The never-ending Ice Age that was this Winter is finally giving way to Spring. And with summer is just around the corner, many of us are coping with serious cases of Wanderlust.
The only thing standing between you and your next escape is time and money. But booking a full vacation can be very expensive and it might be tough to fit into your existing schedule. To avoid the frustration of window-shopping a vacation, you could always pack a weekend bag and hop in the car for a quick weekend road trip. And we have a few ideas where you can go right here in the U.S.
New York City
New York is the ultimate tourist destination: There’s so much to do in the city that never sleeps that you could spend months there and never get to it all. It has an endless number of plays and musicals to see, or you can take a tour around the city (double-decker bus or day cruise–your choice). For something with a more relaxed vibe, hit up Central Park. Soak up some culture at the Museum of Modern Art or the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Egyptian Room is a personal favorite).
When you need a bite to eat, hunt for the best slice of pizza in the city. Hint: You’ll probably find it at John’s of Times Square. You could also walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to pick up a slice of Junior’s Cheesecake, which is the best cheesecake that will ever grace your tongue. Although the journey to Brooklyn is well worth the trek, you can also grab a slice at the chain’s locations in Times Square or Grand Central Station. Beauty Buffs will want to stop by Bite Lip Bar to craft a custom lip color. Anyone can bring home a hat or a t-shirt as a souvenir, but bringing your own signature lip shade home is pretty dope.
Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Baltimore is called Charm City, but the Inner Harbor is undoubtedly the city’s crown jewel. You can enjoy some waterfront views at the Inner Harbor as you grab a meal at Miss Shirley’s Café or The Rusty Scupper. You can also catch an Orioles game at Camden Yard. If that’s not your thing, there are plenty of sights and sounds at the Inner Harbor with all of Baltimore’s museums and music spots (Howl At The Moon is not to be missed). It’s even home to one of the nation’s best aquariums.
If you feel like venturing out during your stay in Baltimore, you can always pop over to Annapolis to stroll by the water. For something a little more stately and elegant, head over to Ladew Topiary Garden for a picnic against a luxurious backdrop.
Amusement Park enthusiasts will want to head over to Anaheim, California, immediately to visit Disneyland! This is Disney’s original park, which laid the blueprint for all of the others around the world. Disneyland offers visitors two parks in one as Disney’s California Adventure sits just across the street. This summer is particularly exciting as California Adventure hosts PixarFest. You may also be able to spot Black Panther and two members of the Dora Milaje patrolling the park if you’re lucky. Pick up some Rose Gold Minnie Ears and a Mickey Bar and take a stroll around either of the Disney Parks, or grab a bite and do some shopping at Downtown Disney for a more leisurely afternoon.
About 20 minutes away from Disneyland, you’ll find the Knotts Berry Farm amusement park, which offers more exciting rides. But the most thrilling experiences can be found at Universal Studios Hollywood about an hour North of Disneyland.
New Orleans, Louisiana
It’s hard not to fall in love with New Orleans, so a quick road trip to The Crescent City might be in order. Millions of people flock there every year for Essence Fest or Mardi Gras, but New Orleans is popping all year long. Of course, you can always spend an evening on Bourbon Street doing a pub crawl and dancing your way from one stop to another, but the Riverfront is just steps away and makes for a pleasant stroll (or picnic) day or night, with its green spaces and gardens. Crescent Park also contains New Orleans’ French Market. Bayou St John is another local favorite for spending a leisurely afternoon on the water, and you can float along the banks.
Visitors to New Orleans will want to map out some time to visit Jackson Square to take in some of NOLA’s quieter essence. And don’t head home before you grab some beignets. They’re available all over the city, but Cafe Du Monde is famous for theirs. Cafe Beignet is a close second, and Coquette on Magazine Street fries up savory beignets if you want something a little different. You could also try your very best to get into Mother’s or Dooky Chase, but Broussard’s flies under the radar, despite its amazing menu and romantic decor. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see a Second Line Band march through the lobby as part of a wedding.
If Chicago was good enough for the Obamas, it’s good enough for your next road trip. One of the first places on your itinerary should be Navy Pier, which is the quintessential Boardwalk. It has everything from rides (like The Centennial Wheel) and live entertainment to lake cruises and restaurants. On certain nights throughout the week, you’ll even be able to catch fireworks. Like any good tourist destination, Chicago has some incredible shopping on The Magnificent Mile. While Chicago is known for its Deep Dish Pizza, and you have no shortage of food options. The Windy City also has some spectacular barbecue and its home to Garrett’s Popcorn.
The city will also take you to the stars with its historical Planetarium, which was the first in the United States. Chicago is also packed with museums like the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Field Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. That said, you need to keep an eye out for the fantastic public art like the Crown Fountain or the Cloud Gate (aka that giant silver bean). The city also puts on a free show at the Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park every night from April through October.