Where to Travel Next: 2021 Hot List

Change is in the air in Atlanta, with fresh new restaurants and hotels opening in its more staid neighborhoods. 

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It’s a new day in Atlanta

Long before the nickname Hotlanta entered the lexicon, Atlanta was known simply as Terminus, the end of the railroad line. But if this past election season is any indication, the city is also a place of beginnings. Today, it has another moniker—the Hollywood of the South—where hits like Ozark and Stranger Things are filmed. All of this is to say that if you haven’t visited in a while, it’s time. It’s a different place, with a palpable energy coursing through its neighborhoods.

Creativity and cool are finally piercing Buckhead’s corporate façade with eateries like Garnet Gal’s, a Black-owned coffee shop that turns out organic pastries made with house-milled flour, and Kimpton Sylvan, a boutique hotel with a midcentury aesthetic. Further south, the flourishing Summerhill neighborhood has newcomers like Talat Market, which serves piquant Thai dishes made with Georgia-grown produce. In nearby Downtown, The Bakery, a multiuse arts center with a social justice bent, showcases Atlanta’s up-and-coming creatives, from painters to drag performers. The BeltLine, a railroad turned walking trail, takes pedestrians from bustling Piedmont Park to residential Reynolds-town, offering skyline views and public art displays—plus plenty of places to rest and refuel. Whatever you do, you’ll leave the city with your heart, and belly, full. — Lia Picard

From brand-new attractions to recently opened hotels, Santa Barbara is buzzing.

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 Coastal Santa Barbara is making a comeback

Santa Barbara is the Madonna of small-town reinvention, rebuilding itself after wildfires, mudslides, and now the pandemic. The last challenge reenergized State Street, the main artery; it’s now car-free, with wine bars and restaurants that spill onto the sidewalks. A new electric bike program with 30 docking locations has made the city even easier to explore. The spring debut of Palihouse Santa Barbara, a 24-room hotel surrounded by urban gardens in the Historic Presidio neighborhood, offers an intimate alternative to the area’s big resorts. And with Southwest Airlines having launched direct flights from Denver, Las Vegas, and Oakland; a new multifloor wing debuting at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art this summer; and buzz over the arrival of the Australian Walkabout, a sprawling immersive habitat at the Santa Barbara Zoo, this city is officially over the borderline. — Jennifer Blaise Kramer

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