We’ve rounded up some of the top must-visit HI USA hostels for both city exploration and outdoor adventuring that should satisfy that travel itch and allow you to meet fellow travelers from all around the world. All you need is a packed bag and an open mind and you’ve got yourself an adventure!
San Diego, California
Sun, surf and fish tacos are the magic words for the traveler looking for a beachy escape, and San Diego has all three. Whether you’re visiting in the heat of summer, or you’d like to migrate south for the winter, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in Southern California. HI San Diego Downtown hostel is smack dab in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, which is constantly abuzz from all the nightlife and entertainment venues within the historic district. Or, if you’re up for a more casual vibe, HI San Diego Point Loma hostel, just two miles from Ocean Beach, is the place for you.
Insider tip: Get the best scoop on things to do and places to eat in San Diego from the super-knowledgeable staff at both of the hostels.
Little Rock, Arkansas
If your goal for this year is to explore places that are a little off the beaten path, then you might want to stop by Little Rock, Arkansas and HI Little Rock, Firehouse Hostel, which also doubles up as a museum dedicated to the history of firefighting. You’ll be within walking distance of local bars, restaurants and museums, plus there are plenty of riverside parks and trails to be explored. Best of all, you’ll get a big scoop of southern hospitality and experience it with the little community of travel-loving people from all walks of life.
Insider tip: Bring your good walking shoes and allow yourself a full day for museums if you’re interested in the city’s history.
The Cape and Islands, Massachusetts
When it’s summertime and the living is easy there’s no better place to be than Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Looking for a getaway filled with cool ocean breezes and unspoiled, serenity-filled beaches? Check out HI Truro hostel. How about a throwback to summer camp with rustic cabins and bike rides in the woods? Then HI Eastham is for you. Or, if you can’t choose, use HI Hyannis as your base for exploring the Cape and Islands so you don’t have to worry about developing a case of FOMO.
Insider tip: The hostels in the Cape and Islands are only operational in the summer, so the sooner you get booking the better!
While thousands of people from around the world flock to San Francisco, they often miss out on all the fun and adventure that the other side of the Bay has to offer. Sausalito is home to cute houseboats and quaint coffee shops, stunning views and good eating, and when you stay at HI Marin Headlands hostel, you also have access to a network of hiking trails and breathtaking beaches. The hostel feels like it’s more than just five miles from the big city, but if you’re craving the lights, San Francisco is just a ferry ride away.
Insider tip: You can also experience the magic of California’s redwoods trees at the nearby Muir Woods National Monument.
While we can’t guarantee sightings of President Obama in his new home, we can promise that there’s no such thing as having bad time when you visit HI Chicago hostel, mainly because of the in-the-know hostel staff. These folks can point you to the major sites and the off-the-beaten path gems, plus let you know where you can get the best slice of Chicago-style pizza in the Midwest, or the best exhibits to visit at the Field Museum. Join the hostel’s activities and tours and you’ll leave the Windy City feeling more like a local than a tourist.
Insider tip: Don’t be scared to brave the Chicago winter – visiting during this time of year is great for budget travelers and the city still has plenty to offer.
East Glacier Park, Montana
When you just want to escape it all, flee to the unadulterated natural beauty of Montana and a stay at HI East Glacier hostel, which sits above a cute bakery and café at the edge of a national park. Cleanse your soul with the fresher than fresh glacial air, the sounds of rushing rivers and the awe-inspiring sight of towering snow-capped mountains and then return to the cozy home-base where you can relax with fellow adventurers. This is the perfect spot for nature lovers and anyone who might need reminding that the world can be a beautiful place.
Insider tip: Ask about the naturalist-guided hikes, boat tours and horseback trips available to make the most of your trip.