3 Exciting Cities to Consider When Vacationing in the US

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Hey Everyone! Welcome to a new post. This particular post was written by Alex from WonderWithAlex. I hope you find her tips as inspiring as I do.

Austin, Texas: Outdoors, Arts and Live Music

Austin, the state capital of Texas, is a lively city known for its tech jobs, diverse culture, music festivals, art, gourmet cuisine and distinctive history. The unofficial slogan for this fun-filled city is “Keep Austin Weird.” The slogan aims to promote local businesses and preserve Austin’s unique culture. If you’ve never been to Austin, it comes highly recommended as you won’t find any other city like it in the world!

Austin Outdoors

Austin is a dream destination for those who love being outdoors. From hiking, kayaking, boating and beyond, Austin’s beautiful trails and lakes won’t be a disappointment. Zilker Metropolitan Park is Austin’s “Most-Loved Park” offering kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, swimming holes, scenic trails, and a host of other outdoor activities. Looking for a little rock climbing? Check out the Barton Creek Greenbelt! Or maybe you are looking to see a waterfall or two? Then you’ll want to hike River Place Nature Trail or McKinney Falls State Park.

Austin’s Art & Music Scene

Austin is well known for its creativity. If you’re looking for live outdoor music and art festivals, Austin is the city for you. The South by Southwest (SXSW) music and film festivals are a hot topic in Austin—offering film screenings, comedy shows, art galleries, concerts and more. Or if you happen to be in town during the Austin City Limits music festival, be sure to check it out along with 450 thousand other people! Two weekends filled with live music concerts in the middle of Zilker Park.

If you can’t make a festival while you’re in town, don’t worry! Austin’s local art and live music spaces are vast. You can find an art exhibition or live concert just about anywhere, any day of the week.

New Orleans, Louisiana : Culture, Cuisine, and Festivals

New Orleans (NOLA) is the city of music, culture, Cajun food, Creole cuisine, and colonial architecture. From the iconic New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest to authentic cuisine, this must-visit city is a melting pot of sounds and flavors.

Experience Cajun & Creole Cuisine

Many people don’t know the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine and use the terms interchangeably. While both cuisines are from New Orleans, they come from very different cultural backgrounds.

Cajun, or “country cooking” is a combination of French Acadian and Southern cuisines typically found along the bayous of Louisiana. Cajun cuisine is typically well seasoned and consists of hearty stews and soups.  Boudin, a Cajun sausage, and Jambalaya are two popular examples of Cajun cuisine. If you’re looking for authentic Cajun cuisine, Mulates, Zydecos Cajun Kitchen, and Cochon Cajun & Southern Cooking are just a few of the famous Cajun eateries in New Orleans.Creole on the other hand, is a blend of European, African, Caribbean, Native American and Hispanic cuisine. Many creole dishes are tomato based, while Cajun food is not. Creole dishes include a version of Jambalaya, authentic red beans and rice, Creole Chicken, crawfish, and more. Wondering where to find these delicious foods? Check out Mr. B’s Bistro, Café Sbisa, Mandina’s, and the bucket-list worthy Commander’s Palace

NOLA Festivals

New Orleans loves a good festival! If you’re looking to make your ears happy, then the Jazz and Heritage Festival is for you. People fly in from all over to attend this festival. Interested in learning a little culture through music? Then you’ll want to check out the VooDoo Music and Arts Experience or the Cajun Zydeco Festival. And let us not forget the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival where you can get the best of two worlds in one place– music and food.

Miami, Florida : A Beach-Worthy Vacation

If you’re looking for an entertaining vacation by the beach, then Miami, Florida is the city for you. Miami’s subtropical climate with short, warm winters, make it a highly desirable vacation destination. From islands and water sports to swimming and sunbathing, Miami’s beaches are clean, beautiful, and waiting for you. If you’re seeking a little relaxation in the sun, visit Miami!

Best Beaches

Miami has 20-miles of coastline making for the ideal beach destination. Looking for a family friendly and private beach experience, then you should check out Surfside beach on the North end. Maybe you’re looking for a little “freedom,” then you’ll want to go to Haulover Beach— it’s Miami’s famous nude beach! And of course, there’s always a good time to be had at the famous and iconic South Beach (SoBe)!

Nightlife

Looking for a party and a good time? Miami is filled with dance clubs and bars! Miami’s most popular and famous club is LIV Miami, which is known for celebrity sightings in its VIP section. Looking to be entertained? Then you’ll want to try E11even. This dance club by night, venue by day, is filled with neon lights, trapeze artists, burlesque dances, and celebrity performances. If you’re wanting something a little more seductive, Gold Rush has some of the best cabaret performers Miami has to offer. This is a very short list of your bar and club options, but Miami’s entertainment scene won’t disappoint.

Thank you so much Alex for the wonderful post! You can find more about Alex at WanderWithAlex.com

8 Day Trips from London

You’re in London, you feel like you have explored this city back to front and you want to get out of the city. Are you considering a Day Trip? Excellent! I have the list for you. London is the gateway to England, and a lot of the UK, and is close to many English treasures. Most of these places are around 2 hours by train, but are easy enough to get to.

1. Stonehenge + Salisbury

1 hr 20 mins from London to Salisbury. 20 mins from Salisbury to Stonehenge.

Technically, Stonehenge can be done in half a day, so you could merge this day trip with another – I recommend Bath. Stonehenge, originally constructed in the Neolithic period, attracts hundreds of visitors a year (without COVID, obviously). It is incredibly interesting and I highly recommend visiting. While in Stonehenge, I recommend visiting Salisbury. You’ll have to stop here anyway to get to Stonehenge, so you have a perfect opportunity to explore this wonderful city.

2. Avebury

It takes 1 hr 50 mins to get from London to Avebury by train.

Much like Stonehenge, the Avebury stone circle is an ancient site built in the Neolithic period. However, there is a Tudor manor nearby and a pub down the road. I recommend staying at Avebury longer than you would at Stonehenge. There is plenty to do in this pretty village. The village is abundant with boutique stores. With the Celtic roots of Avebury, there are a lot of celtic, and withcy, type stores. You can easily spend a day, or afternoon/morning, in Avebury.

3. Bath

It takes 1 hr 20 minutes by train to get to Bath from London.

Bath is one of the most stunning towns near London. With lots to do, from shopping and historic sites, you won’t get bored in Bath. When you’re here, I highly recommend going to one of the boutique stores, a local café (my favourite is the Green Rocket), the Roman Baths, and the Bath Abbey. One of the amazing things about Bath is that it has many beautiful locally owned stores and cafes (plus some typical stores in the main square). The locals really cherish the local history of Bath and it shows through the local boutiques. The architecture is also amazing, as can be imagined, a lot of it is historic. If you wanted to, you could merge this trip with Castle Combe in the Cotswolds, if you have a car.

4. Cambridge

It takes around 1 hr to get to Cambridge from London.

Now, when asked about places to go in the UK most people will say Oxford and/or Cambridge. I have only been to Cambridge and I LOVED it. It is one of the oldest university towns in the UK and despite its history going back hundreds of years, this city has a modern charm mixed with its historic atmosphere. It’s most famous sites are the university buildings, which I recommend visiting, however, there is so much more to see. The Fitzwilliam Museum is incredibly interesting with its beautiful architecture and interiors, and an amazing collection of historical artefacts. I also recommend going punting! For those not familiar with this term, it’s similar to going on a gondola ride. You go in a low lying boat, a punt, and you can row yourself down the river Cam or get a Punter to row for you.

There are many trains going to Cambridge from London and is very easy to get to.

5. Surrey

It takes about 50 mins by train to get from London to Woking.

Surrey will always be close to my heart as I have visited this beautiful county several times when visiting family friends. This county is filled with beautiful hiking treks, stunning villages, and national trust treasures. Surrey is also the home to Wisley, the headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society, which is amazing to visit. I recommend visiting one of the National Trust houses and gardens, which are hold collections of art, and sometimes might have a farm shop. My favourite little village is Shere, here you can get a nice ice-cream or have a wonderful pub meal.

6. Windsor

From London, it will take you around 55 mins by train.

Windsor, the weekend home of Queen Elizabeth II and her late husband Prince Phillip. With just a train ride away from London, Windsor is the perfect day out. Windsor Castle alone can take up 2-3 hours, the rest of the day can be spent exploring this beautiful city. You could try one of the great local pubs, the LegoLand Resort, or St Georges Chapel. This city is absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend taking the time to soak up the history of this town.

7. Hampton Court Palace

It takes about 40 minutes by train to get to Hampton Court from London.

The United Kingdom boasts an array of incredible palaces and castles, but one iconic palace is Hampton Court. Henry VIII lived here with Anne Boleyn, after the Tudor times, it was occupied by the Hanoverians who built extensions onto the original Tudor buildings. This palace is a sight to behold. From the many beautiful royal rooms to the servant kitchens to the beautiful gardens, a visit to Hampton Court would be a day well spent.

8. Cotswolds

1 hr from London to Chippenham. 20 mins from Chippenham to Castle Combe.

Named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for a reason, the Cotswolds is one of the most stunning regions of England with iconic little villages and beautiful countryside. On my visit I went to Castle Combe, which is incredibly stunning and I recommend putting it on your list, I recommend spending 2 hours here. However, little did I know, there was a lot more of the Cotswolds I could see in a day. Other must-see villages include Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Lower Slaughter. It takes about 2 hours to get to the Cotswolds from London. It might be more difficult to see the entirety of the Cotswolds if you don’t have a car, however, Castle Combe is easy to get to via bus and train from London.

I hope you liked this travel guide to Day Trips from London. I would love to hear your travel stories! Please share your thoughts below.