The Ultimate Guide To Underrated Destinations In Our Favorite Cities
If you're traveling in the United States, you're likely armed with a mental checklist of the iconic sights you're supposed to see.
So if you're heading to New York City, Times Square is most likely your first stop. In Philadelphia, you probably won't leave without seeing the Liberty Bell. And if you are lounging in sunny Los Angeles, you'll undoubtedly stop for a selfie in front of the iconic Hollywood sign.
Now: We're not discounting these destinations. But in the rush to check off boxes, you just might lose sight of the cool attractions that will make your trip truly memorable.
To help you on your next great American road trip, we've partnered with the Hopper from DISH -- which gives you the power to transfer your favorite recorded movies and shows to any device -- to give you some advice on the destinations you absolutely should not skip.
Boston: Faneuil Hall
Flickr: Tony Fischer
What it’s known for: You’ll get your fill of history -- after all, it's a stop on the Freedom Trail and a meeting hall since the 18th century -- , but you’ll also get your fill of chain clothing stores, middling food, and faux-authentic Boston restaurants, like the one from “Cheers.”
Hidden gem:The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is frequently overlooked in favor of the Museum of Fine Arts and Children’s Museum -- which, don't get us wrong, are also great. The museum's namesake and founder was a world traveler, philanthropist and enthusiastic art collector with extremely exacting standards. (Case in point: Even decades after her death, paintings remain exactly where she left them.) The jaw-dropping atrium alone is worth the price of admission, and it's pretty kid-friendly. Last but not least, It’s the same neighborhood as Fenway Park, so you can hit both in one day.
New York: Times Square
Flickr: Greg Knapp
What it’s known for: Bright flashing lights, cartoon mascots, teeming hordes of people
Hidden gem: Take a trip to the outer boroughs of Brooklyn and go to Prospect Park. It’s basically the Central Park of Brooklyn (even designed by the same landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux), but without the tourist crowd and surrounding skyscrapers. Even when it's full of activity, it's an oasis of peace for people-watching with your family. If you're in the mood for some more stimulating activities, there is a new ice-skating / rollerskating rink and a summer concert series, Celebrate Brooklyn, a great alternative to the hectic Summerstage series in Central Park.
Houston: The Galleria
Flickr: Michael Coghlan
What it’s known for: Being a huge mall that spans 2.4 million square feet and houses 400 stores and restaurants, two high-rise hotels and three office towers.
Hidden gem: The downtown underground tunnel system is a more novel experience. You'll find an interconnected series of restaurants and shops located 20 feet below the street level. It's more than 6 miles long (connecting 95 blocks), and it actually started out as a tunnel between two movie theaters. Just make sure you know where to enter (through a Wells Fargo or parking lot on Main is recommended).
Washington, D.C.: Museums That Charge For Admission
Flickr: Matt Chan
What it’s known for: Its monuments and museums, of course. But paying for a museum, like the International Spy Museum, can mean a cool $20 for adult admission -- along with the crowds that go with most tourist spots in the District. Why not check out one of the 19 free, amazing Smithsonian museums instead?
Hidden gem: Visit the FDR Memorial, an ode to the iconic president. While not the most imposing monument (we think that the honor belongs to Abraham Lincoln), it's filled with art, inspirational quotations, and natural elements like waterfalls that make this a veritable oasis.
Chicago: Navy Pier
Flickr: Michael Lehet
What it’s known for: It's the biggest tourist attraction in the Midwest and it’s basically a glorified mall. You'll trek far from other Chicago attractions only to find carnival games, chain restaurants and fellow tourists.
Hidden gem: Go to the “beach” on Lake Michigan. On sunny days, it's bustling with runners, bikers and frolicking families. Try North Avenue Beach, where you can rent bikes and kayaks.
Atlanta: Coca Cola Museum
Flickr: Chris Palmer
What it's known for: Before there was Jimmy Carter, the 1996 Olympics and Hartsfield International Airport, Atlanta was known for one thing and one thing only: Coca-Cola. While the company is fascinating, and you DO get all the free cola you want at the end of your museum trip, this tourist trap does nothing to reflect the culture and verve of the Southern city.
Hidden gem: If you are crazy enough to visit "Hotlanta" during the months of May through October, make sure to pack a picnic and spend an evening at Stone Mountain. The free event consists of a dazzling laser display, set to a series of Southern-themed, patriotic rock songs boasting about Atlanta's points of pride. Sure, you can get fancier pyrotechnics somewhere else, but there is something magical about the Confederate soldier mural chiseled into the side of the mountain.
San Francisco: Fisherman’s Wharf
Flickr: Nicolas Vollmer
What it’s known for:Fisherman's Wharf is historical, yes, but mostly just a nice place to walk around. You can stroll through Ghirardelli Square (of Ghirardelli chocolate fame), ogle at the sunning seals and eat seafood.
Hidden gem: Grab a bite at PPQ Dungeness Island, a hole-in-the-wall joint tucked away in a distant neighborhood by the beach. We’ve heard the garlic noodle dish is out of this world -- along with the fresh dungeness crabs, of course.
Philadelphia: The Liberty Bell
Courtesy of Flickr/Mararie
What it's known for: According to guide books and/or history buffs, the Liberty Bell is clearly The Attraction if you are going to hit up the City of Brotherly Love. But with the long lines and little else to see in the center, this may be an attraction you are better off checking out from afar.
Hidden gem: For incredible Philly grub and goods, check out Reading Terminal Market, only a hop, skip and a jump away from all the museums and historical sites. Vendors set up shop with some of the most delicious ice creams, po boys, candles and more. Expert tip: Find the bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce. Your life will never be the same!
Seattle: Space Needle
Flickr: Natalie Greco
What it's known for: The 605-foot tower gives you a great bird's-eye view of the city; that is, if it's not raining and you're okay with waiting in line.
Hidden gem:Pike Place Market dates back to 1907 and boasts a year-round farmers market, bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands and specialty food stores across 9 acres.
Los Angeles: The Hollywood Sign
What it’s known for: It’s a hike, and not necessarily our favorite one. Sometimes a sign is just a sign.
Hidden gem: Drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. You’ll enjoy various terrains: mountains, desolate flatlands, adorable and quaint towns with unique cliff sides. It's a winding road, but worth the photo ops you'll get -- you won't even feel like you're in the States anymore. Some tips: If you're driving from Los Angeles, try a 2-hour trip from Palos Verdes up to Malibu. Stop at Dana Point (for the view), Manhattan Beach, Playa Del Rey (for food), Venice (for the famous Venice sign), Santa Monica (to check out the pier) and Malibu (for a refreshment) along the way.
With the Hopper from DISH, you can transfer recorded TV to your mobile device, so you can watch your favorite movies and shows on the road, even without an Internet connection.