July 26, 2018, by Michael Erving
One of the things that makes traveling so exciting is coming across something unexpectedly wonderful. While this is by no means a complete list of all the cool, quirky, and unique things to do in our partner destinations, it’s a pretty excellent highlight reel (if I do say so myself). It’s also a good reminder to look around wherever you are, because there’s usually something there to discover.
South Shore, Indiana: Pierogi Fest
Nothing makes you think of Indiana like pierogi, right? Ok, maybe not. But the folks in Whiting, Indiana (which is right between Gary, Indiana and Illinois) really know how to throw a pastry-centric shindig—and one that’s also a nod to the Eastern Europeans who settled these parts. Expect family friendly games, parades, dancing in the street, live music and, of course, lots and lots of delicious pastries. Plus, having this much fun will totally burn those pierogi-induced calories off.
Sheboygan, Wisconsin: Inland Surfing
You think America’s Dairyland, and a few things come to mind: cheese, beer, long vowels, and maybe a bit more cheese. But surfing? In Wisconsin? Really? Yup. Sheboygan’s got some of the best inland surfing anywhere. Sure, the ideal season is also September through April, so you’ll probably need a bit more than board shorts to stave off that Wisconsin winter, but you can still catch some decent swells, considering you're over 800 miles from the nearest ocean. Plus, you can go warm up with a few brats and a beer—and that sounds like a great way to spend a day.
San Francisco, California: Jerry Day
While some folks tend to celebrate Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead’s late frontman, with a little tie-dye (and maybe their friend Mary Jane), San Francisco does things a bit more full-on. In San Francisco, this music legend is so revered he gets his own day (complete with festival and tribute bands). It’s a countdown-worthy, almost-holiday for Dead Heads of all stripes and a great time, to boot. Oh, and your friend Mary's probably going to be there, too.
Seattle, Washington: Nordic Heritage Museum
Ah, Seattle—our hometown. Birthplace of Hendrix, Kenny G, grunge, Starbucks, and a mecca of hiking-chic fashion, it’s a city with a distinct (flannel clad) pedigree of weirdness. While there’s plenty of quirk to be had in the Emerald City, there’s also a surprising amount of unexpected history. Enter: the Nordic Heritage Museum. Recently relocated to the ever-hip main drag of Market Avenue in the Ballard Neighborhood (which was once its own city), this place pays homage to the original Scandinavian settlers, all while blending in with the recently-poshified neighborhood.
Dallas, Texas: The Samurai Collection
Dallas definitely has a strong sense of identity; it’s massive, modern, arguably the most cosmopolitan place in Texas, and it knows what it’s about. While it’s home to some really impressive museums that make most visitors must-see lists, it’s also home to the Samurai Collection, which is (as they put it) “the only museum outside of Japan whose focus is samurai armor.” Sure, it might not be the quintessence of The Big D, but it’s still somehow uniquely Dallas—and, let’s be real: it’s also really cool.
Monterey, California: Concours d’Lemons
Monterey's a distinct place—a mellow seaside city that’s a just as high-class as it is relaxed. While there are plenty of reasons (and ways) to chill, unwind, and explore the stunning area, Monterey is also home to one of the world’s premier golf courses (looking at you, Pebble Beach), which happens to host one of the most prestigious automobile events on the planet, the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance. Monterey can also have a bit of a laugh, though. Case in point: the Concours d’Lemons, a car show dedicated to the weirdest, blandest, and most (un)lovable autos ever made. While it might not have quite the grandeur of the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance, you can at least breathe on the cars on display without fear of a reprimand.
All destinations have something to offer. If you've got something you're keen on showing off, we'd love to hear about it.