Nashville has raised its game with an assortment of downtown events venues, the new Johnny Cash Museum and its “haute Southern” cuisine that foodies swoon over. A spate of new hotels compete for visitors in a city where lodging prices were already low. What hasn’t changed: streets alive with music, day and night.
Aside from the draw of its hundred or so casinos, Las Vegas is a penny-pincher’s delight, with its low hotel rates, bargain meals, discount coupons and cheap or free transportation. And this year the city is looking to attract more budget-conscious tourists to enjoy its 24/7 entertainment. In off-the-Strip neighborhoods like Fremont East, new eateries, bars and galleries are opening, and this is where you’ll find the locals. And everyone gets a big kick out of the Burlesque Hall of Fame.
Get off the beaten path and head for the Midwest. Beer tourism is all the rage in Michigan’s second-largest city, home to more than 25 craft breweries. News is also getting out about the city’s robust art scene centered on the Frederik Meijer Gardens, the Grand Rapids Art Museum and ArtPrize, one of the world’s largest art competitions. And just 30 miles from town lie miles of beaches along with wineries, orchards and berry farms and some of Ernest Hemingway’s old haunts.
Back in all its glory after the 2013 government shutdown, Yosemite welcomes visitors to its best-loved sites, including El Capitan and Half Dome, Inspiration Point and Yosemite Falls. Through the summer of 2014, the park and surrounding communities are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant. Signed by Abraham Lincoln, the grant led the way to the National Park system of today.
A storied past, sublime food and deep musical traditions create an exotic brew in the Crescent City. Its historic buildings are transformed into affordable hotels. Cajun and Creole dishes are often a bargain. Just avoid visits during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest — unless you like crowds and high prices. July and August are the best months for hotel deals.
The largest city in the Show Me State has something for everyone. Visitors this year will want to mark the centennial of the start of World War I at the National World War I Museum and the Liberty Memorial, which has gotten a facelift for the celebrations. K.C. also offers more than 200 fountains (think Rome), more than 100 barbecue joints, plenty of jazz and blues, and welcoming neighborhoods well worth exploring.
The Lone Star State's freewheeling capital offers a world of free outdoor diversions and a supply of stylish hotels — some with rates under $100. An influx of well-heeled newcomers, lured by the burgeoning arts movement and the live-music scene, has spurred a culinary revival.
Make the trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles the way everybody should — by car. Take your time with the iconic Pacific coast scenery along Highway 1, and stop off at Hearst Castle. You’ll want to check out the Paso Robles wine country — it’s gaining respect. Put Big Sur on your itinerary too, and don’t forget the Monterey Bay Aquarium, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
The 2014 summer season will be important for tourism as New Jersey’s coastal area continues to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. Tap into some bargains while supporting the effort; you’ll find a lot of family fun along the coast on the boardwalks and the sands. Play the slots in Atlantic City and stroll the eight-mile boardwalk of Monopoly fame, then head for Cape May and check out special exhibits celebrating the 50th anniversary of the launching of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. You may want to build a day around the 85-minute cruise across Delaware Bay.
Low prices for hotels and dining make sunny Phoenix one of the cheapest U.S. cities for travelers. Major sports teams, abundant health spas, renowned museums and a spectacular desert landscape expand its appeal to more than just snowbirds and golf fans.