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Travel Resources

Stateside Destinations with Foreign Flare

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Sometimes we just want to get away, far away, but domestic travel just makes more sense. Maybe we unknowingly allowed our passport to expire, we have two days instead of two weeks to travel, or we just don’t want to spend that extra airfare to take flight overseas.

But just because you have your heart set on Paris doesn’t mean you can’t find legit crêpes a few hundred miles away instead of a few thousand. And if you want to experience Oktoberfest but can’t make it to Munich, we have a great doppelganger of a domestic destination for you.

So put down the currency exchange app and forget the foreign dictionary. We make it easy to experience a host of exciting foreign locales with a quick flight or a few tanks of gas with our Domestic Travel Guide.

Here are five international cities you can explore without stamping your passport:

Paris or Barcelona / New Orleans 

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This one may seem obvious, right? The history, decadence and cuisine of New Orleans all have French roots. Even the cultural hub of the city is called the French Quarter. But you could also make a case that New Orleans is the stateside equivalent of visiting Barcelona. That’s because when the original French architecture was burned to the ground in the 1700s, many of the shops, churches and homes were rebuilt in the style of the then ruling country: Spain.1 These included a hodge-podge of styles, including the creole townhouse, that merged Caribbean and Spanish influences into popular brick-and-stucco structures.2

The Big Easy is a mixing bowl of cultures, but its French tastes and undertones are the strongest. If you’re making the trip and looking for Cajun and Creole-influenced cuisine, be sure to book a reservation at Langlois Culinary Crossroads, an interactive, family-style space that doubles as an urban farm. Known as a prime spot for anniversaries and engagements, this popular New Orleans culinary attraction proves that Paris isn’t the only city for lovers.3

Havana / Key West

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Many might put Miami here – maybe just for the Mojitos. But the further south you hop from key to key, the more it feels like Havana. Key West, America’s southernmost point, combines a healthy respect for history with a passion for partying. It’s home to Ernest Hemingway and Fantasy Fest, an annual bacchanal made famous for body painting as well as crowning the Conch King and Queen.

Havana and Key West are a 45-minute flight away, but might as well have been worlds apart because of travel bans.4 But now that diplomatic relations have been restored, you’ll be able to zip back and forth between Havana and Key West by jet or jet boat. If you can’t wait, book a room at the Eden House. The art deco edifice looks and feels like a thriving Havana street party during the aging city’s prime.5 Then grab your favorite blazer and hunt for some arroz con pollo or a “mixto” (Cuban sandwich); follow the locals to Cuban Coffee Queen on Margaret Street.

Shanghai / San Francisco

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San Francisco might as well be called Little Asia; more than 35 percent of its population comprises Asian Americans, with a whopping 20-plus percent of Chinese descent.6

The two are sister cities that have a lot in common, including robust trade ports, multinational companies, and a reputation for fostering innovation. Even Ed Lee, San Francisco’s mayor, is the first Chinese-American to hold the office.7

No matter what your heritage is, there is plenty of authentic Chinese culture and art to soak in, too. For example, the Asian Art Museum boasts more than 18,000 objects collected across 6,000 years and the entire continent, hailing from China to the Phillipines and India. These comprise exhibits showcasing arms and armor, sculptures, porcelain and paintings.8

If you prefer to sample culture in the moment rather than indulge in the curated variety, then try a lively stroll through Dragon Gate – the only authentic Gateway in North America – and explore the oldest Chinatown on the continent. Opening in 1848 and easily the most bustling of San Francicso’s four Chinese enclaves, the streets are teeming with much more than your typical overseas imports and tourist attractions. Sure, there are restaurants and shops, but the San Fran Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Stockton Street also includes social clubs, hospitals and more. It’s a well-preserved bubble of big city China. Keep your eyes and ears open; the Chinatown boasts its own language and customs.9

London / Philadelphia

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You might call Philly a revolutionary selection. Sure, Boston might seem like the perfect match for the capital city from across the pond. But Philadelphia scores more points than you might imagine. The former U.S. capital city was a booming British metropolis during occupation. Plus, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell appear to be separated at birth from fellow iconic edifices Big Ben and Parliament. Oft-imitated accents and infamously bad weather complete the puzzle; the average annual temperature for the two cities is within 1F of each other.10

On a more serious note, many of the British influences instilled through colonization remain today. Home to some of the tastiest pubs in America, Philly boasts The Dandelion and the London Grill, two famous spots to grab a pint of Bass and some authentic grub.11 Think: fish, chips and sausage. And if you want to see the sights of London, stroll over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which houses an unusually large collection of British works. This includes the 18th century oil painting Assembly at Wanstead House, by William Hogwarth, which depicts a fanciful appointed ballroom with tea drinking and card playing.12 If you want to bring home a souvenir, try the British Print Shop, which has all the art you need to deck out your team room in old world style.

And if you’re looking for a slightly less stuffy stop, hit up the Philadelphia International Cricket Festival, a charitable cricket festival that draws players and spectators from around the globe. You don’t need to know what a dibly-dobbly bowler is to enjoy the day – it’s cricket jargon for a medium-paced bowler – but just be sure to dress the part: suits, dresses, skirts and don’t forget the shades.13

Munich / Leavenworth, WA

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More than one theme park has attempted to capture the essence of a German beer hall, complete with oompah bands and glass boots overflowing with pilsner. But the next best thing to enjoying Oktoberfest under a tent in Bavaria is trekking to Leavenworth, a German-themed village located smack dab in the middle of Washington State. Complete with Bavarian inns, shops and restaurants, there is even skiing available on the Cascade Mountains’ many slopes.14 Mash some moguls and then head to Munchen Haus for a giant pretzel and sauerkraut.

You don’t need three checked bags and a travel wallet overflowing with documents to explore the globe. These five destinations prove that domestic travel can be a bit more exotic than you might have imagined. And you’ll never have to sweat changing that cup full of spare foreign currency you keep meaning to change.


Oct 16, 2015