Being the third largest country by area, America has some of the most beautiful and liveliest places – both in cultural diversity and style. Any well-rounded traveler should visit the following downtown destinations to gain a broader perspective of life in the United States.
1. San Francisco, California
California is a state that’s so diversified that it can be considered its own country. With this in mind, San Francisco is the perfect place for getting a feel for California’s ambiance and local life. Over 20 million visitors from all over the world visit San Fran each year, home to some of the country's most remarkable landmarks. Savoring seafood at Fisherman's Wharf, enjoying the panoramic views from the famous Golden Gate Bridge, and taking a ride on the cable car are just some of the many activities travelers can do while staying in this illustrious city.
2. Savannah, Georgia
While encompassing the very definition of Southern charm, the elegant estates and Spanish moss-covered oak trees line Savannah's Streets. Walking along these pathways can give visitors the illusion of being transported back to a time of horse-drawn carriages. To thoroughly mingle and soak up the atmosphere, River Street is a must-see with the endless old-style bars and restaurants, a prime setting for Savannah's thriving nightlife, which always seems to pack a crowd.
3. Los Angeles, California
Unsurprisingly, the City of Angels is one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country and loaded with excitement for people from all walks of life. From Chinatown to Olvera Street, the extensive variety of food and local shops is evidence of Los Angeles’ colorful immersion in Asian and Hispanic cultures. There are also plenty of contemporary and classic architectural styles to impress your artistic side, like Union Station and the Walt Disney Concert Hall area.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
Another area with a vibrant twist on cultural fusion is New Orleans, with a strong French, Spanish, and African American hybridization, creating the colorful identity that we now recognize it for. The historical mysteries of Louisiana voodoo bring many curious tourists to the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. Though younger travelers typically visit for the party atmosphere of Mardi Gras, there are several attractions for a more lowkey experience, like grabbing a bite of jambalaya from the French Quarter or tempering your morbid curiosity with a cemetery tour.
5. Boston, Massachusetts
When it comes to history, Boston takes the whole cream pie. Being surrounded by many architectural styles and iconic sites along Freedom Trail makes getting a thorough glimpse of history simple and fun. Though the area permeates rich history, visitors shouldn't underestimate Boston's trendier to-dos like shopping at South End, catching a show at Emerson Colonial Theater, or visiting some taverns and pubs for delicious lobster rolls and drinks.
6. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago boasts some of the most open and green spaces within a city setting. With a prominent display of art and a constant rotation of events, Millenium Park is one of the most popular places to take in the atmosphere. If sports are more up your alley, the famous Wrigley Field is a site not to be missed. The skyline's mesh of lush greenery and fantastic architecture is visible from 360 Chicago, where guests can see up to 4 different states on a clear day from its aerial deck space. No matter what type of travel experience you seek, Chicago has a well-rounded selection of sights and activities to explore. Don’t forget to sink your teeth into a delicious Chicago-style hotdog during your visit.
7. Brooklyn, New York
While flocks of tourists head to the Big Apple to visit popular sites like Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park, few know about the wonders that Brooklyn, one of the lesser-traveled boroughs of New York City, has to offer. With a more suburban feel, you’ll find that peace is more attainable in a large city than previously imagined. One surefire way to attain that peace is by taking a relaxing stroll from DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, through the waterfront Main Street Park, a worthwhile experience that people of all ages can enjoy.
8. St. Augustine, Florida
The seamless mesh of tropical landscape and old-world Spanish architecture gives this coastal city its reputation for being an artistic haven steeped in rich character. Walking along the waterfront, you’ll notice large sailboats gently swaying to the rhythm of the ocean. Art galleries, restaurants, and quaint local shops line the streets, beckoning people to step inside. The town is also famous for its ghost tours, Flagler College, and Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
9. Washington D.C.
As the country’s capital, D.C. is the best place to explore the nation’s history. Surrounded by clean lawns and towering monuments, visitors can pace themselves as they walk from building to building. Visiting the Smithsonian museums is another popular activity for those wanting to learn more about art or American history. The best time to visit would be during the blooming of cherry blossoms from late March to early April. The roads are a flourish of light pink flower petals – a feature blanketing the area with a serene and peaceful atmosphere and providing a perfect backdrop for great photography.
10. Nashville, Tennessee
Many famous music artists got their start here in Music City, where country music reigns supreme and neon lights line the streets, breathing life and energy into the walls of the buildings and all who visit the area. No trip would be complete without a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame or catching a show at Ryman Auditorium. With deep roots in southern history, a trip to the gorgeous Belle Meade Plantation allows visitors to get a gander at the mansion's majestic prewar architecture.
11. Asheville, North Carolina
For those who enjoy the feel of the crisp breeze and the sight of majestic mountains redressing their foliage with reds, browns, and yellows, the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway is an awe-inspiring sight to behold in the fall that everyone should experience at least once. Amidst this gorgeous area, Asheville is best known for Biltmore Estate and the city's massive art scene. Rows of fancy shops, galleries, and museums welcome the constant flow of eager tourists while the famous local breweries keep them quenched throughout their shopping spree.
12. Portland, Oregon
This unique urban indie refuge is ideal for mingling with the locals at busy bars and restaurants. Also known as the City of Roses, it surrounds you with greenery and beautiful nature from the Portland Japanese Garden to Washington Park. One trek that avid hikers shouldn’t miss is the one to Witch’s Castle, a place riddled with a dark history of murder tales and intrigue. On a lighter note, Powell’s City of Books, the world's largest used and new bookstore, is an iconic must-see for bibliophiles, taking up an entire city block and stocked wall-to-wall with three floors full of books.