The Underrated U.S. City You Should Visit, According To Your Favorite Way To Vacation

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Even if you’ve seen the five most-touristed cities in the United States, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. There’s an entire country filled with underappreciated smaller cities yet to be explored. We picked nine that don’t get the credit (or visitors) that they deserve. The best part about them? Each one has a little bit of everything. You’ll find the super cute coffee roaster and local boutiques and craft beer. But they each also stand out for one particular reason. Here’s which one is right for you, based on how you like to spend your vacation time.

If You’re Into Food — San Antonio, Texas

Yeah, the Tex-Mex scene in San Antonio is legit. And you’ll love the barbecue and tacos. But what you might not expect from this Texas city is the charming Riverwalk lined with cafes and restaurants. There’s a lot of unique cuisines here, from the 1860s-style Restaurant Gwendolyn (no electric cooking equipment!) to the Peruvian-meets-Asian plates at Botika.

If You’re Into Art — Asheville, North Carolina

Asheville’s art scene is the River Arts District, where big empty warehouses have evolved into a haven for creatives. There are workshops led by local painters and galleries full of work made by lifelong residents and transplants alike. Standouts include Riverview Station, a mixture of antiques and artist studios, and Jonas Gerard Gallery and Studio, where the artist paints on a stage in front of an audience.

If You’re Into Beer — Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Some of the biggest American brewers call Milwaukee home, including Miller and Pabst. The city literally developed around the beer industry and you can see the history all over town. But there’s also plenty of newer, smaller breweries, like Sprecher Brewery (try the Black Bavarian lager) and Third Space Brewing (sample the Happy Place pale ale).

If You’re Into Sailing — Portland, Maine

When you imagine Maine, you probably picture the nautical lighthouses of Portland. When you actually visit, you can see them from the sea, whether by chartering a sailboat tour or taking sailing lessons and learning to be your own captain. Oh, and don’t miss eating some signature Maine lobster.

If You’re Into Sports — Louisville, Kentucky

Home of the Kentucky Derby at Churchhill Downs, the annual, hat-topped horseracing spectacle, Louisville is a sporty center. You can tour the track or watch less storied races, as well as check out the Louisville Slugger Museum that tells the story of the legendary baseball bat. It’s also right on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail if you want some whiskey after the big game.

If You’re Into Surfing — Santa Barbara, California

Sandwiched between San Francisco and Los Angeles, this Pacific city doesn’t get enough love. It’s paradisical, with wide sandy beaches, rolling hills and big waves for surfing (the big names include Rincon Point, Leadbetter Point and Sandspit). Santa Barbarans are also big into SUP — stand-up paddleboarding — in case you don’t want to go full-out into the surf.

If You’re Into History — Mobile, Alabama

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Old Mobile is the epitome of old-school Southern charm. There are many historic districts in the town where you can see examples of classic colonial architecture. For a more well-rounded historical perspective, you can follow the Underground Railroad via a bike tour along the city’s African American Heritage Trail. Mobile is also home to the oldest Mardi Gras celebration in the country.

If You’re Into Hiking — Fort Collins, Colorado

Here’s the thing about Fort Collins. It has all the things hipsters love about Denver and Boulder, but it also has hiking trails that you can access from inside city limits. Even backpacking trails are within a short drive from the city center, so you can get into the mountains easily. Plus, Rocky Mountain National Park is basically in Fort Collins’ backyard.

If You’re Into Music — Memphis, Tennessee

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While everyone’s sister’s (sorority or biological) bachelorette party is in Nashville, music lovers can hit Memphis for a scene that’s a little more soulful and a little less pink. The city is all about rhythm, from blues to rock ‘n’ roll. It’s Elvis’ old stomping ground and there’s still live music everywhere, starting with the neon-colored Beale Street.


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