Forget the bongs and the bachelor party clichés: there's a slew of fresh reasons to visit the forward-thinking capital of Holland. Major museum renovations, mouthwatering locavore restaurants, myriad avant-garde design shops and -- for those newly intrigued with how the Dutch protect their low-lying lands -- a crop of cutting-edge architecture (floating house, anyone?). Read all about Amsterdam's cultural renaissance and start planning your trip.
Where to stay: The Andaz Amsterdam, with rooms in January starting at $400 a night.
The Gangnam Style phenomenon has turned attention to all things Korean, But apart from Psy and that horse dance, we've seen Korean culture making its mark on the fashion, art and food in the U.S. over the past decade. Seoul offers everything you'd want from a major global city: shopping galore, especially in the Gangnam neighborhood, plus fantastic food and great nightlife as well. It's one of the most vibrant, wired and innovative cities in Asia.
Where to stay: The Park Hyatt Seoul has killer views (even from the bathroom) with rooms in January starting at $330.
The new Nashville offers two things worth traveling for: a hot, trendy new food scene and its famous, funky music scene. The "haute southern" cuisine is flourishing in Nashville at restaurants like The Patterson House and The Catbird Seat. Not to mention some of the tastiest and most creative cocktails we've ever tried. At night, you can't walk two blocks without coming across some incredible live music, from bluegrass to brass bands, zydeco to country.
Where to stay: Try the Hutton Hotel for a sophisticated yet modern atmosphere, with rooms starting at $197.
If there's a city that knows how to have a good time, it's New Orleans. The proud host of the Superbowl in 2013, New Orleanians are turning on the charm big-time. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has just completed an $85-million restoration. The historic Joy Theater on Canal Street has just reopened for the first time since Hurricane Katrina, now with a 10,000-square-foot theater/performance space. Across the street, the historic Saenger Theatre is in the midst of a $51 million renovation as well.
You can visit during the January anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of New Orleans. You can visit during the Superbowl in February. There's Mardi Gras on February 12, and Jazz Fest in April and May. There's no city with more holidays than New Orleans, and with a booming hotel and restaurant scene to match -- not to mention all that great nightlife -- you couldn't have a bad time if you tried.
Where to stay: A Condé Nast Traveler 2012 Hot List pick, the Saint hotel on Canal Street is modern, stylish, and within walking distance to the French Quarter and the historic Garden District. Rooms start at $139
One of the top five cities in Canada, according to our Readers' Choice Awards, the thrills in Toronto come from the stunning architecture, diverse array of restaurants and an energetic arts and cultural scene. The restaurant scene has really taken off in recent years, with New York's famous chef David Chang just opening a new outpost of his Momofuku empire. Plus, this city has some hot new hotels.
Where to stay: The Thompson Toronto offers great city views along with modern luxury and a small skating rink. Rooms start at $192.
By Lisa Gill, Condé Nast Traveler
This story originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveler: Travel Picks: Best Places to Go in 2013.
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