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Summer’s here and you’re likely planning a summer vacation. While some people might book an extravagant trip to Europe or a cruise, you could travel domestically. After all, the United States is home to some of the best cities to visit, so why not stay put?
Whether you plan to journey with family, friends or by yourself, choose a destination with plenty to do, unique restaurants and perhaps a few things you can check off your bucket list. Here are six U.S. cities you’ll want to take advantage of.
1. New York City
Before the pandemic, 66.6 million tourists visited NYC annually — that number fell by 67% in 2020. As lockdowns lifted amid vaccine rollouts, NYC has welcomed its visitors again.
Few places are as exciting as NYC. As a multicultural city, you can try cuisines of all nationalities. Of course, the Big Apple is home to some of the world’s most renowned landmarks — the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal and Radio City Music Hall are just a few of hundreds of attractions.
You can also show support for the city’s theater community as it slowly recovers since reopening in September 2021
2. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston is quintessentially the best city for sports fans and music lovers to visit. However, despite most people associating Boston with the Red Sox, New Edition and the Wahlberg brothers, there’s plenty for history buffs, too.
Boston is home to several of the nation’s firsts — the first public library, the first lighthouse, the first subway system and the first marathon. In fact, the Boston Marathon just celebrated its 127th year, registering over 30,000 runners from around the world.
Any trip to Boston should comprise a walk through history with contemporary attractions — and when you’re hungry, stop by the Union Oyster House for some freshly shucked oysters and New England clam chowder. The Union Oyster House opened in 1826 and is the oldest restaurant in Boston.
3. Miami, Florida
Turquoise shorelines, a vibrant nightlife and Cuban flair put Miami at No. 3 on the list of best cities to visit in the U.S. From the Everglades bordering the West to its art deco architecture in South Beach, Miami delivers a vacation like no other.
Culture seekers will discover that visiting Miami’s neighborhoods is similar to international travel — no passport needed. Predominantly Spanish-speaking, Miami has become a refuge for Cuban, South American and Caribbean immigrants who’ve imparted their unique cultures within the city.
Plan a day for tasting traditional Cuban grub in Little Havana — be sure to try a cafecito from one of the many window coffee shops. Otherwise, Miami offers several boat tours, nightclubs and recreational activities for every type of traveler.
4. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen has long been a popular ski destination for avid outdoor enthusiasts — 1.42 million skiers visited during the 2021–22 season — but the city has much to offer tourists year-round. During the summer, people flock to the area for hiking, bicycling, golfing and camping.
Of course, there’s plenty to do for the less athletic folks, too. Downtown Aspen has a bustling arts and entertainment community. The city is also known as a foodie hotspot, offering plenty of dining options, from farm-to-table to upscale restaurants to laid-back bars.
Summer travelers especially will want to attend the ultimate culinary experience — the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, held every June. Enjoy three days of wine and food tastings, panel discussions and cooking lessons by the world’s expert chefs and sommeliers.
5. Honolulu, Hawaii
Like Miami, Honolulu is the ideal destination for sunbathing, recreation and cultural experiences, such as a luau. Hawaii’s coastline is nearly 750 miles long — some adjacent to cities, others with backdrops of tropical forests and lava rock cliffs.
Although getting to Honolulu may feel like you’re embarking on an international getaway, you don’t have to worry about a passport. The bustling resort town of Honolulu — Hawaii’s capital — is a great place to travel with the family.
You could also participate in a volunteer vacation to Hawaii. For instance, some organizations organize volunteer programs that could run for days to weeks, in which your visit to Hawaii is coupled with giving back to the community. You can participate through the Mālama Hawaiʻi Program, which partners with the Surfrider Foundation for beach cleanups. In return, you could receive a free stay at a hotel or other hotel discounts.
6. Bellingham, Washington
Most travelers visiting the Pacific Northwest flock to Seattle. However, an hour and a half north, you’ll find that Bellingham has just as much to offer if not more.
Although a city, Bellingham will feel more like small-town living, where a conversation with a local barista will feel like you’ve known them for a lifetime. The city is also safe, welcoming people of all backgrounds and gender identities.
Stroll downtown to view Belligham’s murals or enjoy a craft beer while listening to live music in the Arts District. There are plenty of activities for outdoor lovers, too — whether interested in whale watching, mountain hiking or scenic drives around Mt. Baker, Bellingham has it all.
Many of Bellingham’s visitors come for the orcas — there are 74 resident whales among three pods that visit Whatcom County. Bellingham and the nearby San Juan Islands offer whale-watching boat trips with a stop in the quaint town of Friday Harbor for lunch.
Kayak rentals are also available for adventurers interested in getting on the water. You can book a tour with a local guide to take you out kayaking on the Salish Sea. If you’re lucky, you may even experience up-close encounters with the orcas from your boat.
Explore the Best Cities to Visit in the USA for a Vacation of a Lifetime
Visiting a foreign country is always full of excitement and wonder — but you can have thrilling experiences right at home. Visiting these six U.S. cities will provide you with new acquaintances, learning and happy lifetime memories.
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