‘As I draw ever closer to my 40th birthday (not that I’m freaking out or anything…!) I’ve been reflecting on how fortunate I’ve been to have squeezed in a fair amount of travelling across the United States over the years…’
My very first trip over the pond was to Manhattan and my last American adventure was my honeymoon in New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. In the years between, I’ve been to 44 from 50 states and my idea of what constitutes a good road trip/city break has changed dramatically. These are the top seven US cities I’d return to in a heartbeat.
There’s something romantic and olde world-y about Savannah that I can’t get enough of. The hanging trees, the original buildings, the gorgeous city squares and river walk…. I could go on. Wandering around the streets is like going back to the time and it always, always has a relaxed and totally chilled out vibe. This historic city is one of the only destinations in the US that I’ve been to on several occasions and never seems to change. The speed of change in America has always been constant, but Savannah is one of the few glorious cities that’s completely perfect just the way it is.
My favourite place in the city, apart from dinner at Our Lady and Sons, is Wet Willie’s slushie cocktail bar on the river front (which I wrote about HERE)
Official info on visiting the city can be found on their official website.
I’m a huge country music fan, so Nashville has always had that added edge for me. However, steel guitars and sad lyrics aside, the city is filled with live music, honky tonk bars, and history.
‘From losing your bra at downtown’s Coyote Ugly, or catching a new artist at the legendary Bluebird Cafe, there’s something happening all day every day to guarantee visitors and locals never get bored…’
Downtown is also a safe and easy place to walk around and the gift stores and cowboy boot outfitters are always fun to check out. I love nothing more than randomly walking round downtown, desperately hoping I’ll bump into the city’s most famous resident, Doug the Pug. You totally thought I was gonna say like Miranda Lambert or Carrie Underwood, didn’t ya? Give me that wrinkly little pupper any day.
Check out what Music City’s got going on at its official website.
I didn’t manage to spend as much time in Chicago as I wanted to, but I adored wandering around the city, climbing Sear Tower, eating cheesecake, checking out the American Gothic painting at the art gallery and buying shoes that were *way* too expensive on the Magnificent Mile. For walking around, Chicago has some incredible public and street art, which is spread throughout the city. It also has the ‘bean’, which is an enormous mercury-like bubble in the middle of Millennium Park, where I spent an amusing hour making myself look like I was 2 feet high by standing underneath it. Also, for fans of sports or pizza – Chicago will NOT let you down.
For fun ideas of what to see and do during a visit, check out Choose Chicago website.
OK, so I’m cheating here as these are two cities; Twin Cities, actually. The adjacent cities of Minneapolis and St Paul sit on the Mississippi River in the lovely Mid-Western State of Minnesota. I visited one year on the run up to Christmas and It. Was. Fabulous. I had *never* been as cold in my entire life, and spent a large chunk of my time genuinely wondering how people actually managed to go outside without contracting pneumonia. It was about -20 on some days and it was physically painful to breath in, but the Christmas lights on the large homes in the city centre were just glorious. I managed to catch a Minnesota Wild hockey game at the Xcel Center while I was there and it’s the one time in my life I’ve been colder inside than out.
The Walker Art Gallery and Minneapolis Sculpture Gardens are a must for visitors, but the cities have a *ton* of things to offer. For details, visit the official Twin Cities website. As an aside, the neighbouring city of Woodbury is also a great visit for a day out from the cities. It looks every inch like the kind of place you want to buy and house and raise a massive brood of kids. Not me, obviously, but someone else.
Lahania isn’t technically a city, but is officially termed a ‘census designated place’ on the island on Maui. I felt a bit bad leaving it out, but didn’t want to change to title of this post to ‘7 Amazing US Cities and Census Designated Places You Should Be Visiting’ as it just didn’t have the same ring to it, y’know? Anyway, in 2008, I spent an amazing two weeks in and around the resort of Ka’napaili on the island, and adored everything about it. Hawaii is, pretty much, exactly as you think it will be: absolutely stunning.
‘From the resorts, to the roads, to the beaches, to, well…everything, it’s a wonderful place to chill out and completely switch off…’
Driving can be a *wee* bit stressful when you’re off the main roads as there are some massive sheer drops down cliff edges in more rural places. That, and the fact that buying food in the grocery stores is VERY expensive (much of it is shipped in, after all) are really the only things that caused me any kind of stress. And to be honest, that’s mainly just because I have a fear of death and a love of bell peppers.
You can find out all about Maui on the official Hawaii website.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Everything about this city is laid back and pretty. From wandering around downtown and checking out the fabulous adobe buildings, to following the amazing Margarita Trail (you should absolutely do this as it was THE most fun I’ve ever had on a Monday…), or eating huevos rancheros at Casa Chimayo and chilling in the covered patio at Del Charro; Santa Fe is a historic city with a very Spanish feel. I got married here in 2016, so there’s a chance I might be a *touch* biased, but the reason we chose it for our wedding was because of the atmosphere and beauty of the city. We had the most chilled wedding in history and loved spending the first days of our honeymoon taking in sunset from the vantage point at the Cross of The Martyrs, and enjoying the fabulous crafts and artwork in the beautiful main square in the centre of town. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll make it that far east during our road trip in October, but this city holds a very special place in my heart. As does its wonderful people.
For ideas and itineraries, visit the official city website.
Fort Collins, Colorado
This is probably the least well known of all the cities included but, if I could up and move to the US, this beauty would be top of my list. I’m already a huge fan of Golden and Pueblo in the state, and love the fact that there’s so much open space and is such a mecca for outdoor activities and adventure junkies. I’m really neither of those things, but I do love walking and find that a lot of the beautiful cities in Colorado are so easy to navigate on foot (I’m not including Denver in that, although I’m sure if you know it well enough, it is walkable). Fort Collins is one of the those gems that I uncovered by accident on my honeymoon and is exactly the type of wonderful place that I often stumble across on my road trips.
The downtown area is small and quaint and, well…beautiful. It’s filled with independent boutiques and gift stores and cafes (the Little Bird Bakeshop being my personal favourite). It also has the sweetest public art dotted around and the locals were so friendly and welcoming. If I hadn’t literally had to fly home because of work, house, and general life stuff, I’d have stayed forever.
For a feel of the massive range of things to see and do in FC, check out their official website.
What are your favourite US cities and where should I be visiting next?