PHOTO: Kansas City, Missouri's skyline. (photo via Flickr/Photoguyinmo Swatzell)
When it comes to the United States and the cities that get the most love, usually it comes down to a few factors. The bigger the better. The flashier the better. The more people, the better.
Cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles get all the hype when most tourists think about planning trips to a prominent U.S. city, but there are a handful of extremely underrated cities that can provide just as much, if not more, tourism and fun.
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City seems to only be known for its barbecue, and though there’s plenty of reasons to be head over heels for some KC-’cue, there’s also a ton more to do in the City of Fountains.
If you’re into the nightlife and bar scene, Kansas City’s Power And Light should be the first stop on your trip. It may be your last stop too, depending on how much money you have. It’s basically an indoor/outdoor conglomeration of clubs, restaurants, and bars, and no matter what day of the week it is, it’s always busy.
For more refined ideas, check out the art museum, beautiful Union Station or the National World War I Museum and Memorial. If you’re into thrift shopping, the West Bottoms will provide you with a unique, almost eerie bargain hunting experience.
You can also go shopping for hours down on The Plaza, and if you’re into art, food trucks and culture, make sure you plan your trip around First Fridays in the Crossroads Art District.
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo gets the short stick because it shares the same state as New York, New York.
While, unfortunately, it can’t hold a candle to the Big Apple, for those looking for a different experience than what the big city provides, Buffalo is an excellent an underrated tourist spot with plenty to do.
It may not have Central Park, but Buffalo’s Botanical Gardens were designed by the same person (Frederick Law Olmsted), and it’s an absolutely beautiful attraction. Speaking of, there’s also the Erie Basin Marina. The actual marina is private, but right next to it you’ll find a public park right on the water, gardens, restaurants and an observation tower.
Fans of history will love Old Fort Niagra, which has been around since 1768 and has been held by the French, British and Americans, and speaking of, the U.S. side of Niagra Falls is just a half hour drive up north away.
Oh, and by the way: While you’re in Buffalo, make sure to eat some of its famous wings.
READ MORE 5 Bridges in The US You Must See
Fort Worth, Texas
Forth Worth seemingly always gets lumped in with Dallas (or Arlington), but without a doubt, on its own merits, Fort Worth is definitely a great city to visit if you find yourself down in Northeast Texas.
For those into food and culture, Fort Worth is a restaurant and bar haven. Tex-Mex is obviously a go-to staple, but the BBQ is also big-time down in Fort Worth, and the bar scene is hopping.
Fort Worth has an awesome cultural district, which is home to five museums all within walking distance of each other. If you’re really into the spirit of Texas go and check out a Rodeo, or perhaps a show at the Casa Mañana theater is more your style. The Fort Worth Zoo is nearby the cultural district, and for a different kind of animal, the Texas Motor Speedway is nearby as well.
No matter what mood you're in or what you want to see and do, Fort Worth has it all. Sure, cities like Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio get all the love down in Texas, but it’s a big state, and Forth Worth definitely deserves some attention as well.
San Diego, California
Los Angeles is perhaps one of the country’s most well-known cities and San Francisco is an extremely popular tourist attraction, so that tends to leave San Diego out in the wind a bit. That's ironic because it’s perhaps one of the most beautiful places in the country, if not the world.
Go check out a weekly weather forecast for San Diego. Sure, it’s not always perfect, but more often than not, the city boasts beautiful weather, and there are plenty of reasons to get outside and enjoy it.
A great place to start your trip would be at Balboa Park, which is a 1,200-acre expanse of trails, art venues, museums, the Zoo, the United Nations building and much more. You could spend a whole day at Balboa park and come back the next day wanting more.
The problem is, you’d miss out on the rest of San Diego.
The USS Midway Museum is a must-visit, especially for those with a love of history. Speaking of love, you’ll fall in love with San Diego’s countless beaches. Surfing, lounging, swimming, parasailing, hang gliding—you can do it all. Not only that, but San Diego is famous for some epic whale watching.
After all that fun, check out one of San Diego’s many breweries and restaurants. A whole vacation won’t long enough to experience everything San Diego has to offer.
If you really do need more, consider this: Tijuana, Mexico, is only a 45-minute drive down south.
Detroit has received a bad reputation over the years, but anybody who has been paying attention knows that “The D” is in the middle or a renaissance. Catch it now before it becomes too popular and cliche to plan your vacation around Detroit.
At the heart of Detroit’s revival is a budding restaurant and bar scene. Breweries are popping up left and right and so are gourmet restaurants with some of the best, most underrated food.
Detroit has an awesome “Greek Town”, where you’ll find some of the best Mediterranean food on this side of the world, and the same thing can be said of Mexican Town, which offers real, authentic Mexican food. Cultural food is huge in Detroit. So, everything from Middle Eastern food to coney dogs can be found and consumed (with great pleasure), and we haven’t even mentioned any tourist-favorite things to do yet.
The Detroit Institute of Art is one of the best art galleries and museums in the United States, and the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village isn’t that far away (a visit there is like stepping back into time).
Spring and summer in Detroit belong to the Tigers, and Comerica Park is a great venue to catch a ballgame at. If you’re downtown during the Fall or Winter, the whole city goes crazy at Ford Field when the Lions play and now that the Pistons and Red Wings are moving in together in a new downtown arena, there’s going to be even more reasons to visit the city.
Detroit has a few casinos if you’re feeling lucky. If you’re feeling really adventurous, hop on over the bridge or drive under the Detroit River and go enjoy the nightlife of downtown Windsor, Canada. Just make sure to bring your passport.