This summer, try to connect with people more, share your experiences and fully immerse yourself in some of the most vibrant cities in America. This is travelling with purpose and it’s what Passion Passport is all about. Explore, talk to people and, most importantly, eat! Dig into dumplings in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown, finish off a medianoche in Miami’s Little Havana. Each of these destinations is perfect for a weekend-stay. Or, if you’re already there, mix things up and try something new.
In the these city guides for New York City, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco, the Passion Passport team provides some key recommendations on what to experience—and photograph—in each destination. Our team members have lived in each one of these cities, so you can trust that this selection of best-of locations is on point!
If you’re traveling to any of these cities this summer, take care of as many upfront costs so that you don’t need to carry your wallet. You can pay for your flights with PayPal—all major airlines accept it. Before you travel, link your Uber or Lyft account to your PayPal account as well so that you can move around easily.
Presidio: We would suggest visiting this location in the late afternoon, close to golden hour. Take an uber to this less-frequented area and roam the streets, watching as light magically filters through the trees. Consider a stop at Andy Goldsworthy’s Wood Line. Afterwards, walk down to Baker Beach and watch the sun set.
Fort Point: Tucked just beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, this old military fort has hallways, shadows and arches at every turn and change with the light throughout the day. The Golden Gate Bridge serves as a perfect backdrop. You can head to this location in combination with the Wood Line and Baker Beach if you have the time.
Plow: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we’d recommend starting it with a hearty meal at Plow. Get there early (before 8am, if possible) to avoid the crowds. The light that filters through the windows will light your meal evenly — perfect for an epic food shot. If you’re really looking to start your day right, head to nearby Bernal Hill to catch the sunrise and 360 degree views of the city before breakfast.
Outside of San Francisco: Just across the bay, more adventures await. The Marin Headlands and Mount Tam are top-rated among locals and have plenty of green, winding roads between and along the ocean’s edge. The sunsets in either location are legendary to witness and photograph, particularly as the fog is coming in.
Chinatown: Head to Chinatown for Dim Sum. Located in Manhattan’s southern tip, we’d recommend the grand hall of Jing Fong or Nom Wah Tea Parlor. Both offer great staples like har gao (shrimp dumplings) or cha shiu bao (pork dumplings). Once you’re done eating, wander classic streets like Doyers, Mott, Pell and Mulberry — each with their own unique photo ops.
Brooklyn Bridge Park: In recent years, this area has been revamped quite significantly. Head to Dumbo first: lounge by the rocky shore and pay a visit to Jane’s Carousel. From there, walk along the peninsula through Piers 1 to 6 and photograph southern Manhattan’s impressive skyline. Check out the impressive sporting grounds and stop by Ample Hills for some delicious ice cream.
Coney Island: Coney Island can be a mess in the summer, so first things first: we’d suggest a weekday visit, if possible. Get off the subway at Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue and head to the beach. Be sure to try rides like the famed Cyclone or the ferris wheel—both offer an incredible vantage point for a photograph. If you get hungry, grab a Nathan’s hot dog or consider the trek over to Kashkar Cafe for some of the best Central Asian food in all of New York City.
Big Star Taco: Delight your senses at one of Chicago’s favorite taquerias which lies in the heart of the city’s artsy and lively Wicker Park neighborhood. Nowhere shouts summer like their outdoor patio, walk-thru order window, and picnic tables, which we took over during last September’s Passport Express. For the cooler months, inside is a honky-tonk where you may have to shout over blaring music to order drinks or talk to your friends.
Lakefront Trail: Start at Oak Street Beach and follow the pathway along the Lake Michigan’s edge. Those who like to run, jog, or swim, have an open space to do so; and those who like to people watch have a constant stream of passers-by. If you can, start 30 minutes to an hour before sunset because to watch the skyline grow smaller and fade into dusk only to watch the city reawaken in nightlights.
Garfield Park Conservatory: While Chicago is home to world-renowned architecture, it’s official motto is Urbs in Horto which translates to “City in a Garden.” The Garfield Park Conservatory is one such “garden” showcasing flora—some over 200 years old—from its graceful Fern Room to its wonderfully abstract Cactus Room.
Design District: This area located north of Midtown is home to over 130 art galleries and showrooms. Because of this very reason, this neighborhood is buzzing with incredible street art and things to photograph on every corner you look.
Little Havana: While many of the original Cuban residents have moved away from the area, some sights, sounds and traditional Cuban food options have remained. Check out “Domino Park” (also known as,“Máximo Gómez Park”) to capture some fiery games of dominoes among the older Cuban set. Along the way, pay a visit to the ceiba tree on Memorial Boulevard. Beloved by followers of the Santeria religion, you’ll often find offerings to deities beneath it. Fuel up on a Cuban coffee before enjoying the latin beats at Hoy Como Ayer (on West 8th Street and SW 22nd Avenue).
Art Deco Architecture in South Beach: No visit to Miami can be complete without going to visit the historic Art Deco district in South Beach. This area is a gem of pastel Art Deco architecture and makes fantastic opportunities to shoot while soaking up the sun and beach nearby.
Key Biscayne: A favorite spot amongst locals, this island town is only a short drive south of Miami Beach and feels like a completely different world. Previously a coconut plantation, this narrow strip of land still maintains its natural charm in many areas. Head straight to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park to witness some of the best spots to enjoy secluded, natural beaches and to photograph the sunset against the backdrop of Miami.
New York, Miami, Chicago and San Francisco are key summer attractions because they offer something for everyone: from some of the most mouth-watering food in the country, to unique art, architecture, and natural escapes. Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, taking on a new city can always be a little bit disorienting. Prepare yourself by taking care of costs upfront with PayPal—whether for flights, accommodations, transportation or activities—and avoiding headaches along the way.
This piece was created in partnership with PayPal.