Rising above its associations with the annual hot-air-balloon festival, Albuquerque will this year set out to prove itself as a fully-fledged destination. The Sawmill District, just north of the historic Old Town, is being revived as a creative center, anchored by the arrival of the Hotel Chaco. The design of this boutique property, which opened in April, is inspired by the state’s indigenous culture, with handmade Navajo wool textiles and pueblo-inspired motifs. Come spring, downtown ABQ will also see the arrival of a new entertainment hub: the $40 million One Central, which will have a sleek bowling lounge, as well as upscale stores and restaurants. And just outside town, visitors will soon be able to experience the striking Sandia Mountains in a nail-biting new way. The proposed Mountain Coaster, an alpine sled-style ride that plunges riders down the mountainside in a total vertical drop of 380 feet, is due to open this fall. Getting to Albuquerque is becoming even easier, thanks to new nonstop flights from major U.S. cities via Southwest, United, and Alaska Airlines. —Melanie Lieberman

The capital may be set on banks of the Potomac, but it’s never had a reputation as a great waterfront city. That could all be about to change, thanks to the $2.5 billion, 24-acre District Wharf, which opened in October just south of the National Mall. The shiny new InterContinental Washington D.C.-The Wharf offers access to the development’s new parks, music venues, 50-plus shops, and 20 restaurants — which include projects from area chefs like Fabio Trabocchi, Mike Isabella, and wunderkind Kwame Onwuachi. This is also set to be a banner year for culture: the Freer and Sackler galleries, sister museums that champion Asian art, recently reopened after a 20-month renovation, the National Gallery of Art will host the first-ever show dedicated to Cézanne’s portraits from March to July, and the Kennedy Center continues its inaugural season of hip-hop programming curated by Q-Tip. —Brooke Porter Katz

Florida: Whether you love art, gourmet restaurants or beaches, Florida is a great place to visit on the East Coast of the United States. Have a romantic lunch with a view in Naples, explore historic St. Augustine, relax on white sandy beaches of Fort Lauderdale or get away from it all at a secluded island resort in the Florida Keys. More Florida vacation ideas.
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