The walled city of Old Quebec, a World Heritage Site, is French in flavor, inviting and walkable. (Photo: Alamy)
For some travelers, summer vacation is spent playing in the great outdoors, while others seek a more urban experience — bright lights, culture and trendy drinks and grub. If you’re that second sort of traveler, we have 10 suggestions for cities, large and less-so, to visit this summer.
10. Cheyenne, Wyoming
This charming little city is more likely to be a stop en route to outdoor adventure than a destination itself, unless you’re there in July for Frontier Days, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and a Cheyenne tradition since 1897. Otherwise, take one of the daily trolley tours to learn the history of the city, get your railroad fix as you view the mighty Big Boy Steam Engine and visit the Cheyenne Depot Museum, and then blend with locals as you shop for Western wear at The Wrangler.
9. Dallas, Texas
If your image of Dallas goes no further than the Dallas Cowboys, it’s time to give it a closer look. This slick southwestern city is booming — and you’ll see more hipster beards than cowboy hats. Visit the museums of the gleaming arts district and then cross the street to Klyde Warren Park, a lively 5.2-acre park built, literally, over a highway. And spend an afternoon enjoying the galleries, shops and restaurants of the trendy Bishop Arts District.
8. Valletta, Malta
This walled city, a Baroque gem, is the capital of Malta, a three-island archipelago about 50 miles south of Sicily. The elaborate fortresses, bastions and cathedrals were started in 1566; today it is a World Heritage City. While there are enough antiquities and art (including masterpieces by Caravaggio) to fill any visit, the annual Malta Jazz Festival also fills the city with music each summer.
7. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Be sure to pay your respects to the statue of Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat as Mary Richards, the city’s most famous faux citizen. Your itinerary should also include a visit to Minnehaha Falls and a concert at Lake Harriet Park. Or time your summer visit for Twin Cities Pride, a huge, free gay pride festival, or the Minnesota State Fair, America’s second largest.
6. San Diego, California
Come for the weather, stay for the beaches — also the food and drink, the arts, the outdoor adventures and the urban neighborhoods. While a lot of visitors flock to the Gaslamp Quarter and the Embarcadero, locals are drinking craft beer and cocktails and patronizing the indie shops and galleries of North Park and South Park.
5. Portland, Maine
The other Portland is an up-and-comer according to the citizen journalists of TripAdvisor. The Portland Museum of Art is small but mighty, with a permanent collection ranging from Mary Cassatt to Alexander Calder, Winslow Homer Louise Nevelson. Wander the cobblestone streets of the Old Port district for an afternoon of shopping and dining, or enjoy the lively nightlife at its microbreweries and wine bars.
4. Quebec City, Canada
Think of it as Europe you can drive to. The walled city of Old Quebec, a World Heritage Site, is French in flavor (and heritage and language — though you’ll get along fine in English), inviting and walkable. Explore the city and the region with free guides, including the Gourmet Route of agribusinesses in the greater Quebec area, or downloadable podcast walking or driving tours.
3. Lima, Peru
Visitors to this modern coastal city flock to the tourist-friendly, upscale Miraflores neighborhood and its lively park and mall along the bay. And they come for the food; lots of people call Lima the culinary capital of Latin America. Ceviche, yes, but this nation of many climates inspires chefs to creative heights with fresh ingredients from sea, forest and high altitudes.
2. Asheville, North Carolina
A pretty city nestled amid green hills, Asheville inspired George Vanderbilt, grandson of industrialist Cornelius, to build his 250-room summer home there in the 1880s. Today you can tour the Biltmore Mansion and grounds and take afternoon tea in old-world elegance. If you prefer your beverages with more kick, Asheville has more breweries per capita than any city in the U.S., with more than 100 local brews.
1. Nashville, Tennessee
Once upon a time, seeing music in Music City was not as easy as you might think. This was an industry town, and but for a few longtime institutions — the Bluebird Café, the Ryman Auditorium — much of the melody making happened behind closed doors in recording studios. Not so today; the city explodes with music of all kinds — and much of it is free, if you know where to go.