Destinations You Never Wanted To Visit
A few weeks ago, Amy wrote about the spring break that wasn’t supposed to happen. You know; the one that travelers are still taking despite the drooping economy. Prices are up, but families are still getting out of town.
Being a traveler – and a budget traveler at that – I was inspired to dig up spring break travel inventory that is begging to be purchased. I wanted to see exactly where I could go (from San Francisco) for a few hundred bucks, and what I found was a list of seemingly lackluster places that travelers never wanted to visit. Well, until now.
Take Ft. Worth, Texas, for instance. Now, I grew up near “Cowtown,” so I’m a bit disgruntled by the fact that some people – without even coming here – would call this place, dare I say, boring. But, this is a myth that I’m about to shatter. I spent many breaks as a child exploring its museums, playing in its parks and indulging in its restaurants. Boots and 10-gallon hats are the stereotype here. Indeed, cowboy culture infuses just about every nook and cranny of this place, but in a way that’s charming and somewhat magical. Explore the Stockyards National Historic District for a bit of local flavor, and don’t miss the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Ride on Puffy, a 1896 Steam locomotive that travels along the historic Cotton Belt Route, or indulge in Tex-Mex cuisine at Joe T. Garcia’s for the best alfresco dining in town.
Here are a few other budget-friendly destinations that you probably never thought to visit:
- Tallahassee, Fla.: Often called “The Other Florida,” Tallahassee evokes a sense of Southern-hospitality that can’t be found anywhere else in the state. Drive along its oak-lined streets to one of the sprawling plantations, or visit the Capitol buildings for a glimpse of the city’s deep-rooted history. To experience the outdoors, try a hunting or fishing expedition or just relax on one of the nearby beaches.
- Pittsburgh, Pa.: Celebrating its 250th birthday this year, Pittsburgh has managed to modernize its city-center and maintain its historical charm. Visit the Andy Warhol Museum or catch a show at Cabaret Pittsburgh, a premier nightspot. Sate your desire for seclusion with a side trip to Pittsburgh’s countryside, where you can explore its iconic covered bridges, wineries and trails.
- Milwaukee, Wis.: “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!” The popular TV show Laverne and Shirley called attention to the breweries that built this city, but Milwaukee has since shed its beer baron image. Take the family to Maple Sugar Days (March 15-16), or visit Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum or the International Clown Hall of Fame.
- Boise, Idaho: Even though it’s known mostly for its potatoes, Boise boasts an outdoor playground worth bragging about. Tackle the rapids on a white water rafting adventure down the Payette River, or explore nearby trails. City slickers yearning for some culture should head to Grove Street, a.k.a. Basque Block. There, visitors can explore the Basque Museum to learn how Boise became home to the largest Basque population in the country.
Now, you’re probably wondering why you should even consider these lesser-known, not-so-sexy destinations, but visiting places that aren’t known as Spring Break hot spots come with a few notable bragging rights:
- You’ll likely be the only person in your circle of friends to have vacationed there, but before you know it, you’ll be setting a trend.
- There’s no need to take out a second mortgage to pay for the trip – these places are budget-friendly.
- You don’t need a whole week to get to know many of these destinations, so you can save by taking a shorter break.
- The kiddos will really appreciate it when next time you take them somewhere they actually want to visit.
Photo Courtesy of IgoUgo Member Dutchnatasja.
My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.
(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)
Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!
My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!
Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.
View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!