January is trip-planning season for most folks, and all of the big travel media brands know it. That's why you can find so many "Best Places to Go in 2019" features online these days. And yes, California destinations feature prominently in many of these roundups.
The New York Times' annual "52 Places" collection is perhaps the most influential list around, and this year's version ranks Santa Barbara as the No. 3 destination in the world. Interestingly, the Times hails the American Riviera for its culinary offerings more than its beaches, perfect climate, or luxury touches.
"Long known for drawing movie stars and millionaires to its resorts, Santa Barbara has now become a foodie magnet," writes Times author Sheila Marikar. "The Santa Barbara Inn’s Convivo offers upmarket Italian fare and ocean views," she notes, adding that "at Tyger Tyger, Daniel Palaima, a veteran of the kitchens of the Chicago-based chef Grant Achatz, serves Southeast Asian fare beneath rose-colored lanterns." The Szechuan pepper soft serve ice-cream at Monkeyshine also gets a nod as the perfect way to end a day of dining.
Los Angeles also makes the Gray Lady's list, coming in at No. 41. Brooks Barnes contends that L.A. is ripe for a visit this year thanks to all of the exciting happenings in Koreatown, the innovative exhibitions at the Parker Gallery in Los Feliz, and the five professional sports teams in town. He also notes that "the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is scheduled to open in a Renzo Piano-designed complex on Wilshire Boulevard" this year, creating a wonderland for film fans that includes 12 million photographs and 61,000 posters.
Travel + Leisure magazine also calls out a California destination in its annual list of 50 places to visit: Montecito. After noting that the Central Coast town suffered a double whammy in the last 13 months—first, the Thomas Fire, and then some destructive mudslides—the town has bounced back admirably. The lodging options certainly won't disappoint: "Relax on the secluded sands at the 161-key Rosewood Miramar Beach when it launches in February," T+L editors suggest, adding that "if the foothills are more your jam, the elegant San Ysidro Ranch reopens in March.”
"With revitalized Jack London Square and Temescal Alley, Oakland is basking in a newfound share of Bay Area spotlight," National Geographic writes in its "Best Trips 2019" feature. Meanwhile, the Food & Wine folks list Oakland as one of its "32 Places to Go (and Eat) in 2019," thanks to the amazing contributions of some female chefs.
Food & Wine editors called out a "wave of entrepreneurial women" leading the culinary charge in Oakland, including Tanya Holland, Nite Yun from Nyum Bai, and Janice and Brandi Dulce, the creative forces behind FOB Kitchen, a "Filipino pop-up that’s found a permanent home in Preeti Mistry’s old Juhu Beach Club space."