TIME Transportation

Delta Pilot Gets Locked Out of Cockpit

The door reportedly malfunctioned

Call it an emergency that wasn’t. A Delta Air Lines flight heading to Las Vegas made an emergency landing Thursday after the pilot got locked out of the cockpit.

The flight from Minneapolis was declared an emergency 13 minutes before its planned landing at McCarran International Airport, according to CBS News. Still, the plane landed normally; no one on board was injured and the aircraft was not damaged, aside from the door to the cockpit that reportedly malfunctioned.

Delta issued a statement Thursday saying the crew had everything under control: “A commercial aircraft can be landed with one pilot at the control and Delta pilots are fully trained to do so if the situation were to occur.”

[CBS News]

 

TIME Travel

Snuggle Up Next to the Best Hotel Fireplaces

Post Ranch Inn, CA
Post Ranch Inn, CA Courtesy of Post Ranch Inn

Kindle your sparks by the light of these romantic hotel fireplaces

After a day out in the snowy Adirondacks, you pull up two chairs and a bottle of Cognac by the crackling fireplace at New York’s Whiteface Lodge, where a golden glow suffuses the dining room.

If you’ve been stuck in the winter doldrums, nothing will change your outlook on the season faster than a dose of heartwarming fireside romance—and that doesn’t require booking a trip some place frigid. We’ve road-tested hotel fireplaces the world over, from the California coastline to Chile’s starkly beautiful Atacama Desert, and added irresistible newcomers in Newfoundland, Australia, and Argentina. The most bewitching include historic hearths whose stones could tell a thousand stories as well as contemporary fireplaces in urban boutique hotels.

Some hotels treat guests to a gas fireplace in the privacy of your room, while others use a roaring fire to make a bold design statement at the center of the lobby or restaurant. Then there’s the hip, art-filled Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s most famous for the spa, which sports its own apothecary—and its own fireplace.

“The fireplace area in the lounge is a favorite spot for couples, who enjoy quiet, private time together before and after a couples’ massage or a hammam experience for two,” says Alondra Saldarriaga, manager of Spa Matilda. “The ambience is so intimate and romantic, with many candles burning, that one guest proposed to his girlfriend there.” Her answer? Sí, of course.

The love stories date back centuries at Ireland’s Ashford Castle, which was once the Guinness family estate. “The Ingelnook wooden fireplace surround has two Irish mythology figures carved into the wood,” explains Paula Carroll, Ashford’s director of sales and marketing. “These two figures are Diarmuid and Grainne, who were involved in a love triangle with Fionn MacCumhaill.” The imposing fireplace has inspired modern-day lovers—and also witnessed many proposals.

Whether your idea of the perfect fireside tryst involves snowy slopes or the African savanna, there’s just something about snuggling up with your loved one while gazing into the flames and nursing hot chocolate—or something a wee bit stronger—that sets the mood, on Valentine’s Day and every day.

Read on for the hotel fireplaces that are heating things up.

Calistoga Ranch, CA

This Napa Valley gem is a favorite among wine-country-touring lovebirds. Each of the 48 freestanding guest lodges centers around a double-sided, indoor-outdoor fireplace. That means you can snuggle from the plush comfort of the lounge room on one side to the private outdoor terrace on the other, below the canopy of stars and breathing in that pine-scented Napa air.

Tierra Atacama, Chile

The activities at this high-design lodge in Chile’s Atacama Desert include exploring vast salt flats and bubbling geyser fields, climbing volcanoes, and hiking through some of the world’s most arresting and otherworldly terrain. So it’s thrilling to come home to a convivial lounge area where the waiters mix perfect pisco sours and there’s always a fire burning in the artful modern hearth—a long stone bench on which flaming twigs are piled. Even more gratifying: sitting fireside or on the terrace (which has its own fire pits) and watching the sun set behind the brooding Licancabur Volcano.

XV Beacon, MA

One of Boston’s hippest hotels, this boutique player in Beacon Hill sports modern gas fireplaces with brushed stainless steel in every room, along with other top-shelf luxuries like cashmere throws, private bars stocked with premium spirits, and Italian marble bathrooms with rain showers. Reluctant to leave the comforts of your room? The hotel can arrange an in-room massage fireside.

Cottar’s Camp, Kenya

There’s nothing quite like a sundowner overlooking the savanna at dusk, as the African wilderness comes to life. That treat comes daily along with guided game drives at this lovely lodge at the edge of Kenya’s legendary Masai Mara game reserve. The camp meticulously re-creates the romance of the 1920s safari experience, down to individual tents filled with turn-of-the-century antique furnishings and liveried waiting staff. Four family-size tents come with crackling log fireplaces in the lounge area, an idyllic spot to gather for story swapping as night closes in on the Mara.

Hotel Matilda, Mexico

A relative newcomer to the artsy Spanish Colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, this boutique hotel is already renowned for its avant-garde contemporary art collection and a groundbreaking spa—guests can have locally sourced ingredients blended into customized formulas for treatments. The fireplace in the tranquil relaxation area is a favored spot for guests to bliss out before or after a couples massage or soak in the hammam.

Read the full list HERE.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Dating

These Are the 20 Best Cities for Singles

New York, NY
New York, NY Noe DeWitt

Here are the liveliest singles scenes, whether at bars, bookstores or bowling alleys

The singles scene in New York City is a little crazy, maybe even certifiably so.

“This is a city with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but only in the best ways,” says Rachel Harrison, a Brooklyn-based public relations exec. “You can dress a little wilder, slap on some fake eyelashes—you can do anything you want, at any age. There are no judgments.”

Unabashedly batting those faux lashes got the Big Apple more than a few second glances this year. New York City landed in the top 10 for the best cities for singles, according to Travel + Leisure readers. In this year’s America’s Favorite Places survey, readers ranked 38 cities on dozens of appealing qualities, including good-looking locals, cool shopping, and hipster-magnet coffee bars.

The winning cities in the singles-scene category excel in the off-hours, ranking highly for nightclubs, dive bars, and even great diners, where you might lock eyes with someone over a late-night order of fries.

But the most singles-friendly cities also put a creative spin on conventional meet-up spots. Plenty of big attractions—from the Brooklyn Museum to the San Diego Museum of Art—offer monthly happy hours, wooing artsy singles with cocktails and live music. In Boston, one of the coolest bookstores does Trivia Nights, while in downtown L.A. a popular bar stocks old-school video games.

Another strategy for uncovering a city’s best singles scene is exploring the activities that locals love most. “New Orleanians live and breathe festivals—like Jazz Fest, and even Creole Tomato Fest,” says native Stephen Schmitz. Just be warned: “The heat and humidity,” he says, “can make for a rough appearance.”

Read on for the full results. And make your point of view heard by voting in the America’s Favorite Places survey.

No. 1 Miami

Gorgeous locals, a wealth of nightclubs, and a wild streak as long as the beach: Miami climbed from second to first place this year, thanks to its flair for throwing a big party. Hot spots like Wall at the W South Beach or the Italian-restaurant-meets-cocktail-lounge Cavalli get a big boost when celebs grace the premises, whether it’s Bieber or the formerly single Clooney. Other trendy hangouts are a little more accessible to the non-red-carpet crowd: Tamarina, for one, features an oyster bar and alfresco champagne bar, plus a reasonably priced happy hour. You might meet other singles while strolling through galleries and past street art on the Wynwood Art Walks, held the second Saturday of the month. And in this otherwise well-dressed town, your best secret-weapon accessory may be a smile: readers found the locals to be a little aloof.

No. 2 Houston

Houston sashayed into the top five for singles this year, and why not—the locals ranked as both smart and stylish, and the city landed near the top for both its decadent barbecue and world-class art. Gallery Row, at the intersection of Colquitt and Lake streets, offers both great art and conversation starters: check out Hooks-Epstein for contemporary surrealists or Catherine Couturier Gallery for vintage photos. Houston also pulled off an upset by winning the wine bar category this year. Pull up a stool to chat at La Carafe—the city’s oldest bar, with a fabulous jukebox—or try the newbie, downtown’s Public Services Wine and Whisky, which is located in the old 1884 Cotton Exchange building and serves a wide range of global wines, sherries, and whiskeys.

No. 3 New Orleans

Last year’s No. 1 city for singles still knows how to whoop it up, ranking at the top of the survey for festivals, bars, and wild weekends. But a good singles experience in NOLA need not be limited to collecting beads: some cool places to meet a more local crowd, off the tourist grid, include the Saturday night dance party at the Hi-Ho Lounge in the Marigny; Bywater wine bar Bacchanal, with its live-music-filled courtyard; or Fulton Alley for late-night “boutique bowling,” with shareable, andouille-sausage tater tots.

No. 4 Austin, TX

The seat of Texas government is also the nation’s capital of hipsters, according to readers, who also ranked Austin No. 1 for cool locals. Given Austin’s high density of both college students and bearded Peter Pan types, the can’t-miss spots for meeting singles include dive bars and food trucks: you can find both at Wonderland on East 6th, a stylishly low-key bar that provides space outside for the Thai-flavored East Side King truck. To mingle with fellow foodies, check out The Picnic, a trailer park on Barton Springs Road, which is home to Turf N Surf Po’ Boy and Hey Cupcake! If you need an excuse to let down your emotional walls, consider that Austin also ranked well for feeling safe.

No. 5 Atlanta

The Georgia hub scored well for its java, and Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, a single-origin coffee and donut bar in Ponce City Market, is a fine place for a pick-me-up (and perhaps a pick-up line). If you prefer snobs of the burger variety, head to Holeman and Finch, where every night at 10 p.m., you can line up for one of the 24 acclaimed double-patty (grass-fed chuck and brisket) cheeseburgers, served on house-made buns. Atlanta’s residents also made the top 20 for being smart.

Read the full list HERE.

More from Travel + Leisure:

MONEY Sports

Why a Trip to the Super Bowl May Not Be Worth the Staggering Cost

Travelers walk past Super Bowl XLIX logos at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on January 19, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The NFL Super Bowl XLIX will be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Febrauary 1, 2015.
Travelers are already being greeted by Super Bowl XLIX logos at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Christian Petersen—Getty Images

Of course if you're a die-hard Patriots or Seahawks fan, none of this math might matter.

How much is it worth to watch the Super Bowl in person?

That is the question thousands of American football fans have been wrestling with the last few weeks. Do you take a once-in-a-lifetime plunge and spend perhaps tens of thousands of dollars to get yourself to Glendale, Arizona, to watch the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots?

Or do you kibosh such a massive expense, and earmark that sum for more sober purposes, like saving for retirement, paying down debt, or getting ready for April’s tax bill?

Ron Yeh, who was keen to see his beloved Seahawks win a second straight title, decided go this year after weighing the pros and cons.

The 40-year-old gastroenterologist from the Seattle area and a friend found a package from warehouse club Costco Wholesale Corp that included tickets, lodging, shuttles and tailgate parties—$8,000 for two.

“I’ve been following the Seahawks ever since the fourth grade, when my family moved here from Taiwan,” Yeh says. “But this is my first time going to the Super Bowl. It’s going to be exciting.”

Obviously, a Super Bowl memory does not come cheap. The average resold ticket has been going for $3,046, according to data provided last week by StubHub.com. That is up from $2,527 last year, when the game took place in New Jersey’s MetLife stadium.

Ticket sales on StubHub.com have ranged from $937 to $11,500. Those prices do not include ancillary costs—flights, hotels, food and drink, and memorabilia.

Besides his $4,000 package, for instance, Ron Yeh spent another $950 on a round-trip flight from Seattle.

Arizona’s tourism authority is betting that Super Bowl attendees will spend roughly double that of a normal conventioneer, upwards of $600 a day during their stay. Last year attendees spent an average of $141.75 each on food, drink and merchandise just at the game itself, according to SportsBusiness Journal.

At the top end, the cost can be staggering. Take a look at this package recently offered by private jet charter company Magellan Jets: prime tickets, round-trip flight, access to celebrity parties on Super Bowl weekend, and more. The eye-popping tab: $35,000 for two.

“It’s clearly not an event for a regular middle-class family,” says Victor Matheson, a professor and sports economist at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

But the Super Bowl is a rare and special event, and missing out can haunt people. Take financial planner H. Jude Boudreaux, who was ready to see his New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts back in 2010, but sold his tickets to a friend at the last minute.

“I do regret it every year when this time of year rolls around,” he says.

Of course, the cost does not have to be exorbitant. Scout for tickets in the nosebleed section, rather than on the 50-yard line. Bunk with friends in the area instead of paying insane hotel markups. Take redeye flights with connections.

Also, do not expect too much. You can forget about seeing every replay from 10 different angles, to be debated by panel of ex-pros in a luxury booth.

Instead you’re going to be outside, probably a long way from the action, without your trusty flatscreen and no fridge full of snacks.

That is what financial adviser Keith Singer of Boca Raton, Florida, found when he saw the Philadelphia Eagles at the Super Bowl 10 years ago.

“It was really hard to see the game from where I was, and I missed all the pregame shows because I was at the stadium,” he says. “I probably wouldn’t go to another Super Bowl again. There’s no better view than in front of your giant TV, with all the refreshments and food you could want right at your fingertips.”

But even folks watching at home are preparing to fork out for the big day. The National Retail Federation’s Super Bowl Spending survey estimates that 184 million viewers will be spending a combined $14.3 billion—an average of $77.88—on food, gameday gear, decorations and TVs.

TIME Travel

The 9 Most Spectacular Lost Cities in the World

These sites are famous for their beautifully preserved ruins

One day in the incomprehensibly distant future, our descendants will gaze upon the ruins of the Statue of Liberty or the Mall of America, and ask, “Mommy, what is that?” Over the course of human history, an astonishing number of cities and towns have been lost, drowned, abandoned, and leaving us with mysterious, and often beautiful, ruins. Here are some of the world’s most spectacular lost cities.

  • Chernobyl’s Ghost Cities, Ukraine

    A decayed house in Chernobyl, Belarus on July 9, 2014.
    A decayed house in Chernobyl, Belarus on July 9, 2014. Pacific Press—LightRocket via Getty Images

    After the worst nuclear disaster in history, the Soviet Union evacuated the towns near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, including the Ukrainian city of Pryp’yat. Twenty years later, the city still stands, ghostly, overgrown, filled with wild animals. No one lives there anymore, but you can take a day trip.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

  • Termessos, Turkey

    View of the Greek theatre of Termessos in Gullukdagi National Park, Turkey on Jan. 1, 2003.
    View of the Greek theatre of Termessos in Gullukdagi National Park, Turkey on Jan. 1, 2003. DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI—De Agostini/Getty Images

    Like a real-life Game of Thrones fortress, the Eagle’s Nest was an impenetrable city 1,000 meters up a mountain. Even Alexander the Great, rampaging through Turkey, bypassed it rather than try to conquer it. But the Eagle’s Nest lost its water supply around 200 CE and was abandoned. It has been left essentially untouched for the last 1800 years.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

  • The Sunken City of Baia, Italy

    Roman thermal complex in the Archaeological Park of Baia in the Campania region of Italy on April 8, 2014.
    Roman thermal complex in the Archaeological Park of Baia in the Campania region of Italy on April 8, 2014. DEA / S. VANNINI—De Agostini/Getty Images

    Baia was the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire, a hedonistic vacation town of villas and spas. Sacked and abandoned, the city was eventually submerged in a bay near Naples. Today you can tour it in glass-bottom boats or by scuba, and see amazingly well-preserved underwater buildings and statues.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

  • The Gedi Ruins, Kenya

    Architectural ruins at the Gedi Historical Monument in Kenya on June 13, 2012.
    Architectural ruins at the Gedi Historical Monument in Kenya on June 13, 2012. Brian Miller—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty

    One of the great mysteries of African archeology, Gedi was a large, advanced city on the Kenyan coast. It had flush toilets—more than 600 years ago!—but has been abandoned for centuries.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

  • Ani Ghost City, Turkey

    Once a rival to Baghdad and Constantinople, this medieval Armenian city of 200,000 was sacked and abandoned 500 years ago. The skeletal remains—many of them churches—are ghostly and incredibly beautiful.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

  • Geamana, Romania

    The former village of Geamana was engulfed by the copper exploitation residues, shown near the village of Lupsa, Romania on Sept. 20, 2011.
    The former village of Geamana was engulfed by the copper exploitation residues, shown near the village of Lupsa, Romania on Sept. 20, 2011. DANIEL MIHAILESCU—AFP/Getty Images

    A cute Romanian town. A picturesque valley. And then, in 1978, they found copper. The Communist dictatorship evacuated Geamana and dumped a flood of toxic sludge into the valley, drowning the town and creating a garish, poisonous lake. A few of the town buildings remain visible, roofs jutting out above the waterline.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

  • The Lost City of Heracleion, Egypt

    One of the world’s greatest port cities and the gateway to Egypt, Thonis-Heracleion sank into the Mediterranean Sea more than 2,200 years ago. Now nearly three miles off the coast of Egypt, the city was rediscovered by a French archeologist in 2000. Its submerged ruins include eerie 16-foot high statues, tiny sarcophagi holding animal sacrifices, and a huge temple.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

  • Nan Madol Ruins

    The ancient ruins of Nan Madol on Pohnpei Island, Micronesia on Jan. 28, 2008.
    The ancient ruins of Nan Madol on Pohnpei Island, Micronesia on Jan. 28, 2008. Stephen L. Alvarez—National Geographic/Getty Images

    Just off the coast of a small island in Micronesia is an artificial archipelago—more than 100 man-made islands filled with houses, warehouses, and royal buildings. Erected 800 years ago, but abandoned for hundreds of years, Nan Madol also inspired the novelist HP Lovecraft, whose malevolent deity Cthulhu hibernated in a submerged South Pacific city.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

  • Neversink

    The most ironically named place in the United States, the upstate New York town of Neversink was founded in 1798 and grew to a population 2,000. Then, in 1953, New York City needed a new reservoir, and Neversink was sunk—flooded to form the Neversink reservoir.

    More at Atlas Obscura.

    This article was written by David Plotz for Atlas Obscura.

MONEY Airlines

Airlines Drop Fuel Surcharges, but Flights Don’t Get Cheaper

A Boeing Co. 737 aircraft operated by Qantas Airways Ltd. flies past the air traffic control tower as it lands at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia
A Boeing Co. 737 aircraft operated by Qantas Airways Ltd. flies past the air traffic control tower as it lands at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia Brendon Thorne—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Two airlines recently removed those annoying fuel surcharges that have been tacked onto passenger tickets for years. So that means airfare is less expensive, right? Nope.

The idea of a fuel surcharge is pretty simple: When the cost of fuel is abnormally high, instead of simply raising prices, a special, supposedly temporary fee is passed along to customers. When fuel costs retreat back to “normal” levels, logic dictates that the surcharge would disappear.

It’s this kind of wholly logical thinking that has had airline travelers up in arms over the last several months, as the price of gasoline and rocket fuel has declined substantially, yet fuel surcharges remain and airfares are still extraordinarily high. Consumer advocacy groups Travelers United and FlyersRights.org recently sent letters to airline CEOs voicing their outrage and demanding that airfares be lowered “in light of the 50% reduction in jet fuel prices since June, 2014.”

“Common sense says prices should drop when the biggest cost factor in flying nosedives,” Charlie Leocha, chairman of Travelers United, said via press release. “This isn’t rocket science. Though economists can make lots of excuses, if there were more competition, consumers would be seeing lower costs to fly.”

At first glance, it appears as if some of this madness is coming to an end Down Under. As the Sydney Morning Herald put it, Virgin Australia recently announced it was removing “consumer-reviled references to fuel surcharge” from its tickets. This surcharge added as much as AUD$680 (US$540) to the cost of an international round trip. Qantas, which competes with Virgin Australia on many routes, including flights between the U.S. and Australia, followed suit by saying that it too would get rid of fuel surcharges on tickets.

To which travelers might reasonably respond: Hallelujah!

Not so fast. The removal of these hated, astronomically expensive fees is having little to no impact on the actual cost of airfare paid by travelers. For the most part, the airlines are simply incorporating fuel charges into base airfare prices, and the amount paid out of pocket by passengers will remain stubbornly high.

Virgin America said that coach passengers can expect to see a decrease of perhaps AUD$40 (a measly $32 in U.S. currency) on tickets between the U.S. and Australia. Mind you, the old surcharge hit passengers to the tune of AUD$680 (US$540). As for Qantas, its airfares will remain exactly the same even as fuel surcharges disappear.

In other words, the carriers are jacking up flight prices to compensate for the “removal” of fuel surcharges. They’re giving travelers a price break with one hand while taking more money away from customers with the other. The net result is that passengers are paying pretty much the same for the cost of transportation before the changes were announced. The only thing that’s changed is how the airlines break down the flight costs.

To airline passengers, who want their total out-of-pocket costs to drop, and who couldn’t care less about how the airlines categorize each component of a flight’s price, these “changes” mean that nothing at all has really changed.

TIME Travel

Disney to Bring the Frozen Experience to Cruise Ships

Frozen Disney
Elsa in Frozen, 2013. Disney

The Academy-Award winning movie and its beloved songs are hitting the high seas

Parents may be sick of hearing the songs from Frozen, but Disney can’t quite Let It Go.

Select Disney Cruise Line ships will debut a new “Frozen experience” starting summer 2015 on trips to parts of Europe and Alaska, the company recently announced.

The experience will treat guests to a daylong Frozen-themed experience complete with a three-song production, character meet-and-greet, and storybook adventures. Or for some families: a regular Saturday morning.

A couple of songs and scenes will be performed for the first time in forever on the cruise — but don’t worry fans and foes, there was no way this could happen without a performance of the film’s mega-hit song “Let it Go.” In fact, a press release bills it as a sing-along.

Perhaps they’ll make Frozen margaritas a part of the deal, too.

TIME Travel

This is America’s Healthiest Airport

bwi-healthiest-airport
iStockphoto

Nearly all the restaurants in this airport offer at least one healthy, plant-based entrée

Travel plans in the near future don’t need to undo your newly minted resolutions, thanks to surge in healthful food offerings at airports across the country.

A recent survey showed that most restaurants at 75 percent of the nation’s busiest airports offer at least one healthy, veg-focused dish. This year’s healthiest airport, surprisingly, wasn’t highly ranked Portland International, or even body-conscious Tampa or star chef-studded JFK in New York.

Instead, it was Baltimore/Washington International Airport that took the top spot for its vegetable and hummus plates, gluten-free quinoa pasta, and locally sourced vegetable salads, just to name a few. Nearly all the restaurants in BWI offer at least one healthy, plant-based entrée.

Sure, you have to pass by Potbelly Sandwich and hand-shaken margaritas at Zona Cocina, but the selection of healthful options and nutrition-minded eateries (low-fat frozen yogurt at Tasti D’Lite; Nature’s Kitchen Fresh Café) have given BWI something to brag about.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Travel

What You Need to Know About Traveling to Cuba

travel-to-cuba-what-you-need-to-know
American flag with signboard of Cuba Southernmost Point, Key West, Fla. © F1online digitale Bildagentur GmbH / Alamy

There are 12 types of travel that are permitted, including family visits, journalistic activities, professional research and meetings

It’s happening, people. Travel to Cuba just got as little easier, thanks to a new set of regulations that take effect today and expand on President Obama’s recent policy changes.

The Department of Treasury dropped the amended regulations on the lap of tour operators and others with a stake in travel to Cuba yesterday morning. Just how quickly these changes can and will be implemented remains foggy—as do some of the particulars, which will likely be hashed out in the coming days and weeks. So watch this space.

In the meantime, for a sense of what the new regulations mean, we reached out to T+L’s trusted network of travel specialists for more insights. (A big hat tip to GeoEx, an operator that has been active in the country for several years, for help deciphering these regulations.)

Here’s what we know:

  • All travel to Cuba must still meet certain activity-related requirements. There are 12 types of travel that are permitted, including family visits, journalistic activities, professional research and meetings, educational activities, public performances, and religious activities.
  • “People-to-people travel,” the most common way most Americans currently now experience the country, is considered a form of educational travel that promotes meaningful exchanges between U.S. citizens and Cubans. It is officially still subject to “appropriate conditions” (meaning certain activities, such as going to the beach, are not permitted) and requires some sort of guide or agent to accompany travelers. In other words, you will still need to visit with a licensed tour operator.
  • Some operators are anticipating that the requirements and enforcement of people-to-people itineraries will soon be relaxed—meaning that even on these structured trips, you could more or less be able to travel through the island as you choose.
  • The new Treasury regulations lay the groundwork for a more simplified, general license for all types of travel to Cuba, which could open the door for more tours (and tour operators) bringing Americans to the country.
  • That said, the tourism infrastructure in Cuba remains very limited. It will be difficult for new companies to deliver meaningful experiences—for now.
  • Commercial flights are now authorized to Havana, but don’t expect them to start immediately (though U.s. carriers are already champing at the bit). Logistically, they will likely take several months to implement. So for the time being, it’s charter flights only from the States.
  • Americans can now bring back up to $400 in souvenirs home with them—that includes $100 worth of alcohol and tobacco.
  • U.S. travelers can also now use their credit cards in Cuba—a change that exists only on paper until U.S. financial institutions actually develop a presence in the country.

In essence, new flights, new tours and tour companies, and new ways to explore the island are coming soon. “Although things are sure to change in Cuba, we are viewing the regulatory amendments as very positive, and are excited about the possibilities.” says Jennine Cohen, the managing director for the Americas at GeoEx.

What remains to be seen is how long it will take to build up the tourism infrastructure in Cuba to meet increasing demand from Americans—and what this new tourism infrastructure will look like. “It is going to take a significant amount of time for Cuba to be considered a prime destination for tourists,” says Dan Sullivan, President and CEO of Collette tours.

In the meantime, the best experiences will be offered by operators who know the country well—and have relationships and connections already in place. We recommend GeoEx, Collette, InsightCuba, G Adventures and Smithsonian Journeys.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.

More from Travel + Leisure:

TIME Travel

The 16 Best Small-Town Museums in the U.S.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University Paul Warchol

These museums offer outsize collections of Impressionist paintings, modern installations, and folk art—without the big-city crowds

The first significant new museum of American art in nearly half a century debuted in 2011. But to view Crystal Bridges’ collection—from a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington to Jackson Pollock canvases—you don’t travel to New York, L.A., or Chicago. You head down a forested ravine in a town in northwestern Arkansas.

As museum founder and Walmart heiress Alice Walton scooped up tens of millions of dollars’ worth of art from across the country, thinly veiled snobbish rhetoric began to trickle out from the coasts. Most notably, when she purchased Asher B. Durand’s 1849 Kindred Spirits from the New York Public Library for $35 million, some culturati bristled at the thought that this famed Hudson River School landscape would be leaving for Bentonville. The controversy raised the question: who deserves access to great art?

Yet a small town is precisely the kind of place where a stellar art collection fits in. After all, coastal hamlets, mountaintop villages, and desert whistle-stops have inspired American artists for generations, among them, the Impressionists of Connecticut’s Old Lyme Colony and the minimalist installation artists who more recently gentrified Marfa. Where else can you find the mix of affordable rents, access to inspiring natural vistas, and enough peace and quiet to actually get work done?

Many small towns also offer detour-worthy museums, some housed in spectacular historic spaces—old factories, former army bases, Beaux-Arts estates, Victorian mansions—and others built from scratch by internationally renowned architects like Zaha Hadid and Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron. And with works inside just as varied, from landscape paintings at the Taos Art Museum to minimalist installations at Dia:Beacon to American folk art at the Shelburne, you’re sure to find a small-town art museum to suit any artistic taste.

Hill-Stead Museum, Farmington, CT

When iron industrialist Alfred A. Pope began buying French Impressionist masterpieces, the movement was still stirring outrage across Europe for its radical departure from tradition. But you’d never know it from the intimate, even cozy, atmosphere at the Hill-Stead Museum, which places these works in the same context in which Pope would have enjoyed them—surrounded by antiques and period Federal-, Chippendale-, and Empire-style furnishings in his hilltop estate outside of Hartford. Like the works you’ll find inside, by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, and Édouard Manet, the house itself now seems lovely and genteel. But it also comes with a radical backstory: the Colonial Revival mansion, completed in 1901, was designed by Pope’s own daughter, only the fourth registered female architect in American history. $15; hillstead.org.

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, Biloxi, MS

Biloxi’s Ohr-O’Keefe Museum raises many questions. You might wonder what an avant-garde museum is doing in a Gulf Coast beach town known for its casinos and sunshine. Or how starchitect Frank Gehry got involved in a project dedicated to obscure 19th-century ceramicist George Ohr. Or how this place is even still standing. During construction, Hurricane Katrina slammed an unmoored casino barge directly into the unfinished buildings. Any lack of logic seems appropriate in honoring Ohr, a true eccentric who dubbed himself the Mad Potter of Biloxi and was known for his delightfully misshapen, brightly colored pottery. Opened in 2010 in a thicket of live oaks, the museum encompasses brick-and-steel pavilions, twisted egg-shaped pods, and examples of 19th-century vernacular architecture, with galleries on African American art, ceramics, and Gulf Coast history. $10; georgeohr.org.

The Huntington, San Marino, CA

San Marino is named for the tiny republic on the Italian peninsula. And it’s an appropriate connection for the Huntington, where the vibe is distinctly European, thanks to 120 manicured acres (reserve ahead for the Tea Room, surrounded by a rose garden) and a collection skewed to Old World classics. The Huntington Art Gallery has the largest collection of 18th- and 19th-century British art outside of London—including works by Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable. Other galleries within this Beaux-Arts estate cover Renaissance paintings and 18th-century sculpture as well as the furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright and paintings by Mary Cassatt and Edward Hopper. A Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s and an illuminated manuscript of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are among the library’s gems. $20.

Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI

College towns offer more than beautiful campuses, tradition-rich bars, and football. Many can also brag about world-class art collections. Case in point: Michigan State University’s new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. It’s the first-ever university building designed by Pritzker Prize–winner Zaha Hadid and only her second project in North America. The corrugated stainless steel and glass facade juts sharply like a ship—or perhaps more accurately a spaceship—run aground. While the collection is primarily contemporary, the curators included some classic works to better contextualize the newer acquisitions. So you can expect Old Master paintings, 19th-century American paintings, and 20th-century sculpture, along with artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome, and the pre-Columbian Americas. Free; broadmuseum.msu.edu.

Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY

Low-slung and shedlike, with its corrugated tin roof and parallel 615-foot slabs of poured concrete, Eastern Long Island’s newest art museum features a style that might be called Modern Agricultural. Surrounded by a meadow of tall grasses on the long road to Montauk, the museum is a minimalist stunner that’s perfectly suited to its surroundings: the long horizontal space speaks both to the uninterrupted horizons of the region’s famed beaches and to the unfussy simplicity that first attracted artists like Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Willem de Kooning. Inside, under an ever-changing glow from skylights above, the collection honors the generations of artists who called this area home, such as American Impressionist William Merritt Chase and mid-century realist Fairfield Porter. In 2014, it won Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron a T+L Design Award for best museum. $10; parrishart.org.

Read the full list HERE.

More from Travel + Leisure:

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser