Where Work Meets Play: Our Favorite Cities for Working Vacations and Job Hunting

Americans are notorious for not taking vacations, and our culture is known as one that prizes work above all else. So it’s not too surprising that there are no U.S. laws in place mandating paid vacation time for employees. Instead, these benefits are matters of agreement between an employer and an employee.

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While most employers are on board with offering American workers some time off, a study done in 2013 by the Center for Economic and Policy Research revealed that about one in four Americans does not receive any paid vacation or holiday pay. The study also pointed out that the U.S. is the only country in the world with what they call an “advanced economy”—the wealthiest nations, in other words—that does not require employers to provide vacation time. And the USDL’s Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that private-sector workers average 10 vacation days after one year of service, 15 days after five years, and 20 days after 20 years.

If your company doesn’t offer much in the way of vacation time, but does let you work remotely, taking a working vacation might just be the answer. Working vacations are also a good idea for anyone who wants to travel to new places, but simply cannot cut the cord completely. From working remotely for a few weeks during the year to using time away from the office to explore new cities you might want to relocate to, there are many ways to combine work and play.

You can even write off some of your trip on your tax return if you are looking for a new job in your current line of work, according to the IRS.

Here are the five top cities in America where you can take a fantastic working holiday and have a ball in the process:

San Francisco and Silicon Valley

One of America’s most beautiful cities, San Francisco offers visitors plenty to see and do, from riding the famous cable cars to visiting Alcatraz Prison. It’s a vibrant place, full of world-class restaurants, fantastic museums (be sure to see SFMOMA and the Tenderloin Museum, for starters), and lovely parks. It’s also a perfect jumping-off spot for people in tech to visit companies throughout Silicon Valley.

The Silicon Valley is the high-tech hub of the San Francisco Bay Area, located mostly in the Santa Clara Valley, that boasts the world headquarters of Apple, Tesla, Google, Oracle, Intel, and many others. Stay down there—we like the Pullman Hotel in Redwood City, with its innovative Wellbeing initiative to keep you mindful and healthy during your working vacation—and throw in a few job interviews while you explore the whole area.

New Orleans

America’s favorite party town lives up to its reputation, especially if you coincide your working vacation with one of New Orleans’ famous music festivals. Think Jazz Fest in April, Essence Fest in July, Voodoo Fest in October (bring costumes for that one). This is a history-filled, 300-year-old city that thrives on fun, food, and crazy cocktails, so plan to visit with an empty stomach and try out some of the venerable places in the French Quarter and beyond and take the streetcars to get from place to place.

With tourism being such a key industry in the Crescent City, jobs with tour operators, hotels, restaurants, and bars are often on offer. But New Orleans is also known as “Hollywood South,” with many film and television productions happening here. There are also possibilities to be explored in the medical, engineering, and oil sectors.

New York City

Everyone knows that there’s nowhere on earth like New York. The Big Apple is a place all Americans need to experience at least once in a lifetime, walking the streets and soaking up the scene from Central Park to the Battery, Times Square to Wall Street.

Go to the top of the Empire State Building, shop on Fifth Avenue, dine at hole-in-the-wall pizza joints and three-star Michelin spots like Thomas Keller’s Per Se and take in a Broadway show or two. Then throw your hat into the ring for a job in the city that never sleeps. Look for Wall Street gigs, publishing positions, and advertising and banking opportunities. Those are just some of the myriad work possibilities on offer in this massive city.


Music City is Nashville’s nickname and vacationers to this Southern hub will soon discover the reason why. From the Grand Ole Opry (which is actually in the suburbs of Nashville these days) and the Ryman Auditorium to the fascinating Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum and the Honky Tonk bars on lower Broadway, Nashville caters to fans of the Southern sound. Be sure to hit the Studio B Tour, to re-live where Elvis Presley recorded many of his most beloved tunes, and see the Parthenon, a full-size replica of the original in Greece, that is filled with art galleries.

Songwriting is one of Nashville’s most renowned jobs, making this city a Mecca for creative types and the recording executives who sign them to contracts. A working vacation here could easily entail taking meetings at the many record labels headquartered here. Tourism is another strong job sector in Nashville, with employment available in the city’s rapidly increasing hotel offerings as well as for tour guides, restaurant workers, and musicians.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

For a slightly off-the-beaten-path vacation spot, head to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the Northern Idaho year-round holiday destination with a lot to offer. Summer brings loads of fun on the city’s large lake, with boating, kayaking, zip lining, hiking, and more, while winter brings a scenic snow-filled escape featuring skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and ice skating. Head south to nearby Lewiston to discover the burgeoning wine industry in Idaho, in the newly certified Lewis-Clark AVA, and plan to head north to rent bicycles and ride the 15-mile downhill rail-to-trail track along the majestic Hiawatha Trail.

Job seekers visiting this spectacularly beautiful region would do well to look for work in the outdoor recreation and tourism fields. And since Idaho is showing the fastest non-farm job growth in the U.S.A. (as of Spring 2018), there are a number of sectors that the Idaho Department of Labor classifies as hard to fill, including many in the medical field. Doctors, surgeons, nurses, and physical therapists are in high demand in Idaho, so if you fit that bill and are looking to move to a place where the cost of living is low and the quality of life is high, why not take a working vacation there and see if it is a good fit?

Written by

Jenny is a freelance journalist and previous contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog.

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