Cities that might make you question NYC's superiority

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  • Charleston, SC

  • Philadelphia, PA

Charleston, SC


Charleston, SC
The manicured charm of Charleston will give your eyes a much-needed rest from the gray-cement blockiness of insert-your-neighborhood-here. Ogle the antebellum mansions and Federal-style houses on foot: Whether you’re interested in the Civil War, pirates and prostitutes, or ghost stories and voodoo, there’s a walking tour that covers it. Try Bulldog Tours (bulldogtours.com), the only company that has access to the city’s dungeon, so you can see the gritty—though pleasantly polite—underbelly of this Southern town.

Charlotte, NC
Here’s a dichotomy: Charlotte is the home of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum (nascarhall.com; $19.95, children $12.95), and all that NASCAR culture implies...but it’s also where the owners of 1 OAK and Butter just opened a snazzy new lounge, Butter NC (buttercharlotte.com). Check it out during the weekly Summer Shootout races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway or the National Hot Rod Association Finals on September 16 at the related zMax Dragway (charlottemotorspeedway.com) After the competition, indulge in burgers, beers and a mechanical bull ride at Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s hot spot, the Whisky River (thewhiskyriver.com).

Lexington, KY
Lexington is home to all things equine. Get your fix this fall at the World Equestrian Games (Sept 25--Oct 10, alltechfeigames.com), which is kind of like the Olympics for horses. In addition to the various four-footed competitions—dressage, driving, vaulting, etc.—the horse fever extends throughout the city via Spotlight Lexington, a program of live jazz, bluegrass and classical music performances around town, and discount promotions like a pin you can buy for $5, which entitles you to discounts on food, drinks and shopping (lexingtonky.gov/spotlightlexington).


Philadelphia, PA
Start the weekend with an art crawl in the Old City neighborhood, where more than 40 galleries open their doors every first Friday (visitphilly.com, 5--9pm). Debate the merits of what you’ve seen over beers at hipster bar 700 Club (215-413-3181). The crunchy fried potato latkes at Honey’s Sit ’N Eat (honeys-restaurant.com) can cure any hangover the next morning, and you can get your brain back in gear at “Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt” at the Franklin Institute (fi.edu), which features 142 artifacts excavated from Egypt and the Bay of Aboukir, such as coins, jewelry and two 16-foot statues.

Savannah, GA
Sure, Savannah has a lot going for it: the old Southern charm, the public squares shaded by Spanish moss and that movie in which Jude Law played a hot murder victim. But the two reasons to go this summer have nothing to do with good looks: the Craft Brew Fest, during which you can sample 140 different beers (Sept 3--4, events $35--$75 each; savannahcraftbrewfest.com), and the Savannah Jazz Festival (Sept 19--26, savannahjazzfestival.org), an all-free music fest in its 29th year.

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101 summer getaways
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