From Waikiki’s world-renowned waves to San Diego’s suburban surf; legendary Dallas ranches to local Cody rodeos; we've paired seven well-loved cities with under-the-radar urban escapes, united in their classic USA experiences.
Whether you’re lining up iconic sites for a first-time trip or returning to pioneer a unique itinerary, the USA is packed with enough bucket-list city adventures and off-grid urban experiences to last a lifetime.
Visit some of the USA’s most-famed skylines (we’re looking at you New York) for an ideal introduction to classic USA adventures, then shake things up on streets-less-stomped (try trotting by horse and cart in Charleston) and discover new experiences to rival the well-known: be dazzled by the bright lights of Vegas then try your luck in an Atlantic City casino, inhale fresh air on an urban hike in San Francisco or bicycle between breweries in Portland. Sports fans exploring LA can follow the NBAs biggest rivalry with a side trip to Boston, while lovers of New Orleans’ southern hospitality will find themselves charmed by Charleston’s old-world allure.
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If you want to experience: City exploration
New York & Chicago
So good they named it twice; New York, New York is worth visiting more than once. With unmissable icons like the Statue of Liberty, and eye-opening museums including the Guggenheim and MOMA, there’s no rest for travellers exploring “The City that Never Sleeps”. For a change of city scenery, set your eyes on the Chicago skyline. Dominated by landmark architecture, the ‘Windy City’ is best viewed from the Willis Tower, home to the highest viewing platform in the United States. Both cities are equally exciting in the way of highbrow art, pop culture – and pizza! Wander iconic neighborhoods – think Brooklyn for NYC and South Side for Chicago – steeped in hip-hop, theatre and gangster tales, or compare the New York slice with the Chicago deep-dish and settle the country’s most heated debate once and for all.
If you want to experience: Legendary nightlife
Las Vegas & Atlantic City
Hypnotising lights and all-night entertainment; good times are up for grabs in two of the USA’s top party towns. Head to Las Vegas for excess opulence and a healthy dose of unbridled fun. The world-famous strip is packed with glamorous nightclubs, themed casinos, and high calibre restaurants. By day, shop ‘til you drop at one of the many malls or catch a matinee: from magic to music to Cirque du Soleil. After dark, be mesmerised by the dancing Bellagio fountains or rollercoaster through neon haze at The Strat. Over on the east coast, keep the good times going in Atlantic City, where glitzy casinos meet beautiful beaches. Chase unlimited thrills at Steel Pier Amusement Park, located on the historic boardwalk, or dance all night, every night at one of the many bars and music lounges. Recover with a high-end shopping spree and indulgent spa treatment or spend summer days sprawled on the sands.
If you want to experience: Cowboy culture
Dallas & Cody
Yee-haw! For all things ranches, rodeos, and roaring good times, prepare for the ride of your life in Dallas. Pick up a custom-made cowboy hat and giddy-up to River Ranch to explore the Texan countryside by horseback, then boot-scoot your way to one of the city’s honky tonks for a fun night of line-dancing, bull riding and classic country music. While this Texan town puts a cosmopolitan twist on cowboy culture, Cody gets to the heart of the Wild West. Set on the fringes of Yellowstone National Park, the city is rich in both history and spellbinding natural landscapes. Ever since Cody was founded by William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody, its traditional frontier façade has been preserved and loved by locals and visitors alike. Don’t miss the nightly summer rodeo (June – August) for an evening of family-friendly action.
If you want to experience: Outdoor adventures
San Francisco & Portland
IPA drinkers, creatives and keen cyclists unite! The beautiful and eclectic streets of San Francisco are on par with Portland’s less-touristed trails. Stroll or cycle through both major cities; bike between breweries or Portland or summit Mount Davidson for stellar San Fran vistas. Both destinations are a feast for the senses; enjoy the freshest of seafood straight from Frisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf (don’t leave without trying the crab dish at Crab House at Pier 39) or try some of the USA’s best coffee in Portland, home to dozens of independent roasters. While the culture scene is rich in California’s “Golden City”, self-expression is encouraged in both urban centres. The motto ‘Keep Portland Weird’ can be found plastered all around Oregon’s larger-than-life metropolis. So, get yourself a mug of rich and tasty coffee and be your most creative self.
If you want to experience: Live action sports
Los Angeles & Boston
Two major hubs for all things goals, scores and slam dunks, LA and Boston are two sport-loving cities that know a thing or two about winning championships. Witness a showdown of NBAs biggest sporting rivals – the Boston Celtics and the LA Lakers – in either city; snag a seat at Cryto.com Arena (formerly Staples centre) in LA, or TD Garden in Boston – both world-class stadiums – and join in the roar of the crowd as these fierce competitors go head-to-head. Off the court, catch all the action of live American football, baseball, ice hockey and soccer; see the Boston Red Sox hit a home run at Fenway Park or LA Galaxy kick a goal in their home stadium. While LA takes the lead for hosting some of the largest sporting events in the country, Boston evens the score when it comes to passion – it’s home to the most dedicated fans in the country after all!
If you want to experience: Southern charm
New Orleans & Charleston
New Orleans round-the-clock nightlife, spicy Creole flavours and lively Bourbon Street celebrations burst across the banks of the Mississippi River. The historic French Quarter dazzles with European-inspired architecture and iconic cast-iron balconies, while bars serving Vieux Carré preserve the city’s deep-rooted cocktail culture. Enjoy the same eclectic charm with a change of pace in Charleston, where horse-drawn carts trot cobblestone streets and Antebellum houses generate a feeling of timeless romance. Be treated to sweet-as-pie Southern hospitality and easy-going sensibilities or enjoy an evening of live music; this jumpin’ town is toe-tappingly upbeat, with some of USA’s most famous jazz musicians like Chris Smith and Bertha Hill growing up here.
If you want to experience: Beach living
Waikiki & San Diego
Surf’s up! The USA’s coastal cities entice with the sound of cocktail shakers and rolling waves. Travellers flock to tropical Waikiki, renowned for its fine white sands, crystal clear waters and laidback lifestyle. Over on the U.S. mainland, leisurely cocktails and thrilling surfing lessons are within reach. For an equally magical escape, switch-up your Honolulu retreat by adding a few days in San Diego and experience 'The Hawaii of Southern California'. This beautiful outdoor city basks in year-round sunshine and myriad hiking trails offering awe-inspiring ocean views. No matter which USA city you decide to visit (we recommend both!), these beachy-keen destinations are guaranteed to impress.
For more USA inspiration, read Icons of the USA: 7 Bucket-List Experiences.