The 15 Most Unfriendly Cities in America

It seems that America isn’t just full of friendly locals, welcoming Texas BBQ’s and charming southerners. Indeed in a recent study by Travel and Leisure, it is evident that America is also full of a slew of unfriendly cities. Avoiding these cities isn’t always possible and many of them boast amazing attractions and things to do, as well as big business centers. Whether it is the locals or tourists, the weather or politics, these 15 cities have been named the most unfriendly in all of America. Discover what makes them so unfriendly and how you can find the friendliest spots in each.

15. Chicago, IL

Chicago is full of museums, great restaurants and a spectacular view, but that doesn’t mean the people are friendly towards outsiders. What visitors here will find are people walking with their heads towards the ground, rushing from one thing to the next and an overall vibe of unfriendliness. Perhaps it is due to the high amount of crime that happens, or maybe people are just too busy to start up a conversation. Whatever the reason is, don’t bank on making any new friends in this city, and make sure you buy a map so you don’t have to ask for directions. For a friendlier Chicago head to the neighborhood of Old Town for a root beer float spiked with Stoli and hang out with the locals or get your laughs on at some stand up comedy at Second City.

photo.ua / Shutterstock.com
photo.ua / Shutterstock.com

14. Providence, RI

These New Englanders are not happy to welcome anyone or anything new in this city. Providence is known for their locals being downright rude and snobby. The weather here is pretty awful, bringing a lot of cloudy days as well as rain, snow and ice in the winter which may contribute to the attitudes of people. This city also happens to be highly unaffordable. The taxes are high, as is the cost of living. Visitors here often have spent enough time here after two days and won’t want to stick around getting to know the locals who often throw them rude glances and downright ignore them when spoken to. The Dean Hotel welcomes visitors and plan on staying here if you want to experience any type of friendliness.

Providence, RI

13. Seattle, WA

Seattle has been deemed unfriendly for many years, but in fact it just seems that this city is unsocial. They won’t slam the door on you, or not make eye contact but rather these locals just seem maddeningly impersonal. The weather can’t help matters as it is seriously grey, wet and miserable looking most of the year. Seattle is a very segregated city, meaning that people stick in their cliques and often have a hard time letting anyone knew in. For visitors, you probably won’t notice the unfriendliness that much as people will still tell you to “have a good day” but it’s people who move here that really suffer. Just look up the definition of “Seattle Freeze” and you will understand what we mean when we call this city unfriendly.

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12. Baltimore, MD

We aren’t quite sure how Baltimore got the nickname of “Charm City” but visitors to this city certainly don’t agree with it. Along with recent turmoil that has literally caused this city to be on a curfew; people just aren’t friendly to outsiders, or each other. Crime is at an all time high in this city and both locals and visitors walk around being afraid, which means no eye contact and no small talk with strangers. The city is known as being a little quirky and off-beat, but sometimes that rubs visitors the wrong way. If you are looking for a bit of friendliness in this city, head to one of the concerts by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or grab brunch in the neighborhood of Hampden.

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

11. Orlando, FL

In a city that boasts “The Happiest Place on Earth”, it seems surprising that Orlando is actually really unfriendly. It is not certain whether it is the locals who are unfriendly, or just the tourists who are snapping at each other. Either way you can expect a lot of horns being honked, a lot of snappy comments and a slew of crying kids. Maybe it is all the tired feet or low blood sugar that comes from visiting the theme parks, but whatever it is, people here can’t wait to return to their hotels. The theme parks tend to be the worst place to deal with unfriendly people, but also tends to be the main draw here.

Orlando, Florida

10. Dallas, TX

Many people have the notion that all people from Texas are friendly and welcoming but that certainly isn’t the case when it comes to the city of Dallas. The people of Dallas certainly seem to be in a rush and are generally stressed out, which leads to a lot of fast walking, plugged in ear pieces and a lack of eye contact. It is interesting here because most people that live in this state don’t actually like people from Dallas, adding to the notion that they are quite rude. Perhaps they are just tired of the cowboy and oil jokes or maybe they just want to keep their city to themselves, either way don’t plan on getting a friendly Texas welcome from this city.

mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

9. San Francisco, CA

If you ask the people here they will probably outright admit that they can be both rude and snobby, especially when it comes to food. Locals in this city seem to put themselves on a pedestal slightly higher than everyone else. Locals here aren’t afraid to laugh at the tourists in their shorts and t-shirts shivering at the piers, nor are they quick to judge visitors who don’t know how to get around. San Francisco does gain a lot of points for being LGBT friendly though and if you want to experience the friendliest of the city, head to the neighborhood who welcomes anyone of any nature. Just don’t start judging what they eat, trust us on that one.

San Francisco bridge

8. Los Angeles, CA

It has long been known as a snobby city and as the years go on it seems that this city just can’t figure how to be charming. Whether you are trying to exchange pleasantries with the locals and getting shut down, or trying to snap a selfie in the crowds at the hall of fame, chances are you will leave this city feeling bruised. Known as having some of the most beautiful people in the country, chances are you will feel a little down about yourself. To immerse yourself into the locals, try some retail therapy to boost your happiness and connect with some of the shop owners who are friendly if you drop enough cash.

Los Angeles

7. Las Vegas, NV

It should come as no surprise that this city is actually unfriendly. Think about what happens in Vegas, the wild parties, the rambunctious outsiders who come in droves and crowd up the city with large amounts of drinking and gambling. Therefore we aren’t entirely sure who the ones are that are being rude in Vegas. Is it the locals or the tourists? Either way, this city that sits at the top of the list for tourism certainly doesn’t know how to play nice. Expect business men talking business, women brushing off your smiles and people generally avoiding eye contact. If you want to avoid the overly rude tourists make sure to get off the strip and visit the downtown bars where the locals hang out.

Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

6. Miami, FL

Horn honking, people yelling at each other, rude customer service and stuck up individuals who think they are better than you, all of this and more awaits visitors to Miami. This city is thought to be the capital of “me”, where everyone only cares about themselves and makes sure everyone else knows it. People here love to flash their expensive cars and clothes while looking down on those who aren’t on par with them. Racism is still a problem in this city and contributes to the unfriendliness of their nature. Don’t plan on heading to South Beach if you are looking to chill with the locals and be accepted, instead head somewhere like Virginia Key Beach for a more mellow and laid-back beach scene.

Miami Beach

5. Boston, MA

This city has a horrible history of race relations and that can’t help with people thinking that this city will forever remain unfriendly. Things have changed in this busy city, but people are still not warm and fuzzy. The city rates are high when it comes to intelligent people and perhaps they are just too smart to want to make small talk with visitors. The winters are awful, everything closes early including the bars and red sox fans; and all we will say about that is that you better be cheering for them when they are in town. Visitors should expect that locals will be rushing with heads down, cell phones in hand and far too busy to make new friends. On the plus side, the city is very pretty and if you can find some accepting locals, they promise to be both smart and funny.

Boston

4. Washington, D.C

Politics are ugly, perhaps getting more ugly as time goes on and therefore it is no surprise that Washington is unfriendly, rude and just too busy to make newcomers feel welcomed. Lobbyists and lawyers make up the majority of people in this city and they tend to be too self-absorbed or busy to throw a smile your way. Many commuters tend to use public transit, as do tourists to get around this city and it seems that the unfriendly vibe is picked up by tourists as they watch the commuters on their way to work and home. This city is also high on security which means that entering something like a children’s museum means getting your bags searched and many of the security guards are not warm and fuzzy. Fighting terrorism is a serious job here and it seems they lack in customer service when they do so.

Washington DC

3. Philadelphia, PA

We suggest you don’t come to this city of “Brotherly Love” wearing anything but a jersey that represents Philly as you will more than likely clash with the locals. Locals here also have some colorful and unusual language, being the one city that likes to drop the “f” word on Twitter on a consistent basis. If you can go to visit and act like a local, wear an Eagles jersey and eat a cheesecake with the best of them, it will be no doubt that you will be welcomed in. But if you show up with a New York accent, wearing a Giants jersey and turn your nose up at one of their beloved food choices; plan on someone telling you where to go. Philadelphia has always known for being a bit rough and if you can’t respect them don’t plan on being welcomed.

Marco Rubino / Shutterstock.com
Marco Rubino / Shutterstock.com

2. Detroit, MI

Motor City has been called the armpit of the world by more than one person and does nothing to help its reputation. Unwelcoming, loud and having an incredible amount of lousy drivers makes this a city people love to stay away from. Crime levels have not helped this city as more and more people who visit become afraid of walking after dark or in unknown neighborhoods. Detroit was one of the hardest hit cities by the recession, making it even more unfriendly. The huge numbers of unemployed people tend to be less than happy to see other people visiting that have jobs, houses and cars. If you do want to find some friendlier times here, head to one of the live music venues and chat with other patrons.

Detroit, MI

1. New York City, NY

Sure, New York offers an insane amount of theatres, shops, restaurants, hotels and other entertainment, but it seems that people just can’t get past the unfriendliness of the city. It starts with the angry cabs that are incessantly honking their horns at other drivers and pedestrians. The unfriendliness continues in the stores and restaurants, who are more concerned with how much money you have to spend rather than to make your experience a good one. Perhaps the extremely high cost of living turns people off from this city or maybe they just don’t love the extreme hustle and bustle that is constant. Whatever the reason is, New York has and continues to be one of the most unfriendly cities in America and chances are it won’t get any friendlier in the future.

Aerial view of Manhattan skyline at sunset, New York City

10 Things to See and Do in Providence

Providence, Rhode Island is considered to be a “commuting city” with its proximity to Boston, and is often overlooked when visitors plan their New England region getaway. Providence is one of the oldest cities in the United States, it actually predates the nation by 140 years, has endured both the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression and the Great Recession. Don’t think that this former trading town is mired in the past however, through careful planning and focus on historical preservation this city has been transformed into one of the best destination spots along the eastern seaboard. As the state capital and an education center (Providence boasts many high-profile universities and colleges) the city has a large student and professional population which in turn, fuels world class shopping, dining and night-life. The city is laid out into four main neighborhoods: Downcity, the Providence Place Mall, Federal Hill and College Hill, each with its own distinctive character and charm.

10. Get Some History

Although some would argue that the city of Providence itself is a living, breathing museum, there are still some noteworthy museums that deserve your attention.  If Constitutional history is important to you, visit the Roger Williams National Memorial and learn about the man that proclaimed Freedom of Religion in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Roger Williams is a popular historical figure in Providence and the Museum of Natural History is found in the park that bears his name.

As the only natural history museum in the state, it exhibits local flora, fauna and fossils as well as Native American tools and textiles. Adjacent to the natural History Museum, The Cormack Planetarium is one of the best in the Country, featuring a state-of-the-art star projector which is able to portray the motions of the starry sky in unprecedented detail. Also worth noting is the Culinary Archives & Museum at Johnson & Wales University which provides a window into the history of the culinary industry.

Roger Williams National Memorial Providence

9. Go Bar Hopping

Although Providence isn’t as big as nearby Boston, it still has a very busy nightlife. There are many bars and clubs to suit your taste and price range, from hipster, to upscale, to punk, to divebar. Start your night at Point Street Dueling Pianos, where two piano players entertain with hilarious adult humor.  After you are warmed up, head to The Wild Colonial and mix with students and locals choosing from their wide selection of micro-brews while shooting pool and playing darts.

If you feel like dancing, Ultra the Nightclub is your jam, boasting 2 rooms playing Hip-Hop and Techno/House, you can dance well into the night for a small cover charge. If Dancing isn’t your thing, and you want to just chill out, get your sprawl on at the Smoke Lounge, known for its relaxed atmosphere, they offer hookah, drinks and music on two levels. In the summer, the first level roofing is removed to allow patrons full view of the starry sky.

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8. Go to the Zoo

Providence is home to one of the oldest zoos in the United States, the Roger Williams Park Zoo.  In 1872, the Roger Williams Park Zoo opened its doors to the public to display a limited selection of small animals and birds. The zoo grew in size until the mid-1940s, adding facilities to display monkeys, bears, big cats, elephants and sea lions. In 1949, one of the most popular exhibits was unveiled, Bunny Village.

Into the 1960s, the zoo started to show its age, and the Rhode Island Zoological Society was formed to raise funds to improve the public landmark. The Society remains to this day as the managing entity for the zoo and has done an excellent job enhancing the visitor’s experience with improvements to almost every area of the zoo. The Roger Williams Park Zoo is home to over 100 different species, and has exhibits showcasing animals from all around the globe.  A recent addition for children is Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard – which promotes interactive, outdoor play.

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7. Eat Food from a Truck

Food trucks have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the last few years and Providence represents, with local aspiring entrepreneurs being profiled on Food Network shows. The city even designated a Food Truck Market in Kennedy Plaza from August to September. Consistently at the top of the review lists is Mama Kim’s Korean BBQ truck, their Kimchi Pork sliders are always a lunch crowd favorite.

Feel like something different? Championship Melt has been motoring around Providence serving up the most unique versions of the grilled cheese you have ever scarfed curbside, open your mind (and mouth) and order up a Sith Lord (peanut butter, sriracha, bacon, cheese). Seafood from a food truck might seem weird in Kansas, but not here in this seaside town, Clam Jammers will serve you a fantastic cup of homemade fresh clam chowder.  Finish off your meal with dessert from the Flour Girls Baking Company Sweet Truck where cupcakes or homemade sticky buns are local favorites.

BluIz60 / Shutterstock.com
BluIz60 / Shutterstock.com

6. Listen to Some Live Music

If classical music is your thing, Check out the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School which is celebrating its milestone 70th season this year. The Philharmonic Classical series covers works from Tchaikovsky to Bach and runs from September to May.

Providence has seen the genesis of a lot of local bands, of all different genres and tastes, upcoming acts like Lemon Lime Tennis Shoes, Johnny Lingo and the Jesse Minute. Genres and influences collide making the Providence indie music scene into something original and unique. Firehouse 13, “made of brick and built to rock”, is a great place to explore the underground music scene, built in 1856 it was a training center for firefighting cadets, now it’s a venue for great local bands. In the mood for House, Techno and Electro? Head to the infamous Sweatshop if you can find it (don’t worry, we have you covered, it’s in the basement of the Salon, Providence’s uber hipster bar).

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

5. Go See Some Art

Providence is known as the Creative Capital of the New England Region and is well known for its innovative and thriving art scene. This historic city is home to one of the best art schools in America, The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) as well as the RISD Museum of Art, which boasts more than 80,000 pieces of art, from pictures of dogs playing poker to Greek sculpture to modern multimedia.

Providence goes out of its way to make art accessible, and one of the best ways to experience what Providence has to offer is to participate in Gallery Night, which features more than 20 local galleries on the third Thursday each month from March to November. A free bus takes you through the city and stops at all the participating venues throughout the night. If you feel like combining performance and art, check out the workshop for the grown-up puppetry of Big Nazo, located just a block away from Kennedy Plaza. Based in Providence, Big Nazo’s artists perform around the globe in large whimsical costumes and manipulate puppets made in the lab from conception to finished product.

RISD providence RI

4. Shop in the Oldest Indoor Mall in America

History is a recurring theme when it comes to Providence, Rhode Island attractions, and shopping is no different.  The Westminster Arcade (also known as the Providence Arcade) has the claim of the oldest indoor shopping mall in the United States.  One of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture, the Westminster Arcade was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.   Built in 1828 between Westminster and Weybosset Streets, the main street-side entrances resemble Greek temples, with massive 45-ft columns which lead to open vestibules with stairs that lead to the upper levels.  Inside, a skylit roof extends the length of the granite, brick and cast iron building.

The Arcade has recently been renovated with new retail spaces, restaurants and cozy-living micro-lofts.  Whether it’s fashion, gifts or salons you seek, the Westminster Arcade has you covered.  If you’re hungry the Rogue Island Local Kitchen & Bar, specializes in local foods and beers from within 40 miles of the city. New Harvest Coffee & Spirits will craft brew coffee as well as serve small-batch bourbons and whiskeys, coffee cocktails and pastries.

Photo by: Connie
Photo by: Connie

3. Attend NecronomiCon – and Celebrate HP Lovecraft’s 125th Birthday

The Lovecraft Arts and Sciences Council works extremely hard at making Providence the epicenter of Lovecraft’s lore and fame. To the unfamiliar, HP Lovecraft is widely regarded as the father of weird fiction, and one of the most important authors of his genre.  Unfortunately he spent most of his life in obscurity and died in poverty but his legacy lives on and NecronomiCon Providence will continue to celebrate his life and works.

Also showcased will be other creators of weird fiction, past and present, as well as Lovecraftian authors, academics and artisans.  If the grandfather of American Horror is your thing, you can join world-wide attendees to pay homage and connect from August 20 to 23.  Satisfy your Eldritch fix by taking in the academic talks, research symposium, readings, vendors, film, theater, and art all dedicated to Lovecraft-related topics.  Stretch your legs with guided walking tours (and bus tours) showcasing locations directly referenced in the stories you love.  Attend community and social events honoring Providence’s creepiest son like the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast and the Eldritch Ball.

Photo by: thurdl01/a>
Photo by: thurdl01/a>

2. Have a Drink in One of the Oldest Taverns in America

The White Horse Tavern isn’t just one of the oldest Taverns in America, it is one of the oldest buildings in the country.  In fact, the White Horse Tavern predated the United States, and played a community role like most taverns of that era. Built back when Rhode Island was a British Colony by William Mayes Sr. in 1673, it was the meeting place of the criminal court, General Assembly and the City Council.  In 1702, William Mayes Jr took the reins and was provided license to sell all sorts of strong drink.

Young Bill Mayes was a notorious pirate but a shrewd businessman who made the White Horse a popular haunt for regular folk, mercenaries, sailors, soldiers, merchants and founding fathers. These days you can feel the history and significance of this preserved location while eating excellent local farm-to-table fare and relaxing with a drink in front of a one of the fireplaces.  And if you are especially fortunate, you can communicate with one of the many ghosts said to haunt this establishment, it is well documented that in addition to being one of the oldest, the White Horse is also one of the most haunted taverns in America.

Photo by: White Horse Tavern
Photo by: White Horse Tavern

1. Attend Waterfire

Providence plays host to an annual festival, performance work, community ceremony and art instillation all rolled into one.  Waterfire is an expansive yearly celebration which celebrates community diversity and expression.  As far as city wide festivals go, Waterfire is relatively new and started when artist Barnaby Evans created the art installation called First Fire to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Providence’s First Night participation (the North American Arts and Culture celebration which was founded in nearby Boston).

Dedicated volunteers and strong community support have allowed this to be an admission free event every year, with the local and state government only contributing ten percent of overall costs, Waterfire is supported by generous donations from local business and citizens. During Waterfire, the downtown core of Providence is illuminated by one hundred bonfires that are set just above the surface of the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck and Providence rivers that pass through Waterplace Park.  Visitors are encouraged to stroll the paths along the waterfront and interact with the community fire-tending volunteers that make this event run smoothly every year.  Also included in the festivities are local and visiting artisans and performers, no matter what you are into, there is something to capture the imagination of almost every visitor.

Photo by: Waterfire
Photo by: Waterfire

The 10 Quirkiest Cities in America

Take a walk around many of America’s major cities and you’re bound to see someone or something that’s just a little odd. Take for example, Manhattan; any New Yorker will happily regale you with tales of the crazy things they’ve seen in the subway. Don’t get us wrong though, a little kookiness is definitely amusing and can even be downright charming. It’s actually something that many locals say they love about their cities. In a recent reader poll by Travel and Leisure magazine, readers voted on their favorite cities in America for a number of different categories from romance, to craft beers and even quirky locals…which we discuss here –because some cities have a lot more kooks than others you know.

10. New York City, New York

If you’ve ever been to New York City, you won’t be surprised to see the Big Apple on this list as it’s brimming with quirky things and quirky people. Of course you have the street performers of Times Square (Naked Cowboy anyone?), the freakishly interesting individuals at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, and let’s not forget about the people watching opportunities right out on the street or in the subway.

In a city where you can find just about everything, you might not be surprised that this city is also home to such kitschy establishments as Earth Room; a gallery in SoHo that’s actually filled with dirt and the Elevator Historical Society Museum, located in Queens; for those who just can’t get enough of lifts.

Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

9. Seattle, Washington

Seattle –the west coast gem that inspired grunge music and a certain iconic coffee chain might not be at the top if your mind when it comes to all thinks quirk. The people here might not seem as outwardly odd as those in big cities like New York, but there’s another reason Seattle made the top 10; it seems from recent census numbers that, in this city, the number of dogs actually outweighs the number of children.

Yes, statistics show that Seattle residents really love their 4 legged friends -and it shows. If you make the trek to the Fremont area which is known for a giant stone troll, a statue of Lenin that gets regular decorations and home to summer solstice parades -including nude cyclists, you’ll also find one of the most dog-friendly restaurants around. Norm’s Eatery & Ale House welcomes your furry friends and lets them even dine with you at your table. If your pooch is behaving particularly well, maybe head over to Scraps Dog Bakery where locals flock for gourmet baked dog treats as well as pet-sized Seattle Seahawks swag.

Matt Ragen / Shutterstock.com
Matt Ragen / Shutterstock.com

8. Kansas City, Missouri

In this survey, T&L readers reported Kansas City Midwesterners to be ‘thrifty and no-nonsense’, and while that might not seem like the most flattering of descriptions, it doesn’t mean they’re dull either. The city also ranked highly for its museums and history in the survey and Travel and Leisure reports that some of this history may be just a little ‘outside of the box’. Like the 1950’s All-Electric House for example, which was constructed by the Kansas City Power and Light co. in 1954 as a showcase for futuristic gadgets like the electric curtain opener, hidden television and ‘year-round air conditioner’.

There’s also the Arabia Steamboat Museum which features a wide array of pre-civil war artifacts collected from the sinking of the Steamboat Arabia on the Missouri River. If you get thirsty in KC just visit Oddly Correct, where you’ll find artfully crafted coffees, whose beans are roasted on site as well as a quirky concoction of coffee infused beer.

Sharon Day / Shutterstock.com
Sharon Day / Shutterstock.com

7. Baltimore, Maryland

If you’ve been to the city of Baltimore, you’ve probably heard the quirky dialect known as ‘Bawlmerese’ in action…and you’ve probably been called “hon” more than once or twice. Rather than lurk in the shadows of the big Eastern cities like Boston and New York, this city has long celebrated its outsider status. One city attraction, the American Visionary Art Museum, exemplifies this perfectly with its vast collection of outsider art from around the country.

The quirky factor doesn’t just end there, visit Atomic Books located in the Hampden neighborhood to possibly catch a glimpse of native oddball director John Waters who picks up his fan mail at the bookstore.

Graffiti Ally Baltimore

6. San Francisco, California

You had to know at least one city from the off the wall state of California would make this list…well those surveyed in the T&L poll agreed and say San Fran is just a little left of center. What else do you expect from the city that gave us hippies? You can experience this city’s quirky side yourself with a walking tour from Wild SF Walking Tours. Not your average walking tour, guides take you off-the-beaten path to explore the city’s “history, civil rights and social movements, presented as the residents of these neighborhoods would tell it.”

We can’t mention San Francisco without mentioning The Castro –also known as ‘America’s Gayborhood’. If you’re familiar with the Story of Harvey Milk and the gay rights movement, The Castro was ground zero for this civil rights movement of the 1970’s.

f8grapher / Shutterstock.com
f8grapher / Shutterstock.com

5. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Making it into the top five, the city sometimes referred to as ‘Albuquirky’ has many odd and unusual sights and attractions for those that seek them. The city has definitely embraced its ties to the TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ which is evident in everything from the coffee and faux-meth sprinkled Blue Sky donut at Rebel Donuts to ABQ  Trolly’s Bad Tour, where you can explore the city as seen through the eyes of Walter White.

There are off-kilter accommodations to be had as well, like Hotel Parq Central which is a renovated former psychiatric hospital –not that you would know it from the elegant modern décor. The hotel does feature one of the best rooftop bars in the city so it’s worth a visit even if you’re not staying the night.

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

4. Providence, Rhode Island

Providence –the little Rhode Island city that spawned such occult authors as H.P. Lovecraft and C.M. Eddy Jr, has no shortage of sights to see in the quirk department. Take a tour through the life of eccentric Providence-born horror author H.P. Lovecraft with a visit to his last place of residence, followed by a visit to his grave which is found in Swan Point Cemetery.  Given the historic significance of this city, it’s no surprise that more than a few notable figures reside in the city’s cemeteries; the graves of both Elizabeth Tilley Howland –one of the passengers of the Mayflower, and Thomas Willet –the first English mayor of New York City, can be found in Little Neck Cemetery.

It’s not all about historical figures though, there’s plenty of oddly entertaining experiences to enjoy as well; such as the Big Nazo Theater –which is an international performance group that includes visual artists, puppet performers and masked musicians. It all combines for a very entertaining and highly unusual performance art piece.

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

3. Portland, Oregon

Coming in the #3 spot according to T&L readers, the city of Portland definitely lives up to its reputation of hipsters, wacky food, and things that generally go against the grain. The people of Portland aren’t shy about their demand for all things local; all the way from the food to interesting products like mustache wax and locally crafted six-pack holders for your bicycle –all of which can be found at the MadeHere PDX store.

The love of ‘tasting rooms’ is also apparent in this west-coast city and you can find them for just about anything including coffee -like at Coava, a trendy coffee roaster with 2 locations, beer –which can be found at Coalition Brewing co. among other places, and even salt –like the Oregon pinot noir salt that can be sampled at Jacobsen Salt co.

Portland Timbers Flag

2. Austin, Texas

You may have expected the city that aims to keep it weird to come in first place in this reader poll, but another city stole that spot landing Austin in second place for quirkiest city in America. This runner-up can still firmly hold its place on the strange-scale with all the offerings that can be found here.

How about a drink at one of the many wild and wacky Austin bars like Lala’s –where it’s always Christmas no matter the time of year, or The Little Longhorn Saloon –where you can play Austin’s favorite gambling game: chicken s—t bingo (seriously). And if that’s not enough fun for you, head over to Javelina, where they’ve been known to host the occasional armadillo race.

Alfie Photography / Shutterstock.com
Alfie Photography / Shutterstock.com

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

So what city could top one whose slogan is all about keeping it weird? –The Big Easy of course. If you’ve ever been to the city of New Orleans and experienced its crazy mix of Cajun-French-Voodoo influences (among others), you know why this city was voted #1 in overall quirky-ness by Travel and Leisure readers.

Where else can you find non-stop festivals, funeral processions that feature dancing and big bands, chicory coffee, beignets and of course the infamous Mardi Gras parade? It seems the people of New Orleans will use any excuse to dress up in costume, be it fancy attire like big ball gowns or the more off-the-wall costumes that come out during Mardi Gras festivities. Even the luxury hotel brand Ritz Carlton joins in the quirky fun of this city by offering voodoo massages in their spa; which include ritual chanting and scents of absinthe with your rub down.

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

The Best “Little Italy’s” in North America

Italy is the source of some of the finest delights our senses can enjoy: espresso, pizza, pasta, gelato, wine and much more! For this reason, there are many “Little Italys” outside the motherland that bring together what we love about one of the star models of European quality. Who doesn’t love phenomenal coffee, incredible food and wonderful company?!  There are many places right here in North America that have done an excellent job of bringing our favorite features of the sought out and adored Italian way into many of our cities. From the nonna-style homemade pizza and tiramisu, to the showcasing of authentic imported products, these mini Italian communities offer an amazing array of Italian culture and cuisine for anyone to enjoy! Each city brings these communities to life in a different style, but, let’s be honest, some do it better than others. Here are the top 10 “Little Italy’s” in North America:

10. Montreal, Quebec

French meets Italian in the wonderful Little Italy of Montreal. Imagine: the highest standards of cheese and breads, European-style architecture and atmosphere, with quality espresso, wine and dining all fused into one great area! Enjoy the best pizza in Montreal at Boulangerie Marguerita and peruse the Church of the Madonna della Difesa – a large gorgeous piece of architecture that was built in 1919 and features the rare fresco of Pius IX and Mussolini next to one another. This wonderful fusion of deep-rooted culture and quality creates an enticing atmosphere that is quiet and calm during the day, and illuminated at night with vibrant streets of bright lights and high-spirits! It’s no wonder that Montreal’s little Italy continues to lure in those looking for a taste of Italia!

9. St. Louis, Missouri

You will quickly find a smile on your face as wafts of authentic Italian cuisine begin to enchant your sense as you walk St. Louis’ most intact ethnic neighborhood, also known as “The Hill” or “Little Italy St. Louis”. Although you should visit any little Italy with an empty stomach, you absolutely must come to The Hill prepared to take in all the delights of Italian cuisine! You’ll forever remember your experience of dining at the famous restaurants of this neighborhood – highly acclaimed by patriotic Italians, locals and celebrities! It’s also a great place for walking tours through the authentic independent shops, eateries, statues and many more great scenes. This is a way of life you will definitely be happy to get into!

Italian Dinner

8. Toronto, Ontario

Toronto’s little Italy captures all the great things of Italy, and packs it into one long strip full of cafes, clubs, patios and restaurants, lit with boot-shaped lights floating above the sidewalks. During the day you can enjoy a plethora of quality Italian cuisine and beautiful cafes full of delicious food and beverages on this strip on College Street West. The nightlife is even more impressive, bringing in youthful crowds, ridiculous cars, and a permeating sense of a community that fully embraces the enjoyment of good company. Characteristic of Toronto, there is even some diversity sprinkled in among the authentic and modern Italian hotspots, offering subtle compliment to the Italian themes without risking a case of mistaken identity. There is no doubt that this is the Italian hot spot of the city!

Deymos.HR / Shutterstock.com
Deymos.HR / Shutterstock.com

7. Providence, Rhode Island

Also known as Federal Hill, the Italian neighborhood of Providence in Rhode Island is full of multi-leveled enjoyment! If the high population of Italian ancestry is not enough to convince you that this is a great place to experience the Italian style, the details of the colorful DePasquale Plaza surely will! At the heart of the neighborhood, this plaza consists of fantastic restaurants, cafes, grocers and parks saturated with Italian flair. Outrageous desserts, famous pies, quality cigars, and intense bocce ball competitions are only a few of the reasons that make this area one of Providence’s top attractions. The beautiful fountains and architecture create an atmosphere of great enjoyment that is heightened with perfect lighting and amazing vibes! Come visit during June’s Federal Hill Stroll!

6. San Francisco, California

Despite being one of the furthest states from the boot shaped country, California still offers a taste of the homeland! The Italian neighborhood in San Francisco is located in the community oriented North Beach, where you can follow the grooves of the area to find great hidden gems. After enjoying the shops and bakeries, indulge further in the Italian lifestyle with a fantastic espresso and patio lunch at a lovely cafe featuring Italian music, newspapers, and staff. Afterwards, experience the unmatched beauty of Italian art before attending Italian language classes in the midst of the preserved Italian heritage at the Museo Italo Americano! For the full experience get in on the special events of the Italian Cultural Institute of San Francisco and treat yourself to the summer festival or jazz festival, or hold off until October and celebrate the nation’s oldest Italian-American parade!

5. Boston, Massachusetts

The North end of Boston first became a ‘Little Italy’ in the early 1900’s, when the Italian people began to inhabit the area which was previously populated by Jewish and Irish Immigrants. This makes Boston’s Little Italy a historical ground that is sometimes claimed to be the center, not only of the Italian style, but also of the American Revolution. Over time the area has established deeper and deeper Italian roots, solidifying the culture and cuisine with over 80 restaurants, pubs, bakeries, and cafes – alongside amazing architecture, Italian art, and entertaining feasts and festivals. The clean authentic cobblestone streets, the floating melodies of the Italian language, and the overall rustic charm will have you singing “grazi”, wine in hand, before you know it!

Boston North End

4. Manhattan, New York

Escape the hustle and bustle of classic New York City, and enter into old school Italian vibes and heritage on Mulberry Street. Walk the streets and gaze upon St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral a midst authentic Italian cafes, restaurants and markets. Despite its shrinking size there are still many gems to be found within these four unique city blocks. If you are visiting early in September you can take part in the excitement that comes with The Feast of San Gennaro, an annual street celebration lasting 11 days which pays tribute to the patron saint of Naples and includes a serious eating contest and a wonderful vibrant parade!

Stuart Monk / Shutterstock.com
Stuart Monk / Shutterstock.com

3. Chicago, Illinois

When you enter into Little Italy, Chicago, you’ll find yourself immersed in a beautiful space of colorful buildings, elegant statues, and elaborate fountains. The neighborhood is also home to a diverse set of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, which adds a distinct charm to the community. Still, the primacy of Italian-American heritage makes itself well-known, especially in the must see National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame and the historical Roman Catholic churches; Notre Dame de Chicago and Our Lady of Pompeii.  Be sure to enjoy the famous Mario’s Italian Lemonade after taking in the delectable array of traditional Italian cuisine, art, and entertainment. It’s safe to say that this vibrant community has delicious and exciting opportunities for those of all ages!

Italian Deli

2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A place of Italian history and pride, the Little Italy of Philadelphia is an area of great hospitality and quality. This Little Italy is characterized by the outside “Italian market”, which claims to be the largest and oldest market in America! This is no ordinary market, there is a great deal of organization, love, and talent going on behind the scenes to ensure a great experience for all. Explore and enjoy the charming smorgasbord of fresh meats, cheeses, veggies and spices that will tantalize your palatte and inspire your inner chef. This neighborhood is lined with charming shops,  specialty food stores, fine dining, and bars all showcasing that Italian influence. If possible, check out the Annual Italian Festival and the Procession of the Saints!

Michael G McKinne / Shutterstock.com
Michael G McKinne / Shutterstock.com

1. San Diego. California

In the “hip and historic” neighborhood of San Diego’s Little Italy, you will find a tonne of restaurants, pubs, cafes and events that are rich with authentic Italian flavors. Enjoy the certified farmer’s market full of fresh and delicious Italian favorites such as cheese, panini, sauces, meats and much more! Or, take a seat at one of the unique espresso bars in the heart of the Little Italy of San Diego. Among the most unique features of this “Little Italy” is the depth of community involvement and events it has inspired. Its unique district management corporation deals with a wide variety of community interests and ensuring high standards in every corner, it’s no wonder why this little Italy has become a favored area of play for adults and kids alike!

Little Italy San Diego