Everyone has their list of the best places to visit, right? Well, we thought we’d jump on the bandwagon — but instead of slapping together an empty blurb about each randomly-select locale, we’re giving you helpful deets about why to go, when to go, and what to see/do when you’re there. Dig in — these are our picks for the seven best places to visit in the U.S. in 2020.
Why we chose it: It’s got two playgrounds: Urban (for food, drink, and entertainment) and mountain (featuring world-class winter sports)
Airbnb winner: Cheeseman Park Carriage House ($119/night)
Time to visit: March
What to see: A show at the multiplex Denver Performing Arts Center, the many art installations throughout the city, the spaceship-esque Denver Art Museum
What to do: Take a bike tour through the city (bike paths are plentiful), then head to Vail for a day on the slopes.
Where to eat/drink: Mercantile in Union Station (downtown) for high-end, farm-to-table fare courtesy of a James Beard Award-winner; and Denver Biscuit Company for cheap, local, filling breakfasts
Did you know? Denver has been a proving ground for restaurant concepts for decades; celeb chefs like Richard Sandoval (La Sandia, Maya) and Lon Symensma (ChoLon) have both laid down roots here, treating the Mile High to world-class cuisine.
Why we chose it: Very affordable, non-tourist-thronged destination with a balance of decent food, nightlife, and beer
Airbnb winner: Open Air Penthouse Loft near Fiserv Forum ($70/night)
Time to visit: May
What to see: Milwaukee Public Market, Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, The Pabst Mansion (yes, of beer fame) on Grand Tour Day, art and fashion outlets in the Historic Third Ward
What to do: Take a self-guided tour of science and tech-focused Discovery World, check out the wild world of motorcycles at the original Harley Davidson, go kayaking on the Milwaukee River
Where to eat/drink: Spend a few extra bucks on a top-notch, locally-sourced meal at Sanford; or grab an Old Fashioned at the city’s oldest cocktail bar, Bryant’s
Did you know? East Side’s Oriental Theater is a big fan of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” — check out their website to see if you can catch a showing.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Why we chose it: Hot bed of activity in a second-tier city that’s about to become first tier; visit before it’s overrun with coastal migrants
Airbnb winner: Fourth Ward Towering Condo with incredible views ($99/night)
Time to visit: September
What to see: Verdant arches at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, NASCAR Hall of Fame
What to do: Nine hole game at TPC Piper Glen course, shark-ogling at SEA LIFE Aquarium, dinner and a show at NarroWay Theatre, shop ’til you drop throughout the city
Where to eat/drink: Drink craft beer with the locals at BJ’s (Billy Jack’s Shack), pick up a Cinnamon Apple Turnover at Amelie’s French Bakery, laugh over small plates at Bardo
Did you know? The Reed Property lays claim to the start of America’s first gold rush, gifting resident Conrad Reed with a 17-pound gold nugget.
Twin Cities, Minnesota
Why we chose it: Two is better than one. Also, the combined cities have somehow managed an urban-meets-college-town vibe, which makes the city approachable, fun, and avant-garde.
Airbnb winner: “Tree Top” Apartment near downtown Minneapolis ($75/night)
Time to visit: July
What to see: The historic, culture-rich Landmark Center; charming and somewhat spooky Alexander Ramsey House; the hypnotic Minnehaha Falls
What to do: Wander the sprawling, sparkling riverfront; take a boat tour along the Mississippi in a classic 19th century riverboat, get your groove on at the Kitty Cat Klub
Where to eat/drink: Dig into a face-sized porterhouse at The St. Paul Grill, feed your burger (and beer) cravings at Casper’s & Runyon’s, savor top-notch spirits at Lawless Distilling Company
Did you know? To help residents steer clear of the cold, skyways connect many downtown buildings. Even if you come in the summer, navigate the streets above ground and take the opportunity to watching the goings-on on the streets below.
Why we chose it: Unlike the much-bandied-about Portland of Oregon fame, Portland, Maine is more subdued and makes a colorful (some might even say magical) fall getaway
Airbnb winner: Crow’s Nest with breathtaking views ($129/night)
Time to visit: October
What to see: The seven Casco Bay islands; Cape Elizabeth lighthouse; Civil War artifact Fort Gorges
What to do: Soak in the art and music at the October Freeport Fall Festival, take a hike in Acadia National Park, window-shop (or actually shop) at the famous Stonewall Kitchen
Where to eat/drink: Grab a poppin’ red lobster roll on a DiMillo’s boat in the marina, get seafood crazy at the pseudo-posh Back Bay Grill, snag a rum-soaked Airmail cocktail at The Hunt and Alpine Club
Did you know? Prodigious poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Maine; you can visit his house and, just maybe, absorb some of his inspiration.
Still, if you’re intrigued by Portland, Oregon, if only for comparative purposes, check out our piece on the city here.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Why we chose it: A natural beauty in the southwest, Santa Fe is a hub of art, Native American culture, and good New Mexican cooking. Plus, it’s not that urban, which makes it ideal for a quiet (but not too quiet) getaway.
Airbnb winner: Historic adobe Casita ($119/night)
Time to visit: November
What to see: Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (especially the rose windows), Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, Santa Fe Plaza in the heart of downtown
What to do: Be inspired by southwestern art at the George O’Keefe Museum, take a leisurely horseback ride in the Santa Fe National Forest, learn how to make salsa the right way at Santa Fe Cooking School
Where to eat/drink: Go true southwestern downtown with Arroyo Vino, get the best breakfast burrito you’ve ever had at Palacio Santa Fe, learn about the eccentrically delicious stylings of Lescombes Wines at Hervé Wine Bar
Did you know? At 7,000 feet high, Santa Fe is the country’s highest state capital. What does that mean for you? Drink a lot of water and don’t push yourself too hard.
San Jose, California
Why we chose it: Far enough outside the Bay Area to be its own entity, and close enough to offer fun urban excursions
Airbnb winner: Suite surrounded by gardens ($63/night)
Time to visit: September
What to see: Overfelt Gardens and its Chinese Cultural Garden, Rotary Play Garden, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
What to do: Visit a winery with sweeping valley views (without having to compete with other tourists), take a Silicon Valley tour, catch a show at the San Jose Performing Arts Center
Where to eat/drink: Go Michelin-starred Portuguese with Adega, pick up some juicy gyros at Falafel’s Drive-In, let the bartender create something special for you at Haberdasher
Did you know? The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum (REM) is an odd, but fascinating trek through Ancient Egypt right on Park Avenue. It’s funded, in part, by the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC).
Keep an eye out for bonus destination insights as we unveil more of the best places to visit in the U.S. throughout 2020.