25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2020

The United States is ripe with amazing cities to live in and travel to (in fact, here are some of our favorite cities to visit in the US). Despite ongoing concerns over firearm violence in America, the country as a whole is safer than you might realize. In fact, with a violent crime rate of 369 incidents committed for every 100,000 people in 2018, the U.S. is statistically the safest it’s been in the last three decades. Unfortunately, safety can look quite different at a local level than it does nationally. When it comes to individual cities, there are definitely some that are considered more dangerous than others.

Using the FBI’s most recent crime data from its 2018 Uniform Crime Reporting Program, we’ve ranked the cities with the highest violent crime rates in the country. This population-adjusted statistic measures all violent crimes and is a useful tool for determining how dangerous a city is.

We should note that just because a city is declared dangerous, doesn’t mean it should be avoided altogether. You’ll find there are safe neighborhoods in even the worst cities. Still, we’d recommend exercising caution if you’re thinking of traveling to one of the following 25 cities, which rank as the most dangerous cities in the U.S. in 2020.

25. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,048
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,058

Surrounded by mountains and nestled along the Tennessee River, Chattanooga more than lives up to its official nickname of “Scenic City”. However, those looking to explore the great outdoors in Chattanooga should take heed of the city’s high violent crime rate. While homicides were low, the city experienced 783 cases of aggravated assault per 100,000 people in 2018 — more than triple the national average.

The good news is that local authorities are taking steps to address the problem. More than 30 surveillance cameras have been installed across the city over the last three years to help increase public safety in Chattanooga’s most dangerous areas.

Source: Shutterstock

24. Beaumont, Texas

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,059
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,783

With a violent crime rate of 1,059 per 100,000 residents, Beaumont just narrowly tops Houston as the most dangerous major city in the Lone Star state. Much like Chattanooga, Beaumont has an aggravated assault problem, with a whopping 798 reported in 2018. In 2019, Beaumont has also experienced more homicides than the previous year and city officials are desperate to change the narrative.

“Per ca-pita, we are the murder capital of the state of Texas, and we want to change that, we’re not satisfied with that,” said Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham.

The Beaumont Police Department has implemented a high tech tool to help curb firearm violence. Known as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, the tool allows authorities to better track firearms used in different crimes.

Source: Shutterstock

23. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,065
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,430

While it may not be under attack by masked criminals like in HBO’s hit 2019 series Watchmen, the real-life city of Tulsa is still a dangerous place. In fact, based on its violent crime rate, Tulsa is the most dangerous major city in the state of Oklahoma.

While there’s a lot to love about Tulsa, including a thriving craft beer scene and a world-renowned art museum, its violent crime rate is not one of them. Firearm violence, in particular, has been a major problem for Tulsa, which has prompted police to more than double the number of firearms confiscated since 2011.

Source: Shutterstock

22. Hartford, Connecticut

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,066
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,602

The capital city of Connecticut, Hartford is also known as the “Insurance Capital of the World” thanks to the many insurance companies headquartered there. It also holds the distinction of being one of the oldest cities in the United States and a great destination for history buffs. In spite of these distinctions, Hartford is a city currently suffering through a high crime rate and economic woes.

Hartford’s violent crime rate of 1,066 incidents per 100,000 people can be at least partly attributed to the city’s high unemployment and poverty. The unemployment rate (7.0%) and poverty rate (30.5%) are both well above the national average of 3.9% and 14.9%, respectively.

Source: Shutterstock

21. Lansing, Michigan

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,108
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,030

The capital of Michigan (that’s right, it’s not Detroit!), Lansing is home to Michigan State University — one of the largest universities in the country — and is an important cultural, commercial, and industrial hub. Unfortunately, Lansing is held back by higher than average violent crime and poverty. The city’s main issue is aggravated assault, which accounted for nearly 74% of the 1,301 violent crimes reported in 2018.

The good news is the Department of Justice awarded Michigan more than $122 million earlier this year to help curb violent crime, so the situation stands to get better in Lansing going forward.

Source: Shutterstock

20. Nashville, Tennessee

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,113
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,011

With its unbeatable live music scene and an amazing selection of bars and restaurants, it’s no surprise Nashville is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US. But what you won’t find on your typical list of the best things to do in Nashville are the city’s crime statistics, which are actually quite alarming.

Believe it or not, Nashville’s violent crime rate is more than triple the national average, with aggravated assaults leading the way. In fact, the city’s Metro Police reported that aggravated assaults were up 23% in 2019, which suggests things may be getting worse in Nashville.

However, this doesn’t mean you should cancel your trip to “Music City, USA”. As long as you take precautions and avoid Nashville’s most dangerous spots, there’s no reason you can’t safely take in the Grand Ole Opry.

Source: Shutterstock

19. New Orleans, Louisiana

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,163
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,557

The home of Creole cuisine and Mardi Gras, New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the United States. But while the city has benefited greatly from redevelopment efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s mass devastation, crime continues to be a major issue in “The Big Easy”.

Homicides are especially high in New Orleans, with the city’s homicide rate (37 per 100,000 people) ranking fifth-highest among mid – to large-size American cities. Fortunately, the 141 homicides New Orleans saw in 2018 were actually the lowest total since 1971 and that downward trend has continued in 2019, so things might be looking up for Louisiana’s most populous city.

Source: Shutterstock

18. Wichita, Kansas

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,179
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,618

Wichita is the largest city in the state of Kansas and a major aeronautical hub, earning it the nickname of “The Air Capital of the World”. While Wichita’s unemployment and poverty rates fall within national averages, the city has experienced a “precipitous increase” in violent crime over the last three years.

The situation has gotten bad enough that earlier this year, Wichita sought federal help. The city is now a participant in the U.S. Department of Justice National Safety Partnership, a national program that aims to drive down crime. The three-year program provides training and technical assistance to the Wichita Police Department at no extra cost.

Source: Shutterstock

17. Indianapolis, Indiana

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,272
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,129

Home to the Pacers and Colts, Indianapolis is also where you’ll find the world’s largest children’s museum and one of the largest privately funded zoos in the country. The city is an economic hub for the state of Indiana and boasts an unemployment rate lower than the national average. Unfortunately, Indianapolis’s violent crime rate makes it the most dangerous city in the state, with hate crimes and firearm violence, in particular, standing out as pain points.

The good news is that Indianapolis has made great strides in tackling its firearm problems in recent years. There are now several intervention programs in place, including firearm buyback events designed to get firearms off the streets.

Source: Shutterstock

16. Oakland, California

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,273
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,390

For years, Oakland has struggled to break free of its reputation as a dangerous city. Unfortunately, statistics only help support the reality of Oakland being one of the most dangerous places to live in California. While the city’s violent crime rate did go down a bit in 2018, it still sits nearly four times the national average. The robbery rate in Oakland (610 incidents per 100,000 people) is especially concerning, trailing only Baltimore as the highest in the country.

There is reason to be optimistic about crime prevention in Oakland though. The city’s police department now uses a high tech program developed in nearby Silicon Valley called Law Enforcement Analysis Portal to help collect and analyze large amounts of crime data.

Source: Shutterstock

15. Anchorage, Alaska

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,309
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,927

Home to more than 41% of Alaska’s entire population, Anchorage is an important northern economic center that boasts spectacular views (six different mountain ranges make up its skyline). Sadly, along with being the most northern capital city in the U.S., Anchorage holds the unfortunate distinction of being the country’s sexual assault capital.

With 210 reported sexual assaults for every 100,000 people, Anchorage has the highest rate of any US city with a population of at least 100,000. The reasons for this are complex but it’s not just Anchorage suffering from violent crimes. Alaska as a whole is considered the most dangerous state for women, with 59% of women who live there having experienced violence.

Source: Shutterstock

14. Springfield, Missouri

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,316
Property Crimes Per 100k: 7,019

Home to three universities — Missouri State University, Drury University, and Evangel University — Springfield has the look and feel of your average midwestern college town. However, this unassuming city has a surprisingly high violent crime rate, nearly three times that of Missouri as a whole.

In an effort to curb violent crime, Springfield Police recently formed the “Career Criminal Task Force” alongside the FBI to target repeat offenders. “We’re going to go after the bad guys and we’re going to put them in jail. People deserve to feel safe,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt told KSPR.

Source: Shutterstock

13. San Bernardino, California

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,333
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,135

Home to the very first McDonald’s restaurant (now a McDonald’s Museum), San Bernardino is an inland California city that lies along the iconic Route 66. Unfortunately, the city has become better known for its struggling economy over the last 25 years. The closing of Norton Air Force Base in 1994 cost San Bernardino 10,000 jobs and the city has never truly recovered.

San Bernardino was declared America’s second poorest city behind Detroit in 2011 and while things have somewhat improved, more than 30% of residents still live below the poverty line. Areas with limited economic opportunities tend to have high crime, so it’s little surprise the violent crime rate in San Bernardino is nearly four times the national average.

Source: Shutterstock

12. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,364
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,179

Although it never had to deal with a drug kingpin named Heisenberg, the real-life Albuquerque, New Mexico has crime problems of its own. Incidents of sexual assault and homicide are more than double the national average, while aggravated assaults are three times as common.

The fact that Albuquerque accounts for half of all crime in New Mexico while only being home to a quarter of the state’s population prompted the city’s mayor Tim Keller to ask for state help. We’ll have to wait until the FBI releases its 2020 data to see if the situation in Albuquerque improves.

Source: Shutterstock

11. Rockford, Illinois

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,386
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,671

Although Chicago is probably the first city that springs to mind when you think of crime in Illinois, the Windy City is actually not the most dangerous place in the state. With a violent crime rate of 1,386 incidents per 100,000 people, Rockford stands as the most dangerous city in Illinois.

Despite economic revitalization efforts creating new jobs in the automotive, aerospace, and healthcare industries over the last few decades, Rockford continues to struggle economically. Both its unemployment rate (6.8%) and poverty rate (22.2%) sit well above national averages.

Source: Shutterstock

10. Stockton, California

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,399
Property Crimes Per 100k: 3,768

With a violent crime rate of 1,399 incidents per 100,000 people, Stockton ranks as California’s most dangerous city and the 10th most dangerous in the country. Home to the oldest university in California — The University of the Pacific — Stockton has a rich history, being one of the hubs of the 19th century Gold Rush.

Unfortunately, the 2008 financial crisis hit Stockton especially hard and in 2012, it became the largest city in US history to file for bankruptcy protection (Detroit would surpass it the following year). Despite exiting bankruptcy in 2013, job opportunities in Stockton remain slim, with 6.9% of the city’s labor force unemployed in 2018.

Source: Todd A. Merport / Shutterstock.com

9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,413
Property Crimes Per 100k: 2,971

Milwaukee is often associated with its proud brewing tradition and cold Midwestern winters; not violent crime. Alas, with 1,413 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, the home of the Bucks is not only the most dangerous city in Wisconsin but the United States as a whole. Researchers have pointed to segregation and the opioid crisis being major factors behind Milwaukee’s violence, though a poverty rate nearly doubles the national average also hasn’t helped matters.

Much like the young Parkland survivors, Milwaukee’s youth have become heavily involved in violence prevention. 414LIFE and other organizations are currently working to establish a youth violence interruption coalition in the city’s school system.

Source: Shutterstock

8. Little Rock, Arkansas

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,446
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,547

Don’t let the name fool you. Despite having a name one would associate with a quaint American town, Little Rock has a shockingly high crime rate. In 2018, the city saw 1,446 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, nearly quadruple the national rate.

Property crime is also a major problem in Little Rock, with non-violent crimes like burglary and larceny leading the way. The city’s property crime rate ranks third among U.S. cities with populations of 100,000 or more. It’s a shame too, as Little Rock does have some decent attractions and boasts great walks down by the Arkansas River.

Source: Shutterstock

7. Cleveland, Ohio

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,449
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,411

Crime is a serious issue in all major Ohio cities with the exception of Columbus, which does not rank on the FBI’s list of the 50 most dangerous U.S. cities. Out of all of them, Cleveland has the unfortunate distinction of being the most dangerous city in Ohio.

Despite thriving healthcare and tech sectors, Cleveland has alarming poverty and unemployment figures. 6.5% of the labor force is out of work, while a staggering 35.2% of the population live below the poverty line. These factors have helped drive a violent crime rate four times the national average.

Source: Shutterstock

6. Kansas City, Missouri

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,590
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,306

The biggest question most people have about Kansas City is, “Why isn’t it in Kansas?” But the question we really should be asking is, “Why is the city so violent?” After all, poverty isn’t a major problem in Kansas City and its unemployment rate is actually lower than the national average.

And yet, violent crime is out of control in Kansas City, with the city on course to see a record number of homicides in 2019. A 4-year wave of firearm violence has left Kansas City grasping for solutions. However, firearm violence is a problem across Missouri as a whole, meaning KC will likely have to wait for a solution to be found at the state level.

Source: Shutterstock

5. St. Louis, Missouri

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,800
Property Crimes Per 100k: 5,911

Believe it or not, Kansas City is not the most dangerous place in Missouri. That title goes to St. Louis, a major economic hub and home to ten Fortune 500 companies. Unfortunately, low unemployment has done little to curb violence in St. Louis, which saw 187 homicides in 2018.

When adjusted for population, St. Louis’s homicide rate of 61 incidents per 100,000 people make it the homicide capital of the U.S. In recent years, fed up residents have been putting pressure on Missouri lawmakers to change the state’s firearm laws. But with no solutions in sight, it may be some time before St. Louis residents see any relief.

Source: Shutterstock

4. Baltimore, Maryland

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,833
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,495

Baltimore, Maryland is a city obsessed with preservation. Nearly one-third of the city’s buildings are designated as historic, more than any other U.S. city. Unfortunately, recent history is something the city’s residents likely want to forget, as Baltimore continues to rank as one of the country’s most dangerous places.

With 309 recorded homicides in 2018, Baltimore is easily one of the most violent and dangerous major cities in America. The city’s homicide rate of 51 per 100,000 only trails St. Louis while the robbery rate of 837 incidents per 100,000 people is the highest in the country. According to the New York Times, violent crime has spiked since the infamous passing of Freddie Gray in 2015 and it’s showing no signs of getting better anytime soon.

Source: Shutterstock

3. Birmingham, Alabama

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,911
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,313

Once known as “The Magic City”, today Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama and one of the largest banking centers in the U.S. Yet for all its economic successes, Birmingham has an alarming crime rate that sits 112% higher than the national average. Aggravated assaults are the primary concern, as they accounted for nearly 70% of all violent crimes reported in 2018.

The homicide rate is also shockingly high. Although the 88 homicides the city saw in 2018 is much lower than other cities on this list, the homicide rate is actually third highest in the country once the population is taken into account.

Source: Shutterstock

2. Memphis, Tennessee

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 1,943
Property Crimes Per 100k: 6,405

With a violent crime rate of 1,943 incidents per 100,000 people, Memphis, Tennessee ranks as the most dangerous city in America’s south. One could argue that violence is just as much a part of Memphis’s identity as blues music and barbeque. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in 1968 and since the Civil Rights Movement, the city has become ground zero for some of the worst firearm violence in the country.

In fact, the majority of the city’s 186 homicides last year were firearm-related. Recently, U.S. Attorney General William Barr unveiled a new plan to reduce firearm violence in Memphis, Project Guardian, so hopefully, Memphis will start to see some relief in the coming years.

Source: f11photo / Shutterstock.com

1. Detroit, Michigan

Violent Crimes Per 100k: 2,007
Property Crimes Per 100k: 4,304

The Motor City just can’t seem to catch a break. While most major U.S. cities continue to grow, Detroit has seen one of the steepest population declines over the last half-century. At its peak, the city was home to 1.8 million people in the 1950s. But the decline in manufacturing jobs has driven the population down to less than 700,000 today. The city’s massive unemployment and poverty rates (9% and 37.9%, respectively) amount to a city with the highest violent crime rate in the country.

Today, large swaths of Detroit lie abandoned; a living reminder of the city’s decline. Unfortunately, until Detroit’s public administration gets its act together and starts attracting business and economic growth, its status as America’s most dangerous city will only continue.

Source: Shutterstock

25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2019

When it comes to travel, one of the most important things to consider is safety. Most people would assume safety is something they have to worry about when traveling to other countries where they don’t speak the same language or are unfamiliar with the culture, and while that is true, there is also a risk of danger even closer to home. You might be surprised to learn there are many cities within the United States that aren’t exactly all peaches and cream. You wouldn’t want to walk around alone at night or wander aimlessly as a tourist in any of the following cities on this list because they’re considered to be the most dangerous in America.

This list was created based off information from the FBI’s crime statistics which were gathered from US cities with a population over 100,000 between January 2017 and June 2017. The data looks specifically at the amount of violent crimes in a city which includes rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. It’s important to note that the data used to create this Uniform Crime Report is collected voluntarily by police forces in cities across the country and not every city or state chooses to participate, so this list doesn’t necessarily give the full picture. However, it does give a big picture look at some of the more dangerous cities which can be helpful for people who are planning their next big city vacation in 2019.

Here’s a look at some of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. in 2019…

25. Lansing, Michigan

First up on this list is the capital of Michigan, Lansing. Business Insider reported that this city experienced 52.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents which converts to about 14 homicides in the year 2017. Unfortunately, unlike most cities where crime rates are going down, this was the highest it had been in the previous five years.

In 2017 the poverty rate was 29.5-percent and the unemployment rate sat at about 6.3-percent. Police Chief Mike Yankowski told the Lansing State Journal that their high crime rates were due to domestic violence and mental illness.

24. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis is best known for being a very diverse and artsy city, but now it’s also known as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. When considering a trip to this city in 2019, just remember that it didn’t fare so well in 2017. Only two years ago the violent crime rates were pretty high in Minneapolis with a rate of about 53.7 per 10,000 residents, according to Business Insider.

USA Today translates this violent crime rate to 1,101 per 100,000 residents with a grand total of 42 homicides in 2017. The poverty rate was 21.3-percent and the unemployment rate was 3.1-percent.

23. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is actually a pretty popular tourist hotspot, mainly because if its vibrant music scene, rich history, and round the clock party atmosphere. However what many people don’t often talk about is the fact that it’s actually quite dangerous, statistically. Business Insider writes that this city had 56.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017 and 24/7 Wall St. notes that the city has some of the highest murder rates.

USA Today writes that in 2017 this touristy city had a violent crime rate of 1,121 per 100,000 residents and 157 homicides. The poverty rate here was 26.2-percent with an unemployment rate of 5.1-percent. Luckily mayor LaToya Cantrell has vowed to do something about it with a new program called Cure Violence.

Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr

22. Newark, New Jersey

You’d think we’d see New York City on here ahead of one in New Jersey, but surprisingly, Newark is more prone to violence than the big apple (at least when population is factored in). In fact New York City is actually one of the safest big cities in the country. Not too far away is the city of Newark, New Jersey, one of the most dangerous cities in America. Business Insider writes that Newark had 42.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017.

In 2016 there were 36 murders per 100,000 Newark residents which was about three times higher than any other city in New Jersey and the fifth highest in the country, at the time. One of the biggest factors in this city is unemployment. Cities with high unemployment rates tend to have more crime and Newark had an unemployment rate of about 8-percent which is about 5-percent higher than the national average. The poverty rate in 2016 was 29.7-percent which is also 15.5-percent higher than the national average. Not surprisingly, most of the crime takes place in the cities poorest areas, writes 24/7 Wall St. A report by the Safer Newark Council found that most of the violent crime occurred in only about 20-percent of the city streets, primarily in the West and South Wards. The report also said most of the homicide in the city is drug and gang related.

21. San Bernardino, California

In addition to being known as the site for the world’s first McDonald’s and the largest outdoor amphitheater in the United States, San Bernardino also has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous cities in the country (according to 2017 statistics) and the largest city to file for protection under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code. This bankruptcy plays a huge role in the crime rate of this city because there have been major cutbacks to the police force.

In 2017 there were 1,291 violent crimes reported which includes murder, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults. This is the 15th highest in the entire country. USA Today reports that in 2017 San Bernardino had a violent crime rate of 1,291 per 100,000 residents, there were 34 homicides, and the city experienced a poverty rate of 32.3-percent with an unemployment rate of 6.3-percent.

20. Indianapolis, Indiana

When planning a trip in 2019, keep in mind that Indianapolis had a violent crime rate of 1,334 per 100,000 residents in 2017 which was one of the worst years this city has ever seen. As Indiana’s capital city, Indianapolis, sometimes referred to as ‘Indy’ is densely populated with an estimated population of about 863,002. On Dec. 28, 2017 Fox 59 reported there were 156 homicides in this city. This goes alongside a poverty rate of 20.9-percent and an unemployment rate of 3.6-percent. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, the violent crime rate in Indianapolis in 2017 was about 1,334 crimes per 100,000 residents.

19. Stockton, California

California is an extremely popular vacation spot, but it’s also an extremely big state with lots of cities, some nicer than others. We’re sure Stockton would be a lovely place to visit in 2019, but we think tourists should be wary about the unusually high crime rate here, especially in 2019 considering it wasn’t that long ago that the country claimed bankruptcy and landed on many lists as one of the U.S. cities with the highest crime rates. According to 2017 reports, this city had 68.8 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

The city claimed bankruptcy back in 2012 making it one of the most populous cities to do so. The lack of funding could possibly affecting their ability to fight crime by limiting the amount of resources available. The violent crime rate in 2017 was 1,415 per 100,000 residents with a total of 55 homicides. The unemployment rate was 8-percent, which is among the highest in the country, and the poverty rate was 23.7-percent.

18. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin. It’s a beautiful city that has a stunning waterfront along Lake Michigan. To a lot of tourists, this city is known for its cultural events and festivals and for those who live here, it’s a great city that has tons of stuff to do and a booming economy with several universities and Fortune 500 companies, but there is one major thing to be wary about when traveling to this city. It’s has high crime rates. In fact, according to crime reports presented by the FBI for the year 2017,  Milwaukee had a violent crime rate of 1,597 per 100,000. This ranks as the seventh highest in the entire country and means that for every 10,000 residents in Milwaukee there were 75.6 violent crimes in 2017.

USA Today takes a deeper look and reports that there were 118 homicides in this city in 2017, along with a poverty rate of 28.4-percent and an unemployment rate of 4.6-percent. Luckily, the amount of homicides is actually going down. In 2016 it was 141 which is slightly higher than 2017. It seems the Milwaukee Police Department are working hard to lower these numbers by focusing their attention on a two-mile section, where most of these crimes occur.

17. Kansas City, Missouri

We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto! Okay, so it’s not the same Kansas as Wizard of Oz, but close enough. Turns out the state of Missouri is much more dangerous than the state of Kansas, specifically Kansas City (and St. Louis, but more on that later on). You might be wondering what this city is doing on this list considering it was just praised for doing such a good job bringing their homicide rate down. Unfortunately, it was short lived and it’s once again on the rise again. Be wary of this when planning a trip in 2019.

USA Today crunched the numbers from 2017 and found that Kansas City had a violent crime rate of 1,724 per 100,000 residents. There were 150 homicides which is up from the 129 in 2016. In addition to that, the unemployment rate was 4.3-percent and the poverty rate sat at about 18.3-percent.

Sharon Day / Shutterstock.com

16. Rockford, Illinois

You might not have ever heard of Rockford Illinois, but it’s actually the third largest city in Illinois and surprisingly, one of the most violent. While it’s not nearly as bad as Chicago and the number of homicides was actually quite low in 2017. There were only 18 murders reported that year. Rockford is still no walk in the park in terms of safety because homicide is not their biggest problem. According to data collected from 2017, Rockford had 78 violent crimes per 10,000 residents. There were 1,773 aggravated assault cases reported in 2017 which is a lot more than many other cities with the same population. For example, Naperville, Illinois has an even bigger population than Rockford and it’s reported cases of aggravated assault were only 80.

USA Today reports there was a violent crime rate of 1,588 per 100,000 residents and lists an unemployment rate of 7.5-percent and a poverty rate of 22.7-percent. Luckily, this city isn’t exactly a hot tourist spot, especially considering it’s in the same state of Chicago which is one of the most visited cities in the country, so Rockford often gets overlooked.

15. Birmingham, Alabama

Located in the South, Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama and is often associated as being part of the “deep south.” Sadly, in addition to its southern roots, this city lands in the top 5 on Business Insider’s list of the most violent cities in the U.S., as well as Forbes top 5. Business Insider writes that Birmingham, Alabama had 86.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017 and Forbes writes that there were 1,483 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.

If we wanted to look on the bright side of all this, Birmingham is actually making progress despite the fact that it’s still quite dangerous. The crime here is down 40-percent from what it was in the mid-1990s. Forbes writes that according to the U.S. Census Department, much of the crime in this city is due to the high drug trade and the high poverty rate. The poverty rate in Birmingham is 26-percent. This is quite a lot considering the state average is 17-percent.

14. Nashville, Tennessee

There’s no denying that Nashville is having a bit of a moment in terms of tourism. In the past few years this city has been crawling with tourists between the months of May and September. What most people probably don’t realize is that this city is actually statistically one of the more dangerous cities in the country.

In the year 2017 there were 110 homicides in the Nashville metropolitan area. Also, the crime rate was 1,138 per 100,000 residents and the poverty rate sat at about 18-percent. The murder rate in this city is so bad that the Oasis Center of Nashville which works to help at risk youth in the area called it an epidemic, according to 24/7 Wall St. Outsiders traveling in probably didn’t hear about the high homicide rate in this city because Metro Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford told Nashville News4 that most of these homicides were between people who knew each other and were engaged in “risky behavior.”

13. Cleveland, Ohio

For the past several years, Cleveland has been considered one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. based on national crime rankings. Cleveland is the second largest city in Ohio which means it also has a large population. Unfortunately, a good chunk of this population lives in poverty and is unemployed. The city has some of the highest rates of unemployment in the country. In 2017 the unemployment rate sat at 7.4-percent and the poverty rate was 36-percent.

Not surprisingly, these numbers contribute to the higher violent crime rates. In 2017, Cleveland experienced 107 homicides and nearly 6,000 violent crimes were reported. The violent crime rate was calculated to be 69.2 violent crimes per 10,000 residents or 1,557 per 100,000 residents. While it’s still considered to be a great city to visit (I mean, it is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), but travellers should just be wary of the high crime rate in this city when traveling here in 2019, and practice common sense.

12. Detroit, Michigan

It might not be too surprising to see this city on the list. Detroit has a reputation for being a bit of an urban graveyard with thousands of empty buildings, a massive population decline, and a high poverty rate. In 2017 the city’s poverty rate sat at a whopping 39-percent with an unemployment rate of 9.3-percent. Not surprisingly, these traits all contribute to a high crime rate.

A closer look at Detroit’s violent crime rate in 2017 showed that there were 2,057 per 100,000 residents and 267 homicides.

11. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago has a notorious reputation when it comes to crime, but it’s actually not as bad as some smaller cities on this list like New Orleans, Newark, and Detroit. Chicago is the third largest city in the country and while it does have a higher murder rate than the two larger cities, Los Angeles and New York City, it’s still not the most dangerous city in the country. The latest data from 2017 shows that the murder rate in Chicago was 24 per 100,000 residents. That same year 650 people were murdered in this city, down from 771 in 2016, which isn’t hard considering it was the deadliest year the city had seen in decades.

Despite the higher risk of danger in this city, it doesn’t seem to deter tourists at all. In 2017 it was the second most visited city in the United States with 55 million visitors, right behind New York City which had 65 million visitors.

10. Anchorage, Alaska

Tourism is actually a big part of Alaska’s economy, so it does get a lot of visitors throughout the year, but it also has a pretty high crime rate. This is mainly due to the fact that it is such a large state. It is the largest state, the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated state in America. This probably plays a big role in why Alaska has higher crime rates because the police are unable to get to a crime scene as quickly as they would in a more densely populated city. This also affects their ability to solve a lot of crimes. In 2017, Anchorage had 57.1 violent crimes per 10,000 residents.

Road Snacks writes that Anchorage ranked as the 16th most dangerous city in terms of violent crimes in 2017 with 1,203 per 100,000 residents and the 25th most dangerous for property crimes with a rate of 5,415 per 100,000 residents. 24/7 Wall St. writes that many experts blame drug and gang violence for these high crime rates and that more drug addiction and mental health treatment centers are needed in the city.

9. Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is no joke when it comes to violent crime. In fact, there’s a reason HBO chose Baltimore, Maryland as the set for the American crime drama series The Wire. This show was supposed to depict a fictionalized version of the real crime issues in this city. So what are the real crime issues in Baltimore? Well for starters, this city has the third highest rate of violent crimes per 100,000 people. In 2017 there were 8,879 robberies reported which means the rate per 100,000 is 959 or 2,027 to 100,000 residents. To give a little perspective, this is nearly 10 times higher than the national robbery rate and the highest in any other major U.S. city. There were also 342 homicides in 2017 and a poverty rate of 23.1-percent. On a smaller scale, Business Insider found that Baltimore had 98.6 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017.

USA Today reiterates this with a look at the violent crime rate per 100,000 residents which is 2,027. It also lists 2017 as having 342 homicides – that is pretty darn close to one every single day. This city also held a poverty rate of 23.1-percent and an unemployment rate of 6.1-percent.

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

8. Pueblo, Colorado

When we think of Colorado we usually think of Rocky Mountains and a ski vacation getaway, but that’s not what Pueblo is known for. This city saw 48.9 violent crimes per 10,000 residents in 2017. What’s impressive is that this city is actually the smallest city on this list, but yet it still ranks pretty high up. It only just clocks over 100,000 people. While it may be smaller than some of the other cities on this list, it ranks in the eight spot for worst property crime rate with the majority of them being burglaries. Road Snacks reports there being 1,052 violent crimes per 100,000 people and 6,167 property crimes per 100,000 people.

mese.berg / Shutterstock.com

7. Chattanooga, Tennessee

Tennessee is a popular tourist destination because of Nashville, also known as ‘Music City,’ which also landed on this list. In addition to Nashville, the lesser known city of Chattanooga is another dangerous city to visit. It has the same kind of feel as Memphis and Nashville, but just not as touristy, and for good reason. It is one of the worst cities in America for property crime. It lands in the number 10 spot for property crime with 5,985 per 100,000 residents and is the 23rd most dangerous for violent crimes with 1,065 per 100,000 residents.

In 2017, there were 31 homicides. In most American cities the number of crime goes down each year, but for Chattanooga, the number of homicides in 2017 was at a record high. Local police said the major thing that did go down in 2017 was gang violence, writes 24/7 Wall St. In 2016 there were 132 shooting incidents, most of which were a result of a bloody gang war. While gang violence in this city is on the decline, the violent crime rate is on the rise. It was 1,023 per 100,000 in 2016, and in 2017 it rose to 1,066 per 100,000.

6. Oakland, California

Despite the high crime rates in this city, it’s actually become a desirable place to live and that’s because it’s so much cheaper than San Fransisco. Even though Oakland’s property prices are cheaper, there may be a price for safety. San Francisco ranks over 30 spots higher on the list of safe cities over Oakland. Now it’s not all doom and gloom for this city. To be fair their crime rates have actually been improving the past few years. It wasn’t that long ago that Oakland was known for having high rates of homicides, rapes, and aggravated assaults. According to 24.7 Wall St., the crime in this area skyrocketed after the recession, then went down, only to go back up again in 2012. Luckily it’s now on the decline again, but it’s still higher than most would like.

According to Road Snacks, “Oakland has the 10th highest violent crime rank in the country and the fifteenth highest property crime rate.” Yikes! In 2017 the violent crime rate was 1,299 per 100,000 residents and 69 homicides. The city had an unemployment rate of 4.2-percent and a poverty rate of 20-percent.

5. Albuquerque, New Mexico

For those who are surprised to see Albuquerque on this list, it’s more due to property crimes than violent crimes, but don’t be fooled by that. This is still one of the most dangerous cities in America. In 2016, Albuquerque had one of the worst crime rates in the country with 1,112 reported incidents of rape, assault, homicide, and robbery per 100,000 residents. Unfortuantely, 2017 didn’t fair much better for this city. In fact, the rates rose by a whopping 23-percent. In 2017 it became the 11th most dangerous city in America with 1,369 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, 70 of these incidents were homicides.

The poverty rate in Albuquerque is 18.9-percent with an unemployment rate of 5.5-percent. What’s even worse than being ranked as the 11th most violent city in the country? It’s ranked as the third most dangerous city for property crimes with 7, 365 per 100,000 residents in 2017. Many of these property crimes are a result of robberies. In 2016 the city reported 2,000 robberies which then rose to 2,930 in 2017.

 

4. Springfield, Missouri

As the first Springfield in America, this city made history. It’s making history once again, but this time as one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Business Insider looked at FBI data from 2017 and found that Springfield had 40.3 violent crimes per 10,000 residents. According to 24/7 Wall St., this number is on the rise. The homicide rate nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017 going from 4.8 to 8.3 per 100,000. The same source writes, “Murder and non-negligent manslaughter represent a relatively small share of overall violent crime, and Springfield’s violent crime rate remained effectively unchanged between 2016 and 2017.”

Road Snacks lists it as the number one most dangerous city in terms of property crimes with 8,853 per 100,000 people and the 12th most dangerous for violent crimes with 1,338 per 100,000 residents. There were 14 homicides in 2017, a poverty rate of 25.9-percent and an unemployment rate of 3.2-percent. Yet another reason to be wary of traveling to this city in 2019, this city sadly has the highest rate of reported incidents of rape in the country with an average of 209 per 100,000 residents. To give some perspective on this, the national average is 42 per 100,000.

3. Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock’s crime rate ain’t so little! This city is the capital of Arkansas and the largest city in the state. Not only did it have the highest crime rate in the state, but is also one of the highest in the country! Little Rock had 87.4 violent crimes per 10,000 residents, says Business Insider and according to Road Snacks, it ranks in the top 10 in the country for both property and violent crimes per capita. The same source lists it as the sixth most dangerous in terms of violent crimes with 1,633 per 100,000 people and the fifth most dangerous in terms of property crimes with 6,932 per 100,000 people.

There were 55 homicides in this city in 2017, a poverty rate of 18.5-percent, and an employment rate of 3.3-percent, according to USA Today. The rate of criminal offenses in 2017 rose 1.1-percent from 2016, and 24/7 Wall St. says the police blame it on rival gang activity.

2. Memphis, Tennessee

Violence and crime probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Memphis, Tennessee. It’s more commonly known for it’s blues on Beale Street, being the home of Elvis, and of course, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. But according to crime data from 2017, it’s currently one of the most dangerous cities in America with one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. In fact, Road Snacks lists it as being the third highest in America.

According to 24/7 Wall St., there were 653,000 violent crimes and 181 homicides committed in this city in 2017 which gives residents about a one in 50 chance at being a victim. We’re guessing the high rate of poverty has something to do with these statistics because Memphis has a poverty rate of about 27.6-percent which is much higher than the national 15.1-percent.

 

Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

1. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis is typically known for it’s range of barbecue restaurants and blues music, but it’s also got another trick up it’s sleeve…one that probably isn’t advertised as much to tourists. It lands in the number one spot on several different lists as being the most dangerous city in America. Since this city ranks as the most dangerous city in America, at least based on crime data from 2017, we also consider it to be the most dangerous U.S. city to travel to in 2019.

Business Insider writes that St. Louis, Missouri had 91.5 violent crimes per 10,000 people in 2017. There were 205 homicides reported in St. Louis that same year which isn’t actually the highest number for a U.S. city in 2017, but once it’s adjusted to it’s population, it ends up being the highest murder rate in the country. According to 24/7 Wall St., St. Louis has a murder rate of 67 per 100,000 people which is extremely high, especially when it’s compared to the national average of 5 per 100,000. On top of all the violent crimes, the murder count for St. Louis in 2017 was 6,461 or 2,082 per 100,000 residents. This is the highest violent crime rate of any major U.S. city.

Wondering what has changed in 2020? Check out our updated list of the most dangerous cities in the US for 2020.

The 9 Greatest Bars in the World

Narrowing down the greatest bars in the world is a tough feat, considering so many of them have managed to fly under the radar, guarding their locations and managing to keep them a secret. From hidden doors with doormen who usher you in quickly to dive bars that have retained their 1930’s charm to some of the most talented barkeeps and mixologists, these nine bars are considered some of the very best. Whether you dabble in cocktails, drool over in-house-made infusions or simply want a place to meet with friends, make sure to check out some of the greatest bars in the world.

9. Milk Tiger Lounge, Calgary

While many don’t associate amazing cocktails bars with the city of Calgary, there is one hidden gem here called the Milk Tiger Lounge. This classic cocktail bar employs mixologists and bartenders with levels of expertise and dedication to the craft you won’t find anywhere else in the province. It’s a throwback to the days when people would slide into a seat at the bar, take off their fedora and chat with the bartender.

The drink list is littered with cocktails you only have heard of in black and white movies and even features the first cocktail to ever be invented in America- the Sazerac. A well-chosen wine menu, delicious appetizers and a passion for cocktails set this bar among the best in the world.

Via Robert Pashuk Architecture

8. The California Clipper, Chicago

The Clipper is an old bar from the 1930’s, complete with red leather, lots of wood and cash only. The old-school jukebox is heavy on Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline which patrons are free to control. It can sometimes be referred to as a dive bar, but the best of dive bars featuring a craft cocktail list that shares menu space with cheap beer in bottles and cans.

Expect to shimmy up on one of the leather bar stools, order a famous Brandy Crusta and watch the live band. Or order a refreshing Amaro Shaved Ice, a drink hard to find anywhere else. Come for one drink and stay for many as the lights are dim enough in here to make you stay all night.

Via Californiaclipper.com

7. Arnaud’s French 75, New Orleans

It is a world-renowned cocktails bar in New Orleans and is not to be missed on any trip here. Interestingly enough it was originally a gentleman only bar during the days of the Cazenave family but today anyone is welcome here. There is an emphasis here on premium spirits, classic cocktails, and fine cigars.

The furnishings in here alone are incredible, both the bar and bar back were custom built in the late 1800’s. The staff is decked out in white tuxedos with black bow ties and the best barkeep in New Orleans, Chris Hannah calls this place home. We recommend going there and ordering an Old Fashioned, trust us.

Via arnaudsrestaurant.com

6. Eastern Standard Kitchen and Bar, Boston

The beautiful lounge is enough to make one want to visit this incredible bar, as it boasts the longest marble bar in the city, where exceptional bartenders make top-notch cocktails. One of the best reasons to visit this bar is their cocktail selection, as the bar team seems to view the drinking process as a conversation.

They craft their beverage selection carefully, and their specialty is creating classic cocktails that utilize in-house made vermouth, infusions, and bitters from around the world. The drink list won’t be the same here if you come in different seasons as it changes at least 4 times a year. As an added bonus the menu happens to be incredible and features such things as seared salmon and delicious burgers.

Via cntraveler.com

5. Angel’s Share, New York City

It is one of the classiest joints in the East Village, easily reached by an unmarked side door at the front of the Japanese Restaurant Village Yokocho. Many do not know about this bar and perhaps that is one reason why it is so incredible.

You are not allowed to stand around in this bar, nor bring any more than three of your closest friends, this is indeed one of the best places to bring a date. With a stellar view of Stuyvesant Square, bartenders in tuxedos and arguably the city’s best grasshoppers; this is the place to be. Go now, before everyone else finds out about it.

Via cntraveler.com

4. Green Russell, Denver

An amazing cocktail experience awaits visitors to the Green Russell in Denver, located in the underbelly of the most historic block in Denver. Visitors reach this bar by entering through a pie shop and through a swinging door. The bar is actually named for an 1850’s Colorado gold miner William Green Russell.

Inside the bar is styled as a Prohibition-era cocktail joint, featuring exposed brick, opulent chandeliers, plush armchairs and one playful telephone booth. Hand-crafted cocktails are the specialty here using a variety of house bitters, infusions, freshly squeezed juices and small-batch spirits. Appetizers and fresh pie are available to order daily and this is the ultimate bar for quiet conversation and a damn good cocktail.

via 10best.com

3. Hop Sing Laundromat, Philadelphia

Located in Philly’s Chinatown, one has to know where to look to find this incredible bar, (hint-look for the metal gated doorway on Race Street) and one has to be dressed to impress in order to gain access. Visitors get taken inside by a doorman to a vestibule where the floor is coated in pennies and sat down in a church pew where you must hand over your identification for inspection.

Once passing that test, you head inside where you will sample some of the city’s best cocktails and hopefully meet the owner who boasts very firm rules: no sneakers, no shorts, and no photos. Le, the owner claims to be from North Korea, although he is, in fact, Vietnamese by birth. Think about stepping into Hogwarts, pulling up a chair and sipping on one of the best cocktails you’ve ever had. Don’t believe us? Try it yourself, just make sure you don’t wear running shoes.

Via wheretraveler.com

2. Canon, Seattle

It is the pinnacle of Seattle cocktail culture and Jamie Boudreau has made this cocktail bar into something so over the top, it is absolutely incredible. Walking in, the dark upholstery and antique cash register will immediately catch your eye and whether you are in a suit and tie or plaid shirt and jeans, you immediately feel welcomed.

The bar is stained with Angostura bitters, the barrel-aged cocktails served in glass flasks and the drink menu features over 100 different concoctions. The bartenders are superb, managing to balance the hard job of crafting each cocktail to perfection while doing so in a timely manner to serve so many patrons rapidly. There is a beautiful and extensive, almost drool-worthy collection of liquor and if you are a whiskey fan, this bar does not disappoint.

Via The Whiskey Wash

1. 365 Tokyo, Las Vegas

Good luck getting into this member only bar in Las Vegas, a Japanese-inspired bar located on the second floor of Inspire. This bar seats just eight patrons in a tiny room that is walled in on three sides by limo-tinted glass. Guests here are greeted with a bow from the lead barmen and his assistant, along with a warm scented towel, glass of cucumber water and cocktail menu. Much of the experience here is up to the guests, as they can choose which ice they want, the base spirit and even mixing technique.

We aren’t just talking about shaken or stirred here though, these advanced techniques include frozen with liquid nitrogen, siphon-infused with botanicals or even smoked with your choice of wood. Luckily for those who don’t know this much as cocktails, you can leave it up to the bartender to choose for you. Memberships are hard to come by, but we suggest jumping if you ever have the chance to visit this bar

Via Las Vegas Weekly

The 8 Best Hotels for Foodies in the USA

Traveling is about discovering new people, places, culture, and—of course—food, glorious food. From the saucy jambalaya of New Orleans to the super fresh seafood and produce of coastal California, the U.S. is chock full of cities that appeal to travelers’ foodie sensibilities. For the true foodie, though, where you check-in in a new city is just as important as which city you decide to check out. If you’re hankering for a gourmet experience without ever having to live the comfort of your hotel, check out these eight U.S. hotels that offer up some prime dining experiences:

8. The Dogfish Inn -Lewes, DE

Created by the folks behind the perennially tasty Dogfish Head beer, the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Del., is a retro stylish roadside inn whose handsome rooms are stocked with locally sourced snacks and handy barware. Even the room décor has a beer-centric vibe; prints of Dogfish Head’s groovy beer labels hang in each room. Start your day at the Dogfish Inn with a steaming cup of locally roasted Dogfish Chicory Coffee, then check out the Dogfish Head production brewery, which is just a few-minutes drive away. Another fun outing? Grab a six pack of your favorite brew and head to the Delaware Bay and while away the day at the beach. For more heart-pumping activities, go explore the trails at nearby Cape Henlopen State Park or paddle down the Broadkill River (there’s a kayak launch super close the inn).

Photo by: Dogfish Inn
Photo by: Dogfish Inn

7. The Hotel Modern -New Orleans, LA

The Hotel Modern in New Orleans boasts eclectic décor in a hip neighborhood—and a margarita that’s been named one of Travel + Leisure’s “America’s Best.” The fun starts before you even unpack your bags at this hotel; as soon as you arrive, you’ll be offered complimentary drinks. Once you’re settled in to your bright and funky hotel room (think neon pink accent walls and punchy accessories), go check out the hotel’s lounge, the Bellocq. Here, hip bartenders serve up incredible custom-crafted cocktails—get there before 7 pm to take advantage of some awesome happy hour specials! Getting hungry? Head to the hotel’s in-house restaurant, Tivoli & Lee, where innovative chefs turn out modern takes on classic southern comfort foods. You might be tempted to spend all your waking and sleeping hours in this hotel, but make sure you take some time to explore the French Quarter right outside the hotel’s door—more delicious New Orleans specialties await you!

Photo by: The Hotel Modern
Photo by: The Hotel Modern

6. Blackberry Farm -Walland, TN

Pack your bags (and your gardening gloves) and head to Blackberry Farm in the Great Smokey Mountains for a luxurious foodie getaway. The intimate hotel is situated on over 9,000 breathtaking acres, which includes a working farm that produces heirloom tomatoes, honey, and even fresh cheese from Friesian sheep. Enjoy the results of Blackberry Farm’s bounty at the hotel’s restaurant, where chefs whip up cuisine that incorporates ingredients that were just harvested hours earlier. The food isn’t the only thing that shines here, either. Expert sommeliers can suggest the perfect bottle to accompany a guest’s meal from Blackberry Farm’s impressive wine cellar, and tours of the on-site brewery are another popular activity. Guests can also take part in culinary demonstrations, wine and whiskey tastings, or even a “Day in the Life of a Chef” experience, where guests can tag along with the farm’s expert culinary masters.

Photo by: Blackberry Farm
Photo by: Blackberry Farm

5. The NoMad Hotel -New York City, NY

You might think that in a culinary-rich destination like New York City, staying at a foodie-themed hotel isn’t necessary. And maybe it isn’t … but a few nights at The NoMad Hotel in NYC sure sounds like fun. Guests can nibble on innovative cuisine and cocktails inspired by the chef’s time spent in New York, California, and Switzerland while exploring the hotel’s expansive dining areas. Sip a gin and tonic on the roof top for incredible views of the Manhattan skyline, or stay cozy with your cocktail inside next to the incredible fireplace. Graze on finger foods in the library before heading to the sumptuous parlor or light-filled atrium for your main meal. End your evening of gustatory delights with a nightcap at one of the hotel’s two bars: the elegant, sumptuous Elephant Bar or the more relaxed and convivial NoMad Bar. With all the dining options at this hotel, you might never make it outside to explore the rest of the city!

Photo by: NY Times
Photo by: NY Times

4. Post Ranch Inn -Big Sur, CA

Discerning diners are often faced with a tough dilemma: do you dine at the restaurant with the great view, or the restaurant with the great food? Your dilemma is solved at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California. The Inn’s restaurant, Sierra Mar, sits high above Big Sur’s famously dramatic cliffs, so guests can take in the amazing ocean views while dining on innovative cuisine that highlights coastal California’s fresh foodie vibe. For the ultimate foodie experience, opt for Sierra Mar’s “Taste of Big Sur” tasting menu—but only if you think you can make it through all nine courses. Luckily, the abundance of breathtaking hikes in the area will give you ample opportunities to work off your meal.

Photo by: SF Gate
Photo by: SF Gate

3. The Peninsula Chicago -Chicago, IL

Yes, this luxurious hotel is located in the Windy City, but you won’t find any of Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza here. Instead, The Peninsula Chicago has three outstanding restaurants for you to choose from. Indulge in afternoon high tea in the Lobby, and be sure to check out the decadent Chocolate Bar that’s set up on Friday and Saturday evenings. Head upstairs to the Shanghai Terrace for crafty cocktails and yummy dim sum served alongside spectacular views of the Chicago skyline. Escape to the cobblestone streets of Europe (at least for an hour or two), at Pierrot Gourmet, a European-inspired bistro, sidewalk café, and wine bar. Sip on some after-dinner drinks at the hotel bar, where cocktails with fun names like “White Whiskey Fizz” and “Elderberry Smash” are sure to whet your whistle. Trust us, with all of these options, you won’t even miss the deep dish!

Photo by: The Peninsula Chicago
Photo by: The Peninsula Chicago

2. The Cosmopolitan -Las Vegas, NV

Skip the gambling and go for all things gourmet at this landmark Vegas hotel. When dining at The Cosmopolitan, you get to choose between not one, not two, not three, but 14 different restaurants! From scrumptious red velvet waffles for breakfast at the Overlook Grill to the sophisticated Italian dishes served up for dinner at Scarpetta, you’ll find something your taste buds will love at this hotel. Plus, this is a great option if you’re travelling with a bunch of your foodie friends; the Cosmopolitan makes it easy to reserve private dining rooms or tables for big groups (think 13 or more). Another plus? A good number of the hotel’s restaurants offer solid happy hour specials, so dining well doesn’t mean you’ll have to blow your entire paycheck.

Photo by: Al Powers
Photo by: Al Powers

1. The Willows Inn -Lummi Island, WA

At The Willows Inn on Lummi Island in Washington state, Chef Blaine Wetzel whips hyper local ingredients into provocative dishes during tasting menus that often last three hours. The guest experience at this inn revolves around the dinner table; inn guests get first dibs on hard-to-get dinner reservations, and the tasting menu starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. There’s plenty else to do in this picturesque part of the Pacific Northwest, including hiking, whale watching, island hopping, and more. Hardcore foodies may want to consider continuing their culinary adventures away from the table with a wild foraging tour via kayak.

Photo by: The Willows Inn
Photo by: The Willows Inn

The 7 Best Urban Parks in America

When you hear ‘urban park’ and ‘America’ in the same sentence, one immediately thinks of Central Park in NYC, but it may surprise you to learn that all over America there are incredible urban parks. Parks play a key role in making a city desirable for both visitors and locals and it explains why cities are investing more and more money into them. From trapeze lessons on Governor’s Island to the impressive San Diego Zoo located in Balboa Park to parks that host awesome parties and festivals, here are seven urban parks that make these cities even more attractive to both live and visit.

7. Grant Park, Chicago

It is refereed to as Chicago’s “Front Yard”, a 319-acre public park that includes many notable features including Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago and Buckingham Fountain. As well this park happens to be the site of three world-class museums, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, performance venues, gardens and sculptures. The beautiful lakefront recreation center, Maggie Daley Park opened in 2014 as well as the ice skating ribbon, a skating experience unlike any other that winds its way through a rolling landscape with a city skyline as a backdrop. It is also home to the famous shiny reflective bean shaped sculpture that has become both a city icon and popular photo-op.

grant park

6. Schenley Park, Pittsburgh

This beautiful park is worth a visit anytime of the year, but especially in the summertime where free movies play on Flagstaff Hill, or during the fall where the leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red. There are enough sports for everyone here, from the 13 tennis courts to the soccer field to the running track, high-jump area to the 18-hole Frisbee golf course. Visitors can also choose to take it slow, wander through the Phipps Conservatory and gaze at the rare miniature orchids or the primitive tree ferns. The free Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix also takes place here during July and 150 sports cars navigate 23 turns around the parks Paddock Drive, while some 200,000 visitors cheer them on.

Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com
Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com

5. Balboa Park, San Diego

Sitting at just over 1,200 acres, this stunning park packs in more attractions than you could possibly visit in just one day, including the Tony Award-winning Old Glove theatre. It is here where visitors will find the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Museum of Art, numerous hiking and biking trails, a handful of playgrounds and more. There are a ton of restaurants to choose from here including tea pavilions, cafes, grills and pubs. Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean and including buildings so stunning they have been used in movies and television shows, consider yourself lucky if you happen to have this incredible urban park as your backyard.

Balboa Park, San Diego

4. Encanto Park, Phoenix

This 222-acre oasis lies just a few blocks from the busy central corridor and features awesome picnic areas, a lagoon, boat house, swimming pool and more. Rent a paddle boat or canoe and enjoy the lagoon along with the opportunity for fishing and observing ducks. One of the best attractions here is the Enchanted Island Amusement Park, a park that features a ton of rides and activities for the whole family. There are a ton of free things to do as well here such as rollerblading along the paved trails, getting in a good workout at the exercise field, check out Art in Park or toss a Frisbee around in one of many green spaces.

Encanto Park, Phoenix

3. Discovery Green Park, Houston

This downtown paradise was made when the city decided to tear up numerous concrete parking lots and turn this otherwise unattractive part of the city into Discovery Green Park. This 12-acre park features awesome amenities such as a man-made lawn, 12-foot high arcing water jets, rolling green lawns and fine dining restaurants. Throughout the year numerous wacky competitions take place here, along with the dog jumping competitions and free classes. During the winter an amazing ice skating rink is open to the public as well as a field of lights, an awe-inspiring art installation that shines against the dark sky. Playgrounds, stages, trails, art installations, gardens, reading rooms and other awesome surprises await visitors at this awesome urban park.

goodcat / Shutterstock.com
goodcat / Shutterstock.com

2. Governors Island, New York City

This former military base off the tip of lower Manhattan has been turned into an amazing urban park, offering visitors and locals of NYC a second choice in awesome parks. It is here where you will find electric arts, food events and even a sandy beach to hang out at. Get here by taking the free ferry ride from Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building or take the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6, which offers stunning views of the skyline and State of Liberty. Circus nerds will go nuts over the trapeze lessons that are offered on the weekends and music fans unite to rock out to some incredible waterfront concerts. The island is car-free so many choose to rent bikes and cycle around, go on Fridays between May and October and even get your bike for free!

Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com
Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com

1. City Park, New Orleans

This park is as magical and historical as the city of New Orleans itself, boasting the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world. These sculptural-looking marvels include some that have their branches spread out twice as wide as their height (up to 75ft)! There are way too many things in this park to mention, but some of the most notable include the New Orleans Botanical Garden, Big Lake, Art and Sculpture Garden, City Splash and numerous playgrounds and sports fields. Summertime brings genteel parties complete with mint juleps and performances at the Botanical Gardens and live bands at the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon. Enjoy the 18-hole golf course, the famous antique carousel and the beautiful Couturier Forest.

City Park, New Orleans

The 7 Spookiest Cities in America

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Sharing chill-inducing tales of ghosts and goblins is practically an American pastime, and we can all take solace in the fact that they’re just stories. It’s harder to shake off the uneasiness that a good ghost story leaves you with, though, when you visit the locations where the ghost story purportedly took place. Looking for a really good scare on your next vacation? Stop by one of these particularly spooky American cities if you’re looking for some major frightening fun.

7. St. Augustine, FL

©fitopardo / Getty Images

It should come as no surprise that the oldest city in the United States (St. Augustine was founded in 1585) has a few skeletons in its proverbial closet. To make the most of your ghostly visit to this gem of a city on Florida’s east coast, don’t miss the impressive Castillo de San Marcos. This large fort has been guarding America’s first city for over 300 years, so it has some ghostly stories to tell. While touring the dungeon, you may feel the cold hands of former prisoners wrap around your wrists or shoulders. Visit the fort near sunrise or sunset to see if you can get a glimpse of the spirit of the Spanish soldier; the ghost appears at the edge of the fort, wistfully looking out to the sea, just before daybreak and nightfall. You’ll get the shivers, too, at the Spanish Military Hospital, which was unwittingly built on top of a Timucuan burial ground.

6. Centralia, PA

SimcoePix / Shutterstock

America’s ghost towns are inherently creepy, but the creepiness factor of this ghost town in rural Pennsylvania is cranked all the way up to a “10.” Once a quaint coal-mining town, Centralia used to be home to more than 2,000 residents — but now the town’s population has dwindled to less than 10. Why? You can thank the coal mining operation. In 1962, a fire in the coal mine started — and it’s still raging underground today, thanks to a nearly limitless supply of coal. Sicknesses, sinkholes, and dangerous levels of carbon monoxide led to residents high tailing it out of Centralia over the ensuing decades. Today, the abandoned buildings and empty streets give off a distinctly eerie vibe. The creepiest part of this town, though? Steam and smoke still rises from the underground fire and seeps through cracks in Centralia’s abandoned roadways, making it look like the town is enveloped in a ghostly vapor.

5. New Orleans, LA

Nick Martucci / Shutterstock

New Orleans may be known for its rowdy French Quarter and the ribald festivities of Mardi Gras, but there’s a darker side to this famed southern city, too. For a solid scare, head to the Andrew Jackson Hotel near the French Market; the hotel is said to be haunted by the spirits of five little boys who perished there when a fire ripped through the building in 1778. Another spooky New Orleans pastime? Voodoo. Pay homage to the city’s voodoo queen with a stop by Saint Louis Cemetery. Famed voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau, who died in 1881, is buried here — purportedly along with her pet snake, Zombi. She’s said to cast a curse on whoever walks by her grave. Laveau’s sinister character was recently “brought back to life” in the T.V. series American Horror Story; Angela Bassett played the high priestess of voodoo.

4. San Francisco, CA

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San Francisco is known for its brightly colored row houses, its hippy-dippy history, and — today — as the epicenter of the tech boom. But just off of San Fran’s breathtaking coast sits a more sinister relic. The infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island is just a ferry ride away from the mainland — but only visit if you’re up for being spooked. Alcatraz claims nefarious individuals, like Al Capone, as former inmates; in fact, visitors today claim to hear banjo music emanating from the shower room, where Capone used to play his beloved instrument. Throughout the years, visitors, inmates, and guides alike have been unnerved by the sounds of chains rattling, blood-curdling screams, and the feeling of walking through chilly goosebump-inducing cold spots throughout the prison.

3. Adams, TN

Maddi Avery / Shutterstock

Are you a fan of the shaky-camera storytelling and substantial scares of the movie The Blair Witch Project? Then a visit to Adams, TN, is a must since some spooky events in the town inspired the film. In the early 1800s, a farmer named John Bell settled in Adams; the Bell family grew happy and prosperous on their Adams farm for a number of years. That is, until mysterious happenings started to capture their attention — knocks on windows, the sound of chains being drug through the house, and strange animal sightings became an almost daily occurrence. Eventually, the family began hearing a ghostly voice, too; the disembodied voice identified itself as the ghost of Kate Batts, a former disgruntled neighbor of the Bells. The ghost of Kate tormented farmer John’s daughter, Betsy, relentlessly; Betsy reportedly had her hair pulled and was pinched and scratched by the ghost. You can still visit the haunted Bell cabin today … if you dare.

2. Salem, MA

Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock

Famous around the world for the horrific Salem witch trials, this tiny northeastern town just can’t shed its witchy past. Relive the hysteria with a visit to Gallows Hill Park. Now a baseball field and children’s playground, this park’s innocent veneer belies its haunting past; it was here in 1692 that the town of Salem hung 19 residents for suspected crimes of witchery. Tourism in the town today surrounds the Salem witch trials; get your dose of ghostly history at the Witch Dungeon Museum, which hosts a live re-enactment of a witch trial, based on the actual 1692 transcript. And don’t pass up a visit to the Witch House, a historic home built in 1642 that once housed the fearsome judge James Corwin, who presided over the witch trials. Suspected sorceresses were supposedly brought to this home to be checked for “witches’ marks,” or marks said to be left by the devil on the bodies of those that practice witchcraft.

1. Savannah, GA

Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock

Amidst the moss-draped old oaks and stately Georgian homes, spirits lurk. In fact, the charming coastal town of Savannah, Georgia, is often referred to as America’s Most Haunted City! That reputation is well earned — see for yourself with a visit to some of Savannah’s spookiest landmarks. Check out the Sorrel-Weed House, a handsome mansion built on top of the unmarked graves of revolutionary soldiers; spirit sightings are so common at the house that the Sci-Fi Channel’s show Ghost Hunters has paid a visit here. And the creepy albeit beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery just outside of town is another must-visit. For major chills, stop by the grave of Gracie Watson, a six-year-old girl who died from yellow fever in 1889. Even if you don’t buy the story that Gracie’s ghost still haunts the cemetery, you’ll still shudder at the ghostly-looking statue that sits upon her grave!

13 Foods That Define New Orleans

The only thing in New Orleans that rivals the legendary Bourbon Street experience is the food that abounds in this culinary paradise. New Orleans has the distinction of having over 20 restaurants and chefs that have won the prestigious James Beard Award. It seems that everywhere you look there are fabulous places to eat and it is not uncommon to find lines of people waiting patiently outside of some small cafés eagerly waiting to get their hands on whatever specialty the eatery has to offer. Being in the South you can always find good BBQ or fried catfish on a menu somewhere in the city. There are a few foods however that symbolize the New Orleans food culture or as the locals would say “Just good eating”. You may have tried some of these foods before but you will really enjoy it done the N’awlins way.

13. Muffulettas

A Muffuletta is a sandwich made on a 10” round loaf of Italian sesame seed bread and filled with Italian salami, Italian ham, minced garlic, cheese and olive salad. In the early 1900’s a lot of the men that worked on the wharfs and in the produce stalls in the French Quarter area happened to be Italian immigrants. Needing something that would fill them up and not cost a lot of money they would go the Central Grocery and order some bread, a few slices of meat and cheese and as was the custom, spread it out and eat it all separately. The owner, an Italian immigrant himself, came up with the sandwich as a way to put everything together and make it easier to grab and eat in a hurry so they could get back to work. Today Central Grocery is still the best place to get a Muffuletta sandwich.

"Central Grocery Muffulettas" by Infrogmation of New Orleans - Flickr: Central Grocery Muffulettas. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Central Grocery Muffulettas” by Infrogmation of New OrleansFlickr: Central Grocery Muffulettas. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

12. Pecan Pralines

This sugary, caramel, pecan laden confection has been around New Orleans since the 17th century. Most people credit the chef of French diplomat Cesar du Plessis Praslin as the creator. In Europe pralines were made from ground nuts and chocolate. Since chocolate was expensive and pecans were plentiful the treat was adapted and became a New Orleans treat. Ever since its creation Pralines have been sold in shops and by street vendors hawking the sugary goodness. In the early days you would see ladies selling Pralines on the street for 5 cents. Step into the French Quarter today and you will still be greeted by vendors selling individually wrapped Pralines, although they cost more than a nickel now. Southern Candy Makers in the French Quarter has some of the best Pralines in town.

Photo by: Leah's Pralines
Photo by: Leah’s Pralines

11. BBQ Shrimp

Invented in the 1950’s by a restaurateur trying to recreate a favored dish of a customer, BBQ Shrimp has become a favored New Orleans dish. Now you might be thinking “big deal, put some shrimp on a grill and add BBQ sauce”. Oh how wrong you would be. New Orleans BBQ shrimp is made in a skillet using a special spice mix containing black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, thyme, oregano and basil. Using fresh Gulf shrimp and adding minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, white wine and olive oil then finishing it up with butter you get an explosion of peppery shrimp goodness. Served with French bread for dipping in the sauce you will be thoroughly satisfied. While you can find the dish all over New Orleans the best place to try this delicacy is Pascal’s Manale Restaurant on Napoleon Street, the place that invented it.

Photo by: Mad Hungry
Photo by: Mad Hungry

10. Po Boys

Po Boy sandwiches were created by the Martin brothers, Bennie and Clovis, in 1929 as their way of supporting the striking street car motormen and conductors. During the heated strike negotiations a lot of people showed their support in the midst of the company bringing in strike breakers made up of career criminals to intimidate the workers. The Martin brothers owned a coffee stand and café and as a show of support wrote a letter promising that their meal would be free of charge to the striking workers as long as the strike continued. The original Po Boy was made up of gravy and pieces of roast beef on French bread. Today you can get the traditional Po Boy or any number of variations including fried shrimp and other fried seafood. One of the best places to get your hands on a Po Boy today is Johnny’s Po Boy restaurant in the French Quarter. Since the 1950’s Johnny’s has been serving locals and tourists alike from their counter serve establishment.

Photo by: Food Anthropology
Photo by: Food Anthropology

9. Oysters Rockefeller

Oysters Rockefeller is the creation of Jules Alciatore whose father started Antoine’s Restaurant in 1840. Named after John D. Rockefeller, the richest American at the time due to the richness of the sauce, the dish is one of the great culinary creations of all time. The recipe is a closely guarded secret by the owners and employees of Antoine’s though many have tried to get it. Said to be made up of eighteen different ingredients the only hint you get from the Antoine’s cookbook is that “the sauce is basically a puree of a number of green vegetables other than spinach.” Using an aniseed flavored spirit on the oysters and spread with the secret mixture the oysters are cooked under a broiler on a bed of salt until the oysters start to curl a little and the topping is bubbling. There are many fine examples in town but to get the original Oysters Rockefeller head to Antoine’s.

Oysters Rockefeller

8. Red Beans and Rice

Back in the old days before washing machines and laundry mats Mondays were wash days. While the women spent all day washing clothes for the family they had little time to do any cooking. One solution to the cooking problem was to put on a pot of beans and let it simmer all day so come dinner time the family had supper. Using kidney beans the women would soak them over night in water and in the morning add in the left over ham bone from the previous Sunday dinner. Adding in “The Trinity” which is bell peppers, onions and celery, the mixture would simmer away until done. Served over rice it became a Monday meal tradition.While some places still only serve it on Mondays others have it on the menu all week. One of the best places in town for this traditional dish is Willie Mae’s Scotch House. Be prepared for a line since this Soul Food restaurant is popular with tourists and locals.

Photo by: Pat O'Brien's Bar
Photo by: Pat O’Brien’s Bar

7. Beignets

To refer to beignets as doughnuts is like calling the king of the jungle a kitty cat. Originating with the French-Creole immigrants that were forced out of Canada by the British in the 1800’s, the beignet has become the favorite cafe snack in New Orleans. Traditionally paired with a cup of coffee the beignet is a square pocket of fried dough with powdered sugar on top. To say it is dusted or sprinkled with powdered sugar is just plain silly. The plate of steaming hot fluffy pockets are covered in powdered sugar so much that when you bite down don’t be surprised if a cloud of sugar comes out of your mouth. Many a dark dress or shirt has been covered in powdered sugar after eating this tasty treat. While you can find beignets served at many places there is only really one place you should try. Café Du Monde, established in 1862 in the French Quarter, is the place to go. Order a Coffee Au Lait and a plate of beignets, sit inside in the air conditioning or under the green canopy outside and do some people watching.

Photo by: Insider Louisville
Photo by: Insider Louisville

6. Chicory Coffee

Chicory comes from the root of the endive plant and since the early 19th century has been added to coffee in France. Chicory became popular in New Orleans during the Civil War when the Union Navy blockaded the port limiting the delivery of coffee. Chicory contains no caffeine but when ground and roasted tasted similar to coffee. Since coffee was hard to get and expensive adding a little chicory to the mix did the trick making it possible to stretch out the coffee supply. While chicory is grown in many parts of the world the majority is grown in France and South Africa. Coffee with chicory is usually served with hot milk added and you can find it in most restaurants in town. Some like Café Du Monde have their own blend while others brew up blends by popular coffee producers like French Market in New Orleans. French Truck Coffee sells to many of the restaurants in town and also sells online as well. They recently opened a brick and mortar shop in the Garden District where you can get a cup of premium Chicory Coffee.

Photo by: All Things Simple
Photo by: All Things Simple

5. Bananas Foster

Brennan’s restaurant opened in 1946 when the owner of the Old Absinthe House, Owen Brennan, was told by a friend that Irishmen had no culinary skills. The restaurant not only flourished but produced the iconic dessert Bananas Foster. It seems Owens younger brother, John, had a produce business and the unfortunate problem of a bunch of bananas he couldn’t get rid of. John approached Owen, and as brothers do, asked him to help out by maybe making a recipe using bananas. With a little experimentation a new dessert was created and named after a friend, Richard Foster, who was a local civic leader. Using butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, banana liqueur, rum and bananas the mixture is cooked in a pan with flames burning off the alcohol then served over ice cream. Since the invention many places have adopted the popular recipe but for the original head to Brennan’s Restaurant on Royal Street.

Photo by: NADA
Photo by: NADA

4. King Cakes

The Epiphany is a popular European celebration by Christians on the 12th day following Christmas, celebrating the 3 wise men bearing gifts to the Christ child. Part of that celebration is the baking of a King Cake. New Orleans Mardi Gras begins on the 6th of January and the King Cake plays an important role in homes, classrooms and offices all over town as part of a King Cake Party. King Cakes can best be described as a mix of coffee cake and French pastry. Twisted rolls of cinnamon dough topped with icing and covered in purple, green and gold colored sugar. The purple color represents “justice”, green is for “faith” while gold stands for “power”. A plastic baby is baked into the cake and the person who gets that slice is said to have good luck for the oncoming year and is also responsible for bringing the next King Cake to the party. Manny Randazzo’s King Cakes offers some of the best and also ships nationwide.

"KingcakeHaydelPlain21Jan2008" by Infrogmation of New Orleans - Photo by Infrogmation. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
KingcakeHaydelPlain21Jan2008” by Infrogmation of New Orleans – Photo by Infrogmation. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

3. Gumbo

The history of Gumbo all depends on who you ask. Some say it comes from French Bouillabaisse, which most authorities will dismiss as inaccurate. Others will tell you it comes from the Choctaw Indians where dried leaves of the Sassafras plant called file (pronounced fee-lay) were used to thicken a broth called gombo. Most think the dish derived from the word for okra ki ngombo in West Africa. Without adding to the debate on origin let’s just say that New Orleans Gumbo is something you have to try. Using the holy trinity of celery, onions and bell pepper a cook will add whatever they have to the mixture. Some will use okra some file and add in sausage, chicken or even seafood, season with garlic and serve the stew over rice or just plain in a bowl. To get a great gumbo head to the Gumbo Shop on St Peter Street.

Photo by: Savory Experiments
Photo by: Savory Experiments

2. Crawfish Etouffee

This iconic dish comes from the heart of Cajun country and self-proclaimed Crawfish Capitol of the World, Breaux Bridges, Louisiana. In the early 1920’s at the Hebert Hotel the owner and her daughters made the dish, soon the recipe was shared and now it is found in restaurants all over Louisiana. The word Etouffee (pronounced eh-too-fey) comes from the French word to smother. In this recipe, similar to gumbo, a stew is made using crawfish or shrimp and cayenne pepper for a little kick. Traditionally served over rice, everyone in New Orleans has a favorite place for this dish. On place to get a great Crawfish Etouffee is the Bon Ton Café on Magazine Street which serves authentic Cajun cuisine.

Photo by: Chef Jeremy Langlois
Photo by: Chef Jeremy Langlois

1. Jambalaya

Like many of New Orleans foods the history of Jambalaya is argued by many. One thing is for sure, Jambalaya and New Orleans go together hand in hand. From the early Spanish dish of Paella and the introduction of Caribbean influences adding in tomatoes and spices, Jambalaya has evolved into what is known as Creole Jambalaya. Cajun Jambalaya omits the tomatoes and incorporates in browned meat instead. Regardless of which version you try both are made using the “ holy trinity” of celery, onions and bell peppers, the base of almost all staple Louisiana dishes. Cajun Jambalaya uses meat from crawfish, alligator, shrimp, chicken, turtle, sausage or just about anything else. Rice is added to the mixture and when the rice is done the dish is ready. K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in the historic French Quarter offers up authentic Cajun Jambalaya” with sausage, chicken and “just the right amount of rice.”

Jambalaya

Blues Highway Itinerary: 10 Best Spots for a Music History Road Trip

If you’ve had enough scenic tours of mountains and fresh air, head out onto the iconic Blues Highway, the famous Route 61 that leads to Nashville, Memphis, and finally to New Orleans, with the sweet and passionate tunes of Soul, R&B, and Jazz in the air. Drive out into the sunset, feel the wind on your face, and follow the same highway that Otis Redding, Muddy Waters and other hopefuls took on their way out of bleak areas of Mississippi and Georgia. With the open road in front of you, pay homage to the same spots that inspired the beloved classics and paved the way for Elvis and the Beatles.

10. Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – Nashville, Tennessee

Starting out in Nashville, get into the mood of Music City at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the headquarters for preserving and collecting artifacts that capture the history and traditions of American country music. At the main exhibit, “Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music”, get ready to take in the rich saga of music history that put Nashville on the map. With recorded sound, vintage film footage, and old photographs, visitors can trace the origins of country music and how it had a lasting influence on American culture. After touring the grounds, hop on a vintage tour bus to Music Row and the cherished RCA Studio B, Nashville’s oldest surviving studio where legends like Dolly Parton and Elvis made music history.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

9. Grand Ole Opry – Nashville, Tennessee

The Grand Ole Opry is a must-see on your Nashville stop. For 90 years and still going strong, the weekly music venue is known for hosting legends that made country music famous. Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, and many others got their start at the Opry with legendary performances. Today, you’ll find a mix of newcomers and stars playing their best songs, that way fans can get a sample of several musicians in one concert. The magic started in 1925 when fiddle player Uncle Jimmy Thompson performed a new show called “The WSM Barn Dance,” which later evolved into a live concert known as the Grand Ole Opry. DeFord Bailey, affectionately known as the Harmonica Wizard, was also a regular performer. Over the years, the famous venue has launched countless music careers. Set against the iconic backdrop of Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, it is truly an American cultural landmark.

aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com
aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com

8. The District – Nashville, Tennessee

It’s not just the country music that makes Nashville famous but the rock, jazz, and bluegrass playing at venues in the District, a refurbished area of warehouse-style saloons and bars. Stroll down second avenue with the weeknight party parade and stop by for some authentic bluegrass at Station Inn across the street from the Grand Ole Opry. Then take the party to Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to get your honky tonky on at the iconic country music saloon. But the music tour isn’t over until you stop at BB King’s Blues Club, the world famous hotspot for live blues and Southern comfort food. And don’t forget to try the fried green tomatoes and other down home delicacies at the Opry Backstage Grill on Music Valley Drive.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

7. The Stax Museum of American Soul Music – Memphis, Tennessee

After getting your fill of classic country music in Nashville, head to Memphis and follow the origins of Blues. First stop is The Stax Museum of American Soul Music on East McLemore Ave, which is named after the record label that produced talents like Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Wilson Pickett. The Stax sound is passionate and hopeful, giving a voice to the new wave of optimism coming from the Mississippi Delta, a sound as strongly rooted as the old Cyprus trees. In the late 50s and early 60s, something big was happening in music, so epic and transformative that it has its own cherished place in the history of music. In 1960, Stax Records, often considered the birthplace of soul, moved to the old Capitol Theatre and two years later, Otis Redding was discovered and became their biggest star.

Pierre-Jean Durieu / Shutterstock.com
Pierre-Jean Durieu / Shutterstock.com

6. Wild Bill’s – Memphis, Tennessee

After getting an education in blues history at Stax Museum, stop in for a blues jam at Wild Bill’s, a classic juke joint a few miles north of the tourist area of Beale Street. Locals always say there are two reasons to go—when you’re feeling good and when you’re feeling bad. Whatever your mood, the blues will set you free, if you let it. Locals and aficionados swear by it, often joking that it’s cheaper than therapy. Located in Midtown Memphis, Wild Bill’s is a welcome alternative to the tourist clubs downtown and a more authentic blues, soul, and rock sound. From old bands to aspiring indie groups, Wild Bill’s is the spot where musicians sing their hearts out and when back in the day blues evolved into rock ‘n’ roll and soul. The former gas station is like stepping back in time, even hosting the original trumpet player from Otis Redding’s band.

Photo by: Wild Bill's Memphis
Photo by: Wild Bill’s Memphis

5. Rendezvous – Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis might be world famous because of its blues heritage and Elvis, but it also some of the best barbeque this side of the Delta. With over 100 barbecue joints in the city, the competition is fierce and Rendezvous downtown is no exception with its famous dry ribs. The secret is in the charcoal, which was Charles Vergo’s special cooking method, and of course, the sauce. It is considered by many to be the best barbecue in the Delta. Just ask the several 1,000 people that line up outside on a Saturday to sink their teeth into a slab of ribs, a classic Memphis favorite. The joint is still in the family, with Charlie’s kids running the place. It might be all about the ribs, but you can still order the same ham and cheese sandwiches that Charlie cooked up when he started out in 1948. Their sauces are top secret, but you can take a bottle home for some serious backyard grilling sessions.

Photo by: Charlie Vergos Rendezvous
Photo by: Charlie Vergos Rendezvous

4. Madison Hotel – Memphis, Tennessee

Built in 1905, the 14-story former Tennessee Trust building is one of the oldest skyscrapers in the Delta. Standing out with its ornate classical detailing, the Madison Hotel still regains its former glory with the original façade. After years of neglect, the Unison Hotel Company rescued the deteriorating structure in 2002 and converted the interior into an ultra-modern, sleek boutique hotel with 110 rooms. After long hours in the car, treat yourself to luxuries fit for royalty like Egyptian cotton sheets, an award-winning restaurant, and an enchanting evening on the Twilight Sky Terrace overlooking downtown. It might have a posh, European flair, but Madison Hotel still has a warm, Southern charm. Located on Madison Avenue, the hotel is near the historic Beale Street filled with blues clubs, restaurants, and recording studios.

Photo by: Madison Hotel
Photo by: Madison Hotel

3. Gateway to the Blues Museum -Tunica, Mississippi

A good place to start a Mississippi blues tour is Gateway to the Blues Museum in Tunica, a historical wonderland filled with stories of the very origins of blues that had a lasting influence on American music, especially soul, R&B, and rock n roll. It all started in the fields of the Delta, a place of pain and hope, and blues was just the thing to give a voice to the heartache and suffering of a dark time in US history. You’ll also get a chance to channel your inner rock star with interactive exhibits that teach the blues basics and even lets you record a song in the onsite recording studio. Music history buffs will revel in the guitar display with over 20 guitars of all kinds that were played by the legends themselves. Try out the lap steel guitar or diddley bow and play your heart out.

Photo by: Tunica Travel
Photo by: Tunica Travel

2. Ground Zero Blues Club – Clarksdale, Mississippi

For blues fans and music historians, Clarksdale, Mississippi is considered the “Ground Zero” for blues around the world. Established in 2001, the venue was opened to celebrate the area’s rich blues heritage with roots as strong  and ancient as the Delta. With the help of Morgan Freeman and locals Bill Luckett and Howard Stovall, the blues club has been a hotspot for an authentic blues experience. Although big acts come through from time to time, most musicians come from the Delta and follow in the traditions of legends like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters. Located on Blues Alley in the heart of historic Clarksdale, the world’s most beloved musicians play Wednesday through Saturday, keeping the blues tradition alive and well. Ground Zero Blues Club is also a good spot to try some Southern comfort food like crispy catfish and slow-cooked Mississippi barbeque.

Ground Zero Blues Club
Photo by: Ground Zero Blues Club

1. The French Quarter – New Orleans, Louisiana

As people fled the dismal areas from Georgia to Mississippi during the Great Depression, they brought with them the bittersweet blues, a new kind of sound that brought a voice to a newfound passion and hope. Many stopped in New Orleans, Louisiana, a meeting place for musicians, artists, and writers. Among them were the world’s best blues musicians, the cherished legends who led the way for jazz and now take a prominent place in the evolution of American music. With its slightly leaning buildings, old streets, and original cafes and bars, the charm of New Orleans is still going strong. Holding onto its French and Spanish immigrant roots, the historic French Quarter is still the stomping grounds for the best musicians in the world and on any given day an impromptu brass band might joyfully stop traffic. The best time to go is during festival season, which starts in April.

IrinaK / Shutterstock.com
IrinaK / Shutterstock.com

10 Things to See and Do New Orleans

Whether you are coming to New Orleans for the famous Mardi Gras festival or to eat your way through the city, every experience here is unique and absolutely wonderful. In the city that offers never-ending live music, the enormous Mississippi River, a haunted history and the oldest ice shaving machine in the world; there are no shortage of things to see and do. Explore the French Quarter, stroll through the Botanical Gardens or try the famous “hurricane” cocktail. Don’t think about leaving New Orleans without experiencing these 10 things to see and do.

10. Experience Mardi Gras

It is New Orleans’s most famous festival and known by people all over the world. If you want to experience this famous festival full of colorful parades and festivities, make sure to book your hotel early as the city fills up. Elaborate floats, beaded necklaces and never ending parties are what you have to look forward to. If you can’t visit during the festival but still want to experience it, head on over to Mardi Gras World, a working studio that produces the outrageous floats. Daily guided tours are offered to visitors and take you behind the scenes where the artists and sculptors work. On display expect to see huge floats, outrageous costumes and all kinds of props and figures. It wouldn’t be a trip to this city without experiencing Mardi Gras one way or the other.

Chuck Wagner / Shutterstock.com
Chuck Wagner / Shutterstock.com

9. Explore City Park

It is 1,300 acres of outdoor oasis and the perfect place to discover on your trip to New Orleans. Adults and kids alike will delight on riding the carousel at Carousel Gardens in City Park. This antique wooden carousel is over 100 years old and is one of the hundred that still exist in the country. It is truly a masterpiece, beautifully carved and has been well taken care of. That’s not all there is to do in this park that is full of towering oak trees, hiking and bike paths. Take a ride on the miniature train that lets you see most of the park, or explore the twelve acres of gardens and art. The New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden is also located inside the park and is the city’s oldest fine art institution.

Photo by: Wikipedia
Photo by: Wikipedia

8. Eat Your Way Through the City

New Orleans is truly a city for foodies with its historic cafes and fine dining restaurants throughout the city. It is known for its blend of electric food, ranging from Cajun to French to African and everything in-between. Known best for their distinctive Creole and Cajun dishes that are original to the city, it won’t be hard to find somewhere to fill your belly. Gumbo is one of the staples here, whether it is made up seafood, chicken, okra or sausage, you truly can’t go wrong. Po-Boys, overstuffed sandwiches on French bread are another staple of New Orleans and can be found just about anywhere. When it comes to sweets the beignets stand out, deep friend dough balls that are sprinkled with powdered sugar can be eaten at any time of the day.

oyster po-boy

7. Take a Riverboat Tour

A riverboat tour is the perfect way to learn more about the city and experience it from the enormous Mississippi River. At one time the only way to reach New Orleans was by boat and the Mississippi River was the city’s front door. Today paddlewheel steamboats take visitors on a cruise which often includes live music, local food and beverages and scenic views of the city. The first part of the cruise visitors will be privy to narration about the surroundings, the boat itself and the river. On the return trip the live jazz music starts up and sitting on the top of the boat, drink it hand, watching the landscape roll by is something pretty special. After all not everyone gets to say they have sailed “The Mississippi”.

Siouxsnapp / Shutterstock.com
Siouxsnapp / Shutterstock.com

6. Visit Hansen’s Sno-Bliz

It is believed to be the oldest sno-ball stand in the United States and there is no better way to cool off from the hot New Orleans heat than to head on over to Hansen’s. It was started in 1939 when owner Ernest created his own ice shaving machine and his wife Mary started creating flavored syrups. Decades later the snowballs are still made from the original machine with the homemade flavors. Some of the favorite flavors include anything that is cream with the condensed milk topping. Visitors should expect a line-up when they get here but it does move quickly and the snowballs are well worth the wait. Make sure to check out the pictures inside as they tell the history of this very cool stand.

Photo by: Hansen's Sno-Blitz
Photo by: Hansen’s Sno-Blitz

5. Take a Ghost Tour

We can’t promise you will see any actual ghosts on one of these tours but rest assured they will be highly entertaining, slightly creepy, a little theatrical and hugely historical. There are absolute tons of tour operators that offer ghost tours so make sure to do your research before hand on what you want to see, where you want to go, etc. Visitors should expect a leisurely walk, to numerous private residences where you can’t go inside but your guide will stop outside and tell you all about the hauntings. Rest assured though, there are some haunted bars that you can actually go into. Most tours focus on the French Quarter as it seems to be the spookiest and most haunted. Make sure to pack your camera just in case and prepare yourself for some haunting stories. Graveyards tours are also quite popular during the day but tend to be more history focused rather than ghost focused.

Haunted building New Orleans

4. Sip a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s

It may be touristy but this bar is actually full of history and a stop here is well worth it on any visit to New Orleans. Originally this bar operated during Prohibition and was complete with a secret password that patrons needed in order to gain entrance. It is known as the inventor of the “hurricane”, a cocktail served in a hurricane glass shaped like a hurricane lamp. The hurricane was invented in order to use up the surplus of the rum that bar owners were forced to buy back in the 1940’s. The perfect place to sip on one of these cocktails is at Pat O’Briens, in the legendary courtyard that looks over the flaming fountain. Be sure to check out the dueling piano show where local entertainers take on requests from patrons and bang out some awesome Grand Piano melodies.

Photo by: Pat O'Brien's Bar
Photo by: Pat O’Brien’s Bar

3. Catch Some Live Music

It is worth visiting New Orleans just for the music alone and at times it can be overwhelming deciding where to go to check out the awesome live music scene. Whether you are into Jazz, Blues, Creole or live brass bands, you will find it here. Tipitina is a great place to start as this legendary venue has seen the likes of Pearl Jam, Willie Nelson and other legendary artists. Outside the sidewalk pays tribute to legends with its walk of fame and Sunday evenings is devoted to Cajun music and dance. For the jazz lover, head to Preservation Hall where there is no air conditioning, no food or beverages, no seating but nonetheless draw a huge crowd every night. Three nightly shows are offered and patrons start lining up as early as 6pm and this promises to be a true New Orleans music experience.

CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock.com
CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock.com

2. Ride the Street Car

Step into New Orleans past when you board one of these streetcars straight from the 1920’s and 30’s. The St. Charles streetcar in particular travels 13 miles through the Garden District, past the university and to the Audubon Park and Zoo. The classic green cars are a bargain at under $2 for a trip and if you plan on hopping on and off, you are best to buy a day pass which lets you ride all public transit for one price. A lot of the residents use the streetcars to commute to work so if you are looking to avoid peak hours make sure you travel in the middle of the day. Stops that are worthy of getting off at include the Garden District where you can take a walking tour, the Universities and Audubon Park and Zoo. One of the best and most economical way to get around the city are these iconic green cars.

TFoxFoto / Shutterstock.com
TFoxFoto / Shutterstock.com

1. Experience the French Quarter

It wouldn’t be a trip to New Orleans without experiencing the French Quarter. Wander through the streets admiring the buildings that are over 250 years old, with their red tiled roofs, wrought iron balconies and fountain filled courtyards. The creative side of the French Quarter is made up of artists, musicians and fortune tellers that line the streets. Visitors will want to make their way to Jackson Square, which is flanked by historic structures and filled with beautiful gardens inside. The French Quarter is also where you will find the famous Bourbon Street which comes alive at night, boasting an abundance of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and strip clubs. Whether you want to take a guided walk through the area learning about the history, stumble from bar to bar with a beverage in hand or simply snap the iconic New Orleans photographs; the French Quarter is the place to do so.

Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com
Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com

8 Things to Do in New Orleans for an Authentic Experience

There are few cities in the world with more flavor (literally) or more unique experiences then New Orleans. The Big Easy, is famous for its vibrant jazz, a fascinating history, put in place as much by events as by geography, and a rich food and drink culture. While you could pretty much savor what New Orleans has to offer simply by strolling the lively streets, there are a few stops you may want to make to make your experience authentic.

8. Stroll Bourbon St.

Regarded as gaudy and crowded by some, a trip to Bourbon St. is an essential component of a trip to New Orleans. Even if flashing neon, getting a drink from a to-go window and  loud music are not your cup of tea, you’ve got to go just to see it. To miss it would be like going to Las Vegas and not visiting the strip. If crowds are bothersome to you, visit earlier in the day. Although the sidewalks and cobblestones are populated at all hours, the day time tends to be a little less jam packed.

Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com
Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com

7. Discover Frenchmen St.

Jazz fans (and live music fans of any kind) take note; Frenchmen St. is a must-see. A few blocks removed from Bourbon St., some describe Frenchmen St. as what Bourbon St. was 30 years ago. Decidedly quieter and less infused with neon, Frenchmen St. is about the music, which rolls pleasantly from the doors and windows of the numerous clubs that line this street. Stroll leisurely and stop when a melody grabs you. You can expect to see some pretty show-stopping performances from street musicians on this street. The caliber of talent here in this musical city is impressive.

IrinaK / Shutterstock.com
IrinaK / Shutterstock.com

6. Enjoy a Jazz Brunch

A word of warning, come to New Orleans hungry. You’re going to want to taste everything. And when you have an opportunity to combine two of New Orleans’ staples (food and music) it’s hard to beat. A number of well-known, well-established restaurants offer top-notch Jazz Brunch (usually on Sundays). The Court of Two Sisters, located off of Bourbon St. in the French Quarter, has a world-class Jazz Brunch. If you like your food with a side of history, then this is your spot. This building has been around since the mid-1800s and has changed hands and uses over the years. It is architecturally fascinating and has an awesome open-air courtyard to let you fully experience the music and the food in the most appropriate setting.

Photo by: The Court of Two Sisters
Photo by: The Court of Two Sisters

5. Try a Muffaletta Sandwich

This iconic sandwich was created by Sicilian immigrants in the French Quarter. The story goes that these farmers and laborers were on the hunt for a hearty midday meal that could be eaten easily standing up or balanced on their laps. Traditional sandwiches made with butter or mayonnaise didn’t work either, because of the likelihood of them spoiling in the Louisiana heat. And so was born the Muffaletta. Made on a thick round of bread, with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, mozzarella and swiss cheeses, along with a selection of cured Italian meats this sandwich was easily eaten on the go and kept well. The olive spread kept the bread moist and flavorful without using butter or mayo. While authentic Muffalettas are served all over town, a particularly good one is served at Serio’s Po-Boys and Deli on Saint Charles Ave. This sandwich, true to its original recipe that spans three generations even beat out a creation from the Food Network’s Bobby Flay on a Throwdown episode.

Muffaletta

4. Tour Musicians’ Village

In late 2005, in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, jazz greats Harry Connick Jr. and Branford Marsalis joined forces with Habitat for Humanity to create a unique community aimed at the preservation of the musical culture that defines New Orleans. The end result is several newly-constructed homes, a musically themed park (think musical notes that you can climb on) and the state-of-the art Marsalis Centre for music that has a recording studio, performance space and children’s programming. The village is fascinating, because it symbolizes the perseverance and preservation of the culture, even in the wake of the most destructive natural forces.. The modest homes are occupied by area musicians and the outdoor decor reflects this.

"HabitatMusiciansVillageSign20Aug07" by Infrogmation of New Orleans - Photo by Infrogmation. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
HabitatMusiciansVillageSign20Aug07” by Infrogmation of New Orleans – Photo by Infrogmation. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

3. Head to the Swamp

No visit to New Orleans would be complete without a visit out of town to the surrounding bayous and swamps. Travel through these murky waters and see some of the unique flora and fauna that populate this area. Depending on the season, expect to see a number of gators, wild boars and birds that are indigenous to Louisiana. Make it even more fun by going on an Airboat tour, where you’ll travel at high speeds and have a decidedly more wild ride.

new orleans swamp

2. Savor Coffee and Beignets at Cafe du Monde

While it seems the lineup for this historic coffee stand is incredibly long at any given time of day, the wait is well worth it (besides it gives you a chance to work up an appetite). For coffee connoisseurs, Cafe du Monde coffee has an interesting flavor. It has chicory in it, which lends it a slightly more nutty, more smokey flavor. Specialty of the house? Cafe au Lait with a side of fresh beignets- deep fried and lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

Cafe du Monde

1. Explore the French Market

Located in the French Quarter, the French Market is the oldest open-air market in the United States. Established in 1791, there are a wide variety of vendors offering wares for sale- and is a great place to pick up souvenirs and unique odds and ends. Like so many other things New Orleans, expect to experience some live music as you wander. There are also a number of food stands with authentic New Orleans delicacies to snack on.

Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com
Jorg Hackemann / Shutterstock.com