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Seattle is a diverse city made up of more than a dozen different districts and neighborhoods. Each part of the city has its own personality and style. While most visitors rarely make it outside of Downtown, there’s a lot more to explore than just the skyscraper-filled blocks. Here’s how to fill a Seattle day and night with the right places and the right times.

Seattle by day

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Seattle’s famous public market is a must visit  | Photo: GettingStamped.com

Morning: “Historic” Market Neighborhood
It would be a sin to start a morning in Seattle without coffee. Grab a steaming cup of the city’s famous brew before exploring. With hundreds, if not thousands, of cafes and specialty roasting shops you shouldn’t have to go too far to find great coffee in Seattle. The tourist favorite would have to be the Original Starbucks: Grab a Venti at the place where it all started before hitting the streets.
The perfect place to spend a morning in Seattle is none other than the famous Pike Place Market. This massive market first opened its doors in 1907 and now encompasses 600 vendors across multiple city blocks and also the very gooey Gum Wall! You could fill an entire day here, but one stall not to miss is the famous Fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market on the street level; be sure to stick around long enough to catch their famous fish toss.
Lunch: “Bohemian” Fremont
The people from Fremont have a reputation for being sort of Bohemian/artsy types and they even call their neighborhood the “Center of the Universe.” Grab a bite and explore artsy Fremont for its restaurants, vintage shops and other quirky locales and then, for lunch, try out Revel, a local favorite serving up Korean dishes prepared in an industrial-inspired dining room using French techniques. Before moving on, make a stop at the Fremont Vintage Mall which is pretty much the center of the vintage universe.
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Nothing screams Seattle more than the Space Needle | Photo: GettingStamped.com

Afternoon: “Cultural” Belltown
After lunch, make your way north of downtown toward Belltown for a look at one of the most iconic structures in the world, the Seattle Space Needle. Gawk at the giant white 1960s futuristic tower or take the 500-plus foot vertical ride to the observation deck for unmatched city views. The base of the Space Needle is surrounded by museums like the iridescent purple Museum of Pop Culture, the Chihuly Garden, Seattle Children’s Museum and Pacific Science Center.
Sunset: “Classic” Queen Anne
For the best views of the city skyline, head north from downtown to the Queen Anne district featuring turn-of-the-century mansions and parks. A nice green space high on Queen Anne’s hill makes for a postcard-worthy shot of the Space Needle and the city as the lights start to come on.
summer in seattle

Seattle by night

Dinner: “Back in style” Pioneer Square
The plot of land just south of Downtown is quickly emerging as one of Seattle hottest culinary neighborhoods. Pioneer Square is one of the cities oldest areas, but only in the past few years has it become the place to eat with new restaurants popping up every month. A must try local favorite that carries a unique of a name is “Damn the Weather.” Shared plates and craft cocktails await in this cozy brick-walled eatery.
After dinner drinks: “Hipster” Capital Hill
In the shadow of downtown’s skyscrapers, Capitol Hill is a neighborhood close in proximity to downtown with a notably different feel. Frequently in the running for the “hipster capital of the country,” Capital Hill has tons of bars and hangouts at night. The vibe is young, and it gets a bit wild if you stay ’til closing time.



Seattle’s downtown coming to life at night | Photo courtesy of the Warwick

Seattle by late night: Downtown

As great as Seattle’s up and coming neighborhoods are, nowhere parties harder than Downtown. Most of the city’s clubs and late night spots are concentrated in the Downtown area. This is also a great area for hotels. You’ll have your pick, but some of our favorites include the stylish Hotel Theodore, which revamped the 80-year-old Roosevelt Hotel space, and Palihotel Seattle, which opened in 2018 in the former space of the historic Colonnade Hotel and offers views of Pike Place and Puget Sound.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, City, Destinations, seattle, Types of Travel

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If you still think all you’ll see in Detroit are boarded up buildings and abandoned factories, think again. The city is in the middle of a renaissance, spending millions of dollars rehabilitating neighborhoods and greenspaces. Meanwhile, quite a few of the city’s historic downtown buildings are getting new lives as luxury hotels. Here are six new or recently opened downtown hotels that we’ve paired with itineraries for every traveler type. No matter what you call this phoenix of a city—Motown, the D, or Motor City—there’s no disputing Detroit is on its way back up.

RELATED: 7 design-forward hotels we can actually afford

The Siren Hotel_Detroit_z

The Siren Hotel Detroit

The Renaissance Man/Woman

Stay: Siren Hotel

Inside a handsome neoclassical building this classy boutique hotel’s amenities are over the top; Italian linens, hand-loomed blankets, and flat screen TV’s.

Play Steps from the hotel’s front door are Comerica Park, Ford Field and Little Caesar’s Arena for sports fans plus the Detroit Opera House, Fox Theatre and the Fillmore Detroit for theater and concert goers.

Dine District Market, a cafeteria style café, is a good bet for a pre-game meal.

Element Detroit at the Metropolitan

Element Detroit at the Metropolitan

The Family Folks

Stay: Element Detroit at the Metropolitan

This place has all the bells and whistles, complimentary breakfast and WiFi, and spacious rooms that include sofa beds and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Bring the kids and the dog.

Play Within walking distance is GM World, a massive building containing the latest GM models. Check out the Chevrolet race cars dating to 1987. Parents will appreciate Belle Isle Aquarium’s 1904 Beaux Art building while the kids study the exotic marine life.

Dine Townhouse, in the Central Business District, offers humongous burgers and filet mignon frites. At Green Dot Stables, tuck into truffle herb fries while deciding which of their 25 different kinds of sliders to order.

Shinola Hotel, Detroit

Shinola Hotel, Detroit

The Greenheart

Stay: Shinola Hotel

Yes, this hotel is from the Detroit-based company Shinola, which makes luxury watches and leather goods. Rooms are decorated with soothing palettes of camel, caramel and gray and decked out with Amish-made furniture.

Play Campus Martius Park offers 2.5 acres of gardens and lawns. A few blocks south is the Riverwalk with views across the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario. Admire the flora and fauna at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, set upon its 13 acres are formal gardens and lily ponds and a glass conservatory.

Dine James Beard Award-winning chef Andrew Carmellini’s San Morello offers southern Italian style dishes. Or try the Nordic carrot steak with hollandaise and pistachios at Lady of the House in Corktown.

Detroit Foundation Hotel

Detroit Foundation Hotel

The Culture Vulture

Stay: Detroit Foundation Hotel

Conde Nast named it “One of the world’s best new hotels.” This hip and happening boutique hotel is the place to see and be seen. Walls are hung with original art by local artists.

Play The Detroit Institute of Arts is world renowned for its stunning Diego Rivera murals depicting Detroit’s automobile manufacturing. Rock to the Motown sound at the Motown Museum where Berry Gordy, Jr. launched the careers of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross and the Supremes and Little Stevie Wonder. It’s slated for a major expansion this year, so keep an eye on that.

Dine The hotel’s Chef’s Table Experience is like a medieval feast with course after course of exquisitely prepared foods.

Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney

Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney

The Motorhead

Stay: Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney

Aloft Hotels are known as much for their affordable prices as their minimalist, sleek designs. This one follows that mantra. There’s no restaurant, just a grab-and-go convenience nook.

Play In 1908 the first Model T was designed at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant. Inside this historic building are restored vintage Model T’s. For a glimpse of how the automobile moguls lived, tour the 60-room estate and gardens of Edsel & Eleanor Ford.

Dine Nothing beats comfort food for breakfast and that’s what Dime Store dishes up. Plates are piled high with pecan pie French toast, eggs benedict or veggie hash. Selden Standard is known for their dishes of walleye in mushroom broth with spinach and grilled trout dishes.

Trumbull & Porter_Detroit

Trumbull & Porter_Detroit

The Gambler

Stay: Trumbull & Porter

A recent multi-million-dollar renovation spiffed up all the rooms in this mid-century modern building. Perks include complimentary breakfast and WiFi, and a reasonable onsite parking fee that won’t put you in a coma. Fido is welcome, too!

Play A short walk gets you to the sports venues. Try your luck at neighboring Motor City Casino and the MGM Grand.

Dine At Wright & Company, you can dine on seared bay scallops smothered in dates, sautéed pork medallions with Jerusalem artichokes or beef tenderloin with trumpet mushrooms.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, City, Destinations, Types of Travel

Frances Folsom

Frances Folsom

Fran is a journalist based in Cambridge. MA. She has written for the Boston Globe, USA Today GO Escape, German Life, Fiber Art Now, several AAA magazines and other publications.
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For alternative music fans, Seattle is the place to go to hear great live music, see where epic artists got their start in the music industry, and retrace the footsteps of music legends. From clubs and recording studios to memorials and sheer inspiration, Seattle honors past musicians and encourages future artists, and entertains fans with many ways to soak up the sounds of the Pacific Northwest music scene.

RELATED: Cheap eats Seattle: 10 lunches for under $10

Image by discotech

The Crocodile

If you were a grunge music fan living in Seattle in the ’90s, chances are you saw one of the then “up-and-comers,” such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Sound Garden, play at the Croc. This music venue is still the place to go to hear new music that just might become mainstream someday soon.

Image courtesy of Hotel Max

Hotel Max

Spin some vinyl in your hotel while enjoying a craft beer at the landmark Hotel Max, a boutique hotel that caters to creative types. With a curated art collection, extensive assortment of records, and a minibar stocked with treats and libations from local vendors, this hotel boutique hotel rocks. Book a room on the fifth floor to dive deeper into the music culture with rooms decked out in decor inspired by Sub Pop Records, an independent Seattle label with a cult following. You can even take home some Sub Pop merch. Or, if you forgot, you can buy Sub Pop items at their shop at the airport.

Image courtesy of Re-bar


Walk in the footsteps of Kurt Cobain at Re-bar, where the band released their debut album, Nevermind. Party like a rock star at this venue that features live music, theater and local artwork, and welcomes diversity. Leaving town and still need your live music fix? You can hear live bands while waiting for your flight at the airport.

ALSO: Make your Seattle vacation rock even harder when you sign up for CheapCash—it’s free to join!

Image courtesy of The Edgewater Hotel

The Edgewater Hotel

This waterfront hotel has hosted some noteworthy rock legends, such as The Beatles, Led Zepplin and The Rolling Stones. Guests can feel what it’s like to live like a rock star by booking one of the Rock N’ Roll suites at The Edgewater. The newly available Beatles suite will make fans want to twist and shout. Listen to a Beatles album on the in-room record player while surrounded by London-inspired décor and Beatlemania artwork.

Image by Gilman Park

Jimi Hendrix statue

Rock legend Jimi Hendrix made an impression on Seattle. You can’t leave the city without taking a selfie with the bronze statue of him by Seattle artist Daryl Smith in front of Blick Art Materials at 1600 Broadway. There is also a large memorial where Jimi Hendrix’s remains are buried at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton.

Image courtesy of London Bridge Studios

London Bridge Studio

Step back in time and see where music and lyrics came together to create songs that would last a lifetime. London Bridge Studio offers a one-hour tour that showcases the original equipment used to make albums by rock bands such as Alice In Chains and Blind Melon, as well as historic memorabilia. The studio is still in use by today’s artists and uses a mix of old and new technology to create cutting edge sounds.

Image courtesy of Museum of Pop Culture

Museum of Pop Culture

A must-do for music lovers visiting Seattle is a trip to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP). Exhibits of interest include “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses,” which includes an extensive collection of all things Nirvana. You’ll find hand-written lyrics and sketches by Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl’s drum kit, original concert fliers, documentary images and more. Next, stop by the “Hendrix: Wild Blue Angel” exhibit to see Hendrix’s passport, diary, mixing console and lots of photographs that piece together his life in rock. Don’t miss the “Pearl Jam: Home and Away” exhibit (opening in August) that tracks the band’s journey from nobodies to celebrities. On display will be original album covers, props from concerts, loads of photographs, instruments used by band members and set lists. Lastly, swing by the Sound Lab to make your own music. Take home a recording of your best set.

Image by Dan Sorenson

Sound Garden

The Sound Garden, which the Seattle classic rock band Soundgarden was named after, is a large outdoor art installation made from steel pipe structures that create musical sounds when the wind passes through them. It is located on the shore of Lake Washington and is open to the public, but visitors must pass through a security stop and show ID.

Image by roadierecon

Remembering Kurt Cobain

There are various way to get an inside look at Kurt’s life in Seattle. Fans like to drive by the last home he lived in at 171 Lake Washington Boulevard in Seattle, although it is not open to the public. In Aberdeen, Kurt’s hometown, you’ll find Kurt Cobain Memorial Park, which features a good-humored sculpture that involves a stand holding Kurt’s air guitar, as well as a guitar statue, a memorial headstone and the bench where he might have spent endless hours contemplating lyrics that represented his life. The Aberdeen Museum of History also offers a walking tour of Kurt’s time spent there that may include private residences that Kurt lived in, schools he attended, the Young Street Bridge where he apparently hung out with friends, and other places he frequented.

Tagged: Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, seattle

Sharael Kolberg
Sharael, founder of Family Travel Channel (familytravelchannel.com), has been writing about travel since 1995. Her work has appeared in Sunset magazine, Outside magazine, ForbesTravelGuide.com, MSN.com, and many others. Follow her on Twitter @FamTravChannel, FB and Instagram @FamilyTravelChannel. See more of her work at Sharael.com.
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The search for a beautiful, relaxing and fun long-weekend destination is a never ending quest for some. While lots of people head to places like Miami, Las Vegas or Palm Springs for a three-day jaunt, there are so many more worthy options for those looking for a quick getaway.

RELATED: Summer’s 11 hottest events worth traveling for in 2018

1. Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico

La Ropa Beach at sunset | Photo by Compass + Twine

This slice of Mexican paradise sits on the country’s western coast and was made popular by the movie Shawshank Redemption. A few characters dream of breaking out of prison and escaping to this sleepy beach town and once the movie came out, that’s exactly what tourists did. Luckily, though, visitors don’t overwhelm the city. Essentially, Ixtapa is where the hotels and resorts are and Zihuatanejo, the sister city about 5 minutes away, is where the character, restaurants and locals are. Neighborhood eateries and bars line the streets, and at the market, local artisans sell hand-made goods. In the morning, Playa Principal is lined with boats, where the fishermen sell their daily catch. Down on Playa La Ropa, swordfish is already marinating at La Perla restaurant for lunchtime tiritas, or marinated fish strips. From the West Coast, you can get there in 4 hours or less.

2. Azores, Portugal

São Miguel, Azores | Photo by Compass + Twine

Portugal for a long weekend? Who’s got time for that? Possibly you. From the East Coast, you can get to the island of São Miguel in the Azores in less than 5 hours. Direct flights from Boston and NYC make the trek to this Portuguese archipelago an easy one. Lush, fern-like foliage blankets the undulating countryside, dense forests reach for the sky on steep crater walls, and black volcanic rock formations create a rugged coastline—you’re guaranteed to feel worlds away on your quick getaway. This dramatic topography is then dotted with more dairy cows than people, a plethora of natural hot springs, beautiful gardens, a maze of hiking trails and emerald crater lakes. Whether you’re an adventure-seeker or just looking to relax in nature, there’s something for everyone.

3. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Riverwalk, Texas

San Antonio Riverwalk

Remember the Alamo? Well, it’s not the only reason to visit San Antonio anymore. One of the most popular things to do in San Antonio is to hit the River Walk, a peaceful stroll where you’ll find restaurants, museums and beautiful views. Of course, you can’t come to Texas without indulging in amazing food and good music. Pop in to Pollo Asados Los Norteños for the chicken with chilis, then head to Jazz TX at The Pearl for some tunes.

ALSO: Get your getaway for less when you sign up for CheapCash!

4. Cartagena, Colombia

A Brightly Colored Street in Cartagena | Photo by Compass + Twine

Cartagena, Colombia should be on every serious travelers’ bucket list and direct flights from Miami (less than 3 hours) and NYC (5 hours from JFK) make it an ideal 3-day weekend city to explore. Cartagena comes alive with bustling streets full of cafés, music, and vendors selling fresh fruit juices and savory cheese arepas. The Spanish colonial town is charming beyond expectation, with beautiful architecture and vibrant Caribbean colors on every street-front façade. Yes, it’s gotten more attention in recent years which has created more tourism, but it isn’t ruined by Instagrammers and fanny-packers just yet. Go while the charm is still there!

5. Bonaire

Sorobon Beach, Bonaire | Photo by Compass + Twine

Getting to this Caribbean corner of paradise is about to get much easier. American Airlines now flies direct from Miami to Bonaire—an easy route that takes about 3 hours. The direct flight makes it worth the wait to experience such a pristine, beautiful sliver of heaven right here on earth. Sorobon Beach is home to some of the best windsurfing (and kite-surfing) in the world. The crystal clear, turquoise water is dotted with sails of every color in the rainbow, zipping past each other at lightening speed. Grab a lounger and spend the afternoon sipping caipirinhas in the sun while watching windsurfers fly by. Bonaire, Located in the Southern Caribbean, is part of the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) that make up the Leeward Antilles. With a strong Dutch influence, you’ll hear Dutch spoken frequently on the beaches. Enjoy the colonial charm of the main city, Kralendijk.

6. Albuquerque, New Mexico

epic Hot air Balloon Rides around the world

Take to the skies in one of the hundreds of balloons during the annual Fiesta in Albuquerque | Flickr photo by gardener41

This is a city that’s about to burst onto the tourism map. The largest city in New Mexico, it has tons to offer. Old Town Albuquerque dates back to the Spanish colonial days in the early 1700s, a stark contract to the shiny, new downtown. The food scene is topnotch, the city is filled with history, and from hiking La Luz Trail to driving Route 66, there is plenty to do outdoors. Breweries are having a moment here and every October, Albuquerque hosts the International Balloon Fiesta and the sky lights up with hot air balloons. If you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you’ll have to take the tour—you can even purchase “Breaking Bad candy” at the Candy Lady.

Tagged: Caribbean, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Mexico, Texas, Types of Travel

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Can you guess how much vacation time goes unused every year? While that figure varies wildly from state to state, the national average is 54%, according to Project Time Off, a broad coalition of travel-related organizations. According to their study, every year, Americans collectively leave 662 million days of vacation on the table, at a loss of $128 billion to the economy and a loss of 100% to our sanity.

RELATED: 9 places budget travelers are flocking to right now

Below are the states where workers let the highest percentage of vacation days go unused. And because we know it can be hard to get away—time, money, work!—we’ve also listed an easy but rejuvenating quick escape for residents of these overworked states.

Historic shops and restaurants buildings in the Old Montreal district in Quebec Canada

10. Vermont (64%)

The Green Mountain State’s a pretty beautiful place, so we can see why you Vermonters don’t get out much but come on—we all need a break! So pack up the car and make the two-hour drive up to Montreal to feel a world away, s’il vous plaît. Book a stay at the elegant new Le Mont Stephen, housed in a historic private club in Montréal’s Golden Square Mile. Indulge in a spa treatment there, or venture out to skate the new Lachine Canal Ice Skating Rink, hike up Mount Royal or indulge in local specialties such as poutine at La Banquise or canard en conserve at Au Pied de Cochon. The music scene is outstanding here, too, so be sure to check a local publication like Cult MTL to see what’s on.

Sunset over Denver

9. Kansas (64%)

You’re literally in the center of the country, Kansas, so why aren’t you getting out more? If you can bear to part with your most excellent barbecue for a weekend, make the eight-hour drive to the Mile High City for a ski and culture getaway—several great ski resorts are only about an hour or so from downtown Denver, including Arapahoe and Loveland. Make the stylish new Kimpton Hotel Born Denver your urban home base; it’s just a two-minute walk from Union Station in the happening LoDo neighborhood and you’ll be treated to free bike use, a rooftop patio, in-room massages (for a fee) and beautiful views of the Rocky Mountains.

Downtown Minneapolis

8. Nebraska (66%)

While folks on the coasts sometimes like to think of the Midwest as one big homogeneous (and, let’s face it, dull) landlocked region, that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why we’re recommending you non-vacation-taking Nebraskans plan an escape to Minneapolis. Adventurous Cornhuskers will find all kind of cool things that you just can’t get at home: Just think Prince’s Paisley Park, the famed Walker Museum, this year’s Super Bowl and more Minnesota Nice than you can shake a stick at.

7. Wyoming (66%)

Wyomingites, take a quick break from being so cool and rugged, OK? Everybody needs a vacation now and then. Why not explore your own backyard and revisit Jackson. Book a few nights at the new Anvil Hotel, which is housed in a converted 1950s motel and was recently described by Bloomberg as a “Wild West dude ranch for hipsters.” That said, you don’t have to be a hipster to love this place: It puts you within 20 minutes of the ski lifts, surrounded by views of the Tetons, with Yellowstone at your feet.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

6. Montana (67%)

Home to both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, Montana is a nature lover’s paradise. That said, it might be time for you Montanans to shake things up with a flashy urban escape to Las Vegas, so you actually feel like you’ve gone somewhere. Hotels in Sin City are famously a steal and flights from Missoula, Billings and Great Falls often go for between $100–$150. Even if you’re not the gambling type, you’ll appreciate the city’s top-notch hotel pools, exciting shows and interesting attractions such as the High Roller Observations Wheel, Mob Museum and Neon Museum. Or just spend hours marveling at the endless sights and sounds of the Strip.

ALSO: Vacations are just a bit more affordable when you’ve got CheapCash—sign up today!

Old Red Courthouse in downtown Dallas Texas

5. Oklahoma (69%)

You Oklahomans aren’t far from… well, anywhere. But if you’re looking for a quick getaway, try Dallas. There’s a reason the city’s turned up on so many 2018 “best of” lists, plus it’s easily accessed via a quick, cheap flight (often $99 or so round trip) or even a reasonable mini-road trip (about 4.5 hours). Once in the Big D, you can catch a concert or outdoor film at Klyde Warren Park, explore the vast Arts District or take your pick of the city’s many incredible dining options. You’ll also want to hit some of the city’s excellent museums, including the Sixth Floor Museum, which covers the JFK assassination, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.

Beautiful Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park

4. South Dakota (73%)

We admire your tireless work ethic, South Dakotans, but imagine how productive you’d be if you just took a long weekend to refresh. We know you’ve probably seen Mount Rushmore at least a half dozen time already, so why not opt for a romantic Black Hills getaway? Plan your trip around Custer State Park’s 70-mile Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway, where you’ll wind past the state’s signature spiraled “pigtail bridges,” stone-walled tunnels, the striking Needles Eye rock formation and beautiful Sylvan Lake. Stop for a romantic picnic and keep your eyes peeled for majestic wildlife before settling in for the night at the Summer Creek Inn & Spa, where you can cozy up by the in-room fireplace or have a soak in the hot tub.

Mount Rainier National Park

3. Alaska (73%)

Alright, Alaskans. We understand your geographic position makes a quick, close getaway a little more complicated. But why not spend a long weekend (or more) in Seattle? That’s a 3.5-hour flight that you can usually land for under $300. Book a stay at the luxurious Theodore Hotel, a downtown Seattle landmark that puts you just six blocks from the city’s number one attraction, Pike Place Market. From here, the Space Needle and top museums aren’t far afield, and you’ll definitely want to save time for exploring nearby Olympic National Park, as well as Mt. Rainier.

Banks of Hudson River and Freedom Tower

2. New Hampshire (77%)

New Hampshire certainly has its charms, but the work gods granted those vacation days for a reason, guys. We’re jealous that you’re a mere 4.5-hour drive from New York City, so that’s our pick. It’s one of the few destinations on earth that you could revisit 100 times and never run out of incredible new things to do—Broadway shows, the High Line, Central Park, some of the world’s best museums, best restaurants, best bars, best sightseeing… OK, New York just might have the best everything. If you haven’t been in a while, book your room in the burgeoning NoMad area, which saw a slew of incredible new hotel openings this past year. One of our favorites is the Life Hotel, housed in the former LIFE Magazine office. It’s a charming, reasonably-priced, 98-room boutique hotel with an intimate basement bar that once served as a speakeasy for journalists during Prohibition.

The Sawtooth Range sits in the distance behind a meadow.

1. Idaho (78%)

Mountains, canyons, waterfalls, rolling hills, lakes and even high desert… Idaho’s natural beauty is definitely underrated as a domestic travel destination. But what’s the point of living among all that beauty if you never a take a day off to enjoy it? For a great ski getaway, head to Twin Falls near the Sawtooth Mountains. In warmer months, McCall’s is the place to be for watersports on the lake, hot springs and hiking.

Tagged: Destinations, Last minute travel, Top 10 list

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When flirting with the idea of a long weekend getaway, it helps to think beyond the obvious. Big cities such as New York, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco, while undeniably popular, present an overwhelming amount of options that can turn a getaway into an exhausting sprint (and they’re overcrowded). As an alternative, we’ve assembled seven US cities that are a bit more manageable, as well as original. They’re all destinations worth getting to know, and easily done when you only have three or four days to spare.

RELATED: These are America’s most underrated food cities

Snake River Valley

Boise, ID

There’s way more to Idaho than potatoes. Its state capital has evolved into an epicenter of youthful hipster cool, despite residing in one of the country’s most conservative states. Downtown Boise is home to an eclectic collection of farm-to-fork restaurants, and artistic inspiration abounds in the form of shops, galleries and street murals. (Be sure to check out Freak Alley Gallery, a free outdoor art installation spanning numerous alleys, featuring up-and-coming creative minds.) Boise is also a great springboard to activities in the Snake River Valley such as wine and brewery tours, as well as pretty much every outdoor adventure you can imagine, from rafting to hiking to climbing to biking.

Milwaukee, WI

If cheese and beer are your thing, consider Milwaukee your Mecca. Go beer tasting on a river cruise that strings together popular brewery tours along the Milwaukee River, before heading over to Milwaukee Public Market to explore the artisan purveyors of delicious cheeses and other local delicacies. Motorcycle enthusiasts will want to make a pilgrimage to the Harley-Davidson Museum, and art lovers cannot miss the award-winning Milwaukee Art Museum, which is a masterpiece in architecture evoking the famed Sydney Opera House. (The masterpieces found inside are equally amazing.) From there, it’s a short walk to the lakefront park where the wildly popular Milwaukee Summerfest is held each summer. It’s the world’s largest music festival, held over two weekends—and worth timing a visit around, especially if your favorite band is playing.

Whale watching in Monterey

Monterey, CA

It’s easy to sink into this laid-back seaside community 120 miles south of San Francisco. Home to the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, which can easily claim an entire day, this upscale town is surrounded by epic nature trails and parks that hug the ocean. Point Lobos State Reserve is popular for whale watching and sea lion spotting. After ogling the multimillion-dollar estates along 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach, be sure to visit the picturesque wineries and farm stands (including Earthbound Farm) in the neighboring communities of Carmel and Carmel-by-the-Sea. You can then return to Monterey for more wine tastings by the sea.

ALSO: Collect your CheapCash when you book, then use it instantly on a hotel!

Branson, MO

This family-friendly town in the middle of the Ozarks has a ton to offer, if you’re cool with Christian values and gratuitous displays of American patriotism. Branson boasts more theater seats than Broadway, so you’ll never be without live entertainment options. Venues such as Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater and Yakov Smirnoff Theater host a variety of performances. The Titanic Museum, a standout amidst the kitschy attractions of Highway 76, is an incredibly thoughtful museum detailing the history of the doomed ship and its passengers, even if its exterior—a replica of the ship hitting that fateful iceberg—is somewhat questionable. The real star-power of Branson, however, resides in its outdoor bounty: the Ozarks. Be sure to head to Table Rock Lake for boating, fishing and water sports galore.

Pittsburgh, PA

The City of Bridges, once better known for its decaying steel mills, is once again a vibrant metropolis, thanks in large part to tech startups (including giants like Google and Facebook) that have set up headquarters along its riverbanks, inspiring a cosmopolitan rebirth. Get your cultural fix with a visit to the Andy Warhol Museum and Mattress Factory before roaming trendy neighborhoods like Shadyside, Upper Lawrenceville or South Side, which boast eclectic shops and innovative eateries pegged to an emerging craft brewery scene. For awe-inspiring views of the city, ride the 130-year-old Duquesne or Monongahela Inclines up to Mt. Washington.

Oklahoma City, OK

Route 66 passes through Oklahoma City, and travelers tend to linger longer than anticipated because this Midwestern oasis offers much more than folksy friendliness. (Although that certainly is a big selling point.) Head to the Bricktown River Walk for minor league baseball games, and a thriving entertainment and nightlife district, where on a Saturday night you’ll find a sea of cowboy hats. For a real giddy-up into cowboy culture, visit the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. It’s one of the most comprehensive collections of Western art, history and memorabilia in the world. The museum even has an entire room devoted to barbed wire!

Asheville, NC

Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is a setting that inspires true R&R. You’ll feel it in your lungs, as soon as you breathe in the fresh mountain air. Start by visiting the Biltmore Estate, the French chateau-inspired home of George Vanderbilt, a mogul of the Gilded Age. It’s America’s largest home, residing on an 8,000-acre estate with majestic mountain views. (We recommend taking the carriage ride around the grounds.) Stroll downtown Asheville, home to a thriving culinary scene and bohemian artistic community. The River Arts District (RAD), a massive warehouse-turned-art destination, features more than 180 talented artists forging one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Make time to experience the artistry of Mother Nature by touring a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic drive slicing through the highest elevations of the Southern Appalachians, and perhaps hiking some of its mountain trails.


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