United Hub - Inspiration

Inspiration

The best National Parks to visit all year round

By Bob Cooper

National parks can be a refuge from the noise and hectic pace of everyday urban and suburban life — America's special places in nature. But during the summer peak season, they can be as busy as cities. Smart travelers visit between November and March when most parks are less crowded and accommodation choices are discounted. These national parks are especially worthwhile to visit and they're all close enough to major airports to make a three-day weekend getaway possible.

Yosemite, California

Fall and winter visitors to Yosemite National Park are treated to autumn leaves in the fall, snow-capped granite landmarks in the winter and replenished waterfalls in the spring. Tent camping can be cold, but hotel rooms in and around Yosemite Valley are widely available and Yosemite's historic lodge, The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly Ahwahnee), hosts two big events in November and December: the Grand Grape Celebration and the Bracebridge Dinner (a recreation of Christmas in Olde England). Airport: Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

Everglades, Florida

Many summer vacationers are among the one million annual visitors to Everglades National Park, but the best time to come is in late-autumn or winter. Southern Florida's temperatures are milder, it's far less humid, hurricane season is over and summer flooding of the prairies has receded — letting you see more fish and reptiles. You can also see more birds in the winter via airboat tours through the Everglades, America's largest tropical wilderness. Not to mention this “river of grass" is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and a wetland of International Importance. Airport: Miami International Airport.

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Another world lives beneath Kentucky in the world's largest network of caves known as Mammoth Cave National Park. You will walk beneath massive crystallized formations inside the caverns and may spot one of the eight species of bats that thrive in this environment. The caves are about 54 degrees inside year-round, as if regulated by a thermostat, so they are protected from the hot humid summers and freezing winter nights above them, making them a perfect place to visit any time of the year. Visitors to this southern Kentucky park will also benefit from this climatic predictability while taking any of eight cave tours. While cave tours should be at the top of your list of things to do here, this park also offers hiking, camping, horseback riding, kayaking and more. Airport: Louisville International Airport.

Haleakala, Hawaii

Your visit to Haleakala National Park may include a number of experiences, but witnessing the sunrise or sunsets are a must. Many visitors wake up early to drive to the Summit Visitor Center to view one of the best sunrises. But make sure to plan accordingly because the National Park Service now requires a reservation for vehicles to view the sunrise from the Summit District. Other activities on the 10,023-foot mountain include hiking one of the nine trails, guided horseback rides and bike rentals post-hike to coast most of the way down. An added bonus: Humpback whale watching season stretches from December to March in Maui. Airport: Kahului Airport.

Saguaro, Arizona

Saguaro, a type of giant cacti, serve many functions for desert wildlife — but they don't cast much shade. That's why winter is the best time to hike among them where they populate hillsides by the thousands in Saguaro National Park. The park is split in two, straddling the western and eastern boundaries of Tucson, with 165 miles of hiking trails. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a museum, zoo and botanical garden, is a must-see attraction on the edge of Saguaro NP West. Airport: Tucson International Airport.

Joshua Tree, California

The namesake of Joshua Tree National Park is an odd-looking tree that fits in well with the weirdly wonderful rock formations adored by photographers in this high desert park. Located between Palm Springs and the L.A. area, the park encompasses two major deserts and a mountain range, offering a profoundly contrasting appearance due to the two varying ecosystems. This park can be explored by car or by foot on one of the 27 hiking trails. A bonus to visiting in the winter is the desert wildflower blooms between February and April. Airport: Palm Springs International Airport.

Biscayne, Florida

Famous lighthouse at Key Biscayne, Miami

Most of Biscayne National Park is on water, not land, so the best way to see its coral reefs (among the world's largest) and the abundance of marine life (highlighted by manatees and sea turtles) is by renting a boat or taking a boat tour. Several marinas are found at the park's edges where you can do just that, as well as rent snorkeling or diving equipment for a closer look underwater, where you'll discover diverse and colorful aquatic life and multiple shipwrecks. Kayaking and fishing in Miami-Dade County are also popular. Airport: Miami International Airport.

If you go

United Airlines flies to airports within a two-hour drive of all of these national parks. MileagePlus® Rewards can help pay for your accommodations. Go to united.com or use the United app to plan your national park getaway.

Family friendly cities: Summer fun in Seattle

By Bob Cooper

A newly renovated Space Needle, fantastic flight museums and nearby national parks are among the attractions that families visiting Seattle can enjoy on a summer or holiday getaway. Summer is also a good time to visit for the comfortably mild weather — typically in the seventies — and weeks-long Seafair celebration.

Seattle Space Needle and skyline

Search flights

Needle of glass

The 605-foot-tall Space Needle has been a leading “point" of interest in Seattle since it sprouted as the futuristic icon of the 1962 World's Fair. The view from atop the landmark tower's elevator ride is now better than ever, with nearly 200 tons of glass added to upper, lower and outer observation levels that permit an unobstructed view in all directions. One floor below is the world's first and only glass rotating observation deck and lounge, with the glass floor revealing a unique downward view of the Needle.

Seattle Center

Riding the Space Needle elevator is only one of many options at Seattle Center, the city's art, museum and entertainment hub. After arriving from downtown on the Seattle Monorail ($1.25-$2.50 per person), you can let the kids indulge their imagination at the Seattle Children's Museum; enjoy sci-fi and pop-music interactive exhibits at the Museum of Pop Culture; or take in the stimulating shows at the planetarium, Laser Dome theater or IMAX theaters at the Pacific Science Center. Not enough? Chihuly Garden and Glass displays homegrown glass artist Dale Chihuly's dazzling creations, and the Artists at Play playground beckons with a 50-foot tube slide and 30-foot climbing tower.

Pike Place Public Market in Seattle

Pike Place Market

Seattle visitors eager to enjoy an authentic experience where the only price of admission is an appetite for food and fun have to fit in a visit to Pike Place Market. At Seattle's most visited venue, newly expanded in 2017, everyone in the family will smile while watching fishmongers toss salmon through the air as street entertainers perform nearby. Food, beverage and craft purveyors sell their wares at more than 500 shops and stalls at the century-old farmers market that overlooks Puget Sound.

Flight of fancy

A 3D theater, flight simulators and the Kids' Flight Zone are indoor highlights of Seattle's Museum of Flight. Just outside is an unrivaled collection of major commercial jets, including the only Concorde on the West Coast, the first Air Force One jet and the first Boeing 747 and 787 Dreamliner. Boeing jets-to-be can be seen north of Seattle at the Future of Flight Aviation Center, the only place in North America where you can watch commercial jets being assembled on a Boeing factory tour.

Mt. Rainer National Park

Mountains, islands and lakes

Visitors renting a car can reach Mt. Rainier National Park, or be on board a ferry bound for the San Juan Islands (where there's a national historic park), in less than two hours. Both are breathtaking family destinations. But there are also many outdoor summer recreational activities available right in Seattle, a city surrounded by water on three sides and home to several lakes. Seattle's zoo is in Woodland Park on Green Lake, where you can rent all sorts of boats. There are also kayak and paddleboard rentals at Lake Union, and great tide pools to explore at Discovery Park on Puget Sound.

Summer celebrations

Seafair is a series of Seattle events that span most of the summer. Surely the loudest is the Seafair Summer 4th festival and fireworks show. Also on the Seafair calendar are big food events, cultural festivals and air-and-boat festivals. Nearly all are free.

If you go

United Airlines offers numerous flights to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from several U.S. cities. MileagePlus Rewards can help cover your hotel room and rental car once you arrive. Go to united.com or use the United app to plan your Pacific Northwest family vacation.

Search flights

Chicago's 10 best outdoor bars and restaurants

By Matt Chernov

Don't let its Windy City nickname fool you. During the spring and summer months, Chicago is the perfect destination to enjoy some outdoor fun. And there's no better way to do that than by catching a few rays on one of the city's rooftop bars or restaurant patios. As the weather brightens, here's a guide to Chicago's most exciting outdoor drinking and dining spots.

Search flights

Cabra

Located on the roof of the Hoxton hotel, Cabra is one of Chicago's newest rooftop bars and restaurants that is sure to be a busy summer hangout spot. This Peruvian restaurant is colorful and vibrant with a menu filled with reinvented and traditional Peruvian dishes. The open designed dining room is filled with plush seating, bright colors and plants hanging over the bar, giving the restaurant a lively yet relaxing atmosphere.

Raised

Offering an elevated view of the Chicago River, this stylish rooftop bar more than lives up to its name. Located on the third floor of the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, Raised combines a modern industrial aesthetic with all the comforts of a sophisticated hotel bar. The beverage menu includes a wide variety of local microbrews, plus seasonal cocktails served by the glass or decanter for larger groups.

Cerise Rooftop

Fun is on tap at Cerise, the playful rooftop bar on the 26th floor of Chicago's Virgin Hotel. Inspired by Japan's popular izakaya gastropubs, this hip lounge features a colorful cocktail menu filled with sparkling spritzers and fruity fizzes. Famed designer Paola Navone helped craft the whimsical decor, making Cerise one of the most Instagrammable bars in the city.

The J. Parker

It's difficult to decide what's most impressive about The J. Parker. From the signature mixed drinks inspired by the flavors of Mexico, Cuba and Spain, to the sharing menu created by award-winning chef Paul Vivant, every aspect of this rooftop bar is worth experiencing. Above all, the bird's eye view of Lake Michigan and Lincoln Park make it truly spectacular.

Cindy's

Located on the 13th floor of the historic Chicago Athletic Association building, Cindy's is one of the most popular spots in the city, and for very good reason. Sporting incredible views of Lake Michigan and Millennium Park, this gorgeous rooftop bar and restaurant welcomes patrons with a constantly evolving food and drink menu, including summery treats like boozy popsicles and amaretto ice cream pops.

Parlor

Can't decide whether to try a rooftop beer garden or a street-level patio? Parlor has you covered either way. With two locations in Chicago, this comfortable pizza bar offers multiple outdoor dining options. On the menu, Parlor has some of the most creative pizzas you'll ever try, like Eggs Benedict (Canadian ham, three eggs, and lemon Hollandaise sauce) and Pork-Q Pie (cherry peppers, BBQ pork, pineapple and smoked mozzarella).

El Cid

Combining traditional and modern Mexican food with killer margaritas that you can order by the pitcher, El Cid has been a mainstay of Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood for more than 15 years. Their outdoor front patio is great for people-watching, while their discrete back patio provides an intimate atmosphere that's perfect for a romantic dinner.

Gather

Open on three sides at the back of the restaurant, the private terrace at Gather is a relaxing alternative to the elegant inner dining room. Seating on the terrace is first come, first served, so you might run into an occasional wait. But rest assured, it's well worth it. To help distinguish the space, Executive Chef Ken Carter has crafted a separate menu designed to be shared outdoors.

Chop Shop

Chicago carnivores, rejoice! You're in for a treat at this restaurant, bar and butcher shop in the city's Wicker Park neighborhood. The menu is loaded with steaks, chops, burgers and charcuterie, all of which are available to order on the upstairs patio. For a full night's entertainment, check out a live concert in Chop Shop's popular event space after your meal.

The Dawson

With its lush outdoor patio and upscale menu, The Dawson is a place you'll want to return to repeatedly. Tucked away in the River West neighborhood, it's an ideal spot for large groups of friends looking to unwind after a day of exploring the city. The patio includes a full outdoor bar and a fireplace for cooler nights.

If you go

Get the most from your next trip to Chicago by booking your tickets at united.com or by using the convenient United app.

Search flights

An insiders’ tour of Fishtown, Philadelphia

By The Hub team

Story by Lauren Itzkowitz | Illustrations by Francesco Zorzi | Hemispheres, May 2019

Named for the shad fisheries that once lined the Delaware River, this working-class Irish, German, and Polish neighborhood has drawn creative types for years. New restaurants and lodging options may be raising Fishtown's profile, but it's still a tight-knit community—as evinced by these six locals, who showed us the area's hot spots.

Cheu Fishtown chef and co-owner Ben Puchowitz recommends…

Suraya has great healthy lunch options that don't drag you down the rest of the day. It's a beautiful space, and the food is ambitious."

Suraya executive chef and co-owner Nick Kennedy recommends…

Riverwards Produce is a go-to when my family is planning dinner. I love their produce and cheese—they have what I find myself needing."

Riverwards Produce owner Vincent Finazzo recommends…

“I send people to Vestige to experience a boutique that feels like it's from the desert in California. With jewelry, candles, and a curated body-care section, Vestige transports you to a better place."

Vestige owner Ashley Gleason recommends…

“I like La Colombe [the coffee brand's flagship café] for people-watching and spending a few hours staring into my laptop. They also have the best bread in the city."

La Colombe president and cofounder JP Iberti recommends…

Wm. Mulherin's Sons is a great place to grab a drink, mostly because a drink always turns into dinner, and Mulherin's offers one of the best meals in Philly. Their hotel is always booked, much like the restaurant."

Wm. Mulherin's Sons co-owner Randall Cook recommends…

Cheu is great when I'm in the mood for a midday treat. A counter seat at the bar lets you see all the action, the ramen is killer, and the draft beer is ice cold."

Après 3 ways

By The Hub team

Story by Nicholas DeRenzo | Hemispheres, November 2018

There's only one way to take the ski slopes: fast. But there are all sorts of approaches to post-powder R&R. Here, Hemispheres looks at a trio of America's favorite winter resorts and offers three methods to après-ski—glitzy, old-school, and family-style—at each. There's something for everyone in the “after"-life.

Telluride, Colorado

Tucked in a box canyon far from the hustle of Colorado's other ski resorts, highbrow yet rustic Telluride is two destinations in one. America's only free public-transportation gondola connects the Victorian mining town where Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank to the Alpine-style Mountain Village and its 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. You might bump into one of the many celebrities with vacation homes here (Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld), but play it cool: It's the Telluride way.

Luxe

At 11,966 feet, the Dolomite hütte–inspired Alpino Vino is North America's highest restaurant. By day, the tiny wooden cottage is reachable on skis (it's a short glide downhill from the top of Lift 14); at night, heated snow-coaches whisk diners to a five-course Italian tasting menu experience, complete with the region's most impressive wine list. Go for a Brunello di Montalcino—the cellar contains bottles from nearly two dozen producers. Tasting menu $150, with $75 and $125 wine pairing options, tellurideskiresort.com

Classic

Down in town, belly up to the original 1897 mahogany and cherrywood bar at the New Sheridan Hotel saloon, one of the oldest watering holes in the West. The setting may inspire you to order a whiskey, but there's no better place to try the city's unofficial beverage, the Flatliner, made with vanilla vodka, Baileys, Kahlúa, and espresso. newsheridan.com

Family

A little red cabin near the base of the free gondola houses Taco Del Gnar, a delightfully grungy spot selling creative tacos like tempura avocado, housemade lamb sausage, smoked pork belly, and seared ahi tuna. Kids will love the queso blanco–topped tater tots, while parents can work their way through the list of local beers. gnarlytacos.com

Sun Valley, Idaho

Built on the edge of the mining town of Ketchum in 1936, Sun Valley was the world's first destination ski resort and the home of the first chairlift, which was derived from a device that had been used to load bananas onto rail cars. The mountain instantly began attracting the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, and Ernest Hemingway—a favorite adopted citizen who helped popularize the image of this valley as one of the West's great outdoorsy getaways.

Luxe

Papa Hemingway ate his last supper in 1961 at Michel's Christiania, a fine-dining (but verycomfortable) French restaurant in the heart of Ketchum where you can order classics like trout meunière and escargots bourguignonne. Chef-owner Michel Rudigoz is a former U.S. women's ski team coach, which explains all the memorabilia in the attached Olympic Bar. michelschristiania.com

Classic

There's nothing fancy about Grumpy's, a dive bar that turned 40 this year. Known for its 32-ounce beer schooners and hodge-podge decor (vintage beer can–lined walls, a prop dog from There's Something About Mary), the bar is a favorite among paparazzi-dodging stars like Bruce Springsteen, who has been known to sing a few tunes when he stops in. grumpyssunvalley.com

Family

Après-ski often means getting out of the cold ASAP, but for one of the valley's most memorable off-slope activities, you'll need to brave the chill a bit longer. The kids will love a Clydesdale-drawn sleigh ride to Trail Creek Cabin for hearty mountain staples such as buffalo tenderloin and ruby trout, plus German chocolate cake for dessert. sunvalley.com

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Perched on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole has always felt wild. Trappers used the term “hole" to describe the valley's vertigo-inducing sides, and the resort has used that geological feature to maximum effect. Dubbed “The Big One," the area boasts America's biggest vertical drop in ski terrain (more than 4,100 feet), as well as Corbet's Couloir, a legendarily deranged run that tops many ski-bum bucket lists.

Luxe

When skiers talk about a good powder day, some may be referring to the powdered sugar on the waffles at Corbet's Cabin. (Remember, après starts early when you're skiing with kids.) Located at 10,450 feet, atop Rendezvous Peak, this refueling station is reachable by the Aerial Tram and dishes out hot waffles in flavors like the Nutella-topped Italian, the lemon-glazed Englishman, and the peanut butter and smoked bacon–stacked Gateway. Parents can warm up faster by spiking their hot cocoa or coffee with Irish cream, whiskey, or schnapps. jacksonhole.com

Classic

Opened in 1967, the Mangy Moose saloon has attracted performers like Jason Aldean and Brandi Carlile. Grab a table under the antlered taxidermy for a buffalo fillet or trout and chips, paired with locally inspired cocktails (like the Huckleberry Cosmo) or the Tourist Trap, a “shot ski" with four shots of Fireball or Rumple Minze. mangymoose.com

Family

The newest member of chef Gavin Fine's aptly named Fine Dining Restaurant Group (which includes an ice cream parlor and craft butcher) is Hotel Terra's Bar Enoteca, a Mediterranean wine and cocktail bar that opened last fall. Small plates such as the wild game sausage and goat cassoulet are perfect for post-slope grazing. hotelterrajacksonhole.com

St. Patrick's Day celebrations across the world

By Bob Cooper

St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday this year so the annual tribute to all things Irish will be celebrated in cities worldwide on the day of the March 17 holiday, as well as the day before, with a few events taking place the weekend prior. These seven parades and celebrations are among the world's largest and heartiest — don't forget to wear green.

Dublin

St. Patrick's Day is a legal holiday in Ireland, the island where it all began centuries ago. But the Irish spread the St. Patrick's Festival over five days (March 14 – 18), with 34 events ranging from street music and theater to Irish dancing and storytelling — and of course, a huge parade. Green lights illuminate the city's most iconic buildings and monuments, and yes, the Guinness flows fast and furious at Dublin's pubs.

New York City

The Big Apple turns green each year for its St. Patrick's Day Parade. Since 1762, it's grown into the world's most populous parade, with about two million annual spectators. The March 16 parade (11 a.m. – 5 p.m.) follows Fifth Avenue between 44th to 79th Street, with the final 20 blocks alongside Central Park on the Upper East Side. This is a people's parade, with no floats or vehicles but with 200,000 people choosing to march or dance in the parade rather than watch.

Chicago

Chicagoans start celebrating in the early hours of the morning on March 16 — followed by the massive Columbus Drive parade (12 – 3 p.m.) through Grant Park that draws a million spectators. Before the parade, a tradition for 174 years, is the more recent tradition of the river dyeing, when eco-friendly green dye is poured into the Chicago River at 9 a.m.

Buenos Aires

Argentina may seem like an odd place for a big celebration of Irish heritage, but a half-million Argentines have Irish blood, and Buenos Aires has the world's fifth-largest Irish population. Like the Irish, South Americans know how to celebrate, and they do it in the Argentine capital with a parade and street party on March 17 that literally spills over into March 18. Ten city blocks are shut down for the music and dancing that last for hours after the short parade.

People on a float in St. Patrick's Day parade in Boston

Boston

America's oldest city parade debuted in 1737, when George Washington was a 5 year old. It is not on downtown streets, like most parades, but through South Boston where so many of the city's large population of Irish-Americans live. These “Southies" are among the throngs of more than a half-million who will watch the 40-block-long parade beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, on the holiday, but one day after Bostonians celebrate the holiday at Irish bars.

San Francisco

Three years after the 1849 gold rush that brought thousands to San Francisco, the Irish-Americans among them organized the first St. Patrick's Day Parade. The parade has marched on ever since as the largest Irish celebration in the American West. About 100,000 will watch 5,000-plus parade participants march up Market Street on March 16 at 11:30 a.m., followed by an Irish cultural festival at the parade's end point at Civic Center Plaza.

Savannah

Savannah — population 145,000 — will swell to several times that size during its St. Patrick's Day Parade (March 16 at 10:15 a.m.). You can credit typically mild weather and a 193-year tradition for its popularity, but there's more. On March 9, there's a new festival that will be taken over the past Tara Feis events and will be called the Celtic Ceol Feis in downtown Savannah's Emmet Park. This will be a family oriented event that showcases the Irish culture and heritage in this city. And on March 15 – 16, Savannah's River Street and City Market host a music-filled St. Patrick's Day Festival that rocks till midnight nightly.

Getting there

Once you've decided where you want to spend St. Patrick's Day, book your tickets by visiting united.com or by using the newly improved United app.