WHY DO WE TRAVEL? As travel editors we are constantly asking ourselves this question. Sometimes you travel simply because you must; pure obligation lands you at a hotel conference, or a bachelorette party you can’t really afford. You travel to spend time with family, or to escape, often with the explicit purpose of doing nothing at all (they call this “vacation”). And sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you travel for no reason other than your own boundless curiosity. It’s not so much the why — but the things you see, eat, drink, and do while you’re there — that matters.
In that spirit, we scoured the country for the latest and greatest attractions we’re most curious about: the restaurants, hotels, parks, museums, and entertainment we’d hop on a plane to check out this summer. We weren’t so much interested in headline-grabbing, multi-million dollar developments (although there are certainly some of those) as we were in new spaces that are driving real conversation in their communities, and places we think will change the American travel map in the decades to come.
Some are about to open their doors for the first time ever; some are familiar landmarks fresh off a full-scale renovation. Others have been quietly gaining steam over the past year, turning into that new, cool thing to check out next time you’re in the neighborhood. Each of them is changing the landscape, both literally and figuratively, of cities across the United States.
Los Angeles, California
Established in 2017 with ongoing openings
Downtown Los Angeles is somewhere between a resurgence and a renaissance. If recent pushes in development give visitors a distinct “city within a city” vibe depending on the neighborhood they’re in, then ROW DTLA has been upping the ante. Technically opened in 2017, ROW — a 100-year-old site that formerly housed the LA Terminal Market — has become the de facto commercial centerpiece of the East Side, with new projects and cool businesses moving in seemingly daily (like beauty bar Things We Do, coffee roaster Paramount Coffee Project, and Karaage sandwich shop Pikunico, to name a few.)
Besides revitalizing historic structures straddling the Arts and Industrial districts of downtown LA, ROW exhibits some welcoming, if un-Angeleno, characteristics: an abundance of green space, plentiful and cheap parking, and people walking (gasp) and exploring the massive 32-acre complex on any given weekend. Perhaps most importantly, and why we believe it deserves a place on this list, ROW has spent the past year evolving into a sort of a culinary Valhalla. In case you haven’t heard, LA is arguably the country’s most exciting food city at the moment, and ROW delivers on that promise.
Already the longtime home of Smorgasburg’s West Coast location, ROW welcomed The Manufactory earlier this year, an impressive (and massive, at 40,000 square feet) restaurant/bakery/pizzeria/supper club/coffee roaster hybrid. Not quite a food hall — though it flips the notion on its head — Manufactory is the brainchild of the team behind San Francisco’s world-renowned Tartine and Phoenix’s Chris Bianco, who many consider the country’s greatest pizzaiolo. Whether stopping by for a life-changing sourdough loaf, or noshing on Bianco’s flatbreads, your Manufactory experience is a choose-your-own-adventure of the carb-laden variety — also very un-Angeleno, last we checked. — Sean Cooley