Best Big & Small US Cities to Visit | Hostelling International USA

6 Places You Should Travel to This Year

16 January 2019

New year, new you, right? If more travel is part of that new you, there’s no better way to make the year a good one than by visiting a few underrated destinations. We’ve got a list of places around the country where you can make great memories of unforgettable experiences. 

Choose from bigger cities where you can eat good food and explore great culture, or nature-filled escapes perfect for when you need to disconnect and recharge. Whatever you pick, the most important thing is to go with an open heart and an open mind to discover something new about the world and about yourself. 

Houston, TX

A view of downtown Houston, Texas at night

If you’re thinking that Texas is all cowboys and barbecues, think again. Houston, the largest city in the state, is actually a still-under-the-radar culinary destination with a ton of restaurants showcasing cuisine from all over the world. Plus, the city also boasts a decent arts and culture scene and a rich history. Visit in the spring for the Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, said to be one of the best in the country, or the Houston Barbecue Festival (it’s still Texas after all). Or go in the summer to just laze by the pool at HI Houston hostel

Sacramento, CA

Sacramento skyline at night

California’s capital has gained a little more street cred as a cool city since the movie “Lady Bird” came out, but even if you’re not visiting Sacramento to try and find the locations from the film, there’s still plenty to be explored. Use HI Sacramento as your home base for exploring the downtown restaurant scene, or as an affordable place to stay when you’ve decided to splurge on concert or game tickets at the Golden 1 Center. There’s also sunny weather year ‘round for biking, exploring the small wineries and farms in the region, or seeking adventure in nearby rivers and Gold Rush towns. 

Pescadero, CA

A view of Pigeon Point Lighthouse from California Highway 1

Treat yourself to a serene little getaway to this corner of California that’s both underrated and underexplored. Sitting pretty just about 30 miles south of San Francisco, Pescadero is a cute little coastal town with a couple of local eateries and the best artichoke bread you’ll find anywhere. Roadtrippers cruising along Highway 1 stop at the magnificent Pigeon Point Lighthouse for the ‘gram, but those in the know spend the night at the hostel so they can soak in the cliffside hot tub and admire the Pacific views from there. 

Cape Cod, MA

a lighthouse in Hyannis, Cape Cod

When you hear Cape Cod, you might think of a fancy place where presidents and famous people spend their summers. But we’re here to tell you that it can be a place where you, the average traveler, can vacation, too. There are cute beaches and idyllic little towns to be explored, and it’s also a must to include a clam chowder and a lobster roll on your eating itinerary. Start your Cape Cod adventure at HI Hyannis hostel in the biggest of the seven villages on the peninsula, then take the ferry to HI Nantucket for a secluded getaway with private beach access so you can feel a little famous, too. 

New Orleans, LA

a float in the Mardi Gras parade New Orleans

Make this the year that you finally make it to Mardis Gras and experience one of the greatest parties in the world. What more is there to be said about the iconic parades, beads, and costumes that make people from around the world flock to this corner of the Gulf Coast? If you can’t make it out to HI New Orleans for Mardi Gras, rest assured the city feels pretty festive year ‘round. Eat a bunch of food, catch as much live music as you can, and just walk around exploring NOLA’s neighborhoods for the best time in this unique destination. 

Portland, OR

a view of one of the bridges in Portland, Oregon at dawn

Portland’s got a little bit of something for everyone. So if you’re not sure if you’d like a foodie vacation, or an outdoor adventure, or would like to attend the World Naked Bike Ride, you can do all of it in this notoriously weird town in the Pacific Northwest. This is a good city to visit solo because you can easily make friends at HI Portland Hawthorne hostel, whether you’re there to try every doughnut in town or to hike every trail with perfect views of Mt Hood. Plus, there are so many music venues, thrift stores, book shops, and quirky goings-on that it doesn’t matter when you go. There’ll always be something cool to do. 

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New York Central Park in winter

4 Cities to Visit in the Winter

If you want to avoid the crowds, save money, and experience a new city the way few tourists ever will, it’s all about traveling during low season. And while winter brings heavy snowfall and chilly temperatures to many of our favorite U.S. destinations, it’s still an excellent time of year to explore them.