5 Top Destinations for Grad Trips in the US

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post image Adelie Darracq
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5 Top Destinations for Grad Trips in the US

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the largest city in California. It is known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic and cultural diversity, Hollywood film industry and sprawling metropolitan area. Hit up Hollywood for an unforgettable night out, cruise the swanky rooftop spots and speakeasies in West Hollywood or Beverly Hills, or for something more low-key, do as the locals do and seek out finely crafted cocktails in Silver Lake or Santa Monica. If you want to go dancing head downtown to find clubs playing everything from EDM to Latin music to pop.

Just west of downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica contains one of the most legendary beach scenes in the United States. Santa Monica also boasts an abundance of great restaurants and excellent nightlife spots. The 3 miles of shoreline are renowned as some of the best in the area thanks to the soft sands, ideal weather and bevy of attractions. Santa Monica is a very walkable part of town, and many recent travelers suggest you explore the area by bicycle. Moreover, the pier is a must-visit spot and fun to see. One of the most scenic rides is along the 22-mile bike path, known as The Strand, which runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean and takes riders through Marina del Rey and Playa del Rey along with Venice, Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo beaches.

One of the most iconic thoroughfares in the United States, Sunset Boulevard continues to live up to its legends. In the old days, it represented the classic and glamorous Hollywood lifestyle and became the setting of several famous films, including the obvious classic "Sunset Boulevard." Today, the palm-lined street (which connects downtown LA to Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Pacific Coast Highway) retains its cinematic appeal, and the Sunset Strip portion has become a popular nightlife spot. The strip is also home to many classic music venues, including the Rainbow Bar & Grill and The Roxy Theatre. On top of that, Rodeo Drive is a must see in Los Angeles. Immortalized by Julia Roberts' "Pretty Woman" shopping spree, Rodeo Drive is an upscale shopping street in Beverly Hills that features designer stores and small private boutiques. The area is popular with wealthy shoppers, sunglass-wearing celebrities and tourists hoping to see fashion icons. Don't be afraid to browse. Most shop owners are used to sightseers walking the area with little intent to purchase anything. Once you've seen where the stars shop, where they eat, where they surf and where they party, you'll want to see where they live. A variety of minibus tours provide ample opportunities to spot homes owned by the rich and famous.

Lastly, Located in Burbank, California – a city that sits just 5 miles north of Hollywood – Warner Bros. Studio gives visitors a close-up look at iconic movie and TV sets and props, such as the original Batmobiles, costumes from the "Harry Potter" movies and a replica of the cafe featured in "Friends." Travelers will also drive around the studio's 110-acre backlot, where 30 soundstages are used for producing shows like "Young Sheldon," "Bob Hearts Abishola," and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

Miami Beach

The party scene in this Florida beach destination heats up after dark. The chic South Beach is famous for its deafening dance clubs, posh hotel lounges and extravagant clientele. You'll find everything you need along Ocean Drive. If you're looking for a more refined evening, hit up one of Miami Beach's rooftop bars. An amazing activity you can do to add an adrenaline rush to your holiday is a jet ski tour! With the speed fully at your control, you can cruise around the turquoise waters of Miami bay at a relaxing pace or a break-neck speed. Either way, there’s plenty of time to admire the fantastic Miami skyline and maybe even see some dolphins.

Florida is famous for its swamplands and alligators, and there’s no better way to see it all up close than on an airboat tour. You’ll ride on an airboat through the heart of Everglades and admire the wildlife in their natural habitat. Moreover, Miami is the perfect place to rent a party boat. Whether you’re traveling in a group or rocking it solo, it’s the perfect way to expand your social circles and meet like-minded travelers!

If you like the outdoors you can choose to explore South beach on a bike tour. If you’re looking for a fun and energetic way to discover the famous summer strip, join a locally-led bike tour. Not only will you cycle along the vast fine-sand beaches, explore Miami’s famous Art Deco District, and take a dip in the water at Nikki Beach, but you’ll also head off the beaten track and discover some of the area’s hidden gems.On top of that, you can visit the Wynwood Art District, one of the world’s most incredible outdoor street art museums.

If you love food you must visit Little Havana, It brings together all the best Cuban flavors and American flavors and fuses them together in a delectable package. If you’re looking to venture off-the-beaten-path and sample unique cuisine from the best Cuban restaurants in Miami, look no further. Finally, one of the best things to do in Miami is snorkeling at Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary, an underwater paradise. Since you’ll be swimming in clear waters, spotting beautiful tropical fish, and admiring stunning coral reefs, it’s worth considering renting or bringing an underwater camera.

New York City

No city in the United States has a wider variety of nightlife options than New York. From trendy cocktail lounges in SOHo and rooftop bars in midtown Manhattan to pub crawls in the East Village and beer gardens in Brooklyn, there are countless ways to enjoy a night out in the Big Apple. The city also offers everything from concerts to Broadway musicals for visitors to enjoy. Plus, many of the bars and clubs in the City That Never Sleeps stay open until 4a.m., meaning you can keep the party going nearly all night long. As one of the world’s leading metropolises for art, fashion, food and theater, New York is a city every traveler should visit. Whether you come for a day trip or for an extended stay, choosing what to see and do is the toughest part since the possibilities are endless.

NYC’s art scene is unparalleled. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim and other museums present great art from around the world, while galleries in the Lower East Side and Chelsea promote new talent. There’s much more to savor than art, however. New York is a foodie’s heaven. An estimated 60 international cuisines are served in the city’s 23,000 restaurants. And the chefs are always innovating, whether combining old-school recipes with new ideas for main courses, or creating new desserts that people will line up for hours to try. 

There’s no better way to pick up on NYC’s variable vibe and changing scenery than by walking Broadway on a fine day. Broadway is also shorthand for Manhattan’s 41 mainstream theaters that are clustered around Times Square. Take in a show while you’re here. Furthermore, a great thing to explore in NYC is the High Line. It is a narrow public park, 1.45 miles (two kilometers) long, that sits on the old rail bed of the elevated West Side freight line of the New York Central Railroad. Running from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to 34th Street, it is a garden, an arts space, a destination for dates and a place to sit and dream. 

Moreover, New York is the place to listen to live music every night of the week. There are music gigs in New York every day of the year, many of them performed by some of the most famous artists from around the world. Sellout acts play the stadiums Madison Square Garden and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, though venues like Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, Irving Plaza, the Hammerstein Ballroom, Webster Hall, Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Steel and Kings Theater in Flatbush also attract big names. Cool acts sometimes play smaller venues like the Bowery Ballroom or Williamsburg’s Baby’s All Right, while dozens of bars host up-and-comers (and has-beens). Birdland, Blue Note, Village Vanguard, Iridium and Cornelia Street Café are among the city’s top jazz clubs.

Time Square is a must visit place in the city. Nobody will ever forget their first time walking through the hectic plaza. The unbridled energy, the costumed characters and the incessant flashing of neon lights make for an out-of-body experience. Central Park, located in the heart of Manhattan, is one of the city’s most photogenic places. Wander through its vast space to discover a favorite spot – whether Strawberry Fields, where John Lennon is commemorated; the bronze sculpture of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland; or the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace at the heart of the park. You can choose to hangout there, have a picnic, go for a boat ride on the lake, play sports, etc. For those who wake up when the sun goes down, NYC provides an eclectic array of nightclubs and both conventional and alternative cabarets.

Lastly, you may want to cross the Brooklyn Bridge, the most iconic of the city. The best direction is from Brooklyn to Manhattan, which will give you spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, especially at sunrise and sunset. You may even start at Dumbo where you will see many art galleries, restaurants and optique hotels rising up in spectacular fashion.

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is truly a magnificent marvel of nature. Situated in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park is a natural wonder that is surrounded by utmost bliss and serenity. And not just that, but it also offers the most incredible views that will leave you awestruck! From hiking the rocky terrain to rafting it’s waters, this will make your holiday picture-perfect. So, there’s no doubt that by visiting the Grand Canyon, you will be relaxing right in the lap of nature and creating memories for life! 

But, to make sure your trip there is an impeccable one, it is of utmost importance that you plan it well too. Even the most skeptical of travelers become awestruck at the sight of the Grand Canyon's massive expanse of gorges, ridges and rock formations. So simply enjoy the view – from a variety of vantage points – is an activity that could take hours. One of the best ways to admire the canyon is on a hiking tour that takes you to the bottom. Some of the best trails include the Bright Angel or Rim trails on the South Rim. Rafting the Colorado River is another option, as is a helicopter tour. The Grand Canyon follows the southwest course of the Colorado River, which sliced a gorge through the Colorado Plateau over a period of 6,000 years. To orient yourself, think of the landscape in terms of the South, North, West, and East Rims, keeping in mind that there’s no way to cross the canyon by car—you have to drive all the way around.

The South Rim is the most widely recognized area of the Grand Canyon, with the greatest number of viewpoints, visitor services, and hotels. More than 1,000 feet higher, the North Rim gets a good deal of snow and, as a result, is only open from May 15 to October 15. The West Rim, known as Grand Canyon West, sits on the tribal lands of the Hualapai and includes the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a glass bottom, perfect for conquering that fear of heights. Finally, the East Rim, which is lower in elevation at 4,000 feet, is part of the Navajo Nation and features numerous smaller canyons carved by the Little Colorado River. Around the park live four tribes—the Hualapai, Navajo, Havasupai, and Hopi—whose reservation rules and policies govern those areas. Also keep in mind that the season and weather will play a role in your Grand Canyon planning, with roads, viewpoints, and services subject to closure.

It’s hard to fully appreciate the depth of the Grand Canyon without going to the bottom and looking up. The most popular route down is the Bright Angel Trail, which, at nine miles one way, can’t be done without camping overnight at Indian Garden or Bright Angel campgrounds. A permit is required to camp in the backcountry; don’t delay in applying for one here because sites fill up fast. If you’d rather make it a day trip, hike part of the way down to one of the rest houses at 1.5 or 3 miles, then head back up (remember: coming up takes longer than going down) with a far greater appreciation for the canyon’s geological marvels.

San Francisco 

Every San Fran neighborhood has its own unique vibe, so it can be easy to find spots that suit your preferences. Downtown is where you'll find the biggest parties, and the Mission District is where you'll find all the hipsters (and the cool bars they own). For something more refined, head to the restaurants located along the Embarcadero. San Francisco is also home to some of the best gay bars and clubs in the country, whether you're interested in a drag show, a piano bar or something else entirely. San Francisco is one of the most eclectic cities in the United States. Its diversity is unmatched, and is home to so many different backgrounds, making it one of the most unique places in the United States.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks as well as an engineering masterpiece. Don’t forget to make your way to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which offers a waterfront promenade, views of the bridge, and a number of hiking trails. The park also features a Walt Disney museum too! A very famous spot if SF is Alcatraz, a former federal prison on Alcatraz Island. It was home to some of the worst criminals in the US. It was shut down in the 1970s and has since become a national landmark people can explore. A tour guide will recount its historical impact on the state of California. Be sure to book your ferry tickets to the island early if you’re going in the summer!

When visiting San Francisco you must stop by Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and Ghirardelli Square. These spots are along the waterfront and are one of the most visited places in the city. There are street performers, souvenir shops, and tons of high end restaurants. Along Fish Alley you can watch fishermen at work, as they’ve done for decades. This is a good place to wander and explore, however the food tends to be on the expensive side. If you wish to try some of the mouthwatering seafood that San Francisco is famous for, you should check out Waterbar and the Anchor Oyster Bar.

Riding the cable cars is an excellent way to tour the city and experience various neighborhoods in San Francisco. Catch the cable cars from Market Street. They’re fun to ride and will save you lots of time walking up and down those hills. A one-way ticket is $7 (you can pay the conductor onboard). Next to NYC, San Francisco has the most famous Chinatown in the United States (it’s also the biggest). Chinese immigrants first came to the West Coast and set up shop in San Francisco. Due to racial segregation, this neighborhood became predominantly Chinese and has remained so, though the segregation is over. Chinatown here has some of the best places to eat Chinese food in the country, teahouses, bars, souvenir stalls, and fortune cookie makers.

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Adelie Darracq

A third-year business student with a keen interest in all things marketing, design and management.