It’s no secret around here that we’re travel junkies. Emily and I are always thinking about the next places we want to go and in the last couple of years, we’ve both tucked quite a few new countries under our belts. I’ve always put the emphasis on international travel, because I love seeing places that are so radically different from what I’m used to. But in the last few years, thanks in large part to semi-frequent domestic business trips, I’ve come to realize the importance of knowing your own country, and all the many different landscapes, cultures and people it offers.
Between the two of us, Emily and I have probably hit most of the large and mid-sized American cities, some together, and some on our own. San Francisco, Boston, NYC, Chicago, Las Vegas, Seattle, Indianapolis, Portland….the list goes on but the ones I’ve seen myself have taught me just how big this country actually is, and how much you can learn just by driving or flying a couple of hours outside your hometown.
In honor of all the many cities we’ve seen around the US, and those we’ve yet to visit, here are my five favorite American cities to see in 2016.
I’ve heard the music scene in Austin is crazy, and I love the whole Keep Austin Weird thing. A very good friend recently moved down there, so I’m hoping to head out to see her, visit the middle part of the US, which I’ve largely skipped over, and explore some live music. And see the bats, of course.
2. Los Angeles
I’ve visited many of the great West Coast cities, but I haven’t yet made it to LA. I think LA would be a place I couldn’t live (which is the case with many US cities) but would really love to visit. It’s warm, has great beaches and, I’ve heard, amazing food. I’d like to head out for a few days, tool around Hollywood in a convertible, maybe surf a little and eat everything.
I’ve flown through the Chicago airports probably at least 5 times, but have never actually made it to the city itself. Chicago is something of a mystery to me. I’ve heard nothing but good things, but those things are usually along the lines of “It was pretty!” or “It’s the cleanest city I’ve ever been to!” Even my aunt who lives in the Chicago suburbs hasn’t mentioned anything especially great except deep dish pizza and baseball games. I think I need to go explore for myself and see exactly what it is Chicago excels at–or you could just tell me in the comments ; )
I’ve been to a fair number of East Coast cities–NYC of course, Boston, New Haven, Nashua, Virginia Beach, Orlando–but none of them except New York has ever really grabbed me. But the idea of Charleston that I have in my head just might–leafy streets lined with classic Southern architecture, a slower pace of living, a bit of a retro vibe. I’d love to spend a long weekend at a quaint B&B and explore the history in the Holy City.
Similarly to Chicago, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything but good things about Denver. It strikes me as the city on this list least like what I’m used to–all the outdoorsy activities, thin air, and of course, legal drugs. Thanks to some recent family relocations and Cassidy’s suggestions of top Denver activities, I’ve got a ready-made itinerary, but I’ll be sure to leave lots of time for hiking to take in the gorgeous scenery.
It’s always good to have a travel bucket list, and even if I don’t make it all of these places this year, or even next, I’ll be looking forward to the times when I actually do. There are many other cities I could have included here (after all, I do want to visit all fifty states), but five seems a good start! If you live in or love any of these towns, let me know your highlights and what you suggest for out of town visitors!