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Conquering New York in one visit is impossible. Instead, hit the must-sees – the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art – and then explore off the beaten path with visits to The Cloisters or one of the city’s libraries. Indulge in the bohemian shops of the West Village or the fine dining of the Upper West Side. The bustling marketplace inside of Grand Central Station gives you a literal taste of the best the city has to offer.
The Hawaiian island of Maui is a destination for true nature lovers. The ethereal bamboo forest and churning waterfalls in Haleakala National Park can be explored via the Waimoku Falls Trail. Stretch out on warm, golden sands or hit the surf for an unforgettable windsurfing or snorkeling session. Driving the scenic road to Hana along the island’s northeastern shore will be among the most spectacular journeys of your life. Time stands still at the Hawaiian village of Keanae, definitely worth a visit.
Life on the Big Island is a little bit slower… and locals like it that way. The natural beauty and ecological features of the island are a draw for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Test your chutzpah at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, home to the longest volcanic eruption in recorded history, or climb to the indescribably beautiful summit of Mauna Kea. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more refreshing than a quivering plate of fresh poke, followed by a fruity shave ice.
The Hawaiian island of Oahu is a surfer’s paradise, with swelling waves that can reach epic heights. No wonder, then, that it’s the site of one of the world’s premier competitions, the Triple Crown of Surfing. If hanging ten isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the beautiful beaches – particularly famous Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. Art connoisseurs will appreciate the annual Hale'iwa Arts Festival, a celebration of local crafts, painting, jewelry, sculpture, dance, and music.
Whether you’re a high roller or a low-key lounger, Las Vegas has something to suit your vacation taste. Sample fare from top chefs and cornucopian buffets, try your luck at one of the world’s premier casinos, or take in a spectacular show. Just wandering the Strip is enough to get your heart pumping. Once you’ve had enough of the razzle-dazzle, wave hello to the toothy sea life at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef, hike Red Rock Canyon, or visit the Neon Museum, where old signs take on new life.
From the Magic Kingdom to magical spa treatments, Orlando sparkles with the promise of adventure. Spend a day exploring the world-famous Disney theme parks, giggling with the dolphins at SeaWorld, or screaming your head off on a Universal Studios roller coaster. For a less adrenaline-pumping afternoon, enjoy the quiet natural beauty of the Harry P. Leu Gardens, or enjoy a seaweed scrub at a luxury day spa. Savor fresh and local ingredients at one of Orlando’s James Beard-nominated restaurants.
The windy city is a cornucopia of modern art, fine dining, cutting edge comedy, and die-hard sports fans. Snap a photo of your reflection in the silver Cloud Gate sculpture at Millennium Park before heading to Grant Park to get hit with the refreshing spray of Buckingham Fountain. There are dozens of museums and theater companies in Chicago, so a cultural experience is never hard to find. You’re sure to laugh your head off at the Second City Theater, the professional launch pad of many famous comedians.
San Diego embodies laid-back California culture, complete with a Boardwalk, surfing communities, and outstanding Mexican food. Breathe in the fresh ocean air at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, then gobble down a fresh fish taco at a La Jolla seafood joint. The naval aircrafts at the USS Midway Museum will have you standing at attention. A free Sunday concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion is the perfect way to unwind after a Saturday night bar-hop in the thumping Gaslamp Quarter.
Every neighborhood in San Francisco has its own personality, from the hippie chic of the Upper Haight to the hipster grit of the Mission. The Marina district boasts trendy bistros and postcard-perfect views of the Golden Gate Bridge, while Noe Valley offers quaint and quiet boutiques. Wave hello to the sea lions at Pier 39, and sample local cheese and charcuterie at the Ferry Building. Sit in on a yoga session in Dolores Park or marvel at the Dutch Windmill across from Ocean Beach.
Does time ever pass in the Florida Keys? Everyone and everything in Key West seems to go at its own pace, right down to the ice melting slooooowly in your margarita glass. Of course, it’s not all limes and leisure – Key West is known as the “Winter White House” because of its appeal to visiting U.S. presidents, and the island has been home to literary greats like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams. The diving here is phenomenal, as is the kid-friendly Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center.
Laissez les bons temps rouler! In New Orleans the good times are perpetually rolling down Bourbon Street, which, thanks to the city’s annual Mardi Gras celebration, has quite a party animal reputation. Once you’ve soaked up the scenery of the historic French Quarter, tour the elegant Garden District and meet the colorful characters of Frenchmen Street. Experience the city's supernatural vibe at the Voodoo Museum or by taking a guided ghost or vampire tour through taverns, alleyways, and cemeteries.
Washington DC is a hub for American politics and history. Attracting as many school field trips as it does travelers the district offers a peek into the country’s democratic origin. There are plenty of free museums to take advantage of but the real draw here is the memorials and monuments dedicated to great American leaders. Spend some contemplative time at the Reflecting Pool within the National Mall, among the most patriotic places in the country.
Sedona is a true oasis, a vacationer’s paradise in the middle of the Arizona desert. Here, you’ll find resorts and spas, canyons and red rock formations. Bell Rock and Oak Creek Canyon are great hiking spots, and the dramatic architecture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross is a religious experience itself. When the sun dips down below the horizon it introduces the best show in Sedona: the night sky.
Historic Charleston is bursting with Southern charm and hospitality. The city feels a bit like it’s suspended in time, thanks to its antebellum architecture and surrounding plantation landscapes. Take in incredible views of the Battery and the French Quarter as you stroll the Waterfront Park, then become inspired by the cultivated beauty of the gardens at Middleton Place. At night, try a ghost tour for an introduction to the spooky side of the city.
Charming Savannah is the picture of antebellum hospitality, thanks to period architecture and oak-lined streets. It’s tempting to spend your trip just relaxing on vast verandas and sipping mint juleps, but there are plenty of historical sites and museums to explore. Haunting (and possibly haunted) Bonaventure Cemetery is one of the hallmarks of the city, featuring beautiful obelisks, masses of flowers, and ivy-covered crypts. Dine on fresh seafood and creamy grits for a taste of Savannah home cooking.
Branson has limitless possibilities for a memorable vacation. While visiting you can: attend star-studded performances at Branson’s many live shows; enjoy Silver Dollar City, one of the world's top theme parks; take in the beauty and adventure of the Ozark Mountains and three pristine lakes; play some of the best golf in the Midwest; visit museums highlighting the area’s rich history and culture; relax at spas and resorts; and shop at Branson’s many boutiques, galleries and outlets.
With live music to be heard all across town, 24/7, 365 days a year, Music City lives up to its name. From honky-tonk bands jamming at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to songwriters in the round at the Bluebird Cafe and country music legends rocking the Grand Ole Opry, you never know who you might see. The creative spirit from Nashville's music landscape flows into the area's myriad art galleries, up-and-coming fashion scene, historic landmarks and chef-driven restaurants.
What outdoor activity can’t you do here? In the winter, there’s skiing (regular, cross-country, snowcat and heli-), snowshoeing and dogsledding. In summer, there’s fly-fishing, rafting (white-water or scenic) and hot-air balloon rides.
Moab attracts all types of outdoor adventurers. Mountain biking is huge here—experts claim it has some of the best trails in the world—as are rock-climbing and hiking. And the setting, with its gorgeous red rocks, can't be beat.
If you’re into eating locally and supporting sustainable agriculture, go to Asheville—and eat, eat, eat. This town of less than 100,000 people has 17 farmers’ markets, and the local restaurant scene is all about taking advantage of the seasonal produce sold there. And don’t miss the area’s microbreweries.
Walk the Freedom Trail the first time you visit Boston and you'll quickly get a sense of this coastal city's revolutionary spirit and history. But make sure you also explore some of Boston's fine museums (try the Isabella Stewart Gardner, featuring masterpieces displayed in their collector's mansion) and old neighborhoods (like the North End, Boston's Little Italy). You can't claim to have experienced real Boston culture, though, until you've watched a Red Sox game from the bleachers.
Gold and silver may have been behind the hordes that flocked in the 1800s, but liquid gold - Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs - is behind the modern migration. This dream destination for wine lovers has an abundance of fine restaurants and inns. Horse posts have been replaced by bike racks, and pedal power is a great way to explore.
At the shore in Miami Beach, visitors can swim, surf and jet ski in the warm and crystal-clear Atlantic waters. You can also nap on the white sands, work on a tan or simply watch the beautiful people, especially at South Beach, a favorite of models and celebrities.
Everyone knows Aspen as a top-notch winter resort town. But outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy it in the summer, too, when the mountains become a perfect setting for hiking, biking and horseback tours. Some may be surprised to find it’s a top romance destination—but after all that outdoor exercise, who wouldn’t want to repair to a luxurious hotel room or a cozy, firelit bar?