If you’re looking for a cozy, culture-filled, or off-the-grid winter escape, eschew the road well-traveled and seek out some of the gorgeous hidden gems that await you in the US. From a true Texan good time to a mountain-retreat and a waterside designer hotel on Kentucky’s bourbon trail, here are five unexpected places well worth a visit. Just keep the secret between us.
Worth Traveling For: Austin, Texas
Texas’ buzzy capital of Austin has been busy reinventing itself as the official capital of cool and one of the hot right now destinations in the US. Trendy, with an air of a nontraditional Texas town known Austin has a thriving art scene, and more trendy boutiques, art galleries, food trucks, and live music spots than you can swing your lasso at.
The Best Hotel in Austin
A landmark mid-century boutique hotel The LINE Austin, once a vibrant jazz club, is perfectly positioned in the heart of the city where Town Lake meets downtown. As is the brand’s signature, this is a hip hotel, with a design inspired by Austin’s creative energy, rich art and music legacy, and the stunning beauty of its surrounding lake. To that end, at The LINE Austin, an exclusive member of the Travel Curator Collection, you’ll find over 500 custom artworks by Texan artists throughout and a striking 12-story mural commemorating the passing of the 19th Amendment. All of the sexy modern suites located from the seventh floor and up, come with floor-to-ceiling windows for incredible views of downtown Austin, art-lined walls, and ambient custom lighting reminiscent of fireflies. Also not to be missed, the saltwater infinity pool and walk-up pool bar overlooking the lake and Congress Avenue Bridge, the hotel’s lakeside restaurant Arlo Grey serving nostalgic Midwestern cuisine, the tacos by beloved Austin favorite Veracruz and P6, formerly a rooftop parking garage transformed into a lively open-air lounge space serving Mediterranean small plates and seasonal cocktails with killer views.
Worth Traveling For: Louisville, Kentucky
For a southern bluegrass adventure, you can’t beat the waterfront city of Louisville. The official home of the Kentucky Derby, immerse yourself in the city’s iconic horse racing and bourbon trail history while enjoying delicious southern-inspired fare and warm hospitality. There are plenty of other cultural delights to discover here like the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory (home Babe Ruth’s ‘Big Bat’), the Muhammad Ali Center, and Frazier History Museum.
The Best Hotel in Louisville
Louisville’s only waterfront hotel The Galt House — named after its original owner, Dr. W. C. Galt, a well-known physician, and botanist in the 1830s — was recently transformed into a super-chic, luxury hotel thanks to an $80 million renovation. Steps from Louisville’s historic whiskey row and Urban Bourbon Trail, the vibe at this exclusive Travel Curator Collection hotel is modern meets bluegrass souther, and the rooms (all 1310 of them, which include deluxe suites and residences) are bright and airy, with incredible views of the city skyline and Ohio River. Gastronomy here is also next level, there’s Swizzle, the retro-style supper club on the 25th floor with panoramic views and incredible southern fare, a bluegrass-inspired American brasserie, the Downtown One Bourbon Bar (for bourbon with brisket), and the indulgent Xhale Spa.
Worth Traveling For: Dallas, Texas
Dallas made its way onto our list of the top destinations to visit in 2022 for its eclectic old-world cowboy culture meets new world buzz, not to mention its great climate, cuisine, and culture. City lovers will rejoice at the burgeoning art, shopping, and gastronomy scene that now pulses through Dallas, along with the many green spaces and gardens popping up over this famed Texan town.
The Best Hotel in Dallas
In the heart of the city’s CBD, The Joule, housed in a 1920’s neo-Gothic landmark building, stands as the thriving new arts, culture, culinary and shopping epicenter of Dallas. Step behind its historic facade to discover a boutique art hotel that blends old-world elegance with modern luxury and design and where dramatic small and large-scale installations take center stage — there’s no missing the mid-century mosaics or crystal-encrusted engines on display. Home to 107 guests rooms (including suites, premier suites, and four penthouses among the standouts of this exclusive Travel Curator Collection property is the subterranean geothermal spa, 8-foot cantilevered infinity pool that extends beyond the hotel’s edge, modern Texas brasserie, and Midnight Rambler, an opulent underground jazz-inspired cocktail bar. Take this video tour to immerse yourself in the world of The Joule.
Worth Traveling For: Walland, Tennessee
With a population of 350, Walland Tennessee is the perfect off-the-grid escape for anyone wanting to lose themselves in the beauty and tranquility of the Great Smoky Mountains. There’s not much to do here, but that’s precisely the point, so book into a farm-style retreat and enjoy a wilderness stay, meandering into local towns for antiques, hiking the endless trails, exploring nature’s bounty by horseback, and getting acquainted with an American bygone era.
The Best Hotel in Walland
Considered one of the most romantic and luxurious resorts in the US, Blackberry Farm, a Relais & Chateaux property is a retreat-style hideaway located on 4,200 rolling acres between Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains. Beloved for its award-winning restaurant The Barn helmed by James Beard chefs (and home to a 170000 bottle cellar), this is the perfect setting to go off-grid and immerse yourself in nature, gracious southern hospitality and the tranquility of farm life. Onsite you’ll find a creamery, bakery, charcuterie, brewery, and the Wellhouse Spa — be sure to take the carriage-driven Farmstead Tour, which includes a stop to see the truffle puppies. Book a private cottage, the design ranges from rustic (stone fireplaces, wooden chandeliers, and reclaimed white oak) to ultra-modern with private verandas and views of the Smoky Mountains.
Worth Traveling For: Los Alamos, CA
Immerse yourself in wild west charm in Los Alamos, a tiny town along California’s Highway 101, between Santa Barbara and Monterey. Here historical western facades of old-school saloons and stagecoaches will take you back in time, or make you feel like you’ve stepped onto a Western Hollywood film set. Once a drive-by Los Alamos is now a destination unto itself thanks to the arrival of cool new restaurants helmed by top LA chefs and wine-and-whiskey tasting rooms set in said old-school saloons.
The Best Hotel in Los Alamos
An iconic roadside motel turned boutique luxury, Skyview is perched on a hillside right off the 101 freeway overlooking Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara wine country. Set on 5-acres where the desert meets the mountains, this cutie fuses cool mid-century style with a chic modern rustic vibe preserving its quintessential Old West cowboy charm (right down to the Western textures, timber interiors, and cowhide rugs). Hang out in the warm, open lobby to take in the mountain views, and enjoy the comforts of 33 guest rooms, a retro-fabulous 1950’s outdoor heated pool, a working vineyard, and Norman Restaurant and Bar, serving California fare with nods to the country roots of Los Alamos. And as you would expect, the wine program celebrates the burgeoning local wine-growing region of the world, and the cocktail menu is based on artisan creations and vintage American spirits. These can be enjoyed by the firepit on your private patio or the landscaped gardens.