There are a number of American cities that you hear about over and over again, like New York, Hollywood, and Miami. What about the cities you never knew would knock you off your socks? Users in an online forum rated this list of hidden gems across the USA as the most underrated places to visit. They’ll surprise you with their incredible attractions, tasty food, and natural beauty.
1. Portland, Maine
A beautiful northeastern town on the waterfront of Casco Bay, Portland offers delicious seafood, natural beauty, and charming Victorian architecture. One user says, “I visited here a few years ago and absolutely fell in love. I’m from the UK working my way through all 50 states and after 26, Portland remains my favourite city yet.”
2. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Locals say that Pittsburgh gets a bad rap, but it actually has a lot to offer visitors. “For those not familiar, Pittsburgh will have a lot of the stuff that people look for in cities (sports, music, comedy, theater, museums) and it’s also surrounded by many parks and nature areas as well as an extensive rails-to-trails system if being outdoors is more your thing.” Many agree that no one should leave Pittsburgh without trying a Primanti sandwich.
3. Tampa, Florida
Other cities in Florida, like Miami and Orlando, get a lot more attention when it comes to tourism, but don’t sleep on Tampa! One traveler stated, “I was surprised how much fun I had in Tampa and surrounding suburbs last time I went. I always thought of it as sort of a subpar city comparable to a water version of Dallas, but there was a lot of interesting culture and stuff to do, and I was never bored. I had some of the most genuinely authentic Italian and Greek food I’ve had since I lived up north.”
4. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago has a reputation as a dangerous city in the national news, but many tourists report feeling safe when visiting. A frequent traveler to Chicago says, “Every time I tell extended family I’m visiting, they tell me to be careful since I’m obviously going to a war-zone. Meanwhile, the museums, lakefront, dining, shopping, neighborhoods, bars, pubs, breweries, etc. are all top-notch. It’s a great city for food, strolling, nightlife, sports, museums, etc. Just a top-notch weekend that I feel is completely underrated. I also think architectural tours of Chicago are something people forget to do … and they’re incredible.”
5. Seattle, Washington
A number of visitors mentioned they were expecting to have an OK time in Seattle, but ended up loving it and planning their return trip before even leaving. “Seafood if that’s your thing, incredible coffee, fun and wacky little shops, the train to Portland is breathtakingly beautiful, lots of live entertainment, college and pro sports…air museum that’s really neat, ships all around the ports, the public market, cool music”, states one Seattle fan.
6. Knoxville, Tennessee
“Midsized, lots of fun outdoors (the “Urban Wilderness” is a national gem that should be emulated by other cities). I think people just go to Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains and miss a cool city,” says one visitor. Dollywood, located in Pigeon Forge, is famously just outside of Knoxville, but if you’re a fan of history, nature, and good food, you’ll love the city itself.
7. Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati isn’t always at the top of everyone’s travel list, but many think it should be. “Great restaurants, some cool bars and awesome breweries, the zoo, the art museum, Krohn conservatory, union station and the museum center, the list goes on. The city is also full of cool old architecture from its heyday around the turn of the last century,” according to one user. Cincinnati is known for its chili, so don’t miss out on your next visit!
8. Kansas City, Missouri
Known for its rich history, jazz music, and delicious barbecue, Kansas City is a must-see. Everyone raves about the WWI museum. One visitor says, “The WWI Museum remains one of the best museums I’ve ever visited. It’s so impressive, I can’t even explain it.”
9. Omaha, Nebraska
You don’t often hear about Nebraska as a tourist destination, but it has a lot to offer, including pioneer history, impressive museums, quirky shops, and good food. One user says, “I’m a New Englander and when my job sent me to Omaha, I legit cried. I fell in love with the city! I also met my husband there. There is so much to do, so many restaurants, and mostly friendly people! It’s not like any city I’ve ever been!”
10. Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is a smaller city, but it delivers big when it comes to food. Most visitors raved about the restaurants. “Went to providence for work and good lord…some of the best food I’ve ever had. Every meal was a 10/10. (Oberlin on Westminster Street goes on the hall of fame list.)”
11. Louisville, Kentucky
Host to the famous Kentucky Derby, Louisville is no stranger to entertaining tourists. One frequent visitor raves about all Louisville has to offer: “lots to do, TONS to eat, bourbon? The nature is incredibly beautiful there and the surrounding area”
12. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is home to the iconic Gateway Arch, but the attractions don’t end there: “Numerous gorgeous parks, an iconic monument, incredible food, and a world-class FREE zoo,” says one St. Louis fan. Don’t miss the Soulard district for authentic barbecue and blues music.
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