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Top 10 Destinations of 2012

Before you use up those miles, sit back and read our vacation-happy list (some of our favorite destinations are in San Diego’s backyard).


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We racked up a lot of miles in 2012 scoping out the hippest gastropubs in far-flung cities and the best mountain regions for stellar zip lining. And yes, we had a few massages along the way. Whether you’re looking to plan a quickie weekender or long escape, here are 10 hot (and cold) destinations worth a visit.

1 Valle de Guadalupe

Photos by Luis Garcia

Mexico’s wine country, also known as Guadalupe Valley, is just 43 miles south of us—yet even the hotshots all the way back in New York City (yes, people at the Times and NPR) can’t stop talking about chef Javier Plascencia, who runs the new Finca Altozano. Then there’s Laja, Corazon de Tierra, and Adobe Guadalupe…for starters. Come hungry.

2 Las Vegas

Vegas, you say? If you haven’t been since you turned 21 or since you gambled your way through that last bachelor party, you might be surprised to learn that the city is actually quite kid-friendly and it’s got a lot to offer in the way of sophisticated dining. Some of our memorable meals came from the new Public House, The Barrymore, and China Poblano.

3 La Paz, Mexico

This photo says it all, doesn’t it? On the lower tip of Baja, La Paz is a real sparkler. Hit up Steinbeck’s at the posh CostaBaja Resort & Spa for a happy hour marg and fresh local seafood.

4 The Kohala Coast, Hawaii

Photo by John Meanley

On the western side of the Big Island, the Kohala Coast has been called the state’s “sunniest resort destination,” as it gets fewer than eight inches of rain a year. Not bad for an island that has 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones. Just a few minutes from Kona, the Kohala Coast begins, with eight high-end resorts comfortably sharing 20 miles of coastline. Our favorite to-do’s: helicopter ride, outdoor massage, and a peek at Kilauea Volcano.

5 Joshua Tree

The hiking and photo ops are just as superb as they always were, but a small population of L.A. creatives is bringing fresh energy to this ol’ dusty town. We love the Mojave Sands, a chic five-room inn, and upscale dining at 29 Palms Inn.

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6 Park City

We’ve always loved Park City for skiing, but this year we fell in love with Utah in the summertime. Luxury hotels like the Waldorf-Astoria have off-season rates that run all the way through October, and you can watch future Olympians training at the nearby Utah Olympic Park. There’s also tons of golfing, hiking, mountain biking, and zip lining.

7 Paris

Celebrities like Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and Blake Lively have all visited this romantic city in the last month. But they’re on diets—which leaves all the macarons and foie gras for us. Bon appétit!

8 Portland

Does it seem like everyone is talking about Portland’s cuisine-and-craft-beer scene lately? With more nonstop flights from SD, it’s easier to see, sip, and taste what all the fuss is about. (One must-order: “The Reggie” from Pine State Biscuits—a fried chicken, bacon, and cheese-stacked biscuit sandwich smothered in saw-mill gravy. Calories!)

9 Half Moon Bay

The quaint seaside town is about 30 minutes south of SFO airport. Golfers love the views at Half Moon Bay Golf Links, while spa-ers make the journey to HMB just for the Vichy shower at the Ritz-Carlton.

10 Paia Unplugged

Say “aloha” to Maui’s sweet boho town on the North Shore. The former sugar mill settlement and sleepy gateway to Hana has evolved into a lively village with high-end boutiques, bustling eateries, and great surf.

 

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