By Dana Perkiss
The United States is filled with diverse geography, culture, cuisine, and entertainment, which can make it difficult to decide exactly where to travel. From the best local coffee to the most romantic streets to stroll, to the hottest locations for shopping and more, this is your guide to seven of the best hidden gems of the U.S.
San Francisco: Fisherman’s Wharf
Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is a joy for people of all ages. A destination that’s sure to stimulate all your senses, Fisherman’s Wharf is home to a diverse set of attractions. Take a cruise on the bay and soak in the magnificent views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, or stroll through the wildlife at the Aquarium on the Bay. Take a walk around the Cartoon Museum and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and then follow your nose to Ghirardelli Square where you can stimulate your taste buds with a signature Ghirardelli chocolate. Make sure to leave room for more though, since the Fisherman’s Wharf features dozens of delectable restaurants including the Boudin Bakery, where you can get the renowned sourdough chowder bowl.
New Orleans: Café Du Monde
Known for its lively jazz music, unique blend of cuisine, the notorious Bourbon Street, and Mardi Gras, New Orleans is a vivacious city that everyone should experience. The French Quarter is the central point where you’ll find some of the best restaurants, bars, and places to order — and then walk on the street with — the iconic Hand Grenade Drink (just make sure to eat a hearty meal like a po’boy first). When you’re ready to sit back and relax, be sure to stop by Café Du Monde for their famous coffee and beignets, which are square pieces of fried dough covered with powdered sugar (it’s okay, our mouths are watering, too).
Las Vegas: Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Most people think about the nightlife when it comes to Las Vegas, but the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is a must-see attraction. Each season, a team of designers and horticulturalists create an astounding experience that turns the 14,000 square foot arboretum into a spectacle for all the senses. After strolling through the gardens, you can head over to one of the many restaurants the hotel has to offer. You can enjoy a lovely brunch at Sadelle's Cafe, satisfy your sweet tooth at the Patisserie, or feast like royalty at PRIME Steakhouse.
New York: Catskills
You may love the fast-paced energy New York City has to offer, but when you’re ready for some R&R, it’s worth driving the two hours to escape to the Catskills. This beautiful mountainous region is filled with things everyone will enjoy, like hiking over waterfalls, exploring the art scenes of Woodstock, or flying through the sky on the highest zipline in the country. Hunter Mountain not only hosts the famed zipline, but also offers 67 skiing and snowboarding trails, along with various restaurants and lodging for you to stay. The Zoom Flume Water Park is an exciting attraction for water rides and tide pools, and the Catskill Animal Sanctuary is the perfect place for animal lovers. The sanctuary is home to tons of rescued animals and offers private tours, vegan cooking classes, hayrides, and you can even stay overnight at their historical farmhouse, Homestead. To enjoy some of the Catskills best views, you’ll definitely want to hike the Kaaterskill Falls where you can be in awe at the highest waterfalls in New York.
Philadelphia: Spruce Street Harbor Park
Spruce Street Harbor Park is one of Philadelphia’s most beautiful scenes. An urban beach right alongside the Delaware River, this park features hammocks under twinkling lights, local craft beers, floating gardens above the water, games along the boardwalk, and vendors from some of Philly’s most delicious restaurants. The park is also a short walk from Dave and Buster’s, where you can have fun with virtual games, bowling, and billiards. Hungry? Head to Reading Terminal Market to order from over 80 food vendors, or grab one of Philly’s famous cheesesteaks.
Chicago: The Magnificent Mile
Known for its skyscrapers, deep-dish pizza, and jazz music, Chicago promises a wonderful experience for all visitors. One of the best attractions the city has to offer is the Magnificent Mile, stretching for 13 blocks along the Chicago River and a short walk from downtown Chicago. You could easily spend a whole day or two exploring the over 460 stores, 275 restaurants, and multiple entertainment venues inside. Shop around the three vertical shopping centers hosting your favorite department stores, electronics, luxury brands, cuisine, and more. When you’re ready to take a break from shopping, check out the Chicago Sports Museum, or get a different view of Chicago by the 1,000-foot panoramic view from 360 Chicago, or from one of its many river cruise attractions.
The Berkshires: Naumkeag House and Gardens
A relaxing, classic New England getaway can be had in the Berkshires, where plentiful hiking, live entertainment, and beautiful gardens await. The Naumkeag House and Gardens promises a wondrous scenic experience with gardens, stunning architecture, and fun events. From gardening programs, cooking classes, art events and more, there’s something for everyone. Walk through 8 acres of daffodils and tulips at the Daffodil Tulip Festival, view historical, 300-year-old homes, or grab a lunch of delicious, local products from the Naumkeag Store.