A Selection of Alternative City Breaks
Paris, Munich, London, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Bangkok, Beijing, and Seoul are places that numerous tourists flock to each year. Each of these cities has something to offer thousands of tourists each year. From fashion to Broadway or architecture and cultural heritage, every city on the list provides something for everyone. But what if you have already been to these cities? Perhaps only a few interested you based on location, attractions and cuisine? Traveling to new locations where you can experience something wonderful, without the same tourist count can be a lot of fun.
With a selection of alternative city breaks, you can enjoy travel on a budget with walking tours hosted by those who truly know the area. Exchange a little walking tour of your own city to experience a city you are going to visit by a person just as dedicated to travel as you are. The cities chosen for the list all have something amazing to offer, where you can go and enjoy a fun filled vacation.
North America’s Hidden Gems
Each of the chosen North American cities has something in common despite being spread to the near four corners of the USA—throughout various decades the cities have been in at least one movie. For film buffs, choosing one of these cities can add a little fun to the entire vacation experience.
The Florida Keys
Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and Key West provide plenty of entertainment, scuba diving, and laid back island culture. For movie lovers, Overseas Highway and Key West are two important sights. The Highway has been used in numerous films including Key Largo and True Lies.
Key Largo starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. A black noir film of 1948, it provided a stunning tale of a hurricane approaching the Key with a little mayhem thrown in. Today you can enjoy all the Florida Keys or remain in Key Largo for the best scuba and snorkeling spots.
Key West is better known for its wall dives and deep dives; however, Key Largo has over 20 different locations ranging from 25 feet to 115 feet in depth. These dive spots are spectacular and range from coral reefs to sunken ships like the USS Duane, a coast guard cutter.
Estes Park, Colorado
The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park is a tourist location throughout summer with plenty of hiking, biking, and camping at your fingertips. It is also the location of the 1980 film The Shining starring Jack Nicholson. You can see the Stanley Hotel used in the film as well as drive Trail Ridge Road where many of the driving scenes were shot. Don’t forget to stop into Poppy’s Italian Restaurant for some great pizza and shoestring style onion rings—they are the best onion rings.
Port Townsend, Washington
Port Townsend is a stunning Washington peninsula city. It is the last port city on the peninsula, which shares a seacoast with the Pacific as well as some views of the Puget Sound. As you drive around the Victorian style village head out to the old military base to see where the filming for An Officer and a Gentleman occurred. This 1982 film was shot on the base as well as at a local downtown bar, which still serves food and drinks.
Lake Lure, North Carolina
Lake Lure, North Carolina is a tiny location in the mountain region of the state. It offers beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as a lovely recreational lake. One of its claims to fame is the mountain regions used in The Last of the Mohicans. Chimney Rock Park provides a 20 minute walk past waterfalls used in the movie, where you can overlook the gorge and lake below.
Plenty of cities in Europe offer Old World appeal. A few have even become clichéd vacation locations, but if you are after something a little different consider these four suggestions.
Looking for Flemish architecture in Belgium? Look no further than Ghent with its historical St. Bavo Cathedral. Take a moment to grab a bite to eat at Café Video, Bidon, or JEF as each is known to be the very best for bar drinks, food, and gigs.
Leipzig has gained new ground from its origins in industry. This German city celebrates the Spinnerei Galerien, which is a converted cotton mill turned art studio complex. It is just one of the many spaces artists can fall in love with. Kaufhaus Held is a contemporary art space, which is a repurposed department store. For nightlife the city certainly won’t let you down as long as you visit the Distillery.
Barcelona and Madrid are wonderful, but why not take a break from these popular locations to enjoy a gothic cathedral and Old Town Segovia, which are both UNESCO World Heritage sites? Just 30 minutes from Madrid and you can explore a beautiful summer holiday that offers culture, history, and outstanding views from the castle.
Linz is part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network combining creativity with old world charm. Since 2009, Linz has become a destination for arts and music. If you are looking to interact with people and enjoy the world around you, this is your European destination.
Picking just a few cities in Asia is fairly difficult considering the ancient heritage that spreads across such a vast continent. Hundreds of locations throughout China, Mongolia, India, and other smaller countries provide something for everyone.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bangkok and Phuket are huge tourist destinations in Thailand, but on a budget Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are two of the best destinations. Both are further north, located in the mountainous regions of Thailand. In Chiang Mai you can enjoy acres of farmland with some stunning resorts built around the natural wonders and landscape.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phnom Penh does not come to mind often for those who have not researched Cambodia. You may instead have only heard about Angkor Wat. While it is a nice city, Phnom Penh has as much to offer as Angkor Wat. Here you can try some of the best Asian street food, many of the places tucked into the local market where you sit on rugs in the square to enjoy the culture and entertainments while you eat.
Bagan is perhaps the most amazing of cities located in the renamed Burma. This Myanmar city is home to the most Buddhist temples in one area, even if several of them have turned to ruins now. An iconic attraction is viewing the city temples by hot air balloon on a warm morning or right before the sun sets.
Incheon, South Korea
Incheon is a port city for South Korea. It is home to stunning architecture, Incheon International Airport, and the Incheon Free Economic Zone. Both modern and ancient, Incheon offers a veritable feast of fun. A must see is the site of Goryeo Palace. Some of the palace still remains such as the general affairs building. During the Goryeo period, 918 to 1392, many kings lived in the palace as well as held off Mongol invaders.
So, we have scanned three continents to find a selection of cities in each which may not necessarily have been on your list of definite places to visit before; however, given what there is to see and the fact that you could very easily find a native citizen to show you around for free, you might end up changing your mind.
By Quin H.