Travel insights from Jenna Buege, associate editor of The Compass

5 Domestic Destinations You Might Be Missing

You don’t need to travel far to have a great vaycay. With its varying landscapes, exciting city scenes and iconic monuments, a trip within the U.S. can be just as exciting as an adventure abroad. So next time you think travel, think domestic with these destinations that you might be missing.

1. Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee is experiencing a brewery boom with more than 22 new craft breweries that opened in 2019 alone. This is in addition to MKE’s OG beer spots such as Lakefront Brewery, Sprecher Brewery and of course, the Miller Brewery Factory which is open to the public for tours. While Milwaukee is a haven for beer drinkers (hence it’s nickname, Brew City) its also a hoppin’ destination for boaters, foodies and music lovers. Take a boat tour out on Lake Michigan, sample fabulous dishes at the Milwaukee Public Market and party for days on end at Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival.

2. Kansas City, MO

You don’t need to travel to the Deep South for fantastic jazz and BBQ. Headquartered near the border of Kansas and Missouri, midwestern Kansas City gives places like New Orleans a run for their money. Brimming with steamy coffee shops, bustling farmer’s markets and a lively art district, Travel and Leisure ranked Kansas City the 10th best city for hipsters. But don’t let the image of bearded bros and mason jars scare you away, KC has something for everyone including historical sites, tasty ice cream shops and a fantastical renaissance faire. And don’t miss the Kansas City Wine Trail, a stretch running 70 miles that features nine wineries with daily tastings.

3. Eureka Springs, AR

Hiking, swimming, biking, kayaking and even spelunking, Eureka Springs may just be the United States’ best-kept outdoor paradise secret. For stunning mountain views, visit trails like the Leatherwood Loop, Black Bass Lake and Beaver Lake Loop. For architecture with an outdoorsy twist, check out Thorncrown Chapel, a towering wooden structure containing 425 windows with a picturesque view of the surrounding landscape. After a long day hitting the trails, stop by downtown Eureka Springs, a charming place with a 1900s Victorian feel that has all the bells and whistles including local shops, exciting eateries and live music at the Basin Spring Park bandshell.

4. Anchorage, AK

Caffeine-o-holics will want to add Anchorage, AK, a city with 5.98 coffee shops for every 10,000 residents, to their bucket list. From on-the-go drive-up espresso shacks to the traditional brick and mortar establishments, the love for java is strong. Prefer decaf? As Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage has lots to offer aside from its coffee scene especially when it comes to outdoor adventures and wildlife. Take a guided wilderness tour complete with glacial hikes and grizzly bear sightings or opt for an ever-adventurous helicopter and dogsled tour where you can mush your way through arctic landscapes. Warm up after all that chilly fun at one of the area’s many local breweries or cider companies.

5. San Antonio, TX

Explore the fabulous city of San Antonio by foot along the magical San Antonio River Walk, a lively stretch packed with shopping, dining and history that connects visitors to many of the most notable sights in the area. Just off the River Walk is the Historic Market Square, a place where travelers can experience the vibe of old Mexico with the largest Mexican market outside of Mexico. Also nearby is the San Antonio Missions, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that hosts four 18th-century Spanish missions. The site is settled along a 10-mile trail and tours are free. While the River Walk is lovely during the day, it’s even more spectacular by moonlight with its neon signage. Enjoy the exciting atmosphere and dive into San Antonio’s vibrant nightlife scene at one of the local late night eateries, music venues or bars. 

Did we miss a cool, under-the-radar city in the U.S.? Tell us about it in a comment below.

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