Where should I go on vacation in May?
April 1, 2014 7:31 AM   Subscribe

My friend and I want to go on vacation in late May, somewhere in the US. No relaxing and lying around by a body of water. No touristy stuff. Where should we go?

My friend and I live in NYC and we're hoping to go on a 4-5 day vacation in late May. I"m at a complete loss of where to go. All the places I really want to visit (Greece, South America, Antarctica) are a little too far away for a quick trip!

Here's what I'm looking for - a great city/neighborhood with lots of restaurants, shops, live music, festivals, art, unusual attractions, ghost tour-esque stuff, things to explore, etc. Hiking, kayaking, maybe swimming would all be a plus. Recent trips I've really enjoyed were to New Orleans, Savannah, and Colorado. Here's what I'm not looking for - just lying around near a pool or beach all day. That would kill me. I'm not one for relaxing vacations.

I think it's too short a vacation to go overseas, but if something really awesome was suggested, I would consider it. I really wanted Iceland but my friend has nixed it. One more thing - it can't be the West Coast, because I'm going there this Fall.

I just gotta get out of NY. Help!
posted by silverstatue to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Boston's North Shore! I particularly love Rockport (where there is definitely kayaking) and Salem (where there is definitely ghost tour-esque stuff).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:36 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Montreal! Should be just warming up in late May, and it's beautiful there in the summer. It's a 5-6hrs drive from NYC, or a quick 1hr flight. Tons of the awesome stuff that you're looking for is there. And if you want an even more European feel, make a side trip up to Quebec City, too!
posted by Grither at 7:38 AM on April 1, 2014 [9 favorites]


Ticks all of your boxes, including ghost tours. You can easily find kayaking, dolphin-watching type stuff very close by the city. You can walk the city for hours/days and not get bored.

Pro tip: try to find the stables for the carriage horses. They are so friendly and delighted when people are interested in the animals. (Only if you like horses, of course.) I got to see a foal and pet her! They are SOB but sorry I can't remember exactly where.
posted by Punctual at 7:39 AM on April 1, 2014

New Orleans, or Austin would work. Even Old San Juan, in PR would be nice. There will be water, but the city is so nice, you might not even bother with the beach. For hiking in PR, El Yunque is good. Or are these three too touristy?
posted by kellyblah at 7:41 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Montreal, and fit in a day or two in Quebec City as well. You won't believe it's driving distance from your house. I mean, look at it.
posted by something something at 7:43 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


The weather will be beautiful. It's fairly small and kinda off the beaten path, with tons of great food, lots of local art, and spooky stuff, plus it's nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so gorgeous scenery abounds and there's hiking galore.
posted by divined by radio at 7:52 AM on April 1, 2014 [6 favorites]

Asheville's great! I would recommend Knoxville, which is just a few hours away, and you can take a beautiful route through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which also means crossing the Appalachian Trail. Skip past Pigeon Forge and Gaitlinburg if you're avoiding touristy stuff (though many lovely mountain cabins are to be had in that area) and head on to Knoxville.

In the case Asheville and K-ville, you're just a few hours away from loads upon loads of other fun cities, such is the nature of the American Southeast. Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston, Atlanta, Greenville, Savannah, etc.

I would add, re: Asheville, that the Biltmore tour was totally worth the money.
posted by Sunburnt at 8:03 AM on April 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

Asheville or Gatlinburg.

Now Gatlinburg is CHOCK FULL OF TOURISTY STUFF! But, it's also right there at the Great Smoky Mountain Park, and there are tons of things to do there. Great hiking, interesting old settlements, and on the other side, Cherokee, with the museum and a show, and gambling.

I can't speak to Asheville, but you can see Biltmore, and downtown is all that cutesy, artsy stuff.

Another place you might want to explore is Sedona, with a side trip to the Grand Canyon.

Have fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:15 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Asheville is a great idea. I also really enjoyed my Civil Rights tour of Alabama (related AskMe) when I was doing a similar thing. We went to Birmingham, Selma, Montgomery and Tuskegee, learned a lot of history, ate a bunch of amazing food and were definitely not on any tourist pathways. Hotels and rental cars were very inexpensive and I enjoyed being in a place that was really different from the cities I'd usually visit in the Northeast.
posted by jessamyn at 8:41 AM on April 1, 2014

Thirding Montreal, unless you're limiting your trip to the US because you don't have passports or are dealing with complicated immigration issues.
posted by Sara C. at 9:46 AM on April 1, 2014

Response by poster: Hi everyone. Thanks for the suggestions so far. Asheville sounds great but my friend just went there, so I think she will want something different. I'll research all the suggestions though!
posted by silverstatue at 9:54 AM on April 1, 2014

Montreal is great. (So is Toronto! I love Toronto.)

I had a surprisingly awesome time in Louisville. The city is cute and walkable with plenty of good restaurants and bars. Mammoth Cave is nearby, so you can knock out a national park - there is lots of hiking there and elsewhere. The Bourbon Trail was really fun and driving around that area is beautiful. Lexington is supposed to be great, but we were only there for a few days and didn't make it that far. I liked Louisville a lot more than Nashville or Charleston.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:17 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

What about just regular old Boston? Or, if you want something smaller, Providence, RI or Portland, ME? Or even smaller, Portsmouth, NH? All have lots of great food, historic architecture, art galleries, music scenes, museums, and are supremely walkable. All have hiking and kayaking options of various quality nearby.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:17 AM on April 1, 2014

I live in Houston and am not one of those people who thinks Austin is the coolest place on earth, but... Austin meets ALL of your criteria. Lots of walking around and exploring to do. Lots of cool, quirky shops, restaurants, bars, live music, galleries and other fun stuff. Lots of outdoorsy things to do too, and in May it'll be just right — not too hot to be miserable walking around, not too cold for a dip in the 68-degree waters of Barton Springs. Bonus: it won't break the bank.
posted by Brittanie at 11:12 AM on April 1, 2014

Montreal is great. I also love Portland, ME, which has some great food places, especially in the Old Port section (though I would recommend reservations for the popular places). If you go to Portland, consider spending a night or two on Chebeague Island at the inn. Typical island view. There is a ferry from Portland. The inn has bikes, kayaks, and you can easily walk/hike around the island. At low tide, you can walk over to Little Chebeague Island from Chebeague. It will be cool but pretty and with few tourists at that time of year.
posted by gudrun at 11:31 AM on April 1, 2014

I am also in Houston and I believe Austin is a good place for you to go. San Antonio may fit the bill as well, but Austin would be my first suggestion.

(What's up with Houstonites sending people to Austin?)
posted by blurker at 3:23 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Portland, Maine is a fun little city on a bay. Great restaurants, and you can take a ferry to lots of little coastal islands. Drive up the gorgeous coast 2 hours and you get to Acadia National Park with tons of beautiful hikes, camping, kayaking, etc. I've lived in Maine for a total of 12 years, and I never get tired of Acadia. Portland is quaint. Not NYC by a long shot, but fun!
posted by JanewayJunior at 4:36 PM on April 1, 2014

Minneapolis fits all your criteria. Hopefully the weather will be cooperating by the end of May..

If you're leaning towards more hiking/outdoorsy activities, check out Duluth.
posted by gumtree at 6:37 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another Houstonian here to recommend Austin. It's got everything you're looking for. Check out South Congress Street, 6th Street, the bats, Austin City Limits, food trucks, the Hill Country, plus it's The Live Music Capital of the World.

(In a week, post another Ask Me asking for suggestions of things to do there/places to go, and we'll give you more details.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:16 PM on April 1, 2014

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