Editor’s Note: This story originally published on September 21, 2018.
Today, destinations aren’t just for work or play. Last year, about 60 percent of travelers took trips that allow them to both do business and explore a new city, according to recent data from Expedia Group Media Solutions.
Experts say the best of these destinations offer co-working spaces, skyscrapers, or work-from-home setups as well as natural surroundings, top restaurants and nightlife, and historical sites. Here are a few places that reward business and leisure travelers alike.
New York City
New York might be an expensive place to travel for business, but once there, you can take advantage of its extensive public transportation system. New York’s accessibility makes it attractive for business travelers who want to explore beyond the city center, says Brenna Fleener, director of marketing for Context Travel, a small group travel company that leads walking tours around the world.
The Big Apple, birthplace of collaborative workspace company WeWork, is now home to many other co-working spaces (such as The Farm SoHo, starting at $25 a day) as well as cafes that double as out-of-town offices.
With a MetroCard, you can visit a range of different neighborhoods – from Greenwich Village or Little Italy to Jackson Heights or Coney Island.
Telluride, at the foot of the San Juan Mountains, is a ski town at heart. But it’s also an incubator for fledgling businesses: The Telluride Venture Accelerator has fueled 29 startups since 2012.
“In terms of a place to work hard and play even harder, Telluride can’t be beat,” says Jonathan Kalan, co-founder of Unsettled, a company that curates work-from-anywhere experiences worldwide. “There’s an incredibly welcoming investor and entrepreneurial community that’s emerging, and some of the world’s best skiing, hiking, and biking literally on your doorstep.”
LIke heights? Stay in Mountain Village (altitude 9,500 feet) and commute via gondola (there’s a new co-working space called Telluride Works). Spend your lunch break hiking, and clank craft beer with a like-minded community after work.
Los Angeles, CA
A top 10 Airbnb for Work destination, the City of Angels is perfect for travelers looking to combine business and leisure, says Anne-Fleur Andrle, co-founder and CEO of Jack and Ferdi, a soon-to-launch app for so-called “bleisure” travelers. “It offers everything a business traveler is looking for: a business center with many work opportunities and events and an idyllic location.”
Traffic can be overwhelming, so leaving city limits pays off. “Greater Los Angeles is like a puzzle, made up of city and many smaller beach towns, each with its own unique flavor – Venice Beach, Pasadena, downtown, Beverly Hills,” says Andrle.
Note to foodies: With the largest Thai population outside of Asia, LA offers Thai food that shouldn’t be missed.
Primely situated between the United States and Japan, Hawaii is a top international business travel destination. About a half million people traveled to the islands for business in 2016, most of them from the U.S.
This spring, Hawaii Tourism launched a week-long residency program called Work From Hawaii where New York City-area denizens could apply to work in remote settings – a loft in Honolulu’s art district or a quiet desk overlooking green Molokai. In October, the workspaces re-open for booking. With more affordable flights to the islands, now is as good a time as any to book a trip.
Home to tech giants like Facebook and Google, Northern California is no stranger to long workdays. Once you do escape, San Francisco is extremely walkable – and rife with distinct neighborhoods worth exploring, says Fleener.
Stroll Italian North Beach with an espresso in hand, or start the trip south along the Pacific Coast Highway and quickly turn a work weekend into a road trip.
The Windy City is home to lots of businesses big and small, and a popular convention destination as well.
After meetings end, visitors linger to take advantage of the city’s great food, world class museums (The Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago Architecture Center to name two), and plentiful outdoor activities like biking the 606 or running the lakefront.
The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is New England’s biggest, and The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority hosted 325 events last year. So you’re likely to end up in the city for work.
With a bit of spare time in history-rich Boston, it’s easy to explore must-sees: the Charles River, Museum of Science, Boston Harbor, The Public Garden.
Wake up early to join runners at The November Project before work, or time your trip around an official race like the Boston Athletic Association’s half marathon in October, suggests Jeff Adams, president and CEO of Marathon Tours and Travel.
With Starbucks, Costco, Amazon, and Microsoft all based in the area, Seattle attracts so many travelers for meetings and conventions that the West Coast’s ‘other’ tech hub ends up turning away more business than it can book.
With coffee shops all around the city, you’ll be caffeinated enough to spend leisure hours taking in the ‘green’ at the city’s many parks. At Seward Park, you’ll find old-growth forests with the oldest trees in Seattle. Or head to Woodinville wine country, just 30 minutes from city limits.
There’s more to Music City than bachelorette parties and open-air bars playing honky tonk music. For business travelers on a break, there’s the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center and Nashville Music City Center, as well as some of the best restaurants in the south. You’ll never be far from entertainment – like Bluebird Cafe if you’re lucky enough to secure a ticket, or nearby Belle Meade Plantation, which has a winery.
Those looking to mix work and play are flocking to smaller city hubs like Austin, home to South by Southwest. “Austin has evolved into one of the most dynamic tech hubs in the Southwest,” says Andrle.
Eat and drink your way through down time, she suggests, enjoying breakfast tacos (try Juan in a Million), sipping Mexican martinis, and treating yourself to snacks from one of the city’s 1,000 mobile food vendors.