16 places to travel out of Madison in 2020

With 23 cities to choose from, there are plenty of places to go from the Dane County Regional Airport in a single flight.
graphic image with two planes taking off and a clear blue sky

When the January blues get you down and the desire to travel sets in with the new year, the Dane County Regional Airport has options that are just one flight away. A warm getaway or a weekend adventure is now possible without a single connection in sight.

Over the past five years, the Dane County Regional Airport has added 15 nonstop flights to cities including warm places like Phoenix and big hubs like Los Angeles.

The airport celebrated its 80th birthday in 2019 and continues to expand — there are now nonstop flights to 23 cities, including four new destinations that were added last fall. Even one of the airport’s restaurants has garnered national attention. Food Network named MadTown Gastropub one of the best airport restaurants in the U.S.

Brent Kyzer-McHenry, the airport’s director of marketing and communications, says the growth is due to customer demand and travelers’ increased use of local airports.

“The more that we all use our local airport, the better those routes perform, the more that the airline has a vested interest in adding and providing new nonstop destinations,” Kyzer-McHenry says.

He says he’s seeing more people travel for fun and leisure as opposed to business travel. More people are seeking seasonal, fun, nonstop destinations.

When it comes to booking a flight, Kyzer-McHenry advises planning as far out as possible, checking multiple sites when purchasing tickets and finding tickets for nonbusy days like Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

“Any way you can support the local airport, that will help stimulate additional growth, so we appreciate anybody and anyone that uses the Dane County Airport,” Kyzer-McHenry says. “We hope that they continue to do that, and with that we can look for and find new and exciting routes for them as we move through the next couple years.”

With the airport offering nonstop flights to 23 exciting destinations, we’ve outlined some of the best attractions in each city to help make your travel choices a bit easier. So fasten your seat belt, fold your tray table into its full upright position and get ready to fly out of MSN.

Big City Destinations

Madison offers direct flights to New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Dallas — four of the 10 biggest cities by population in the U.S. So if you’re hoping to have a vacation packed with activities, sights and people, these are a good fit.

New York Cityskyline of New York City

If watching “Elf” or “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” over the holidays has given you the Big Apple bug, you’re in luck. Take a direct flight from Madison to either LaGuardia Airport or Newark Liberty International Airport for a bustling winter getaway.

Before going into the city, try the Grammy Museum Experience at the Prudential Center in Newark. Learn more about the history of the Grammy Awards and New Jersey’s music scene through interactive, educational exhibits. While you’re at Prudential Center, consider watching a New Jersey Devils hockey game or seeing a live show like Billie Eilish on March 16.

When you get into the city that never sleeps, attend a Broadway show. Tony Award-winning Karen Olivo, who happens to call Madison home, currently stars as lead character Satine in “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.” There are more than 30 musicals, plays and special events on Broadway, and there’s more to come, including a newly choreographed “West Side Story” that hits the stage in 2020.

Between the state’s $420 million film incentive program and the allure of America’s busiest city, it makes sense that New York City hosts an abundance of iconic exteriors from television and film. Pass by Carrie Bradshaw’s Upper East Side brownstone (actually located in the West Village), the exterior of the “Friends” cafe (called the Little Owl, not Central Perk) or the Ghostbusters headquarters at the very real Hook & Ladder 8 firehouse.

For an Instagrammable endeavor, meander to Central Park’s Bethesda Terrace and Fountain located adjacent to The Lake and across from the Loeb Boathouse, two other great spots to visit within the park.

Visiting notable sights in the city does require a bit of planning. You must get a reservation to get to the pedestal or crown of the Statue of Liberty. Avoid long lines at the Empire State Building by buying express passes online to see the newly renovated 102nd Floor Observatory or the open-air observatory on the 86th floor. Book a tour with a guide for the 9/11 Museum and Memorial for an impactful and moving experience.

Gape at the world’s largest freestanding dinosaur mount in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda of the American Museum of Natural History or visit the seasonal butterfly conservatory open through May 25. If you’re more interested in Monet than mammals, head to the Museum of Modern Art or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

If you book a last-minute January trip, try to visit around Jan. 25, the first day of the Lunar New Year, when the year of the rat commences. Chinatown in Manhattan boasts one of the best Lunar New Year parades in the country.

Los AngelesHollywood walk of fame featuring Elton John's star

If you’re in more of a California state of mind, “hop on a plane to LAX” and fly direct from Madison to Los Angeles International Airport.

As the renowned comedy club’s website points out, the Comedy Store hosts shows 365 days a year, so no matter when you book your flight, there’s no excuse not to stop by for a laugh. The historic location served as a hangout for celebrities in the 1950s and ’60s prior to becoming a hub for American comedy starting in 1972.

Explore the music scene at the Echo and Echoplex in the Echo Park neighborhood. The complex has a reputation for booking internationally known bands and artists as well as local acts. The Echo stage hosts monthlong Monday night residencies, offering up-and-comers the chance to perform while audiences can watch bands for free.

Oscar nominee “La La Land” provided a fair amount of publicity for the Griffith Park Observatory, an iconic location featured in the 2016 film. Guests can gaze at the stars there through free public telescopes until 9:45 p.m. The observatory also holds monthly public “star parties.”

For a slightly different iteration of stargazing, head to Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street to find your favorite celebrities’ names on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce inducts individuals and groups into the walk yearly, so if you’re lucky you can catch a star ceremony while in town.

To further feed the film enthusiast in you, consider taking a studio tour. Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios all offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into the everyday process of creating movie magic while providing some film trivia tidbits.

Pivoting from cinema history to natural history, visit the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum to explore one of the most famous fossil dig sites. While in the area, make sure to visit the original La Brea Bakery opened by James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Nancy Silverton. The bakery celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019 and still uses Silverton’s original sourdough starter.

Dallasdallas skyline

When below-zero temperatures bring you down with them, book a flight to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to experience higher temperatures, as well as these attractions.

When Bon Appétit names a city as the restaurant city of the year, that place definitely warrants a visit. Dallas was given the title in 2019, and two restaurants, Khao Noodle Shop and Petra and the Beast, were among Bon Appétit’s nominees for America’s Best New Restaurants 2019. At Khao in East Dallas, explore the flavors from chef Donny Sirisavath’s Southeast Asian roots. Misti Norris takes the idea of farm, forage, ferment and fire into her ever-changing menus at Petra and the Beast.

Before sampling one of Dallas’ many tasty eateries, spend a day at the Dallas World Aquarium. The aquarium, housed in an old warehouse, is home to many endangered animals as part of conservation and cooperative breeding programs.

Several museums are within walking distance of the aquarium, including the Dallas Museum of Art, one of the largest art museums in the U.S. Across the street, take a stroll through the Nasher Sculpture Center, showcasing sculptural works by artists including Rodin, Lichtenstein and Matisse.

Also within walking distance (and adjacent to The Grassy Knoll within Dealey Plaza) is the site of former President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. The building from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot now houses the Sixth Floor Museum, where visitors can explore the “John F. Kennedy and the Memory of a Nation” exhibit.

Head about 40 minutes west and discover Sundance Square Plaza in downtown Fort Worth. This pedestrian-friendly city square offers the weary traveler a place to sit and gaze at the many fountains or enjoy live music.

From Sundance Square Plaza, visitors can see two 48-foot-tall limestone angels overlooking East Fourth Street. They’re hard to miss, and definitely add to the enchantment of Bass Performance Hall, where you can catch a range of shows from Nickelodeon’s “The Spongebob Musical” (coming in February) to Fort Worth Opera performances.

And if you’re in the Lone Star State this winter, you can also head to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo for a rugged Texas experience. During January and February, the stock show and rodeo grounds accommodate various rodeos, horse and livestock shows and concerts.

Philadelphialiberty bell with independence hall in the background

History buffs can fly directly to Philadelphia International Airport in Pennsylvania’s largest city.

Philly has a lot to offer in terms of American Revolutionary history, and the West Wing of Independence Hall houses some of the most important records in the making of our nation. See the original copies of the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation and the Declaration of Independence. While in the area, stop by the Liberty Bell. We recommend a pre-visit viewing of “National Treasure” on the flight there.

For a glimpse at a darker side of American history, visit what was once one of the world’s most famous and expensive prisons, Eastern State Penitentiary. While guests learn about the penitentiary’s history via an audio tour narrated by none other than actor Steve Buscemi, they can also participate in a dialogue about the present and future of America’s rising incarceration rates at The Big Graph.

The Mutter Museum offers a slightly eerie experience for visitors enthused by the wicked and weird. Explore the anatomical oddities of the museum, which include medical instruments, the tallest skeleton on display in North America and a collection of human skulls.

For a more lighthearted stop, take a stroll through John F. Kennedy Plaza, also known as LOVE Park, just down the street from Philadelphia City Hall. Snap a picture in front of the famous Robert Indiana LOVE statue.

While in the City of Brotherly Love, challenge yourself to find the best Philly cheesesteak in town. Some highly reputed restaurants offering the Philadelphia staple include John’s Roast Pork, Tony Luke’s, Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies, and Pat’s King of Steaks. -BH

Fly South for the Winter

When the Wisconsin snow and freezing temperatures get to be too much, it’s time to turn toward warmer climates. These trips might help you forget it’s January.


ferris wheel at Icon Park

Icon Park’s Ferris Wheel

Madison flies to not one but three different airports in Florida for fall and winter travel.

If traveling with kids, look no further than the “Theme Park Capital of the World” — Orlando, Florida.
Disney lovers can visit Walt Disney World Resort’s four theme parks, two water parks, more than 25 themed resort hotels and Disney Springs, a hub for entertainment and shopping. January and February are two of the least crowded months, so if you’re hoping to visit the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, winter is the time to do it.

If you’re more into Harry Potter, visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Within Universal, there are three theme parks and Universal CityWalk, where you can catch a Blue Man Group show. Other Orlando attractions include SeaWorld Orlando, The Wheel at ICON Park (a 22-minute observation wheel ride), Fun Spot America, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium and Gatorland.

Head closer to the Gulf Coast with a trip to Tampa. Learn about the Florida wildlife and marine life during a boat tour with Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where parts of “Dolphin Tale” were filmed, or The Florida Aquarium. For more animals, venture to Big Cat Rescue, a nonprofit educational sanctuary that is home to rescued big cats like tigers, lions and leopards.

Journey along the Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.6-mile-long pedestrian path along the banks of the Hillsborough River and the shores of Tampa Bay that connects museums, restaurants, cultural centers and public art exhibits.

There are museums aplenty in Tampa, including the Tampa Museum of Art, Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Ybor City Museum State Park and Glazer Children’s Museum. But a must-add to any travel list is the Henry B. Plant Museum, which is housed in a former Victorian railroad resort. While the exterior of the building is a sight to see with its intricate exterior architecture, exhibits devoted to America’s Gilded Age, transportation pioneer Henry B. Plant and furnishings from the first guests at the hotel are just as fascinating. Art lovers need to stop in nearby St. Petersburg to look at the Chihuly Collection — a permanent installation of Dale Chihuly’s iconic glass art pieces — at the Morean Arts Center.

The last direct-flight destination in Florida from Madison is the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers. Fort Myers is all about beaches and island life. Even in milder winter weather, it’s worth relaxing on the beach. The 7-mile stretch of Fort Myers Beach is great if you’re hoping to dine or shop with a view.

Trek over to Cayo Costa State Park, accessible only by boat or kayak, for birdwatching, exploration, fishing and swimming off the more than 9 miles of undeveloped beach. Visit Gasparilla Island to stop in Boca Grande, home to the Gasparilla Inn & Club, an “old Florida” resort that includes a beach club, spa, salon, marina, shopping and tennis. If you’re in Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captiva islands are also nearby.


statues at heard museum

Statues at Heard Museum

Phoenix, Arizona, is known as the Valley of the Sun, which is perfect for Madison travelers who want to trade windburn for a suntan.

When it comes to outdoor adventures, there is plenty to do in Phoenix. Camelback Mountain, one of the most prominent sites in Phoenix, is a great place to hike, with two trails that ascend 1,420 feet. Other great hiking spots are South Mountain Park and Preserve, Tom’s Thumb Trailhead, Blevins Trail, Phoenix Mountains Preserve and Piestewa Peak.

Spend a day at Papago Park. Within the park is Governor Hunt’s Tomb, the Arizona Heritage Center, Papago Golf Course and Hole-in-the-Rock, a hole within a butte that has an amazing view.

If you love Taliesin near Spring Green, make sure to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, Wright’s winter home and the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the School of Architecture at Taliesin.

Make sure to book a trip that will fall on the first Friday of the month so you can attend the First Fridays Art Walk at Roosevelt Row. The area turns into an art show for one of the nation’s largest self-guided art walks — more than 70 places are open. For more art, go to the Heard Museum, one of the premier spaces for Native American art.

While there is plenty to do in Phoenix, it might be worth renting a car to travel to some of the national forests and national parks in Arizona while you’re in the area. There are also day trips you can book to go to places like the iconic Grand Canyon National Park. Also, consider venturing to the Coconino National Forest, Tonto National Forest, Sonoran Desert National Monument and Petrified Forest National Park.

If you’re not too tired at night after all of the outdoor adventures, enjoy the nightlife of Old Town Scottsdale. Phoenix also has a hoppening craft beer scene.

Las Vegas

two performers in costume as part of Cirque du Soleil

Performers from Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère

As the saying goes, “Viva Las Vegas.” Las Vegas is a spot for entertainment, nightlife, shopping, dining and gambling.

When it comes to the Strip, every hotel is so packed with things to do — from casinos to aquariums and thrill rides to shops — that you could spend days just hopping from one resort to another. There are more than 50 resort casinos in the area with a majority on the Strip, some of the most iconic being the Bellagio, MGM Grand, The Venetian, Mandalay Bay and The Mirage. If you’ve never gambled before, some casinos — like Excalibur, Circus Circus and Golden Nugget — offer free, informal lessons.

Food, like everything else in Vegas, is over the top. Celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay, José Andrés, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse and Tom Colicchio all have restaurants in Las Vegas, so if you’ve always wanted to sample food from a famous menu, Vegas is a great spot for that. Buffets in Las Vegas resorts are also a staple, and you’ll want to stop by at least one. These buffets go all out with hundreds of dishes, live-action cooking stations and expensive ingredients. There are also some crazy dining experiences at BLACKOUT Dining in the Dark or at SUSHISAMBA’s Cocktail Tree, which has 12 signature cocktails in a tasting tree. There’s also the Mermaid Restaurant & Lounge, where servers dress up as mermaids next to a 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium.

While performers come in and out of Las Vegas constantly, there are some residencies to get excited for in 2020. Artists including Keith Urban, Lady Gaga, Cher and Foreigner are expected to perform multiple times in 2020. You can also see staple acts like Penn & Teller, Blue Man Group or one of the seven different Cirque du Soleil shows.

Go beyond the Strip at the Lake Mead National Recreational Area, the first and largest national recreation area in the U.S. There are more than 1.5 million acres of sights to see, including the Hoover Dam. Consider taking a helicopter to see the Strip, Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon National Park from above. -MI

Adventure in Winter Wonderlands

Go from one winter playground to another with a trip to one of these destinations. In both Denver and Salt Lake City, you’ll be near beautiful sights and great places to ski.


a family overlooking the mountains getting ready to ski

Keystone Ski Resort

The Mile High City is a great hub for fun in the snow.

Head to the Denver Union Station and hop on the Winter Park Express Ski Train to go to the base of the Winter Park Resort in Winter Park, Colorado. The train runs from Jan. 10 to March 29 and is a fun way to get up to one of many skiing spots. Some other places are Loveland Ski Area, Echo Mountain Resort, Eldora Mountain Resort and Keystone Ski Resort.

While you’re in Denver, drive to Rocky Mountain National Park, which has more than 300 miles of hiking trails and beautiful overlooks.

Regardless of when you visit, Skyline Park is a good spot to stop. In the winter it features an ice rink and in the summer it turns into Skyline Beer Garden, a spot with Oktoberfest-style picnic tables, Ping-Pong tables, miniature golf, cornhole, live music, food and beer.

Speaking of beer, Denver is known for its local beer culture with big names like Rock Bottom Brewery and Blue Moon Brewing Co. getting their start in the city. There are more than 100 brewpubs, breweries and taprooms in the area. To try a lot of beer in one location, visit Denver during Brew Fest on Jan. 25. There’s also the 2020 Mile High Grilled Cheese & Beer Fest if you want to fully embrace your inner Wisconsinite.

Regardless of your feelings about its beer, Coors Brewery is a sight to see as the largest single-site brewery in the world. There are plenty of other local breweries, including Wynkoop Brewing Co., Renegade Brewing Co., Our Mutual Friend Brewing Co. and The Grateful Gnome. Can’t choose just one? Go on a walking microbrewery tour. Denver Brew Tours and Denver Microbrew Tour offer great opportunities to learn about the city and its beers.

Considered to be the area where Denver first began, Larimer Square has shopping, restaurants and entertainment. As the oldest and most historic block in the city, the area is filled with Victorian buildings that have been renovated into boutiques and eateries.

Salt Lake City

ski lodge at Alta Ski Area

Alta Ski Area

Home of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Salt Lake City is a great place to visit if you’re looking to ski or try another winter sport.

If you’re visiting in the winter, you’re most likely looking to hit the slopes. (Salt Lake City is known as America’s Ski City.) The Ski City Super Pass gives discounted access to four resorts: Alta Ski Area, Brighton Resort, Snowbird and Solitude Mountain Resort. It’s a great way to explore all four resorts in four days, plus it includes discounts for public transit fare and rental shops.

Park City, Utah, 25 miles southeast of Salt Lake City International Airport, is known as Winter’s Favorite Town, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s home to the Utah Olympic Park, which hosted five events during the Winter Games. Feel a part of the games by tubing down the Nordic jump, watching athletes practice or trying the Comet Bobsled Ride.

Back in Salt Lake City proper, take a free tour in Temple Square, one of the most historic sites in the area. Temple Square was the city center when Brigham Young and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints founded Salt Lake City. Some of the sites to see include the Tabernacle — home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir — Assembly Hall, Salt Lake Temple, Brigham Young Historic Park and Beehive House, which was the home of Brigham Young.

For more history, visit This Is The Place Heritage Park. With three trains, ponies, farm animals and The Treasure House, this hands-on spot is great for kids. There’s also a Native American Village, the Mormon Battalion Museum and the This Is The Place Monument.

While in the area, venture to the Great Salt Lake State Park. Regardless of the season, the area is known for its picturesque views of the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. -MI

Springtime Hot Spots

When it comes to springtime travel, consider visiting a destination with a more moderate climate. When there is snow on the ground in March, April or even May in Madison, better weather awaits in San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte, North Carolina.


five people in a raft at U.S. National Whitewater Center

U.S. National Whitewater Center

If you want to avoid North Carolina’s beaches, which will be packed with college students on spring break, head to Charlotte and check out these inland attractions.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art opened in 2010, giving the public access to the previously private Bechtler family art collection featuring works from Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder. For more arts and culture, head to the Neighborhood Theatre for a show. This movie-house-turned-music-venue underwent major renovations in the 1990s and has since established itself as a popular stage for national and local acts.

To take in some spring florals, check out Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont, just outside of Charlotte. A century-old stained-glass dome overlooks the gardens, which are chock-full of prairie, tropical and perennial plants.

Adventurous travelers can zip line or book a rafting or kayaking excursion at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, home to the world’s largest man-made whitewater river.

A slight drive out of the city takes visitors to Swan Creek Wine Trail, a grouping of four family-owned vineyards: Dobbins Creek Vineyards, Laurel Gray Vineyards, Shadow Springs Vineyard and Windsor Run Cellars. No vineyard is more than 5 miles away from the others.

Take a 40-minute drive out of town and strike gold at Reed Gold Mine, the site of one of the first documented discoveries of gold in the United States. Today, those who visit can pan for gold from April through October and take guided tours of the underground mining tunnels. Trek further east to Uwharrie National Forest to hike, horseback ride or mountain bike through the park with views of the Uwharrie, Pee Dee and Yadkin rivers and the Uwharrie Mountains.

San Francisco

painted ladies, a line of houses, in San Francisco

Painted Ladies

Although San Francisco is notorious for its fog, it makes some of the city’s landmarks all the more alluring.

For instance, you can hop on a ferry to tour Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, known for housing some of the most infamous criminals in American history like Al Capone and Robert Stroud.

The emblematic Golden Gate Bridge comes to mind with any mention of San Francisco, and the 746-foot-tall crimson towers are even more awe-inspiring in person. Even in a quintessential San Francisco fog, the bridge is an architectural marvel. For a different angle of the Golden Gate Bridge, consider hiking the Lands End Trail along the Pacific for breathtaking views.

After your hike, treat yourself. The original Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory no longer stands, but Ghirardelli Square allows visitors to pick up some chocolate from the home of the company, founded in San Francisco in 1852.

San Francisco’s hilly terrain might be a pain to the walking tourist, but it was taken into consideration in the design for the Crookedest Street in the World, otherwise known as Lombard Street. Beautiful flowers and shrubbery bloom in spring, giving the quirky landmark a picturesque touch.

For more “flower power,” visit the Haight-Ashbury District, a hub for counterculture in the 1960s and ’70s. Gaze at the abundance of murals and brightly painted Victorian-style homes, or see a monthly free show at Amoeba Records, one of the largest independent record stores in the U.S.

The Painted Ladies of Alamo Square, iconic Victorian homes, are among the most-photographed sites in the city. While the Painted Ladies are shown while the theme song plays in ABC’s “Full House,” the Tanner Family’s home is in the Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood.

For a laugh, stop in for a show at Punch Line San Francisco, where greats like Robin Williams, Ellen DeGeneres and Margaret Cho got their starts.


Ponce City Market's front facade

Ponce City Market

Although the average temperature in Atlanta in January is around 40 degrees (compared to 20 in Wisconsin), the city’s peachy climate is more enjoyable in the spring and summer.

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is an attraction in itself, as it’s been the busiest airport in the world for the past 22 years. It seems strange at first, but Atlanta exists within a two-hour flight of the majority of the U.S. and serves as a hub for connecting flights.

Situated in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the interactive and family-friendly World of Coca-Cola features a 4D theater, the inside scoop on the company’s bottling process and an enormous collection of Coca-Cola artifacts.

While downtown, stop by the 22-acre space known as Centennial Olympic Park, which has existed since the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. The park contains several attractions like the Fountain of Rings Plaza and the Southern Company Amphitheater.

Also within the vicinity is the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a facility established in 2007 to educate visitors about the American Civil Rights Movement and its implications for human rights activism today.

While you’re in town check out the Ponce City Market, a food hall and retail center built to reinvigorate the space that once served as a Sears, Roebuck & Co. building. Renovated in 2014, the market combines the old and the new and is situated across from the Historic Fourth Ward Park.

For a different park experience, venture out of the city for an outdoor excursion at Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, 15 miles east of Atlanta. Guests can hike through 3,200 acres of beautiful landscape year-round. Laser shows take place in the park regularly throughout the spring and summer, so plan your trip to see the state-of-the-art digital graphics and fireworks.

Wrap up your trip with a visit to the Atlanta State Farmers Market to find produce 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including those famed Georgia peaches. Tip: Book your flight between late May and early August when peaches are in season.

Washington, D.C.

statue of franklin delano roosevelt with his dog Fala at the FDR monument

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Is there anything more iconic than the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.? If you’re hoping for a trip to see the blooms, fly to the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport this spring (the airport also recently added flights to Washington Dulles International Airport).

Washington D.C.’s annual spring Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the friendship between the U.S. and Japan. Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki gifted 3,000 cherry trees to the U.S. in 1912 to good-naturedly poke fun at the George Washington cherry tree myth. The trees have blossomed in blushing pinks at the Tidal Basin every year since they were first planted.

For some of the most breathtaking views of the cherry trees, visit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. While it doesn’t stand as tall as the Washington Monument or as prominently as the Lincoln Memorial, its thoughtful organization of quotes from the former president and bronze statues of both him and his wife, Eleanor (and their Scottish Terrier Fala), make the memorial an underrated destination.

A visit to the National Mall is inevitable, but on your way to visit the Washington Monument and U.S. Capitol Building, stop for a bite at one of the many food carts along 14th Street. The grab-and-go nature will allow you to keep checking off items on your sightseeing list without slowing down.

While in the area, stop at one of the museums, galleries, gardens or zoo that are part of the Smithsonian Institution. It garners attention for its status as the world’s largest museum and education and research complex, but a major draw for visitors is the free admission.

Delve into the history of former President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, or simply see a good show at Ford’s Theatre on 10th Street. During spring and summer, visitors can buy tickets to a 35-minute reimagining of the fateful night, performed by live actors in the space where Lincoln was killed.

After a long day taking in the outdoor sights, make your way to U Street Corridor to absorb the vibrant nightlife. Complete with several jazz lodges like the Brixton and Twins Jazz and the famous 9:30 Club music venue, this neighborhood offers a dynamic energy and many dining, drink and entertainment options day and night. -BH

Bri Hall is an editorial intern at Madison Magazine. Maija Inveiss is digital content editor of Madison Magazine.