U.S. Cities to Visit #1: Chicago
This is one of the best U.S. cities to visit. Chicago has a beautiful centre of art and sport and food on the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan, with miles of protected parkland along the waterline. One of the best ways to get your bearings – and learn some of the city’s colourful history – is to take one of the architecture tours along the Chicago River. You’ll pass soaring, majestic buildings in the city that pretty much invented the modern skyscraper.
The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the world’s great museums. With everything from Chinese sculptures to lovely window panels designed by Swiss artist Marc Chagall. The Bean is a hugely popular selfie spot in Millenium Park, with a reflective surface and odd angles that make great Instagram shots. Wrigley Field is one of the best places in the world to catch a baseball game, with a thrilling history and now, finally, a world series-winning team for the first time in decades. It’s also a great food town, with everything from legendary beef hot dogs to haute cuisine at five-star restaurants such as Grace. Do you need any more reasons for Chicago to be on your list of must-see American cities to visit?
WHERE TO STAY: The Langham is a gorgeous hotel in the middle of the action, with elegance to spare.
U.S. Cities to Visit #2: San Francisco
This might be the world’s favourite city, with an embarrassment of riches and things to do for visitors. San Francisco is home to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, the Italian cafés and bookshops of North Beach, the iconic Haight-Ashbury area, the historic Spanish Mission District and, of course, cable cars that climb halfway to the stars. I grew up across the San Francisco Bay and have always felt Toronto and San Francisco have a similar outlook on life, if not a geography.
San Francisco is not only one of the greatest Amercian cities to visit because of its lavish history and abundance of tourist spots, but there is also remarkably good hiking along the coast in the north-west corner of the city, and great views of the bridge from Baker Beach. Try a walk up to Telegraph Hill from the Embarcadero, where you’ll find lovely homes perched on the slide of a cliff and colourful wild parrots. The Mission District is a haven for foodies these days. It’s only a short drive from San Francisco down to Monterey Bay or north to the Napa and Sonoma wine regions.
WHERE TO STAY: The Fairmont is a classic San Francisco property on Nob Hill, with a regal feel and great service.
U.S. Cities to Visit #3: New Orleans
New Orleans is one of the great cities of the world, and definitely on the top if the list of American cities to visit, with a colourful social scene and also some of the best food in the U.S. Visitors can indulge in everything from Cajun gumbo with veggies and spicy andouille sausage to Bananas Foster (bananas soaked in rum and set on fire at Brennan’s Restaurant). At breakfast, don’t miss the powdered beignets (like donuts) at Café du Monde — a New Orleans Institution.
Be sure to check out pretty Jackson Square and the old-style side streets with wrought-iron railings and overflowing flower baskets. Also worth trying is a steamboat ride on the mighty Mississippi River.
WHERE TO STAY: The Hotel Monteleone is a classic hotel in the French Quarter with an old-school, elegant feel.
U.S. Cities to Visit #4: Honolulu
Hawaii is known more for its beaches than brilliant urban scene, but Honolulu is one of the most fantastical American cities to visit. The immense cultural and racial diversity in Hawaii is reflected on the streets and in restaurants, where you’ll find Asian, North American, European and just about everything else in a city I like to think of as the melting pot of the Pacific. There’s also wonderful Asian/Hawaiian fusion food from the likes of Roy Yamaguchi. In booming Chinatown, The Pig and the Lady serves up wonderful Vietnamese cuisine, with plenty of influences from other parts of the globe.
Take a sunrise hike to the top of Diamond Head for killer views. Or check out Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the U.S. (Hawaii was an independent monarchy prior to the U.S. staging an overthrow of the Hawaiian government in the 1890’s). Don’t miss the easy hike to beautiful Manoa Falls.
WHERE TO STAY: The Royal Hawaiian is a true gem on fabled Waikiki Beach; a pink palace with tremendous history and a real sense of place. Excellent Mai Tai’s, too.
U.S. Cities to Visit #5: Las Vegas
I’m not a gambler, and I’ve grown to really love my visits to Las Vegas. For one thing, it’s still remarkable that a place this massive can exist in such a harsh, dry climate. Yet it not only survives but thrives. There’s a new National Hockey League team coming to town, and the National Football League Raiders are set to move here from Oakland. So there’s now great sports to add to the mix. You know about the casinos and shows but there’s also tremendous nature to be found in one of the greatest American cities to visit with places like Red Rock Canyon, just a short drive from The Strip or the El Dorado Canyon Mine experience.
Downtown Las Vegas has a fun shopping and food area called Container Park that feels like a small city. Try a night ride in a helicopter or the Vegas High Roller wheel for amazing views. The Park is a lovely spot for outdoor cafes, fountains and parkland that runs from The Strip to the new arena, just north of New York, New York. Another pedestrian-friendly area (surprise) is the Linq, which goes from The Strip to the High Roller Wheel.
WHERE TO STAY: There are so many hotels to stay on the Las Vegas strip. Choose the one that’s right for you on Skyscanner’s hotel booking page.
U.S. Cities to Visit #6: Buffalo
Buffalo makes the great American cities to visit list as a city that’s very much on the rise, with new developments, restaurants and boutique hotels springing up all over town. They also have six parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the mastermind behind Central Park in New York City. The city’s waterfront is booming, with fine new parks and a place where you can rent kayaks for a ride in the harbour.
The Hotel Henry opened in early May, an 88-room urban resort and conference centre in a beautiful building that once housed the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. The new Curtiss Hotel, a 68-room boutique property, is slated to open in late June with a rooftop patio and other great amenities. Take a walk through fun, vibrant neighborhoods such as Elmwood and Allentown and enjoy good, inexpensive food, including Buffalo wings and great craft beer.
WHERE TO STAY: The Mansion on Delaware is an intimate old home that’s a fantastic hotel. Expect regal rooms, a wonderful happy hour with free drinks and excellent service.