Cheap weekend getaway? Here are our — and our customers’ — picks for a last-minute city break across North America
You can pick up some incredible deals on Kiwi.com, so to make the most of the late summer, we looked into where our North American customers have been going last-minute. And when we say last-minute, we mean it: these are routes on which our adventurous travelers have gone from booking to departure in under three days! So if you fancy dropping everything and heading out in the off-season, here’s where we — and they — recommend.
Visit lesser-known sites in New York City
So we begin with NYC. A classic city break destination, and one which is as exciting and enticing as ever. If you’ve been before, it’s always worth going back to see the lesser-visited areas of the city, the places you may have missed or didn’t even know were there in the first place!
How about Edgar Allan Poe cottage, a small wooden farmhouse in which the writer lived with his family, now relocated to Poe Park in the Bronx? The Brooklyn Children’s Museum (built in 1899 and the first to cater specifically for kids) with interactive exhibits covering science, culture, nature, and more? Or what about Staten Island’s Blue Heron Park? 222 acres of wetlands and nature reserve, with guided tours twice a day every weekend. There’s so, so much to do!
Check out Mexico City’s historic downtown
Which is equally the case with Mexico City. A sprawling mass of humanity — it’s home to around 8.8 million people — it’s spent the last couple of decades revamping and revitalizing itself. Public spaces have been cleaned up, its colonial buildings given a facelift, and it’s invested in a push for visitors to explore a fascinating range of cultural spaces ranging from museums to dive bars.
The city’s historic downtown is where you’ll find the Cathedral and the Templo Mayor (which still preserves bits and pieces from the time when this was once part of the Aztec empire). The Bosque de Chapultepec is a huge green space home to a castle, museums, theaters, and a boating lake, while in Xochimilco you can ride on a colorful trajinera (a type of canal boat) while sampling traditional Mexican food and drinks. Delicioso!
Experience different sides of Los Angeles
A fact I learned the morning I wrote this article is that Reno is further west than LA. Sounds wrong, is true. Go check. Then come back here. Anyway, that’s by the by, I just thought you’d like to know.
Los Angeles can seem intimidating at first. It’s a huge place, and it’s difficult to know where to begin. The best thing to do is decide what sort of experience you’d like: maybe you’re only here for the food, perhaps you’d like to visit movie locations. Is it a family trip, do you want to spend your whole vacation outdoors, or do you just fancy lounging on a beach somewhere?
Well, whatever floats your boat, LA will have something for you. Don’t try and do too much, you’ll end up baffled and exhausted, but with an idea and a bit of planning, you’ll have a great time. After all, if you’re focusing on one idea, there’s all the more reason to come back and do another!
Watch a soccer game in Atlanta
Not a place many would think of when considering a city break, but there are many things to like about the capital of Georgia, not least the fact that as one of the busiest airline hubs in the world, flights are plentiful and cheap.
It’s a city that’s very proud and passionate, and you can see this in its sports teams: maybe not the most successful in the country, but backed by big attendances and vocal fans. Atlanta United, the city’s soccer team, was an immediate hit upon its formation in 2014, drawing average crowds of 52,000 — not bad for a sport still seen as relatively niche. Add in the Falcons, the Hawks, and the Braves and you’ve got a city with a good sporting heritage.
But there’s so much else to do as well. You could try and see a bunch of the World’s Biggest Things (including a diorama, a diner, and the controversial Stone Mountain), or discover more about the city’s emotive past on the Black History and Civil Rights tour. Overall, Atlanta’s a positive place to visit: consistently progressive, artistic, musical, upbeat and fun.
Overload your senses in Las Vegas
The most famous sensory overload in the nation, while still attracting gamblers as its main source of tourism, Las Vegas also caters to those who want cabaret, dining, ridiculous architecture, and acres of gaudiness.
It’s like nowhere else on earth. A city that takes pride in its lack of authenticity, a city that grew from a rail terminus for workers coming to build what would become known as the Hoover Dam and is now simply somewhere for visitors to pour money into. Overwhelming, exciting, monstrous in many ways, it’s somewhere that you might absolutely hate, or find staggeringly amazing. You’ll never know until you visit.
Breath clean Denver air
For a decent-sized city, Denver feels… fresh. Cleaner than comparable places. This might be to do with the wide, blue skies, the surrounding mountains, the glitter and gleam of the business district. Everything just seems to be in sharper focus somehow.
The Mile High City (5,280 feet above sea level) is one of the US’ fastest-growing places but manages to meld a swift and productive business community of established names and startups with a creative, liberal side made up of students and artists.
Best of all, it feels like it’s part of its surroundings, rather than just having appeared with a “yeah-what-are-you-going-to-do-about-it?” aggression: there are parks, gardens, footpaths, and cycle lanes taking you between districts, and outside the city, you’re never far from hiking trails, ski resorts, and the boundless wilderness of the Rocky Mountains.
Swim, sunbathe and shop in Cancún
If it’s authentic Mexico you’re after, Cancún is… well, it’s not it. However, if you’re looking for somewhere that demands little from you aside from sunbathing, swimming, shopping, perhaps playing a little golf, or messing about on a jet ski, it’s the place for you.
Staggeringly, it generates around a third of all Mexico’s tourist income, offers over 32,000 hotel rooms, yet the first of these hotels only opened in 1974. It’s become a byword for partying, Spring Break (woo!), and general debauchery, but none of this can gloss over the fact that it is blessed with some of the best beaches and clearest water in the whole of the Caribbean.
And that’s the point. The reason people keep coming back is that, no matter what you think of its uber-capitalism and rampant growth, it’s still one of the best places to have a pure and simple, honest-to-goodness beach holiday. It’s all right there, ready to serve.
Play make-believe in Orlando
Orlando can seem a bit like a theme park itself: there shouldn’t really be a thriving city here. Built on swampy, silty soil or tough, goopy clay in the middle of the 19th century, by a stroke of luck it was discovered that orange trees thrived here, and so it grew along with the citrus groves. When Disney set up the Walt Disney World Resort in 1971, its fate as the capital of make-believe was sealed.
It’s not all theme parks and suspicious-looking piles of sawdust, however. You’ll find parks, gardens, rivers, lakes, wildlife reserves, and the like, where you can indulge in slightly less frantic activities: cycling, fishing, a trip in a rowing boat with a picnic. Add to that Orlando’s genuinely impressive collection of museums and galleries and you’ve got somewhere more surprising than the blurb would have you believe.
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