Editor’s note: Summer travel is heating up! The following guest post was written by Robert Reid, the US travel editor for Lonely Planet. He will be guest blogging on Savvy for the Summer, helping you find some great ideas of how to get your vacation on this travel season.
Some cities in the US will always be prime-time tourist attractions. The New Yorks, the LAs, the Vegases, the San Franciscos. And they justify their fame. For the penultimate article of Lonely Planet’s 15 Weekends of Summer season, I’d like to pay a nod to five of the most surprising US cities – ones that are sometimes zipped through and given less time as we blaze trails elsewhere. And if you want a free mini-guide to NOLA, we’re giving one away on the Lonely Planet website.
No city has improved more in the past 15 or 20 years that Pennsylvania’s burg with the "h." Steel town doesn’t quite describe what you find in this walkable downtown area of golden bridges, with funicular trains going up the Allegheny mountains and a serious investment in art. There are sculptures across downtown, but the best museums are across Andy Warhol Bridge where you can see the Warhol Museum, huge rotating fish on sticks outside the Children’s Museum and the avant-garde Mattress Factory, built from, um, an old mattress factory.
North of downtown, the Strip District is lined with eateries and bars; big for breakfast is the timeless Deluca’s. Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater is near Ohiopyle, a 90-minute drive southwest.
Long dismissed as just the gateway to the mountains – yes, the mountains! – Denver has never made a better case for sticking around a couple days. They’re easily filled by a visit to the superb collection of Western art at the avant-garde Denver Art Museum. Catch a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and spend lazy hours in the historic LoDo district, which is filled with good restaurants and bars (Denver takes beer very seriously; the governor rose to fame based on his microbrew credentials). Stay at the Brown Palace Hotel, one of the country’s great historic hotels.
And, yeah, there’s always the mountains.