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Kenneth Disraili-Jean

An Urban Vacation

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What city or cities in the U.S. do you think would make a great urban vacation spot to visit?

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Boston

NYC

Philadelphia

Washington

New Orleans

Chicago

Seattle

San Francisco

Los Angeles

San Diego

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I would add DC to that list. It has one of the best post WWII transit systems in North America and a very good example of how cities should be built.

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I'd add Portland to the list. Portland has downtown streetcars, a light rail system, car sharing and is a great place for urban bicycling.

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Any major city is going to have a bunch of stuff to do that will keep you busy on a vacation.

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Any major city is going to have a bunch of stuff to do that will keep you busy on a vacation.

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First of all, I would want to see our nations capital, secondly I would want to see the birthplace of the modern skyscraper, Chicago, then on to Miami, New Orleans, and San Francisco.

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It isn't as large as most of the cities mentioned, but places like Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA are great vacation destinations. You can tour many historical buildings and areas in and around these 2 growing coastal cities, and if you are an outdoors type person, unparalleled golf is nearby, as well as the boating in the harbors, rivers, creeks, or the Atlantic Ocean. Both cities, are densely built even w/out a lot of height to them and offer first rate restaraunts, and hotels to stay in and Charleston has first rate shopping as well.

Other great cities to vacation in have already been mentioned, including Miami, Washington DC, NYC, Boston, Chicago, Portland, New Orleans etc. I would also add to the list Toronto, Vancouver BC, Seattle, San Diego, San Antonio, and St Louis.

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It's outside of the US, but barely. You could fly to Seattle and drive up in a couple hours.

Summertime in Vancouver is excellent. It's a very outdoors-ey city, which means you can find both the urban pulse and the natural beauty. I suggest this now because I would not suggest visiting Vancouver anytime OTHER than in the dead of summer.

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San Antonio's Riverwalk is a nice urban "pedestrian" experience.

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San Antonio's Riverwalk is a nice urban "pedestrian" experience.

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IMHO I'd consider an urban vacation one where you really do not need to rent a car. You can just rely on public transportation to get you around to all the city sights and then if you want to explore the hinterlands, you can rent a car for a day or two.

Cities I've done this in are:

Boston (rented a car to visit Maine one time, just use the ferry to get out to the Cape)

NYC

New Orleans (pre-Katrina)

SF (by far my favorite!)

L.A. (but only if stay in the West Hollywod/BH/Westwood areas and even then it's hard)

I'm sure you can do Chicago this way too.

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All depends upon what you want to see. I think any city can make an interesting vacation - you just have to find the right things to do. It's a vacation, and it's a great time to try the type of city that you normally would not live in, so if you live in a city with a lot of public transportation, visit a city like Atlanta or Phoenix. If you live in the boonies, try a dense core city like NYC, Boston or San Francisco. But why even limit yourself to the city core - explore the outers city reaches and see what kind of life they hold.

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Don't miss Pittsburgh! It has a an attractive, dense downtown with an excellent mix of historic buildings along narrow canyon streets, and newer gleaming highrises each set in its own plaza. The surrounding neighborhoods are diverse in character and demographic makeup, and outside the downtown area it's quite hilly and green. There are inclines across the Monongahela River from downtown that ascend Mount Washington and provide stunning city views and access to fine dining.

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There's neon and nightlife in the South Side Flats, and on Saturdays the Strip District is busy with vendors and shoppers in the various markets.

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There's good public transportation, both bus and light rail, and it's a beautiful, friendly city. Eveyone I know who has visited for the first time has said they really enjoyed their visit.

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If you want to see more of what Pittsburgh is like, check out some of my photos from 2006 and 2007 (There are a lot).

There are even a few oldies from a trip there in 1985

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For me (in no particular order):

Chicago

New York

Atlanta

Seattle

Boston

San Francisco

Miami

San Antonio

San Diego

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One of the best urban vacations I have had was just recently, when (for practical reasons) I rented a car in New York City. After living here for two years and learning the street grid like the back of my hand, I had never previously driven in the city. In addition to accomplishing the practical tasks I had set out to do, I also went on several "joy rides" throughout the city and New Jersey. I drove over the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Verrazano Narrows Bridges, through the Lincoln, Holland and Brooklyn Battery Tunnels, over the Pulaski Skyway. I found great parking spots in the East Village and Brooklyn Heights. I battled gridlocked intersections and deciphered contradictory freeway signs at high speed. The whole experience was quite thrilling and gave me a completely new view of this city.

Therefore, I wholeheartedly agree with the quote below that the best way to have an urban vacation is to do something completely new.

- Drive into the center of a dense city you have only taken transit to.

- Take transit through sprawling suburbs (believe me, it is possible).

- Walk or ride a bike places you have never done these before.

- If there is any body of water near the city, take a boat somewhere.

- If there are bridges nearby that you haven't crossed, cross them.

- View your city from the tallest building around, from medium height buildings, from 3 or 4 stories in height.

- Go to cold places in the winter or hot places in the summer when everyone else avoids them.

- Walk around city districts very early in the morning before most people wake up.

- Find a seat near a busy intersection at rush hour and watch the crescendo.

- Ride trains or buses to the end of the line just to see what's there.

All depends upon what you want to see. I think any city can make an interesting vacation - you just have to find the right things to do. It's a vacation, and it's a great time to try the type of city that you normally would not live in, so if you live in a city with a lot of public transportation, visit a city like Atlanta or Phoenix. If you live in the boonies, try a dense core city like NYC, Boston or San Francisco. But why even limit yourself to the city core - explore the outers city reaches and see what kind of life they hold.

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Portland (OR), Seattle and San Francisco would rank at the top, IMO.

Also Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Boston.

Some smaller urban centers that are great: Portland (ME), Asheville (NC), Charleston (SC), Burlington (VT).

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I think there are only a few cities that will keep you entertained for a week or more including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, San Francisco. I agree though that any city can make for an excellent day or weekend trip. Being from Pittsburgh, I'm flattered that the city is mentioned in some posts and shocked as to how many people vacation here each year, but I don't think you could spend a whole vacation in the city.

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I think there are only a few cities that will keep you entertained for a week or more including: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, San Francisco. I agree though that any city can make for an excellent day or weekend trip. Being from Pittsburgh, I'm flattered that the city is mentioned in some posts and shocked as to how many people vacation here each year, but I don't think you could spend a whole vacation in the city.

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I'm actually hoping to visit Pittsburgh at some point. If I ever have a chance to take two consecutive weeks off from work I'll ride my bike from DC via the C&O Canal Path to the Great Allegheny Passage which are being connected.

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I was pretty impressed with DC's Metro. I'll even go so far as to say I prefer it over the T in Boston (and I'm from Boston). I like how the Metro displays the amount of time until the next train arrives at each stop, I like how so many stations exist on more than one line. In Boston, there are only four places where you can switch lines. In DC, there are dozens. My only complaint is that the "one day pass" works only for the subway and not the buses (which take SmarTrip cards and cash only).

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Both systems are immensely better than Pittsburgh's T. Apparently we had a better system 180 years ago <_< . Now it's only underground for the downtown stops and above ground serves only the south side of the city and the southern suburbs when it should serve our educational/medical district, the east end and the north side. Oh well, at least we have one of the largest bus services in the country (so I've heard).

Boston's a great city, I'd love to visit some time!

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I would add Baltimore to this list. That city has made remarkable changes. It is very walkable and many of the neighborhoods are worth the venture. For maritime history, definitely go to the Fells Point area. Also, visit Fort McHenry and all of the city markets (at least 5 that I know of). For urban squares, you would be hard-pressed to find a better one than Mount Vernon. It has easy transportation for all of the places you want to see. I fell in love with the town. This is a great place to visit if you like to walk or travel by mass transit to see interesting places.

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I really enjoyed Chicago as an urban vacation destination. Miami is great. NYC (for some reason I didn't have a great NYC experience, I think Chicago was a better experience, more civic pride, neighborhoods, etc.)

Charleston, SC

Savannah, GA

Atlanta, GA (IMO, Atlanta can really be appreciated if you drive in to the city. You drive for hundreds of miles through very rural southern areas with no sign of diversity or sophistication and then all of a sudden, Atlanta is a great surprise, an island in the middle of nowhere)

San Francisco, CA

Los Angeles, CA

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I'm sure Toronto qualifies here as well.

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