Although an exotic vacation is always a good idea, sometimes we forget there are a plethora of amazing cities to explore right in our backyard. Los Angeles and New York are obvious options, but plenty of other US metropolises have beautiful landscapes and amazing food, music, art and fashion scenes. We’ve partnered up with SOREL to show you what to wear, where to stay, what to eat and what to do in five must-visit cities—browse our guide ahead for tips on looking fabulous and staying comfortable while exploring.
Coast-To-Coast City Guide
What to wear: Surrounded by ports and incredible architecture, Chicago is a gem of a concrete jungle in the Midwest. Thus, you need a comfortable yet city-appropriate shoe to walk in as you gawk at all the sights. A leather caged wedge sandal with gold hardware and mesh accents is a polished yet easy option. Pair with a knotted linen skirt and sleeveless mock-neck top. Accessorize with a tassel cross-body to keep your essentials all in one place.
Where to stay: Public Chicago is a gorgeous boutique hotel set in the Gold Coast with a historic yet trendy feel. The legendary Waldorf Astoria downtown is perfect for those seeking the ultimate luxury experience.
What to eat: You can't leave the Windy City without trying a deep dish pizza—Lou Malnati's is a local favorite. Then head to the buzzy Joy District for drinks on the rooftop.
What to do: Have a picnic at the iconic Millennium Park to witness the amazing sculptures and public art IRL (touch The Bean!). Enjoy the city from above at the Skydeck at Willis Tower.
What to wear: One of the most stylish cities in the South, Austin is both rustic and modern. To beat the heat, make sure to bring a pair of effortless flat breathable sandals. Wear them with an embroidered off-the-shoulder blouse, vintage-inspired straight-leg jeans and retro round sunnies for a quirky touch.
Where to stay: You'll want to Instagram everything in the South Congress Hotel. Boasting mid-century modern architecture adorned with rugged accents, this boutique abode is perfect for the trendy girl.
What to eat: Stop by La Condesa for colorful, delectable contemporary Mexican dishes and a vast selection of tequila. If you're down for some good ol' Texan BBQ, head to Lambert's for succulent ribs and pulled pork. Is your mouth watering yet?
What to do: Live music is a must-see in Austin. Check out The Continental Club, which first opened in 1957 as a private supper club and is now a premier venue for rock, country and swing artists from all over the country. Vintage shopping is also a necessary activity, as the city is laden with one-of-a-kind wares, antiques and trinkets.
What to wear: The vast metropolitan cityscape in North Texas is home to a flourishing food scene, an expansive arts district and luxury shopping. Select a bright block-heel sandal for fashion-forward flair. An asymmetrical shoulder top with voluminous sleeves adds drama. Temper the look with cropped white denim and finish off with gold statement hoop earrings.
Where to stay: Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek transports you to the 16th century with its Italian Renaissance villa design and traditionally luxe decor, offering opulent Texan luxury at its best. The Joule, located downtown, is simultaneously artsy, modern and chic with art installations, a rooftop pool, a world-class spa and a prime location: adjacent to a myriad of boutiques and restaurants.
What to eat: FT33 brings innovation and art to the Dallas food scene, making it one of the coolest restaurants to visit; vibrant, visually stimulating presentation of new American dishes makes this place a winner. For something more low-key, head to the Truck Yard to find endless choices of local food trucks serving everything from homestyle BBQ to Korean tacos.
What to do: Shop 'til you drop—Dallas is a mecca of luxury stores. Forty Five Ten, jewelry emporium Ylang 23, Tenoversix, Stanley Korshak (Rachel Zoe's favorite) and the flagship Neiman Marcus and Canary are our top choices.
What to wear: Seattle is one-of-a-kind, surrounded by the lush evergreen of the Pacific Northwest and marked by a cool indie vibe. Choose a casual lace-up sandal with ample coverage in case it rains. A shirtdress reads instant polish without trying too hard; add a utility jacket for some edge and a mini suede bag to carry your belongings.
Where to stay: The very first Ace Hotel is in Seattle and boasts loft ceilings, hardwood floors and whimsical artwork. With its signature vintage flair, the trendy boutique hotel is worth booking.
What to eat: Start your day at The London Plane for a fantastic brunch menu (options include smoked halibut and marinated chickpeas, avocado and soft egg). It's also a specialty market where you can grab baked goods, flowers and specialty foods. You can't leave Seattle without trying their oysters, and The Walrus and the Carpenter serves delicious, plump ones that elicit a very long line out the door.
What to do: Breathe in the fresh air as you stroll through the waterside Fremont neighborhood—it's perfect for eating, shopping and people-watching. Kerry Park also has a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. There are plenty of cool bars in Capitol Hill too, such as the fairly new Foreign National and the open-space Optimism Brewing Company.
What to wear: Beyond picturesque and quintessentially southern, Charleston is a beautiful historic city in South Carolina. Embrace the bright, sunny feel with a darling embroidered smocked frock paired with feminine low-wedge sandals you can frolic in all day. Plop on a straw hat for good measure.
Where to stay: The Zero George Hotel is where you'll get the most Charleston experience of all. Surrounded by residences in a courtyard, its 16 studios and suites are the epitome of Southern-charm decor (think heart pine floors, period millwork details and classic piazzas). It's simply dreamy.
What to eat: James Beard Award–winning chef Sean Brock's Husk offers a unique, modern approach to Southern cooking with dishes like Carolina catfish and country ham. Don't go without grubbing on authentic buttermilk biscuits from Callie's.
What to do: Learn more about the city's history and feast your eyes on all the gorgeous old-world houses and landmarks via a walking tour. Make sure to visit the Drayton Hall Plantation, a famous 350-acre colonial estate that's literally a postcard in real life.