Miami, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Colombia Among the 'Best Places to Travel in 2014'
What is your idea of a perfect vacation? If it includes, a beautiful background, amazing cuisine and vibrant people with a Latin twist to boot, then you're in store for a treat. Travel + Leisure recently released its "Best Places to Travel in 2014," and it included some noteworthy spots in the U.S., Mexico and Latin America.
Miami has really put its mark on the map for its vibrancy, international flair and top-notch cuisine; it's even been dubbed "the Latin American capital of the United States" by many.
I recently spoke to creator and entrepreneur Alvaro De Jesus, who raved about the city. De Jesus, who hails from Caracas, Venezuela, established his successful apparel and accessories company, Color Latino, in Miami, where his business thrives.
"It's been really interesting...in Miami there was a lot to learn from what the Latino lifestyle meant here in the United States," De Jesus told the Latin Post.
According to Travel + Leisure, "Miami feels more and more like a world-class city, thanks to a revitalized urban core, neighborhoods with distinct personalities, and a new clutch of innovative restaurants and hotels."
So where should you eat?
"The Metropolitan by Como debuts in January 2014, but for now, resident restaurateur Jose Mendin, founder of the city's PubBelly group of eateries, is loyal to the SLS and The Standard," Travel + Leisure's Heidi Mitchell points out. Medin also suggests Radio, which "started as a popup, and now it's becoming one of the city's hottest bars," and "for a late-night snack, Mendin heads to La Sandwicherie, which is 'famous for the Italian dressing that they give you with your sandwich.'"
Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
"The fresh lobster is cheap; the hammocks, plentiful; the pace, blissfully slow. This snack-bite-size island (it's just over one square mile) located 56 miles off Nicaragua's coast is easily walkable or bikeable by trail, making it a breeze to get to snorkeling beaches such as Cocal, according to Travel + Leisure's Jason Harper. "The new Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa offers 16 ocean-facing cabanas sandwiched between two stretches of sand, and a.m. yoga sessions...if you're up."
According to Travel + Leisure's Shane Mitchell and Paola Singer, "new hotels beckon travelers to two up-and-coming destinations. The beach town of Jose Ignacio attracts a high-wattage crowd that has included Shakira and Jason Wu, yet 'the vibe here is not so precious: everyone is so low-key and relaxed,' says insider Carrie Vik, who just opened her third hotel in the area: the 11-bungalow Bahia Vik, tucked among the dunes of Mansa Beach. 'I love to horseback ride along the sand, or bicycle up to Laguna Garzon and watch the kite surfers, she adds.' Return in time to catch the spectacular sunset over caipiroskas at La Huella, Playa Brava's iconic seaside restaurant. To the west, the boutique wineries and farm-to-table dining have made the Carmelo region a go-to weekend getaway for stylish Argentines. Casa Chic raises the cool quotient with its 20 rooms set on 250 acres of untouched forest and a showstopping pool overlooking the Río de la Plata."
Santa Marta, Colombia
Travel + Leisure's Jane Wooldridge highlighted the "up-and-coming cruise port: Santa Marta, Colombia. She suggests an excursion that involves embracing Colombia's oldest city, where you'll see artifacts of the Kogi and Arhuaco peoples in the Gold Museum-and tour the final home of 19th-century liberator Simón Bolívar."
She also suggests taking a voyage on "Oceania's Regatta, from Miami to Los Angeles. Dec. 5; 15 nights from $3,499."
My family has visited Santa Marta, Colombia and has fond memories of it, and also agree that's it's a true gem.
Playa Carrizalillo, Puerto Escondido, Mexico
"Pro riders arrive in this town along the Oaxacan coast and make a beeline for Playa Zicatela, a.k.a. the Mexican Pipeline. But Playa Carrizalillo, a quiet cove accessible via a 150-step stairway, has waters gentle enough for the rest of us; take a dip, snorkel, then down oysters from one of the handful of beach shacks. In recent years, Puerto (as the locals call it) has been upping its hip factor: case in point, the just-opened Hotel Escondido, a 16-room, oceanfront oasis from the cult-favorite Grupo Habita brand," according to Travel + Leisure's Jeff Spurrier.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"All eyes are on the host of this year's World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, where a citywide rejuvenation effort has infused Rio's neighborhoods with newfound energy. Once-derelict Lapa, for instance, now reverberates far into the night with samba's percussive beat at venues like Carioca da Gema. And the artsy district of Botafogo-with views of Sugarloaf Mountain-has also become a gastronomic hub," according to Travel + Leisure's Colin Barraclough. "'My go-to place for modern Brazilian cuisine is Iraja Gastro, run by chef Pedro de Artagao; get the pirarucu fish with sautéed banana,'" says furniture designer Sergio Rodrigues, whose studio is found in Botafogo."
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