It’s no secret that when it comes to vacation time, many countries get ignored, not the least of which is America. But while vacation time may often be hard to come by, one of the best ways to maximize your time off is by extending a business trip into a leisure trip. So today, I’m coming to you with six great places to extend a business trip in the U.S.
Downtown Napa, California
Airport: San Francisco International
While many people head straight for Napa Valley from San Francisco, downtown Napa is much closer (60 miles from SFO), and takes the best of Napa, and puts it in one place. Downtown Napa has a number of great hotels and bed and breakfasts, such as the Andaz Napa, most of which are within walking distance of some of Napa’s best restaurants and tasting rooms. Additionally, the Napa Valley Wine Train leaves from downtown Napa, heading straight up the valley and featuring a number of itineraries, some of which include tours and tastings of several wineries.
Airport: Seattle–Tacoma International
Woodinville is to Seattle what Napa is to San Francisco, though you can be to Woodinville in half the time. Here, you’ll find 100 wineries and tasting rooms (just 30 minutes from Seattle), including one of the Pacific Northwest’s oldest and most well known wineries, Chateau Ste. Michelle. Additionally, Woodinville is home to a number of breweries, including Redhook, Triplehorn, Dirty Bucket and Sumerian. If you’re more of a whiskey person, visit Woodinville Whiskey Company, winner of 2016 Whiskey of the Year by the American Distilling Institute.
Florida Keys, Florida
Airport: Miami International
For many, Miami’s beaches may be the closest things to a year-round paradise in the lower 48 states. That is, unless you keep going south to the Florida Keys, where within a couple hours you can have all of the perks of a Caribbean vacation without needing a passport. Not to mention, it’s one of America’s most beautiful road trip routes on the Overseas Highway. While many people head for Key West, I prefer the Middle Keys (near Marathon), which have a more low-key vibe, but with a number of great accommodations options and a nice selection of bars and restaurants.
Manhattan Beach, California
Airport: Los Angeles International
While L.A. can feel so vast and overwhelming, the upside is that a number of leisurely vacation spots aren’t far away (albeit involving traffic.) While many people often associate Malibu with a beach vacation in L.A., Manhattan Beach is much closer (just a few miles from LAX), and with far more accommodation options. And with the convenience of hotels near the beach, you don’t even need a car. Your accommodations may even come with bikes, which will come in handy for riding up and down the 20-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail, which runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach. Elsewhere, there are a number of other great beaches within a few miles, including Playa del Rey, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.
Airport: Phoenix Sky Harbor International
Phoenix is an epicenter of business in Arizona. However, mere miles outside of Phoenix are some great destinations, such as Scottsdale, one of my favorite cities, “where the Old West meets the New West,” as the charming town boasts. This ranges from an Old West bar experience at the town’s oldest saloon, Rusty Spur Saloon, to something more contemporary (and classy) at Second Story Liquor Bar. At Second Story Liquor Bar, you’ll find rare whiskies, some of the city’s best cocktails and an impressive food menu that includes items like foie gras and short rib. Elsewhere, there’s Counter Intuitive, which does small plates and cocktails. Don’t have a car? Scottsdale has a trolley that runs daily, while in the winter months it has a resort trolley that connects Paradise Valley to downtown Scottsdale.
Park City, Utah
Airport: Salt Lake City International
Park City is perhaps in a league of its own in how within an hour of finishing up your last business meeting, you could be skiing down world-class ski runs, before skiing into the world’s first gastro-distillery, High West Distillery. However, while Park City is certainly one of the top winter ski destinations in America, it’s also a great warm-weather destination, with summer activities like an alpine slide, zip line, mountain biking and hiking. Bonus points that Park City has a free public transit system that serves historic Main Street, a number of resorts and Utah Olympic Park.
Spencer is a seasoned food, drink, and travel writer who has written for publications from Outside Magazine to Travel + Leisure and Los Angeles Times. When he’s not traveling, he’s perfecting his favorite cocktails in his home bar. He chronicles his adventures (and cocktails) on his travel site, Whiskey Tango Globetrot.