The United States of America is an incredible country and is full of endless possibilities and sights. What a pity it is that most visitors always visit only the same destinations in the US, such as New York City, San Francisco, Miami, Washington D.C., LA etc.
In this article, we would like to introduce you to some beautiful underrated cities in the US, which are probably not yet on your radar and are still well worth a visit.
In the following, you can find the 28 most beautiful underrated places in the US recommended by travel bloggers and locals.
Most Underrated Cities in the US
Let’s start with one of my own favorite places to visit in America. If you want to get to know the country off the usual tourist routes such as New York City, Miami, etc., I recommend a trip to the north of Ohio to Cleveland.
During a student exchange, I found myself in this beautiful city. Cleveland, also known as the Forest City, is the second-largest city in the state of Ohio (besides Columbus). It is located at the spot where the Cuyahoga River flows into the famous Lake Erie.
Probably the most famous attraction in Cleveland is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. For anyone interested in music, this is definitely a must-do. Here you will find many exhibits and information about music and rock & roll. The building is located directly on the lakeshore – from here you also have a great view of the skyline of Cleveland.
Those who prefer to listen to classical music can visit Cleveland’s second major landmark – the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall.
But also art lovers will definitely not leave Cleveland unsatisfied due to the Cleveland Museum of Art, which is considered one of the most important art museums in the country.
Finally, of course, a visit to the Public Square, surrounded by the three tallest buildings in the city and the Old Stone Church, is another great thing to do in Cleveland.
Recommended by me, Vicki from Vicki viaja
Oakland is definitely an underrated city and not on the travel must-visit map, but what most think of, there in Oakland is really an amazing place for locals. First Oakland has become the new foodie mecca in the bay area with a slew of new restaurants, bars and hang-out places that really make you want to visit and hang out. There has also been an exodus of artists and creative types from expensive San Francisco and surrounding areas to Oakland to create a more vibrant and eclectic mix of creative types in the city.
There’s also a plethora of new events that cater to an international population hosting many ethnic and cultural events that draw in people from the region and state. Oakland also has many amazing historic districts, a beautiful lake area and parks, and a nice bayside estuary and park community that shows so much diversity and scenic beauty to the area. If you get a chance to visit the Bay Area, then make an effort to visit the many cool neighborhoods and attractions you’ll find in Oakland.
Recommended by Noel from Travel Photo Discovery
Often overlooked by its Neighbors Washington DC and New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is often ignored and skipped by those coming through the big cities of the east coast. But really Philadelphia is one that is not to be missed. Not only as the first capital of the US and all the historic sites that go along with that. Philadelphia has an incredible food scene, wonderful museums, and great parks and nightlife.
You can run up the steps of the art museum like in rocky, get a cheesesteak at any hour of the night, admire the story of the liberty bell, or sit in bars and buildings that were once frequented by the founding fathers. Philadelphia also has many of the oldest institutions in the US, from the first zoo, the first medical school, first capital, first public library, oldest continuously inhabited street, oldest outdoor market, oldest continuously operating theater, and more.
Philly also has great celebrations from its week-long festivities around Independence day to its famous mummer’s parade during New Years. There’s always so much going on and for so much less money than some of its more expensive neighbors.
Recommended by Anwar from Beyond my Front door
Exeter, New Hampshire
This historic New England town is a really gem many people don’t know about. Located in the Southeastern part of New Hampshire it is often missed by visitors. However, there is so much to see. The town is perfect for a stroll around to admire the scenic houses along the streets. Moreover, it’s also home to Sea Dog Brewing Company, one of the best New Hampshire Breweries.
Make sure to have a look at the picturesque town from the Exeter river. It’s a great photospot you won’t want to miss. You can have a great view on the river when walking through Swasey Parkway. So make sure to bring your camera.
Exeter is an amazing place for history lovers. There is so much to explore like the historic Ladd-Gildman house that is home to the American Independence Museum. Make sure to visit in July during the American Independence Festival.
But not only the town itself, but also the surroundings are worth a visit. You can spend a day in nature or visit the Hampton Beach.
Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida is about as far south you can go in the US, and it does have an ‘ends of the earth’ feel to it. Connected to the rest of the state by railway in 1912, there’s plenty to see on your way there. Two of my favorites:
Betsy the Lobster. Located at 86700 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL, 33036, it’s around 40 feet (12.2 meters) long and 30 feet (9.1 meters) tall. It guards an artist’s village with plenty of local artisans and cozy little shops. Give it 15-20 minutes, and remember your negotiation skills!
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum (907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL, 33040) was home to the brilliant author and his many six-toed cats. Today, the National Historic Landmark offers a guided tour and dozens of cats to play with (descendants of Hemingway’s cats), and you’re free to enjoy whichever one you like.
Don’t forget about the key lime pie, of course. Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe is considered the best shop for key lime anything. From the chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick to the key-lime-flavored hot sauce, there are lots of other ways to get the flavor inside you. Oh, and free samples are everywhere. It’s located at 802 Duval St, Key West, FL, 33040
Protip: stock up on gas before leaving the mainland. Whatever the price of gas might be, it’s only more expensive as you journey further from the mainland.
Recommended by Chris from Becoming a Digital Nomad
Fredericksburg, Virginia is directly in between Washington, DC, and Virginia’s capital city, Richmond. With such famous and popular neighbors, Fredericksburg is usually overlooked by east coast tourists. But that’s a shame because the town is filled with history and charm and well worth a visit.
Fredericksburg was the childhood home of George Washington. Visitors today can tour the farm where he grew up, as well as the house he gave his mother later in life, the plantation his sister and brother-in-law built, and numerous other places around town connected to the Washington family. The city was also the site of two major Civil War battles. There’s no shortage of things to see for a history buff.
For nature lovers, the city is located on the banks of the Rappahannock River and offers a plethora of outdoor activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and exploring the many trails along the river. Art lovers can spend time touring the many downtown galleries or take part in a creative workshop at Liberty Town. And foodies, rejoice! Fredericksburg has a thriving food scene, from farm-to-table cuisine, vegetarian and vegan establishments, steakhouses, French, German, and Italian restaurants, and a restaurant owned by a former Food Network chef.
Next time you visit Virginia, make sure to check out this underrated city.
Recommended by Maggie from Pink Caddy Travelogue
Detroit has been an underrated city for far too long. Yes, it’s past is sketchy with the 1967 riots, past corruption in the city government, and the high crime rates in the 70s-90s. But, Detroit is on a resurgence that should be talked about and celebrated. Detroit is once again becoming Michigan’s economic and cultural hub, especially for the Millennials. More and more businesses are moving into Detroit which is bringing younger people back to living in the city. With this insurgence of people living in the downtown area, more services are being added such as the new Q-line, public transportation running along Woodward to all the major attractions including the new Little Caesars Arena Sports Complex.
What reasons would you need to come to visit Detroit? If you like culture, there are unique Museums to visit (Motown, Henry Ford, Museum of African American History, DIA, or the Science Center) and you can see a show at the Fox Theater, Opera House, or at the Gem Theater. If you are interested in sports, there is the Little Caesars Arena Sports Complex (home of the Red Wings and Pistons), Comerica Park (home of the Tigers), and Ford Field (home of the Lions).
You can enjoy eating a Detroit-syle Pizza or a Coney Island Hot Dog and enjoy a great craft beer at one of the local Breweries. If you are looking for something off the beaten path, you can visit the aquarium at Belle Isle, browse the multiple floors of John K. King Bookstore that has over a million books, or take a tour of the Street Murals around Eastern Market. Detroit has all of this and more for you to experience when you visit this underrated city. Come and check it out!
Recommended by Heather from Raulerson Girls Travel
Most people just pass through Jackson, Wyoming on their way to Grand Teton National Park, since it is the main gateway town. However, it has a lot to offer and is worth a longer visit. Nearby is the National Elk Refuge and in winter, you can see over 7,500 elk spread out in this fairly small area. Elk naturally shed their antlers each spring, and in April, scouts collect the thousands of antlers that are strewn over the fields.
On Memorial Day weekend, there is a huge antler market in Town Square. Even if you are unable to visit at this time, Town Square, which is the heart of the town, has enormous arches made of elk antlers and there are usually buskers playing country music nearby. Across the street, is the Cowboy Bar, a legendary venue for dining, drinking, and enjoying live music. There are plenty of other restaurants in town too, and many have live music and outdoor seating.
There are is the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the River Runner’s Museum, which are both well worth a visit.
Recommended by James from Parks Collecting
Salt Lake City, Utah
Though Salt Lake City is the capital and largest city in the state of Utah, it’s still vastly unknown by most international travelers and even many Americans. But that’s a shame as Salt Lake City and its surrounding area is a beautiful city to explore, especially for lovers of the outdoors! As soon as you arrive in Salt Lake, known as SLC by locals, you’ll notice the vast and stunning mountains almost entirely surrounding the city. Within a matter of minutes, you could be hiking one of the numerous trails, taking your pick from advanced climbs to the peaks to easy walks at in the foothills. There are even hikes that are walkable from downtown, complete with epic views.
There’s also plenty to do in downtown SLC, including exploring the many breweries, visiting the city’s new Natural History Museum, going on an art gallery stroll, or walking around Temple Square, the most visited tourist attraction in Utah. A light rail and trolley system makes it easy to get around downtown without a car. A visit to SLC isn’t complete without exploring the surrounding area, including Antelope Island located in the Great Salt Lake itself. Antelope Island is home to free-roaming bison, bighorn sheep, and antelope, and a variety of birds.
It’s also the best place to experience the wide-open expanse of the massive lake. A major point of pride for Salt Lake was and continues to be their hosting of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Sports fans should make time to visit the Utah Olympic Park, where you can ride a bobsled, watch world-class athletes training, or take a guided tour of the facilities. Finally, after all your exploring, relax or warm up in one of these hot springs near Salt Lake City.
Recommended by Sam from Alternative Travelers
San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is one of the most unique cities in the US. It might not be as famous as New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Miami but it does have a lot to offer. The latino vibes and hospitality strike as soon as you hop off the airplane.
While almost everyone speaks English, Spanish is still the most used language in Puerto Rico and San Juan. In the old parts of San Juan, one can enjoy strolling around the old streets that are lined with Colonial Buildings and architecture. You won’t be having a hard time finding a quirky bar serving cervezas or some delicious rum either.
What makes it so special is definitely the Latino vibes mixed with European Colonial styled Buildings. And of course, the authentic Puerto Rican cuisine and culture that has kept its roots throughout history. Close by, one could also enjoy some paradise beaches.
Tourists shouldn’t miss visiting the old fort ”El Castillo”, check out the art galleries, touring the Bacardi rum factory and of course just people Watch while sipping on a nice Puerto Rican coffee.
And you can also go on a day trip to the wettest jungle in the World, El Yunque. Flights from all over the US go to San Juan, so it’s easy to get here as well. For a tourist from the US, San Juan and Puerto Rico are one of the most exotic destinations one could go without leaving the country.
Recommended by Alexander from Destinavo
Everybody’s heard of Sedona. But have you heard of Cottonwood, Arizona? Located just twenty minutes from the famed destination, Cottonwood is a charming town filled with great food, great wine, and tons of history. Tuzigoot National Monument is on its outskirts, and the nearby mining town of Jerome is just up the hill. You can dine like a cowboy at a Chuck Wagon Supper and sip along the Verde Canyon Wine Trail. Explore Old Town Cottonwood and its boutiques, then take a stroll down the Jail Trail, a short one-mile trail that leads to Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
Cottonwood is also a hop away from the Verde Canyon Railroad in nearby Clarkdale. Board this excursion train for a four-hour tour through red rocks along the Verde River. You can watch in comfort from the air-conditioned cabins, or step outside to one of the open-air platform cars. During the tour, you’ll search for cliff dwellings and eagles, and learn about the history behind this rugged area. With its proximity to Sedona and a wealth of attractions in its own right, Cottonwood, Arizona, is definitely an underrated city – but it won’t stay hidden for long.
Recommended by Theresa from The Local Tourist
Big Bear, California
One of the most underrated cities in California is Big Bear. Big Bear is about 2 hours from Los Angeles and makes you feel like you’re in a totally different place. It’s in the mountains, so it’s a great getaway for both Summer and Winter travel. Big Bear has one of the biggest ski resorts in Southern California. There are several rental properties where you can find a cozy cabin and enjoy a snowy weekend on the slopes.
There a quaint little downtown area where you can find several cute shops and restaurants. Big Bear also has a beautiful lake, Big Bear Lake, where you can enjoy lots of water activities in the Summer as well. There are several great hikes around Big Bear, but the hike up to Castle Rock is the most famous, and for good reason. This hike takes you up in the National Forest and gives you some spectacular views, including the view from the top, looking down on Big Bear Lake. There is so much to do in this quaint little town throughout the year.
Recommended by Sara from Our kind of Crazy
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
On the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, down in Louisiana, lies a vibrant city full of incredible Cajun cooking, nightlife, and Southern hospitality. No, it’s not New Orleans, it’s the state capital, Baton Rouge. From the French meaning Red Stick, Baton Rouge is a quick ninety-minute drive up Interstate 10 from New Orleans and well worth the journey.
Home to Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge comes alive during the college football season as fans cheer on their beloved Tigers. Thanks to the university, Baton Rouge has an energetic and lively feel offering travelers world-class gastronomy, craft beer, and year-round festivals. Once the home to Governor Huey Long, the Old Governor’s Mansion today is a museum chronicling Louisiana’s past along with the Old State Capitol. Both must-see attractions.
Afterwards, stroll along the river at a leisurely pace taking in the variety of river traffic heading up and down the Mississippi. For people who travel for food, Baton Rouge offers amazing cajun dishes like boudin, biscuits, po’boys, and oysters.
Recommended by Amber from With Husband in Tow
Asheville, North Carolina
After living in Georgia for four years, I heard the locals talk about Asheville, North Carolina off and on, but nothing they really said lured me to make a trip there. I knew about the Biltmore, which is incredible, but that was about it. Little did I know everything this city has to offer until I finally made it there. We took a 17-month RVing trip around the U.S. and Canada and Asheville was one of our stops. We stayed at a tiny little RV park on the river, about 30 minutes outside of Asheville, and had the chance to explore the city and drive around the area.
Needless to say, we realized very quickly that a few days’ stay was not near enough. From Asheville’s beer scene and live music to their incredible food offerings and active art scene, I instantly felt such a positive and fun vibe from this city. While the food and beer scene is amazing, what really connected me to this place was the Blueridge Parkway, known as one of the most scenic drives in the United States.
The drive takes you through the stunning Southern Appalachian Mountains and draws in hikers, bird watchers, and visitors just looking to explore some beauty. If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, be sure to take a zip lining trip with The Gorge Zipline. This is America’s steepest and fastest zip line canopy, taking you on a journey through the North Carolina trees with stunning views of their protected forest. It’s a trip of a lifetime and one you won’t easily forget!
Recommended by Todd & Julie from Trekkn
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Aspects that surprised me about the Mississippi Gulf Coast are the creative and cultural spirit of the residents—like a Key West vibe but celebrating Mardi Gras year round)—the prominence of arts and the funky small towns. Pascagoula is the first childhood home of Jimmy Buffett and the “Parrot Head” philosophy extends all the US Gulf Coast including to the adjacent town of Ocean Springs.
While the bright lights of the Biloxi casinos twinkle across the bridge, I prefer watching gorgeous sunrises and sunsets from Front Beach or East Beach. During the day, explore Gulf Islands National Seashore for hiking, kayaking, or just being a part of the pristine Gulf of Mexico barrier island natural environment. But the oak trees might be my second favorite thing (after the residents) about Ocean Springs, Mississippi. From the 350-year-old Ruskin Oak to the oak tree-canopied streets of Lovers Lane to my favorite Mississippi house (surrounded by a dozen Southern oaks) to the majestic oaks lining downtown Washington Avenue, I can spend 10K days strolling Ocean Springs and maybe not find them all. But will be extraordinarily happy.
Recommended by Charles from McCool Travel
The city of Pittsburgh is the second-largest in Pennsylvania, yet it’s often overlooked compared to the “City of Brotherly Love” across the state. Whether you’re visiting as a couple or exploring fun things to do in Pittsburgh with kids, there’s something for everyone with the diverse selection of neighborhoods and attractions across the city. It’s amazing to see the city’s transformation from its steel city roots, between the art and theater of the Cultural District, the vibrant food and drink scene or the city’s growing reputation as a hub for technology and innovation.
If you’re looking for great museums, the Heinz History Center captures the region’s past in an interactive way, the Carnegie Museums of Natural History offers one of best collections of dinosaur skeletons in the world, or the Andy Warhol Museum commemorates the quirky artist’s life and artwork in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
If the outdoors interest you, Pittsburgh has so many amazing parks to choose from, including Schenley Park, Frick Park, and North Park, plus kayaking on the river or hiking in the nearby trails. Sports fans can also see the Steelers play football in the Fall or the Pittsburgh Pirates play baseball in the city’s beautiful waterfront stadium.
For amazing views of the city, no trip to Pittsburgh is complete without taking the incline up to the overlook in Mt. Washington. Regardless of your interests, this Western Pennsylvania gem is definitely one that should be added to your list of US cities to visit.
Recommended by Amanda from Toddling Traveler
Spending a day or two in Memphis, Tennessee simply is not long enough, so you should really consider spending a long weekend in this fine city.
Memphis has been called the “Birthplace of Rock and Roll,” because this is where Elvis recorded his first record. But the music history of this city goes far beyond Elvis and his Graceland Estate. Sure, if you are in the city you should go see Graceland but don’t stop there. If you want to take in the city’s music history head to Sun Studios. This is where Elvis recorded that first record. But it’s rock and roll roots run deeper than just Elvis. Sun Studio gave rise to superstars including B.B. King, Ike Turner, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison.
If you are interested in the Civil Rights Movement, you will find that Memphis is steeped in its history. You will want to visit the Civil Rights Museum and the Lorraine Motel. The museum is housed in the former Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot. The museum is an interactive multimedia experience dedicated to the history of Civil Rights in the United States.
In addition to the exhibits, the room where Martin Luther King Jr. lost his life is on view to the public. The shooting was the day after King gave his “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech not far away at the Church of God in Christ Mason Temple.
You will want to make a stop on Beale Street. The street is lined with bars, restaurants and some one-off shops. You can expect street performers and music pouring out into the street. Along, the way you will find everything from the iconic BB King’s Blue Club to the Hard Rock Café.
Finally, if you are a foodie, you might want to challenge yourself to find the city’s best BBQ. Typically, three names top the list: Rendezvous, Blues City Café, and Central BBQ.
Recommended by Susan from Gen X Traveler
Baltimore in Maryland is one US city that you should definitely make time to visit. Firstly, the city has a fantastically long history as an important seaport. The port was of huge strategic importance in the war of 1812 against the British and the center of this was Fort McHenry, the birthplace of the US national anthem. Today, Baltimore plays host to the US National Aquarium, an excellent maritime museum including the USS Constellation (a tall ship) and a WW2 submarine and the Orioles stadium as well as the Babe Ruth Museum for baseball fans. The inner harbor also has a free tourist bus, the Banner route, that gives a good hop-on-hop-off tour of some major attractions and runs right out to Fort McHenry.
The inner harbor also has a brilliant science museum and some fabulous places to eat and get ice cream. The city’s culinary specialty has to be the crab cakes but to eat and drink like a pirate the only place to go is Fells Point. Fells Point is a historic waterfront neighborhood established around 1763 and is full of bars and restaurants. Near Fells Point is also Little Italy where the best Italian food and desserts are to be had, with more than 15 Italian restaurants. On the other side of the city, you can walk to the historic area of Pig Town, where there are loads of bakeries, coffee shops, and gift shops. This also brings you near the Baltimore and Ohio railroad yards, which now plays host to the B&O Railroad Museum and is definitely worth seeing. Go to Baltimore and you won’t be disappointed.
Recommended by Tracey from Pack the PJs
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City is often considered a pass-through destination. The capital city of Oklahoma is conveniently situated along Interstate 40, one of the largest highways in the US, which runs from North Carolina to California. The historic Route 66 also runs through Oklahoma City. But despite this, many people skip Oklahoma City or only stop for a few hours. The city has a lot to offer though.
One of the top places to visit in Oklahoma City is the National Memorial and Museum, dedicated to the victims and survivors of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It is one of the most moving memorials and best-curated museums that I’ve ever visited.
But if you are looking for something a bit more cheerful, or if you are visiting OKC with kids and don’t want to discuss the topic of terrorism, the city’s Bricktown district is a lively area with restaurants and plenty of entertaining options all lining a picturesque canal that weaves through downtown.
But perhaps the city’s best quality is actually the people themselves. The city’s motto is “Keep Oklahoma City Friendly”, and you’ll find its residents are, in fact, friendly. The state of Oklahoma has even been named the most polite state in the US, so don’t be surprised if you get smiles, hat tips, and even friendly hellos from strangers as you walk down the street.
Recommended by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports
Mason City, Iowa
Mason City, Iowa is in North Iowa, a halfway point between Des Moines and Minneapolis right off of I-35. It is home to Meredith Willson’s Boyhood Home and the first Grammy Award that was ever given. Music Man Square is also home to the Street Scape and Meredith Willson Museum, where visitors can relive the musical, The Music Man. Music enthusiasts will also appreciate Band Festival, held Memorial Day Weekend, as 76 Trombones lead the big parade!
The Park Inn Hotel is Mason City’s pride and joy. It is the last known hotel in the world that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and was extensively refurbished in 2011. People come from all around the globe to stay in this prestigious property, which overlooks Central Park. There are several other Frank Lloyd properties throughout the city, which make for a beautiful walking tour. Incorporate this walking tour with The River City Sculptures on Parade, and you have a walking tour that will leave your jaw dropped.
The North Iowa Events Center is home to the North Iowa Fair (held in July), which hosts a balloon festival which is growing by leaps and bounds. If you are looking for an award-winning destination that does not include bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mason City, Iowa, is your destination. With a population near 27,000, you will appreciate the hometown amenities that this Midwest city offers.
Recommended by Sara from Travel with Sara
Denver is known as the Mile High City but it also has another moniker, The Queen City of Plains. Denver is a progressive city yet it holds fast to traditions. No one should be surprised that in January during the Stock Show long-horned cattle parade down a street lined with skyscrapers.
Denver has embraced legalized marijuana but Denver is more famous for having helped begin the craft beer revolution three decades ago. Denver’s former mayor and eventual Governor John Hickenlooper opened the Wynkoop Brewery in a long-blighted part of downtown Denver. This section of Denver became known as LoDo (short for Lower Downtown) and is now home to sports and entertainment venues.
A short list of things to see and do in Denver:
Larimer Square, a shopping and dining area located in the historic buildings where Denver got its start. Visit The Market, a coffee shop/bakery fashioned in the mold of 1800’s general store. Try a cherry sweet cheese muffins.
RiNo: The River North Arts District is one of the most vibrant urban areas in all the United States. The revitalization of this industrial area began as a home for artist studios and art galleries. RiNo is home to outstanding restaurants and a concentration of breweries that make this Napa Valley of Craft Beer.
Red Rocks Amphitheater in the mountains west of Denver is the place to experiencing music in the midst of incredible scenic beauty.
Make the 20-mile drive to Boulder, nestled against the foothills northwest of Denver. Hike one of the trails in Chautauqua Park to the Flatirons and visit Pearl Street Mall where you’ll find buskers and other forms of street theater.
Recommended by Jerome from Travel Boldly
Let me tell you about my favorite tiny town in West Texas – Terlingua. When I say tiny, I mean its population is 58 people as of 2010. But despite its little size, Terlingua has a lot to offer. First of all, it’s the gateway to Big Bend National Park where you can spend days hiking the mountains.
But Terlingua is more than just a base to spend the night before you head to the park. In the mid-1880-s cinnabar was discovered in the area which brought a lot of people and turned Terlingua into a mining town. Today, though, all that is left of the former glory is a ghost town. You can walk around the remnants of half-destroyed houses and rusty cars.
Given that Terlingua is located close to the Rio Grande, it has some of the best Mexican food I have ever had. And it is here that a chili cook-off happens every year. If you are planning a road trip around West Texas, I suggest you time it right to try some of the best chilies in your life.
Recommended by Yulia from That’s what she had
San Diego, California
Living in California, it seems that San Francisco and Los Angeles gets all the attention! But San Diego is the sunny beach-loving cousin down south that is overlooked! It’s such a beautiful city with access to the beach, has great weather all year round, has such friendly locals, and the food is to die for!
Here are some things to do in San Diego:
Old Town San Diego is considered to the birthplace of California since it was the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement. The park recreates what life was like in the mid-1800s during the Mexican American period.
Coronado Island is home to one of the most famous hotels in America – Hotel Del Coronado. Even if you’re not staying here, you are welcome to walk around the hotel grounds and beach area while admiring the beautiful architecture of the hotel!
One of San Diego’s up and coming neighborhoods – North Park has an eclectic mix of coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, and vintage shops for you to discover.
The center of Mexican-American culture in San Diego, the Barrio Logan neighborhood has quickly also become an outlet for modern Chicano/Mexican American art.
Also, make sure to grab some amazing Mexican Food at Lola 55!
Recommended by Henry und Zory from This Life of Travel
St. Louis, Missouri
St Louis, Missouri doesn’t pop up on bucket lists as often as it could, but there’s no shortage of attractions to draw visitors to the city. Nicknamed ‘Gateway to the West’ this metropolis on the banks of the Mississippi is home to the Gateway Arch, the St Louis Zoo, Art Museum, Botanical Garden, and American icon, Anheuser-Busch. The latter is open year-round for free brewery tours.
There’s so much to see and do in St Louis, mostly with free admission that you’ll need a few days to appreciate it all. We spent a day exploring Downtown and found a few hidden gems that gave a good sense of the city’s history and culture. The Old Court House with its sobering exhibition on the history of Slavery, the Soldier’s Memorial Museum and its Gold Star Mother mosaic, and the outdoor gallery of Citygarden, a green space full of sculptures and water features. And lastly, there’s Fitz’s creamy Root Beer, brewed and bottled in St Louis, it is, in my opinion, the world’s best!
Recommended by Sharon from What the Saints did next
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The only thing that many people know about Albuquerque is that Bugs Bunny always was trying to get away from there. We’re not sure why, though, because the city has so much to offer. A mix of the old west and south of the border feel Albuquerque has a personality all of its own. The most popular place to go is the Old Town, where the adobe houses are decorated with red chilis hanging from the beams and you can buy traditional jewelry, dolls, and plenty of art. The San Felipe de Neri church, one of the oldest buildings in town, dominates the plaza.
Apart from Old Town, there are museums to visit such as: the Albuquerque Museum, the Museum of Natural History, even a Rattlesnake Museum. There is a zoo, the Pueblo Cultural Center, the Petroglyph National Park, and so much more. We love to gondola to the Crest, either summer or winter, for the views, a coffee, and some great skiing. However, one of the main reasons to go to Albuquerque is for the food scene. They have their own twist on traditional Mexican dishes, using both green and red chilis, and the sopapillas are the best here in the world.
Don’t pass by Albuquerque anymore; make it your destination.
Recommended by Corinne from Roving Vails
Milwaukee isn’t on the average tourist’s radar. Most Americans & International tourists skip the midwest or just head to Chicago. BIG MISTAKE! Milwaukee is a quick 90 minutes from Chicago and our airport MKE is really well connected, too.
As a local, I highly suggest visiting during the summer or fall months. Winters in Wisconsin are long, cold, and did I say long? During the summer months, head down to the beach on Lake Michigan have a drink at the tiki bar, play a game of volleyball, and watch the waves.
Milwaukee is also home to the largest outdoor music festival Summerfest, which takes place every year right on the lake for 10 days.
One of our favorite things to do is the river cruise down the Milwaukee River that visits some of the best breweries in Milwaukee. If you happen to visit on a rainy day take a Milwaukee brewery tour or two, our personal favorite is the MKE Brewing Brewery tour. Prices are great in Milwaukee too, some of our favorite happy hours are $1 tap beers and rail drink til 9 pm. You can have a great & tasty time and not spend a ton of money in Milwaukee.
Recommended by Adam from Milwaukee Insider
Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington is Vermont’s largest city, but with just 42,000 people, it’s not exactly huge. Burlington is located in a valley between the Adirondack Mountains in New York and the Green Mountains in Central Vermont. Lake Champlain, which stretches 107 miles from Southern Vermont to Canada is a mecca for boaters, anglers, and tourists, and a Lake Champlain sunset from Burlington’s shores is something you shouldn’t miss.Burlington is a mecca for beer and coffee drinkers, foodies, and shoppers, and has been named the healthiest city in the United States many times over.
Summer and fall are definitely the best times to visit, especially if outdoor recreation is your thing. Our favorite Burlington attractions include riding on the Burlington Greenway, which is one of the loveliest bike paths in the country. It travels eight miles along the water, and there are numerous places to stop and swim along the way. Sunset cruises on the Spirit of Ethan Allen depart nightly in the summer, and the Church Street Marketplace is always a great spot to dine, shop, or just relax and watch the people.
Don’t miss a visit to the ECHO Center on Lake Champlain, which is part museum, part research center, part aquarium. There are loads of exhibits to explore, including hands-on learning opportunities for kids and adults.
Recommended by Tara from Backroad Ramblers
Sitting on the Puget Sound, right in between the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, Tacoma, Washington is the perfect jumping-off point for seeing the rest of the region. While Tacoma (nicknamed “Grit City”) is known for being a port town, it has become a wonderful place to get good eats, experience museums, and get into nature, all the while maintaining its true Washingtonian charm.
The food-lovers’ and nightlife scene is growing the city into a must-visit location for a night out on the town– beer lovers will enjoy the quirky yet tasty Odd Otter Brewery. Museums abound, including the Tacoma Art Museum and America’s Car Museum, and don’t miss the Chihuly bridge and studio room at the Glass Blowing Museum.
Gardens and Parks are readily found throughout the city, notably Wright Park and Point Defiance’s Rhododendron Garden, and an easy ferry ride up to Vashon Island can allow visitors an escape from the hustle and bustle. On Vashon, check out the farmer’s market, Point Robinson Park, and the many sandy beaches from which to bird watch and enjoy the scenery!
Recommended by Christa from Expedition Wildlife
Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City is one of my favorite cities in the US and is completely underrated! It is perfect for families or couple travelers and for those that like quirky attractions and for those who love the outdoors! Within the city, travelers will enjoy the presidential walk, dinosaur park and children the fab storybook island! Dinosaur Park dates back to the 1930s and was created to capitalize on the tourists that were in the vicinity to visit Mount Rushmore (more on this later). The park contains seven dinosaur statues on a hill overlooking the city and is now on the National Historic Register of Places
The things near Rapid City are actually the things that are perhaps the biggest draw for Rapid city as there is an abundance of natural wonders at your fingertips including Custer state park, the Badlands National Park and the famous Mount Rushmore! It is truly a brilliant place to base yourself to get a lot of things ticked off your bucket list.
Recommended by Leona from Wandermust Family
4 thoughts on The Ultimate List of Most Underrated Cities in the US
What a great post! It’s perfect for me, I’m (hopefully) going to the US this year, for the first time – yay! I’ll keep these cities in mind!
Thank you so much for your comment! I hope you will enjoy it! 🙂
Love this list! Thanks for the insight into more wonderful places to add to my bucket list 🙂
Thank you so much! I am happy you like it 🙂