The Must-See Under-the-Radar City in Every State from The Must-See Under-the-Radar City in Every State
The Must-See Under-the-Radar City in Every State
The Must-See Under-the-Radar City in Every State
America is filled with old-fashioned charm, something the better known New York and Chicago, for example, are lacking because they have been so commercialized. If that’s not a good enough reason to take the road less travelled, consider money. Underrated places usually offer lower prices. They are also usually less developed and give you the thrill of going somewhere undiscovered.
Florence is located in northwest Alabama and is famously known for annual tourist events such as the W.C. Handy Music Festival, which honors the legacy of the composer/musician who has been called “the father of the blues.” The Wilson Dam is another spot that attracts visitors from all over the country.
With a population of less than 10,000, the city/borough on Alaska’s panhandle is teeming with natural beauty. Imagine eagles soaring through the sky and whales leaping from the ocean water. One of the must-see nature spots in Sitka is the Tongass National Forest, which is a few minutes from downtown.
Perched high atop Cleopatra Hill, Jerome once house the largest copper mine in Arizona. Today, the enchanting town has plenty of charming chops and restaurants and is surrounded by open land and peaceful tranquility. It’s a great spot for both fun (check out the ghost town!) and relaxation.
This small mountain town packs a big punch, boasting a variety of outdoor activities from hiking to fishing. It is also home to a large herd of Rocky Mountain elk. The best to see them is around the month of November.
When you want to disconnect, this is the place to be. There are only three gas stations in town, and cell service is nonexistent. What makes Big Sur one of the most underrated cities in America is the beauty of the undeveloped, untouched landscape. You’ll be thankful you’re not looking at the backdrop through your cellphone camera and instead living in the moment.
While many travelers focus on more well-known mountain towns of Colorado, Glenwood Springs should not be overlooked. A picturesque city known for having the world’s largest hot springs pool must be on your list of places to visit in the Centennial State.
Nestled in the northern part of Connecticut, Union is the least populated town in the state! Perhaps that’s because much of it is occupied by the beautiful Bigelow Hollow State Park. Kayaking, fishing, and hiking are encourage in this small town.
When you’re looking for small-town charm, look no further than Milford, Delaware! Situated on the Mispillion River, the downtown area is particularly welcoming in winter when the shops and storefronts are decorated for the holidays.
Florida - Apalachicola
This traditional festival of lights honors one of the earliest Christian martyrs, St. Lucia, and was connected to earlier Norse solstice traditions after many converted to Christianity in 1000 A.D. A girl that is elected to impersonate Lucia wears a crown of candles on her head and leads the procession. The candles symbolize the fire that refused to take Lucia's life when she was sentenced to be burned.
Norcross, which is less than a half hour north of Atlanta, boasts a historic downtown and an eclectic vibe. There is plenty of fun for everyone, including the Tiny Towne theme park for the kids, plenty of bars and restaurants for the adults, and the five-acre Lillian Webb Park for the whole family.
While the Hawaiian island of Lanai is often overlooked in favor of the larger, more populated islands, but Lanai, this peaceful spot and its main city, are considered by many to be the most authentically Hawaiian.
According to Idaho’s tourism website, Idaho City was once “the largest city in the Pacific Northwest during the gold rush.” Now this hidden gem is a “rugged western town steeped in mining and logging history.” Stroll by historic structures, shop antique stores, and enjoy the outdoors while staying at one of the nearby campsites.
While Rosemont is known for concerts and conventions (such as Wizard World Chicago Comic Con), the town has so much to offer. There is plenty to do from shopping at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago, to taking in a night of laughs at Zanies comedy club, to enjoying plenty of world-class dining options. And that’s just a few of the entertainment options available in Rosemont.
A prime location to the Indiana Dunes isn’t the only reason Michigan City, Indiana, is on our radar. It is also home to the popular Blue Chip Casino riverboat and one of the state’s few lighthouses.
Home to the oldest college in Iowa (Loras College), Dubuque is filled with historical sites, nature spots, and a bustling downtown area. Plus, the city’s location along the Mississippi River was named the fourth best American riverfront by USA Today.
The first city incorporated in the state of Kansas, Leavenworth combines a rich history with modern convenience for history buffs and thrill seekers alike. Local attractions range from expansive farms and beautiful wineries to premium shopping and gourmet restaurants.
There’s something about a riverfront view that is so calming and satisfying. And with Covington, Kentucky, cozied up to the Ohio River, there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. When you roam further into town you’ll find some of the best bourbon bars in the state, along with renovated 19th century German shops, plenty of park land, and many dining options.
Some people prefer beads and Bourbon Street, but when you’re looking for authentic, small-town charm in Louisiana look no further than Grand Isle. Known for its world-class fishing, Grand Isle is also a great place for bird watching. Louisiana’s only inhabited barrier island is a must-see.
What was once a seaside industrial town now has a blossoming downtown, but one thing hasn’t change in Portland, Maine: The delicious seafood. And it can’t get any fresher when the local spots get their catches from the neighboring Atlantic. Aside from the food, Portland also offers a cool art scene, quaint shops, and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Oakland, Maryland, is home to plush parks, gorgeous walking trails, and the state’s highest free-falling waterfall. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Muddy Creek Falls is rushing over rocks made from siltstone dating over 300 million years old!
Thanks to its affordability, education opportunities, and culture scene, Worcester, Massachusetts, was recently named one the best cities in the state by Livability.com. The town has the perfect balance of arts and entertainment, dining, outdoor fun, and scenic beauty.
This beach town is often overshadowed by its more famous nearby counterparts such as South Haven, but this port city is drawing in more and more visitors each year. Aside from the waterfront access, St. Joseph boasts charming wineries and more than 200 acres of park land, and the region is the largest grower of non-citrus fruit in the nation. You have to see it to believe it.
While everyone’s talking about the Twin Cities, the smaller “sibling” of St. Cloud is a fun place to visit. There’s something for everyone, in every season, whether it’s the free “Summertime by George” concert series, the German Christmas market or the natural beauty of the spring and fall foliage.
Don’t be cruel to the birthplace of Elvis Presley! Not only can you tour the legendary singer’s childhood home, but there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Shop at Barnes Crossing, take in a day of gold at one of the nearby greens, or see a local production at one of the nearby theaters.
Branson, Missouri, may be known as a mecca for family vacations, but it is quite underrated when it comes to the solo traveler. You don’t have to be with a big group to appreciate the beauty of Table Rock Dam, go ziplining at Wolfe Creek Preserve, or have a night out enjoying dinner and show.
Montana – Missoula
Missoula is rated in the Top 10 of places to get fit in 2018. Around one in 11 residents walk or bike to work here. It should also be easy to find places to work out around Missoula as it has 123 fitness businesses per 10,000 establishments. The Missoula Valley is a primary destination to experience fall in Glacier Country. With easy access to the Rattlesnake Wilderness and Blue Mountain Recreation Area, numerous fall hiking and biking excursions take place.
Nebraska – Chadron
This is a scenic college town, located 100 miles south of Interstate 90, with a population of approximately 5,700. Take a walk in the beautiful city parks. Recreational opportunities are varied, and the climate is generally moderate. Chadron State Park is Nebraska’s oldest. The 972-acre park is in the heart of the Nebraska National Forest. There are 22 semi-furnished cabins, a modern campground with RV hookups, and a primitive campground for tent camping.
Nevada – Ely
While most people will go to Vegas, some venture out to Ely, with good reason. It’s a magnet for tourists visiting Nevada's Scenic Wonderland - Great Basin National Park, Cave Lake State Park and Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. Fishing, hunting, stargazing and mountain biking (and ice skating on frozen lakes in the winter) are favorite activities.
New Hampshire – Concord
The capital city of New Hampshire has a lot of history. It’s also surrounded by many nice towns, in case you need a break. It’s as beautiful as most New England towns but more affordable and less crowded. The local population is just over 42,000 people. The Capitol Center for the Arts has great concerts and shows, and the planetarium is always entertaining.
New Jersey – Montclair
Most people will head for Atlantic City or a beach town. Montclair should be on your radar, though. Its proximity to New York City makes it a convenient stop away from the chaotic big city. Nestled at the foot of the First Watchung Mountain, Montclair is home to the second largest university in the state. The arts scene is thriving. Visit the art museum and galleries and see shows at the several live theaters.
New Mexico – Questa
Snuggled between the Carson National Forest and Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Questa, which is famous for its gorgeous scenery, is all about having fun outside. The area boasts stunning hiking trails, dramatic campsites, serene mountain lakes, and pretty drives for the little less adventurous. Questa is only half an hour north of much more famous Taos, according to Visit New Mexico.
New York – Skaneateles
Water activities here are king – swimming, fishing and boating. If these interest you, this is the place to be. Skaneateles hosts the Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show in the summer. Winters are fun, too. This charming upstate New York place goes back in time each December for Dickens Christmas. Rub shoulders with Charles Dickens and more than 50 other characters – they stroll the streets, interacting with visitors.
North Carolina - Blowing Rock
This beautiful small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains focuses on family vacations, honeymoons, romantic getaways, and group retreats. Stop by the Blowing Rock Brewery and Ale House Restaurant to try some true mountain artisan craft beer made in a state-of-the-art facility. Spice up your vacation with adventures such as whitewater rafting, hiking, wildlife viewing, kayaking, tubing down a cool mountain river.
North Dakota – Dickinson
Dickinson has become one of the fastest-growing towns in the U.S., and it was named one of the best cities to live in in 2017. Even before the fame the town was known as being the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Dickinson Museum Center, where you can see a range from Jurassic-era findings to artifacts from the American settlers, is a must-see. Bonus: Did you know that Dickinson is one of the cities with the best and safest drinking water in America?
Ohio – Marietta
The city, whose logo is “Ohio’s first adventure,” has a growing tourist trade because of the city's important place in Ohio's early history. Marietta was the first permanent settlement of U.S. in the territory north and west of the Ohio River. A few fun things you can do: mountain biking, watching the sunset over the Ohio River aboard a historic sternwheeler, exploring cool shops, meandering the Muskingum River by kayak or canoe, and rock climbing at Baker Run.
Oklahoma – Tulsa
Tulsa is a friendly and easy going city. There’s good turnover in IT and reasonably good paying jobs. You can’t ignore the concert venues, the minor league ball park, nearby lakes, and the city’s closeness to the Ozarks (just about 3 hours). It’s a fun family vacation destination. Bring the kids to Big Splash Waterpark, go hiking in the Oxley Nature Center, and explore more than 800 acres of natural preserves.
Oregon – Bend
Why go to Portland when you can visit Bend? It is among the most incredible mountain towns for summer. Hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, rock climbing—you name it, you’ll likely find it there. Head up into the Cascades for some incredible mountain biking (almost 300 miles of singletrack) or dip your paddle into the Deschutes River for a wild and refreshing ride. After your adventures, check out one of the many summer events, concerts or festivals or enjoy the thriving food and drink scene.
Pennsylvania – Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is not at all just about the steel industry anymore. The city has reinvented itself. Locals have a lot of clean and green parks to enjoy, architecturally beautiful buildings to marvel, and several rivers crossing. Other reasons to live there include prestigious universities, museums, affordable prices, and of course, lots of sports. Thanks to its many college students, the city boasts a lively nightlife scene.
Rhode Island – Bristol
You’re going to love the experience of living like a local back in 1750. This is where America’s Cup Race yachts were designed and built. Wander a 400-acre historic saltwater farm, an oceanfront wildlife refuge, or one of Yankee Magazine's Best 5 Public Gardens in New England and visit the Bristol Train of Artillery, which has maintained an uninterrupted existence from the date of its establishment in 1776.
South Carolina – Columbia
The capital of the state is located right in the heart of it. This is a modern city and a creative hub that's fed by university and capital city communities who are surrounded by natural beauty. This is a place offering a dose of big city excitement in a charming small town where everything is within walking distance. There is some kind of festival almost every week – Korean, Italian, and Greek, summer’s Tasty Tomato Festival, Indie Grits film festival, to name a few.
South Dakota - Sioux Falls
This is one of the most romantic cities in the country. Contrary to what many people believe, you can take a vacation without going broke. Watch free Moonlight Movies in Fawick Park on Saturday nights; go for an inexpensive bike ride along the Big Sioux River Greenway; head to McKennan Park for kid-friendly, free theater performances; and purchase an all-day pass — $1 per person — for the Sioux Falls Trolley.
Tennessee – Chattanooga
In 2015 the city was also named the best place to live in by Outside Magazine. Located by the rocky Tennessee River Gorge, you can count on Chattanooga offering a lot of adventure opportunities. Climbers love it for the sandstone cliffs; bikers like it for the 120 miles of tracks; and thrill seekers enjoy rafting in the Class IV–V rapids on the nearby Ocoee.
Texas – Amarillo
Amarillo and the surrounding Panhandle area are a unique blend of two American eras – working western ranches and a vibrant 21 century economy, according to Visit Amarillo. This is where you’ll see a perfect mix of old and new Texas traditions. Bonus: The Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo is a popular and bizarre roadside attraction along Route 66. It consists of ten Cadillac cars which are half buried nose-down in the ground in a single file.
Utah – Castle Valley
Leave the big city and its chaos behind and spend some time and recharge in Castle Valley. It’s only 20 miles away from Moab. You’ll find adventure and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the state. Castle Rock, or Castleton Tower as the locals call it, is the No. 1 attraction. This 400-ft sandstone tower which rests on a 1,000 feet cone of looser rock, rises high above Castle Valley. Only experienced hikers and rock climbers are advised to hike or climb any part of the tower or its base, according to All Trips.
Vermont – Brattleboro
Known for being an “urban arts oasis”, Downtown Brattleboro is host to an invigorating arts community. There is art in nearly every store and restaurant downtown, highlighted during the monthly First Friday Gallery Walks. Throughout the week, you can enjoy performing arts with live music, dance, and theatre offerings. A fun favorite for the kids is the Retreat Petting Farm because they get to interact with real farm animals.
Virginia – Hampton
Located in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic, Hampton welcomes vacationers with charming hospitality and multi-faceted attractions and activities. Don’t miss the “Sea to Stars” exhibit. The town’s 400-year legacy as the city "First from the Sea, First to the Stars" is captured in it. Many other attractions are free –the Casemate Museum, the Charles H. Taylor Art Center and Hampton parks, like Sandy Bottom and Bluebird Gap Farm.
Washington – Port Angeles
The town is conveniently located close to numerous outdoor attractions where you can go on an adventurous day trip. Some of the many exciting destinations, all within a day's travel, include the Olympic National Park, Olympic Discovery Trail, Hurricane Ridge, Pillar Point, Salt Creek, Hoh Rain Forest, and Rialto Beach. Drive there for an easy trip and to explore some of the more remote options to the north.
West Virginia – Lewisburg
The cultural life in this gorgeous mountain town is getting richer. Galleries are opening and music events are being scheduled quite often – all of that on the edge of the Monongahela National Forest. Locals’ favorite activities are mountain biking – but go to the Greenbrier State Forest which has an easier terrain than the Monongahela – and fly fishing on the Greenbrier River. Tourists should start their visit on the first Friday of each month when shops and galleries open with wine tastings.
Wisconsin – Door County
Picking just one city is too difficult. The area boasts picturesque coastal towns, fish boils, cherry and apple orchards and jaw-dropping scenic beauty. With the waters of Green Bay on one side and Lake Michigan on the other, the Door Peninsula has more than 300 miles of shoreline, according to Travel Wisconsin. See the towering limestone bluffs, rugged rock formations and pristine beaches. The area also has one of the highest concentrations of lighthouses and more state parks – a total of five – than any other county in the nation.
Wyoming – Laramie
May 2018 will mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the City of Laramie. Make in time for the big celebrations. Laramie is king in the winter boasting some of the most consistent and fluffy powder in the American West. In the summer, the Vedauwoo Recreation Area is a prime attraction. It boasts some of the best rock-climbing in the country.