Vacations are something everyone needs from time to time to unwind from their hectic work schedule, demanding life, or to feed their adventurous spirits. Planning the ideal vacation usually involves months and months of preparation, looking through the most affordable flights, hotel and meal packages, and most importantly, a place that offers enough entertainment value to justify the expense.
That's when all the most talked about destinations come into play. Dreams of walking through the Big Apple, visiting Madison Square Garden, or walking through the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in hopes of seeing their favorite celebrity, begin to fill a prospective traveler's mind. Perhaps a tropical getaway is in the works and Miami or Honolulu seem like the ideal destinations. Whatever the case, travelers tend to consider the most romanticized locations around the world when planning their temporary getaways.
But what about all the other places worth exploring? From their food scene, their historical value, or the list of activities they offer, these places are well worth the cost and sometimes are more affordable than their overhyped counterparts. Are you contemplating making a trip sometime soon, and want a run-through of the best options out there (and those you can pass on without regret)?
Let's start with the overhyped places!
25 Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame attracts tourists from all around the world with block after block filled with celebrity stars (on the ground), a selection of Designer brand stores inside The Hollywood Mall, and most importantly--the potential celebrity sightings!
But once tourists get passed all this hype and their initial rounds of 'shop till you drop,' the thrill becomes nothing more than a fading sentiment.
On a worthwhile note, making a stop in at Madame Tussaud's Museum is a 'must' due to its wax replicas of every great Hollywood actor since the beginning of the film industry.
24 Las Vegas
Las Vegas attracts people from all around the world due to its many casinos, clubs, and drinking laws, which allow anyone over the age of twenty-one to freely roam the streets with their favorite cocktail in hand.
While Las Vegas provides entertainment value for days-on, the downside is the monetary toll it takes on visitors which can reach the thousands if they decide to let loose entirely.
On the upside, the shows are worth the splurge with pop-icons such as Britney Spears performing regularly.
23 Rodeo Drive
Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, this shopping district is another tourist hotspot that lures people with its chic boutiques, Designer brand shops, quaint eateries and bakeries, and of course, possibly bumping into someone famous in the midst of it all.
But when it comes to having a good time on any given day without draining one's wallet, Rodeo Drive isn't the first, second, or even last option.
But at least it allows for a free dose of Cali sun through its outdoor layout. Walking around and looking at the nice cars and gorgeous designers shoes may be the only free thing to do there, so don't get tempted into walking right into the stores!
22 Magic Kingdom
One of the main reasons why people all around the world travel to Orlando, Florida is so they can visit Disney World. While the Magic Kingdom offers many of the same rides, shows, and Disney characters that are found in the original Disneyland, it doesn't provide anything new to the experience of avid Disney goers. A trip to Epcot Center or the Animal Kingdom is a much better investment considering they're on a whole different level in their offerings (especially the former, which provides a one-day trip around the world).
21 Hard Rock Cafe (everywhere)
Established in London as a way to enjoy good food, strong drinks, and laughing the night away with buddies over Rock n' Roll, Hard Rock Cafe has stood the test of time and has expanded throughout the world. It lives true to its reputation with its lively ambiance and 70s, 80s, and 90s Rock playing at all times.
But, we admit it's become so mainstream that hearing one's own voice (much less their friends and families) is nearly impossible due to its constant busyness.
Nevertheless, it's still the perfect stop to shop for souvenirs and musical memorabilia.
20 The Golden Gate Bridge
Constructed in 1933, the Golden Gate Bridge is a traveler's main passageway across the Bay area to other parts of California. It's San Francisco's biggest landmark with its mile-long, red suspension making it visible from just about anywhere in the city. Its beauty is best appreciated at night when it lights up along with the rest of the city.
Unfortunately, the dazzlement becomes secondary when travelers become stuck in rush-hour traffic and the bridge's aesthetic turns into a reminder of their one-mile per hour progress home.
19 Santa Monica Beach
With natives and visitors flooding it at all times, Santa Monica Beach is one of the most popular hangouts in the City of Los Angeles.
It's a fun place to go on a Ferris Wheel ride, spend a few hours playing inside its arcade, or have a self-portrait made by the independent artists stationed on the pier.
Biking and just walking by the shore are also great on sunny Cali days; but compared to the many vendors, food stands, and liveliness of Venice Beach, Santa Monica Beach falls into second place.
18 Solvang, California
This region of Santa Inez Valley attracts people through its Danish-inspired souvenir shops, eateries, and wine-tasting rooms, all of which allow the most adventurous of connoisseurs to fully indulge. For visitors who prefer a more artistic experience, Solvang's Elverhoj Museum and Festival Theater dive into Denmark's history and its artists' many contributions.
It's a small place, and it does pale in comparison to the real deal.
The holiday season is especially inviting with Jule Fest holding candlelight tours and a tree lighting event. Yet, Solvang's main setback is that its offerings are easily covered in two to three return visits.
17 Portland, Oregon
Portland is the eclectic epicenter of Oregon with its indie music scene, wineries, museums, and restaurants to fill anyone's itinerary for days. Its food scene has expanded in recent years to cater to all tastes, with its vegan scene being one of the most popular throughout the country due to its inventive spin on traditional cuisines.
And with a popular vegan food scene, comes all the Vegans.
The only problem is that for people who thrive on constant daylight to function, Oregon becomes a deal-breaker through its mostly gloomy forecast and only 142 days of yearly sunshine.
16 The Sunset Strip
This Hollywood hotspot entices visitors with its upscale bars, clubs, and hotel rooftop parties, with strict dress codes and tight security. The strip also offers The Comedy Store and Laugh Factory for those who aren't interested in late-night clubbing. Which include popular comedians such as Dane Cook, Drew Carey, and Tim Allen performing regularly. But none of these venues and events are cost-effective due to their steep cover charges, ticket prices, and two-drink minimums quickly taking a toll on just about anyone's wallet.
15 Napa Valley
Napa Valley is one of the Wine Country’s most visited regions. With an abundance of hills, of vineyards, and hundreds of wineries offering daily tours, this area is excellent for anyone looking to go on a weekend getaway or a greater cause for celebration.
With all the tourists comes a whole lot of trash as well.
The wine scene goes hand-in-hand with Napa’s many fine dining establishments, with a glass of wine being the staple accompaniment to any meal. This noted, Napa is not a kid-friendly destination and families are best sticking to The Bay Area in their vacationing endeavors.
14 Lombard Street
This curvy passageway is one of the Bay Area’s most popular streets, extending from Presidio Boulevard up until The Embarcadero.
Hundreds of cars pile-up one after the other to drive through its eight spiral turns, seeing some of Russian Hill's nicest homes, residents strolling by on their bikes, and a pristine, ocean view straight ahead.
In all its glamour, Lombard only extends for about twelve blocks and its constant back-up of vehicles make it a bittersweet experience for those with an already busy agenda.
13 The Alamo
Located in San Antonio, Texas, this site attracts those interested in learning more about this state's history. From virtual, audio, to employee tour guides, visitors get a thorough depiction of how Texas was founded, the events that led to its fight for independence, and how the conflict was finally resolved.
It is often booked out for movies or even some private events.
Other attractions include shops carrying Texan merchandise, exhibits further dwelling into The Alamo's history, and workshops for grade school students. Contrastingly, the site's educational functions become secondary when celebrities use it as a performance space or visitors rent it out for private events.
12 Beverly Hills
From shopping on Rodeo Drive, taking a picture in front of the 'Beverly Hills' sign in Beverly Gardens Park, to attending a special event at the acclaimed Greystone Mansion, Beverly Hills offers a vast array of activities for tourists and locals alike. For those who don’t feel like completely draining their wallets, free or extremely affordable attractions include LACMA (Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Arts) or window shopping from Rodeo through Wilshire Boulevard.
But once these activities are covered, Beverly Hills proves to be just another city in Los Angeles.
11 Orlando, Florida
Orlando is representative of one of the world’s most coveted tourist destinations: Disney World. With Epcot Center, The Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studio Tours, and The Animal Kingdom readily accessible for families to buy weekend passes and spend their entire vacation walking through them for miles on, Orlando continues to prove that is is appealing to the masses, and doesn't look like that's going to change any time soon.
Distracted by all the theme parks, people don't seem to notice that the weather is terrible!
But for those visiting from sunnier regions of the world, this state’s daily rain results in a dampening experience, especially while walking through these parks in shorts and sandals.
Now let's move onto 10 seriously underrated places that need to be shown a little more love!
10 New Orleans
People talk about NOLA and its advantages of partying on Bourbon Street, walking through The French Quarter with alcoholic beverages in hand, and the Annual Mardi Gras carnival.
People come for the parties, and definitely stay for the food and the experience.
Booze and festivities aside, New Orleans offers an enriching experience for tourists from Vampire and Plantation tours, Gondola bike strolls through the city, or just walking through its streets and covering major historical sites. As added perks, New Orleans offers some of the most delicious Cajun food in the South along with Cafe Du Monde's indulgent beignets.
9 Downtown Los Angeles
At this point in history, all someone has to do is walk down Spring Street to get a feel of Downtown Los Angeles's many renovations throughout the years. In the 1920's, its urban roots shifted to a metropolitan setting, giving way to skyscrapers, banks, and other entertainment venues. In its most recent renaissance, these landmarks are now accompanied by attractions such as The Walt Disney Concert Hall, a monthly art walk, the growing Arts District, and LA Life, the latter which is filled with restaurant chains, a movie theater, and live performers.
8 East Los Angeles
While some people may consider Hollywood Boulevard, Downtown Los Angeles, or the LACMA museum as top sites of Los Angeles's history, East Los Angeles shouldn't' be discounted. As a primarily Latino community, this county comes with everything from authentic Mexican and Central American restaurants, El Mercadito (a commercial site in Boyle Heights offering Mexican food, arts and crafts, and live Mariachis), and landmarks including The Latino Walk of Fame and The County of Los Angeles Public Library. It's also the birthplace to key city contributors such as Edward James Olmos and Jaime Escalante.
7 Boston, Massachusetts
Notable for its role in the country's Revolution, this city is one of the most alluring sites in the U.S. It contains monuments and attractions that educate visitors on its historical significance, including The Museum of Fine Arts, the Freedom Trail (a 2.5-mile pathway highlighting the state's historical sites), and The Boston Tea Party Ships and Museums. It also caters to just about every taste through its Museum of Science, Boston Harborwalk, and Franklin Park Zoo, making it the perfect destination for visitors of all ages.
6 Highland Park, Los Angeles
What was once considered one of the more impoverished and dangerous areas of Los Angeles is now an up-and-coming product of gentrification. Highland Park's entertainment scene is at its peak, with hotspots such as Highland Park Movie Theater, Highland Park Bowl, and Heritage Square Museum reeling in tourists and native Angelenos alike. The food scene itself is one of the most frequented in Los Angeles, with vegan eateries such as Donut Friend bakeshop, Cena Vegan, and the Word of Mouth food truck leading the way.
5 The California Science Center
For all lovers of Science out there, the California Science Center holds everything imaginable, and beyond their wildest dreams. This is perhaps the best destination for families to head to during a trip to Los Angeles due to its wide range of exhibits, including its longstanding Endeavor presentation, IMAX screenings, discovery rooms, and a multitude of cool gadgets and machines for kids to try out.
One of the best things is that general admission is always free!
Seriously one of the best bargains in L.A!
4 Lake Arrowhead
It goes without saying that California's ratio of sunniness far outweighs its gloomy forecasts. A snowy winter is something natives have to go out of their way for by trekking up California’s mountains, where they will find Lake Arrowhead.
Located in the Inland Empire of California, Lake Arrowhead is the ideal destination for anyone looking for a White Christmas.
From rowing through its lake, to hiking its many trails, there is never a dull moment for its occupants. The best part is that it delivers the best of the four seasons with snowy winters, rainy springs, sunny summers, and dusky autumns.
3 Hollywood Theater Row
Extending through major streets such as Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, this district is the heart of the Los Angeles's theater scene and consists of twenty-plus stages that include The Lex Theatre, Studio C Artists, and National Comedy Theatre. These venues constantly operate to pave the way for aspiring actors and playwrights looking to break into the entertainment industry. One of its biggest events is its annual Hollywood Fringe Festival, a month-long event presenting hundreds of one-person shows and plays by incredible new and popular artists.
2 Echo Park, Los Angeles
Echo Park is another location filled with Los Angeles history. From its iconic Lake, preserved Victorian-style homes in Angeleno Heights, to the fusion of old and modern apartment complexes in Victor Heights, visitors get a taste of the many infrastructural changes this neighborhood has undergone. It's also the ideal destination for everything from lunch dates, coffee shop hangouts, or a daily grocery run with Masa of Echo Park, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Lassen's Natural Foods and Vitamins all lined-up within a one-mile radius.
1 San Diego
While most people think of Los Angeles or San Francisco when planning big city trips in California, San Diego is a heavily overlooked destination. With its authentic Mexican restaurants, museums that range in the hundreds, and its lively Downtown scene, San Diego falls into a league of its own in entertainment value. Some of its major attractions include Comic-Con, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, and The San Diego Zoo. For those on a budget, San Diego also offers free activities, such as visiting Old Town San Diego State Historic Park or strolling through its many miles of beaches.
References: huffpost.com ; thrillist.com