheryl Crow and the rising Yola—at Gorge Amphitheatre in June. For a whole lotta music all in one spot, don’t miss the Northwest Folklife Festival in May or the Capitol Hill Block Party in July. Of course Seattle constantly lures us with cuisine, and so far we’re in love with Musang, launched as a pop-up by a Filipina-American chef, and Revel, serving Korean street food back in its original Fremont location. Visit the retro Life on Mars (where everything is vegan, even the drinks) for Vinyl Happy Hour, where you can pick out a record and they’ll play it for you.
Where to stay: Choose among four chic Kimpton hotels spread out from Downtown to Belltown.