Some of the best cities to visit in the United States can get lost on the list of highly anticipated places, but it doesn’t mean they’re any less special or worth the trip.
The following underrated cities in the USA might not have made the top travel lists, but they all have unique qualities, culture, activities, and landscapes that make them great spots for your next vacation.
Because they’re a bit under the haywire, you’ll find that there are fewer crowds and tourists and you might even enjoy visiting them a bit more than some of the popular tourist cities.
So why not skip New York City and head to one of these small underrated cities that still have a lot to offer? Not only will you save money, but you will most likely get a more personal experience while you are there.
Top 14 Most Underrated Cities in the USA
14. Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is located on Lake Erie and has a long list of qualities.
The city is a hub for music, art, sports, and food.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located here and a mind-blowing place to check out for music lovers.
Art covers the city and has turned the downtown into quite the modern scene.
The food is truly exceptional, too.
Happy Dog is a must-visit because the restaurant serves hot dogs with dozens of possible toppings including Froot Loops, Spaghetti-O’s, and Cheetos among a variety of other unique options.
There are also more than 30 breweries in the city to taste.
Cleveland’s West Side Market is full of booths of food, produce crafts and other unique items. It’s a great place to stroll around and check out the heart of Cleveland
Lake Eerie, being one of the great lakes is a beautiful seafoam green color.
Cleveland is a great place to walk along the promenade, spend a day on the beach, or try out water sports such as sailing or windsurfing.
Cleveland creates the perfect opportunity to mix city life and lake life into an unforgettable experience.
13. St. Louis, Missouri
The Midwest can get overlooked when choosing somewhere to travel, but that is why St. Louis is one of the most underrated cities in the USA.
It is friendly on your pocketbook as well because it boosts the freest attractions besides Washington DC.
These free attractions even include St. Louis Zoo, Gateway Arch National Park, St. Louis Art Museum, Forest Park which covers 1,300 acres, and so much more.
However, the most iconic attraction is St. Louis Arch which is the tallest in the world and the tallest monument in the United States at 630 feet.
It symbolizes the 19th-century westward expansion of the US. You can ride to the top and peek down at the city below and because it’s curved, it doesn’t feel like your normal elevator ride to the top which makes it an exciting experience.
Another unique thing about St. Louis is it sits on the border of Missouri on the Mississippi River with Illinois just on the other side of the water.
The entire east side of the city is waterfront. St. Louis also invented the ice cream cone so it’s a must-have snack while visiting.
St. Louis is a historic, vibrant, and adventurous city with so much to do, especially if you’re on a budget.
12. Seattle, Washington
Located between the Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and Elliot Bay is the stunning city of Seattle.
It’s a city surrounded by water with the Olympic Mountains nearby, it’s a beautiful place to visit with beauty all around. With access to a variety of landscapes including mountains, the ocean, and the city, there is so much to do and see.
You can even visit the nearby islands by ferry for a relaxing and scenic tour of both the islands and Seattle from a different perspective.
Many large corporations were birthed in Seattle including Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon among many others. It’s known as a tech hub in the Northwest and because of that, it has rich cultural diversity.
So don’t let the rain scare you away. Seattle has a true community feel with its great work-life balance.
As the largest city in Washington, it has a gorgeous skyline with tall buildings scattered throughout the city.
The Seattle Space Needle is the best place to view the famous landmarks 605 feet above the ground.
The city is also known for its great restaurants, especially the seafood options since it’s situated right on the coast.
It’s a great city to explore and breathe in the fresh outdoors.
11. Denver, Colorado
Denver is located in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the US. It sits in the South Platte River Valley near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Even though it is the mile-high city it sees the sun more than 75% days of the year and there is so much adventure to be had.
The Rockies are one of the best places to explore with several state parks, national parks, and forests to visit.
A favorite spot is the Red Rocks Amphitheatre which is a natural concert venue made by ancient rock formations that have hosted some world-renowned bands. Located just outside the city of Denver, it’s a great place to explore and get outdoors.
Red Rocks is one of the best activities to do in Colorado, if not maybe in the whole US.
The city is also known for its craft beer selection. There are more than 50 breweries and 200 different craft beers to try throughout the city. So you will never get bored.
Because of the wild amount of breweries, there is now a Denver Beer Trail that makes it easier to try some of the best spots in Denver.
It truly is a city to get out and explore the outdoors. If you haven’t been to this area of the US before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the red rock formations and how beautiful it is.
Denver has something for everyone, if beer isn’t your thing and you are looking for a healthier vacation it is full of great wellness retreats as well.
10. Asheville, North Carolina
This is the perfect underrated city for anyone wanting a more local feel. It’s got charm, great breweries, and of course amazing outdoor activities and hikes to explore.
It is off the beaten path, but it’s hard to understand why. It is a great small city to spend a weekend and explore. Full of great restaurants, bars, and budget-friendly hotels.
It is most famous for the blue ridge mountains which are absolutely stunning almost anytime of year and the Biltmore Estate, which is a castle with over 250 rooms and used to belong to George Vanderbilt.
The estate is so large it will make you feel like you are in Europe. You can’t come to Asheville without checking it out.
9. Savannah, Georgia
With its famous Spanish moss-draped trees that line the streets, Savannah is a true fairytale. With gorgeous architecture and beautiful mansions, there is nothing better than strolling the streets and looking at all the unique and one-of-a-kind buildings. It is the perfect romantic escape.
Some of the structures date back to the early-mid 1700s which are some of the oldest in the country.
The city has a lot of history and allows you to feel like you’ve traveled back in time yet it’s still been modernized.
It is even known to be haunted and is famous for its nightly ghost tours.
The historic district has a free shuttle that will take you around the area or you can pay for a trolly ride full of history lessons.
Savannah even allows open containers, so you can stroll around the city with a beer in hand and have a good time.
The weather is also a highlight of Savannah where it’s warm almost year-round and the winter months rarely get below 60 degrees.
The city also has 22 squares that were once created for fire prevention but now are peaceful places full of gardens and grassy escapes to relax and getaway.
You can also walk along the Savannah River where there are many bustling restaurants, hotels, and shops to explore or enjoy a river cruise for a unique perspective. It’s a city with a wide variety of activities.
All these reasons are why Savannah is one of Georgia’s top weekend escapes.
8. Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
If you are a sports fan of any kind, it is most likely that you have heard of Pittsburg. But it has so much more to offer than a great sports team. Since it is an underrated city is the USA, it means it is more affordable than other high tourist spots.
It is full of art and culture, as well as tons of green space. If you are a fan of architecture or bridges, you will love this steel city as there are over 446 bridges. Now that is a lot of bridges.
After reading this list, hopefully, you’ve added some new cities to your bucket list locations.
The best part is the fact that these places will be less crowded than some of the top tourist cities in the United States. Go forth on a vacation of a lifetime to one of these underrated cities in the USA city.
Enjoy shorter lines, cheaper prices, and unbeatable experiences.
7. Austin, Texas
As the capital of Texas, Austin is a bustling and growing city in the US.
Even though it’s a larger city, it has maintained its small-town feel.
The culture is quite mixed with people from all over and of many different lifestyles.
Keep Austin weird as they say.
For food lovers, Austin is a great place to visit. It’s known for its mobile restaurants with over 1,000 of them to choose from.
Food trucks are a part of Austin culture and serve anything from donuts, snacks, to international food, and everything in between.
Austin has great, sunny weather and beautiful blue skies most days and is a great place to spend time outdoors.
There are 205 parks, 14 nature reserves, and many miles worths of hiking and biking trails.
The Colorado River flows around the Southwest part of the city with beaches to enjoy outdoor activities and water sports.
Austin is a beautiful city to eat and adventure your way through. It’s absolutely worth checking out. Not only that, but Austin has plenty of great day trips for you to check out.
Austin is also known for its wonderful festivals and live music. It is a place you don’t want to miss.
6. Portland, Maine
Portland is known for having an abundance of quality restaurants throughout the city. Located on the ocean, the city is filled with quaint shops, unique places to eat, and a great culture.
Portland is such an amazing place and one of the best vacation destinations in Maine.
It has seaside New England charm with amazing seafood and breweries scattering the shore.
The beaches are beautiful and there are islands off the coast to explore.
Peaks Island is just a 15-minute ferry ride from downtown Portland and is a coastal and beautiful island that is the perfect place to spend the day biking around.
You can also visit the Portland Head Light which is the oldest in Maine and looks beautiful with the gorgeous landscape of the coast behind it.
Walking around the Old Port is an enjoyable opportunity to breathe in the fresh, salt air and explore the establishments.
The best word to explain Portland is “quaint” because that’s truly what it is.
You’ll love the small-town restaurants and shops that each have their uniqueness to them. It is the perfect place to visit for one of the best weekend getaways in the USA.
The Old Port is walkable and still has some cobblestone streets and old brick buildings with character. What makes Portland so great is that it’s Maine’s largest city but it still feels homey.
5. Newport, Rhode Island
Newport has to be one of the most stunning little cities on the East Coast. It’s full of old mansions from the 19th and 20th centuries as well as colorful brick buildings.
The city has a lot of history including being home to the oldest synagogue and lending library in the US.
Arguably the most stunning scenery in Newport is the Cliff Walk which is a 3.5-mile trail on the coast with the turquoise blue ocean on one side and gorgeous mansions on the other.
It’s the most stunning walk along the coast and unlike anything else, because it’s located on a large cliff above the water for amazing views.
The city is truly situated on the water and there is a gorgeous winding road that leads you 10 miles around the coast.
If you don’t have a car while visiting Newport, it’s worth renting one or getting a taxi to view the beautiful beach houses along the water.
Brenton Point State Park is located on this road and a great place to stop and enjoy the scenery that Newport has to offer.
You really can’t go wrong with a trip to Newport. It’s a great city to enjoy the outdoors, slow down, window shop, and enjoy a meal at the many fabulous restaurants in town. It’s beautiful, quaint, adorable, and lively.
Believe it or not. Rhode Island also has amazing surf, and is considered the crown gem of New England surf.
4. Salt Lake City, Utah
One of my favorites on the list of underrated cities in the United States has to be Salt Lake City. If you are a fan of mountain life you will want to check out Salt Lake City, and maybe even head up to Park City if you have the time.
Salt Lake is a city built around outdoor life and activities.
Utah is an incredibly beautiful state and there is so much to see here. If you enjoy the outdoors not only will you want to visit Salt Lake City, but you will also want to visit all these places on Utah’s bucket list.
Salt lake, however, has snowboarding in the winter, mountain biking in the summer, and mountain foliage in the fall. Salt Lake is a city for people who don’t like cities.
Salt Lake has amazing day trips to be had all around. it. It is perfect for the outdoor lover.
3. Portland, Oregon
The second Portland city to make this list. Located on the west coast, Portland, Oregon is a highly underrated city in the USA. It is hip, young, and full of life. It’s full of parks, and riverways and is great for any outdoor lover with Mount Hood nearby.
It is a progressive city known for its great coffee houses, local breweries, and of course its eco-friendly environment. However, the best part about Portland, is it is ok to be weird. You will see all kinds of people here with all shades of hair color, it is a city where you are allowed to truly be yourself.
Portland is a great spot to visit for a few days, a great pit stop on any west coast road trip.
You will absolutely love the funk the city has.
2. Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore is not just the home to the Star-Spangled Banner, it also offers a thriving and upcoming arts culture. It is home to the world-class Ravens American football team. Known as charm city by some it is often overlooked when planning a vacation in the USA.
This harbor town is a great alternative to San Francisco if you are looking for something a little more off the beaten path. It is a must-visit spot when visiting Baltimore. There are so many incredible things to do in the inner harbor.
1. Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennesse is known to be a live music mecca, almost every bar or restaurant you walk into will have a live performer jamming away. Broadway Street is a great place to start full of great bars.
It is the perfect place to go for any music lover, as it has a wide variety of options to choose from. Think big little city.
Nashville is a big city with small-town vibes, you will enjoy walking around the downtown area and popping in and out of bars and restaurants. It’s got a special southern charm that is hard not to fall in love with.
Besides being full of live music there are plenty of outdoor activities you can enjoy and of course great landmarks to see including the country music hall of fame.
Nashville is the perfect spot for a girl’s weekend, a romantic trip away or even a solo trip. There is so much to see and do here and it is perfect for almost any occasion.
Yes, the USA is home to such cities as Los Angeles and New York, but there is so much more to see as well. It is worth checking out some of these more underrated cities in the US.
They are full of life, and character and will probably save you some money along the way.