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10 reasons to get seriously excited about 2022 in the U.S.

2022 is already shaping up to be the best year of the decade in the U.S. Now is the time to start getting excited.

Written by
Shoshi Parks
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After a second year of pandemic-tinged daily life, we have our hopes set on a 2022 filled with travel, festivals and other cultural romps. Omi C notwithstanding, most signs indicate that this year is gonna be a doozy, with long-awaited museums, restaurants, parks and more finally set to open across the U.S. 

We’re looking forward to, well, just about everything, but included on our 2022 bucket list are the opportunities and activities that uniquely tap into this cultural moment. We can’t wait for those crowded music festivals and June Pride events but we’re also eager to dig into the museums and exhibitions that showcase marginalized perspectives and cultures. And with climate change hovering over us, we couldn’t be more excited to get out there and get into environmentally responsible trends like plant-based fine-dining and train travel. So leave your worries back in 2021 where they belong. 2022 is going to be a year to remember.

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Reasons to get excited about 2022 in the U.S.

New ways to explore the city
Shutterstock

1. New ways to explore the city

What’s the trend: From revitalized waterfronts to new green spaces, cities across the country are opening up to locals and visitors alike in new and interesting ways.

Where it’s trending: In 2022, a number of cities are adding new elements to their landscapes and making some previously hard-to-see sights more accessible. In Baltimore, the new neighborhood Harbor Point is already attracting a bevy of restaurants, shops and more to its revitalized waterfront while in Birmingham, historic warehouses in the Parkside neighborhood are getting a makeover and the City Walk BHAM will add green spaces, food trucks and markets to several city blocks by mid-2022. In spring, San Francisco’s Presidio Tunnel Tops, a 14-acre oasis with incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, opens to the public and across the country in New York, Governor’s Island, the 172-acre park in the New York Harbor, is finally open year-round (check out the new Winter Village and its 5,000 square-foot ice skating rink, which is open through February).

Must-visit museums and exhibits
Photograph: Paul Bennett Architects

2. Must-visit museums and exhibits

What’s the trend: After pandemic-related stalls, a crop of fascinating new museums and long-anticipated exhibits dedicated to everything from art to entertainment to history are popping up around the country.

Where it’s trending: Museums are having a moment and there is a flood of new institutions and exhibitions dedicated to all that is interesting. On the West Coast, we’re itching to get to the film history-themed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and San Diego’s newly reimagined global art and craft gallery, Mingei International Museum. Across the country in New York, the first museum dedicated to Broadway, the Museum of Broadway, opens in summer 2022 and, in April, 200 rare and never-before-seen works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, plus multimedia presentations, ephemera and artefacts from the artist’s life, debut at Starrett Lehigh. Massive retrospectives of the work of Paul Cezanne (at the Art Institute of Chicago, opening May 2022) and Jasper Johns (at both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum, running through February 2022) are also at the top of our list.

🖼 Explore the 32 best art museums in America

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Immersive, boundary-pushing art
Photograph: Courtesy Michael Brosilow

3. Immersive, boundary-pushing art

What’s the trend: Immersive art exhibits and boundary-pushing interactive experiences that invite visitors to enter inside the worlds of their creators.

Where it’s trending: The Immersive Van Gogh experience, which combined VR, music and 360-degree digital projections of the master’s work, took the country by storm in 2021, appearing in more than a dozen cities. But the immersive art trend has been heating up since the opening of Santa Fe’s Meow Wolf: House of Eternal Return in 2016, where more than 70 rooms of weird and wonderful interactive art (and a mysterious puzzle to solve) have been going strong ever since. Over the last few months, two more Meow Wolf installations, Omega Mart in Las Vegas and Convergence Station in Denver, opened to great fanfare and in 2022, the works of other beloved masters are getting the Van Gogh-style immersive treatment. Keep an eye out for Immersive Monet, which began its nationwide tour in LA in December, and two different experiences featuring the indomitable Frida Khalo, Frida: Immersive Dream, which is set to tour five cities this year including Boston, Denver and Dallas, and Mexican Geniuses in Washington DC.

🎨 Check out 16 seriously cool art installations across the USA

Reckoning with and reframing American history
Photograph: Walter Cicchetti/Shutterstock.com

4. Reckoning with and reframing American history

What’s the trend: As the long history of marginalization and racism experienced by African American, Asian American and other minority groups in the U.S. draws more and more attention, new opportunities for reframing their stories and celebrating their contributions are emerging.

Where it’s trending: While a number of monuments to racist and otherwise controversial figures came down in 2020 and 2021, in 2022 members of marginalized racial and ethnic groups are rising up to tell their own stories. In fall, one of the biggest projects, the International African American Museum, which will delve into problematic histories, showcase contemporary Black artists and help visitors to trace their genealogy, opens in Charleston. Other exhibitions, including For Race and Country: Buffalo Soldiers in California at LA’s California African American Museum and the Oakland Museum of California’s Black Power and Hella Feminist, deal with similar themes. A new crop of walking tours in cities like Philadelphia and Charleston take the trend to the streets, digging into the historical and contemporary experiences of their Black, LGBTQ+ and Latinx communities.

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Comeback tours and festivals
Photo: Coachella

5. Comeback tours and festivals

What’s the trend: The pandemic brought live music, festivals and events to a halt. Their slow trickle back to life in 2021 will turn into a joyous deluge in 2022.

Where it’s trending: While live music played once again in 2021, many of the larger annual events we’ve come to know and love were still on hold. In 2022, they’re back with a vengeance. Get your tickets early for festivals like Miami’s Ultra Music Festival (March 25-27), southern California’s Coachella (April 15-24) and Boston’s Calling Music Festival (May 27-29) which will be headlined by artists like Adam Beyer, Rage Against the Machine and Foo Fighters. The year will also see the reemergence—in person—of artists that draw crowds the size of small cities including Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Elton John, Dua Lipa and the Eagles. Outside the music scene, we’re impatiently awaiting the return of Houston’s Commune Food Festival in March 2022 and San Francisco’s most raucous (but only second most naked) party, Bay to Breakers, in May.

🎤 Discover the best music festivals in the U.S.

New eats, especially of the plant-based variety
Photograph: djjewelz/CC

6. New eats, especially of the plant-based variety

What’s the trend: The American food scene continues to inspire both in culinary destinations like New York, LA and San Francisco and in smaller cities in places like North Carolina and Texas. As awareness of the climate impact of consuming animal products grows, many decorated chefs are embracing plant-based cuisine and opening new eateries dedicated to it.

Where it’s trending: We’re salivating with anticipation for Mexico-city native and Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe’s upcoming modern-meets-traditional Mexican restaurant and tequila library, A’Verde, arriving in Cary, North Carolina in 2022, celebrity chef Chris Cosentino’s new Houston, Texas eatery Rosalie Italian Soul and Michelin-starred Japanese chef Tetsuya Wakuda’s first American restaurant, Wakuda in Las Vegas—not to mention the Chicago Italian spot Alla Vita and the upstairs addition to LA’s buzzy French bistro Bicyclette. Northern California Wine Country is abuzz with the news that the three Michelin-starred husband-and-wife team behind SingleThread will be opening a completely plant-based restaurant, Little Saint, in Healdsburg in early 2022, and we're still trying to get reservations for the three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park in New York which went meatless in 2021.

🍽 Take a look at the best restaurants in America

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The return of Pride
Photograph: canyalcin / shutterstock.com

7. The return of Pride

What’s the trend: After two long years, Pride celebrations are finally back!

Where it’s trending: Pride parades and celebrations are slated to return across the country in June 2022. While many organizers aren’t yet sure exactly what the celebration will look like, marches, parades and festivals are already scheduled in New York, LA, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Tampa and elsewhere. Expect some hybrid options to be available so that those who can’t join the party in person can still participate virtually.

🏳️‍🌈 Discover the best cities in America to celebrate gay pride

Indigenous-led experiences
Photograph: Wesley Fryer/Flckr/CC

8. Indigenous-led experiences

What’s the trend: The Black Lives Matter movement that caught fire in 2020 also brought increased awareness to and funding for Native people to share their own stories. 

Where it’s trending: While the nation’s second tribal national park—Ioway Tribal National Park on the Missouri River in Nebraska and Kansas—won’t quite be open in 2022, Native-led restaurants, arts spaces and experiences are booming like never before. After 30 years in development, the First Americans Museum, dedicated to the culture and heritage of Oklahoma’s 39 Native American nations, is now finally open in Oklahoma City, while in Phoenix, a brand new downtown gallery, market and workshop, the Cahokia SocialTech + ArtSpace, serves as a hub for Indigenous knowledge and creativity. And whereas just a few years ago you could count the number of eateries in the US featuring Native American cuisine on one hand, new restaurants showcasing Indigenous chefs and native foods like Minneapolis’ Sioux-inspired Owamni, Berkeley, California’s Cafe Ohlone and Oakland’s Wahpepah’s Kitchen are now coming into their own.

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New ways to explore the outdoors
Photograph: Malik Ahamed/CC

9. New ways to explore the outdoors

What’s the trend: Since the start of the pandemic there has been a huge surge in hiking, camping and exploring the beauty of the outdoors. In 2022, we’re lacing up our hiking boots and headed out to a clutch of new parks, trails and campgrounds opening for visitors.

Where it’s trending: The biggest outdoor news of 2021 was the arrival of a new national park, New River Gorge, which protects the rugged whitewater-cut canyons of West Virginia and introduces them to a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Georgia’s Ocmulgee Mounds, built by the ancestors of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is expected to be the next on the list, bumping up from national historic park to full-blown national park status in 2022. Hikers across the country will find miles and miles of new trail added to existing parklands, including on the iconic Appalachian Trail and the National Recreation Trails in eight states including Illinois, Kentucky and Wyoming. Meanwhile, out in California, the first new coastal campground to be built in 30 years, will open on Monterey Bay at Fort Ord Dunes State Park just in time for peak season.

Check out our ultimate guide to the great outdoors

Train travel
Photograph: Rocky Moutnaineer/CC

10. Train travel

What’s the trend: People are ditching planes and opting instead for the rhythm, romance and smaller carbon footprint of train travel.


Where it’s trending: Train travel in the U.S. isn’t exactly catching up with that in Europe or Asia, but it’s slowly gaining speed. In August 2021, the luxury scenic Canadian train, the Rocky Mountaineer, opened its first U.S. route through the spectacular landscape of mountains and canyons between Denver and Moab, Utah. While not nearly so scenic, Amtrak’s Acela will launch new, faster trains in the Northeast Corridor in 2022 while a brand new Virgin Trains line in Florida will connect Orlando to West Palm Beach.

🚂 Discover the most scenic train rides across the U.S.

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