Traditionally, travelers coming to North America are told that New York City is the place to be. While of course, NYC is considered the center of culture and diversity in the United States, there are a few other cities in good ‘ol America that are worth looking into. At the very least, they’re a whole lot cheaper.
1. New Orleans
Even though this city has experienced its fair share of disaster, from Hurricane Katrina to the latest BP offshore oil spill, it hasn’t lost its sense of charm.
One of the oldest cities in the United States, New Orleans has much to offer to any budget traveler.
NOLA, as it is endearingly called by its inhabitants, is home to the inimitable Cajun cuisine, culture, and language. It’s also the birthplace of jazz music, and is clothed in a very unique French Creole architecture.
New Orleans also is the setting of famous works of literature, including the Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire and the John Kennedy Toole’s novel Confederacy of Dunces, which perfectly captures the cosmic weirdness of this great southern city.
Not many first time travelers to the United States consider Texas as a prime location to go for a romp, if only because Texas has an exaggerated reputation of being all about backwardness and cowboys throughout much of the world.
However, Austin is very much a diamond in the rough.
It’s surrounded by the rolling hills and pristine lakes of the Texas Hill Country, it’s famed especially for its live music scene, which achieves its zenith during its annual Austin City Limits Music Festival, and the nightlife rivals many bigger U.S. cities. Come to Austin for a laid back and relatively inexpensive good time.
Portland symbolizes all the best of the great American West.
A metropolitan area located between the beautiful Willamette and Columbia rivers, Portland is known as the “green city” of the U.S. Portland also is well reputed as the place to go for microbreweries and distilleries, as well as the city to get a great cup of joe.
For those looking for a good time with the fine arts, Portland has few limits – it’s got an opera house, an orchestra, a ballet, and several more theater venues.
Portland’s landscape is dotted with green space, and is known for its pet-friendly environment. The excellent public transportation system makes it very easy and cheap to get around.
Not as tourist-ridden as Nashville, Memphis is a quaint U.S. city with lots of charm and history. It is most famous for its music scene.
Many of the most influential American blues, gospel, and early rock n’ roll singers got their start in Memphis, including Elvis Presley, B.B. King, and Johnny Cash.
Memphis has two established visual arts areas and is home to the Brooks Museum and Dixon Gallery. Memphis is also a great place for foodies, and has many authentic barbecue joints, among other restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines.
Although the United States has much to offer to visitors of all stripes and interests, these four cities are a great start if you want to sample a variety of distinct places that are scattered across the map.