Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind – Seneca
It’s easy to get stuck in a routine where day in and day out you experience what’s familiar. As the New Year begins, so do resolutions. Perhaps yours will include breaking free of the norm and taking new and adventurous journeys. Here are five U.S. cities that top the list for best places to visit during 2017.
10) Denver, Colorado – Denver is known as the jumping-off point for ski resorts in the nearby Rocky Mountains. In fact, the state ranks 6th in the number of ski areas nationally. Echo Mountain is the closest ski resort, located just 35 miles from downtown. While Denver is a great place for fun winter sports, you don’t have to ski, skate, or snow-shoe to appreciate Denver. This capital city is an iconic American metropolis which harkens back to the Old West era. Visit Larimer Square, the city’s oldest block and featuring landmark 19th-century buildings, including Lincoln Hall, a former dance hall that was suspended on springs. Joe Replin Building, another of many iconic buildings, once served as a wild west saloon where occasional gunfire broke out. The square has done its best to preserve its past. Today, the historic site is filled with independent shops, bars, and restaurants. Year-round events on the square range from comedy to jazz. Enjoy the Walkway Gallery, a curated, bi-weekly, rotating art display located in the Larimer Square Walkway which showcases local artists and art work for sale. The city also features many amazing family-fun themed things to do. Open year-round are the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Zoo, as well as many other attractions.
9) San Francisco, California – This picturesque city evokes images of rolling fog over the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, scenic piers and Fisherman’s Wharf. Be sure to visit San Francisco’s historic Chinatown, the oldest in North America and featuring the largest Chinese community outside Asia. Learn of San Francisco’s role as an important port of entry from the 1840 to the 1900s for Chinese immigrants of the Guangdong province of southern China. In the 1960s, working-class Hong Kong Chinese immigrants began arriving in large numbers. While today there are four notable Chinatowns in the city, the original is centered on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street. San Francisco City Guides offers free walking tours led by volunteers who know and love the city. Visitors will gain unique perspectives upon as they pass the splendidly decorated gates which mark the entryway into Chinatown. Pass intricately carved 1920s streetlights which resemble golden dragons. Learn history as you head down colorful alleyways to explore temples and tongs. Explore shops of joss, dim sum, herbs and more to become immersed in the sights and sounds of the region. Visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, tucked inside a storefront on quaint Ross Alley, where two women handmake roughly 20,000 fortune cookies daily. Free tours are offered at the historic bakery. Be sure to ask your guide for restaurant recommendations to round out your exciting trip.
8) Minneapolis, Minnesota – The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is ranked the #1 Urban Park System in the United States by the Trust for Public Land. The city’s parks encompass lakes and river banks which thrive in an urban setting. They provide places of beauty, profound ecological significance, and historical importance. Minnehaha Regional Park is one of Minneapolis’ oldest and popular parks. The park was designed by landscape architect Horace W.S. Cleveland in 1883 as part of the Rounds Scenic Byway System and became part of the popular steamboat Upper Mississippi “Fashionable Tour” of the 1800s. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow heightened the waterfall’s recognition when he wrote his 1885 epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha. The Song presents a legend of Hiawatha and his lover Minnehaha, whose name translates into “waterfall.” Minnehaha Regional Park features a majestic 53-foot waterfall, limestone bluffs, delightful river overlooks, and the lower reaches of beautiful Minnehaha Creek. The natural wonder attracts more than 850,000 visitors annually and is one of the most photographed sites in Minnesota. Minneapolis is considered a major city that forms “Twin Cities” with neighboring St. Paul. Enjoy many cultural landmarks, including the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and the Walker Art Center, a must-see contemporary art museum in the Lowry Hill neighborhood.
7) Manhattan, New York – Explore where the amazing architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright meets Guggenheim’s collection of modern art works. There’s no other city museum like the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, housed in Wright’s intriguingly designed Babylonian Temple style building based on the design of an inverted ziggurat. The nonconformist building, located on Fifth Avenue near Central Park on the Upper East Side, may be described by some as an attractive misfit among other city structures. The unique museum, opened in 1959, continues to attract attention for its prized art collection. The interior lay-out is designed for impact, inspiration, and introspection. From the top of the museum downward, visitors descend along a meandering pathway of art which flows in a spiral-like fashion. Along the way discover amazing permanent collections by greats such as Picasso, Cezanne, Manet, Kandinsky and more. Immerse yourself in Guggenheim’s stunning collection to gain true appreciation of what art means to the world and the powerful impact it can have on our lives. 2017 promises new and exciting upcoming exhibits, such as Visionaries: Creating a Modern Guggenheim which explores collections of the early patrons of the museum who brought to light some of the most significant artists of their day. The Big Apple offers an indescribable number of fun things to do; from strolling Central Park to shopping in Times Square.
6) Seaside, Oregon – Owing its name to Seaside House, a historic summer resort built in the 1870’s by transportation magnate Ben Holladay, the town is well known as the endpoint of Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition. History buffs will enjoy learning about Lewis & Clarks role in establishing the “Salt Works” to extract salt to preserve meat and fish for their upcoming return trip. The town is Oregon’s oldest seaside resort town, frequented by Portlandites who traveled to the shore by train from the late 1800s until the highway was completed in 1938. Seaside is located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at the southern end of the Clatsop Plains south of where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific. Broad sandy beaches, a fascinating aquarium, and a delightful downtown with charming restaurants, shops and events make Seaside a fun vacation spot with home away from home appeal. During summertime, be sure to enjoy a ride on the antique carousel, built upon a replica of a classic. Events are ongoing. January’s A Capella performance, a 15th century singing style popularized in the U.S. since 1906, is a well-loved annual event now sponsored by the Quartet Champions of the Evergreen District. From beer weekend in the spring to hosting the world’s largest volleyball tournament and relays, there is a plethora of fun things to see and do.
5) Pella, Iowa – If small town charm surrounded by beautiful scenery appeals to you, Pella is your place to visit. The community is steeped in Dutch heritage, apparent in the architecture and town vibe. A charming canal winds through Molengracht Plaza, lined with assorted shops, restaurants, a movie theatre. There’s even a full-size working drawbridge. Pella is home of the largest working grain windmill in the USA, and the magnificently restored Pella Opera house, originally built in 1900 and renovated in 1990. The town is welcoming year-round. Come hear the Classical Music Showcase or watch Tinker Bell in a live performance of Peter and Wendy at the Opera House. One of the most attractive sceneries to behold are the colorful displays of hundreds of thousands of tulips which bloom in and around town each spring. The annual Tulip Time Festival celebrates pride in Pella’s Dutch heritage. The atmosphere turns lively with Dutch performers, crafters, music, food, and parades. Feel like you’re in the historic Netherlands at this family-friendly event which takes place annually in early May.
4) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – History comes alive on the historic cobblestone streets of the City of Brotherly Love. A tour of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were both signed, is a must. Enter the hallowed room where George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, where the Articles of Confederation were adopted in 1781, and were Benjamin Franklin gazed upon the “Rising Sun” chair in 1787. Visit the Assembly Room, where President-elect Abraham Lincoln praised the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and where his body, following his assassination, lay in repose for two days. See the Liberty Bell and visit the Home of Betsy Ross, widely credited with making the first American flag. 2017 brings great excitement to the city with the opening of a ground-breaking Museum of the American Revolution, dedicated to telling the complete and dynamic story of the American Revolution using a distinguished collection of objects, artifacts, artwork and manuscripts. Expect permanent and special exhibition galleries, theatres, and engaging interactive activities and more.
3) Austin, Texas –The largest of the contiguous states is well-known for deserts, pine forests, and the Rio Grande, a river that forms its borders with Mexico. Many people are familiar with its biggest city, Houston, followed in size by San Antonio and Dallas. However, the fourth largest city, Austin, should not be overlooked. It is emerging as one of the hottest cultural places to visit in the United States. Live music concerts, a burgeoning restaurant scene, world-class hotels, intriguing museums, and exciting festivals and sports competitions are some of the many fun things happening year-round. February’s Austin Friends of Traditional Music Mid-Winter Festival is a live, local festival featuring music from folk to fiddle and bluegrass to blues. In March, visit the nation’s oldest kite festival featuring hundreds of kites in the air, contests, food, games and more. Come April, watch the Balloons Over Horseshoe Bay, an annual convergence of hot-air balloons at Horseshoe Bay Resort. Enjoy a tethered balloon ride, local live music, and the annual evening balloon glow. One of the most popular recurrent events in Austin is the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conferences and Festivals, where over 2,000 talented bands from across the globe come to perform.
2) New Orleans, Louisiana – This city on the Mississippi is located near the Gulf of Mexico. It is also called the “Big Easy” after a dance hall. The nickname did not stick until the 1970s, when a Louisiana newspaper writer began calling New Orleans by the same name, comparing the easy-going way of life there to the hectic pace of New York. New Orleans is known for many things, including its spicy French cuisine, vibrant night life, live music, and festive spirit. As the birthplace of jazz, in the late 19th century VooDoo rhythms led to the uniquely American art form that we know today. Brass bands come to life, making New Orleans the jazz mecca of the world. Mardi Gras, the late-winter carnival, is characterized by raucous parades and lively street parties. However, the liveliness of the city is upbeat year-round. The French Quarter, also called the Vieux Carré, is the city’s cultural hub. Excellent shopping, dining and attractions can be sought. Best of all is its unique architecture, which is a unique blend of French, Creole, Spanish and American styles. Walled courtyards, cast-iron balconies, and Victorian details make it a unique place to visit. Throughout the city, from creole cottages to the grand mansions on St. Charles, visitors can delight in creative designs which renders each style unique. Jackson Square, a historic park in the French Quarter, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and plays a significant role in history as the site where Louisiana was made United States territory as per the Louisiana Purchase.
1) Washington, District of Columbia – Referred to as “D.C.” or “Washington,” the United States Capital is a coextensive city with the District of Columbia. Located on the northern shore of the Potomac River, it is the iconic home and office of the President of the United States of America. The White House, the U.S. Capitol, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and more are housed in this capital district. Aside from politics, the city is one of the greatest places to go for intellectual stimulation thanks to the Smithsonian Institution, a group of museums and research centers established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” What’s best is that the Smithsonian offers free admission fees, often surprising visitors. In total, there are nineteen museums and galleries to explore, along with the National Zoological Park. The National Air & Space Museum holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world and ranks high as an educational crowd pleaser. The upcoming Museum of the Bible, currently in its final stages of construction, will be opening Fall of 2017. Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green serves as chairman to establish one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical artifacts. Located just three blocks south of the Capitol. the non-profit museum will occupy an amazing 430,000 square feet exclusively dedicated to the Bible. The unending list of educational things to do sets D.C. as a top destination for 2017.
Happy & Healthy New Year!