A Perfect Day In ... 9 Great American Cities

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Right now, with travel to the E.U. and beyond restricted, exploration of the continental U.S. is on the rise. While our best stateside driving itineraries can inspire an extended road trip, sometimes you have to make the most of an abbreviated timetable. These daylong itineraries highlight a mix of outdoor activities, culinary delights, art museums and more in nine of America’s greatest cities.

Richmond, Virginia

A pond at the Maymont Mansion in Richmond, Virginia
A pond at the Maymont Mansion in Richmond, Virginia - Betsy Andrews

In Richmond, Virginia, you’ll find historic homes and gardens, museums and markers, and tree-lined streets of Federalist and Victorian homes. But history isn’t all there is to experience in Richmond. With the James River coursing through and plenty of hiking and biking trails, nature abounds. A burgeoning gallery scene augments excellent art museums, loads of vintage shops offer intriguing finds, and new restaurants continually add to the city’s nationally recognized dining scene. It’s a great place to make a day of it.

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Brooklyn, New York

View of Jane’s Carousel with the Manhattan skyline in the background
View of Jane’s Carousel with the Manhattan skyline in the background - Roland Halbe

Artists, fashion designers and even investment bankers have descended on Brooklyn for its range of attractions, proving that it’s a worthy place for anyone to explore when visiting New York City. Encapsulating 70 square miles (and 2.6 million people), it has numerous neighborhoods and personalities. To get a sense of the borough overall, it’s best to concentrate, on just a few areas. This daylong itinerary takes you from Brooklyn Heights to Boerum Hill and beyond, making for a perfect day of eating, shopping and museum-hopping in New York City’s hippest borough.

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New Orleans, Louisiana

A streetcar on the St. Charles Avenue line, which passes historic homes
A streetcar on the St. Charles Avenue line, which passes historic homes - Paul Broussard

To many, New Orleans is synonymous with the French Quarter. Most first-time visitors stay in the Vieux Carré and never leave its confines, but the Garden District and Uptown offer a more laid-back, local experience. Here the dichotomy of New Orleans is on full display. The streets may be littered with potholes, but the homes that line those streets are grand architectural splendors. The best food comes from the swamp but is served on white tablecloths. Vestiges of the past are everywhere you look, but gourmet coffee shops, yoga studios and Whole Foods add a new dimension. Glide up St. Charles Avenue on a streetcar, and discover the restaurants, shops, galleries and green spaces that make this area so attractive.

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Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Georgetown shopping district along M Street
Georgetown shopping district along M Street - Ultima_Gaina/iStock/Getty Images

Visiting Georgetown — Washington, D.C.’s oldest neighborhood — feels like stepping through the pages of a storybook. Leafy vines crawl up historic houses, and cobblestone streets are home to candy-colored coffee shops, art galleries and antique stores. Shaded beneath stately oaks, London planes and old-growth gingkoes, 18th- and 19th-century buildings reveal Georgetown’s patinaed past. And while it’s steeped in history, Georgetown today is home to thriving restaurants, upscale shops and luxury hotels, not to mention a leading university.

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Missoula, Montana

The view of Missoula, Montana, from Mount Sentinel
The view of Missoula, Montana, from Mount Sentinel - Alex Strickland

Missoula, Montana, sits almost precisely in the middle of nowhere. There may be an international airport and an interstate highway cutting across the north edge of town, but in every direction, untracked mountain wilds fan out for hundreds of miles. If that sounds like a recipe for roughing it, this college town surprises with a lively arts and music scene, outdoor recreation of every type and a mild (for Montana) climate that explains its “Garden City” nickname.

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Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Cottages in the Oak Bluff area of Martha’s Vineyard
Cottages in the Oak Bluff area of Martha’s Vineyard - KenWiedemann/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Martha’s Vineyard is a place that captivates visitors the second they step foot on the island. Just an hour by ferry from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard feels delightfully isolated, and while it is tiny (roughly 100 square miles), you could spend years discovering its dirt roads, craggy coastline and calm inlets. Most of the island has no dress code: Jeans and sneakers will do in just about every situation. But as you drive around, you’ll also find sprawling waterfront estates with sweeping ocean views, fine restaurants and upscale boutiques. But ask anyone who spends significant time on Martha’s Vineyard, and they’ll tell you what most guidebooks leave out: That the best time to visit this idyllic summer town isn’t in summer at all. Rather, it’s the shoulder season, in May and September, when you’ll experience the very best the island has to offer.

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San Antonio, Texas

Mission San José, built in 1720 and known as the Queen of the Missions
Mission San José, built in 1720 and known as the Queen of the Missions - Traveler1116/istock/Getty Images

The late historian T.R. Fehrenbach once said that the past felt alive in San Antonio, and indeed it does. Though it’s the seventh-largest city in the United States, San Antonio often feels small and deeply nostalgic. In this full-day itinerary, we round up our favorite places that encompass both San Antonio’s rich and layered past and its promising future. You’ll visit Spanish colonial missions, tour multiple museums and historic homes, and enjoy the refurbished Pearl District.

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Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Institute of Arts, home to stunning Diego Rivera murals
Detroit Institute of Arts, home to stunning Diego Rivera murals - Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit means different things to different people. It’s Motor City and Motown, grit and ingenuity, but it’s also had its fair share of problems. It may be the largest city in the United States to have declared bankruptcy, and its abandoned buildings may have become a tourist attraction, but it’s also in the midst of a major comeback. The New York Times recently asked if Detroit was the most exciting city in America, and it quite possibly is. The city is alive with a creative spirit fueled by a deep sense of pride and entrepreneurship. Visiting Detroit is an opportunity to see a city unfold and grow in front of you. In more practical terms, it offers a sophisticated experience at a lower price point than you might expect for Michelin-starred chefs and world-class art. Here’s a look at a perfect day in Detroit.

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Newport, Rhode Island

An oceanfront home in Newport, Rhode Island
An oceanfront home in Newport, Rhode Island - iShoot Photos LLC/iStock/Getty Images

The well-heeled have been fleeing the high-summer swelter of the cities to bask in the sea breezes and sapphire skies of Newport, Rhode Island, since the 19th century. The Gilded Age transformed the “cottage” into an ironic moniker applied to absurdly lavish million-dollar mansions that were occupied only 10 weeks a year. You can tour many of those old homes now, along with enjoying the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Audrain Automobile Museum, topiary gardens and the oldest synagogue building in the United States.

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Call the Andrew Harper Travel Office at (800) 375-4685 to book one of these itineraries or plan your next trip.

By Andrew Harper Editors Andrew Harper editors travel the world anonymously to give you the unvarnished truth about luxury hotels. Hotels have no idea who the editors are, so they are treated exactly as you might be.
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