Portland is well known for its fantastic public transportation systems. One way to see it for yourself is to follow the 4T trail, a self-guided tour that lets you explore all around the city by train, trail, tram and trolley. To stay in the city and on your feet, try booking some themed group walking tours that vary in topic from the supernatural to the subcultural—there’s even a “Roses Gone Wild!” tour that takes you to the International Rose Test Garden. To taste your way through Portland’s delicious neighborhoods, join Forktown Food Tours to visit different eateries and try favorites like craft-brewed beers, carrot whoopie pies, chickpea French fries and crispy waffle sandwiches. For 31 years, the Portland Festival Symphony has presented live classical music in public parks around Portland. To join in on the music (concerts take place on weekends from July to September), bring a blanket and a picnic and join Portlanders in celebrating the best of their city!
Also known as “Charm City” or “B’more,” Baltimore is a great city to visit when you’re seeking a quirky, fun city experience. Filmmaker and immaculate ‘stache-wearer John Waters proudly calls Baltimore his hometown and you can see a life-like statue of his muse, Divine, among other innovative works of art in the American Visionary Art Museum. To see more statues (this time, made of wax), check out Baltimore’s first wax museum, The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, a museum that highlights historical and contemporary personalities of African ancestry. The National Museum of Dentistry offers a different spin on history—and you can chomp on fun facts, too. Did you know that George Washington’s teeth weren’t actually made out of wood? On weekends, relax after a big day of exploring the city by watching a movie on a big screen at Bengies Drive-In Theatre.
Minneapolis has experienced an art boom, thanks to some generous public and private grants. Some great results of this boom are the 2005 Herzog and de Meuron expansion of the internationally acclaimed Walker Art Center and the stunning Minneapolis Central Library, designed by César Pelli, located at the north end of Nicollet Mall. (The 11-block shopping, dining and entertainment area was the second downtown pedestrian mall in the country.) To visit what some call “the mall of malls” and a “city within a city,” allow at least a day to explore the Mall of America, which even includes a wedding chapel! Minneapolis residents love their outdoor activities too—check out the local scenery along the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 51-mile trail divided into seven byway districts that is considered to be the premier urban scenic byway in the country.
Local Whole Foods Market: Minneapolis
New York City
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of visiting New York City. No matter if you travel there every 2 days or every 2 years, one guarantee is that it will have changed since your last trip. Of course, it’s always good to know that some things, like the Statue of Liberty (Standing proudly since 1886!) and the Empire State Building will always be there to greet you. While you can always shop ‘til you drop, there are also opportunities for quiet escapes. Take walking tours of Central Park or explore the High Line, an elevated park growing from an old freight line located on the west side of Manhattan. If it’s an art sanctuary you seek, visit some of New York’s justifiably renowned art museums like the Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Artand its contemporary art space (and my personal favorite), MoMA PS1.
Los Angeles is a fabulous mix of old Hollywood, new showbiz, beach scenes and trend-setting style as only Californians can do. For a trip back to old Hollywood, take a tour of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre or join walking tours of Art Deco architecture, bustling downtown or the historic theatre and commercial districts. If you love shopping, try stopping by The Grove, cruising down Melrose Avenue or perhaps even Rodeo Drive, budget allowing! Visit Little Tokyo or Koreatownfor shopping with some new (or perhaps familiar) cultural experiences. On the art beat? Take the tram up to The Getty or schedule some time for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. And of course, don’t forget the beach!