Boston is not only a hub for baseball, brownstones and bookish collegiate types. It’s also home to America’s first large free municipal public library, the first subway system, the first public school and the first public park. To say the city is historic would be an understatement, but this wicked smart college town doesn’t linger in the past, either. A well-rounded trip to Boston integrates the classic with the contemporary: Split your time between cherished sites like the Paul Revere House and Faneuil Hall and modern attractions like the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Venture to Beacon Hill and you’ll stumble upon the graceful mansions of yore juxtaposed with chic boutiques and innovative hotels. So, yes, come first for the history, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to sample the unmistakable Beantown flavor.
The city’s darker side has garnered a rough-and-tumble reputation thanks to Hollywood appearances in gritty films like “Black Mass,” “American Hustle” and “The Town,” but Boston’s cool, cosmopolitan personality characterizes its trendy restaurants, urban parks and modern museums. Passionate residents are still rooting for their beloved Red Sox, but they’re also venturing to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway for a free yoga class or meandering to the edgy SoWa Open Market for some antique shopping. So, grab a stool and join them at their favorite pub to chow down on oyster shooters and New England clam chowder, or venture to Back Bay to sip a coffee as you stroll along the trendy Newbury Street. You’ll need more than a few days to experience the city’s wealth of cultural and historical offerings, but meandering along Boston’s cobblestone streets is a great way to start your exploration.
“It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to try to keep up with Chicago – she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them,” wrote Mark Twain in “Life on the Mississippi.” Although Twain made up his mind about the Windy City before it even reached its 50th year, his impression of Chicago has proven long-lasting. America’s third-largest city has been described in a myriad of ways throughout its lifetime. When Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were competing for the right to use their forms of electricity to illuminate the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (also known as the Chicago World’s Fair), Chicago was known as a city of industry. When Prohibition set in, notorious mobsters like Al Capone transformed Chicagoland into their own dangerous playground. And intense immigration surges throughout the 20th century brought a host of new identities to the Windy City, including Greek, Polish, Italian, Irish and Jewish.
Today, Chicago remains just as diverse, boasting a thriving arts scene, various shopping districts and a cornucopia of eateries. First-time Chi-Town visitors are sure to have their eyes to the sky for at least a day or two. Chicago’s skyscrapers and public art are absolutely worth admiring: Tag along on a Chicago Architecture River Cruise or pass a few hours in Millennium Park and you’ll find yourself spending lots of time looking upward. For a bird’s-eye perspective, head to Willis Tower’s Skydeck Chicago or the John Hancock Center’s 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. After, dive headfirst into all the city has to offer – from exceptional museums to a thriving sports culture and deep-dish pizza that takes delicious to whole new depths.
Seattle’s laid-back attitude and diverse neighborhoods more than make up for its consistently cloudy weather. Plus, it’s home to some of the country’s best coffee and a thriving arts scene, plenty of history, culture and – when the weather permits – some exciting outdoor activities. Surrounded by water (and resting between Puget Sound and Lake Washington), the city’s favorite outdoor pursuits include kayaking, hiking and camping. Not only that, but the nearby Olympic Mountains and the giant Mount Rainier are visible from many spots in the city; ski slopes are just a short drive away. And while travelers often bemoan the weather, there’s actually less annual precipitation here than in New York or Boston. Overcast skies rarely stop Seattleites from getting out and exploring the city – and it shouldn’t stop you either.
If you’re headed to the Emerald City and not up for strenuous outdoor activities, Seattle still offers plenty to do and see. Art lovers will appreciate the glass-blown pieces at Chihuly Garden and Glass as well as the works on display at the Seattle Art Museum. Maritime enthusiasts can explore the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks and watch the ships putter by. Several of Seattle’s best boat tours even offer an inside look at how the locks operate. Make time to switch gears from boats to brews on a visit here, too. The city boasts dozens of craft breweries and food markets, making it one of the Best Foodie Destinations in the USA.
More to come in Part 8.
(Information from US News & World Reports)