What are the best cities in the United States? That’s a hard call – the United States has 14 cities with a population of over 1 million and 337 cities with a population between 100,000 and 1 million.
Some of these cities are world-famous, some not so much.
In addition to the variety of cities, the United States also has so much ethnic and cultural diversity. For example, you will hear so many different languages and accents when walking the streets of New York City.
According to a United Nations study, the United States welcomes over a million migrants every year, and it’s the country with the highest number of foreign residents living inside its borders (45.8 million).
Tourists regularly choose the United States as a vacation destination because the country offers a huge variety of attractions that please the whole family: from cultural rides and adventure tourism to the possibility of experimenting with the unique lifestyle of the Americans.
If you are still in the process of planning your first trip to the US, you may be curious to know the best cities in the United States.
Well, I have narrowed down the list and selected the 12 best cities in the United States for you. Hopefully, this list will inspire you for your next trip to one of these unforgettable cities.
The 10 Best Cities In The United States
There is little doubt that New York is one of the best cities in the country.
How can you not fall in love with the Big Apple? Sure enough, it took me a second to do so. And after that one time, I vowed to live in the city. Which I did! Postcard to varied movies and themes of emblematic songs such as “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra and “Empire State of Mind” by Jay Z, the “city that never sleeps” enchants people with its skyscrapers, parks, and the cosmopolitan life.
Between the tourist routes, the mandatory stops are the Statue of Liberty (which, believe it or not, is actually located in New Jersey state), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, and the Rockefeller Center.
And, of course, how can you go to New York and not reserve a day to go shopping? Fifth Avenue is almost every woman’s dream, with its famous stores like the giant Macy’s.
When it’s time to eat, the city presents a great gastronomic variety for all tastes and budgets (from a hot dog car and food truck to the most acclaimed restaurants).
Don’t miss a Broadway show or a typical New York bar like McGee’s, the one that inspired the TV series ‘How I Met Your Mother’. As the Jay Z song said, “There’s nothing you can’t do” in New York.
Denver is one of the most underrated cities in the country. I have a special bond with it. I love quietness and nature, and without a doubt, Denver is my city to go for that! I lived there for more than two years while I completed my studies. There are over 200 parks spread around the capital of Colorado.
But the advantages do not end there. The biggest Colorado city is also known for encouraging sports and healthy life. There are over a thousand kilometers of bicycle lanes, transforming Denver into the city with the biggest interconnected lanes line of all the United States.
In terms of food, various chefs chose to work with local products, using fresh food, artisan cheese, and organic meat to create healthy, innovative, and flavorful plates.
Denver is also surprising for its street art: diverse murals, paintings, and sculptures are spread through its lanes. Another curious fact is a program called Denver’s Public Art Program that directs a part of the council’s monthly budget for the inclusion of art in the city’s constructions.
If you like skiing, you will be happy to know that Denver is pretty close to the most known stations in the United States, Aspen and Vail.
It’s easy to see why Portland is one of the best cities in the US.
The biggest city in the state of Oregon is known for its unique personality, one of the reasons that attract thousands of tourists every year. Wherever you walk, you’ll find a park, with lots of trees everywhere.
Make sure to visit the Japanese Garden and O Lan Su Chinese Garden, both downtown.
The Portland Art Museum, in the heart of the cultural region downtown, is famous for its permanent modern art collections. In the popular neighborhood Old Town, people line up to taste the Voodoo Doughnut inventions, with flavors like bacon, cereals, and marshmallows, among others. Close to that place is the Portland Saturday Market, the biggest fair of arts and crafts in the United States.
Another Portland curiosity is that a majority of its population are strong proponents of recycling, sustainability, public transport, and bikes.
Chicago is known as the city of celebrities like Mr. Obama and Mrs. Oprah Winfrey. Chicago is also infamous for being the land of blues and jazz, with unique and authentic rhythms. The starting point for visiting the city is Millennium Park, with over 99 thousand square meters of green areas above the train stations.
Another postcard you should not miss is the Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean, created by the designer Anish Kapoor, inspired by liquid mercury. Whenever you are looking for a wider vision of the city, head to two of the main skyscrapers; the 360 Chicago (the old John Hancock Observatory) and the Skydeck, the famous Willis Tower.
And no trip to Chicago is complete without a stop at Art Institute. Inside the museum, it is possible to find five thousand years of history narrated in different paintings, sculptures, fabric, photography, objects, and decorative arts from all around the world.
No trip to the United States is complete without visiting San Francisco. The city breathes life and enchants it with its beautiful landscapes. I’ll try to review some of the places that you must visit, like the colorful buildings in Valencia Street, a neighborhood known for its pre-hispanic inhabitants.
The Mission Dolores area is another must-see.
A walk between Bay Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf is mandatory, and taking this journey, you always get some of the nicest views of the city, as the bridges Golden Gate and Bay Bridge, the Island of Alcatraz, and the sea lions of Pier 39.
Lombard Street is one of the most inclined in the world, with its accentuated curves. The view from the top is amazing, but from the bottom, it’s even more enchanting.
If you like biking, you can rent a bike and cross the Golden Gate to Sausalito and come back with the Ferry. Make sure to go for a ride with the F line that connects the Castro (alternative neighborhood) to Fisherman’s Wharf. This line has historic trains that come from different cities around the world!
To end up, make a stop at Market Place. The Market Place brings together a variety of stores that sell all types of food one can imagine. If you like experimenting with new flavors, this will be your place.
Make sure to also read my post The Best Itinerary To See San Francisco In 3 Days.
While Florida might have a bad reputation in some circles, I strongly believe that Miami, Florida, is one of the best cities in the United States.
Florida frequently makes national news for strange reasons, but people often underestimate the vibrant charm and beautiful beaches along the Miami coast.
Once you’ve taken the plunge and committed to your trip to Miami, the first place you have to hit in town would be Little Havana to get some Cuban flavor and some much-needed Cuban food.
While you’re at it, make sure to go salsa dancing and practice my steps. And finally, I would definitely recommend spending some quality time soaking in the Florida sun and swimming in the clear waters of Miami Beach.
Don’t forget to read my post The Best Things To Do In Miami.
The famous city in Washington State deserves the title of one of the best cities in the United States. This quirky town in the United States is where popular TV shows such as Grey’s Anatomy (incidentally, my favorite TV show!) and Frasier (though younger generations may not know this one).
It’s also where the grunge music movement originated from – ever heard of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, guys?
Among the places to visit in Seattle, make sure to hit the Space Needle – I am pretty sure you have seen it in all TV shows. Pike Place Market is another one, as well as Pioneer Square. You should also go to Discovery Park and Lake Union.
Make sure to check out my post The Best Things To Do In Seattle.
One can’t talk about the best cities in the United States and not mention New Orleans, Louisiana. Famous for its carnival, this city has so much to offer to its visitors.
New Orleans is a true melting pot of American culture and history. You’ll find notes of African, French, Spanish, and Caribbean culture in the music, food, architecture, and traditions.
If you happen to visit, make sure not to skip the incredible French Quarter and Marigny, a neighborhood just east of it. The City Park and the Museum of Art are two more places you really don’t want to miss.
New Orleans is also famous for its jazz scene – that should be enough to have you packing if you ask me!
Rumor has it that Austin is the coolest city in Texas and, with that, one of the best cities in the United States. If you are traveling around the Southern United States, definitely plan a stop in Austin.
Believe it or not, Austin is often called the “Live music capital of the world” because they are home to so many festivals, live shows, and other events.
South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits are two popular annual events that bring large crowds from all over the world to the bustling city of Austin, Texas.
Austin has quite a bit to offer to visitors, and between that and the laid-back attitude of its inhabitants, it is an extremely pleasant place. Make sure not to miss places such as the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, the Capitol Building, and the Museum of Art.
The Continental Club is a great place to listen to music, and Magnolia Café is one of those diners that seem to have come out of a movie set.
Washington D.C., the vibrant capital city, deserves a spot on any list of the best cities in the United States for several reasons.
First, D.C. is the capital of the United States. So, if you’re interested in American culture, politics, or history, this is a great place to start. There are tons of national monuments and, of course, The White House right near the city center.
Second, D.C. is surrounded by beautiful and unique nature. While Washington, D.C. isn’t actually inside any U.S. state, it is surrounded by some of the most underrated states: Maryland and Virginia.
If you end up visiting Washington, D.C., you should set aside at least one full day for The National Mall. The National Mall is the park where all the most famous U.S. landmarks are, including the White House, Constitution Gardens, Lincoln Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
If you have more time, you can also spend a day exploring the Smithsonian National Museum of American History or one of the other Smithsonian Museums.
Las Vegas, or “Sin City”, has a pretty bad reputation, so you might be surprised to find it on my list of best cities in the US. Yes, it’s a place to party and go clubbing. Yes, it is a haven for gambling and degenerates. Yes, there is pungent smoke on every corner. Yes, it’s home to bachelor and bachelorette parties.
However, there’s so much more to Las Vegas than meets the eye. In addition to the wild parties, bottomless drinks, and colorful casinos, you’ll find wonderful food, adventurous hikes, and great people.
If you’re into hiking, check out Red Rocks, Mt. Charleston, Valley of Fire, or Lake Mead. All these parks are within an hour of Las Vegas.
If you’re into museums and other city activities, check out one of the many museums around Las Vegas. The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas is really fun, and The Neon Museum is another big hit!
The fun doesn’t stop there, either. No matter how much time you spend in Las Vegas, you won’t be bored if you go in with open eyes. That’s why Las Vegas definitely deserves a spot on my list of best cities in the United States.
Last but definitely not least, in my pick of best cities in the United States, there is the elegant Boston.
Once again, the set of one of my favorite TV Shows from the 1990s – have you ever heard of Ally McBeal? – the city is so Victorian in style that you will often think you are in England rather than in the US. But alas, it’s a fantastic place.
Boston is full of old-town energy, history, and classic American culture. In addition, Boston sees some beautiful foliage during Spring and Fall Months and is exploding life and smiles during the Summer months.
Among the must-see in Boston, you can’t miss Boston Common and Public Garden, the Museum of Fine Arts, Old North Church, and North End – the oldest residential part of town.
The Waterfront is a great place for a walk, much like Charles River Esplanade. Make sure not to miss Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum.
Also, if you’re into sports and happen to be in Boston during Summer or Fall months, you have to check out the world-renowned Fenway Park!
Have you ever visited the United States? What’s your favorite city there?
Don’t forget that in order to enter the United States, a visa is necessary. Believe it or not, I forgot I needed it once when I had a layover on my trip back from Mexico, and I almost got stuck. Thankfully, it is possible to stay organized and make ESTA applications before traveling.
Make sure to read my other posts about the US:
- 15 Unmissable Things To Do In California
- A Complete Guide To Visiting The Statue Of Liberty
- The Perfect Itinerary To See New York In 2 Days
- An Easy To Follow Itinerary For 4 Days In New York
- 5 Days In New York: An Easy To Follow New York Itinerary
- Seven Adrenaline Filled Things To Do In Yellowstone (With Kids!)
- How To Plan A Trip To Miami
- 15 Great Day Trips From Miami