Where to short vacation in Western U.S.?

Let’s say I’ve got maybe 5 days to fly out and back from NorCal in fall or spring with whatever R&R I can get in between.

I want to reasonably minimize transit time and cost. Staying in the West seems the most efficient; keeping it urban helps in that regard but I’m open to ideas. I want to see something new. Where to go?

I’ve done a ton of stuff from Ensenada to Vancouver, so I’m thinking inland.

Things I’ve done already that I don’t care to repeat at this time:
Nevada
San Antonio
New Orleans

Things I’ve done but would repeat if other options are less appealing: Austin

Places that popped into my head that might sound interesting for no apparent reason:
Santa Fe
Denver
Boise

Thoughts?
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What about Jackson? It’s not hugely urban, but you’d be close to the Tetons, which are magnificent. Alaska Airlines should get you there easily. Jackson has restaurants that range from diners to 4 stars; ditto for hotels.

What are you most interested in doing with your down time? Are you into museums, antiquing, restaurants, wineries, sitting and relaxing, scenery? That might help make other suggestions.

I’ve been to Santa Fe, Denver, and Boise. All would be fun for a few days, but I’d pick Santa Fe or Denver over Boise.

Between the two, it sorta depends what kind of vacation you want. Santa Fe is a small city, lots of art, decent restaurants, not a lot of nightlife, and if you’re into adobe, it’s the place to be. Decent hiking trails and / or scenic drives if you’re into that kind of thing.

Denver, on the other hand, is definitely a bigger city and has more of a bigish-city feel. Less art, more nightlife, chances of concerts and theater and that sort of thing. You could take drives in the mountains if you want to see the scenery, but they’re a ways away.

Boise, I’ve only been to a few days on business. It’s more a town to live in, not vacation in, IMO. I hear the scenery in the mountains around it is good, but I haven’t been myself. The restaurants were decent but nothing crazy good.

Of the 3 right now, I’d take Santa Fe in a heartbeat. I really like that town.

Not only is America’s capital chock full of free attractions, but many of them are concentrated on the National Mall, making it easy to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and other highlights in just a matter of days. While visiting, don’t miss out on the popular weekend brunch scene – just remember to make reservations in advance.


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And how is this applicable to the OP’s stated interest in taking a holiday in the WESTERN U.S.?

Another vote for Jackson and Yellowstone. You can get a car, or book a driver/guide? See nature! See animals! See geysers! (See thousands of tourists seeing nature and animals and geysers!)

Oh and I guess there’s Hawaii and I’ve heard Hood River, OR is a nice place.
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These sound interesting. History museums and historical ambiance are nice. Art museums are ok but not a huge draw.

I like visiting Portland, OR and enjoy just wandering around, nice architecture, nice places to walk, a sense of history. I have a great time walking all over downtown, along the river front, just checking things out, and stumbling into local places to eat and enjoy a drink.

In the evenings, a nice dinner and drinks are wonderful with perhaps some light entertainment such as a local folk musician in a pub. I wouldn’t be looking for concerts or clubbing.

I’m thinking Denver would be more Portland-esqe but less interestingly quirky than Portland. Santa Fe would be a change of pace… and I love Mexican food. Also, I’m sure there’s plenty of interesting history in Santa Fe. I hadn’t considered local hikes but that might be a bonus. Another draw to Santa Fe is that I can fly into ABQ and take the train to Santa Fe… no pesky driving needed.

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It’s been quite a while since I’ve been but Boulder might also fit in well with a trip to Denver, I’m sure there is still a bus connecting them.

I’d vote for Santa Fe. And if you go there, take a day trip up to Taos. The Desert Southwest is something special if you’ve never been there.

Denver is nice, but it’s not too different from other big cities. As a second choice, I’d also give a thumbs up to Jackson, WY. Beautiful country.

I was going to suggest Santa Fe even before I read the OP’s list.

But if the OP is interested in hiking, I’d also add Salt Lake City. Plenty of stuff to see in the city and if you stay on the eastern edge there will be trailheads within walking distance.

I suppose I could go a bit further east but I’ve done these places and would rather do something new than revisit:
Atlanta
Savannah
Charleston
Smoky Mountains
DC
New York
Toronto
Montreal
Calgary

I’ve also made short stops in
Chicago
Dallas
Oklahoma City
St. Louis
Denver
Salt Lake City
Boise

Of those short stop places, the most interesting looking parts that stick out to me were Bricktown in OKC and the West End in Dallas, but Denver looked like it could be interesting if I had a chance to spend time there.

I’ve also been to Boston but there was a blizzard going on. I was able to walk the old colonial parts briefly. I’d like to go back and explore.

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More info about what you actually want to experience would be helpful.

If you’re interested in flying as far east as Omaha then we have a truly world class zoo and we’re pretty close to the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum. it’s a must if such things are of interest to you. On the other hand, Omaha doesn’t have much in the way of pretty scenery or dramatic landscapes. Nightlife, eh, not so much. Maybe if you have a corn fetish.

To give a California analogy of the kind of thing I’m thinking about… if was to go somewhere in California today to fart around for a bit, I’d say Ventura or San Luis Obispo.

(Maybe also Mendocino or Eureka)
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Good to know but I kinda think I have satisfied that angle with San Diego Zoo and Aerospace Museum. (Two different locations, FYI.)
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Good question. The main goal is to find brief respite from hectic stress and responsibility.

What I’m looking for…
Relaxing
Scenic
Historic/Quaint
Good food & drink
Mild entertainment
Moderate Exercise

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If you do end up going to Santa Fe, I recommend a visit to Meow Wolf.

Jackson is my favorite vacation spot in the U.S., so I would definitely second that choice.

Another one that I loved that isn’t on your list so far is Seattle. It’s a city with great restaurants, museums and tourist attractions, but also has incredible natural beauty and water activities. I think it hits all of the points on your rest and relaxation list. If you don’t absolutely have to stay in the U.S., there’s also Vancouver and Victoria, which have similar attractions and ambience.

I’d pay to see them combined!

“Hey kids, let’s go see the penguins in the Apollo 11 capsule next!”

:smiley:

Reno. Always something going on. Tahoe is just up the road. Bring $$.