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The Best Places to Travel in May

The world’s mood seems to collectively improve around May, as the weather gets—and stays—warm enough for shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits. This is a popular travel month, as students get out of school and families gear up for Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial kick-off to summer. Thankfully, there are plenty of places near and far to soak up the sun.

Lake Como, Italy

Somehow, the leisure retreat of Lake Como is full of news this year. Several hotels have opened up, including Il Sereno Lago di Como, designed by Patricia Urquiola, and Villa Lario, a family-friendly property with six suites. And the Grand Hotel Tremezzo has undergone a huge refresh, adding a brand new spa (and a spa suite) for those who want to be pampered 24/7. Restaurants have stepped up their game, as well. Should you decide to venture outside your villa, head to Ristorante Silvio, where chef Christian Ponzini serves his famous missoltin—salted lake sardine.

Canggu, Bali

Bali’s beaches attract all types of sun worshippers, but surfers know to head to Canggu, a town on the island’s southwestern coast. Lately, it’s become a destination for more than its breaks, with the opening of veggie-focused restaurants, Australian-style cafés, and quirky hotels like the Frii Bali Echo Beach. In May, Deus, a mixed-use space that includes a restaurant, music venue, and art gallery, hosts a major surf competition, bringing together pros and amateurs for a fun-filled weekend.

Lille, France

This charming European town is just one hour from Paris and the most exciting arts destination of the moment. The spring weather here is delightful, ideal for strolling around on the cobblestoned streets. The city government has poured money into public arts projects such as Lille 3000, a group of indoor and outdoor art exhibitions, as well as a wonderful modern art museum. Perhaps as a response to oversaturation in Paris, there has also been a recent influx in great bistros and cafes, indie boutiques, and even spots for craft beers. Stay at the Clarance Hôtel Lille, in a former mansion with rooms named after Baudelaire poems.

Shanghai, China

The Chinese city continues to grow rapidly, with acclaimed restaurants and bars, world-class shopping, and five-star hotels. Jean-Georges Vongerichten has set up somewhat of an empire with a group of restaurants at Three on the Bund, elevating the Shanghai international cuisine scene—but you’d eat just as well on a soup dumpling tour of the city. And don’t miss the new spate of speakeasy-themed bars helmed by inventive local mixologists. The weather is incredibly pleasant in May—the spring rains have passed, but the summer humidity has yet to set in. And come here before the crowds descend in June for the opening of the Shanghai Disney Resort, which is sure to be popular for families during the summer break.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

New England peak season tends to start around Memorial Day, so head to this seaside retreat earlier in the month to take advantage of (relatively) empty beaches and low Airbnb rates. Cape Cod is fantastic with a big group—whether a multi-generation trip or friends. There are activities for every interest, from whale-watching in Provincetown to the New England Fire & History Museum to a tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip Company’s factory in Hyannis. And of course, the seafood—from lobster rolls to fried clams to fresh oysters—is a must for every meal.

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