50 US Cities Worth Exploring in 2022

Downtown Spokane Washington skyline and the Spokane River. (Photo via benedek / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Scott Hartbeck
by Scott Hartbeck
Last updated: 8:00 AM ET, Mon January 3, 2022

The Return of the City-Centric Trip

If the last couple of years were ones for hitting the wide-open spaces and getting away from it all, 2022 looks set to officially welcome back cities to the top of our travel list. There's a buzz in a city that you just can't be duplicated anywhere else and the following 50-some famous, some up-and-comers-look set to shine this year.

Greenville, South Carolina

South Carolina's little rock star city will keep the momentum going this year with the opening of the handsome and much-heralded Unity Park. Set to open in spring, the park will give the city a new gathering place and is sure to be loved by locals and tourists alike. This year also sees the NCAA Tournament come to town in March for first and second-round games.

Ithaca, New York

Home to both Cornell University and Ithaca College, Ithaca manages to be both a "college town" and a lively little city. Explore all the eateries and lively bars downtown before making for the surrounding greenspace to explore the breathtaking array of waterfalls-there are over 150 of them within a 10-mile radius.

Memphis, Tennessee

A musical mecca that is also home to barbecue royalty? It could only be Memphis. Walk down Beale Street, visit Graceland and feast on ribs, but then also turn your attention to more important matters by learning about the struggles of the past and present at the National Civil Rights Museum. The city also looks set to host its usual myriad of food, art and music festivals in 2022, too.

Reno, Nevada

The Biggest Little City in the World is also one of the most underrated cities in the nation. Afterall, where else can you peruse a renowned art gallery, try your luck at a casino and kayak right in the middle of downtown? Only Reno.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indy will kick off the year by hosting the BCS National Championship, but crowning a college football champion is just the start of the 2022 fun in Circle City. Scores of openings and events like the Broad Ripple Art Fair and Black Expo Summer Celebration are scheduled to take place too, and no mention of events in Indy is complete without talking about the Indianapolis 500 and its associated revelry, which will once again take over the city on Memorial Day Weekend.

Oakland, California

Lots of cities have blossomed into A-list travel destinations in the last decade or so, but perhaps nowhere has done it as colorfully as Oakland. Admire the city's collection of vibrant murals under a sunny NorCal sky before heading to Chinatown, which is one of the nation's most historic. Highlights of the 2022 social calendar include Lunar New Year celebrations & the Black Joy Parade in February while summer sees the Art & Soul Festival and Chinatown Street Festival take place.

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth punches well above its weight when it comes to things to do. Whether you use the city as a base for scenic drives along Lake Superior or just sit and watch the big ships passing through the Duluth Shipping Canal, you're sure to leave with a new Northern favorite. Annual events include the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in January and the Bayfront Reggae & World Music Festival in summer.

Waco, Texas

They call themselves "The Heart of Texas" and your heart is sure to flutter when you spend some quality time in this Lone Star city. March will see Spring at the Silos return to Chip and Joanna Gaines' famous Magnolia Silos, the Margarita & Salsa Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary in summer and autumn is set to see the return of the Heart O' Texas Fair & Rodeo.

Ashland, Oregon

This artsy small college town in southern Oregon is known for its independent streak and for being the perfect springboard for exploring the region's stunning natural scenery. Spend days hiking and evenings sampling the menus at an eclectic range of locally-owned eateries.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Long overshadowed by that Mile High City a few miles up the road, The "Olympic City" is quickly becoming a top-tier destination in its own right. A case in point is Colorado Springs' new United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum, which is a must-visit for any sports fans. As always, the outdoor pursuits here are elite, with Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak and the challenging former cable car track turned calorie-shredder that is the Manitou Incline providing the thrills.

Flagstaff, Arizona

When you're craving a break from the summer heat in the heart of Arizona, head to Flag'. When you're missing winter and want to see some snow, head to Flag'. No matter the time of year, Flagstaff offers a respite from the norm with its college town vibe, plentiful festivals, outdoor recreation opportunities and role as the jumping-off point for the Grand Canyon.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

You can't talk about Sioux Falls without mentioning the bewitching cascades that give the city its name, and you'll want to spend plenty of time in Falls Park while you're here. But that's not all the city has to offer. Eclectic shops, restaurants and a myriad of annual festivals (Levitt at the Falls concert series and the Sidewalk Arts Festival are just two examples) are helping attract visitors and new residents in droves.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Don't blow past Beaufort on your way to Savannah or Charleston, because this town can compete with both in the Southern Charm department. The city kicks off the year with the tasty Beaufort Oyster Festival and spring brings the remarkable celebration of local culture that is The Original Gullah Festival. The city's best soiree is the summertime Beaufort Water Festival, which features concerts, talent shows and fireworks.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock rocks in a big way and if you've never been to Arkansas' biggest city, make 2022 the year you right that wrong. The city will be celebrating the 300th anniversary of its naming with several events throughout the year, a new network of biking trails will open and there will be new exhibits at the Clinton Presidential Library. In addition, 2022 will be a good year to visit the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Visitor Center as it will be commemorating the 65th anniversary of the events that made it a landmark in the struggle for civil rights.

Madison, Wisconsin

Home of the University of Wisconsin, Madison is a mash-up of the coolest small town you've ever been to and an outdoor lovers paradise. Located directly on a lake, the city is home to scores of public parks and beaches, a quirky independent streak and a multitude of cultural attractions.

Sacramento, California

The capital of the Golden State may sit in the second tier of most people's California Bucket List, but that just means you'll have a bit more of this cool city to yourself. Explore the Old Sacramento Waterfront and its rich Gold Rush history before feasting on a fresh Farm-to-Fork meal, as the city lays claim to being the capital of the concept.

Orlando, Florida

Orlando has truly blossomed in recent years, meaning you could have a sensational trip here without ever stepping foot in one of its world-famous theme parks, but that doesn't mean you should. Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in 2022, making this year one of the best years ever to visit. Expect lots of new attractions to mark the occasion, with Sea World and Universal Studios doing their best to keep up as well.

Detroit, Michigan

The "D"s comeback story has been well established but if you haven't seen it for yourself then 2022 is the year to get re-acquainted. Make for the Motown Museum to see how Hitsville USA made music magic, then go to the Henry Ford museum and the Arab American National Museum to get two other sides of the city's unique history. Then, after you've had your cultural fix, make it your mission to try out the city's best pizza and coney dogs, two of Detroit's signature food items.

Boise, Idaho

The secret has long been out on Boise, and with each passing year, the siren song to travelers gets louder. Zig-zag your way around the trails and surrounding mountains or just simply slalom between hip craft beer bars and excellent restaurants. Look for the Treefort Music Festival to make a comeback in 2022 and for the Spirit of Boise Balloon Festival to shine as brightly as ever.

Wilmington, North Carolina

Many people rush past Wilmington to get to the coast, but those that stick around in 2022 will be richly rewarded. The city will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its renowned North Carolina Azalea Festival in April while the Carolina Beach Music Festival will rock the city's own sands in June.

Lawrence, Kansas

A perennial candidate for the best college town in the country, Lawrence lives for Jayhawks home games, live music and their roster of rockstar local shops. Spring is scheduled to see the return of the legendary Lawrence Buskers Festival and summer 2022 will see the return of the blooms to the local sunflower farms-a sight your Instagram followers are sure to thank you for.

Dayton, Ohio

Every March, Dayton is the scene of the NCAA Tournament's First Four games, but that's just the start of the reasons to get to know the Gem City in 2022. Visit the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park to learn all about how the Wright Brothers turned Dayton into the birthplace of aviation and then head to the Historic Oregon District to sample the many cafes, bars and coffee houses.

Pensacola, Florida

You could visit this historic city on the Florida Panhandle and do nothing but hit the beach, but you'd be missing out on half the fun. Spend quality time on the sand of Pensacola Beach for sure, but then make your way downtown to admire the cobbled streets and lively cafes or make a stop at Pensacola Village-where you can re-trace the earliest history of America's first multi-year European settlement. Other reasons to visit include a seemingly endless array of music & food festivals on the beach and multiple appearances by the Blue Angels, who are based in the city most of the year.

Eugene, Oregon

Home to the University of Oregon, Eugene is so much more than just a college town. This place can compete with the coolest cities on the West Coast, offering all the cultural attractions you'd expect alongside easy access to stunning wilderness. July 2022 will see the city host the World Athletics Championships in what is sure to be a riveting competition.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

The fact that Virginia Beach is the largest city in Virginia catches many people off guard, but it's true and it's also a fact that the city has a lot more to offer than just sand and fun in the sun. Visit during the offseason to peruse the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and its roster of epic 2022 exhibitions before penciling in a return trip in August for the East Coast Surfing Championships.

Jacksonville, Florida

In JAX, one minute you're downtown diving into a happy hour full of local delicacies and fresh-brewed libations, the next your digging your toes into the sand at one of the city's beaches. Yes, it's all that close, yet somehow this city in northeastern Florida has managed to fly under the radar. March sees the region host the PGA Players Championship; April sees the world's largest beachfront Blues festival; November sees the annual Florida vs. Georgia football game.

Des Moines, Iowa

The Iowa capital will pick up right where it left off with a host of exciting events lined up for 2022, including the return of the 80/35 music festival in July and Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival in March. In addition, Hamilton will make its Des Moines debut in May while the Iowa State Fair is poised to present its best edition yet come August.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Sure, you may have heard of Erie before, but did you know they have a 3,200-acre island ringed by sandy beaches? Okay, it's technically a peninsula, but each summer Presque Isle State Park becomes the premier destination on Pennsylvania's lake coast, and you won't want to go another summer without experiencing it.

Jersey City, New Jersey

You can't say you've properly explored all the angles of the Big Apple without checking out what's happening across the river in Jersey City. Stroll through Liberty State Park and admire the views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island before heading out for great pizza or fantastic Filipino food in "Little Manilla". The city is also known for hosting an excellent Caribbean Carnival and fun Italian festival each summer.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore continues to creep up the rankings and 2022 won't slow its momentum. The city's famous Lexington Market will be re-imagined; City Cruises Baltimore is set to take to the water in summer; Fleet Week is scheduled for September. The city will also serve as a wonderful base for exploring Maryland sites related to Harriet Tubman as 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of her birth.

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis sits in the heart of the Midwest, offering up a plethora of unique things to do and foods to try-within a day's drive of much of the nation. Head to the top of the Gateway Arch to survey the scene and take in a Cardinals game before trying some of the city's unique foods like toasted ravioli and pizza made with Provel cheese. The highlight of 2022's social calendar will once again by Soulard Mardi Gras, which is expected to return in March.

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is always a good idea and the city continues to pick up steam as both a tourist destination and a great place to live. Visit the galleries and admire the architecture on Palm Canyon Drive, spend a day or a few at the pool and explore nearby Joshua National Park. The city will also be a great base before or after Coachella, which is finally set to make its triumphant return in 2022 with headliners Rage Against the Machine and Travis Scott.

Spokane, Washington

The moment you're walking downtown and spot Spokane Falls-the largest urban cascade in the country-is the moment you know you've arrived somewhere special. You don't have to stay downtown though, as the town is surrounded by gorgeous countryside ideal for exploring. As far as fun things to do, the town's beloved Gonzaga Bulldogs take the court all winter long and come summer, the city is a great place to spend Father's Day as the holiday was invented by a local woman in 1910.

Huntsville, Alabama

Home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville is set to have another out-of-this-world year in 2022. Rocket City should once again play host to Concerts on the Dock, multiple brew fests and-come autumn-the storied Maple Hill Cemetery Stroll, which features costumed actors bringing the history of the city alive.

Richmond, Virginia

Realistically, 2022 might be the last year Richmond is considered under-the-radar by any reasonable traveler. The arts scene is bubbling, the breweries are taking their place among the nation's elite and it's still the only metropolis in the country with Class III and Class IV rapids within the city limits.

Chattanooga, Tennessee

As far as city settings go, they don't come much prettier than 'Nooga's. Tucked beside the Tennessee River under a range of mountains, you could fill a weekend here simply strolling up and down the Tennessee Riverwalk, making runs to the bevy of excellent local coffee, breakfast and biscuit purveyors. In addition, it would be rude to come all this way and not take a river cruise, visit the Tennessee Aquarium or do some hiking.

Ocean City - Berlin, Maryland

Okay, sure, when you combine the populations of these two Maryland towns you still may fall short of the official "city" threshold but combined they offer a full travel experience. Hit the beach and boardwalk in Ocean City before bedding down in Berlin, a charming small town home to multiple annual festivals and the legendary Burley Oak Brewing Company.

Burlington, Vermomt

Set on the shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington buzzes due to a lively student population from several local schools (the University of Vermont is the most high profile) and the fact it owns the state's top dining and nightlife scene. Visit in summer to fully embrace the waterside lifestyle and to take in the city's most famous bash: the Discover Jazz Festival.

Milwaukee, Wisconson

Milwaukee has been famous for its brewing for centuries and you are certain to discover a new favorite craft outfit when you visit, but you might just leave more enamored by the art at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Or maybe the atmosphere at a Bucks or Brewers game? Or perhaps the scintillating sounds of Summerfest, the world's largest music festival? Or the Wisconsin State Fair? You get the idea, get to Milwaukee in 2022, you won't regret it.

Louisville, Kentucky

The 'Ville is so much more than just the Kentucky Derby, but the special spirit of the Run for the Roses lives year-round. 2022 will see Angel's Envy Bourbon Distillery-a leading stop on the Urban Bourbon Trail-expand and add an impressive new imbibing space while the Muhammad Ali Center looks set to shine bright with another year full of thought-provoking exhibitions.

Buffalo, New York

Located on Lake Erie and within a stone's throw from the wonder of Niagara, Buffalo has beautified its waterfront in recent years, which gives you one more reason to visit this oft-overlooked city. 2022 is set to see the return of the beloved St. Patrick's Day Parade, Taste of Buffalo and the National Buffalo Wing Festival.

Knoxville, Tennessee

Knoxville may often play second fiddle to other destinations in the Volunteer State, and maybe that's appropriate with its history as a hub of country music. Take the city's fascinating Cradle of Country Music audio walking tour to learn all the details before helping the locals celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair -an event that truly put the city on the world map.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Pure Michigan's second-biggest city, Grand Rapids is stacked with surprises for the first-time visitor. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park provides serenity and stunning garden displays while Grand Rapids African American Museum & Archives and the Grand Rapids Art Museum will both keep you fascinated for hours. This is to say nothing about the recreation available on the banks of the city's namesake Grand River or out on the water itself.

Annapolis, Maryland

The capital of Maryland likes to call itself a "museum without walls" and that just gives a little taste of the history on display here. Walk the historic streets-popping into the myriad of local shops and galleries-before sitting down for a seafood feast at a restaurant with a view of the water.

Kansas City, Missouri

KC has been hot for a few years now and if you haven't visited to see what all the hype is about, make 2022 the year you do. Bounce between cool restaurants and bars in the Crossroads district before heading to the posh Plaza for dinner. The next day, hit up the city's famous barbecue joints for lunch before visiting the 18th & Vine District, home to several museums and sights that give a fascinating insight into KC's rich African-American heritage.

St. Petersburg, Florida

All too often lumped in with neighbor Tampa, the back-half of the Tampa-St. Pete combo has just as much to recommend it as its sibling. Start your visit at the Dali Museum taking in the whimsical works of artist Salvador Dali before heading to the sands of St. Petersburg Beach. Fun annual events include St. Pete Pride, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Localtopia-a celebration dedicated to local life.

Augusta, Georgia

Sports fans the world over know this city as the home of The Masters golf tournament, but this beauty beside the Savannah River has a lot more to recommend it. For starters, you can learn all about the "Godfather of Soul" and former resident James Brown at the Augusta Museum of History or take a snap with his famous statue downtown. Then, stroll along the Riverwalk at twilight to see Augusta at its best.

St. Augustine, Florida

Owning the title belt for being the oldest continuously-inhabited place in the United States, St. Augustine has plenty of stories to tell. Walk the historic streets of the Colonial Quarter by day, take a ghost tour by night and wake up the next day and head to the beach-this is Florida after all. Oh, and if you're into that whole "eternal youth" thing, pay a visit to kitschy-fun "Fountain of Youth".

San Antonio, Texas

Yes, you're going to want to see the Alamo and you have come to San Antonio without a stroll on the Riverwalk, but this city will also surprise you in 2022. Case in point is the myriad of culinary offerings that are putting the city on the must-eat list of foodies from across the world and the always-fun springtime Fiesta, which features parades and music in a lively celebration of the city's unique culture. In addition, the wonder of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park never ceases to amaze.

St. George, Utah

Sunny skies, mild temperatures and easy access to Zion National Park are just three of the reasons that people are flocking to St. George. All this and the "you have to see it to believe it" outdoor theater venue that is the Tuacahn Center for the Arts.

Here's to a year filled with great city getaways.

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Scott Hartbeck

Scott Hartbeck

Born in the USA but now based in England, Scott has been writing about travel for over 10 years. He specializes in Europe, rail...

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Laurence Pinckney

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CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

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