Over the past two years, we’ve all had to press pause on our travel plans—and on enjoying life to the fullest. For many, this has been a time of reflection, of remembering those moments of discovery and togetherness that brightened our lives pre-pandemic. As we get back to exploring the world and reconnecting with our loved ones, one thing is clear: there’s no gift like the gift of new experiences. Here are just some of our favorites in destinations around the world:
See New York City in a New Light
With its vibrant blend of cultures and nonstop energy, New York City brims with unforgettable activities. Central Park and Times Square are two of its biggest hits, but there’s so much more to explore. Venture into Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, DUMBO or Red Hook neighborhoods, home to cool indie boutiques, hip art galleries, and great local restaurants. All are just a scenic ferry ride or a few subway stops from Manhattan. You can also soak up prime views of the East River, Governors Island the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Hudson River from the many elevated parks only New Yorkers know about, such as The High Line, Hudson River’s ‘Floating’ Little Island Park and Elevated Acre. And if you’re looking for something beyond a Broadway show, step into character yourself at an immersive theater experience or simply take a seat on The Bleachers in the middle of Times Square and soak in the energy and scene.
Let the Windy City Satisfy Your Sense of Wonder
Chicago was recently voted the second most beautiful city in the world in a TimeOut index survey, and you’ll see why the moment you arrive. The best way to admire its iconic skyscrapers (among the first in the world) is on an architecture tour by boat along the river. Foodies will find plenty of Michelin-starred restaurants and bars to choose from in the West Loop, considered one of the city’s best neighborhoods for a meal. And there’s no better way to wrap up an evening than with nonstop laughs at any of Chicago’s many award-winning comedy clubs. If you have a few days, venture beyond the downtown area. Just north of the city’s bustle, Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, Boystown and Wrigleyville offer totally different vibes and plenty of top-notch pubs, restaurants, shops and museums. The best way to see it all? Take advantage of the elevated train, known as the L. Day passes cost about $5 and are good for unlimited rides up to 24 hours.
The UK beckons with its captivating countryside, cozy towns and historic landmarks—but there’s nothing like the buzzing beauty of cosmopolitan London. If it’s your first time visiting, make sure you tick off a few quintessential boxes, like posing for pictures in front of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace and enjoying panoramic city views during a ride in the London Eye. Once you’ve gotten that out of the way, explore some of the city’s lesser-known wonders. There’s charming Little Venice, a series of lush canals that run from Hyde Park to Warwick Avenue dotted with pretty canal boats (some offer tea and brunch). There’s Brick Lane, with its famous street art and abundance of great eateries and vintage stores. And there’s Neal’s Yard, a cafe-lined alleyway steps from the train station at Covent Garden—it’s one of London’s most colorful corners.
Find Your Sweet Spot in Philly
Philadelphia abounds with discoveries for history lovers—after all, it’s the country’s first World Heritage City and the place where America’s founding fathers met centuries ago. Today, it’s a thriving metropolis that offers culinary, cultural and historical wonders. Of course, you have to spend some time wandering down the charming alleyways of Old City and Society Hill. Then, stroll along one of the ritziest neighborhoods, Rittenhouse Square, before visiting a local haunt for an obligatory Philly cheesesteak. But if you want to spend some time away from other tourists, you’ll have to dig a little deeper. The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect option if you want to feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The nation’s first urban refuge and totally free to the public, it offers plenty of flat, easy trails and is home to all kinds of interesting birds. For some of the best views in the city, visit Cira Green—a free park located in University City on top of a parking garage, of all places. You’ll be able to snap shots of West Philly and the Schuylkill River from up there. And for amazing finds that run the gamut from local labels to antiques and vintage apparel, nothing beats Fabric Row in Queen Village—it’s a real Philadelphia gem and a shopper’s paradise.
The nation’s capital has so much to offer beyond politics and policy. The city itself is a showcase of stunning European-inspired architecture, turning every stroll into a dazzling exhibition of design. It’s home to a slew of fascinating museums that are free and open to the public, some truly legendary restaurants and cocktail dens, and all kinds of community events ranging from farmers markets to art fairs and live music. It’s also beautiful in any season—though we recommend visiting in the fall for peak leaf-peeping or in the spring for the cherry blossoms. The U.S. Botanic Garden on Maryland Avenue is one of our favorite spots, and it’s relatively calm most days. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a warm, lush rainforest the moment you step inside. There’s also the Francis A. Gregory Library, as much an architectural and design wonder as it is a bibliophile’s sanctuary. And if you’re a fan of history, you’ll have to pencil in a visit to the Old Stone House. Built in 1765, it’s the oldest standing building in D.C. and one of the most charming, peaceful places in the district.
Savor the Flavors of San Francisco
These days, San Francisco is best known for its status as the center of tech in America, but you can still find echoes of its counterculture spirit if you look carefully. Bring a blanket to Dolores Park in the city’s Mission District and join other picnic-goers for the ultimate al fresco lunch paired with unbeatable views of the skyline. Hit the city’s slew of legendary museums, from fine European art at the De Young in Golden Gate Park (also home to the captivating Queen Wilhelmina Garden), to ancient artifacts from around the world at Lincoln Park’s Legion of Honor. San Francisco is known for its many neighborhoods with different and unique personalities and vibes. There’s Chinatown, Japantown, North Beach, Union Square, Castro, Alamo Square and Haight Ashbury, to name several. And if you’re craving a ramble in the great outdoors, hit the trail at Lands End Labyrinth, a beautiful hike located at the peninsula’s far northwest point that winds through breathtaking scenery. Up for some vino? Take an hour drive to the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma Valley.
Experience Houston’s Beating Heart
If you’re craving delicious eats and bars with great live music, Houston has them in spades. But there’s so much more to America’s fourth largest city than amazing food and drinks. There are tons of interesting museums here, but some of the most unique include the National Museum of Funeral History, dedicated to showcases cultural traditions and the science around death. If that’s a bit too morbid for you, you can check out Eclectic Menagerie Park, an open-air collection of massive steel sculptures that range from an enormous arachnid to a likeness of King Kong. The Beer Can House on Malone Street makes for a great photo backdrop (it’s covered in over 39,000 beer cans). And then there’s the Palace of the Golden Orbs, an abandoned Taoist palace located in the middle of a Houston suburb that might be one of the most surreal sights you’ve ever laid eyes on. No matter how you spend your visit, make sure to wrap up the day with some homestyle Texas BBQ. Let’s just say some things truly do live up to the hype, and this is one of them.
Boston abounds with cozy pubs, charming cobblestone alleys, and historical sights—the Freedom Trail is here, as is the Boston Common, the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and the Bunker Hill Monument, to name just a few. But locals know that once you’ve hit all of the city’s greatest hits, there are plenty more interesting activities waiting to be discovered—from pop-up beer gardens to holiday markets and food halls. Make sure you pencil in a visit to the “mapparium” at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, a three-story-high stained-glass 3D globe that showcases the world at the time it was built in 1935. You can walk right through it, too. And drop by some of Boston’s independent book shops, selling new, second-hand and rare editions and titles. Some of the shops are several centuries old, so you can get your history fix while you’re book-browsing. Another great way to fill an afternoon in Boston is to explore some of its sixteen historic cemeteries. Now, if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, reconsider—in addition to being home to truly spectacular gardens, these cemeteries contain the graves of some of the city’s most iconic residents, including John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere. Finally, two of the city’s best-kept secrets are the tiny and charming neighborhoods of Bay Village and Beacon Hill. Paved with brick, lined by Victorian rowhouses and lit by twinkling gas streetlamps at night, both offer plenty of great restaurants, bars and clubs that few tourists know about.
Whether you’re exploring a new city for the first time or making new memories in a favorite destination, experiences are what define us. They give us stories to tell, inspire curiosity and joy, and shape the way we view the world around us. Indulge in the gift of experiences this year by booking a city break with Club Quarters Hotels at any of our global locations. Reserve by December 1 and you’ll save up to 40% on your stay as part of our exclusive Black Friday Sale.
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