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August 29, 2018
Best Weekend Getaways
1. New York City
Why go: Cool, cosmopolitan, crowded, constantly evolving É the Big Apple blends big city splendor with small-town charm. Amid Gotham's iconic landmarks and towering skyscrapers, you'll experience a vibrant culture permeating each of the city's distinctive neighborhoods and boroughs. Follow trendsetters to the East Village and Brooklyn to check out indie boutiques, iconic bakeries and trendy coffee shops. Afterward, peruse the racks of the sleek shops lining Fifth Avenue, admire the cutting-edge art collections at the MoMa and the Met, catch a memorable show on Broadway or sit down for a meal at the latest "it" restaurant.
As the most populous city in the U.S. Ð set at the forefront of food, fashion and the arts Ð NYC requires stamina. But don't let the Big Apple's frenetic sights and sounds intimidate you from soaking up its grandeur. Wander through the concrete jungle and you'll discover roaring taxis zipping down bustling blocks, fast-paced pedestrians strolling past on their way to marquee galleries and trendy cocktail bars, and Times Square's neon lights flickering at all hours. And yet, the city's twinkling lights and chaotic corners also invite you to embrace every New York minute, explore every enclave and create your own urban adventure. There are endless ways to spend your time in the city that never sleeps, but before you leave, stop and look around Ð what's here today will be transformed into something bigger and better tomorrow.
Why go: With its rich historical heritage, Philadelphia is one of the United States' most visited cities. After all, both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed here in Independence Hall. Renaissance man Benjamin Franklin once called this city home. And before Washington, D.C. usurped its role, Philadelphia served as the country's capital. Yet the city is far from being stuck in its glorious past. The Philly of today is filled with notable museums, a bumping nightlife, beloved sports teams and a thriving restaurant scene that encompasses more than just the ubiquitous cheesesteak.
3. Santa Monica Beach
Why go: If exploring all of Los Angeles in one weekend seems overwhelming, head to one of the best beaches in California for a quick trip. Santa Monica offers balmy weather year-round, plus distractions away from the sand, including a 26-mile bike path, an amusement park pier and plenty of people-watching.
4. Quebec City
The sight of winding cobblestone streets and towering cathedrals; the sound of French pleasantries and tourists' "Oohs;" the smell of fresh-baked bread and pungent cheese; the taste of creamy cafe lattes and buttery croissants. All your senses agree: You're in France. But they're wrong: You're in Qubec.
Qubec City Ð the capital of the Canadian province, Qubec Ð dwelled in the shadow of its neighbor, Montral, for a long time, but the 2008 celebration of its 400th birthday catapulted Qubec City back into the spotlight. Since then, travelers have flocked here to experience this UNESCO World Heritage site's charm for themselves. As the birthplace of New France, Qubec City continues to uphold the culture of its motherland. Upon passing through the fortified walls of Old Qubec, you'll discover a world straight out of a European painting: 17th- and 18th-century buildings house bakers, bistros and boutiques, while cobbled squares are drowned by a sea of cafe tables. And around every corner, a piece of Qubec City's rich heritage awaits discovery.
5. San Francisco
A jumbled collage of colorful neighborhoods and beautiful views, San Francisco draws those free-spirited types who have an eye for edgy art, a taste for imaginative cuisine and a zeal for adventure. It's really not surprising that songwriter Tony Bennett left his heart here: The city boasts jaw-dropping sights, world-class cuisine, cozy cafes and plenty of booming nightlife venues Ð there's no shortage of ways to stay busy here. Spend an hour or two sunning yourself alongside sea lions on the bay, admiring the views of the city from Twin Peaks, or strolling along the Marina. And for the quintessential San Franciscan experience, enjoy a ride on a cable car.
Often described as Los Angeles' more refined northern cousin, cool and compact San Francisco takes the big-city buzz exuded by its southern counterpart and melds it with a sense of small-town charm. Here, you'll discover a patchwork of culture flourishing throughout San Francisco's many vibrant quarters. Follow the crowds to the touristy Fisherman's Wharf area (which offers spectacular views of Alcatraz) before heading along the bay to the Presidio for a glimpse of the famous Golden Gate Bridge. But don't forget to save time for the Mission District, the Haight and the Castro for exposure to all of the different varieties of the San Francisco lifestyle.
Toronto is as cosmopolitan as they come. To newcomers, Toronto may seem like just another big city. Downtown is dotted with skyscrapers, the city's streets are bustling with people on the go and the public transportation system is top-notch. But lift up the hood of Canada's biggest city and you'll find there's more to the eye than an amazing skyline. Toronto is considered one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, with more than half the population born outside of the city. Toronto houses 200 ethnic groups that speak upward of 140 different languages, making this Ontario destination a world all its own. With Greektown, Little Italy, Koreatown and Chinatown all within city limits, travelers may feel as if they've seen more than a couple of countries after a visit to Toronto.
The city is also home to one of the tallest freestanding towers in the world, the CN Tower, and the world's largest underground shopping mall, PATH. But aside from visiting its biggest attractions, Toronto should be experienced like any other big city: sipping a cocktail in a corner restaurant, browsing multicultural shops on quirky neighborhood blocks and hopping on and off the subway for a night on the town.
7. Washington, DC
With its marbled monuments and high-profile politicos, Washington, D.C., has long been saddled with a reputation as a stuffy government-driven town. A "city of southern efficiency and northern charm," as John F. Kennedy once described it, Washington is often seen by outsiders as slow and inefficient. But these days, our nation's capital is awash with a new energy, transforming itself into an exciting, faster-paced East Coast vacation destination. Although the government is still the sun around which this city orbits, the District also offers a host of renowned museums and interesting neighborhoods. And with a recent explosion of restaurants, cafes, boutiques and clubs, D.C. is transitioning into a thriving cultural hub. As the D.C. Tourism Board is emphasizing through its DC Cool campaign, this isn't the Washington you remember from your middle school field trip Ð it's much hipper than that.
You can choose a traditional D.C. adventure, filled with tours of classic attractions like the White House and the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. And there's no better way to experience iconic D.C. than with a stroll around the Tidal Basin. (Plan to visit in late March or early April Ð just in time for the National Cherry Blossom Festival Ð and you'll be rewarded with a canopy of beautiful pink blooms.) But if you've already seen the national landmarks, get a feel for the city's more youthful ambiance, highlighted by its urban neighborhoods, marquee art galleries and vibrant farmers markets. While you'll only need a few days to see the city as you know it from your history book, it could take months to experience the Washington that today's locals know and love.
8. San Diego
Consistently sunny weather and 70 miles of magnificent coastline are what draw active types and sun seekers alike to San Diego throughout the year: that and the mouthwatering Mexican cuisine, thriving nightlife and one of the country's favorite zoos. And then there are the beaches: Retreat to Mission Beach to catch a wave, to La Jolla to soak up the sun and to Coronado for a leisurely seaside stroll. When you're ready to ditch your flip-flops and board shorts for more formal attire, you'll find pockets of vivacious nightlife throughout, especially near the historical Gaslamp Quarter.
Even by North American standards, Vancouver is a young city. But what it lacks in history it compensates for in scenery. Surrounded by mountains and beaches, Vancouver is both an urban and a natural playground: Its chic atmosphere, high-fashion boutiques and fondness for health-conscious eating have earned it the nickname "Hollywood North." Sitting nearly 1,300 miles north of its nickname namesake, Vancouver and its breathtaking backdrop has been the setting for a bevy of popular television shows and major motion pictures, so don't be surprised if you recognize landmarks from your favorite scenes or stumble upon a production in progress.
But this mitten-shaped city on Canada's western edge draws in more than pop culture junkies. Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, whitewater rafting and skiing will beckon to your adventurous side. Looking for a little rest and relaxation? Try lounging along the 11 miles of beaches or in one of the numerous parks. During the cold weather, you can duck inside one of the top-notch museums or swing your kids by one of the family-friendly attractions, like Granville Island or the Capilano Suspension Bridge. When you add excellent shopping, dining and nightlife scenes to the mix, you'll see why many praise Vancouver as a go-to getaway for the multifaceted traveler.
Boston is not only a hub for baseball, brownstones and bookish collegiate types. It's also home to America's first large free municipal public library, the first subway system, the first public school and the first public park. To say the city is historic would be an understatement, but this wicked smart college town doesn't linger in the past, either. A well-rounded trip to Boston integrates the classic with the contemporary: Split your time between cherished sites like the Paul Revere House and Faneuil Hall and modern attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Venture to Beacon Hill and you'll stumble upon the graceful mansions of yore juxtaposed with chic boutiques and innovative hotels. So, yes, come first for the history, but don't miss out on the opportunity to sample the unmistakable Beantown flavor.
The city's darker side has garnered a rough-and-tumble reputation thanks to Hollywood appearances in gritty films like "Black Mass," "American Hustle" and "The Town," but Boston's cool, cosmopolitan personality characterizes its trendy restaurants, urban parks and modern museums. Passionate residents are still rooting for their beloved Red Sox, but they're also venturing to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway for a free yoga class or meandering to the edgy SoWa Open Market for some antique shopping. So, grab a stool and join them at their favorite pub to chow down on oyster shooters and New England clam chowder, or venture to Back Bay to sip a coffee as you stroll along the trendy Newbury Street. You'll need more than a few days to experience the city's wealth of cultural and historical offerings, but meandering along Boston's cobblestone streets is a great way to start your exploration.
Take a number of diverse cultures, add a strong dose of the arts and a splash of ocean water, and you have Miami. Looking at the fantastic art museums and the blossoming gastronomical scene, you might find it hard to believe that just a century ago, this colorful Floridian city was covered in swampland. Once developers rushed into the area, one of the most popular tourist destinations and spectacular city skylines in the country was born. Today, with South Beach before you and the Everglades behind you, you can walk through the bustling streets past historical homes with Spanish words and Caribbean music floating into your ears.
This mini melting pot has preserved multicultural neighborhoods like famous Little Havana as enclaves for unique traditions to thrive. United, they form an electric network Ñ Miami. Its reputation for vibrant nightlife and extravagant parties is realized in Miami Beach, a barrier island to the east of the mainland. Meanwhile, the down-to-earth city proper cultivates an artsy vibe.
Centuries-old mansions, Spanish moss-draped trees, spooky cemeteries, cobblestone walks: in a word, Charleston. As you walk the gas lamp-lit streets at night, past horse-drawn carriages and the antebellum architecture, you just might think you've traveled back in time. But just because this South Carolina city is proud to celebrate its heritage doesn't mean it's stuck in the past: Charleston boasts innovative restaurants, interesting shops, contemporary art galleries and the world-class Spoleto Festival USA. This is the place to experience the genteel South Ð after all, it was the home of suave "Gone with the Wind" character, Rhett Butler.
History pervades almost every aspect of the Holy City, from the majestic homes-turned-museums to the landmarks that promote the city's role in United States history. Civil War buffs should head to Fort Sumter, where the first shot of the War between the States was fired. Meanwhile, shopaholics looking for locally made goods should peruse the Charleston City Market. When you're ready for a day at the beach, the city's got you covered there, too. Several beach towns, including Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palm and Folly Beach, offer sun, sand and gentle waves.
Seattle's laid-back attitude and diverse neighborhoods more than make up for its consistently cloudy weather. Plus, it's home to some of the country's best coffee and a thriving arts scene, plenty of history, culture and Ð when the weather permits Ð some exciting outdoor activities. Surrounded by water (and resting between Puget Sound and Lake Washington), the city's favorite outdoor pursuits include kayaking, hiking and camping. Not only that, but the nearby Olympic Mountains and the giant Mount Rainier are visible from many spots in the city; ski slopes are just a short drive away. And while travelers often bemoan the weather, there's actually less annual precipitation here than in New York or Boston. Overcast skies rarely stop Seattleites from getting out and exploring the city Ð and it shouldn't stop you either.
If you're headed to the Emerald City and not up for strenuous outdoor activities, Seattle still offers plenty to do and see. Art lovers will appreciate the glass-blown pieces at Chihuly Garden and Glass as well as the works on display at the Seattle Art Museum. Maritime enthusiasts can explore the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and watch the ships putter by. Make time to switch gears from boats to brews on a visit here, too. The city boasts dozens of craft breweries and food markets, making it one of the Best Foodie Destinations in the USA.
Copyright 2018 U.S. News & World Report L.P. All rights reserved. From https://usnews.com.
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