Our 2012 hot list
The top trends, openings, and exciting developments we're eager to watch around the West this year
San Francisco’s new waterfront
America’s Cup is the premier sailing competition in the world, so when San Francisco was named a host city of the 2013 regatta, it was huge. For the first time in a long time, the city will actually feel like a port town. The northern waterfront (for decades a tangle of dilapidated piers) begins renovations this summer, and two weeks of races kick off in August. americascup.com
The new gardening bible
Vegan goes gourmet
Mom-and-pop ski resorts
Small, family-run resorts are beloved for short lines and cheap tickets, not amenities. Now that’s changing. Mt. Baker (pictured; $51 lift ticket; mtbaker.us) in the Cascades just added a charming midmountain lodge; Brundage Resort near McCall, Idaho ($55; brundage.com), has a sparkly new restaurant and spa at nearby Shore Lodge. And Utah’s Eagle Point ($50; skieaglepoint.com) reopened with slopeside massages, day lodges, and a high-wattage chef.
Good any way you slice it
Move over, cupcakes. The pie craze has us drooling over a new wave of shops serving up everything from savory Frito pie, veggie potpie, and beef and Pinot Noir hand pies to sweet chocolate and peanut butter pie and even pie shakes.
More: 5 amazing ice-cream pies
Just when the concept seemed destined to go the way of the Dewey decimal, the new West Hollywood Public Library blows the dust off musty stereotypes of the stacks. Meet the sexy librarian of libraries—part modern art gallery, with splashy Shepard Fairey murals, and part coffee bar/tech hub, with views of the Hollywood Hills. 310/652-5340.
Beer's got flavor
Something is happening at high-end gastropubs and breweries. Herbs, spices, exotic fruit, and even vegetables like beets and mushrooms are making their way into sophisticated beers. Turns out these special ingredients not only enhance beer's natural flavors, they create some addictive combos that might even beat out wine for food-friendliness.
Disney’s brave new world
The summer opening of Cars Land at Disney California Adventure is a big, big deal. The most ambitious addition to the Disney landscape in a decade, the 12-acre Route 66–themed universe draws on the Disney-Pixar Cars blockbusters. Its signature ride is Radiator Springs Racers, which will zoom you through a hopped-up rendition of the Southwest. disney.com
Salt Lake City’s downtown coup
It’s not just a mall. The new City Creek Center, which opens in March, is a complete rethinking of Salt Lake’s urban landscape. Wrecking balls tore down the two city blocks flanking Main Street to make way for the open-air mall (with a retractable roof), reinvigorating Main Street. In the past year, chic restaurants and one-off shops have moved in. shopcitycreekcenter.com