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7 affordable alternatives to popular destinations around the world
Second-city travel refers to cities in a country that don’t come to mind when first planning a vacation. For example, when going to Thailand, tourists typically book a trip in Bangkok, instead of Chiang Mai, a city in northern Thailand. This trend has Americans dodging major cities for their smaller, alluring counterparts that offer lower price tags, fewer crowds (so long, traffic!) and a truly authentic experience. Second cities are not necessarily the second most-populated city in a country – when speaking about the trend in the travel sense, it means any city that might not be the first choice for tourists. So what could be better than a more authentic experience at a more affordable price? Here are seven second-city destinations to consider. 1. Lille instead of Paris, France Paris is a romantic city that foreigners swoon over and for good reason; however, France has countless cities that are more affordable and just as lovely. So skip the hustle and bustle of Paris and travel an hour north to the town of Lille, a cultural hub that sits on the crossroads of Paris, London and Brussels. Don’t worry, the croissants are just as good! Lille has been named a World Design Capital for the year 2020 and is a mecca for not only design, but also a robust food scene, museums and art fairs galore and beautiful modern architecture. With more affordable prices, your hotel stay can get an upgrade to chic Parisian style at MAMA Shelter Lille – a new boutique hotel with a welcoming vibe and a quirky design made for comfort. Plus, just a few steps from the hotel are two major train stations, making it a convenient option for exploring too! 2. Lafayette instead of New Orleans, Louisiana Less than three hours from New Orleans, Lafayette has been dubbed the “Austin” of Louisiana and the true heart of Cajun culture. Food is the heart of Louisiana and music is the soul – and there's an abundance of both in this charming Cajun town. With fresh seafood, jambalaya, crawfish and gumbos, no wonder this town has been dubbed the "Happiest City in America." Anthony Bourdain even visited once, enough said. If you’re coming to party Cajun style, Lafayette has that too. Home to Grammy-winning Cajun musicians, an epic Mardi Gras celebration and famed music halls – you really can’t go wrong with this second city. Plus, lodging is inexpensive with hotels under $100. Now you’ll have more cash for all the mouth-watering restaurants. Bring on the po’boys! 3. Catskills instead of New York City, New York New York City is one metropolis that everyone must visit at least once in a lifetime to experience the glorious city that never sleeps. But what about the rest of The Empire State? The Catskills are a three-hour drive from the Big Apple and offer a peek into the great countryside of New York. Tucked away upstate lays the town of Windham, now a popular ski destination and all-year escape. This area offers a small-town vibe with inviting locals, every outdoor sport you can imagine, local cuisine and quaint hotels worthy of your next Instagram post. Check out the Eastwind Hotel – this cozy, chic hideaway has Lushna cabins (A-frame wooden structures) as well as a wood-barrel sauna and fire pit for après-ski delights. 4. Eilat instead of Tel Aviv, Israel If the crowds in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are not appealing to you, consider the less-traveled city of Eilat as an exciting Israeli adventurer’s paradise. Located on the southern tip of the country, Eilat offers a sunny oasis on the Red Sea with stunning beaches and jaw-dropping coral reefs. Whether you want to hike the desert mountains, relax beachside or snorkel in its remarkable Coral Reef Nature Reserve, this resort town has it all. Hikers can trek the Eilat Mountains Nature Reserve, which offers some of the most breathtaking views and spectacular desert routes in all of Israel. And now it’s easy to get to, in January 2019, Israel opened the Ramon International Airport, which is a 20-minute drive from the city. 5. Milwaukee instead of Chicago, Illinois Situated two hours north of Chicago and located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, is a lively urban Midwest city filled with approachable and affordable arts, culture and culinary experiences. And if you’re into beer, this city is for you. Wisconsin is the third-largest producer of beer in the US and Milwaukee is home to Miller Brewing, now MillerCoors, which offers a number of brewery tours and tasting experiences for travelers. Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward is a must-visit neighborhood that is considered the arts and fashion district – comparable to New York’s Brooklyn neighborhood, but without the crowds. Here you can find the Milwaukee Public Market, which features Wisconsin-made and must-try products like homemade chocolates and artisan cheeses. The Third Ward is also home to some of the best shopping and unique boutiques. 6. Ponce instead of San Juan, Puerto Rico San Juan is most commonly known as the hub for Puerto Rico’s vibrant culture, but, guess what? This extends beyond the metro area and throughout the entire island. Puerto Rico’s second-largest city is Ponce, known as “La Perla del Sur” (Pearl of the South) due to its location in the southern region of the island. With towns that maintain remnants of colonial life under Spanish rule, beautiful historic buildings and cultural attractions, Ponce is overflowing with rich history and culture. Immerse yourself in Ponce’s art scene at the Ponce Museum of Art – boasting over 4,500 European works of art. Or if you’re an explorer, take a ferry boat ride to Isla Caja de Muertos off the coast of Ponce, where you go hiking or simply relax in the turquoise water. 7. Spokane instead of Seattle, Washington Skip Seattle and head straight to Spokane. Located in eastern Washington, Spokane has everything Seattle has (except the Space Needle, of course), but on a smaller scale. Unlike its counterpart, Spokane is affordable and sunny. Plus, the city has a symphony, shopping, great theater, an exciting culinary scene – with 21 wineries and 40 craft breweries – that can rival Seattle and all the urban entertainment you could ask for. In addition to city culture and urban delights, Spokane is an outdoor recreation dream with five ski resorts and two state parks located right in Spokane. With 17 direct flights and over a hundred daily flights, it’s actually easy to get to Spokane. So what are you waiting for?
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Oklahoma City ( (listen)), officially the City of Oklahoma City, and often shortened to OKC, is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The county seat of Oklahoma County, it ranks 22nd among United States cities in population, and is the 11th largest city in the Southern United States. The population grew following the 2010 census and reached 681,054 in the 2020 census. The Oklahoma City metropolitan area had a population of 1,396,445, and the Oklahoma City–Shawnee Combined Statistical Area had a population of 1,469,124, making it Oklahoma's largest municipality and metropolitan area by population. Oklahoma City's city limits extend somewhat into Canadian, Cleveland, and Pottawatomie counties, though much of those areas outside the core Oklahoma County area are suburban tracts or protected rural zones (watershed). The city is the eighth-largest in the United States by area including consolidated city-counties; it is the second-largest, after Houston, not including consolidated cities. The city is also the second largest by area among state capital cities in the United States, after Juneau, Alaska. Oklahoma City has one of the world's largest livestock markets. Oil, natural gas, petroleum products and related industries are its economy's largest sector. The city is in the middle of an active oil field and oil derricks dot the capitol grounds. The federal government employs a large number of workers at Tinker Air Force Base and the United States Department of Transportation's Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center (which house offices of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Department's Enterprise Service Center, respectively). Oklahoma City is on the I-35 Corridor, one of the primary travel corridors south into neighboring Texas and Mexico and north towards Wichita and Kansas City. Located in the state's Frontier Country region, the city's northeast section lies in an ecological region known as the Cross Timbers. The city was founded during the Land Run of 1889 and grew to a population of over 10,000 within hours of its founding. It was the scene of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in which 168 people died, the deadliest terror attack in U.S. history until the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history. Since weather records have been kept, Oklahoma City has been struck by 13 violent tornadoes, 11 of which were rated F4 or EF4 on the Fujita and Enhanced Fujita scales, and two F5 or EF5.
Edmond is a city in Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, United States, and a part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area in the central part of the state. The population is approximately 94,054, according to estimates from ESRI. Edmond is the fifth largest city in the state of Oklahoma. The city borders the northern boundary of Oklahoma City. Public transportation is provided by Citylink Edmond bus service.
Central Oklahoma is the geographical name for the central region of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. It is also known by the Oklahoma Department of Tourism designation, Frontier Country, defined as the twelve-county region including Canadian, Grady, Logan, Oklahoma, Cleveland, McClain, Payne, Lincoln, Pottawatomie, Seminole, Okfuskee, and Hughes counties.Central Oklahoma is dominated by the largest urban area in the state, the Greater Oklahoma City area. Oklahoma City is the political, economic, tourism, commercial, industrial, financial, and geographical hub of the state, as well as being its primary cultural center. The only Central Oklahoma city which is not officially considered a suburb of Oklahoma City is Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Norman () is a city in the U.S. state of Oklahoma 20 miles (32 km) south of downtown Oklahoma City. The county seat of Cleveland County and part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, its population was 110,925 at the 2010 census. Norman's estimated population of 124,880 in 2019 makes it Oklahoma's third-largest city. Norman was settled during the Land Run of 1889, which opened the former Unassigned Lands of Indian Territory to American pioneer settlement. The city was named in honor of Abner Norman, the area's initial land surveyor, and was formally incorporated on May 13, 1891. Norman has prominent higher education and related research industries, as it is home to the University of Oklahoma, the largest university in the state, with nearly 32,000 students. The university is well known for its sporting events by teams under the banner of the nickname "Sooners," with over 85,000 people routinely attending football games. The university is home to several museums, including the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, which contains the largest collection of French Impressionist art ever given to an American university, as well as the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Norman's National Weather Center (NWC) houses a unique collection of university, state, federal, and private sector organizations that work together to improve the understanding of events related to the Earth's atmosphere. Norman lies within Tornado Alley, a geographic region where tornadic activity is particularly frequent and intense. The Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Norman, is the world's most tornado-prone area. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC), a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is at the NWC. SPC forecasts severe storm and tornado outbreaks nationwide. Additionally, research is conducted at the co-located National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), which includes field research and operates various experimental weather radars.