So you’ve taken a bite out of the Big Apple, gone star spotting in Los Angeles, walked the Golden Gate in San Fran and partied ’til the sun came up in Miami. While you were at it you may have even got a taste of politics in Washington and experienced the windy city of Chicago.
When it comes to the U.S., it’s easy to feel like you’ve been there and done that when you’ve visited some of its star cities. Whether you’re feeling as though you’ve seen all there is to see, or want to be the first to discover some of the USA’s lesser known gems, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve gone and rounded up five of America’s hottest cities that aren’t on the standard travel radar, all ready and waiting to be discovered.
In Philadelphia, born and raised... | Image by Christian Carollo
1. HOUSTON, TEXAS
America’s 4th largest city has a reputation for being a hot, strip mall-filled, concrete jungle. Which it is, to some extent. But it’s also a hotbed of culture, history, art and cuisine – you just have to look for it a little. And, let’s face it, discovering the good stuff is what’s so great about traveling.
Get your science fix at the Space Center (NASA’s official visitors center), discover mouth-watering restaurants in local neighborhoods, and while away hours in the Houston Museum District. And if the heat does get too much, hop in a cab and head to the beach at Galveston Island.
Hit the beach at Galveston Island near Houston | Image by S. Kubyshin
2. PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Done New York? Then head to Philly! Just a short drive from the Big Apple, Pennsylvania’s largest city underwent a massive regeneration back in the 90s, transforming the run-down neighborhoods and pulling itself firmly out of New York’s shadow.
Stroll through picturesque streets, and see why the city’s Fairmont Park gives Central Park a run for its money. Get a dose of history at the Liberty Bell Center and for goodness sake don’t leave without trying a Philly Cheesesteak – the city’s signature roll filled with ribeye steak and melted cheese will have your mouth watering.
3. JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI
Jackson calls itself the ‘City with Soul.’ Worth a visit to ascertain whether that slogan best fits the city’s friendly locals, its rich history, the super-tasty soul food on offer – or perhaps all three.
Jackson was a pivotal city in the American Civil Rights struggle of the 60s, as portrayed in best-selling novel, The Help, so you’ll find lots of museums dedicated to the movement. Don’t miss the Mississippi Museum of Art for a stunning collection of Mississippi creations.
4. SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
A glistening jewel in the American South’s metaphorical crown, Savannah is a beautiful city. With Spanish moss covered trees, soaring mansions, Colonial buildings and a culturally rich city center, it’s easy to fall in love with the place.
Pretty Savannah | Image by Jeffrey T. Kreulen
But beneath Savannah’s pretty facade lies a darker secret: the city has earned itself the title as America’s Most Haunted City (capital letters necessary). Read John Berendt’s bestseller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a murder mystery based on true events in Savannah, and then join one of the many ghost tours to give yourself a good scaring.
5. SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
The city of the salty lake sprung to fame in 2002 when it hosted the Winter Olympics, and it’s been climbing the travel charts ever since. The Wasatch Mountains are close by, making Salt Lake City a great destination for skiers, climbers and hikers alike.
The city is the home of the Mormon Church, but the cosmopolitan atmosphere, progressive politics and thriving gay community are a million miles away from the conservative religion.