From coast to coast, the United States is a treasure trove of unique and amazing cities to visit. The following list narrows all of the best cities down to the top five most accessible and must-see cities in the country. The cities included in this list are all extremely unique, fun to tour, and accessible. So find some time on your calendar, pick a city, and have the time of your life!
1. New York City
New York City is never not a good idea. You could spend a whole weekend there, and still have a long list of places to experience, food to eat, and adventures to be had. To do it right, pick a couple places each day you're there as landmarks, and then use the rest of the time to explore that neighborhood.
It could be following the trendsetters in the East Village or Brooklyn (perhaps both!), full of eclectic boutiques, trendy coffee shops, and foodie hotspots. Uptown, you’ll find more high-end shopping, interesting exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, and theater on Broadway.
In the summer, do as the locals do and check out Coney Island or the Rockaways. Both are fun beach towns worth spending a day at. Nicknamed the city that never sleeps, you’ll find that to be true while there–especially because you can’t do New York without staying out until 4 am at a dive bar, and then finding yourself at a 24-hour diner.
2. New Orleans
Of course you’ve heard about how wild and fun Mardi Gras is, but New Orleans is a great place to visit year round. From its colorful architecture, mouth-watering Creole cuisine, historic mysticism, and above all, music, this city is a constant party. Both by day and night, you can wander the streets to the sounds of jazz, blues, and rock n’ roll sipping on to-go cups of beer and snacking on beignets.
Don’t make the big mistake of staying inside the French Quarter, though. Explore outside of that neighborhood by renting a bike for the day (the city is completely flat, so this is easier than it sounds!). Or go even further outside the city with a day trip to the Louisiana swamp– Honey Island offers one of the best excursions. It’s a great way to balance out your trip and experience the city as a local.
3. San Francisco, CA
San Francisco has been drawing free-spirited types to its colorful neighborhood for decades, and most recently, techies as well. This jumble of diverse people has amounted to great food from around the world, an edgy art scene, booming nightlife spots, and much more (basically you’ll always be busy here).
Unlike most cities, the touristy things to do in this city are actually fun, too–hop on a classic cable car and check out the sea lions at Pier 39. You also cannot leave the city without trekking up San Francisco’s infamous hills. The ones leading up to Coit Tower will make you feel like a local and lead up to a great view of the city, as well as The Lyon steps in Cow Hollow. Fair warning, your Instagram likes will blow up.
4. Portland, OR
To start, everything you’ve heard about the amazingness of Portland is true. Home to the best beer, foodie hotspots, eclectic weirdos, and beautiful hikes, this unique city is relatively inexpensive to visit and easy to navigate. Block out a long weekend, so you’ll have time to wander all the different neighborhoods full of thrift stores, delicious food carts, art fairs, breweries, of course, strip clubs (there’s basically one on every corner).
The Pearl District, inspired by ZGF Architects, is considered the gold standard of a successful live-work-play neighborhood, featuring lively streets, parks, art galleries, businesses, and high-rise condominiums and lofts. This neighborhood is one of the most popular areas in Portland, offering a plethora of fun things to do.
On top of that, just outside of Portland is Mt. Hood, Oregon’s highest volcano. On a clear day, you can spot its snow-capped summit from the city. Spend a day hiking its dense forest, then come back to the city for a cheap bite and brews. Overall, Portland’s weird, but it’s also wonderful.
5. Nashville, TN
The two biggest reasons to visit Nashville: really great music, and really great food. Over the last few years, celebrity chefs and musicians have migrated to the Music City, creating plenty of stellar collaborations. Foodies will love Walk Eat Nashville, a guided tour of all the must-try spots. There’s also the Nashville Brew Bus, with handicap seating, to explore all the local craft breweries.
You cannot leave this city without going to church, and by that, we mean The Ryman: Mother Church of Country Music. Home to the Grand Ole Opry, this stage has been revered by generations of fans and artists alike. In addition, there are more than 150 venues in this town, most offering live music every night. Kill some time digging through old records at Grimey’s New & Preloved Music before dancing the night away at a honky tonk.
If you are looking for your next destination, any of these amazing cities would make for a great choice. From bustling urban metropolises to country towns filled with cowboys, the United States is a treasure trove of unique and amazing cities to visit. Use this list to plan your next vacation and make it unforgettable.
Photo Credit: Trevor Venegas Photography
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