Some of the world's top travel influencers have selected the unsung North American destinations that they think will be on the savvy traveller's wish list in 2019. If you want to broaden your horizons without going too far, read on to see the places that might inspire your next trip.
Travel Lemming's annual Emerging Destination Awards has selected nine of the best emerging destinations in North America for 2019, chosen by a panel of top travel influencers from around the world. From the Caribbean to Canada, they've picked the places they feel are worth a pin on the map.
Manitoba was named by Lonely Planet as a top travel destination for 2019 thanks to its multicultural flavor and fascinating wildlife. It won the Travel Lemming Judges' Top Choice Award too. In the diverse prairie province, you can see polar bears and the Northern Lights in Churchill, while getting your culture fix through Winnipeg's burgeoning culinary scene and modern museums.
As Alaska celebrates its 60th anniversary of statehood in 2019, officials have planned a variety of cultural and historic events - making it the perfect year to explore the richness of the northernmost state.
Savannah is hardly an unsung travel destination but experts expect to see a rise in visitor numbers next year. Judge Eric Prince from the Minority Nomad, said: "Eclipsed by the more famous Atlanta, Savannah offers a look at the extensive and complicated history of Georgia. Not to mention it has some of the best food you can find in the South."
Grenada doesn't draw tourist numbers like the other Caribbean islands but that's part of its appeal. With unspoilt beaches, tropical forests, laidback charm and the world’s first Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada is just a short flight from mainland US. It's also home to some of the best chocolate, honey and rum in the world if you need further encouragement.
Memphis is a mecca for music lovers as the home of blues, soul and rock 'n' roll. In 2019, the city will host its Bicentennial Celebration. From new hotels, renovated parks, and brand-new attractions, there's something to see and do every month of the year.
Sacramento is undergoing something of a cultural renaissance with its numerous microbreweries, farm-to-fork restaurants, trendy boutiques, and gastropubs, as well as Golden 1 Center - the new-ish home of the Sacramento Kings. It also has a vibrant art scene; the colourful murals that adorn the walls of Midtown Sacramento are well worth a visit.
Manatí, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is ready to welcome tourists back after it suffered devastating damage from Hurricane Maria last year. Manatí in the northern coast was highlighted by Travel Lemming judges for Mar Chiquita, a natural pool that's known for putting on a dramatic water display with unpredictable bursts of foam. It's a popular spot with locals. "Just 45 minutes away from San Juan, but still off most tourists' maps, Mar Chiquita is an Instagram-sensation in the making," noted judges.
The French Caribbean Archipelago offers visitors a wealth of attractions from deserted, palm-strewn beaches to soaring mountains and coastal communities with a hint of French flavour. The smaller islands of Les Saintes and La Désirade were recommended by Travel Lemming judges for their "picture-perfect beaches that somehow have escaped the eye of the masses."
Escape the extravagance of the Yucatán coast and head inland to sophisticated Valladolid. The layered city is deeply Mayan in language, cuisine and style, while distinctly Spanish in architecture and siesta practices. It was selected as an emerging destination by Travel Lemming judges for its bustling markets, blissful cenotes and enchanting Mayan ruins.
Read more: Lonely Planet's best places to visit in 2019.