We all know work is important, but all work and no play makes Jane a dull gal, so we thought we’d come up with a list for best places to relax and unwind after a day of climbing the corporate ladder. The cities range from Southern to Midwestern, with some stuffier east coast thrown in there, too (although Philly is about as midwest/east coast as you can get). We’d only include NYC if we stayed in Brooklyn — who wants to jet out into the wilds of infinite choice and noise after a grueling day of presentations and/or meetings? We wanted low to mid-key, classic (and not so classic) choices for fun and good times — in cultural, friendly cities that give you just enough of a variety of options for post-work shenanigans (or culture).
The Indigo Girls don’t have a song named after this city for nothing.
Two words: COUNTRY MUSIC.
And all subgenres, too. First off, there’s the Grand Ole Opry, with shows every night — sometimes featuring surprise celebrity showings — but be sure to book ahead, as tickets tend to sell out fast. It is the number one entertainment spot in the city. If you happen to have any windows of time during the day and love museums (and — that’s right, country music), check out The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, housing 2.5 million artifacts and home to RCA Studio B, where Elvis recorded. Yes, Elvis the Pelvis himself.
If eating and drinking are more your scene after-hours, check out the Nashville Pub Crawls, which snake along the city’s venerable 2nd Avenue, and include stories about the city’s history and, of course, drink specials galore (we love those). If you’re looking for a specialty crawl that’s just for gals, check out Hick Chick Tours. Let’s face it: we’ve all been to the after hours bar scenes with certain colleagues, and certain colleagues don’t mix nicely with alcohol. Finding events that are female-centric can be important to some.
If you’re a foodie, there are plenty of great restaurants to check out. One bonding experience you won’t forget in a hurry is Walk Eat Nashville, where you’ll get a guided walking (and eating) tour from experts on the city. If you’re looking for the top ten restaurants in Nashville before you go, give yourself plenty of time to make reservations.
The windy city dwellers are known for their love of food and drink (and improv!). The city is huge, and there are more than enough nightlife choices to suit anyone. You want bars? Chicagoans love their cocktails, so we thought we’d include a list of must-see/drink watering holes — both hipster and historic — for you to choose from once the workday is over.
- Hopleaf: This Andersonville staple is a staple for good reason: Good food, great beer, no TVs. Perfect setting for those looking to commune over noshing and not-your-average-brewski.
The Green Mill Cocktail Lounge: Historical North Side jazz bar complete with custom-made cocktails and a story — supposedly Al Capone’s bar of choice back in the days of Prohibition. A must-see for people-watchers and jazz aficionados alike.
Kingston Mines: A true Chicago institution, this bar is open ‘till 4AM and boasts some of the best live blues music in the city. Perk? Southern food for when your buzz is waning and your stomach is howlin’.
If drinking all night is not your thing, check out Improv Olympic or the more well-known Second City (Stephen Colbert, Mike Meyers, and Tina Fey — just a few famous alums) and enjoy cocktails with your laughter. Look here for a comprehensive list of comedy venues in the city.
A historical urban mecca, this might not be number one on your list of places to find proper nightlife. However, the city does boast a number of different opportunities to unwind and have a good time (and some great food) after working all day. 12 Steps Down is literally a subterranean gastropub, with three types of beers on tap: microbrew, big name, and budget— to suit any price point or taste bud. Too many bars have done away with the jukebox, but not this one, so play your fave tunes while sipping and supping on upscale pub fare. If food is more your thing and you’re dying to find the best philly cheesesteak in town, head over to Deke’s BBQ on Ridge Avenue for a brisket sandwich with homemade cheese sauce, along with other standard BBQ fare. If it’s a view you want, check out Philly’s One Liberty Observation Deck, where you get a 57 flights up, 360 degree view of the city, and access to various shopping and eating experiences. Come on, everybody loves the view from the top. Depending on when you go, the city also boasts a thriving music and entertainment scene.
There are other cities we could have profiled, but we wanted to keep it brief. The reality is, unless you’re going to Punxsutawney, PA (Groundhog Day, anyone?) chances are you’ll find a great neighborhood bar or live music venue somewhere. And as long as the company is good, that’s where the party’s at. As they say, wherever you go, there you are — so sit back, order a drink (or two) and enjoy it!
Journey On, Janes!
Have a favorite watering hole in the city to which you travel the most? Tell us in the comments section or send us your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.