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The lure of vacationing in a vibrant and exciting metropolis seems attractive, but sometimes things like traffic, parking, safety concerns, and general griminess might leave you wishing you could enjoy all the big-city culture without all the big-city headaches that might come with it. Fortunately, there is a way—if you’re willing to give a quaint nearby suburb a chance. Booking a hotel just outside of town still gives you access to explore the city but, at the end of the day, have the comfort and ease of sleeping in a less hectic environment. Plus, some suburbs are destinations of their own, with interesting and family-friendly attractions worth visiting. Here are a few of our favorite big city suburbs worth booking for your next big-city getaway.

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Detroit: Dearborn

Downtown Detroit has incredible museums, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Motown Museum, Michigan Science Center, Detroit Children’s Museum, and Detroit Historical Museum. You’ll also want to tour the city’s stunning architecture and spend a morning browsing and noshing at Eastern Market. However, nearby Dearborn also has its own highlights, such as the must-see Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Automotive Hall of Fame, the open-air Greenfield Village, and amazing Middle Eastern restaurants.

Suburban stay: Dearborn’s The Henry, Autograph Collection is a contemporary, colorful hotel with close access to area attractions. The pet-friendly accommodations include an indoor pool, Club Lounge, fitness center, free WiFi, and an on-property restaurant featuring classic American cuisine.

The Henry, Autograph Collection

Image courtesy The Henry, Autograph Collection

Houston: Sugar Land

There’s plenty to do in Houston, like visiting the Space Center Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Aquarium, Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, and Gerald D. Hines Waterfall Park. But suburban Sugar Land also has a lot going on. Check out the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center (Kidtropolis), Sugar Land Memorial Park, Brazos River Corridor, and Oyster Creek Park.

Suburban stay: Overlooking tranquil Brooks Lake, the Hyatt Place Houston/Sugar Land hotel is a welcome retreat within minutes of downtown Houston. It’s a pet-friendly hotel that offers free parking and internet access, and breakfast is included. There’s also a fitness center and pool, and guest rooms include a living room area.

Image courtesy of Hyatt Place Houston/Sugar Land

Chicago: Evanston

The Windy City has no lack of things to check out. Must-dos include seeing “The Bean” piece of art in Millennium Park, shopping on the Magnificent Mile, taking an architectural boat cruise on the Chicago River, and taking in the view from the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. But nearby Evanston, an adjacent lakefront suburb just north of the city, is home to the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Frances Willard House Museum, and the Block Museum of Art, and it has a nice beach to boot. It is also where Northwestern University is located. Getting to and from the city is easy via CTA trains.

Suburban stay: Stay at the Graduate Evanston for a sophisticated experience near the university with décor that reflects the history of the campus. Guest rooms feature plaid and herringbone accents, relevant books, and antique furnishings. The quaint and cozy accommodation is located close to the Lake (that would be Michigan).

the Graduate Evanston

Image courtesy the Graduate Evanston

Miami: Coral Gables

After you’ve had your fill of Miami’s night club scene, art deco architecture, Cuban-inspired food, sun-drenched beaches and inspiring murals, head to Coral Gables for a slower-paced respite. Coral Gables is a beautiful ‘burb about 20 minutes southwest of downtown Miami and features the spring-fed 1920s Venetian Pool, Lowe Art Museum and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and puts you close to the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens and the historic Deering Estate.

Suburban stay: For a luxury retreat, book a room at the gorgeous Biltmore Hotel Miami Coral Gables. The hotel is a destination unto itself, thanks to its ornate Spanish Revival architecture, as well as upscale amenities such as tennis courts, a 23,000-square-foot pool, golf course, and full-service spa. The historic resort was established in 1926 and also includes a theater with live performances, and a culinary academy. There are also eight on-property dining options that range from Sunday brunch to afternoon tea.

Biltmore Hotel Miami Coral Gables

Image courtesy Biltmore Hotel Miami Coral Gables

Las Vegas: Summerlin

Hit the Strip for a show, to play the slots, see the view from the Eiffel Tower, or be awed by the Bellagio fountains, then escape to the master-planned community of Summerlin. Here you’ll find a great selection of restaurants, parks and playgrounds, multi-use trails, fitness facilities, shopping centers, and community activities. One of the biggest attractions in the area is scenic Red Rock Canyon, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Take a scenic drive, go for a hike, try bouldering, or visit the Interpretation Center.

Suburban stay: Enjoy an upscale escape at the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa. The stunning décor, picturesque views of the desert landscape, a three-acre pool area, large guest suites that range in size from 1,030 to 7,500-square-feet, a wide array of gaming, plenty of on-property dining (including a food court), and a range of activities for all ages make this a resort no one in the family will ever want to leave.

Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa

Image courtesy Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa

San Francisco: Sausalito

Spend time taking in the sights of the City by the Bay, such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, the TransAmerica Pyramid, Chinatown, Crissy Field and, of. course, Golden Gate Park. Families will love riding a cable car, indulging in a hot fudge sundae at Ghirardelli Square, trying some clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf, or visiting one of the many museums like the Exploratorium. But, when it’s time to get some rest for the night, hop on a ferry (or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge) for a scenic ride to Sausalito. This charming waterfront suburb in Marin County offers access to many outdoor activities, scenic views of the city, and a variety of charming restaurants and shops. Visit the Sausalito Houseboat colony, hike to a lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore, plus check out the Marine Mammal Center, Bay Area Discovery Museum, or Fort Baker National Park. For fresh air and great views, get out and take a hike in Muir Woods, walk along Muir Beach, or mountain bike Mount Tamalpais.

Suburban stay: For a tranquil stay, spend your nights at the waterfront Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa. Featuring calming coastal décor, beautifully designed suites overlooking the Sausalito Yacht Harbor and the San Francisco Bay, a holistic spa, and Italian restaurant, this hotel is just the place to unwind.

Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa

Image courtesy Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa

Phoenix: Mesa

Phoenix’s suburbs are definitely more attractive than the city itself, and Mesa offers an excellent home base if visiting the area. There is no shortage of things to do such as visiting the Mesa Grande Cultural Park, Arizona Museum of Natural History, i.d.e.a. Museum, and Mesa Arts Center.

Suburban stay: Families will love the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, Arizona’s only AAA Four Diamond all-suite resort offering Southwestern luxury. The highlight for kids is the expansive pool area that includes huge water slides, a lazy river, and a wave pool. Adults will enjoy playing golf, getting a spa treatment, working out in the 20,000-square-foot athletic facility, or swimming in the lap pool. Stay in one of the 744 two- or three-bedroom suites, or a villa with a master bedroom, living room, and kitchen.

Arizona Grand Resort & Spa

Image courtesy Arizona Grand Resort & Spa

Los Angeles: Redondo Beach

There’s no doubt that the City of Angels is home to world-renown attractions. You can see the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, max out your credit card on Rodeo Drive, take a tour of a working movie studio, catch a Dodgers game, hike Runyon Canyon, hear live music, visit a museum, and so much more. It also has the beach! Coastal LA stretches from Malibu to Redondo Beach, with each section having its own flair and uniqueness. When it comes to booking accommodations, ditch city traffic for an ocean view and enjoy laid-back Redondo Beach. Here, you can stroll along the pier, dine on some fresh seafood, go SUPing in the marina, or take a drive along scenic Pacific Coast Highway. Land lovers can bike, walk, or roller skate along The Strand, a 27-mile beachfront paved path.

Suburban stay: The Portofino Hotel & Marina offers visitors a glimpse at SoCal living. Located on the South Bay where water activities abound, guests can go sailing, surfing, scuba, kayaking, or standup paddle boarding. Watch boats sail by from a guest room balcony, enjoy a craft cocktail around a fire pit, feel the sand between your toes, or just let the ocean breeze relax you at this coastal retreat.

Portofino Hotel & Marina

Image courtesy Portofino Hotel & Marina







Sharael Kolberg
​Sharael, founder of Family Travel Channel (, has been writing about travel since 1995. Her work has appeared in Sunset magazine, Outside magazine,,, and many others. Follow her on Twitter @FamTravChannel, FB and Instagram @FamilyTravelChannel. See more of her work at
Sharael Kolberg

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