America was once the wild frontier – sweeping lands, big buffalo, and bigger skies – but today the cities rival the natural wonders. From the dazzling lights of Las Vegas – the Strip is said to be one of the brightest spots on earth – to the toe-tapping, country-music bars of Nashville, we’ve tried and tested them all. Here AnneLise Sorensen rounds up the 50 best towns and cities in America’s 50 states.
Birmingham’s tumultuous past may have earned it a place in the history books, but it’s the present that’s keeping it there. Industrial pioneers founded the city, 1960s Civil Rights pioneers launched the nation’s desegregation movement here, and today, cultural and culinary pioneers are leading the way, with innovative theater, museums, and restaurants – don’t miss the baked grits at Highlands Bar & Grill.
Grand Bohemian Hotel - This landmark property, one of the state’s premier luxury boutique hotels, is more than just a place to rest your head – it also features the luxurious Poseidon Spa, an art gallery, a cooking school, wine-blending classes and a seasonal restaurant, Habitat Feed & Social. Opened in 2015, the hotel overlooks the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and has snazzy, contemporary rooms with marble bathrooms.
Get acquainted with an important part of the history of the city and the nation as a whole, on a 3-hour guided Civil Rights Tour.
The best of Alaska converges on seaside Sitka. There’s nature: the mighty Mount Edgecombe, a collection of windswept islands, whale-watching, and kayaking. It has a fascinating history: a rich Russian legacy, presided over by a beautiful Russian Orthodox church. Plus there’s some serious small-town charm by way of an old-fashioned downtown peppered with cozy bars. Best of all, Sitka has smartly managed to stay off the cruise-ship trail. Here, locals still outnumber visitors.
Sitka Hotel - This newly renovated, historic hotel offers a touch of old- fashioned style with some rooms offering harbour views. An in-house restaurant serves up delicious local seafood.
Quintessential Southwest, Tucson is a vibrant blend of Native American, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures. Tucson has escaped the bulldozers of modernity (see Phoenix) by determinedly preserving its historic architecture, which is crowned by the glowingly white Mission San Xavier del Bac, the oldest European structure in Arizona. The University of Arizona lends a youthful air to the city, while the Mexican restaurants bring spice and flair (and very good margaritas).
Hotel Congress - Central, bohemian hotel, a short walk from Amtrak and Greyhound, with vintage Art Deco furnishings. Forty plain en-suite guest rooms, with loud music and dancing at night
Combine the fun of the Amazing Race with a 3-hour Tucson scavenger hunt. Smartphone-guided teams solve clues and challenges while learning about the history of the downtown area.
Unfolding on the banks of the Arkansas River, this forward-thinking state capital offers an inviting foray into the New South. Delve into the life and times of Bill Clinton at the Clinton Presidential Center and Park, roam the premier Arkansas Art Center, feast on creative Southern cuisine, and then walk it off on the city’s riverfront trails.
Rosemont B&B Cottages - Bill Clinton was a regular visitor at this luxurious, powder-pink inn with sophisticated guest quarters, breakfasts made from locally sourced ingredients, a relaxing veranda and a manicured garden good for coffee and a paper.
Oscar Wilde once said, “It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in
Phoenix Hotel - A favourite with touring bands, this raucous retro motel conversion feels more Los Angeles than San Francisco and features a small pool. Its 44 rooms are eclectically decorated in tropical colours with a rotation of local artwork on the walls.
Sail along San Francisco's breathtaking waterfront, under the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, and around notorious Alcatraz Island.
The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection - Beautiful downtown landmark dating from 1892, with elegant dining rooms and public areas, as well as impeccable rooms. The eight-story cast-iron atrium is stunning.
No matter what time of the year you visit the Rockies, you will always walk away with a unique experience. Take a day tour from Denver to explore the fascinating scenery.
The Study at Yale, Study Hotels - This relatively new boutique hotel is unquestionably New Haven’s top spot, with iPod docks, flatscreen TVs and large workspaces in every stylish room. Its oversized windows have postcard-perfect views of the Yale campus, and there’s great coffee and reading material in the lobby.
Yale University Sterling Memorial Library Statue Ancient Languages Writings New Haven Connecticut
State Street Inn - Comfortable rooms – two with whirlpool tubs – in a cosy inn with a parlour, exercise room and even a putting green.
Beaches are everywhere in
The Inn at Dickens House - One of several charismatic B&Bs in the area, this restored Arts and Crafts cottage houses five classic rooms, and guests get a delicious gourmet breakfast.
Discover St. Petersburg on a smartphone guided walking tour. An amazing scavenger hunt adventure will start along the bay and take you on a game route that will explore the rich history, the lively art scene and other hidden gems of this great city.
This is the classic South: antebellum mansions, magnolia trees, trickling fountains – and mint juleps served in vine-draped gardens. But,
Azalea Inn and Villas - Charming, laidback B&B in a nineteenth- century mansion at the edge of the historic district near Forsyth Park, complete with adorable Yorkies, ten bright, delightfully furnished rooms and a very welcome pool.
Take an out-of-the-ordinary tour and go in search of spirits. See what's waiting for you around every corner and in every square of Savannah. Pick up insights into the city's paranormal activity from a real psychic.
Best Western Pioneer Inn - Maui’s oldest hotel, splendidly positioned on the seafront in the centre of Lahaina. All the tastefully furnished rooms have private baths and a/c, and open onto lovely balconies.
Discover the joys of whale watching on an excursion from Lahaina Harbor in Maui. Listen to commentary and get insights and tips for sighting whales from an experienced and passionate crew.
Say “Idaho” and for many a sturdy starch leaps to mind: the potato. Yes,
This well-curated city thrums with regional theaters, museums, home-cooking restaurants, and a lush greenbelt along the Snake River that winds through the center of town.
Acme Hotel Company Chicago - Hip hotel where compact rooms feature splashy modern art, smart TVs, Apple docks, mega-fast wi-fi and free morning coffee delivery. Guests also get free Apple watches and wi-fi hotspots to carry around during their stay.
Cruise along the Chicago River on a 75-minute tour, and discover hidden architectural gems among the city’s renowned landmarks. Led by a docent providing live narration, the tour passes more than 40 structures, and sails under historic bridges.
This eminently liveable city reveals the best of the Midwest: friendly neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, beer bars, and a lively university – the University of
Grand Street Inn Bloomington - This pleasant B&B offers fine rooms decorated in a variety of styles from Victorian to upscale modern.
Hotel Julien Dubuque - Once owned by mobster Al Capone, this is the posh, historic choice downtown; mostly dating from 1915, the renovated rooms feature plush dark-wood furnishings, iPod docks and luxury linens.
One of the most famous quotes about
Ambassador Hotel Wichita, Autograph Collection - Spacious rooms, luxurious beds and sleek bathrooms in the elegantly renovated Union National Bank Building.
21c Museum Hotel Louisville - This boutique hotel has luxuriously classy rooms and also houses an art museum and top-notch restaurant. Look out for the red penguins dotted around the property.
Buy your entry ticket to the Frazier Kentucky History Museum. Discover the culture, heritage, and history of Kentucky from world-class Bourbon to Civil War history. Explore the exhibits and artifacts and watch live performances that take place every day.
Playwright Tennessee Williams once opined, “America only has three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” For Tennessee Williams, New Orleans was his muse – as it has been for many, from Louis Armstrong to Harry Connick Jr.
Hotel Provincial - This sprawling – yet somehow intimate – place is in a quiet part of the Quarter, with rooms around five peaceful, gaslit courtyards. All rooms are filled with antiques or period reproductions. Plus two nice outdoor pools, a bar and the restaurant Angeline, which serves Southern cuisine.
Take a walking tour through New Orleans' spiritual turbulence, vampire theories, voodoo rituals and witchcraft. The charismatic tour guides will bring history to life.
The Chadwick Bed & Breakfast - Tucked away in Portland’s West End, this 1891 Victorian has four guest rooms that are a tasteful marriage of antiques and modern design. You’ll find gourmet breakfasts, a garden with a hammock for two, a welcoming host and happy guests.
Eat your way through one of Maine's most "foodie" centric cities on this culinary walking tour of Portland. Enjoy a leisurely walking tour that carves a path through the streets of the charming Old Port educating you on local food, drinks, and history.
It says a lot about
Admiral Fell Inn, Ascend Hotel Collection - Chic historic hotel spread over seven buildings (some dating from the 1770s) in the heart of Fell’s Point. Rooms have vaulted ceilings and fireplaces; some have jacuzzis and balconies as well.
Explore the hidden world of Baltimore's craft beer scene. Enjoy a mix of history, brewing knowledge, delicious tastings, and great food pairings. Sit back and relax with roundtrip transportation and unrivaled access to the city's iconic breweries.
The macabre Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 live on in a wide variety of witchy sights (spooky walking tours, cemeteries, haunted houses), but there’s much more to this town. Enjoy the well-preserved historic waterfront, the 1668 House of Seven Gables mansion, and the Peabody Essex Museum, one of the country’s oldest continually operating museums, which is notable for its Asian art collection.
Hawthorne Hotel - Right in the heart of things, this full-service hotel is a Salem landmark with reasonable prices and a respectable restaurant and pub. Built in 1925, it has 89 rooms furnished with eighteenth-century reproduction furniture, iPod docks and flatscreen TVs.
Discover the most haunted historic sites in Downtown Salem which have made the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria infamous. Hear ghost stories that make Salem one of the most haunted cities in America on this fun and thrilling guided walking tour.
Motor City is back. For years,
Aloft Detroit at The David Whitney - Gorgeous boutique set inside the historic Whitney building, a Neo-Renaissance palace from 1915. Rooms feature the slick, contemporary Aloft design.
Take a walking tour to explore the social and economic upheavals of Detroit through its architectural landmarks. Learn about the boom years at the Guardian Building and Penobscot Building, and the bust years that have left many abandoned skyscrapers.
“Can’t repeat the past?” says F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. “Why of course you can!” Especially in St Paul,
The Saint Paul Hotel - This grand, 1910 establish- ment is Minnesota’s top hotel. Rooms tend to be smaller than those of other luxury hotels, but the staff and atmos- phere make up for it. The St Paul Grill provides some of the city’s finest dining, while the classy bar has tons of great scotches and cognacs.
Discover St Paul on an smartphone guided walking tour. Your amazing scavenger hunt adventure will begin at the Minnesota Capitol building and journeys through the rich history of St Paul. You will discover the hidden gems of this city in a unique way.
What’s in a name? In this case, it won the city a university. Oxford was named after Oxford in England, in the hopes that this would entice a university to open here. And, it worked: in 1948, the University of Mississippi was founded in Oxford, and since then, the city has emerged as a dynamic hub of learning, live music, and lauded restaurants. Oxford is also a great jumping-off point to exploring the rest of the state, including the mighty Mississippi River, which winds along the western border.
Barbecue, beer, and bebop: this is
Hotel Phillips Kansas City, Curio Collection by Hilton - Gorgeously restored downtown 1930s luxury hotel. Rooms are spacious and relaxing, while the mezzanine above the lobby has wonderful Art Deco touches.
Take all the dusty frontier and cowboy stereotypes about the
Doubletree by Hilton Missoula Edgewater - Best of the chain hotels, near the university right on the Clark Fork River – on which you can conveniently fly-fish – with nice rooms and suites and gym, pool and hot tub.
The cornhusker state also has a cosmopolitan side – in Omaha. While much of
Magnolia Hotel Omaha - Downtown’s most historic hotel was built in 1923 (in the style of the Bargello in Florence), today offering stylish, modern rooms with all the usual amenities (plus Nintendo video games in every room and free beer and wine reception nightly).
When you think of hedonistic pleasures, one city struts to mind:
New York New York - Las Vegas’s own Big Apple is more appealing than most of its larger, less compact neighbours. The guest rooms are attractive and readily accessible, with some nice Art Deco touches, and the casino holds some excellent bars and restaurants.
Enjoy panoramic views of Las Vegas, the entertainment capital of the world! Spectacular views of the Bellagio fountain, the laser beam at the Luxor and the dazzling Stratosphere Tower on your helicopter flight over the Las Vegas Strip.
Ale House Inn - Portsmouth’s only waterfront inn, above the town’s theatre, is a truly luxurious treat – a contemporary boutique hotel with each room equipped with a flatscreen TV and an iPad. The ten cosy rooms occupy a remodelled brick brewery warehouse dating from 1880. Free parking and use of mountain bikes.
Yes, the Jersey Shore has a reputation of big hair, tiny bathing suits and spray tans. However,
Wander amid the deep-red landscapes of
La Fonda on the Plaza - Gorgeous old inn on the southeast corner of the plaza, marking the end of the Santa Fe Trail, and featuring hand-painted murals and stained glass throughout. Each lavishly furnished room is different, with some lovely suites, and there’s a delightful restaurant plus rooftop bar.
Unquestionably, any visit to this state warrants a stop in
Bring your fedora and head to Asheville –
Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate - Former residence of George Vanderbilt’s lawyer, who helped the tycoon secure Biltmore, this spectacular 1892 Victorian offers the consummate B&B experience: posh rooms, caring staff, sweeping scenery and chef-driven meals.
Discover Asheville on a smartphone guided walking tour. Your amazing scavenger hunt adventure starts in the heart of the city and explores the rich history, art, monuments and other hidden gems of this great Smoky Mountain Town.
Few states capture the vastness of the United States like
This Southern-tinged Midwestern City – Kentucky’s horse-grazing fields are just across the
Curio Collection by Hilton The Cincinnatian Hotel - Exuding pure class with its marble lobby and wood-panelled rooms, this 1882 building houses the city’s prime independent luxury hotel.
Once a dusty cowboy town,
Colcord Hotel - Sleek boutique hotel housed in the city’s first skyscraper (1910). Spacious rooms with downtown views are outfitted with modern furnishings and glass-tiled showers, while the lobby is a marbled feast for the eyes.
Uniquely, this small, hilly town in Southern
The city known as the birth of the nation has also birthed a dynamic contemporary cultural arts scene. Visit iconic historical sites like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and then roam top-notch art galleries and the
Morris House Hotel - Luxury boutique hotel in a 1787 Society Hill mansion with a lovely courtyard, cleverly refurbished to maintain its historical feel. Ample conti- nental breakfast included.
If you’re a foodie and want to try a Segway tour join this guided ride through South Philly in search of the city’s best cheesesteak. See the Italian Market, South Street, and Society Hill. Sample 5 varieties of the famed Philly cheesesteak along the way.
This lively state capital is the embodiment of New England: leafy parks that change colors by the season, rustic restaurants, and a fertile arts scene, from galleries to repertory theaters. All of this is presided over by the esteemed Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design, which inject Providence with a youthful, progressive energy.
Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel - Luxurious downtown hotel on the site of a former Masonic temple, with 272 comfortable, well-appointed rooms, some overlooking the State House. A 5min walk from the train station.
Take a small-group tour of Providence and learn about its fascinating history while enjoying fantastic views of the city. Discover multiple prominent sites and attractions by land and by water.
Tradition meets trendy in this sophisticated Southern city that’s experiencing a rebirth. Greenville, South Carolina has a burgeoning New South cuisine scene, eye-catching sculptures along Main Street, a flourishing city park with a tumbling waterfall, and the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, which was built on the site of a historic plant that once produced wagons for the Confederate Army.
The Big Sioux River runs through the center of this
“Country music has all the stories,” once said the blues singer Etta James. The same can be said about
Omni Nashville Hotel - This posh outpost of the Omni brand has become one of Nashville’s signature hotels. Connected by walkway to the Country Music Hall of Fame, its litany of perks includes a rooftop pool with skyline views, myriad on-site restaurants, a spa and flashy guest-rooms with picture windows.
See the Homes of the hottest stars that call Nashville home. Ride in comfort while hearing stories of where the stars live and play. Who knows, you might even have a star hop on board your bus. It really does happen sometimes!
You’ll see it on t-shirts, posters, and bumper stickers: Keep Austin Weird. The good news? The city has managed to do so. Quirky, playful, and rebellious, Austin is a music pioneer – and host of the famous SXSW festival. It abounds with artistic and culinary indulgences, including superb barbecue, funky coffeehouses, and innovative galleries.
Austin Motel - Basic rooms in a trendy old motel in hip SoCo. A favourite with visiting musicians, it’s across from the venerable Continental Club.
See the vibrant city of Austin in an entirely new and exciting way in this 3-hour, Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt. Let your smart phone be your guide as you race to Capitol building, through 6th street and along the scenic river front.
Few places make you feel more like a mortal than standing in the middle of
Inca Inn Motel - Clean budget motel where the decent-sized rooms have very comfortable beds and rather amazing disco-light showers, and there's an outdoor pool.
Drive a 4x4 UTV through a guided tour of the Hell’s Revenge Trail to the Colorado River, where you can overlook into Arches National Park. This thrilling adventure through Utah's iconic landscapes is available for the morning, afternoon, or during sunset.
Two names: Ben and Jerry. The famous Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, launched by two hippies in a renovated gas station in Burlington, became the worldwide symbol of
Courtyard Burlington Hotel - A great downtown option, with a fabulous location near the waterfront and newish, luxurious rooms and amenities; buffet breakfast, indoor pool and LCD TVs included.
Gain an all-inclusive insider's look into Vermont's explosive craft beer scene. Go behind-the-scenes of the areas most innovative and tenured breweries before enjoying a delicious pizza paired with beers for lunch.
“Give me liberty or give me death!” It was in Richmond that politician and Founding Father Patrick Henry uttered those words, which led to the American Revolutionary War.
Linden Row Inn - A chic row of red-brick Georgian terraced houses has been converted into a comfortable modern hotel with antique furnishings. However, unless you get a swanky Parlor Suite, the rooms can be on the drab side.
Taste the best of Richmond’s oldest neighborhood with a walking food tour, visiting 5 local tasty establishments.
Ace Hotel Seattle - Modern white minimalist rooms in the heart of Belltown (just north of downtown), with hard-wood floors, lofty ceilings and shared bathrooms, plus some more comfortable and well-appointed suites with private bathrooms.
Embark on a culinary tasting adventure of Pike Place Market with a local chef guide. Stop at 10 different artisanal vendors; learning about local production and tasting your way through the flavors of the Northwest.
It might not be a city, but cobblestone Harpers Ferry in
There’s a lot more to
While not strictly a city, the mountain resort of Jackson is a
The Wort Hotel - Built in 1941, the Wort is the most venerable high-end property in town, combining old-world style with modern facilities that include hot tubs.
Enjoy a 4-hour wildlife safari tour in Grand Teton National Park. Take the excursion in the morning or in the evening to increase the likelihood of spotting moose, bison, grizzly and black bears, wolves, elks, eagles, and more.