You could spend a lifetime traveling around the United States and still have not even begun to fully explore the multitude of people, places and cultures that make up this country. The US is as diverse in culture as it is vast. Each small town, city, state and region boasts its very own dialect, cuisines and way of life. With so much to do and see, it’s easy to miss out on some of the lesser-known destinations. However, these timeless cities prove time and time again that they are beyond worth visiting, even if just for 24 hours.
Nestled at the bottom of the Rocky Mountains and less than 30 miles from Denver, Boulder makes a perfect getaway for visitors and locals alike. Along with breathtaking mountain views, this bustling city is also home to the University of Colorado Boulder, the state’s largest university. From summiting peaks in the morning to enjoying a cold brew as the sun goes down, it’s all in a day’s work when you’re in Boulder.
It should come as no surprise that outdoor activities are plentiful in Boulder. From rock climbing the Flatirons to fishing at Harper Lake, there is a way for everyone to enjoy the mountain air. Though it would take an entire book to list the adventure spots, there are some tried and true favorites. The Bobolink Trail is perfect for those looking for a leisurely walk to start the day. If you were hoping for more of a challenge, the strenuous Mount Sanitas trail is waiting for you (along with some gorgeous views at the summit). If you’re looking for a bit more speed, the 42-acre Valmont Bike Park offers natural terrain of varying degrees to match everyone’s skill level.
It’s only fitting that the food scene is as active as the people living in this city. Bon Appétit has even crowned Boulder, “America’s Foodiest Town.” If you visit between April and November, the Boulder Farmers Market is a must. Every Saturday morning, 150 farmers and artisans line the street to sell everything from fresh cheeses to vegetables and homemade pastries. After your morning grocery shopping, take a stroll down Pearl Street Mall where you’ll be in a foodie’s paradise with award-winning breweries and eateries offering up everything from burgers and fries to health-conscious bites. All we can say is if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.
A night out in Boulder will be well worth the last bit of energy you had to muster up to order an Uber. Once the sun goes down, many taphouses turn from cozy hangouts to intimate live music venues and trivia hotspots. If you’ve had enough of the bar scene, the historic Boulder Theater downtown and the Fox Theater on “The Hill” (an area full of funky shops, eateries galore and museums) have you covered with an easy night of entertainment.
Chattanooga is often viewed as the forgotten stepchild in the Tennessee family. It does not have the mass appeal of Nashville nor the collegiate roots of Knoxville. What it does have, however, is unapparelled access to the outdoors, a lively Southern food scene and a bar scene to rival any major city.
Dubbed the Scenic City, Chattanooga sits on the Tennessee River, tucked away between the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. For outdoor enthusiasts, there is no better city on the planet. The avid outdoorsmen (or women) in Chattanooga can easily access 51 scenic hiking trails, dozens of renowned rock-climbing spots, a river to paddle with plenty of rapids, hills to bike and even spots to hang glide. With Ruby Falls and Rock City just a short drive away, it’s easy to find adventure. You don’t have to be an adrenaline junky to enjoy the outdoors in Chattanooga, though. Head to the downtown Riverwalk to take in the view during an evening stroll or bike ride.
The food scene in Chattanooga is reflective of the city’s active population: local, fresh and Southern. In Chattanooga, diners will find classic Southern staples alongside inventive international cuisine, all with a heavy focus on local, farm-fresh ingredients. In the last decade, Chattanooga’s food scene has come into its own and features favorites like some of the best fried chicken in the South, classic Southern kitchens and European fusion.
Like Nashville, Chattanooga has plenty to do once the sun goes down, from delightful live music venues to craft taprooms and vivacious bars. Visitors will find plenty of places to keep the party going all night long.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is known as the Land of Enhancement, and as soon as you witness your first desert sunset, you’ll understand why. Watercolor shades of pink, orange and yellow are splashed across the horizon above rolling desert hills. Beyond the desert lies the foot of the Rocky Mountains, whose snowcapped peaks stand in contrast with the arid landscape below. Santa Fe’s otherworldly environment serves as inspiration for chefs and artists alike, as they seek to recreate the awe and wonder of the desert.
Perched over 7,000 feet above sea level, Santa Fe is no stranger to heights. Take a quick drive just outside of the city to the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range and it will be hard to miss Ski Santa Fe. With a base area elevation of 10,350 feet, it’s one of the highest ski areas in the lower 48. Covering over 600 acres, it’s a paradise for winter fun.
If you can’t get enough outside time, the Santa Fe National Forest is where you’ll want to be. This forest is full of historical heritage with thousands of cultural and archaeological sites found throughout the million and a half acres it covers. Not to mention the thousands of miles worth of trails to choose from, even the most avid hikers will always discover something new.
When you order just about anything in Santa Fe, you’ll be asked, “Red, green or Christmas?” They’re not talking about tacky sweaters. They’re talking about deliciously spicy chile salsas, the likes of which have made Santa Fe a world-renowned food destination. Explore fine dining options and hole-in-the-wall taco shops. Each offers flavorful experiences unlike any other.
The Art Scene
Like the surrounding landscape, the art scene in Santa Fe is one of a kind. Inspired by the enchantment of the desert, artists in Santa Fe create uniquely Southwestern works of art that show in local galleries as well as across the country. While there are plenty of art galleries in the Santa Fe Plaza, true art lovers get away from the tourists and spend their time browsing the galleries of Canyon Road.
Asheville, North Carolina
You won’t find a more charming mountain town than Asheville, North Carolina. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville stands as a Southern bohemian paradise where travelers come to adventure, relax, dine and drink.
With over 3,000 miles of publicly accessible hiking trails, it’s no wonder Asheville has developed a reputation as an outdoorsy town. There’s a trail for every type of hiker: those looking to challenge themselves, those looking for a relaxing nature stroll and everyone in between. With easy access to the Pisgah National Forest, Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you’ll never run out of trails to explore.
North Carolina is known for its vinegar-based BBQ, and you won’t find a better place to enjoy it than Asheville, North Carolina. In Asheville, like everywhere else in North Carolina, you will find two distinct styles of BBQ: Lexington style and Eastern style. Both Lexington and Eastern styles are pork-based but differ on which cuts they serve and the sauce used. The only way to find out which is superior is to try both!
You would be hard-pressed to find a better beer scene in the United States than that in Asheville, North Carolina. With more breweries per capita than any other US city, Asheville is a beer lover’s paradise. Enjoy the over 100 local beers brewed in Asheville on a brewery tour or explore on your own.