- Asheville, North Carolina
2017 sees one of the USA’s most eclectic and innovative small cities step firmly into the national spotlight. Asheville welcomes everyone with open arms and has been quietly emerging as a haven for creative spirits for decades. More than 200 artists showcase their wares in the River Arts District and the astonishing number of craft beers and spirits produced locally pair nicely with the food served up by the city’s numerous James Beard-nominated chefs. The French Broad River offers a respite from the modern world, whether you want to float, paddle, or kayak away from civilization and the verdant background for all of these delights, the Blue Ridge Mountains, are just waiting to be explored.
- Western Washington
More than 25 years after the surreal TV drama Twin Peaks planted the iconic landscapes of Western Washington into popular consciousness, the series is making a comeback. The region’s misty mountains and evergreen forests are set to welcome a new generation of pilgrims in 2017; David Lynch fans will be able to investigate filming locations in the small towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend, as well as use the area as a springboard for other Washingtonian beauty spots such as Mt Rainier National Park or the farm-to-table restaurants of the San Juan Islands. Meanwhile, new cultural trends are luring people to Seattle as it pushes the envelope with nascent pot shops, inventive micro-distilleries and a growing penchant for craft cider.
- Lincoln, Nebraska
Lincoln pops up amid a sea of prairie grass and corn, offering a patch of unexpected polish. Take downtown’s Haymarket District, where century-old brick warehouses hold modern art galleries, funky specialty shops (like Licorice International, the USA’s biggest chewy candy retailer) and a whopping Saturday farmers’ market. The University of Nebraska’s 25,000 students lend a fresh vibe, cycling the city’s 130 miles of trails and carousing in its live music clubs. Communities of Vietnamese, Sudanese and other ethnicities also add to the mix, thanks to Lincoln’s long history of resettling refugees. The action ramps up in 2017 as Nebraska celebrates its 150th anniversary, and Lincoln, the state capital, hosts parades and parties to mark the occasion.
- California’s Low Desert
Deep in Southern California’s desert, the Coachella Valley’s always been hot, but nowadays there’s heat – and cool – that hasn’t been felt since it was the Rat Pack’s playground. A mid-century modern vibe pervades Palm Springs, the valley’s main town, in hip new (and newly hip) hotels, rakishly restored rental homes, twice-yearly Modernism Week festivals and vintage stores which help you – and your home – look the part at not-quite-bargain prices. Hikers and rock climbers can go wild atop the Palm Springs Aerial Tram or amid the lunar landscapes of nearby Joshua Tree National Park. Then there’s a little music festival called Coachella, and the colorful Salvation Mountain, an oddball, patchwork-painted hillside rising from the desert floor.