Why go: Wooden Zen temples, lush gardens, tea houses and ancient palaces make Kyoto one of Japan's most lovely and tranquil destinations. Thanks to its abundance of cherry trees, the former Imperial city is particularly beautiful in the spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
Where to stay: A ryokan, or traditional inn, Hoshinoya Kyoto has 25 softly lit rooms with yellow cedar bathtubs and rice paper screens. A traditional Japanese breakfast is delivered to your door daily. Rooms from around $590; hoshinoyakyoto.jp.
Where to eat: One of Kyoto's famed kaiseki restaurants, Yoshihiru Murata's Michelin-starred Kikunoi serves multicourse seasonal menus that feature delicacies like cedar-smoked barracuda fillets and sashimi served on chrysanthemum petals.