Best Places to Travel in April

SETOUCHI, JAPAN (© Getty)

SETOUCHI, JAPAN

Japan’s southwestern region of Setouchi is anchored by the city of Hiroshima, where the Peace Memorial will reopen this month after an eight-year, $51 million refurbishment, just before the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing next year. Combine a trip to this important site with an exploration of the Seto Inland Sea nearby, where a cluster of islands is transformed beginning this month for the Setouchi Triennale. This contemporary art fest—held every three years, hence the name—brings the work of 150 artists to rural Japan, installing them across 12 different islands, including Naoshima, the permanent home of the sumptuous Benesse House Museum, which features work including Monet’s Waterlilies and several site-specific light pieces from James Turrell. The Triennale is held in three so-called semesters throughout 2019, the first of which runs from late April—book a tour to best tackle the disparate sites, or indulge with one of just 19 suites aboard the ultra-luxury cruising yacht, Guntu, which ambles between them.

CAPE TOWN (© Courtesy Iwan Baan)

CAPE TOWN

South Africa’s southernmost city has rebounded from its water shortages last year—a good thing, since April is one of its driest months, with an average of just two rainy days. For visitors, of course, the lack of rainfall makes this month an ideal time for a visit. In the city, hunker down at the waterfront One&Only Cape Town, a luxe perch in the heart of town, and linger in the astonishing converted grain silos of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the world’s largest such institution dedicated to arts from the continent and its diaspora. If you’re feeling energetic, sign up for the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on Easter Sunday, whose scenic route is an ideal, if sweaty, way to see the city’s far reaches. For a less strenuous al fresco experience, head inland to the wine country in and around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, where fall marks the beginning of the annual harvest.

COACHELLA VALLEY (© Courtesy DesertX)

COACHELLA VALLEY

The desert outside Palm Springs hosts three pilgrimage-worthy bashes this month—two for festival fans, and another for the arterati. It’s the 20th anniversary of Coachella, which for two weekends will lure fringed-jacket wearers and those who love them to see headliners like Thank U Next­-er Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino; later in the month, on the same polo fields in the town of Indio, pack a Stetson and some swagger for Stagecoach, when country music’s top talent, including Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean, will perform live here (though sadly, there’s no word whether Gaga and Cooper will make a post-Star is Born return to the stage, after shooting scenes for the movie here). This month is also the last chance to catch the 19 site-specific installations of DesertX’s second iteration: the biennial has again commandeered locations across the valley for highly visual, often controversial pieces by a range of top flight contemporary names—book a $75 bus tour if you’d like to check them all out in a single trip.

NEW ORLEANS

NEW ORLEANS

This April marks the 50th anniversary of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the four-day celebration of the music-soaked history of the Crescent City. As ever, it’s drawn an A-list line-up, including Diana Ross, Jimmy Buffett, plus joint headliners—the generation-spanning pairing of Katy Perry and the Rolling Stones. There are other reasons to head to New Orleans this month, too, not least because it marks your last chance to stroll outdoors before the summer stickiness begins to bite. The five-day Wine & Food Experience is hosted by more than 100 of the city’s fine restaurants, and offers special dinners with pairings for vintages around the world. Look for crawfish on the menu, as the signature dish is finally in season, and boils become ubiquitous at the best restaurants. Stay at Maison de la Luz in the warehouse district. The upscale offshoot of the rowdy Ace hotel next door begins accepting its first guests this month.

NEW ZEALAND (© Getty)

NEW ZEALAND

Air New Zealand added a direct flight three times weekly between Chicago and Auckland last December, making it a little easier to reach this far-flung destination. Book one of its signature Economy Skycouches for an affordable upgrade to the 15-hour flight. The balmy weather this month is a boon for the outdoorsy mecca of the South Island, the spiritual home of adventure sports. Avid fishing or hiking fans should book the new overnight guided stay in Greenstone Valley’s Te Whare Pounamu, near Lake Wakatipu, complete with round trip helicopter flights from Queenstown; the Wanaka Festival of Colour is an alternative draw, a five-day biennial focusing on the visual and performing arts. Fall foliage here rivals New England: cruise around the winemaking region of Central Otago, also just outside Queenstown, to sample superb pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, taking plenty of #nofilter snaps en route.

MILAN (© Courtesy Gallerie d’Italia, Piazza Scala)

MILAN

The design world hijacks Italy’s fashion capital this month, as it descends en masse for the Salone del Mobile Milano (known in English as the Milan Furniture Fair, though insiders in all languages just call it Salone). The 58th edition brings 2,500 exhibitors to the city, showcasing the best in international design: this year, look for the Leonardo da Vinci-honoring installation by Marco Balich, a nod to the 500th anniversary of the polymath’s death, as well as SaloneSatellite, which focuses on emerging designers and whose intriguing theme is ‘food as a design object.’ Rub shoulders with design insiders over dinner at Voce by Aimo e Nadia, the brand new restaurant inside the Gallerie d’Italia museum or sibling spot BistRO, design guru Rossana Orlandi’s collaboration with Etro; expect the fashpack to flock to Torre, tucked into the recently opened tower of the Prada Foundation.