Between its beautiful castles and royal residences, the Loire Valley has long been a treasure trove of history. Now Château du Clos Lucé, the final home of Leonardo da Vinci, has a new pièce de résistance: a 5,380-sq.-ft. cultural center and museum featuring an innovative exhibit that projects 17 legendary Leonardo works, including The Last Supper, onto the walls and ceiling of the ground-floor gallery and 3-D animations highlighting some of his inventions. The past comes to life at the 15th century Ainay-le-Vieil castle, one of the best-preserved fortresses from that time, which now offers accommodations in farmhouses on its grounds. Other additions in the area include the Loire Valley Lodges, where visitors can stay in luxury treehouses, and the opening of La Maison Tatin, a hotel in the 19th century residence where the Tatin sisters created the upside-down French pastry by accident. —Michelle Tchea
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