Bleisure Recommendations for the Top Business Travel Destinations
Combining business trips with a bit of fun in your free time is the newest trend in travel. While traveling for work is something people have done for centuries, today’s generations want to optimize their schedule and enjoy life, too.
Enter bleisure travel. It’s traveling that mixes business and leisure seamlessly.
Some destinations are known for their bustling business clientele, such as Denver and Atlanta. If you’re heading to cities like these, it’ll be a cinch to start practicing your bleisure living.
No two cities are the same, so there will be something unique to do everywhere you go. However, you can use your favorite activities to narrow down possible experiences.
In this guide, we’ve taken three of the top business destinations and broken them down by our favorite bleisure recommendations. Reading through them will give you ideas of how to enjoy any area your job sends you.
The next time you head to any of these places, make sure to hit these scenes.
1. Denver, Colorado
If you’re surprised to see Denver on the list of top bleisure destinations, you’ve probably never had the opportunity to visit this cultural mecca.
Denver is a massive hotspot of tourist attractions, majestic nature, and substantial industrial competition. When your job includes heading to this city for work, it’s time to get excited about all the potential activities you can add to your schedule.
(This is also the home of Hotel Engine, so yeah, we’re a little biased!)
Let’s start out with the plethora of natural vistas nearby. You don’t have to go too far to enjoy the beauty of breathtaking Colorado. In fact, the panoramic mountains are so abundant you’re almost surrounded by them.
When you have half a day (or more) on your free-time schedule, take a ride over to the Rocky Mountain National Park. It will take about an hour and a half to get there, but the views you’ll see on the hiking and walking trails are worth every second.
Limited on time for leisure travel but still want to see what Denver’s version of Mother Nature has to offer?
Head over to the Greenway, a 28-mile stretch of beauty that cuts through the city’s metro area. You can walk, bike, or segway on this trail. Access it at Confluence Park or near Cherry Creek.
Along the winding trek, you’ll have plenty of dining and shopping choices interspersed with nature. The Greenway follows the South Platte River, so you can relax in the peace and quiet and still have the city close at hand.
From football, baseball, and hockey to museums and music, Denver’s cultural scene has something for everyone.
The Denver Art Museum and Clyfford Still Museum are conveniently right next to each other for a full day of art observation. There is so much to see between the two museums that art lovers will want to split them up into two days or more.
Red Rocks Amphitheater is a combination of nature and music. Live bands perform here throughout the year. Check the schedule and see who is playing while you’re in the city. Even if no one is, add this stop to your bleisure trip’s itinerary because the iconic Red Rocks are worth a visit anyway!
The city is also a popular attraction for sports enthusiasts. Denver hosts big names like the Broncos, Nuggets, Avalanche, and Rockies. Chances are, there will be a game of some kind going on while you’re there.
Denver boasts authentic Mexican cuisine, burgers, and healthy eateries. Anywhere you go, you’ll find a delicious local joint to dine at.
Have a little extra time to spend in Colorado? Explore: 7+ Colorado Hot Spring Weekend Escapes (Within Driving Distance of Denver and Breckenridge)
2. Atlanta, Georgia
Across the country from Denver is a similar corporate travel destination, Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta is one of the top global spots for international business travelers. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) recognizes Atlanta’s airport as the busiest in the world, and the city itself is full of diverse things to do and explore.
Unlike Denver’s mountainous beauty, Atlanta has its own form of nature. Visitors to the city can check out various rivers, creeks, and even some mountains.
If your work trips to Atlanta are time-sensitive, add a stop to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. It’s smack in the heart of Atlanta, but you’ll think you’re in an oasis in the middle of the jungle. You only need a few minutes to feel the tranquility, yet you’ll want to stay for hours.
When you have more time and a car rental option, check out the Atlanta BeltLine. One thousand three hundred acres of adjoining neighborhoods and public parks means there’s so much to see and do that you’ll want to stay a few extra days.
As one of the most diverse cities in the nation, Atlanta hosts a vast array of cultural stops.
Visit the Coca-Cola Museum to see where the mega-corporations meager start happened in a little shop in Atlanta.
Interested in sports trivia?
The Chick-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame is where you should head with your next batch of downtime. (Pro tip: Bring a change of clothes because you may have a chance to show off your skills on the playing field.)
Other favorite cultural places to explore in a hurry include:
- The Midtown Center for Puppetry Arts
- Georgia Aquarium
- Fernbank Museum
- Zoo Atlanta
- Mercedes-Benz Stadium (home of the Atlanta Falcons)
There’s something for everyone from millennials to gen-Xers and baby boomers when it comes to leisure activities.
There’s no shortage of food options at the seemingly endless local restaurants in and around Atlanta. Barbecue joints offer tasty and distinctly different beef, pork, and chicken with side fixings. Fried chicken is a must-have when you’re in the south.
3. New York City, New York
Ensconced in 22 miles of concrete jungle, Manhattan is the main borough for business travelers in New York City. Visitors head to the city from multiple airports, train and bus stations, and cabs.
Part of the travel management of visiting NYC right now involves checking up on pandemic restrictions. The city is frequently in the headlines as one of the strictest when it comes to vaccinations and masks.
Before planning your bleisure trips, check with each place to see what you need to know for COVID-19 safety.
No trip to the Big Apple is complete without a stop in Central Park. If you’ve never been there, though, it can be easy to get lost. There are 23 entrances along the West Side alone!
Pull out your GPS and find the closest entrance to your hotel. Or, if you plan on hitting any museums or other attractions, there’s probably an entrance nearby those, too. The key is to remember where you entered and then leave at that same spot if you’re not familiar with the area.
Exploring Central Park allows you to see some familiar scenes, like where Home Alone 2 was filmed. There will be horse-drawn carriages and sidewalk vendors no matter what time of year it is.
Inside the park, you’ll find a small lake, lots of sculptures, and places to view the beauty of nature. You may even forget that you’re in a big city, especially if you visit the Central Park Zoo.
Culture is everywhere you turn in NYC. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find in the bustling metropolis.
Of course, there are the typical tourist attractions, like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Save these destinations for when you have a full day to do each one. Between the lines and traveling, you’ll need the extra time.
Here are some of our must-see suggestions if you’re on a time crunch:
- The NYC Public Library
- Grand Central Station
- Times Square
- American Museum of Natural History
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck (almost as high as the Empire State Building with less wait time)
- The Guggenheim Art Museum
Wherever you go, plan some extra cushion in your schedule for all the sights you’ll see along the way. There will be plenty of street dancing and instrument shows, sidewalk vendors, and more fun to distract you.
Food is possibly the most iconic part of NYC. Ask any regular visitor to the area what they enjoy doing, and food will be somewhere near the top of the list. The travel industry names the dining industry one of the top draws of the city.
You’ll find street vendors selling must-have hot dogs from their carts. You’ll see dozens (or more) of cheap “pizza by the slice” shops. A trip to Chinatown or Little Italy will load you up with ethnic fare.
Always on the go? Check out: The 13 Best Rolling Duffel Bags for Hard-Working Business Travel
4. How to Afford Your Bleisure Time
With all these fantastic ideas making you look forward to your next corporate travel trip, the question many of us have is how to afford the time and expense of the leisure component.
The good news is that the perk of paid-for lodging and transportation is already taken care of. Those are the two most expensive parts of a trip, and you can adjust your explorations for your budget.
As far as finding leisure time in a packed schedule, we have some tips to help you solve this dilemma.
How to Make Time For Fun During Corporate Travel
You’re on the clock for most of the trip. Still, there are ways to maximize your schedule to get some “vacation day” perks. If you’re a digital nomad, you’ll become a pro at these tricks in no time.
Plan Ahead to Streamline Your Schedule
Start by streamlining your workday to make time for leisure sightseeing and adventures. Your main port is going to be your hotel, so book lodging close to your primary goals.
The tools you use for your booking are crucial in this category. A platform like Hotel Engine gives you specialized filters and the help of experts to narrow down your venue.
You’ll get discounted rates for corporate travelers, information on nearby attractions, and a starting point to begin mapping your itinerary.
Think About Transportation
Big cities are notorious for two headaches for drivers:
Traffic jams and lack of public parking.
Both of these inconveniences can put a serious wrench in your “quick getaway” to your leisure activity.
Planning your transportation ahead reduces this problem. Instead of renting a car, look for hotels close to taxi and bus loading spots or subway entrances.
Even better, take a rideshare instead of waiting for the next bus or cab. You can book these ahead, so when you know your meeting is about to end for lunch in an hour, schedule your rideshare.
You won’t be waiting for them to find a parking spot, and you can jump in and utilize every minute of your break.
Long Wait for Food? Skip the Lines
You’re starving. It’s rush hour at your favorite restaurant. And instead of enjoying your meal, you’re stressing the clock and grabbing it to-go when you finally get a server to take your order.
This stress and rush aren’t good for your overall well-being, not to mention your taste buds. Plan smart and skip the lines at popular restaurants by reserving a table. You’ll find plenty of good choices on sites like OpenTable and Yelp when you’re in a big city.
Another option is DoorDashing or using Uber Eats. You don’t have to sit and wait for your food. Someone else does that and brings you your meal wherever you are. You can head to the museum or gardens, meet your driver in the parking lot, and never break from your schedule!
Strategize Your Trips
When you’re in an unknown place, it’s easy to backtrack accidentally. You don’t realize you’re doing it until you end up in the same area you were the day before, and you kick yourself for wasting time.
If you maximize your trip by mapping out your schedule and distances, you’ll lessen the likelihood of this problem.
First, plan out your preferred itinerary.
Where will you be during each block of the day? Do you have a long lunch break? If so, is there any place on your “must-see” list that you can hit during that time?
Then, plan your time off.
How can you pack as much into one trip as possible?
Use Google Maps to see where each place is and how to get there to keep from backtracking.
With strategies and preplanned activities, you’ll get to enjoy more of your bleisure time. And as you get familiar with optimizing your schedule, you’ll find that your work trips become more like vacations.
Travel trends are constantly changing, but as the younger generations hit the workforce, they focus on a work/life balance. It’s the way things should always have been, and now, it’s becoming a regular part of the corporate trip scene.
Along with the necessities like following the travel policy and taking out travel insurance, you can add “schedule leisure time” to your next work trip to-do list. Bleisure trips are the new norm, and you get to benefit from this trend!
If you’re a frequent traveler, save tons of money by booking lodging through Hotel Engine. It’s free to join!
Audrey Fairbrother is the Content and SEO Manager at Hotel Engine. She spends her days writing about all things business travel, researching topics that are important to Hotel Engine’s audience and cultivating the company’s brand voice. When she’s not working, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family, and hiking in the nearby Rockies with her dog, Albie.