Last updated on March 2nd, 2017
The United States is the perfect destination for travelers because of its vast and varied options. There is a city to please every type of traveler, and although they are all quite spaced out, it gives you the option to hop around from place to place if you want to see many different cities, take an extensive road trip, or to explore one city at a time over an extended period of time.
Since the country is so large, each city has its own distinct personality and offerings, from the seafood and beauty of the Pacific Northwest, to the soul food and traditions of New Orleans. You kind of have to try them all to see the diversity of the United States.
Between the two of us, we’ve been to every state in the U.S. and have spent time in each of these 8 best cities in the U.S. for tourist that we’ve listed. We know from experience that you can’t go wrong visiting any of these top cities, though you might find that one or two suit you better than the others. Check them out and decide which to add to your list of U.S. cities to visit.
Charleston, South Carolina
You won’t believe how many great restaurants have popped up in Charleston in the past few years. Not only does it have a lot of cultural and historical significance in the United States, being the crux of the South in the Civil War, but it also has its own very unique Southern hospitality and atmosphere. You will definitely feel like you’re in the south, from the hotel you choose to stay in to the restaurants you eat at, and the way people speak to you on the street – it’s all very “Charleston”. It’s a charming city with a lot of polite and friendly folks who are eager to share their heritage with you.
You know it for its deep dish pizza. There’s no where else on earth that can replicate one of those pies. But Chicago is known for so much more. You probably don’t want to visit Chicago in the winter when the biting wind and snow might make you regret your decision, but in the spring and summer, Chicago really comes alive. You can take an architecture river cruise to see and learn about the world-class architecture. You can watch a baseball game at the famous Wrigley Field. You can admire the views from the John Hancock Building observatory deck.
Chicago is also well known for its food. There’s the iconic deep dish pizza, but Chicago is also home to the Chicago-style hot dog and Italian beef. If you’re in to fine dining, Chicago is home to one of the top fine dining experiences worth traveling for: Alinea.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Of all the top U.S. cities to visit, New Orleans probably has the most unique experience to offer. A melting pot of cultures have defined the New Orleans of today. New Orleans is also the birthplace of jazz, and live music of all kinds permeates the city, day and night. There’s no lack of great places to enjoy the flavors of New Orleans, as well. Whether you visit one of the oldest and high class restaurants in New Orleans, Commander’s Palace, or set out to find new modern cuisine from some of the top chefs in town, like Emeril’s or Restaurant August, you can’t go wrong. Not sure what to order? Try these foods you must eat in New Orleans. We also highly recommend these cocktails you must try in New Orleans. If you’re up for it, stay in a hotel right on or near Bourbon Street for the most fun!
We lived in Seattle for almost eight years, so we’re very familiar with its numerous charms. People like to say it’s always rainy and overcast in Seattle, but that’s not the case. Seattle has many beautiful, blue sky days that are so crisp and bright that you must immediately drop what you’re doing and spend the rest of the day outdoors. With so many fun things to do in Seattle, you can easily spend a week in the city and not get bored.
Pike Place Market is also a huge draw for tourists in Seattle. The 100-year old market is packed full of vendors selling vegetables, huge bouquets of flowers, fresh seafood, amazing donut holes (seriously, don’t miss this!), and souvenirs of Seattle. It’s a fun place to walk around and it has an incredible view of the Puget Sound and the mountains in the distance. Also from downtown Seattle, you can quickly take the ferry to the San Juan Islands or even all the way up to Victoria, Canada.
San Diego, California
The perfect combination of beach and city is what San Deigo is – and that is often quite appealing for tourists. There are a lot of art galleries, artist studios, and museums to visit, plus the world-famous San Diego Zoo, and when you’re done with those city things, you can retreat to the beaches and parks to enjoy the perpetually fantastic weather.
San Diego has also become quite the craft beer city. So many new breweries have opened in the past few years that it’s hard to keep track of the count, but it’s over 100. Beer lovers will have a great time brewery hopping. Of course, there’s a lot of great food in San Diego too. Don’t miss trying the famous California burrito from one of the many Mexican restaurants
It’s not just the amazing weather and the beautiful beaches that makes Miami a top tourist destination in the United States. There’s also a very Caribbean vibe, a Little Havana-type atmosphere, and a lot of partying going on in both Miami and South Beach, Florida. It’s the place to go to unwind and have a good time, while relaxing in the sun, drinking mojitos and eating tons of delicious Caribbean-inspired foods.
History and politics are the name of the game in Washington, DC, the capital city of the United States. If you’re not hopping between all of the free Smithsonian museums or participating in a Capitol Building or White House tour, you’re probably out exploring the many fun neighborhoods that make DC feel more like a home and less like a place to run shoulders with politicians and well-heeled lawyers and lobbyist.
There is plenty to do in Washington, DC, for singles and for families. Check out our post with 50 great thing to do in Washington DC. One of the biggest draws is all the history and politics that make up this town, but there’s also a very eclectic feel to the food that can be found in the different neighborhoods. Love Ethiopian food? You’ll find it in abundance here, as well as lots of microbreweries and markets. Look here for non-touristy things to do in DC.
New York City, New York
If you love art, Broadway and food, New York City is the best city in the United States to take advantage of these amazing things. Not only is New York City the food capital of the United States, it is teeming with bars and lounges, nightlight and any other type of drinking, dancing, partying venue you’re looking for. And of course, there are tons of touristy things to do in New York City.
When you’re not out enjoying the food and drinks, you can spend your time watching dozens of Broadway musicals and plays, as well as Off-Broadway productions, and sometimes ticket prices are highly discounted, making it even easier to enjoy more of these great shows. If you’ve ever been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you’ll know that New York City has it all for art lovers. You can get lost in that museum and not resurface for days.
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If you haven’t traveled extensively or at all in the Unites States, we encourage you to start with these major cities. We’re just scraping the surface of great U.S. cities with this list, but these are our very favorite U.S. cities for tourist. What are your favorite cities to visit in the U.S.?