There’s a saying among travelers and that is to “act like a local.” In essence, it means don’t head to the tourist traps or the top attractions, but instead dig deeper into what makes the city tick – search out the neighborhood gems, go off the beaten path (safely) and see what else there is aside from what any search engine will tell you not to miss in whatever city you’re visiting. We’ve uncovered a few hidden gems to consider the next time you find yourself near these cities.

Portland Japanese Garden

If you’re headed to Portland, certainly the top attractions would be the Portland Japanese Garden, the expansive Forest Park with its 80 miles of walking trails, all within the city limits, and possibly the Portland Art Museum. Dig deeper and you’ll find the Pearl District, a former warehouse district where a definite change is afoot. Check out the coffee shops, brew pubs, eateries, galleries, and don’t miss Powell’s Books.

Taking in the Big D, otherwise known as Dallas? Top must-sees include The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Dig deeper and head to Deep Ellum, a former commercial district now home to art galleries, fabulous outdoor murals, bars and restaurants, great shopping, and a lively nightlife scene. 

The Lincoln Memorial

Washington D.C. has a whole lot of things to do in a small area, including the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian, and the National Gallery of Art. Dig deeper and head to Foggy Bottom (yes, that’s the real name). That’s where you’ll find the infamous Watergate Hotel, Rock Creek Park with its walking and biking paths and lovely picnic areas and the Textile Museum, with its unique collection of more than 21,000 global textiles from Japan to Indigenous America.

San Diego has highlights that include the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, beautiful Coronado Island, and the hopping Gaslamp Quarter. Dig deeper and head to Pacific Beach and enjoy historic Crystal Pier, take surf lessons at the San Diego Surf School, or just enjoy the views from Mission Bay while riding along the bike path.

Seattle Space Needle

Visitors to Seattle flock to see the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and MoPop, also known as the Museum of Pop Culture. Dig deeper and head to one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, Georgetown. Here you’ll find the quirky roadside attraction billed as America’s largest hat and pair of boots, the interesting Connections Museum, dedicated to the history of the telephone, and the opportunity to discover new brews at the neighborhood’s plentiful breweries or unearth treasures while shopping at the Trailer Park Mall, an interesting shopping venue that is a collection of “shops” residing in vintage trailers.

Tampa has the nearby beaches, Busch Gardens, and the Florida Aquarium. Dig deeper and immerse yourself in the history and culture that can be found in Ybor City, an historic neighborhood named for Don Vincent Martinez Ybor, the entrepreneur who brought cigar-making to Tampa in the 1880s. Eat your way through the neighborhood on an Ybor City Food tour (yborcityfoodtours.com), learn the history of cigar-making and the city at the Ybor City Museum and enjoy watching the wild chickens that roam the neighborhood.

Park at Peace River while you enjoy your Tampa stay, about 80 minutes from the city.

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