juliamhammond

Ten of the best American cities

The USA’s diversity makes it one of my favourite countries and there are many cities I’ve revisited – or hope to do so – over and over again.  Here’s my top ten: what are yours?

New Orleans, Louisiana 

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Sultry New Orleans ticks all the boxes: history, colour, a sense of fun and plenty of quiet, atmospheric corners to retreat to when the buzz gets too buzzy.  The mansions of the Garden District stand in haughty contrast to the tackiness of Bourbon Street, but you don’t have to stray far from the notoriously crass party hub to find wrought iron balconies and heart-lifting melodies within the iconic French Quarter.

New York, New York 

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I’ve been back to New York countless times yet never tire of the place.  But now I’ve ticked off the sights, on recent trips my focus has been on some of its most fascinating neighbourhoods and ethnic food joints.  It delivers.  But then I’d expect nothing less from the self-styled “Capital of the World”.  Where else can you enjoy a southern-style Gospel brunch, El Salvadorean pupusas for lunch and the most succulent steaks outside Argentina for dinner?

Savannah, Georgia

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Savannah’s centre has a split personality.  On the one hand, its genteel tree-filled squares host historic mansions, each with its own intriguing tale to tell.  Yet barely a stone’s throw away lies River Street, which comes alive each evening with bars and restaurants thronging with customers.  This Georgia gem has it all – and some of the best beaches in the State just a short drive away.

Charleston, South Carolina 

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Elegant Charleston oozes sophistication from every cobble and porch, yet somehow manages to make you feel you’re worthy of a stay here.  Beautifully tended gardens force you to stop and stare, even though you know you shouldn’t intrude.  Yet in the bay lies Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired – there’s passion and fervour behind that steely façade.

Bar Harbor, Maine 

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A visit to Maine is a lesson in Geography, as Down East is actually north and residents travelling south to Boston say they’re going up.  The map might be a bit squiffy but there’s no mistaking you’re in New England with fresh lobster, seal boat trips and the dark greens of Acadia’s firs and pines set off to perfection against a muted palette of pink granite and yellow sand.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

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The Liberty Bell draws a crowd who queue patiently to inspect the crack in the iron that signalled the very first reading of the Declaration of Independence.  Beyond that historic district is a city that is proud of its heritage and isn’t afraid to work hard to make a living.  Best time to visit?  New Year’s Day, when Philly lets its hair down for the annual Mummers Parade.

San Antonio, Texas

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The city famed for the Alamo delivers, but the surprise is that the Alamo is overshadowed by the city’s other attractions.  The River Walk, a flight of steps down from street level, is lined with restaurants and bars where minutes turn into hours without you even noticing that the time’s passed.  With plenty of museums, galleries, and a Stetson hat store to rival anything anywhere, this place begs to be revisited.

Seattle, Washington

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The iconic skyline with the instantly recognisable Space Needle might be what draws visitors to Seattle (or at least fans of Grey’s Anatomy) but this is another city where the memorable attractions are those which you didn’t know about before you landed.  The fascinating story of a city built on lumber and a whole other world of underground storefronts and sidewalks awaits visitors who’ve watched the fish fly at Pike Place Market and sipped their coffee in the Starbucks where it all began.

San Francisco, California 

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The seaplane pilot wore a grin with a span to rival that of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Visibility, he said, was the best he’d seen in thirty years.  Luck like that burns memories into your brain so deep they never fade.  And under blue skies, sights like Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf and the artists of Sausalito don’t get any better.  Just check those brakes before you drive down the world’s most crooked street…

Memphis, Tennessee

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Green shag pile carpet on a stairwell ceiling?  Check.  Acid yellow walls framing a bank of chunky televisions?  Check.  A private jet in the car park bearing the name Lisa Marie?  Check.  Graceland might not impress in terms of size but its Seventies style will leave you gawping, mouth open wider than the zip on that white jumpsuit.  Oh yeah, and there’s music on Beale Street when you’re ready to return to the present.

There you have it; I’m sure Miami, Chicago and Boston will have their fans, as will Vegas, DC and the City of the Angels.  What makes your list?

10 responses

  1. I’d wager that the cities of Europe have way more to offer than those in USA. That is a challenge not an insult!

    Liked by 1 person

    September 1, 2017 at 8:38 am

  2. Challenge accepted! I’ll pick my ten for my next post and you pick yours. Let’s see what overlaps (I’m guessing something Spanish at the very least!)

    Like

    September 1, 2017 at 8:41 am

  3. These are some iconic places that are on my wish list, but I’ve only been to a few on your list. The only big cities that I’ve been to that have been positive experiences for me are New York and San Diego. Hopefully, once the political climate changes in the US, I may return once more.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 7, 2017 at 4:48 am

  4. Now I’m intrigued to ask were there any that weren’t positive and if so which?

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    September 7, 2017 at 5:14 am

    • Los Angeles was definitely the biggest disappointment for me, although to be fair, when I visited it, it was cold and dreary, so that probably had an impact. But speaking of cold and dreary cities, I actually loved Seattle when I went there a few years ago, although it was all sun and blue skies then. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      September 9, 2017 at 2:11 am

  5. Definitely some good choices here, though I’d throw New Orleans into at least the top 10. There’s a saying that there’s New York, New Orleans, and everywhere else is Cleveland. Otherwise, I’m also pretty biased and will throw Durham, North Carolina into the mix. It’s a great city that’s full of history and even had one of the most iconic movies filmed there (Bull Durham). Aside from these two, I’ll vouch for your choices. Charleston is def one of my favorites! Thanks for sharing:)

    Liked by 1 person

    September 7, 2017 at 9:02 pm

  6. Durham I shall have to check out! But not quite sure I’m understanding your comment to throw New Orleans in – as it’s already in. Thanks for your comments.

    Like

    September 7, 2017 at 9:12 pm

    • Ugh, crazy brain of mine. Lol, it’s right there. Sorry. Come to Durham, though. It’s awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

      September 8, 2017 at 3:49 pm

  7. I’m having the same kind of day myself LOL. But thanks, Durham’s now on the bucket list!

    Like

    September 8, 2017 at 3:55 pm

  8. Pingback: Ten of the best European cities | Julia's Travels

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