Underrated/Undersung American Cities

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by James K., Oct 14, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. James K.

    James K. Silver Member

    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    176
    Status Points:
    375
    Hey there fellow travel lovers.

    Moving to Maryland ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me from a travel perspective. Southwest Airlines isn't perfect, but because of their presence in Baltimore I've been to a lot of cool places for pretty cheap. However, I'm running out of major cities, so I was wondering what you guys thought were underrated or undersung American cities. No real rules for what you can put down. I've got:

    Minneapolis: Wonderful, wonderful city. The streets are great to walk down, there's culture and a whole ton of restaurants that I enjoy, easy light rail access to the airport (always a plus), friendly people, and a vibe. I hate that word, but you know how some cities just feel exciting and cool when you enter them? Minneapolis is one of them

    Louisville: Not quite on Minneapolis's level, but it's got really nice architecture, unique museums (one dedicated to British history in America? Neato!) a nice riverfront feel and the prettiness of the Old Louisville neighborhood

    Providence: Overshadowed by Boston, but a worthy destination in its own right. Compact, walkable, but with distinct neighborhoods each with their own flavor and feel. Also, Brown and RISD give the population a young and vibrant feel.

    That's three for me -- what do you fellows and gals have?
     
  2. Tad's Broiled Steaks

    Tad's Broiled Steaks Silver Member

    Messages:
    533
    Likes Received:
    1,065
    Status Points:
    825
    If I lived in Maryland, I'd want to leave often too... Although for a while, I wanted to check out Rising Sun- not sure what's there, but the name is good.

    What do you of think of Baltimore? My best memory is of crab cakes at Lexington Market, and going to any crab shack to use a mallet, and the metro system (always try to check out metros). Maybe as a tike, the aquarium too.

    I only really like cities that are giant (I'm from NYC), so most of those in the US leave me downtrodden, or worse, deserted at night.
     
    boondr, jbcarioca and thegrailer like this.
  3. Mapsmith
    Original Member

    Mapsmith Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,930
    Likes Received:
    7,696
    Status Points:
    6,570
    I am familiar with Rising Sun, Indiana. Located just downriver from Cincinnati (another really nice town) Rising Sun is the midwest home of Seagram's Whiskey. (or used to be)
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  4. sellthesedownfalls

    sellthesedownfalls Silver Member

    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    415
    Status Points:
    450
    Hey, now! I won't speak for the rest of the state, but Baltimore proper is a great place to live. My husband and I have a generous amount of living space in a historic rowhouse in a part of the city where we can walk to a ton of bars and restaurants. Baltimore has a great local beer culture and excellent food, and everything, including housing, is reasonably priced. If anyone's coming here for a trip and wants eating/drinking/touring recommendations, I'm happy to overload them with suggestions. :D

    To add to this thread:
    Madison, Wisconsin - We spent a few years here for grad school and it's a great tiny city. Amazing Saturday farmers market, drinking on the University's Terrace by the lake, cycling and jogging along the lake, great bars and restaurants and cute shopping on State St. It's a fantastic experience to go to a home football game as well, the stadium holds over 80,000 fans.
     
  5. Tad's Broiled Steaks

    Tad's Broiled Steaks Silver Member

    Messages:
    533
    Likes Received:
    1,065
    Status Points:
    825

    Oh, my intention was to say I didn't mind Baltimore, but it's still WAY too small and empty for me. Just my opinion; if you are talking about Fells Point, that's alright. When in Baltimore, do you go to the Italian and Greek areas, or are those mainly for out-o'-towners?
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  6. Tad's Broiled Steaks

    Tad's Broiled Steaks Silver Member

    Messages:
    533
    Likes Received:
    1,065
    Status Points:
    825
    Thanks for the info, Mapsmith!

    Indeed, there's a Rising Sun, MD too, it might be near Havre de Grace (these names just stuck out to me on the car rides down from NYC to DC).
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  7. sellthesedownfalls

    sellthesedownfalls Silver Member

    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    415
    Status Points:
    450
    I've been to Little Italy approximately twice, but if I'm going out to eat it's more often for Indian, other Asian, or just American cuisine, so there's that. Greek restaurants abound in Greektown and outer Highlandtown, and locals definitely go there. There are also a few good taco joints around Fell's Point and on Eastern Ave into Canton.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  8. Photonerd71

    Photonerd71 Silver Member

    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    973
    Status Points:
    770
    I'll play

    Portland Me. Nice mix of historical and tourist places. If you like seafood lots of fresh stuff (I can't stand it but many people do). Waterfront and downtown are decent for walking. Cheaper than other costal tourist cities and a general laid back feel.

    Disclaimer....I grew up there and hope to move back there from Houston in the next couple years. Miss it badly. :)
     
  9. sealiz
    Original Member

    sealiz Silver Member

    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    96
    Status Points:
    260
    Milwaukee WI is one of the most underrated cities imo. Good museums, good food, nice boutique shopping, lakes are wonderful for fishing, and the people are really nice - have those "Midwestern values" and are friendly.
     
  10. Photonerd71

    Photonerd71 Silver Member

    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    973
    Status Points:
    770
    Easy access (driving) from ORD. Just have to be careful you don't put on 10lbs there between the beer, brats (sp?) and cheese. :)
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  11. thegrailer
    Original Member

    thegrailer Silver Member

    Messages:
    679
    Likes Received:
    670
    Status Points:
    695
    Albuquerque, NM: For the food only. It is a mix of Native American and Mexican and is wonderful - if you find an authentic place and that place is outside of Old Town (indeed, walk about 2 blocks north of the tourist trap of OT and you'll fund such a place).

    Cheers
     
  12. servo

    servo Silver Member

    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    1,031
    Status Points:
    825
    As a former resident of two of those places (MPLS and Louisville), I can say that I agree with those, as well as the other poster who mentioned Madison, WI. I have friends in Madison now and visited in July. It was really nice.

    I was raised in Louisville, and it really is a great city for multiple reasons. One, the people are the friendliest that you'll likely meet in most of the US (be prepared to have strangers strike up conversations with you). My wife (from Miami) was stunned at the people at the bar who just started talking to us as we were getting our food before a Louisville Cardinals basketball game. She asked me if I knew them, and I said no. She now wants to move there. Two, the cost of living is pretty low. The downside of Louisville = very weak job market in the business sector - more labor/manufacturing even today, which might explain the low cost of living.

    Rising Sun, Indiana is now known for the Grand Victoria Casino (Now renamed to Rising Star Casino Resort). I used to go there once a month with friends for the late night sail (they don't sail anymore from what I understand and are just docked all the time), and remember the long drive from the east end all the way up there. It's pretty easily accessible from CVG as well.

    I was young when I lived in Minneapolis, but all my relatives are there, and it's always a treat to go back, except in the winter. I really dislike snow, which might partially explain why I reside in FL now.

    If I was going to take a stab at a few not mentioned:

    Kansas City, MO - Fantastic BBQ, very cool parts of town (I like the Old Westport area), baseball history (Negro leagues), Very nice older homes and architecture. Reminded me a lot of Louisville.

    Salt Lake City, UT - I was expecting the 2nd coming of Mitt Romney when I visited, but I ended up having a beer and wings inside of a train car with some really cool people, stayed at a nice hostel with a cheap private room, took a city tour (very nice vistas in the area), and it really felt incredibly safe.

    Savannah, GA - Loved it so much, I got married there back in April in Forsyth Park. It's like a friendlier, cleaner, and safer version of New Orleans, and only a short drive to Tybee Island, which has incredible sunset views and a nice lighthouse. Probably my favorite southern city, although I've yet to visit Charleston.

    I don't really agree with Milwaukee. I flew into MKE on my way to Madison in July, and had time to wander. It didn't really impress me the same way Madison did. To each their own though.

    On the flip side - some cities I've visited that haven't impressed at all:

    St. Louis, MO - It has a similar vibe to KC, but it seems much less safe. The area around Washington U is nice, but downtown is very dicey. One block is hopping with business, while parking one block over you might think you're on an episode of the Walking Dead. If I go there for concerts, I usually hit up the Bud tour for some free beer and eat at Blueberry Hill.

    New Orleans, LA - Way too dirty, smutty, and scary at night to consider. The history, food and architecture there are amazing though, so it's still worth one trip, but the wife and I decided not to return unless it was for one of our sports teams. The Edgar Degas house is a treat though. Enjoyed that over pretty much anything else.

    San Diego, CA - The weather is really the main draw. I've been there 2-3 times now, and the zoo is nice, but the Gaslight District isn't anything special, and you can get less expensive water views. Everything is incredibly overpriced, people aren't that friendly, and doesn't really have (other than the zoo) something that makes the city stand out as something unique, at least to my eyes.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  13. TRAVELSIG
    Original Member

    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,942
    Likes Received:
    5,509
    Status Points:
    4,145
    I find Sacramento to be quite pleasant- it does tend to get overshadowed by nearby San Francisco.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  14. miles and smiles
    Original Member

    miles and smiles Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,531
    Likes Received:
    61,942
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I agree with the above assessments of Madison and Milwaukee. I lived in Madison for six years and visited Milwaukee many times. I have a lifelong connection with Wisconsin that has manifested thru a marriage, many friends, etc. The farmer's market around the Capitol building in Madison is still the finest farmer's market I have ever experienced anywhere.
    I do remember that while living in Madison, many magazines chose it as one of their "most livable" cities. However, those article were always published in the Spring or Summer. No one (other than a snow loving, cold tolerant native) ever talks about Madison (or Milwaukee's) livability in the winter.
    (Full disclosure - I am a warmth preferring Carolina native who landed in Wisc. because of marriage)

    My addition to our list of underrated/undersung cities is Cleveland. I visited many times. I especially love the proximity to Lake Erie and the "green necklace" which is a very long stretch of parks that mostly encircles Cleveland on the west, south and east. In general I found Clevelanders to be friendly.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  15. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,548
    Likes Received:
    1,935
    Status Points:
    1,120
    You beat me to it. The New Mexico style Mexican food is unique and fabulous. There is good shopping, the roads are good, the tram ride alone is worth the trip and they don't know what the word "traffic" means. I usually stay downtown for $50-$60 bucks per night in the Doubletree or Hyatt, and the casinos there have upgraded to well above average. I also love the climate.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  16. James K.

    James K. Silver Member

    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    176
    Status Points:
    375
    Great answers guys. I also liked Milwaukee, though found there was only enough to do for one day, and agree that San Diego just doesn't offer that much. I spent a week there this summer. 1-2 days would have been fine. Stupid family
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  17. servo

    servo Silver Member

    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    1,031
    Status Points:
    825
    I also enjoyed a minor league baseball game and a trip up Sandia Peak there. I enjoyed ABQ. Now they have a Breaking Bad tour that intrigues me as a fanboy of that show.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  18. Tad's Broiled Steaks

    Tad's Broiled Steaks Silver Member

    Messages:
    533
    Likes Received:
    1,065
    Status Points:
    825
    There are that many plaques/signs of Negro league ball? Or, you like baseball and that was one reason for going to KC?

    Although I haven't been there yet, I want to take a weekend and eat BBQ (and maybe go to the Nelson-Atkins Museum since I like badminton). That's it. Memphis, BBQ too (but they've also got a pyramid I'd like to get a photo of...)

    As for Minneapolis, do they have a good number of Hmong eateries? And Somali?
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  19. servo

    servo Silver Member

    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    1,031
    Status Points:
    825
    I'm a baseball fan, and they do honor negro league players around the city, but the museum is the primary draw. If baseball isn't your thing, it might not make KC as unsung to you.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  20. thegrailer
    Original Member

    thegrailer Silver Member

    Messages:
    679
    Likes Received:
    670
    Status Points:
    695
    I have spent a ton of time in MSN - weeks at a time at the Hilton Monona Terrace for work - and it is a nice little town. There really is some good food.

     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  21. James K.

    James K. Silver Member

    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    176
    Status Points:
    375
    I really have to get to Madison. Particularly since it's a state capital and I want to go to all of them
     
  22. Tad's Broiled Steaks

    Tad's Broiled Steaks Silver Member

    Messages:
    533
    Likes Received:
    1,065
    Status Points:
    825
    The first player I think of upon hearing of the Negro League is Josh Gibson. That's only because of my vague knowledge of Oh Sadaharu. Servo46250, are you familiar with Japanese baseball? Aren't these two ball players mentioned when it comes to most prolific home run hitters of all time? Even more interesting is that Oh Sadaharu was part-Chinese; Nagashima Shigeo might've been more popular at the time due to Oh's ancestry.

    As usual, I went on a tangent. How is the food scene in Indianapolis and Columbus? Two relatively big cities (for the US) that don't appear too much outside of election years.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  23. servo

    servo Silver Member

    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    1,031
    Status Points:
    825
    Yes, of course in the states we refer to him as Sadaharu Oh (rather than the reverse - not sure which is right, or if it's just culture differences since most, if not all Asian countries read opposite direction of the US) - we also refer to him as the Japanese Babe Ruth, although I believe Katsuo Tanaka officially holds that name in the Japanase Baseball HOF.

    Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige (who played 14 Negro League seasons before going to MLB) are pretty much the torch bearers for that league. I wish I was a fan of today's baseball as much as I am about baseball history. Steroids really killed it for me after the Sosa-McGuire days, and I can't believe McGuire still has an official MLB job.

    I lived 8 years in Indianapolis, and other than a couple of really strong local restaurants (St. Elmo's is the best - steakhouse), Indy really lives up to it's old Naptown nickname. Of all cities I've lived, I couldn't wait to escape Indy and the entire state. It is incredibly boring, and other than a really great Children's museum and a beautiful (and free admission) art museum, you're left with sports and the Indy 500/Brickyard. It's the most affordable major city to live in though, and that is its major draw at this point. I had a 2,500 sq ft. house 3br/2ba which I built for $143k back in 2001 (sold for $146k in 2008)

    I just had a discussion about Columbus on the Louisville sports message board I frequent, and they all mentioned that Columbus has a pretty decent culinary scene, but in terms of the city, it's the example you see when you look up the definition of suburban sprawl. No real life to downtown, and the city is all spread out.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  24. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Cleveland -- it has some seriously great food.
     
  25. Mapsmith
    Original Member

    Mapsmith Gold Member

    Messages:
    2,930
    Likes Received:
    7,696
    Status Points:
    6,570

    Referencing Indy. I grew up there. The old saying about the City being the Cross Roads of America is true. You want to get on the first road out of town.

    However, Chicago is just a few hours away to the NorthWest, and Cincy is a few hours to the Southeast, and Louisville is just a few hours due south (take a side trip to French Lick, Indiana, home of Larry Bird and a decent 1020's era spa).

    Good thing about Indy though. Its location means that there are a lot of good name brand (american) beers around.
     
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.

Share This Page