Where should I go?
August 21, 2008 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Where in the continental US should I go?

So I've searched the site and asked around, but I can't find any specific suggestions/advice.

Here it is - I have a free flight, courtesy of Southwest Airlines and I'm itching to use it.

Where can I go on the Southwest route (only flies to a limited number of cities) that follows these requirements:

* has a downtown area that's fairly close to the airport (can't rent a car)
* is considered a "walkable" city, or has an area to explore that is walkable
* is friendly to a young woman (me) traveling alone
* is good for 3-4 days of exploration (at the least)

Suggestions, please! I'm open to anything. Go!
posted by brynna to Travel & Transportation (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Come to Philadelphia! The train will have you from the airport (served by Southwest, thankfully) to very walkable Center City in about a half-hour. We have history, food and drink, music of all genres, world-class art, dance, theater, a terrific baseball stadium, and shopping, all accessible via foot or public transportation.
posted by shallowcenter at 11:06 AM on August 21, 2008

San Francisco. You can take BART (public transport) from the airport to the city. Walkable, friendly, great food, museums, parks, etc.
posted by rtha at 11:08 AM on August 21, 2008

Nashville would work. The downtown is fun with plenty of live music and walkable, it's not a long cab ride from the airport, and there's plenty to see.
posted by smackfu at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2008

Response by poster: I'm living in San Diego and I've done most California cities (inc. SF - used to live in the area)...
posted by brynna at 11:16 AM on August 21, 2008

Seconding San Francisco. Its my favourite American city (besides Honolulu) and I had heaps of fun there for two weeks without a car.
posted by osloheart at 11:18 AM on August 21, 2008

One vote for not going to Philadelphia. Thirding SF.
posted by Zambrano at 11:23 AM on August 21, 2008

Response by poster: Yes, please tell me where NOT to go, as well. Thanks :)
posted by brynna at 11:24 AM on August 21, 2008

Chicago or San Fran.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2008

New Orleans or Washington DC
posted by K.P. at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2008

Washington, DC. Public transport, tons of things to do (much of it free, and enough of it indoors that rain won't ruin things for you), safe.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2008

Chicago also good.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2008

Chicago, if you get here before early October. Lots of tips from old posts.
posted by sandmanwv at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2008

Best answer: Chicago! Southwest flies to Midway Airport, connected to the rest of the city by the Orange Line.

Also, what about flying to Philadelphia or Baltimore and then taking Megabus or Boltbus to DC, New York, or Boston? The buses are safe, online-bookable, and more reliable than Amtrak, and you get two or more cities for the price of one flight.

Oh - if you flew to Providence (a cool, walkable city in its own right!) you'd be able to take the MBTA commuter train up to Boston for less than Amtrak - just $7.75!
posted by mdonley at 11:30 AM on August 21, 2008

If you're from California it would seem that going to NYC would be almost perfect. Manhattan is as walkable as it gets. It's true that the airports don't quite fit your criteria, but it's New York. Nobody has a car; just take the subway or a taxi or whatever to where you're staying in Manhattan.
posted by Justinian at 11:31 AM on August 21, 2008

Nthing Chicago. Tons of stuff to do, and pretty safe. As a fellow 'young woman' I've spent a day or two wandering alone there without any trouble, and you can always use the L to get around town if you're in a hurry.

And if you're looking for additional travel from there, Megabus also goes through Chicago.
posted by Kimothy at 11:41 AM on August 21, 2008

Don't go to Philly. Philly in the summer is amongst the worst places to be. It's closely folowed by Philly during the rest of the year. Aside from the few blocks of Center City, which consist of Ye Olde Touriste Attractionnes, dollar stores, wig shops, and a few upscale fashion joints over by Rittenhouse, there's nothing in Philly for a tourist. Actually, come to think of it, there's not much in Philly for a resident.

I'd vote for Chicago or NYC.
posted by Netzapper at 11:48 AM on August 21, 2008

If you don't mind a very short ride to a train station, followed by a 90-minute train ride into the city, then New York. (Southwest only goes to Long Island, but the airport is very close to a LIRR station.) If that's too much, then DC.
posted by equalpants at 11:57 AM on August 21, 2008

Washington D.C. is a great choice if you have never been. Sure it can be hot in summer, but there are lots of cultural attractions that are close by, a shuttle bus from the airport (Dulles) + the Metro can get you around and as mentioned, a lot of the attractions are free.
posted by mmascolino at 11:59 AM on August 21, 2008

avoid phoenix
hot as an oven, not walkable, no public transportation worth the name.
posted by phritosan at 12:00 PM on August 21, 2008


You'd have to pay for a shuttle ride in from Dulles, but the FREE!!! museums and zoo more than make up for that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:05 PM on August 21, 2008

Yes, please tell me where NOT to go, as well. Thanks :)

Corpus Christi. Ever. For any reason. Even if offered money.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:07 PM on August 21, 2008

Geeze, what's with all the Philly-hate? We have museums, parks, big variety of restaurants, walkable & affordable places to stay, and lots of interesting people. And cheesesteaks.
posted by polexa at 12:24 PM on August 21, 2008

I'm a native Dallas person, and I have great affection for the city, but it is the opposite of walkable. Stay out of Texas in general, really, with the exception of Austin. Actually, you're probably better staying out of the South in general if walkability is key for you.
posted by MadamM at 12:25 PM on August 21, 2008

If you are looking for really walkable then how about NYC?
posted by WizKid at 12:29 PM on August 21, 2008

Indianola, WA says avoid Philadelphia, so you should listen.
posted by fixedgear at 12:30 PM on August 21, 2008

Best answer: Don't go to Indianapolis. Not only is it dull, it is down-right hostile to pedestrians. The airport is on the far edge of the city, ten miles away from the nearest "point of interest", which is a 2.5 mile asphalt oval. Public transit is a joke, and the few interesting bits are spread out all over the city.

NYC is great for pedestrians and full of interesting stuff. Even if you've been there before, there's always more to see.
posted by leapfrog at 12:56 PM on August 21, 2008

I like Philly just fine, though I think that it helps if you know people there. Chicago gets even less respect. Providence is v. cool, but probably not 3-4 days' worth.
posted by holgate at 1:04 PM on August 21, 2008

I'll put in 2 cents for Seattle. You'd have to take a bus from the airport into town, but it's a single bus from the airport to downtown. If you don't mind hills, it's very easy to walk, and this time of year it can be quite lovely & comfortable. (Don't mind the freak rain we've had this week, usually August & early September are pretty dry.)
posted by epersonae at 1:11 PM on August 21, 2008

Nthing NYC. I went alone. (Woman, late 20s at the time.) It's easy to take the train from the airport, and the only time I felt somewhat unsafe was when I was in the subway station alone very late at night, but I blame myself for being too cheap to take a cab.
posted by faunafrailty at 1:19 PM on August 21, 2008

Best answer: Portland. Easy LRT ride DT from airport, and the city is EXTREMELY pedestrian friendly with good public transit. It's damn safe, too.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:25 PM on August 21, 2008

You already picked Chicago as a best answer, but just in case there was any doubt: Chicago! I also live in San Diego, and Chicago is a lovely, lovely change of pace. I've been there several times (as a single young lady sans car) and it never gets old.
posted by booknerd at 1:29 PM on August 21, 2008

Ug, not DC. The weather is truly miserable and you know what's even worse there in the summer? A hundred thousand familes, church groups, and school groups who drove there from the fly-over states to spend their vacation standing in hot sticky lines at the Smithsonian.

/liberal latte-drinkin' elitist

Much as I love my hometown of Seattle, Chicago and SF fit your criteria better and Chicago never fails to take my breath away.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:46 PM on August 21, 2008

You can know people in Philadelphia - just tell us when you're coming and call a meetup! It was great to meet some of the MeFi librarians a few months ago.

We really do have lots of fascinating stuff to do, nice places to stay, good food to eat. And, as others mentioned, we're close enough for a day trip to NYC if you run out of things to do here -- but I don't think that you will.
posted by chihiro at 2:06 PM on August 21, 2008

Best answer: Chicago is walkable, gorgeous, and has fantastic weather this time of year and into the Fall. It is truly a pleasure. If you are looking for a cheap place to stay downtown and you like the hostel experience, HI Chicago is the place to be. If you are more into the B&B thing, try the Two Urns in Wicker Park.

Not only are the typical tourist spots delightful, but there are plenty of neighborhood, local type things going on during weekends for a long time yet.

Before I was married, I traveled alone quite often in the States and in Europe. Chicago is an excellent candidate for lone travelers because of the ease of getting around, the interesting things to do, and the friendliness of the natives. :)
posted by jeanmari at 2:38 PM on August 21, 2008

I can't help but to pimp my own city, New Orleans, LA. The only thing that doesn't exactly fit your criteria is that the airport is outside of the city. There is a shuttle downtown fromt he airport though. Come taste our amazing coaktails and Breathe taking food. come see our beautiful architecture. Ride the historic St. Charles Streetcar. Visit the Audubon Zoo/Aquarium of the Americas/[Brand-freakin-new]Insectarium. Take a Haunted History Tour. Visit the Absinthe Museum, NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art), the National World War II Museum, The Ogden museum of southern Art, The contemporary Arts center, or any of many many other museums. I promise New Orleans will not let you down.
posted by warriorengineer at 3:26 PM on August 21, 2008

Oakland, CA. The East Bay is highly underrated, and I did live in San Francisco so I know. The airport is ten minutes (okay, fifteen) from my house, and Berkeley is just down the street. Happy to acommodate you. I do have a husband, several children, and a bunch of Labradors. Good luck!
posted by emhutchinson at 3:57 PM on August 21, 2008

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