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3-Day Best of Washington DC Itinerary

History, politics, power—and the world’s best free museums. To experience the best of Washington DC in a few days, stay downtown in a hotel like Penn Quarter’s Hotel Monaco, a short walk or just a few Metro stops away from the halls of power and the best restaurants and nightlife. You don’t need a car; everything in this itinerary is accessible by Metro, a taxi or ride-share, or walking.

capitol building reflected in a pool of water surrounded by trees in fall
View of the Capitol Building and Reflecting Pool. Photo © amedved/iStock.

Day 1: Downtown, Penn Quarter, and Capitol Hill

Start your day at Pete’s Diner, one block from the U.S. Capitol. You’ll be joined by Hill staffers and perhaps a few lawmakers; former Speaker of the House John Boehner had eggs and coffee here almost every day.

Public Transit: To get from downtown/Penn Quarter to the U.S. Capitol, take the Metro Blue, Orange, or Silver Line from Metro Center to Capitol South.

Head west on Independence Avenue SE to the U.S. Capitol. You can explore the grounds and see the imposing dome from every angle; get a spectacular up-close selfie on the west side. No matter how many times you’ve seen photos—or passed by on your way to work—it’s always awe-inspiring. If you’d like a tour, reserve one in advance via the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center or through your member of Congress; same-day passes are sometimes available at the information desk on the visitor center’s lower level, but don’t count on it. The visitor center has public exhibits about the Capitol and Congress, as well as a gift shop.

Across from the visitor center entrance on 1st Street, get a glimpse of the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court of the United States. If you did not take a Capitol tour, you’ll have time before lunch to pop inside the United States Botanic Garden, a hidden gem on the Capitol grounds full of thousands upon thousands of plant specimens from around the world.

For lunch, go to Eastern Market on 7th Street SE between C Street NE and North Carolina Avenue SE, 15 minutes from the Capitol by foot. The crab cake at Market Lunch, the casual counter inside the main market building, is one of the best in DC, but if you prefer finer dining, try Acqua Al 2 across the street. On the weekend, people-watch and shop for local, DC-inspired artwork at the outdoor market; on weekdays, drop by Bullfeathers back at 1st Street and D Street for happy hour and political gossip.

Public Transit: To get from Eastern Market to downtown/Penn Quarter, take the Metro Blue, Orange, or Silver Line from Eastern Market to Metro Center.

Celebrate your first night in the city with the seafood tower at Old Ebbitt Grill. Before you sit down, however, detour one block past the restaurant to see the White House and Lafayette Square during the golden hour. End with a nightcap at the historic Round Robin Bar at the Willard InterContinental.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Photo © Giuseppe Crimeni/Dreamstime.

Day 2: National Mall

If you have tickets to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, grab coffee at Compass Coffee on 7th and F Streets NW, then beeline to the museum to be in line a few minutes before your entry time. You’ll need the better part of a day to see everything, but it’s worth it; start in the basement and work your way up, then have lunch at Sweet Home Café before the pop culture exhibits.

Public Transit: To get from downtown/Penn Quarter to the National Mall, simply walk south on 7th Street or 9th Street to Constitution Avenue. It’s 10-20 minutes by foot to the major museums.

If you didn’t get tickets, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and National Air and Space Museum are the other must-see museums. If you try to do both, don’t miss the Star-Spangled Banner and first ladies’ dresses at the former and, of course, the spaceships at the latter. Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the National Museum of the American Indian is a good option for lunch.

You can stay in the museums if you have foul weather, but otherwise, explore the memorials on the National Mall. Take a walking tour to hit the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and Tidal Basin.

Public Transit: To get from the memorials on the southwest side of the Mall back to downtown/Penn Quarter, take the Metro Green or Yellow Line from L’Enfant Plaza to Gallery Pl-Chinatown.

Relax before a late dinner at Jaleo, the José Andrés Spanish restaurant that ignited the nation’s tapas obsession. After, grab a taxi or ride-share to the Lincoln Memorial, which absolutely must be seen at night.

storefront of ben's chili bowl in Washington DC
Your trip to DC isn’t complete without a late-night half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Photo © David Harmantas/Dreamstime.

Day 3: National Mall, U Street, and Shaw

Start the day at the National Gallery of Art. If you didn’t have breakfast, grab coffee and a pastry in the Pavilion Café in the Sculpture Garden. There’s something for every art lover here: Choose the West Building for the French Impressionists and Da Vinci’s only painting on view in the United States, or the East Building for modern art.

When you get hungry, head to CityCenterDC, where you can parse the works over leisurely brunch or lunch at DBGB Kitchen & Bar, or grab a healthy juice at Fruitive. Here, you can enjoy an afternoon of window shopping the luxury stores, or walk about 15 minutes south to the Newseum, which is totally worth the ticket price in the era of “fake news.”

Public Transit: To get from downtown/Penn Quarter to U Street/Shaw, take the Metro Green or Yellow Line from Gallery Place-Chinatown to U Street/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo, or grab a taxi/ride-share.

Spend the evening at U Street and Shaw, DC’s nightlife hub, bustling with trendy restaurants, cocktail and wine bars, and dance clubs. This is the neighborhood to try Ethiopian food—the Washington area has the largest Ethiopian population in the United States, and restaurants here include Dukem Ethiopian Restaurant and the more upscale Etete. For the definitive DC nightlife experience, catch a show at the 9:30 Club, followed by a late-night half-smoke (a spicy half-pork/half-beef sausage, served on a bun and smothered in chili) at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl.

fountain in DC's Dupont Circle
Dupont Circle fountain, sculpted by Daniel Chester French. Photo © Samantha Sault.

With More Time

You could spend days—weeks—touring DC’s museums and memorials, and if you’re visiting for more than a few days, it’s worth choosing one or two museums to explore at a more leisurely pace.

With more time, spend a morning in Dupont Circle. Take your coffee in the park at the center of the circle, a great spot to people-watch among locals, and meander to Kramerbooks, one of DC’s essential bookstores, stocking top fiction and nonfiction, including the latest political tomes. The Phillips Collection, the country’s first modern art museum, is worth a few hours.

Spend an afternoon in Georgetown, shopping top brands and independent boutiques on the brick-lined streets or, in exceptionally beautiful weather, renting a boat on the Potomac River. Enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail at one of the neighborhood’s stylish hotels—The Lounge at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons and The Observatory at The Graham Georgetown are good bets—before dinner at Fiola Mare, where you should ask for a table in the see-and-be-seen dining room for some of the best Italian seafood in the city.

Before you go, make time for a performance, because DC has a vibrant theater scene on par with the world capitals. Get tickets for anything at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts before your Georgetown dinner, or better yet, see a thought-provoking new play at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Penn Quarter or Studio Theatre in Logan Circle.

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The Best of Tucson in 3 Days

The following 3-day itinerary is meant to guide you to the very best of Tucson—the essential Old Pueblo experience. You’ll need your own car, a camera, a hat, a comfortable pair of walking shoes, and, of course, water.

front view of San Xavier del Bac church in Tucson
The church of San Xavier del Bac. Photo © Michael A. Barrios.

Day 1

Try to get an early start for sightseeing, especially during the hot months, when you only have a few hours before the weather gets unbearable. If you’re an early riser, I’d suggest heading downtown to the St. Augustine Cathedral before 7am. You can stand across the street and watch as the rising sun lights up the Spanish revival cathedral, and the tall, skinny imported palm trees cast their shaggy shadows against the glowing building. It’s a perfect Southwestern scene.

Then head downtown to the Hotel Congress, have a big breakfast at the Cup Café, and take a look around the historic old hotel.

Hop in the car and head west from downtown into Tucson Mountain Park, stopping to enjoy the view of the desert below at Gates Pass.

Spend a few hours exploring the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, just down the hill.

Next, head back over the Tucson Mountains to downtown and stroll, shop, and eat a late lunch or early dinner on 4th Avenue and nearby Main Gate Square. If you have it in you, barhop around Congress Street, 4th Avenue, and Main Gate Square, taking in a few bands at The Hut and Club Congress along the way.

A cyclist riding in Tucson Mountain Park
A cyclist riding in Tucson Mountain Park. Photo © Tim Hull.

Day 2

Drive to midtown for a filling greasy-spoon breakfast at Frank’s/Francisco’s. On your way back downtown, stop by the Arizona Inn and have a look around the lush grounds.

Then drive to the El Presidio district downtown and explore the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block and Presidio San Agustín del Tucson for a few hours.

For lunch, go to El Charro Café, right near the museum, or to Cafe Poca Cosa, a short walk away, before taking a short drive south on I-19 and checking out San Xavier del Bac.

In the late afternoon, drive into the foothills to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and take a tram ride up into the canyon or hike one of the trails.

As the sun dips behind the Santa Catalina Mountains, head on over to Grill at Hacienda del Sol for drinks and appetizers (or dinner) on the patio overlooking the city.

people hiking through desert landscape in Sabino Canyon
The Seven Falls Trail is a popular hike in Sabino Canyon. Photo © Tim Hull.

Day 3

Depending on your personal inclinations, tour the Kartchner Caverns near Benson or head north up the Sky Island Highway into the Santa Catalina Mountains. Both trips are scenic and fun and take about two hours of driving time round-trip; it just depends on whether you prefer sweeping mountain views or otherworldly underground sights.

If you’re headed up to the mountains, stop at the Mother Hubbard Café for a big breakfast. If you take a trip to the caverns, stop afterward at the Horseshoe Café in Benson for lunch. Either way you go, you’ll likely get back to town in the late afternoon if you get an early start.

Once back downtown, head to Old Town Artisans to have a few drinks in the lush courtyard and check out the shops. For your final dinner in Tucson, go to Mi Nidito.

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3 Days in Montréal with Kids

Reasonable rents and a good social safety net mean most Montrealers eschew the burbs and stay in the city to raise their kids. Festivals often have kid-friendly options, and there are plenty of parks and fun things to do. Visiting teens can often join their parents on bike tours and other excursions, and if you’re with little ones most rental places will offer something to accommodate that—a bike trailer or trail-a-bike, for example, or a pedal boat instead of a kayak.

Many hotels, especially the higher-end ones in Vieux-Montréal, can set up child care if you give them some advance notice. Staying in Vieux-Montréal also means you’ll be close to the Vieux-Port, which features a ton of family-friendly activities and museums.

a zipliner in Montreal with a view of the ferris wheel on Bonsecours
La Grande Roue de Montréal. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 1

Arrive in Montréal and head to your hotel in Vieux-Montréal. Drop your bags and head out to grab a coffee and a light bite at Crew Café. Then stroll down rue St-Paul, the oldest street in the city, and do a little browsing. Head to the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal and learn a bit about the city’s culture and history to ground your trip—you can take a guided tour of the church, or just a read a little about the church and the Place d’Armes.

Next, walk down to the Vieux-Port and grab a snack from a food truck or Muvbox—tacos, poutine, and lobster rolls are all popular options. After lunch has settled, head to Voiles en Voiles, a super-fun ropes course set up on pirate ships in the Vieux-Port—you can stay for an hour or longer. If you find yourself with more time to spend before dinner, check out the Centre des Sciences de Montréal.

Try local favorite Brit and Chips for dinner. After the meal, head back down to the Vieux-Port and enjoy an evening at the Bonsecours Basin. La Grande Roue de Montréal, a giant Ferris wheel, is open till 11pm nightly, or, if you’ve still got some energy to burn off, the SOS Labyrinthe is a fun game for the whole family.

kids on a ropes course at Voiles en Voiles in Montreal
Voiles en Voiles, an elaborate rope course stretching between pirate ships in the Vieux-Port. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 2

After breakfast at Le Cartet, head down to the river and walk east along the Lachine Canal, or take transit if you’re with young kids. Hook a right and cross the bridge at Marché Atwater. Treat the kids to an ice cream at Havre aux Glaces and wander the market for a while before you rent a pedal boat at H2O Adventures.

When you’re done pedal-boating, return to the market for a quick bite to eat—Pizza Mia is a safe bet. Then catch the Métro back east to the Pointe-à-Callière Musée d’Archéologie et d’Histoire. There’s plenty to explore, and this museum always offers a few kid-friendly interactive exhibits.

For dinner, head to Jardin Nelson, which offers refined classics for adults alongside kid-friendly choices. After the meal, meander up Place Jacques-Cartier and make your way to the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal for the nightly light show.

view of the fountain and lake in Parc Lafontaine in Montreal
Take your picnic dinner to Parc Lafontaine. Photo © Will Keats-Osborn.

Day 3

Today you’ll be taking an excursion out to Greater Montréal—pack snacks and a picnic—so start your morning with a hearty, healthy breakfast at 7Grains Bakery & Café. Catch the Métro to the Space for Life park out at Pie-IX station—this park includes the Jardin Botanique, Biodôme, Insectarium, and Planetarium. The best deal—you’ll get to experience a whole day of fun—is to purchase the family package allowing you access to all four spaces.

When you’re ready for lunch, unpack your picnic at one of the designated picnic areas or the Frédéric Back Tree Pavilion in the botanical garden. Alternatively, order lunch at the botanical garden and find a seat on the lovely terrasse. After lunch, head back to Space for Life and pick up where you left off.

Just before dinnertime, catch the Métro back into town—specifically, to La Banquise, Montréal’s most-famous poutine spot. Order your meal to go and take it for a picnic at the nearby Parc La Fontaine, where the kids can splash their feet in the pond or play Frisbee after dinner. Take transit back to your hotel when you’re feeling tuckered, or if you’ve got energy to spare, wander back along Ste-Catherine, in the pedestrian-only section of the Village.

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Driving US Route 50: The Loneliest Road Trip

The stark landscape along US Route 50 is the origin of its famed solitude, but it has given rise to some of the best recreational activities Nevada has to offer. From hot springs to mountain-biking trails to sand drifts just begging for a dune buggy ride, the Loneliest Road in America is the perfect route for outdoor enthusiasts.

Nevada US 50 leads into a mountainous landscape
US 50 is also known as the Loneliest Road in America. Photo © Neillockhart/Dreamstime.

Day 1: Carson City and Lahontan State Recreation Area

91 Miles / 2 Hours
If you’re based in Reno, slide down to Carson City on I-580 and share the antipasti plate and crab and tomato salad at Café at Adele’s, a candidate for best restaurant in the state. Although it’s not the typical tourist attraction, tours of the old Nevada State Prison encompass the world’s first gas chamber and the most brutal solitary-confinement cell in the country. After a visit, you’ll want to shake the feeling of confinement with an exhilarating flight over lake, ridges, or treetops in Hang Gliding Tahoe’s motorized ultralight aircraft.

Recover from the rush by communing with wild horses, foxes, herons, and Nevada’s only nesting bald eagles at Lahontan State Recreation Area, a little over halfway on the 90-mile drive to Fallon. For dinner, order soup and egg rolls at Vn Pho in Fallon.

Day 2: Hidden Cave and Sand Mountain

125 Miles / 2 Hours
Start your day in Fallon at the Churchill County Museum, checking out the re-creations of frontier dwellings and a Native American tule shelter. At the museum, get directions to Hidden Cave, where generations of local indigenous people stored tools, weapons, and food. Hike a mile from the caves to Grimes Point, containing fine examples of Native American petroglyphs.

Continue east on US 50 to spend the rest of the day at Sand Mountain. Wax up your sandboard and hurtle down 500-foot inclines, dodging OHVs along the way. If the ATVs and motorcycles don’t drown them out, listen for the whistling moans of the “singing sand” as the wind blows through the grains.

Stop at Cold Springs Station for comfort food and a Pony Express history lesson, then cruise the final 50 miles to bunk down at Union Street Lodging in Austin.

ATVs in the distance on Sand Mountain
Enjoy a day on the sand at Sand Mountain. Photo © Natalia Bratslavsky/Dreamstime.

Day 3: The Toiyabe Range and Spencer Hot Springs

136 Miles / 3.5 Hours
After loading up on coffee and carbs at Union Street’s complimentary breakfast, break out the mountain bikes and pedal some of the varied trails scattered throughout the Toiyabe Range. Castle Loop, a 4.5-mile ride, is a moderate place to start. (More seasoned cyclists may want to take the time to test their mettle on the steep climbs of the 27.5-mile Gold Venture Loop.)

Morning exercise out of the way, take the scenic drive south along NV 21, flanked by the Toiyabe and Shoshone Ranges. It takes nearly two hours to cover the 50 miles to Ione Pass through the southern Shoshones, but your destination, Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, is at the end of the pass. Spend a few hours strolling among the well-preserved mining town relics and check out the ichthyosaur fossil beds and interpretive displays that describe the life and times of the ancient marine lizard that once plied the seas covering Nevada.

Take the easier route back through Austin via NV 844, NV 361, and US 50. Your bike-addled bones and muscles will thank you for continuing the 20 miles southeast to Spencer Hot Springs, one of the most visitor-friendly hot springs in Nevada.

From Austin, you can retrace your route back to Reno or continue eastward to Great Basin National Park. Better yet, jump on NV 305 north for 95 miles (1 hour 25 minutes) and take I-80 back to Reno through Winnemucca and Lovelock.

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3-Day Best of Chicago Itinerary

This 3-day Chicago itinerary covers the best the city has to offer—from must-see sights to neighborhood favorites. Spend the first day downtown, then explore some of the northern neighborhoods on the second day before finishing up with the Museum Campus on the third day. Plan to stay in a hotel in the Loop or Near North for the easiest access to public transportation.

Day 1: The Loop and Near North

boat on the river in Chicago
Chicago Architecture Foundation Boat Tour. Photo © Rebecca Holland.

Start your day with a stop at the Revival Food Hall for coffee, smoothies, or baked goods from one of the many vendors. The Chicago Architecture River Cruise is a picturesque way to begin your morning and get acquainted with the city’s history while also taking in the sights. The boat tour ends at Michigan Avenue, where you can walk south to explore The Art Institute of Chicago. Spend the rest of the morning taking in the museum highlights (follow the self-guided tour on the museum brochure). Afterward, grab a late lunch at Seven Lions just across the street.

Millennium Park awaits just a few blocks north along Michigan Avenue. Spend the afternoon admiring art installations such as Cloud Gate, relaxing on the Great Lawn, or listening to some live music at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Staying at a hotel in the Loop means it’s a quick walk back to your room to get ready for a night out. Start with rooftop drinks at Cindy’s Rooftop Bar, where you’ll get amazing views of the skyline and Lake Michigan.

For dinner, head to the hopping River North area where you’ve made reservations for Frontera Grill, chef Rick Bayless’s flagship restaurant. After dinner, take a walk along the Riverwalk then go dancing at the Studio Paris Nightclub or take in a jazz performance at Andy’s Jazz Club.

Public Transit: To get to the River North area from the Loop, take the Red Line from the Monroe Station north to Grand Station.

Day 2: Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, and Lakeview

pathway along water with a view of the Chicago skyline
Lincoln Park. Photo © Exflow/Dreamstime.

Today, take in Chicago’s North Side, starting in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Window-shop your way north along the Magnificent Mile toward 360 Chicago, arriving when the observation deck opens at 9am for morning views over the city. (Buy a fast pass to avoid spending your morning in line.)

Public Transit: From the Loop, take the Red Line to the Chicago Station and walk east along Chicago Avenue until you hit Michigan Avenue.

From 360 Chicago, rent a Divvy bike and ride 2.5 miles along the Lakefront Trail north to Lincoln Park. Along the way, you’ll pass the historic Lake Shore Drive mansions and the beckoning sands of North Avenue Beach. Just across the street from the park, stop in at Elaine’s Coffee Call for coffee and a snack.

Enter Lincoln Park, where you can cruise along the park paths, then lock up your wheels before visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Lincoln Park Conservatory.

Public Transit: Buy a 24-hour pass to rent a Divvy bicycle from the station at Mies Van Der Rohe Way and Chestnut Street. There are Divvy docking stations at Broadway and Barry Avenue in Boystown and at Sheffield Avenue and Waveland Avenue near Wrigley Field.

Continue north along the Lakefront Trail, turning west at West Briar Place as you head into Boystown. Stop for brisket and craft brews at DryHop Brewers, then browse the shops along North Halsted and North Broadway. From Boystown, it’s a one-mile walk or bike ride north to iconic Wrigley Field. Snap some photos or take a tour of the stadium. If it’s baseball season, try to catch a Cubs game or simply cheer them on at one of nearby bars like The Cubby Bear.

At night, stay in Lakeview for dinner at Chilam Bilam before catching a comedy show at the Laugh Factory. Or head back to Old Town for fish tacos at Buzz Bait followed by improv at Second City.

Public Transit: The Addison Station is near Wrigley Field and serviced by the Red Line. To head to Old Town, take CTA bus #22 from Clark Street to the LaSalle Drive stop.

Day 3: Museum Campus and Navy Pier

elephant on display at the Chicago Field Museum
Field Museum of Natural History. Photo © R. Gino Santa Maria, ShutterfreeLlc/ Dreamstime.

Today is all about museums, and you’ll want to get an early start as most close by 5pm. Book tickets for the Total Experience Pass online before you head out so that you can skip the lines for entry. Fuel up with coffee from Cafecito and grab some Cubano sandwiches to go for the long day ahead. Take either a CTA bus or L train or the Metra Line to the Museum Campus.

Public Transit: CTA buses #146 and #130 (summer only) service the Museum Campus. The Metra Electric Line stops at the Museum Campus Station. The Red/Orange/Green L lines stop at the Roosevelt Station, about four blocks west.

Start your day of discovery with The Field Museum, whose extensive exhibits and collections of natural history span three floors. Next, cross the campus to the Shedd Aquarium where more than 32,000 animals are on exhibit. If you have time, stop in at the Adler Planetarium (it closes at 4pm) and gaze among the stars. If you’re short on time—or just tired—opt for a picnic on the Planetarium lawn, which has an especially beautiful view of Lake Michigan.

Rent a Divvy bike and ride 2.3 miles north along the Lakefront Trail to Navy Pier (or, in summer opt for the water taxi along the lake). Ride the iconic Centennial Wheel and explore the pier’s many attractions. On summer evenings (Wed. and Sat.), watch fireworks light up the night sky.

Public Transit: There are three Divvy bike rental stations on the Museum Campus. The Shoreline Water Taxi (May-Sept.) connects the Museum Campus with Navy Pier. CTA bus #146 can get you to State Street and Illinois, where you can catch bus #29 or #65 to Navy Pier.

Tonight, dig into some deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s in the River North area.

Public Transit: To get to River North, take CTA bus #65 from Navy Pier along West Grand Avenue to the LaSalle stop. To return to the Loop from River North, take the Red Line south from Grand Station.

With More Time

Wicker Park and Bucktown

Spend a day in Wicker Park and Bucktown, where you can browse local shops along Damen and Milwaukee Avenues. Start with brunch at Dove’s Luncheonette, then relax with a stroll to Wicker Park. At night, dive into yummy tacos on the patio at Big Star and enjoy cocktails at The Violet Hour. This neighborhood is best explored on foot and without an agenda.

Hyde Park

Escape the crowds and see a local side of the city with a day in Hyde Park. Orient yourself with a stroll in Jackson Park before visiting the Museum of Science and Industry. Browse the wares in Powell’s Books, then fill up at Valois for some local experiences.

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3-Day Best of Reykjavík Itinerary

With quaint museums, cool music venues, and top-notch restaurants, Iceland’s small capital city makes a big impression. This 3-day Reykjavík itinerary will take you through the best sights and activities to enjoy on a long weekend.

view of Reykjavik buildings and harbor from above
The city of Reykjavík. Photo © Paul van den Berg/123rf.

Day 1

Explore downtown Reykjavík and all the shops, galleries, restaurants, and coffeehouses the city has to offer. Walk down the street Skólavörðustígur to the landmark church Hallgrímskirkja to check out the amazing interior, beautiful organ, and view from the top. Grab coffee or lunch on Skólavörðustígur at Café Babalu, which makes tasty lattes and light meals like crepes and panini. The street is also where you can pick up a traditional Icelandic sweater at the Handknitting Association of Iceland.

Walk down the main street, Laugavegur, and pop into the Hrim stores for Icelandic design and Mál og Menning for books, T-shirts, and other tourist wares. Walk toward city hall and stroll around the man-made pond Tjörnin, where you can check out swans, ducks, and other birds.

For dinner, consider one of the city’s trendy restaurants, like Fiskfelagid for the freshest catch of the day or Bambus for Asian fusion. Reykjavík nightlife is epic, and venues like Húrra and Kex Hostel are perfect for checking out local DJs or live bands and dancing the night away.

view of Harpa at night
Harpa was designed by Icelandic/Danish artist Ólafur Elíasson. Photo © Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson, courtesy of VisitReykjavik.

Day 2

Reykjavík’s harbor has a lot to see. Have breakfast at Café Haiti and watch boats enter the harbor. Sign up for a whale-watching or bird-watching excursion for a chance to spot minke whales, dolphins, fin whales, blue whales, and seabirds (depending on the season). Once back on land, walk to the Saga Museum to learn about Iceland’s history and enjoy a coffee and snack or light meal at the in-house restaurant, Matur og Drykkur. Walk over to Harpa concert hall to take in a concert or just check out the amazing interior and architecturally striking exterior.

Walk back downtown and explore the Reykjavík Art Museum, then have dinner at wildly popular sushi restaurant Osushi. Stop by Bar 11 to hear some local live music.

people in a steaming mineral pool in Iceland.
A rejuvenating soak at the Blue Lagoon is a great way to end your trip. Photo © Ivanguart/Dreamstime.

Day 3

Go to Mokka café on Skólavörðustígur for breakfast—the waffles with homemade jam and fresh cream are delightful. Then visit Reykjavík’s best record shops: Head to 12 Tónar, a few doors up from Mokka, and Lucky Records near Hlemmur bus station.

Instead of going directly to the airport, sign up for a bus transfer to the Blue Lagoon to enjoy the glorious waters. Then head to Keflavík for your flight.

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Walking Amsterdam in 3 Days

The biggest attraction in Amsterdam is the city itself. This itinerary hits the top sights and experiences in Amsterdam in 3 days. The neighborhoods covered are easy to reach on foot or by taking public transportation.

Consider staying in the Canal Belt. Though hotels are pricey, you’ll be in a central location where you can easily reach the city’s other neighborhoods and attractions.

Day 1: Old Center

a green courtyard next to classic buildings in Amsterdam
Grab some peace and quiet in the Begijnhof. Photo © Victor Torres/Dreamstime.

Start off the day by watching the city awaken at Dam Square. From this spot, you can admire Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) and the Royal Palace (Koninklijk Paleis). Make your way to the Begijnhof (Beguines Courtyard), a pretty green courtyard where peace and quiet are the order of the day. Next, hop over to the adjacent Amsterdam Museum, where you can spend as much time as you want learning about the city’s history—or just get your first glimpse at a Rembrandt painting.

Walk back toward Amsterdam Centraal Station, the city’s transit hub. For lunch, pop inside the station for a quick bite. The Old Center’s narrow streets seem to wind in circles, easily confusing visitors, so a ride along the canals with Open Boat Tours is a good way to orient yourself while still taking in the city’s many sights.

Head to the Red Light District and grab dinner at one of the many Asian spots in Chinatown, like Oriental City or New King. Finish the day in one of several uniquely Amsterdam ways: at a brown bar, like Lokaal ’t Loosje in Nieuwmarkt; a coffeeshop such as Greenhouse Effect; or a locals’ bar, like the stylish Mata Hari in the Red Light District.

Day 2: Museumplein and the Canal Belt

sunflowers in bloom surrounding the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum holds the largest collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s works in the world. Photo © Cbomers/Dreamstime.

Start the day by picking up a pastry from Museumplein’s Arnold Cornelis, then head straight for the neighborhood’s world-class museums. Choose from the famous Van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum, with its massive collection of Dutch masters, or the contemporary Stedelijk Museum. If you have the time and the will, it’s possible to visit two of these in one morning, but trying to do all three is too much for most people.

Once you’ve had your fill of art, make your way west to the large and leafy Vondelpark. If you need a snack or refreshment, stop at Blauwe Theehuis, a two-story café in the middle of the park.

Now it’s time to head into the Canal Belt and let yourself wander for a while, admiring the pretty canals, romantic bridges, and stunning canal houses. Walk through Leidseplein, which becomes party central in the evenings, and admire the architecture of the Stadsschouwburg concert hall.

From here, make your way to Westerkerk, the largest Protestant church in the Netherlands. Behind it is the Homomonument, the first monument in the world to commemorate the homosexual victims of the Third Reich. On the next block is the Anne Frank House, which is hard to miss with its long lines. (Advance tickets are required and issued for specific times between 9am and 3:30pm; feel free to join the queue if it’s later in the day.)

If you’re ready for dinner, grab a table at Bistro Bij Ons for Dutch soul food. Head over to the beer bar Arendsnest after dinner, where you can sample one (or several) of the more than 100 different Dutch beers. Or you can stay on Prinsengracht and stop at Vyne for a glass of wine before heading back to your hotel.

Day 3: De Pijp and Plantage

front facade of the Holocaust Memorial buildling in Amsterdam
National Holocaust Memorial (Hollandsche Schouwburg). Photo © Dutch Cities/Alamy Stock Photo.

Today starts in the De Pijp neighborhood, with brunch at Little Collins. Fuel up so that you can devote all your energy to browsing the wares at Albert Cuypmarkt, the city’s best outdoor market.

Next, head over to the Heineken Experience for a self-guided tour through a former Heineken brewery. Once you’re ready to move on, make your way over to the Plantage and cross the famous Skinny Bridge (Magere Brug).

Continue farther into the Plantage to the National Holocaust Memorial (Hollandsche Schouwburg). This building was taken over by Nazis and turned into a holding center for Jews. Today, it serves as a humbling tribute to the millions of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. To get a better sense of how the Dutch fought back against the Nazi occupation, head to the Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum).

Have a quick lunch at Burgermeester before continuing on to either the Botanical Gardens (Hortus Botanicus) or the Artis Zoo. For a refreshment, stop in at Café Koosje, across from the zoo.

The afternoon is the perfect time to visit the Hermitage Amsterdam, a satellite of the original Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. Admire as many of the sumptuous exhibits as you can.

Make your way back to De Pijp for dinner. Try North African cuisine at Mamouche or splurge on cosmopolitan sushi at Izakaya.

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5 Itineraries to the Best Places in South Carolina

Honeymooning? Traveling with kids? Craving the beach? Whatever you’re after, these 5 itineraries cover the best places in South Carolina to visit.

Lowcountry Romance

Spanish moss, balmy beaches, good food—the Palmetto State is a great place for a romantic getaway. This trip centers on Charleston and the Lowcountry.

sunset casting purple and orange huges over Beaufort South Carolina
Enjoy a romantic walk through Beaufort. Photo © John Wollwerth/Dreamstime.

Day 1

Spend your first morning walking or biking around peaceful downtown Beaufort. In the afternoon, take a short drive to Hunting Island State Park and walk on the windswept beach. Then enjoy a tasty dinner at Saltus River Grill on the scenic waterfront. Spend the night at one of Beaufort’s many classic B&Bs, such as the Beaufort Inn or the Rhett House Inn.

Day 2

Drive to Old Town Bluffton, walk down to the beautiful May River, and browse the many local art galleries around Calhoun Street. Visit the relaxing Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge before going into Hilton Head proper. Walk on the beach and enjoy live music and a great meal at The Jazz Corner. Head up to Charleston and check into a romantic room at The Vendue or the Andrew Pinckney Inn.

Day 3

Start your day in Charleston in its bustling heart, Marion Square. Maybe do a little shopping on King Street and at Old City Market afterward. Take a sunset stroll around the Battery and admire Rainbow Row before diving right into a great meal at one of the city’s fine restaurants—maybe the Peninsula Grill.

Day 4

Today you put your historian’s hat on and visit one of Charleston’s great house museums, such as the Aiken-Rhett House or the Edmondston-Alston House. Have a hearty Southern-style lunch, then take an afternoon trip to Fort Sumter. After another fantastic Charleston dinner at Husk, take a stroll or carriage ride through the French Quarter to close the evening.

Day 5

Have a cozy brunch at Poogan’s Porch downtown. Then make the 20-minute drive over the Ashley River to gorgeous Middleton Place, where you’ll tour the gardens. Then stop at adjacent Drayton Hall and see one of the oldest and best-preserved plantation homes in the nation. Return to downtown Charleston for a late afternoon carriage ride through the French Quarter before dining at romantic McCrady’s.

Family Fun on the Grand Strand

This long weekend gives you a taste of life in Myrtle Beach and the rest of the Grand Strand. The area is small enough to stay in one place for both nights, but so popular that travel along the 60-mile-long Strand can be slow. Be sure to leave enough time to get from place to place.

cloudy sky over a clear pool of water at Huntington Beach State Park
Salt marsh at Huntington Beach State Park. Photo © James Kirkikis/Dreamstime.

Day 1

Begin the day at historic Hampton Plantation before taking a guided kayak tour around Winyah Bay or Hobcaw Barony. Have an early dinner on the waterfront in nearby Georgetown, then drive up to Myrtle Beach for the night. If you want to stay away from the resorts, camp at Huntington Beach State Park.

Day 2

In the morning explore Brookgreen Gardens, one of the most unique sights in the Grand Strand. Spend the afternoon in Myrtle Beach: Shop at Broadway at the Beach. After dinner go for a fun, cheesy round of miniature golf under the stars. Or perhaps take in a show at the Carolina Opry, or learn to dance the shag at old Ocean Drive Beach.

Day 3

Spend the morning on the beach. After lunch visit one of the Ripley’s attractions or take in a concert at the House of Blues in Barefoot Landing.

Southern Living in the Midlands

Sandwiched between the coast and the mountains, the Midlands are easily overlooked, but not for lack of attractions. This central section of the state is large and spread out. To fully experience the breadth of the area, bunk one night in Columbia and the next in Camden.

statue in front of the South Carolina state house
The South Carolina State House. Photo © Americanspirit/Dreamstime.

Day 1

Devote a full day to touring South Carolina’s capital, Columbia. Downtown sights include the South Carolina State Museum, the South Carolina State House, and the University of South Carolina. In addition, don’t miss the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Have dinner in the trendy Vista area and finish with a nightcap in boisterous Five Points. Spend the night at the venerable Inn at USC.

Day 2

Get up bright and early and drive out of town to Congaree National Park to walk along its primordial cypress swamp and old-growth forest. If you have time, go down to Orangeburg to see the Edisto Memorial Gardens. Head east and end the day in Camden. Explore the picturesque historic district with its many antiques shops.

Day 3

Drive up U.S. 1 to Cheraw to see its charming historic district and visit the nearby Dizzy Gillespie home site and park. Scoot over to Darlington and check out Darlington Raceway, the grandfather of all stock car tracks. Spend the rest of the afternoon near Florence at Woods Bay State Natural Area, enjoying the well-preserved Carolina Bay.

High Times in Horse Country

You don’t have to own a horse to enjoy a weekend in Aiken. If you’re here in spring, you can aim to see a polo match on Sunday.

lush flora surrounding Carolina Bay in Aiken South Carolina
Carolina Bay Nature Preserve is Aiken’s most underrated attraction. Photo © Jim Morekis.

Day 1

Explore Aiken’s historic Winter Colony district and racetracks. After lunch, check out the Carolina Bay Nature Preserve. Stay in Aiken at the classy Willcox or the old Hotel Aiken.

Day 2

Get up bright and early to explore Aiken’s Hitchcock Woods on a long, relaxing hike. If you’re here in the fall and it’s a Saturday, you might even catch a fox hunt. Or, if you’re here in the spring and it’s a Sunday, grab lunch after your hike and aim to catch a polo match at Whitney Field.

In the Shadow of the Blue Ridge

This weekend trip highlights the best of the Upstate, from the beautiful natural setting to city life and early American history. Spend one night in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains and another in cosmopolitan Greenville.

people playing in the water at Falls Park on the Reedy River
Falls Park on the Reedy in Greeneville. Photo © Jim Morekis.

Day 1

Begin at the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson before heading over to little Pendleton and enjoying lunch on the Village Green. Head up to Walhalla in the afternoon and check out the unique Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls. Stay in a B&B or camp at Oconee State Park.

Day 2

Spend the day in Greenville: enjoy Falls Park on the Reedy; do some shopping on restored Main Street; and maybe check out artworks by the great masters at the Bob Jones University Museum and Gallery. In the evening, take in a minor-league baseball game at Fluor Field. Splurge for the night at the classy Westin Poinsett downtown.

Day 3

Drive to Cowpens National Battlefield outside Spartanburg to learn about this pivotal Revolutionary War battle. After a classic greasy-spoon lunch at Spartanburg’s Beacon Drive-In, head over to York County to check out Historic Brattonsville and its excellently restored upcountry homestead site, complete with living-history demonstrations.

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Honeymooning? Traveling with kids? Craving the beach? Whatever you're after, these 5 itineraries cover the best places in South Carolina to visit.

The Best of Texas in Two Weeks

Since Texas is such an enormous state, many travelers opt to focus on a manageable region to maximize their time and resources (fun fact: it can take 12 hours to get from Houston to El Paso). Instead of scraping the surface by visiting several major cities in different areas, it’s more rewarding to delve into one part of the state and soak up the local culture via regional restaurants, historic sites, and recreational activities.

The following itineraries represent an overview of Texas’s most-visited regions. The accompanying sites are unlike any others across the country, yet they merely represent the top-layer cream of each region’s abundant crop.

Travelers can expect to accomplish most of the activities listed in these regional itineraries within two or three days. For those with extra time on their hands, consider exploring another region—the first three are each within a three-hour drive of each other. The Big Bend area, however, is a slightly longer (yet completely worthwhile) detour. It’s about an eight-hour drive to this part of West Texas from Dallas, Austin, or San Antonio.

colorful umbrellas lining the san antonio river walk
The San Antonio River Walk. Photo © AndreyKrav/iStock.

San Antonio, Austin, and the Hill Country

This part of the state is a magnet for those seeking a laid-back getaway. Austin and San Antonio are navigable and comfortably sized, and the equally welcoming Hill Country offers low-key recreational destinations surrounded by rolling landscapes and panoramic skies.

Day 1

Start in San Antonio by visiting Texas’s most famous attraction: the Alamo. Next, head to the nearby River Walk for some local scenery and a classic Tex-Mex lunch at Casa Rio. Afterward, visit the Alamo’s historic siblings, the four other 18th-century structures that make up the Missions National Historical Park, or search for tempting Mexican imports and dinner in the King William Historic District.

Day 2

Head north for 1.5 hours on I-35 to Austin for a day and night in Texas’s creative hotbed. Visit the State Capitol, take a stroll down trendy South Congress Avenue, watch a million bats emerge from under a downtown bridge, and experience the “Live Music Capital of the World” at a hip East Side club.

Days 3-4

Plan to spend a weekend exploring the Hill Country, which offers all kinds of compelling options. Choose from dude ranches in Bandera, the LBJ National Historical Park near Fredericksburg, or paddling or tubing on the Frio River.

longhorn bulls under the Fort Worth Stockyards sign
The Fort Worth Stockyards. Photo courtesy of the Fort Worth CVB.

Dallas and Fort Worth

Day 1

Begin in Fort Worth, even if your hotel is in Dallas, in which case the 40-minute drive west on I-30 is still worth the effort. Go directly to the Fort Worth Stockyards and immerse yourself in Texas’s cattle-driving heritage. Spend the afternoon at the internationally acclaimed Kimbell Art Museum before devoting the evening to eating and nightlife at Sundance Square.

Day 2

Despite the negative associations, one of the lasting legacies of Dallas is its association with John F. Kennedy’s assassination, and the Sixth Floor Museum deftly documents its political and cultural implications. After lunch in the West End Historic District, visit the fascinating new Perot Museum of Nature and Science or Fair Park, where several museums tell the story of Texas’s rich past. For dinner and drinks, be sure to visit the Greenville entertainment district.

aerial view of the beach at Padre Island in Texas
Padre Island National Seashore in Corpus Christi. Photo © RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/iStock.

Houston and the Gulf Coast

Day 1

Head to Houston for an out-of-this-world experience at the NASA Space Center. Visit the Museum District to choose from any of its 19 world-class facilities, or for something completely distinctive, check out the bizarre folk art of The Orange Show.

Days 2-3

For those in need of a beach fix, head about three hours southwest to Corpus Christi for a weekend of wave-based recreation, seafood, and cultural attractions (the Texas State Aquarium, in particular). If you’re short on time, Galveston offers historical destinations and beachcombing just an hour southeast of Houston.

brush and red earth of the Chisos Mountains under a clear blue sky
“The Window” in the Chisos Mountains. Photo © Wilsilver77/iStock.

Big Bend Area

The West Texas detour is quite a jaunt, but it’s absolutely worth it. The wide-open spaces and enormous sky in Marfa and the natural wonders of Big Bend National Park will give travelers a true sense of the Texas mystique.

Day 1

Begin your journey in Marfa with the fascinating Chinati Foundation, which features contemporary art in a historic army base. Later, head to nearby Fort Davis for a quick visit to McDonald Observatory or to Alpine for the Museum of the Big Bend. After sundown, be sure to look for the mysterious Marfa Lights.

Days 2-3

Head about an hour south to Big Bend National Park for a couple days of camping and hiking in the Chisos Mountains (Santa Elena Canyon is a must-see). A side trip to the abandoned mining town of Terlingua, about an hour away, is also a worthy option. Spend the night in a tent or the Chisos Mountains Lodge.

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Since Texas is such an enormous state, many travelers opt to focus on a manageable region to maximize their time and resources. Stitch together these suggested itineraries to see the best of Texas in 2 weeks.

3-Day Ho Chi Minh City Itinerary

As one of Vietnam’s younger cities, Ho Chi Minh City has infectious energy. When experienced like a local, this massive, fast-paced behemoth is a wonderful place. Plan for three action-packed days around town, whizzing past the city’s sights and enjoying all the sounds, smells, and vibrancy of life in Vietnam’s largest metropolis.

aerial view of the plaza around notre dame cathedral in ho chi minh city vietnam
Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo © Huy Thoai/iStock.

Day 1

Start your adventure at the Reunification Palace with a free guided tour. When you’ve finished, stroll through 30-4 Park, stopping for a ca phe bet (sidewalk coffee) if you need a caffeine fix, or popping into one of the posh air-conditioned cafés nearby. The opposite end of the park opens onto Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. From here, walk up toward Turtle Lake for lunch. There are plenty of options overlooking the roundabout and on the side streets surrounding 30-4 Park. You can also head west to Khoai or …hum before spending the afternoon at the War Remnants Museum.

Head back toward the backpacker district as the day winds down, passing through Tao Dan Park en route. Stop by Chill Skybar or OMG for cocktails and bird’s-eye views of the city, or simply rest up before heading off for dinner. District 1’s Tan Dinh neighborhood is a good choice. For street food, Banh Xeo 46A offers a great introduction into local cuisine, while Cuc Gach Quan adds an upscale environment to its delicious Vietnamese menu. Not far from this area, seafood lovers will also appreciate Quan Mien Cua 94 Cu.

After dinner, return to the backpacker neighborhood for cheap street beers or a laid-back drink at The View. Dance floors are abundant throughout this area, with live bands playing nightly at Universal Bar and Thi Cafe.

xe om bike sits in front of the Thien Hau Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City
Take a ride over to Thien Hau Pagoda. Photo © jethuyn/iStock.

Day 2

Jet out to Cho Lon first thing in the morning to explore Chinatown’s enormous wholesale market. You can grab breakfast from one of the many market vendors before hitching a xe om ride over to Thien Hau Pagoda, stopping in at the nearby Chaozhou Congregation Hall and Cho Lon Mosque while you’re there. When you’ve had your fill of District 5, head back downtown to bustling Ben Thanh Market for shopping and lunch. Wander down Le Loi street, passing by the city’s charming colonial Hotel de Ville building and the Opera House as you reach a more upscale part of town.

Enjoy a sunset drink from the rooftop of Broma or grab a cocktail at the swanky Racha Room. Dinner in this neighborhood is an international affair, with Ciao Bella, The Refinery, and Pizza 4Ps within walking distance, as well as a few local eateries, such as Bo Tung Xeo and the Temple Club.

For a night on the town, Last Call, a classy cocktail lounge, is nearby, as is Phatty’s, an expat sports bar, and the dance floor of Apocalypse Now. The city’s best live music venues are Yoko and Saigon Ranger.

motorcyclists driving by the Ho Chi Minh City Opera House at night
Take a stroll past the stately Opera House. Photo © AG-ChapelHill/iStock.

Day 3

Spend your last day in the city with a local. Art enthusiasts can sign up for Sophie’s Art Tour to learn more about Vietnam’s history through the eyes of its artists. Foodies will appreciate Back of the Bike Tours, which go around town, savoring all the best local fare. If you prefer an activity, you can spend the morning honing your culinary skills with a cooking class or treat yourself at one of the city’s spas.

When you’re ready for lunch, pay a visit to the famous Lunch Lady for one of her tasty soups before walking to the Jade Emperor Pagoda nearby. From here, spend the rest of the afternoon unwinding at a café or wandering around the city.

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As one of Vietnam’s younger cities, Ho Chi Minh City has infectious energy. When experienced like a local, this massive, fast-paced behemoth is a wonderful place. Plan for three action-packed days around town, whizzing past the city’s sights and enjoying all the sounds, smells, and vibrancy of life in Vietnam’s largest metropolis.

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