Hey, We’ve Been There! (Travel + Leisure’s Best Cities in the U.S. 2016)

Travel + Leisure: The Best Cities in the U.S.

Travel + Leisure just released their 2016 “best of” lists — and while they all are super fun, I was especially excited by The Best Cities in the U.S. when I realized how many of these cities we’ve experienced in the last year!

Hey, We've Been There! | Our Streamlined Life

Nerd Alert: Our Streamlined Stats

Because we live in a camper you might get the impression that we prefer the backwoods to big cities. But while we do nerd out over our National Parks, we also love the energy (and delicious food) that comes with big city experiences. Here’s how we scored:

  • Ryan has been to 9 of these 15 cities, and Rebecca has been to 11.
  • We’ve visited 8 in the last year alone, including #1-3.
  • We’ll (fingers crossed) check at least 1 more off our list this fall.
  • Of the 4 remaining cities, we were supposed to visit 2 on our Southwest Adventure, but didn’t make it …
  • … and 2 haven’t even been on our radar (but maybe they should be!).

Read on for the down & dirty details …

The List + Our Experiences

#1: Charleston, South Carolina

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We visited actually Charleston twice in the last year — once in November, then again in April for a quick trip after a wedding. Travel + Leisure gave this city lots of love this year; it was also #1 on their list of the world’s best cities in 2016! It’s definitely one of the most beautiful cities we’ve visited, although I’m not sure we’d be up for the hot, sticky summers.

#2: New Orleans, Louisiana

St. Louis Cathedral - Our Streamlined Life

New Orleans was another double-hitter for us! I visited last July, and Ryan and I spent a fun weekend there just before Christmas. New Orleans is such a unique city, with a totally fun vibe, although I don’t think I’d ever want to live there. (If you’re looking for ideas of things to do in New Orleans, I’d definitely recommend Extra Pack of Peanuts’ Destination Diaries podcast episode on the city!)

#3: Savannah, Georgia

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We visited Savannah in November and of these three southern cities, I’d say it’s definitely my favorite. I loved the waterfront, the gorgeous old buildings, the food, and all the parks scattered through the city … I definitely want to go back!

#4: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is the first curveball city, for us at least! We’ve never been, although we did drive past it on our way to Los Alamos. If you’ve been, tell us … should we go? Our tentative plans for 2017 have us passing through New Mexico again, so it could definitely become a stop for us.

#5: Nashville

I (Rebecca) actually attended a journalism conference in Nashville when I was in college; Ryan has never been. We were supposed to go this spring, but didn’t make it. And while our fall 2016 plans have us spending some time in Tennessee, I don’t think we’ll make it that far west. Womp, womp. Maybe we’ll get there when we head west in 2017.

#6: San Francisco

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We visited San Francisco as part of our epic 2015 road trip. We definitely loved our time there, although I think we were starting to get a little burned out on living out of the car at that point and didn’t enjoy it as much as we could have. But the weather was perfect — a highlight for me was our picnic lunch at the Beach at Presidio — and we’ll probably revisit it when we head west in 2017. (After all, we never made it to Alcatraz!)

#7: Chicago


I headed to Chicago in June for a girls’ trip with my sister, and totally fell in love with the Windy City. I haven’t blogged about it yet, but #spoileralert: this is currently my #1 city in the United States. Ryan hasn’t been yet, but I’ll definitely be dragging him there ASAP because I loved it and I kind of want to live there one day.

#8: New York City

We’ve both been to the Big Apple many times, although Ryan definitely has me beat here; growing up in New Jersey, NYC was practically in his backyard. We haven’t been in quite some time, though — maybe it’s time to plan a trip!

#9: Austin

Austin was another destination we ended up missing this spring. We were definitely made envious by all our Instagram friends’ shots of tacos and awesome camping. If we revisit Big Bend in 2017, which we’re hoping to do, hopefully we’ll get another chance to check Austin off the list.

#10: Asheville

We also missed Asheville this spring, but have plans to head there in September! I’m super excited to see Biltmore, visit Battery Park Book Exchange, and enjoy beautiful camping and delicious food.

#12: Honolulu

I’ll have to admit, I’ve never had much desire to visit Hawaii. Given the choice, I think I’d head to a tropical island a little closer to the East Coast, and a lot less expensive. If you’ve been — am I way off base here?

#12: San Antonio

San Antonio 8 - Japanese Tea Gardens

San Antonio was another awesome stop on our southwest road trip! We loved the Mexican food, visiting the Riverwalk, and the gorgeous Japanese Tea Garden. If we didn’t have family living there, I think the crazy traffic might have kept us away from San Antonio, but I’m definitely glad we made the stop — it’s a pretty cool city.

#13: Boston

Fun fact: when I was going to school for journalism, and thought I was going to grow up to be an intrepid girl reporter, à la Hildy Johnson, I imagined myself living in Boston and working for the Globe. Although that dream never panned out, Boston is a city we both enjoy — we’ll probably hit it up when we’re spending time in New England this fall. (Let it be known that our most-visited Boston destination is the Sam Adams Brewery.)

#14: Seattle

seattle waterfront

Seattle was a cool stop on our fall 2015 road trip; in classic Seattle fashion, it was chilly and overcast when we visited. Seattle had its own unique charm and I’m glad we were able to check it out.

#15: Portland

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Portland was a city I’d wanted to visit for a while, and when we went there last fall it definitely didn’t disappoint. Powell’s Books was the highlight for me, and I’d have loved to spend more time checking out the food scene. Next time we’re on the west coast, I’d love to revisit Portland!

Your turn! Where have you gone? Where do you want to go? And what’s your #1 city in the United States?

Exploring Seattle (Day 22)

There are few things I love as much as exploring a new city, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out Seattle while we were in Washington state.

On advice from our hosts, we drove to Bainbridge Island, parked, and took the ferry right into the city. (Well, we actually drove to the island, missed the ferry by two minutes, had a delicious brunch, and then took the ferry into Seattle!)

We had chosen our day to travel into the city as one sandwiched between two days of rain — but I was a little worried when this was our view on the ferry:

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Ghostly and beautiful, but not very visible.

Despite the fogginess, we thoroughly enjoyed our ferry trip; it was quiet and comfortable and Ryan even took a little nap! By the time we arrived at the Seattle dock, it was still gloomy but much of the fog had dissipated.

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Our first stop was Pike Place Market, which opened 1907 and is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. Since we’re trying to downsize the amount of stuff we have packed into the Tahoe, I wasn’t in the market to buy anything, but it was really fun to check out all the fresh fish, fruits and veggies, and handmade wares for sale. I was most wowed by the amazingly beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers available for sale. The “small” bouquets (bigger than most grocery store flower bunches) were only $5, and the big ones were $10!

pike place market flowers

Next stop: The original Starbucks at 1912 Pike Place. The line was out the door, but the staff was friendly and incredibly efficient, and I had my pumpkin spice latte in hand in no time! #basic

original starbucks

Next it was on to the monorail, a two-minute ride to the base of the Space Needle. Before heading to the needle, we were distracted by this fun, crazy park. It wasn’t made for grown-ups (there was actually a sign in the park that said “Adults must be accompanied by children” – good thing I had Ryan!) but we definitely thought it was too cool to pass by.

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When we went to purchase our Space Needle tickets, I was horrified to learn that the ride to the top cost $22. Per person. Yikes. I was on the verge of walking away, but Ryan convinced me that we had come too far to just walk away.

The view from the top was definitely amazing — and it was so cool to get a 360 degree perspective of the city. Most of the fog had dissipated by this time, and we were treated to stunning views of the mountains, the city, and the waterfront.

There was still much more we could have seen in Seattle but we wanted to get on the ferry before the commuters started returning home.  It was warm enough that we were able to sit up on the outside deck of the ferry, and we were treated to beautiful views of the Seattle waterfront that totally made up for the foggy morning trip!

seattle waterfront