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Three Small Cities To Visit In 2017

By Sponsor in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 13, 2016 6:00AM


With the New Year just around the corner, it’s wise to start drafting that 2017 bucket list. Whether it’s cuisines to taste, personal goals to achieve or journeys to undertake near and far, we promise that this year will be one for the books.

To help inspire your next journey, we’ve rounded up a few small cities to visit here in the States, and we’re spilling the secrets on how to hit up each destination like a local, not like a tourist, we promise. To us, there’s no better way to experience local culture than shopping and dining at small businesses that fully capture the city’s heart.

Nashville, Tennessee


Sure, you have binged Nashville on Netflix—but now's the time to visit Music City. From getting a real taste of honky tonk to seeing Porter Wagoner's Nudie Suits, it's a perfect getaway.

Sheraton Music City Hotel
Nashville's vibrant food scene features home-style options like Nashville Biscuit House* and Arnold's Country Kitchen as well as upscale Husk and Rolf and Daughters. You can't miss Prince's Hot Chicken Shack*, the original hot chicken purveyors, or Martin's Bar-B-Q, which features whole-hog BBQ.

Vegetarian? Check out a plant-based vegan restaurant Avo*. And the Frothy Monkey's* locations are popular brunch spots (there's also a Frothy Monkey Roasting and Frothy Monkey Bakery).

For a sophisticated cocktail in a speakeasy, head to The Patterson House*, where the bartenders are dressed in Prohibition-style clothing.

For a taste of Nashville's roots, visit the honky-tonks on Lower Broadway, like Robert's Western World*. Even people who didn't think they'd like country music will be fascinated at the Country Music Hall of Fame*. For a deep dive into the Man in Black, there is a Johnny Cash Museum*. And, of course, if you need some odds, ends, and antiques, head on over to the Nashville Flea*!

And, since you'll need a spot to crash, check out the Sheraton Music City Hotel for luxury accommodations just minutes from Nashville International Airport.

Portland, Maine


Why enjoy east coast seafood anywhere else when you can go straight to the source? Journey north to Vacationland where a killer cocktail is never out of reach, the doughnuts are piping hot, and the crustacean economy is booming.

Westin Portland Harborview
Portland’s explosive food and drink scene is bustling with tried and true standbys and a whole party of newcomers. For some Nordic fare and craft libations, trot on over to Portland Hunt and Alpine Club*. Or if you feel like some refined comfort food paired with a local brew, Duckfat’s* doors are open 'til 10, every night. Speaking of local beers, check out the masters of farmhouse brewing at Oxbow's* tasting room—home to some of their funkier concoctions.

Oysters? Look no further than Eventide, one of the country’s premiere shuck shops. Need a doughnut fix? Holy Doughnut makes theirs fresh every day, but go early before they sell out!

You’re going to need a good book for those misty mornings—head over to Sherman’s* to satisfy your literary desires. And if you need the perfect Down East gift, visit the Maine Potters Market*, which showcases hand-thrown mugs, bowls, and decorative items from a variety of makers.

Want to get weird? Pop into the International Cryptozoology Museum and become a believer. More of a traditionalist with your museums? A visit to the Portland Museum of Art* should be on your to-do list.

And when the day is done, cozy up in the Arts District's Westin Portland Harborview—and don't forget to check out the panoramic views of Casco Bay from the rooftop lounge.

Seattle, Washington


Feel like heading up to that great northwest quadrant? Take in the views of Mount Rainer, but skip the Space Needle: Seattle has a little something for everyone to sip, sup, and explore.

W Seattle
The Seattle Art Museum* is a must-visit for its collections of Native American art, with a focus on the Pacific Northwest. For a look at the zeitgeist, the EMP Museum explores popular contemporary culture (exhibitions on Rube Goldberg and David Bowie are on the slate for 2017).

It'd be a shame not to explore the Elliott Bay Book Company*, one of the country's most famous independent bookstores. Another place for browsing—and eating—is The London Plane, which features a restaurant plus a speciality grocery and a floral workshop.

For mouthwatering doughnuts, luckily there are Top Pot Doughnuts* locations all over the city. Another local chain is Serious Pie, offering pizzas with blistered crusts. The food and drink menus are strong at Damn the Weather*, and excellent cocktails can be sipped at Rob Roy.

If you're making an occasion out of the trip, try to score a reservation at Canlis*, Seattle's most "exclusive" and revered restaurant (it might be the only place in town that recommends a jacket for male diners).

After dinner, head back to an urban retreat in downtown's W Seattle where you can enjoy sky-high views of of the cityscape and Puget Sound.

*A #ShopSmall business, where you can travel and treat yourself with more rewards when you enroll and use your eligible Amex Card through 12/31/16. Learn more here! For example, if you have the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express you can earn one additional Starpoint® per dollar of purchases at eligible small businesses through 12/31/16.)

Become an SPG Amex Card Member and redeem Starpoints for free nights and flights—choose from over 1,300 hotels & resorts in 100 countries and over 150 airlines, with no blackout dates in sight. With the Card, you'll earn up to 5 Starpoints for every dollar of eligible purchases at participating Starwood hotels —that’s 2 as a Card Member on top of the 2 or 3 you can earn as an SPG member 2 Starpoints for every dollar of eligible purchases at participating Marriott Rewards® hotels and 1 Starpoint for all other eligible purchases. You’ll also enjoy no foreign exchange fees, complimentary Wi-Fi at Starwood hotels and complimentary Boingo. Even better? You can earn 25,000 Starpoints when you sign up, and the first year fee is free for new Card Members. Learn more and sign up today!

This post is a sponsored collaboration between the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Gothamist staff.