Where to escape NYC to...

The City can be daunting to say the least, check out these other cultural hubs for a refreshing escape.

My story started like many other ambitious little girls who dreamt of growing up and becoming singers and actresses. From a very young age, I swore I'd move to New York City. Being the hard-headed, determined little girl that I was, I made it happen. I worked twice as hard throughout school to prove to my parents that I could handle the move and that investing in an education in the arts wouldn't be for naught. So, when I was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed eighteen year old, I hit the road and moved to The Upper West Side to start college. I've been in New York for four years since and I can tell you it's no cake walk.

I feel like the burning question from one transplant to another is always, "How long have you been here?" Is it a way of sizing one another up? Commiserating? Who knows. When I just stated that I've been here for four years, my face flashes back to the tired eyes that told me their number. In hopes to never feel that tired or jaded, I've taken to traveling more and looking for an eventual second home base. Here's what I found!

Asheville, NC

OCTOBER 22: A colorful wall mural adorns a building in the quirky West Asheville neighborhood as viewed on October 22, 2016 in Asheville, North Carolina. Named one of the 'Top 10 Great Places to Retire' by AARP, Asheville is experiencing a major cultural revolution, with the addition of new residents, restaurants, live music, and a vibrant arts community.

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

To say that I am obsessed with Asheville is a mild understatement. My boyfriend was performing nearby last month, so I surprised him and bookended my trip with a solo adventure to Asheville. I had heard great things from friends who have passed through and I was not disappointed. I stayed at Bon Paul and Sharky's Hostel in West Asheville which is essentially Haywood Road. The area boasts a plethora of local bars, cafes, and organic grocery stores and seems to be mainly residential. Biscuit Head is famed for their biscuits and delicious breakfast. My favorite spot was Odd's Cafe which was right next door to my hostel and really great for coffee, small bites, and internet access. Lucky for me, the early bird that I am, most places in the area opened around 6 or 7am so I had somewhere to hang out while the rest of Asheville woke up.

If I ever were to move to Asheville, I would definitely opt for Downtown Asheville. The area reminds me of a smaller scale Williamsburg with added Southern comfort of course. There are tons of great spots to eat, my favorite being Farmburger which sports an amazing menu of customizable grass-fed burgers (and vegan options too!) and their own brewery on site. The feel of the city changes from block to block. There are some areas that feel more classic/family oriented while others seem to suit artists and entrepreneur types. My favorite thing about Asheville is their local music scene which seems to be both intimate but also thriving. Since I am a musician, it's certainly on my list for possible escapes from NYC.

Pros: Much cheaper than NYC (the average cost of a studio in Asheville is $620 a month in comparison to NYC rates that average at about $2300 a month), the area is rich in culture and has a vibrant music scene, great places to eat and drink.

Cons: Not a lot of acting opportunities, need a car.

Austin, TX

AUSTIN, TX - JULY 30: Singer-songwriter Michelle Branch performs in concert during 'The Hopeless Romantic Tour' at Emo's on July 30, 2017 in Austin, Texas.

(Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

Who wouldn't want to live in a city who's motto is "Keep Austin Weird." I've been told by almost everyone, I'd love Austin, TX for it's thriving indie music and film scene. Austin served as the playground for many greats like Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. Likewise, there is an excellent nightlife and live music scene to enjoy in your spare time. From state of the art restaurants to trendy farm to tables, Austin has everything. Food Truck culture is on the rise. Some of the best noted as Soursop a pan-asian cuisine truck, Veracruz All Natural which is regarded as the city's best taco truck (a necessary staple), and Tommy Want Wingy, your go-to wing and comfort food stop.

In Austin, you can see live music ranging from the hottest mainstream artist to undiscovered locals at tons of different venues, two well regarded being The Mohawk which boasts a mixed palate of mainstream and indie, Antone's Nightclub which veers way more on the indie or undiscovered side, and Cheer Up Charlie's which curates events with unique artists and is hub for the queer community in Austin.

Whenever I consider a new place that's not New York, I make the mistake of assuming the city layout works the same. While New York is a beast to get around, it makes total sense to me. Downtown Austin is divided into districts, similar to New York.

Sixth Street is the place to go for clubs, live music, and entertainment, while Second Street is where you want to go for dining and shopping. The Seaholm District is fairly new and is the city's old industrial area now being converted to a trendy residential and store front area. The Red River District is one of Austin's most known entertainment and art districts boasting clubs like The Mohawk mentioned above.

Pros: There is a ton to do, indie musician friendly, cheaper than NYC (apx. $930 for a 1 bedroom)

Cons: More expensive than Asheville, need a car, very little film opportunity though definitely an appreciation of film consumption in the area.

Los Angeles, CA

LAX sign at the Century Boulevard entrance to Los Angeles International Airport.

(Photo by: Ken Ross/VW Pics/UIG via Getty Images)

The obvious choice for relocation from the East Coast's cultural capitol is the West Coast's cultural queen, Los Angeles; however, something to consider is it's every bit as frustrating and expensive as NYC, just in a different way. Trade your MTA frustration for strategic planning to skip traffic, trade your through the roof rent for slightly less through the roof rent plus car payments, but still being born and raised near a beach, the easy-breezy culture of Los Angeles calls me and so I did a little research and some visiting to see how it compares.

First of all let's look at the attainable neighborhoods to live in. Something to know about LA is that it's much easier to stay in your neighborhood for day to day activities like work and play to avoid the insufferable traffic. One great spot in LA is Venice Beach. Being right next to the beach is a huge perk and there's plenty to do in the area. Visit the Mosaic House for Insta-worthy shots that will make you disbelieve that you live in such a cool place, take up skate boarding at Venice Skate Park, shop, dine, and check out gallerys on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. The average cost of a one bedroom apartment in this area is $2,500 which is still less then NYC and could be worth the splurge for the incredible neighborhood you get with it.

Another possible neighborhood is Silver Lake which is perfect for the aspiring actor because it's right next to the studios where auditions are held. Like Venice Beach, Silver Lake boasts some outdoor, but less-beachy gems like the Silver Lake Reservoir and the Silver Lake Stairs. Sunset Junction is Silver Lake's walkable shopping district. If you're into spendy coffee dates, Intelligentsia will be the perfect neighborhood hang out for you. There are also weekly farmer's market and the neighborhood is described as trendy and eclectic boasting cool graffiti and neighborhood charms. The average price of a one bedroom in this area is slightly less then Venice Beach at around $1,500-1700. If you don't mind being further from the beach, this is definitely a wallet friendly spot.

A little further removed from LA proper is Sherman Oaks which is regarded as the suburban LA. The area attracts a diverse community from artists to families to elderly folk and in return, the area boasts a large array of things to do, to accommodate its diverse crowd. The nightlife scene holds its own with the two reigning spots being The Local Peasant which is a great burger and drink joint with frequent events, and The One Up which is a cool spot for drinks and old school arcade games. Shopping and salons are plentiful in the area especially in the Galleria and Westfield Mall. The area definitely has everything you need day to day and the price is a little more reasonable with prices for one bedroom swaying between $1,500 and $1,900.

LA generally speaking has the same kind of opportunities I came to NYC for so it's definitely the closest option in terms of that but in terms of less stress, I find it to be equal.

Pros: Just as much opportunity as NYC, fun and thriving neighborhoods

Cons: Almost expensive as NYC with added expense of a car.

So here's where I landed. It's not time to leave NYC just yet, but I had so much fun exploring my options! I decided to make exploring other cultural hubs in the US a new hobby so up next is Nashville and Chicago!

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There are several things about wine that can confuse the average person. If you haven't spent the last few years of your life learning everything there is to know about wine, you can be forgiven for picking up a box of the good stuff every now and then. However, if you want to know a little bit more about how to choose a good bottle, we can help you out. We've created a beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine so you can enjoy yourself a little more.

Know What Type of Wine To Choose

First things first, you're going to need to decide the type of wine that you're looking for in order to narrow your search. Are you looking for a red, white, sparkling, or rosé? The choices may seem overwhelming, but try to focus on what foods you'll be pairing the wine with. Reds go great with heavier meals like red meat, while whites tend to lend themselves towards lighter dishes like fish and cheeses. If you'll be drinking the wine on its own, consider what you've tried in the past and what type you tend to gravitate toward.

Know How Much You're Willing To Spend

It's no secret that a penchant for wine can become an expensive hobby. If you're just getting into the idea, don't waste your time or money with the extremely pricey bottles. A good place to start looking for decent bottles of wine is somewhere between the $10 and $30 price range. This will keep you from buying something too low quality without breaking your bank in the process.

Read the Labels Closely

A good bottle of wine will often give tasting notes right on the bottle. Because everyone's palette is different, you may not get the same notes when you try the wine, but it's a good place to start. Choose something with tasting notes that you already enjoy like berries or cocoa and try to see if you get any hints of that as you drink. The labels may also tell you about the wine's acidity, or how tart it is, and the wine's body, or the way it feels in your mouth.

A beginner's guide to picking a bottle of wine can only go so far without being overwhelming. The next part of your wine journey will need to be undertaken on your own. Try various types of wine and see what tastes best to you—that's what wine is really all about.

Distillery tours went on hiatus in 2020, but there are high hopes for 2021. While bourbon leaps immediately to mind when thoughts turn to distillery tours, interest in other spirits and how they're made is increasing. Here are a few of the best tours to thrill tequila lovers.

Tequila Herradura

Ride in style on the Herradura Express, a distillery sponsored train ride that runs from Guadalajara to the town of Amatitán for a distillery tour and tastings, followed by lunch featuring live entertainment. The train then takes visitors back to Guadalajara by evening. Herradura is housed in the last tequila-producing Hacienda in the world, Hacienda San Jose del Refugio. Casa Herradura will be closed for visits and tours until Mexican health officials declare the coronavirus emergency over.

La Rojeña

Producer of Jose Cuervo, La Rojeña has a train of its own called the Jose Cuervo Express (currently on hiatus due to COVID-19) to bring visitors to the oldest distillery in the town of Tequila. Jose Cuervo offers distillery tours, tastings, and tours of the agave fields. Mundo Cuervo (Cuervo world) also has its own hotel, Solar de las Animas. Check for COVID-19 hours and restrictions before booking.

Casa Sauza

Founded in 1873, Casa Sauza offers four levels of tours including a visit to the La Perseverancia distillery, a visit to the Quinta Sauza estate, and for those willing to spend more, barrel tastings and a barbeque or a three-course meal. Casa Sauza is on hiatus until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but should go on the distillery tour bucket list.

La Cofradia

The only tequila distillery with a hotel inside, La Cofradia offers many experiences in addition to distillery tours. Choose a hike through natural trails, biking, or horseback riding through the agave fields. Rooms made of giant tequila barrels sit among the agave plants for a unique stay. Visiting La Cofradia is sure to be a tour that thrills tequila lovers. Contact the hotel directly for information about lockdown closures.

A distillery tour offers education about tequila's history and manufacture. Bone up on your tequila terms and tips for choosing quality tequila before you go, so you'll understand what you're tasting.

We don't know how to feel about winter this year. Sure, nobody likes the cold and dreary months, but there's something special about the Holiday season that just seems to be missing. Maybe the thought of staying inside and cozying up to a nice book isn't very enticing given the last few months. The joyful winter wonderland that we usually associate with winter seems to be missing.

That's why our editors decided to take it upon themselves and spread some delight with seasonal meals, courtesy of HelloFresh. For those who don't know what HelloFresh is, it's a meal-kit delivery service with dozens of easy-to-prepare recipes to choose from. Simply select which meals you want as well as how many servings and a neatly organized cardboard box will arrive at your doorstep within the week. Nobody wants to go out in the Winter anyway, and with HelloFresh, you don't have to!

To celebrate the arrival of the coldest season, we decided to highlight some of our favorite (and heartiest) recipes from HelloFresh that are perfect for the Holiday season. Here are five wholesome and balanced meals that will warm you up in no time.

Veggie Loaded Kale & Risoni Soup

A hearty and warm soup is a Winter staple and this veggie loaded kale and risoni soup from HelloFresh absolutely hits it out of the park. All anybody wants during the colder months is to feel cozy and nurtured--just like the flavorful bowl of nutrients. Warm and creamy risoni compliments the seasonal veggies perfectly and the side of garlic bread is a sure-fire cure for any winter blues. With 22 meals to pick from each week, this one is sure to be a household favorite.

Cheesy Red Pesto Chicken Melts

Everyone is familiar with classic green pesto, but have you ever tried red pesto? Red pesto offers way more complexity and oomph than its green counterpart. It is incredibly bright with rich notes of umami, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and garlic. This rendition also features hits of chargrilled capsicum for a little extra zest. You get the exact amount of each ingredient and seasoning, as well as super detailed recipe cards, that make meal prep a breeze. Spread it over a glistening chicken bread and sprinkle with cheese for delectable chicken melts.

Winter Risotto

Risotto is a great winter warmer. It's packed full of veggies so your body will light up like fire, but it's also silky, sumptuous and a real crowd pleaser. HelloFresh's Winter Risotto features a heart helping of kale that pairs perfectly with nutty Parmesan and crunchy walnuts for a robust taste. Did we mention that it also comes with fennel seeds sprinkled throughout? This unique seasoning adds a distinctive, yet delicious flavor to this classic winter staple. We know these meals are pretty hardy, which is why we love having the option to pause our subscription or cancel a week when need be.

Cheat's Italian Pork & Veggie Bolognese

A bolognese that only takes 30 minutes to make? Sign us up! This one is chock full of all the rich flavors of a classic Italian sauce. In fact, we're getting some serious Italian grandmother vibes with this recipe. Silky baby Spanish and grated carrots melt into a hearty meat sauce, offering a mouth-watering meal for anyone looking for a little zest. It's delivery quality, but much more affordable, plus you get to cook it yourself!

Smokey Mild Chorizo & Bean Chilli

Yet another clever twist on a weekday favorite! The paprika and garlic flavored cured sausage is a staple in our chopping baskets since it goes well with practically anything. Not only is Chorizo loved for its taste, but also for its ability to infuse sauces with its tantalizing flavor. This time around, HelloFresh has decided to spice up a classic bowl of bean chili with Spanish styling of a smokey mild chorizo. The end result? A mix of chorizo, red kidney beans, corn and avocado, and an irresistible flavor that everyone will love. This is just one of dozens of unique HelloFresh recipes you won't find anywhere else!

Gone are the days of trekking through the frigid cold just for a few groceries. Sign-up for HelloFresh today and get your ingredients delivered right to your doorstep. Time to start cozying up the right way, with a delicious meal and a nice cup of hot cocoa.

Update: Our friends at HelloFresh are extending a special Black Friday offer to our readers. Follow this link to get $90 off across 4 boxes including free shipping!