The rankings are in, and the Madness has begun!
We at Yahoo Travel don’t know much (if anything) about basketball, but we do know travel. With that in mind, we took a hard look at the 68 teams and their hometowns and offered recommendations for food, lodging, and attractions. We didn’t rank our choices, but as in basketball, the South and the Midwest definitely have winning potential. Go, teams!
This university is in the heart of Houston, and except for the traffic, it’s an easy to get to, fun-filled city. Start the exploration at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
The Chesapeake Bay (Photo: Glenn Ross Images/Moment Open/Getty Images)
Hampton, Virginia, is near Chesapeake Bay, so it’s got that going for it. Add in the Virginia Air and Space Center and this becomes a serious contender.
This may have been a surprise pick for the tournament, but Riverdale’s trendy location, just minutes from Manhattan, makes it a no-brainer as a travel destination. If we were a ranking, we’d have to move the Jaspers up several notches. A visit to The Cloisters Museum and Gardens is a good way to start your visit.
Easton, Pennsylvania, has the Crayola Experience, craft beer, and the Delaware River. The only thing holding it back is easy access.
They may know b-ball in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, but as a travel destination, it’s a bit quiet. It’s one of three hometowns on the list with a drive-in theater, though.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (Photo: Mr. Nixter/Flickr)
Conway, South Carolina’s proximity to Myrtle Beach makes it a serious travel contender. With over 100 restaurants serving Southern cooking, it may be worth it to drive up from the coast.
Fargo is surprisingly fun. It has a great zoo, horse racing on the three warm weekends of the year, and a symphony.
Ah, Jacksonville, the oft-forgotten Florida city. It’s easy to get to, has Jacksonville Beach, interesting museums like MOCA, which brings contemporary art to life, and a long list of breweries to crawl through. We would move the Ospreys up on the list if we were ranking destinations.
Birmingham is hot! The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame should be enough to move this city up in the rankings of anybody’s destination list.
Swan swimming in mist at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (Photo: Darrell Gulin/Corbis)
Cheny, Washington, is just far enough away from Spokane to make it truly rural. It is situated just outside the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, making outdoor activities an easy pick.
Irvine, California, deserves better placement on the travel list than 58! It’s just a short hop to Disneyland, and in the other direction it’s close to the lovely seaside town of San Juan Capistrano, whose mission makes it the oldest city in Orange County. Go, Anteaters!
The capital of the Empire State has more than enough things to do. The amazing Capitol Building is a good place to start. The late 19th-century architecture is in sharp contrast with The Egg Center for the Performing Arts. A room at the 74State Hotel in downtown is close to the action, including being located minutes away fro the Amtrack station.
JFK Presidential Library and Museum (Photo: Maciek Lulko/Flickr)
Despite record snowfall this year, Boston retains its place on most people’s travel hot lists. The 44 museums could keep you busy until next year’s snow even begins to fall.
Spartanburg, S.C., is a great place to start a tour of craft distilleries. Like many college towns, it has burgers and beer. Start your beer tour with RJ Rockers, where craft brewing got started in town. Maybe if the Terriers take the championship, they’ll name a beer after them. For now, give the chocolatey “Brown-Eyed Squirrel” a try.
Las Cruces is about as far off the travel radar as any town on this list, but it’s got hiking, Southwestern Art, White Sands National Monument, and even a winery.
(Photo: Georgia Aquarium)
No. 1 attraction in Buffalo? Lake Erie. Get out on it to really understand this region. Take a boat tour, visit the Naval and Military Park, or just visit the Erie Basin Marina.
Harvard itself is at the top of most to-do lists in Cambridge, Mass. Just visiting Harvard and MIT in one day can make you feel smarter. If that’s not enough, stop by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.
Nacogdoches is not the Texas you generally think about. The team name says it all. Think trees, trees, and more trees. And between the trees, there are gardens. Boating at Lake Sam Rayburn is an easy drive away. And don’t worry if you can’t say the name, just say “Nac,” and they’ll think you’re a local.
Where do you even start to plan a trip to L.A.? Our recommendation is to put the glitz and glamour on the back burner and start with the Getty Museum. Art, architecture, and gardens make a center that is truly worth a visit. Oh, and a higher ranking than 47!
Laramie is where you let your inner cowboy loose. Ride a horse, visit the American Heritage Center, and buy some cowgirl glitz downtown.
Austin is weird. And they like it that way. Austin weird means food trucks, eclectic music on Sixth Street, and a bat flight from the Congress Avenue Bridge.
Stillwater is the hometown of Garth Brooks, and he’d probably tell you the best thing to do is find a honky-tonk and dance the night away. Give the Tumbleweed Dancehall a try. And don’t forget your boots.
Raleigh, N.C., is home to both the North Carolina Museum of History and the Museum of Art, but if you get the chance, spend time in the city’s parks and gardens, where the city’s outdoor experience is a visual and aromatic delight.
Follow the sign to see more signs. (Photo: American Sign Museum)
Cincinnati may not be on your travel plans, but you may want to give it a closer look. With a world-class zoo, the American Sign Museum, and boutique hotels, we’d rank the home of the Bearcats much higher than No. 39.
Jamaica, N.Y., has the fabulous Resorts World Casino, for the responsible gamblers among all you basketball fans.
Boise, Idaho, is for outdoor lovers. Hike, bike, ski, and float your way through all that Idaho has to offer. A good place to start is the Ridge to Rivers Trail in the foothills above town.
Visitor at the Georgia Museum of Art (Photo: Georgia Museum of Art)
Lafayette, Ind., is a genuine working-class college town. The architecture is Victorian, the people friendly, and the food fresh from the fields, as you’ll find at Bistro 501.
Have a blast zip lining (Photo: Facebook/ MAX Zipline in Provo Canyon)
Columbus is home to the Ohio State Fair at the end of the summer, but the rest of the year, go there for the amazing selection of parks.
Where do you begin with San Diego? The Zoo is legendary, it has gorgeous beaches (try La Jolla and Mission), and the weather is always perfect. If you visit, can you take us with you?
Davidson, N.C., is not just a college town, it’s a lake town. The city sits on Lake Norman, and with 520 miles of shoreline, it’s the perfect place to go boating, kayaking, water skiing, and sailing.
Interior space of the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel (Photo: The Vanderbilt Grace)
Providence, R.I., is the reigning champion of boutique hotels. During your next visit, try the Vanderbilt Grace, Hotel Viking, and The Chanler in nearby Newport. Want more options? Check out the Mill Street Inn, the Attwater, or the Dean.
Washington, D.C., is a serious tourist town. For something a little off the grid, stroll down the beautiful streets of historic downtown Georgetown. While you’re there, be sure to check out the International Spy Museum.
Fayetteville is a quiet college town filled with solid places to visit. Look for craft breweries like Mash House, and sample some deep-fried deliciousness at Momma Dean’s Soul Kitchen.
West Virginia Mountaineers
As the team name implies, Morgantown is the perfect place from which to enjoy mountain activities like whitewater rafting. If you’re not really the mountain type, you can enjoy West Virginia’s beauty without breaking a sweat, at the Botanic Garden.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Visitors should plan on gaining weight when visiting Chapel Hill. The food in this city is amazing, and Southern comforts like shrimp and grits are usually on the menu. Crook’s Corner is a great place to dine on New South cuisine and to walk it off while you stroll past stores and restaurants on Franklin Street.
Aerial view of BSR Cable Park (Photo: Facebook/BSRCable Park)
Waco is a funky city halfway between Dallas and Austin, but it has a personality all its own. Cameron Park Zoo is one of the best small zoos in the country, the boat races on the Brazos River are thrilling, and BSR Cable Park is one of the country’s premier places for cable water skiing.
College Park is a quiet city just outside of the D.C. Beltway, which makes it the ideal spot to enjoy the area without all of the drama. If you want to go into the city, the D.C. Metro Green Line will take you there. Otherwise, enjoy the simple pleasures of College Park, grab a few friends, and go on a Room Escape Adventure.
Like much of Utah, Salt Lake City overflows with outdoor activities. Think hiking, climbing, and biking in the parks and trails that surround the city. To find some real peace and quiet, hike up to Big Cottonwood Canyon and enjoy the stunning view. Oh, and don’t forget to see the Great Salt Lake.
Wichita State Shockers
Wichita’s attractions have three descriptions: medium, medium rare, and rare. All you need is a steak knife to enjoy a trip here. Visit Chester’s Chophouse for a rib eye that you will never forget.
Northern Iowa Panthers
Cedar Falls is another quiet college town in the heartland. What sets it apart is the large amount of green space, in the form of George Wyth Memorial State Park. Take the afternoon to go fishing or boating in Cedar River.
Norman, Okla., is just outside the Top 10 in the tournament, and just outside Oklahoma City. Both make Norman hungry for a place at the top. A quick trip east to Lake Thunderbird State Park makes a stay in the shadow of the city worthwhile.
Iowa State Cyclones
Enjoy the views at Ledges State Park (Photo: Flickr Carl Wycoff)
Ames, Iowa, is more than another quaint college town. Play a few holes at Veenker Memorial Golf Course, hike in Ledges State Park, or channel your inner fashionista by visiting the nearby Textile and Clothing Museum.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
South Bend, Ind., is more than just a college town. It’s the Studebaker Museum, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and the Potawatomi Zoo. If those attractions don’t get you excited to visit, then might we suggest a visit to the South Bend Chocolate Factory? No one can turn down chocolate.
Louisville, Ky., has a cultural side that rivals many larger cities. It’s home to the Kentucky Derby Museum and the Louisville Slugger Museum, so it’s the perfect place to brush up on your sports history. You’ll also find a 21c Museum Hotel, which combines contemporary art with a stellar hotel experience. Within 21c, you’ll have the opportunity to dine at the restaurant Proof on Main, with dishes curated by Chef Levon Wallace.
Spokane is a hot bed for outdoor activities. Grab a bike and ride down the Centennial Trail, a 37-mile paved path that runs right through downtown Spokane. The city also has climbing, hiking, and horseback riding. And if you’re feeling really adventurous, call up ROW adventures and go rafting down the Spokane river.
Have the best Philly cheese steak at Geno’s (Photo: Flickr/James Losey)
Ah, Philadelphia, home to so much history and so many cheesesteaks. After strolling by the Liberty Bell and visiting the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin, you must stop by Geno’s for the best Philly cheese steak of your life.
You can’t beat the weather in Tucson, Ariz., which is why it’s such a popular golf destination. Play a few holes at the Ritz Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain has been named one of the best courses in the country. Tucson is also home to some amazing scenery, so a visit to see the views in Saguaro National Park is well worth your time.
Don’t even try to stay in a chain hotel when visiting Madison. Instead, try places like the Edgewater, Hotel Red, or the Hotel Ruby Marie for a more comfortable stay. Also, you can’t go home without some cheese, so grab a basket from one of Madison’s many cheese shops, like Fromagination.
Duke Blue Devils
The architecture of Duke University doesn’t have to be the only reason to visit Durham. Visit historic Civil War sites like Bennett Place, or get up close and personal with a furry lemur at the Lemur Center.
Three of our founding fathers called Charlottesville, Va., home. That history alone places it high on many travel lists. Besides visiting Monticello, try a few winery tours, and maybe a bit of hiking on the Rivanna Trails.
Lexington is all about horses for most visitors. It’s home to the Kentucky Horse Park, Keeneland Racetrack, and more farm tours than you can see in a week. Of course, there are craft breweries and distilleries and a winery or two when you tire of the ponies.
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