Music’s biggest award show is back on February 10th and we’re ready to celebrate with yet another excuse for you to travel. If you’ve ever wondered “What does it take to be an award-winning artist?” we think it likely starts with visiting one of these 9 places that are home to multiple Album of the Year winners. Just trust the science on this.
Los Angeles County, California
Years won: 1990, 1992, 1998, 2015
LA’s music scene encompasses everything from hair metal to hip hop. As 2019’s #3 Most Popular City, the City of Angels is best visited in September when both airfares and hotel rates take a dip. If you want to get your ears on some new tunes, Zebulon in Frogtown is new to the scene but already making waves. Take a jazz workshop or witness jam sessions at World Stage. For classic Hollywood, head over to Sunset Boulevard and catch a show at The Viper Room or The Roxy. Here are even more things to do while you’re in town.
Years won: 1988, 2006
Visiting the Emerald Isle is always a good choice. Be sure to set those Price Alerts so you can track prices on the flights and hotels you want and make sure Dublin is on your list. Home to some of our favorite rock bands, you can’t miss a show at Whelan’s. If you’re looking for something a little more eclectic, you can’t miss the trippy exterior of The Grand Social. While you’re in the city, don’t miss getting a cuppa at 3fe. You can even take an afternoon coffee class before heading out to a show.
Montreal & Ottawa, Canada
Years won: 1996, 1997, 2011
Things are happening in Canada. Famous for delivering some of the ’90s most iconic songstresses, there is a music culture alive and well in the Great North. Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario are home to past Album of the Year winners and are conveniently within a 2.5 hour drive of one another. Montreal is home to frequent summer concerts and outdoor venues, but even in winter, you can rock out to the hottest acts in pop, EDM and rock at Club Soda and Metropolis — both located in the Quartier des Spectacles. If you’re looking for something a bit more intimate, the Theatre Fairmount’s layout lets you get up close to the band every night. In Ottawa, get at two-for-one at Mavericks Bar and Cafe Dekcuf. Street-level Mavericks is a popular place to see smaller sets and local acts while upstairs, Cafe Dekcuf likes to host rowdy shows where the bands mix with the crowd.
Years won: 1960, 1966, 1967, 1976, 1987, 1994, 1999
It’s not everyday someone tells you to visit New Jersey. Which is a shame, really, because despite its bad rep, Jersey has basically everything you need. Beaches, culture, food, outdoor adventures — you name it. If you’re into punk rock, The Brighton Bar in Long Branch is where to be. Heavy metal? Dingbatz in Clifton has you covered. And if you just want to see where The Garden State’s biggest acts got their start, then Asbury Park’s The Stone Pony is where rock legends are born.
New York, New York
Years won: 1964, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1980, 1995, 2001, 2003
As home to the most Album of the Year winners, music is part of New York’s soul. And we’re not just talking Broadway. The Bronx is where hip hop was born. Puerto Rican and Cuban immigrants in Spanish Harlem and Queens gave us salsa. Greenwich Village was home to countless folk singers. And so much more. Unfortunately, most of the city’s iconic music venues have gone by the wayside of luxury stores and gyms for toddlers. But there’s still hope. Visit the National Jazz Museum in Harlem then head to the Village Vanguard, a jazz club that’s run for over 80 years. You can also catch indie bands at Webster Hall or enjoy amateur acts at the iconic Apollo Theater.
Years won: 1961, 1991, 2008
If you’re into blues and jazz, Chicago has your beat. The city developed a style all its own. Take a trip to Buddy Guy’s Legends for something truly, well, legendary. With walls adorned with awards and memorabilia, this is where some of the top guitarists and blues bands have headlined shows. Just down the road, you can see up-and-coming rap artists and hip hop talent at Reggie’s. Who knows, within a year they might be winning awards. If you’re looking for rock and indie, take your pick between the iconic Metro, The Hideout, Double Door and The Empty Bottle. Club kids can head to The Mid for the top acts in electronic and dance music. No matter what your style, Chicago has it.
Years won: 2004, 2005
While the country grammar of Hotlanta is legendary, there is so much to offer by way of music in Georgia’s capital. Known as being a hotbed for hip hop talent, you can catch some of the biggest names at Centennial Park. But if you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, Atlanta has that too. Catch up-and-coming singer-songwriters before the hit it big at Eddie’s Attic. Those into indie rock will find no-frills charm at The Earl. While you’re there, just be sure to stop by the Busy Bee Cafe for some classic soul food.
Greater London, England
Years won: 1978, 1986, 1989, 1993, 2012, 2013, 2017
Abbey Road. Spice of Life. The West End. Royal Albert Hall. Some of the most iconic stages and places in music history can be found in one city: London. And, up one spot this year on our Most Popular list, we’re guessing you already had it on your radar. Catch a show at 100 Club, a gritty punk-rock emporium. Then, cross the zebra-stripe at Abbey Road and head up towards Kilburn Grove with a stop at Belgrave, a Persian bistro serving some seriously tasty dishes.
Years won: 1968, 1979, 1982, 2009
London isn’t the only British city with musical roots. Both Manchester and Liverpool claim winners among their native sons and daughters. Liverpool’s origins as an industrial town are still apparent today. While avid fans of the famous fab four will want to take advantage of every tour stop there is, the Cavern Club is a great place to visit no matter your musical inclinations. For over 7 decades it’s hosted underground acts to headliners. Plus, it’s open 7 days a week, so there’s always time to pop in. Manchester is also known for its large concerts and crowded venues. With musical roots that go back to Elizabethan times, it’s part of the cities culture. From the “buskers” (musicians playing for tips) playing in St. Ann’s Square to the bands at Band on the Wall, you’re bound to get your fill.
Looking for other musical cities to visit? Check out our Explore tool’s Music Destinations list.