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Whether you’re after a hip urban jungle or a charming historic ‘hood, you’re sure to find it in the USA. Picking just seven cities in a country full of iconic towns was no easy feat, but hey, that’s what we’re here for!
1 | LOS ANGELES
California, you might have heard, knows how to party. Los Angeles is the original Tinsel Town, chock full of Hollywood icons, current and historic. It’s also a mecca for the hyper-stylish, the wellness-obsessed, endless stretches of gorgeous beach and serious surfer vibes.
Best time to visit: Southern California boasts persistently lovely weather and banks nearly 300 sunny days a year. From March to May and September to November, the temperature is most pleasant and crowds are small.
Don’t Miss: Head to Venice Beach — a quirky seaside neighbourhood that’s classic Los Angeles — and soak up some ocean breezes. Then there are iconic sights like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive and, of course, that Hollywood sign. But you’d be missing out if you skipped a walk or cycle along The Strand, which traces the beachfront for almost all of its 35 kilometres.
Classic Kai: Two words: Taco trucks. We love Leo’s Tacos. Honourable mention goes to In-N-Out Burger.
2 | SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco is a melting pot of cultures, influences and social movements. You’ll vibrant Fisherman’s Wharf, bustling Chinatown, hippie ‘hood Haight-Asbury — not to mention the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.
Best time to visit: April to June or September to November.
Don’t Miss: Take the ferry to Alcatraz Island. You’ll get stunning views back at the mainland and on arrival, a creepy tour of the island’s infamous defunct penal facility. Then escape to the serene Japanese Tea Garden, the country’s oldest public Japanese garden and home to the sort of pagodas, arched bridges and koi ponds that will make you forget which country you’ve visited.
Classic Kai: Grab a scoop (or three!) at the city’s favourite ice cream shop, Humphry Slocombe. It’s famous for classics as well as off-the-wall flavours like Peanut Butter-Curry and Secret Breakfast (a combination of bourbon and cornflakes).
3 | NEW ORLEANS
Nicknamed “The Big Easy,” this historic town is known for its party atmosphere, vibrant music scene, Mardis Gras culture and fascinating West African influences.
Best time to visit: February to May.
Don’t Miss: The party will find you in New Orleans’ iconic French Quarter and along Bourbon Street, where you’ll hear buskers and bar acts competing for airtime. Or for live music with a less little party scene, head to Frenchmen Street. Join a Voodoo tour to learn all about this secret set of beliefs, or stick to the bright side by stopping by one of the city’s many outdoor festivals.
Classic Kai: Spicy Creole recipes that mix West African and French influences. Taste prawn Po’boy sandwiches and rich meaty Jambalaya. For a sweet treat, indulge in a sugar-dusted beignet.
4 | LAS VEGAS
Vegas, baby! Sin City! Whether your vice is gambling, boozing or Barry Manilow, you’re covered on the Strip.
Best time to visit: March to May or September to November.
Don’t Miss: In between slots, thrill seekers will love the Adventuredome, home of legitimately awesome roller coasters and a bungee that will impress even the bravest Kiwi. Explore Vegas’ little-known Chinatown for delicious eats and offbeat culture, then take a swing at TopGolf, a range set on three levels and looking straight out over the Strip.
Classic Kai: Maybe it’s all the late nights, but Vegas really knows how to brunch. We love PublicUs, which roasts its own coffee and bakes fresh breads and pastries onsite.
5 | CHICAGO
Even the briefest exploration of Chicago will uncover a stunning mix of architecture, beautiful riverfront spaces, a fabulous foodie and craft beer scene, incredible shopping, top-tier museums and big-name sports bouts.
Best time to visit: March to May to June and September to October if you’re after milder weather.
Don’t Miss: Ask your consultant about tickets for a one of Chicago’s famous teams: Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs, is a baseball institution; and few fans take their role as seriously as hockey’s Blackhawks supporters. Music lovers won’t want to miss a night at jazz institution Buddy Guy’s Legends. And everyone will love Chicago’s Architecture River Cruises; we recommend the twilight departure, when the city is beautifully lit by the setting sun and the hour justifies a cocktail.
Classic Kai: Clear some serious stomach space for a melty slab of deep-dish pizza.
6 | WASHINGTON, DC
The country’s capital city packs world-class museums — most of them free — and major political institutions, memorials and monuments alongside pristine greenspaces. You’ll also find a fantastic arts scene, hip craft beer culture and quite a few eateries from New York City-established chefs.
Best time to visit: March to May and September to October.
Don’t Miss: You can’t walk a block without running into an iconic building or statue, and the National Mall is a stunning greenspace to explore. The still-new African American History Museum offers innovative and powerful exhibitions on black history and race relations in the States. Beer fans will love the LoCo Ale Trail: Hire a bike and follow the path to tasting rooms aplenty.
Classic Kai: Grab excellent burgers and pub fare at Old Ebbit Grill, the city’s oldest tavern.
7 | NEW YORK CITY
There’s nothing like New York City. With a rich immigrant history, an unparalleled arts scene, top-tier museums, iconic greenspaces and hip bar scene, it’s the ultimate urban experience.
Best time to visit: April to June and September to October — or for something truly special, visit at Christmastime!
Don’t Miss: Head to South Street Seaport for a boat tour offering spectacular views of the city’s skyline and of course, the Statue of Liberty — or follow the locals and hop on the free Staten Island Ferry (just avoid rush hour!). Learn about the city’s past on a historic tour through the gritty Lower East Side and head to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx for classic Italian food. Even if you think you’re not a theatre fan, it’s worth talking to your consultant about grabbing tickets to a top Broadway show.
Classic Kai: We’re torn between a fresh bagel and schmear at Zabar’s or the iconic New York pizza slice (eaten folded over, of course)!
There's more where what came from! Come chat to one of our travel experts today and we can match you with your soulmate city.
USA calling? Incredible holidays are just a click away. Better yet, come in-store and chat with one of our friendly travel experts. We love pairing Kiwis with their perfect holiday!
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