When I feel like going to somewhere in the US to immerse myself with intense culture, gourmet food offerings, more activities than one could possibly get through in a week, and somewhere with just a TON of energy, I think of three cities – Miami, Los Angeles, and New York City.
The Can't-Go-Wrong Places
Whether you've been there or not, each of these cities has so many iconic places in the city that are never overrated not matter how touristy they become. This article would be too long if I listed them all but if you needed a quick reminder, here are my favourite places to visit when I go to each one of these cities.
Miami – Bayside Marketplace
I love Miami Beach and strolling along the sand but somewhere else I always drop by is Bayside Marketplace. Some will say it's touristy but to me it's just right. It's right by the water on Biscayne Blvd with a fantastic view, a ton of different shops, and restaurants to top it off. There's something about the energy of the crowd of people that are here. It's always fun experience
Los Angeles – Griffith Observatory and Park
If there's one place that I go back to every time I'm in LA, it's Griffith Observatory. What's not to like about this place? The grounds are gorgeous, the exhibits and museum are entertaining and educational, and the views from the edges are the best in the city during the day and even better at night. A must-visit in my books.
New York City – Grand Central Terminal
There's nothing like being in the action of it all during rush hour when the historic terminal comes alive with people hopping on the subway, catching a train to the suburbs, or others popping out of the station to get to next destination. Grand Central is always somewhere on my list to linger and people watch, follow the twinkling of the constellations frescoes, browse the Apple Store, or head to the basement to have my favourite banana pudding by Magnolia Bakery.
One of the main reasons I travel is to try different dishes from all over whether they be gourmet or straight from a food truck. Luckily for you, the cities of New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami are all meccas for food. Here are my favourite spots in each city.
Miami – CVI.CHE 105
A Peruvian restaurant? You probably weren't expecting this one! This is in fact one of the top restaurants in Miami right now and lives up to the hype. CVI.CHE 105 serves delicious traditional dishes of cerviche, arroz con pollo, lomo saltado, and also fresh seafood.
Los Angeles – Guerrilla Tacos
I recently met Wesley Avila in an event with Toronto and boy was I impressed with his take on fresh Mexican tacos. Guerrilla Tacos has been crowned Best Taco Truck by LA Weekly and is seriously one of the best things to eat in LA. Make sure you check out their page to find out where they are at each day.
New York City – Smorgasburg
Part flea market and part food market, Smorgasburg has been an absolute hit since they were introduced in 2010. Today, they run events in various locations including Williamsburg, Industry City, and Prospect Park and brings in 20,000 people every weekend to eat from 100 local vendors and small business boutiques. It is one food experience that you don't want to miss.
Trying Something A Little Different
When I travel, I always love to get a little active and do something immersive that puts you in the drivers seat so-to-speak. These are great ways see a city from a unique perspective or at the least give you bragging rights over your friends and family.
Miami – FLYBOARD305
You've probably seen the YouTube videos but this thing actually does exist and you can try it in Miami. For $129 you get 30 minutes on the Flyboard. Now I can't promise that you'll be able to gracefully fly like they do in the Miami Flyboard promotional videos but I'm sure it'll be filled with funny moments and some good airtime.
Los Angeles – Amazing Los Angeles Race
Ever wanted to be on the CBS hit show Amazing Race? This half-day interactive tour gives you a chance to be part of a competitive tour (a taste of what I did with Competitours) and get to see the city of Los Angeles in a different way by completing puzzles and scavenger hunt.
New York City – McKittrick Hotel's Sleep No More
This is theater like you've never done before. Instead of sitting in a cozy seat in Times Square, Sleep No More is an interactive experience that is confusing, confounding, and thrilling all at the same time as you explore a hotel and see real events unfold as actors perform nuggets of scenes that you have to piece together. It is adapted from Shakespeare's Macbeth tragedy but through a film noir lens. You end up running around from floor to floor to pick up on clues and catch actor scenes as they happen. You might love it or you might hate it but you will surely come out of it thinking it was absolutely brilliant.
You Probably Never Heard Of It
There are things you know about a city and then there are the hidden jewels that you don't necessarily think about when planning a trip but certainly belong to any itinerary.
Miami – Wynwood Walls
You've probably never heard of it or expected it but Miami's got a legitimate urban art scene. A lot of it is contained in an outdoor museum established in 2009 by visionary Tony Goldman. The open green space is spurring with massive murals done by famous international artists. Wynwood Walls is now said to be one of the best venues in the world to see street art.
Los Angeles – OUE Skyspace LA
This is definitely new since I was last in LA. Built on the tallest building in the city, this is an open-air observation deck 1,000 feet above deck. Atop the iconic US Bank Tower, they've also built in a Skyslide which is a 45-foot, full enclosed, all glass slide which comes with a magic carpet so you don't get glass burn. If you have AAA membership, let them know to get a discount.
New York City – Brooklyn Bridge Park
As a photography, I'm always on the look out of great spots to shoot. The Manhattan skyline one of those photos you can never get tired of and so when I discovered the Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Pilings, I was overjoyed. Come here during sunset and capture the lighting of the skyscrapers and the wooden beams in the foreground that used to be the location of warehouses back in the day.
Fun For The Whole Family
Travelling with kids and looking for something family friendly? These are my top picks for attractions that all kids will love.
Miami – Zoological Wildlife Foundation
Now this isn't your regular zoo at all. Miami's Zoological Wildlife Foundation is unique in that it offers one of the most animal encounter experiences. I highly recommend that you join one of their intimate tours that they offer which gives you a chance to get up and close with wildlife that ranges from chimpanzees, lemurs, sloths, lion cubs, jaguars, lynx, and mischievous capuchin monkeys.
Los Angeles – Universal Studios Hollywood
Spend a day of action-packed entertainment in one place. This is truly a magical park for anyone that loves Harry Potter as you can now explore Hogwarts castle, visit the shops of Hogsmeade, try Butterbeer, and go on the thrilling rides of Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff. Even if you're not a fan of Harry Potter there's the rest of the park for you which has rides based on movies like Fast and the Furious, Jurassic Park, the Simpsons, and The Walking Dead. Make sure you buy your tickets to Universal Studios beforehand.
New York City – Statue of Liberty
If you've never been, visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is a great family outing that combines to best of everything – you get to hop on a ferry to see sweeping views of Manhattan, you get to see the famous statue up-close and personal, and there are ton of educational and interactive opportunities along the way. The one complaint I have though is that getting tickets and waiting in line is a pain in the behind so make sure to get advanced tickets that come with priority pass.
So there you have it! These are my top reasons to plan a trip to Los Angeles, Miami, and New York City. There's something for everyone and with these recommendations you'll be well on your way to planning a kickass vacation.