Your 20s are an exciting time in your life. You are starting your career, maintaining old and new friendships, in a serious relationship or dating or even getting married. But you don’t want to leave out one important thing: travel. It turns out that travel actually has health benefits, affecting our heart health and cognitive functioning. Check out the top ten places in the United States that are a must for travel in your 20s, whether you live abroad or call the country home.
See also: 10 Ways to Travel the World on a Budget
1. New York City, New York
NYC is number one on this list for a reason. Known as the City that Never Sleeps, the Big Apple is an exciting place that deserves to be seen before you settle down. There is always something to do and you will not grow bored once during your trip. You can do popular tourist activities such as visiting the Empire State Building, taking a guided bus tour around the city, or shopping in SoHo. Manhattan is only one of five boroughs in NYC, however, so you don’t want to miss out on visiting Brooklyn, too, whether it’s walking across the famous Brooklyn Bridge and viewing the magnificent skyline, or seeing the artisan shops/cafes/restaurants/bars.
2. Portland, Oregon
Portland has a hippie vibe, and there is no shortage of things to do. If you’re a fan of the quirky sitcom Portlandia, you can even visit the places that the show has filmed. Visit the Portland Farmers Market and sample food from 250 vendors, which is open from April until December. Indulge your sweet tooth at Voodoo Doughnut and try creative doughnuts topped with Froot Loops cereal, bacon, or M&M’s, to name a few.
3. Nashville, Tennessee
To put it simply, you want to go to Nashville for its music scene, and your 20s is the best decade to visit this musical country city. Go with a group of friends and catch a show at the famous Bluebird Cafe or Grand Ole Opry. Nashville also boasts some of the best vintage shopping. Have some fun at Two Old Hippies where you can pick up some clothing and accessories as well as enjoy some live music five evenings a week.
4. Venice Beach, California
Skip the traffic in Los Angeles and head to Venice Beach. It’s a fun place with a busy, lively boardwalk and is ideal for people watching. Shop at the vendors and take in the street performances. People even exercise on the appropriately named Muscle Beach. Stay up late with your friends and visit the variety of pubs, bars, and clubs.
5. Charleston, South Carolina
This old southern city is anything but buttoned down. Charleston is featured on the reality television show Southern Charm and as such has a reputation for being a party city for 20somethings. Stay in a hotel located near downtown and you can experience all that the lively, palm tree-lined King Street has to offer. Shop at Urban Outfitters, H&M, and Forever 21; eat at the many casual restaurants; and enjoy a traditional Southern dinner one evening, whether you pick fried chicken, shrimp and grits, or tomato pie.
6. Austin, Texas
The motto of this Texan city is "Keep Austin Weird" and it’s the perfect trip for a group of 20something friends. You definitely want to eat a lot of barbecue food, which is a Texas specialty. Try Franklin Barbecue which you will most likely have to line up for – it gets busy. Visit the famous movie theatre, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, and enjoy some delicious food and local beer with your film.
7. Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is the place you visit when you want a healthy getaway. Come for the hiking and stay for the stunning mountain views. If the Rocky Mountains aren’t enough, then visit the 1,000-store Pearl Street Mall. Shopping and exercise? Sounds like the perfect trip.
8. New Orleans, Louisiania
The best time to visit this city, nicknamed the Big Easy, is around Mardi Gras when there is a huge parade. Bring some friends and party away. You also don’t want to miss a chance to sample the cuisine: visit the French Quarter and treat yourself to gumbo, seafood, and don’t forget to have some beignets.
9. Miami, Florida
Come to Miami during the Art Basel festival, which happens every December, and see some amazing art. Miami Beach is a popular destination for 20somethings because of the many stunning beaches and parks, which are of course free to enjoy. Take a yoga class at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden and try paddle boarding or kayaking for a vacation you won’t soon forget.
10. Salt Lake City, Utah
Calling all film buffs: get away this winter and attend the Sundance Film Festival in Salt Lake City. This amazing festival features only independent films. Take a break from all that film watching and explore one of the 21 monuments and parks located nearby.
Visit any of these top ten places in the United States to see as a 20something and your trip is guaranteed to be interesting and fun. Whether you want to see the city lights of the Big Apple, indulge in some barbecue in Austin, or catch some country music in Nashville, consider one of these cool cities for your next vacation.