What are the best cities in the United States? That’s a hard call – the country is packed with gorgeous ones. Some are world-famous, some not so much.
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 millions).
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 the unique lifestyle of the Americans.
The US is also a culturally varied country. It’s incredible to walk, for example, in New York and find people from all around the world. That mixture of languages, with the typical sound of a big city and the clicks of the cameras that one can only find in the Big Apple is amazing.
If you are still in the process of planning your first trip to the US, you may be curious to discover the best cities. I have selected my favorite ones for you.
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 theme of emblematic songs 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 dreams, 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 city in the country. I have 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, 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 of the United States, Aspen and Vail.
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It’s easy to see why Portland is one of the best cities in the US.
The biggest city of 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 of visiting the Japanese Garden and O Lan Su Chinese Garden, both downtown. Another Portland curiosity is that a big part of its population are followers of recycling, sustainability, public transport and bikes.
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.
The city of celebrities like Mr. Obama and Mrs. Oprah Winfrey, Chicago is known for being the land of the blues and jazz, with unique and authentic rhythms. The starting point for visiting the city is the 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 with its beautiful landscapes. I’ll try to resume some of the places that you must visit: the colorful buildings in Valencia Street, 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. The Lombard Street is one of the most inclined of 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 of the world!
To end up, make a stop at Market Place, this brings together a variety of stores that sell all types of food one can imagine. If you like experimenting new flavors, this will be your place.
Many will argue against this, but other will say that Miami, Florida – allegedly the weirdest State of the Union – is one of the best cities in the United States.
Needless to say, the first place you have to hit in town would be Little Havana, to get some Cuban flavor and some much needed Cuban food. And while at it, make sure to go salsa dancing and practice my steps. I would definitely recommend to spend some quality time toasting in the sun and swimming in the clear waters of Miami Beach.
The famous city in Washington State deserves the title of one of the best cities in the United States. The quirkiest 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 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.
One can’t talk about the best cities in the United States and not mention New Orleans, in Louisiana. Famous for its carnival, this city has so much to offer to its visitors. 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 happen to visit this part of the country, definitely make it a point to go.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Further readings about the United States
Make sure to read my other posts about the US:
- 15 Unmissable Things To Do In California
- The 10 Best Places To Visit In California (That Aren’t Just Cities)
- A Great Itinerary For 3 Days In San Francisco
- 35 Classic Things To Do In New York City
- A Complete Guide To Visiting The Statue Of Liberty
- A Great Itinerary For A Week In New York
- A Wonderful Itinerary For A Day In New York
- The Perfect Itinerary To See New York In 2 Days
- A Fabulous Itinerary For 3 Days In New York
- 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!)
- 23 Unmissable Things To Do In Miami
- How To Plan A Trip To Miami
- 15 Great Day Trips From Miami