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 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.

12 American College Sports Venues to See Before You Die

It is a curious, almost inexplicable sociological phenomenon, uniquely American. The fanatical devotion and big business of college and university sport is unmatched elsewhere in the world. College teams often outdraw professional NFL franchises, minus the huge payroll. College sports fanatics (in the true sense of the word) exhibit behavior usually associated with religious fervor or membership in a cult. One Stadium features a Touchdown Jesus and nobody complained about blasphemy. A British sociologist named Desmond Morris has a theory that loyalty to a team is the modern incarnation of our Paleolithic tribal origins. The player/heroes touchdowns, baskets or goals are perceived by our caveman neurons the same way as the hunter’s, whose ‘kills’ ensured the survival of the ‘tribe’ (even if today’s version of the tribe looks like 100,000 plus screaming, slightly inebriated fans). It is rare that technically amateur sport arouses such passion. The venues in which these athletic ceremonies occur have become sports temples where fans gather to worship the brave and noble warriors who ensure not only the tribe survives, but becomes the number one ranked tribe in the nation with the divine status, glory and TV contracts that ensue. Here are the 12 college sport venues who provide the most unforgettable of sports experiences:

12. Cameron Indoor Stadium -Duke University

Home team: Blue Devils
Opened: 1940
Capacity: 9,314

The Duke University Blue Devils is one of the elite programs in all of college sport whose supporters’ fanaticism is up there too. How 9,314 people can make that much noise is a scientific mystery, but much of it comes from the legendary student section, affectionately known as the Cameron Crazies. The program dates all the way back to 1906 but the Cameron’s 75 year history is rich enough with the team’s five national championships.

Photo by: James DiBianco
Photo by: James DiBianco

11. Notre Dame Stadium -Notre Dame University

Home team: The Fighting Irish
Capacity: 80,795

Any place that has a Touchdown Jesus beneficently looking down on the stadium calls for a visit. The brand might have faded in recent years but the illustrious Fighting Irish remains one of the most legendary athletic institutions in the world. It was they who won one for the Gipper, where Knute Rockne reigned and where the great Grantland Rice (after whom the renowned website is named) wrote the most famous lead in sports writing history of the “Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. Unconvinced? Find a copy of the 1993 movie “Rudy” and get back to us.

Notre Dame Stadium

10. Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall -University of Indiana

Home team: Indiana University Hoosiers
Opened: 1972
Capacity: 17,456

Home of the Hoosiers, Assembly Hall has been called the Carnegie Hall of Basketball. Three of the teams five national titles were won here. For 30 years it was home to basketball’s most famous tyrant Bobby Knight ruled with the proverbial iron fist running up an incredible record of 902 wins against just 371 losses. The intensity remains. The Hoosiers do occasionally lose but they never disappoint.

Photo by: Scout.com
Photo by: Scout.com

9. Bryant-Denny Stadium -University of Alabama

Home team: Alabama Crimson Tide
Opened: 1929
Capacity: 101,821

AKA Tuscaloosa’s Treasure. Home to the iconic perennial powerhouse Crimson Tide who spend most autumn Sundays grinding out-matched teams into dust. Originally with just 12,000 seats, its capacity is up to 101,000 and counting. The stadium is co-named after a former University President and one of the game’s great legends Paul (Bear) Bryant who strolled the sidelines for 25 years racking up 323 wins and found a young quarterback named Joe Namath. As the Bleacher Report says “In Alabama, football is life.” The 2015 Homecoming theme was Forever Crimson: Faithful, Loyal, Firm and True.”

Bryant-Denny Stadium

8. Rose Bowl -University of California Los Angeles

Home team: UCLA Bruins
Opened: 1922
Capacity: 92,542

The venerable American institution is home to the UCLA Bruins and has seen an Olympics and World Cup. But its fame stems from traditional bowl game that bears its name. First played in 1902, it was college football’s premier event on New Year’s Day for decades. Too many legends have trod the sod to count, but included are: 17 Heisman Trophy Winners, 29 national champions, 199 consensus All-Americans and 107 college football legends inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. It remains a mecca of college football and an afternoon watching elite teams play as the sun sets on the San Gabriel Mountains is not a memory that will soon fade.

Rose Bowl

7. Mariucci Arena -University of Minnesota

Team: Golden Gophers
Opened: 1993
Capacity: 10,000

Named for John Mariucci, the Hall of Fame coach from the 1950’s and 60’s, this is hallowed ground for American hockey. It is a hockey factory for U.S. born players whose alumni include Miracle on Ice coach Herb Brooks. The Golden Gophers 21 Frozen Four appearances are third in the nation. It is considered the premier arena to watch top-tier college hockey for two reasons. Fifteen of the team’s 2015 players were drafted by the NHL. The arena bears a striking quotation from Coach Mariucci: “Through these gates walk the greatest fans in college hockey”.

By Shipguy9 - I took the picture on my phone., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
By Shipguy9 – CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

6. Tiger Stadium -Louisiana State University

Home team: LSU Tigers
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 102,321

It stands to reason that, starting with the tailgating, the atmosphere of Saturday night football in Cajun Country is like no other. Just the thought of more than 100,000 Ragin’ Cajuns is unsettling. The rabidly hostile AND LOUD fans that religiously pack the stadium for home games has earned the Stadium the charming nickname of Death Valley. A sea of energy in the royal colors of purple and gold makes for a long night on the field for opponents and a memorable experience for the connoisseur of college sport.

Tiger Stadium

5. Rupp Arena -University of Kentucky

Home team: Wildcats
Opened: 1976
Capacity: 23,000

Kentucky is another perennial powerhouse and the Rupp (named after one of the greatest coaches ever) packs an unusually large crowd of 24,000 up into its rafters. It is the winningest college team in history since it came into being in 1903. Some of the all-time greats have played here but as testament to its continuing success, the current crop of Wildcats in the NBA number 4 potential future Hall of Famers; John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. With its size and noise level and consistently elite teams, Rupp Arena is easily one of the most intimidating venues in sport anywhere.

Rupp Arena

4. Michie Stadium -United States Military Academy

Home Team: Army Black Knights
Opened: 1924
Capacity: 38,128

The football isn’t what it used to be. They have lost 13 straight in the iconic Army Navy series, but there are things that make this worth considering. The legions of cadets in the stands is a truly unique setting. The 1912 team featured a young player named Dwight D Eisenhower. The team mascot remains a live mule which was a tribute to a valuable military mode of transport when the football program began in 1890. From 1944 to 1950, their record was 57-3 with 3 national championships behind football legend Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, memorably nicknamed respectively Mr. Inside and outside. With three national championships. Vince Lombardy and Bill Parcells got their start here. It is like a true Field of Dreams, with ghosts of greatness still gracing the field on the banks of the Hudson.

Michie Stadium

3. The Palestra -University of Pennsylvania

Opened: 1927
Home Teams: UPenn, Villanova, La Salle, Temple, St. Joseph’s
Capacity: 8,772

AKA the Cathedral of College Basketball. Unique in college sport, The Palestra as a kind of sport co-op has played host to more games than any other college arena in history. It is the home of the Big Five Philly based college teams. Named at the suggestion of a Classics professor for its Ancient Greek counterpart, it is a classic venue.

Palestra

2. Allen Fieldhouse -University of Kansas

Opened: 1955
Capacity: 16,300

Since the Allen opened in 1955, the home team Jayhawks have had a record of 666-107. Since the program began in 1898 their record is 2153-831.tradition. The court is named after basketball’s Canadian-born inventor James Naismith, who was the first coach of the Jayhawks. Going to any Big 12 game is worth the drive/flight to Lawrence Kansas to see the blue and crimson at The Phog as it’s also known, the nickname of F.C. Allen the hugely successful early 20th century coach who was also a seminal figure in the development of basketball in the United States. But to take in the atmosphere of over a century of athletic excellence from Naismith to Wilt Chamberlain to NBA Rookie of the Year, Andrew Wiggins, is more than just a game.

By Original uploader - Originally uploaded by Jonnybsay to Wikimedia Commons., Public Domain, Link
By Original uploader – Originally uploaded by Jonnybsay to Wikimedia Commons., Public Domain, Link

1. Michigan Stadium -Michigan State University

Home Team: The Wolverines
Opened: 1927
Capacity: 109,901

It isn’t called The Big House for nothing. It is among the top five largest stadiums in the world. Maybe the only one who can claim to be home to more people on game day than Ann Arbor the town in which it sits. The National Hockey League staged a regular season game there between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings that drew over 105,000 people on a wintry day. A great venue with one of the most powerful tribes in college sport.

Michigan Stadium

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

10 Foods That Make the State  

Every single one of the American States has its own quirky food scene and signature dish. Whether you are devouring a fresh lobster roll or chewing on a piece of saltwater taffy; these foods all have a history that ties them to a particular state. From the west coast to the east, from delectable marionberry pies to the famous Louisiana gumbo; these 10 foods and states go hand in hand, and it wouldn’t be a visit to any of these states without trying these foods.

10. Marionberry Pie, Oregon

Zigzag Mountain Art / Shutterstock

This hybrid berry is responsible for this awesome pie that Oregon is so greatly known for. The Marion blackberry, marketed as the marionberry is a cross between the ‘Chehalem’ and ‘Olallie’ blackberry and was developed by the USDA ARS breeding program in cooperation with Oregon State University. The berry has somewhat of a tart flavor, larger, sweeter, and juicier compared with an evergreen blackberry. Oregon produces between 28 million and 33 million pounds annually of these berries and the result is some incredible pies. There are thousands of recipes out there for these pies but the best have been handed down generations and every year at the State Fair there is a Marionberry Pie Contest. Many people are now adding cream cheese to the pie in addition to the berry filling, to add a little something extra. It wouldn’t be a trip to Oregon without filling your belly with at least one slice of this delicious pie.

9. Philly Cheese Steak, Pennsylvania

wsmahar / Getty Images

The Philly cheese steak is a passionately defended local institution, and rightfully so as this gooey sandwich is absolutely delicious. The cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century but the identity of the inventor and exact process is the subject of spirited debate but Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s. Today the sandwich consists of a crusty roll filled with juicy thin-sliced beef and topped with fried onions, peppers, and Cheez Whiz. The best two places to get yourself one of these amazing sandwiches are either Pat’s King of Steaks or its rival Geno’s, they have been across-the-street rivals for nearly 50 years.

8. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, Illinois

Morten Falch Sortland / Getty Images

Whoever invented deep-dish pizza, we wish they were alive today so we could give them a big old hug, or at least a high five. It was the year 1943 when this style of pizza was invented. Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened Pizzeria Uno in Chicago’s North Side neighborhood and served up a new style of pizza with a deeper dish, crunchier crust, and inverted layers. The deep-dish style pizza was invented and Chicago and the rest of the American world never looked back. What exactly goes into this process though? The cake-like pan in which the pizza is cooked is first coated in olive oil and then topped with a flour dough mixture. Before hitting the oven, a layer of sliced mozzarella is covered with vegetables and meats, typically Italian sausage, and then topped with a sweet layer of crushed tomatoes. The inverted layers of ingredients prevent the cheese from burning, while the meat, vegetables, sauce, and crust marry their flavors, leading to one incredible pie.

7. Crab Cakes, Maryland

Joff Lee / Getty Images

The Chesapeake Bay is known country-wide for its sweet-fleshed blue crabs and crab cakes quickly became the state food here. Before they became popular though, crabs were not widely eaten as they were considered too dangerous and difficult to eat. However as time went on fisherman began to master the technique of getting the meat out of the shell, and thus crab meat was in abundance. The term “crab cake” was first coined by Crosby Gaige in the 1930s. In his cookbook titled, New York World’s Fair Cook Book, he finally gave the popular recipe a name: “Baltimore Crab Cakes”. This fishcake is composed of crab meat, bread crumbs, milk, mayonnaise, eggs, seasoning, and may contain red or green peppers. The cake is then sautéed, baked, grilled, or broiled, turning it into a delicious seafood treat.

6. Lobster Roll, Maine

Photo by Cathy Scola / Getty Images

Maine lobster is celebrated from sea to table all over the state and one of the favorite ways to eat this delicious seafood is in the famous sandwich, the lobster roll. Like a lot of other incredible dishes on this list, the history of who actually did the lobster roll first is under much debate. Many locals view Bayley’s Lobster Pound at Pine Point as the inventor of the famous seafood sandwich. Then there are the out-of-state claimants. Some say that Harry Perry first offered lobster rolls out of his Milford, Connecticut, restaurant in the 1920s. Others claim the Nautilus Tea Room in Marblehead, Massachusetts, as the original purveyor of lobster rolls. Lobster rolls in Maine have several distinct characteristics starting with the bun. The roll is baked slightly different from a hot dog roll, the sides are flat so they can be buttered, lobster meat is actually served cold in the roll and there is a light spread of mayonnaise either spread in the roll or mixed in with the meat.

5. Hotdish, Minnesota

Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

This interesting variety of casserole is actually produced as “hoddish” and is commonly found at large gatherings and family events. What makes up a hotdish is a variety of ingredients including potatoes, ground beef, green beans, corn, and canned soup. The potatoes can either be hash browns, potato chips, or the most widely used tater tots. Usually served with a side of ketchup, this dish remains popular, to everyone’s surprise, that doesn’t live in this state. The history of the hotdish goes back to when budget-minded farm wives needed to feed their own families, as well as congregations in the basements of the first Minnesota churches. Since then, the state has embraced this dish and even runs an annual hotdish competition.

4. Salt Water Taffy, New Jersey

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Salt water taffy evokes the Jersey Shore, more than any other candy or food out there. Considering the ingredients in this candy include things such as sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter, salt, natural and/or artificial flavor, and food color; it is astounding that this candy has remained the food we associate with New Jersey. Joseph Fralinger is said to be the one who popularized the candy when he started boxing it and selling it in Atlantic City. Shriver’s, the oldest business on the Ocean City boardwalk – it opened in 1898 – offers a staggering 70 flavors of taffy, with chocolate the overwhelming bestseller. Funny enough, the entire salt water taffy business in this state is owned by one family.  In 1947, four brothers named Glaser bought James and in 1990 they bought Fralinger’s. Today, the two famous taffy names are made in the same production rooms, with red collecting pans marked “James” and gray pans marked “Fralinger’s.”

3. Chimichanga, Arizona

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The history of how the chimichanga became a dish is much debated. According to one source the founder of the Tucson, Arizona, restaurant “El Charro”, Monica Flin, accidentally dropped a pastry into the deep fryer in 1922. She immediately began to utter a Spanish curse-word but quickly stopped herself and instead exclaimed chimichanga, a Spanish equivalent of “thingamajig”. Woody Johnson on the other hand claims he invented this dish in 1946 when he put burritos into a deep fryer as part of an experiment at his restaurant, Wood’s El Nido. This delicious deep-fried monster is made up of a flour tortilla filled with a wide range of ingredients, most commonly rice, cheese, machaca, carne adobada, or shredded chicken. Fold it into a rectangular package, drop it in the deep fryer and serve it up with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

2. Gumbo, Louisiana

LauriPatterson / Getty Images

Of all the dishes in the repertoire of Louisiana cooking, gumbo is absolutely the most famous and one of the most loved dishes of the state. Gumbo is found in the houses of both the rich and the poor, across restaurants, and at every single special event. Generally speaking, gumbo is a thick, dark soup containing a mixture of rice, vegetables, and meat or seafood. Yet when it comes to ingredients, the one constant in gumbo is variety. There are just two hard and fast rules: a gumbo must always contain rice, and it must always be thickened with something. The history of this dish is quite a mystery as it has been a staple in Louisiana kitchens long before written records of the dish existed. No one is certain whether the dish is Cajun or Creole in origin, but only one thing really matters; how delicious it truly is.

1. Shrimp and Grits, South Carolina

LauriPatterson / Getty Images

Shrimp and grits are the typical breakfast for many of the Charleston area fishermen during the shrimping season, which ordinarily runs from May through December, but was discovered as a dish long before these fishermen started eating it. Grits actually originated from the Native Americans and were used as a way to communicate with the white people before they learned how to speak the same language. An important event happened in 1584 when Native Americans gave some of their grits to Sir Walter Raleigh and centuries later, in 1976, grits were declared the official state food of South Carolina and noted for their vital contribution to the culture and the economy of South Carolina, as well as to the sustenance of the people living there. Essentially this dish is Grits (thick ground corn) that form a bed for fresh-from-the-sea shrimp and other mix-ins, like bacon, garlic, and lemon.

9 Real American Ghost Stories

American history is rife with violent tales: grisly murders, massacres, tragic accidents and suicides litter the historical landscape. These kind of tragedies are apt to give rise to tales of horrifying hauntings; American folklore is chock-full of ghosts and ghouls. Many of these supposed specters are associated with violence, tragedy or unsolved crimes. Some of the places associated with these ghost tales have become well-known across the nation—and some are all the more terrifying because there’s at least some grain of truth buried in those ghastly yarns.

9. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

As far as spooky places go, you can’t get much more terrifying than an old asylum. Although many former asylums have been converted since their closure, others are abandoned—but almost all are rumored to be haunted with the ghosts of those patients who died in care there. The Trans-Allegheny Asylum, in Weston, West Virginia, has been mostly vacant since its closure in the mid-1990s, although a few small museums did operate during the early 2000s. These days, you can take a historic tour or a ghost tour during the evening. If you’re really up for a challenge, take the intensive, 8-hour ghost hunt on a Saturday night. The site also served as a post for soldiers during the Civil War, so in addition to the rumored spirits of hundreds of mentally ill patients, Civil War ghosts have also been reported to haunt the facility.

karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock.com
karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock.com

8. Moundsville Penitentiary

Like asylums, places where prisoners were held are often purported to be full of ghosts. The old Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia is one such supposedly haunted jail. These days, the former prison is a tourist attraction, used to host an annual Halloween attraction, but that’s not the only spooky thing going on here. Unexplained noises, voices, cold spots and even reports of a “shadow” man have given Moundsville a reputation as one of the most haunted prisons in America. Operating between 1876 and 1995, the facility had a violent history: 94 prisoners were executed and 36 were murdered by their fellow inmates. One such case was that of R.D. Wall, who was butchered in October 1929. In 1986, 3 inmates were killed during a riot. With stories like that, is it any wonder there’d be a few vengeful spirits still wandering here?

Moundsville Penitentiary

7. Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area

Gold was discovered in Sumpter, Oregon, in 1862, and between 1912 and 1934, 3 gold dredges operated in the valley district. The dredges weren’t overly sophisticated machines, but that didn’t make them safe. Two people were killed working on the dredges—though neither of them were “Joe Bush.” In 1918, an oiler named Christopher Rowe was greasing winch gears, when the gears started turning and Rowe was sucked in. When that dredge was dismantled to build the new No. 3, the gears were moved—and some say Rowe’s ghost moved with them. But reports of haunting didn’t pick up steam until the 1940s, when workers claimed that “Joe” would move tools and eat forgotten lunches. Some also report the ghost causes lights to flicker and doors to open and close. “Joe” is even said to leave wet footprints on the deck of the dredge.

Sumpter Valley Dredge

6. Myrtles Plantation

When Europeans arrived in America, Native Americans had been living on the land for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the new arrivals didn’t have much respect for that and often built right over important cultural sites—including burial grounds. Myrtles Plantation, in St. Francisville near Baton Rouge, is one building rumored to be right on top of a Native American burial ground. It’s also one of the most haunted houses in America, supposedly the home of no less than 12 ghosts. Legend says that up to 10 murders occurred in the house, but only the murder of William Winter is on record. Along with Winter’s ghost, other spectral residents include a young Native American woman, the spirits of a former owner and her 2 children, a murdered slave woman, at least 1 Civil War soldier and a young girl who died in 1868, who reportedly practices voodoo on unsuspecting guests.

"Myrtles Plantation Louisiana". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Myrtles Plantation Louisiana“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

5. Huntingdon College

The Red Lady of Huntingdon College supposedly haunts the former Pratt Hall on the Montgomery campus, and her story is one many of us can relate to. According to legend, a student named Martha arrived to begin her studies at Huntingdon at the behest of her father. Originally from New York, Martha didn’t really want to go to Alabama. The other girls thought she was stand-offish and rude and Martha was unable to make any friends. Embittered, depressed and lonely, Martha committed suicide by slashing her wrists. The student who found her claimed to have seen red flashes of light shooting out of the room as she approached. Today, students say the date of Martha’s death is marked by red flashes of light from the room, and the ghost returns to haunt the building.

"Huntingdon College Flowers Hall" by Spyder Monkey - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Huntingdon College Flowers Hall” by Spyder MonkeyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

4. Lizzie Borden House

The murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in 1892 caused a scandal across the nation. No one knows for sure who committed the crime, but the prime suspect was Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter. The Bordens were butchered with an ax—as a popular ditty went, Lizzie “gave her mother 40 whacks.” Lizzie was acquitted at her trial, but no one else was ever charged. Today, the Lizzie Borden House, where the murders took place, is a bed and breakfast. Daily tours will take you to the rooms where Andrew and Abby were found, as well as to the basement where the ax was supposedly left by the murderer. Ghost hunters say the house is a hotbed of paranormal activity and the owners have a number of ghost cameras set up throughout the house. Some report seeing various players in the crime, including the ghosts of the victims and Lizzie.

"Borden House Present" by DkEgy - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Borden House Present” by DkEgyOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

3. Villisca Ax Murder House

Another famous ax murder case, also unsolved, occurred in the town of Villisca, Iowa, in 1912. Six members of the Moore family and 2 hapless house guests were bludgeoned to death on night in June. Several people were tried, but no one was ever convicted of the crime. The house where the murders took place is reported to be haunted: former tenants claim that they’d seen the shadowy figure of a man standing at the foot of their beds, swinging an ax, and to have heard the sound of children sobbing. Closet doors open and close, clothes are thrown out of dressers and shoes have been reported to fill with blood and move around the room. The house, which is now a museum, has been investigated by many ghost hunters, some of whom claim to have recorded a man saying things like “I killed 6 kids.”

Photo by: Iowa Girl on the Go
Photo by: Iowa Girl on the Go

2. Queen Esther’s Town Preserve

Many bloody battles were fought in the early days of America, making colonial history ripe for ghosts like Queen Esther. Legend says that Queen Esther, learning of her son’s death, rallied 500-plus villagers and raided a farm, killing at least 2 people in September 1778. A 200-man military force engaged the fierce Iroquian warriors of the village. The Iroquian women and children were caught and executed, and Esther was lynched. Today, near Athens, Pennsylvania, some say you can hear the screaming of the victims. Hunters report seeing a young woman weeping in an oak tree. She disappears and, after the sighting, weapons will fail to fire. Some people believe this is the spirit of Queen Esther trying to prevent more deaths. Others say Esther left a curse that would bring great misfortune to any settler who tried to live on the land where the massacre took place.

Photo by: Pennsylvanus Book Blog
Photo by: Pennsylvanus Book Blog 

1. The Bell Witch Cave

Although the Bell Witch might be one of the most famous stories in American paranormal folklore, nobody is quite sure who—or what—the “witch” was. Some accounts say the witch was a poltergeist, while others think it may have been the curse of a neighbor placed upon the Bell family in Adams, Tennessee. Still others say the neighbor was the witch herself. Whatever the case, the Bell family was tormented between 1817 and 1824: family members were pinched and prodded, animals were spooked for no seeming reason and unusual noises were heard. Eventually, John Bell died, but the witch went on tormenting the family; even today, Bell family descendants claim to be cursed. Although the Bells no longer own the farm property where the haunting took place, a nearby cave, called the Bell Witch Cave, is reputedly haunted and reports of paranormal activity continue to this very day.

"Bell Witch Cave" by Www78 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Bell Witch Cave” by Www78Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

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

Created by drcooke / Getty Images

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

10 Things to See and Do in Baton Rouge

The capital and second largest city in Louisiana, Baton Rouge (French for “Red Stick”), is located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. The city’s historical significance comes from its strategic site upon the Istrouma Bluff upriver from the Mississippi River Delta. At one time the city was the heart of plantation country and this era can be viewed from the observation deck of the Capitol Building, or take a tour of the city and check out the points of interest. There are many other things to see and do in the beautiful city, which truly is the heart of Louisiana.

10. LSU Hilltop Arboretum

Located on Highland Road, the LSU Hilltop Arboretum is an arboretum owned by Louisiana State University. It is open to the public seven days a week during daylight hours. The original layout of the garden was designed to form a cathedral with a great hall or nave and hallways running in all directions to other rooms and on to others with niches and passageways. Grassy plots served as the naves and other rooms while trees, shrubs and bamboo form the walls and old tree trunks served as the pillars. The wide variety of trees both flowering and not, bamboos, and shrubbery are beautiful and spread across 14 acres. You can cross the old footbridge which crosses a 20 ft. deep ravine before entering the beautiful tree canopied cathedral. You can get lost in the natural atmosphere while strolling through this amazing arboretum.

Photo by: LSU Hilltop Arboretum
Photo by: LSU Hilltop Arboretum

9. Baton Rouge Gallery

Founded in 1965, the Baton Rouge Gallery is a multi-media art gallery located on Dalrymple Drive. It is one of the country’s oldest artist co-ops, originally named The Unit 8 Gallery for the eight original artists who opened the gallery to showcase their talents. Located in Brooks Park, the gallery plays host to their annual Art in the Park event, day camps during the Spring, Summer and Winter, studio art classes and birthday parties. It is the perfect place to go and enjoy some contemporary art from Louisiana artists, enjoy some music or movies on the lawn and take in some culture with your family. Be sure to check schedules before heading out to find out what programs are currently being hosted as well as the artist and their featured works currently being exhibited. You won’t be disappointed in the quality and variety of art available.

Photo by: Baton Rouge Gallery
Photo by: Baton Rouge Gallery

8. Pentagon Barracks

Located in the grounds of the state capitol, Pentagon Barracks is a complex of buildings at State Capitol Drive and River Road. The site was originally used as a military post and has been used by the Spanish, French, British, Confederate States Army and United States Army and was part of the short-lived Republic of West Florida. In 1884, a resolution was passed allocating full usage of the facility and surrounding grounds to Louisiana State University where it remained until moving to their current campus location in 1926. In 1951, ownership was transferred to the State of Louisiana is now on the National Historic Register. It currently serves as the location for the offices of the lieutenant governor and private residences for state legislators. Though it is not open to the public for tours, it is definitely worth checking it out from the outside and if possible from the air to snap some great shots of Americana.

Photo by: Spatms via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Spatms via Wikimedia Commons

7. St. Joseph Cathedral

Located in downtown Baton Rouge, St. Joseph Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral and the mother church of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. This beautiful church has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990 and is still a wonderful place to worship today. Designed in Gothic Revival style, the church later became sided with stucco and had a steeple and clock added to give it the magnificence it displays today. There are beautiful German stained glass windows and Italian mosaic stations of the cross…breathtaking works of art to behold. Looking over the elegant granite altar is an exquisite mahogany crucifix all within a newly constructed marble sanctuary. To complete the elegant facade, the great gallery organ “Providence” was installed in the loft. You can visit this incredible piece of Baton Rouge and become part of its history.

Photo by: New Orleans Churches
Photo by: New Orleans Churches

6. LSU Rural Life Museum

Located on the 40-acre agricultural research experiment station, Burden Plantation, the LSU Rural Life Museum is a museum of Louisiana history. The museum is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of 18th and 19th century rural materials from Louisiana. You will feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine when you visit this outdoor rural landscape and see the artifacts and architecture showcasing the life and times of these people. Unlike most museums that are restricted to indoor exhibits, you get to see and experience 18th and 19th century life both indoors and outdoors. It is the most accurate and unique way you can experience and learn about the way farming life used to be way back when. Give yourself a full day for a visit here so you can dedicate the time you need to get the most out of both the indoors and outdoors.

Photo by: Shanna Riley via Flickr
Photo by: Shanna Riley via Flickr

5. Old Louisiana State Capitol

The Old Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge housed the Louisiana State Legislature from the mid-nineteenth century until the new tower State Capitol building was constructed in 1929-32. It looks a lot like a castle and was built that way purposely to function like one as well. The Old State Capitol building was restored in  the 1990s and is now the Museum of Political History. Because of its central location downtown, it is easily accessible from and to many other historically significant buildings. One of its most magnificent features are the stained glass window and stained glass dome. There is a one-of-a-kind four dimensional theatrical production called “The Ghost of the Castle” where visitors come face to face with the ghost of Sarah Morgan, a civil war era resident who loved the castle. It’s a beautiful and surreal attraction you won’t want to miss.

Old State Capitol Louisiana

4. Magnolia Mound Plantation House

Built in 1791, Magnolia Mound Plantation House is a French Creole house near the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. The house and several outbuildings are  prime examples of the influence of early settlers from France and the West Indies. Located only a mile south of downtown, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was once the center of a 900-acre operation and eventually became the elegant seat of a major landowner. The collection of furnishings and decorative arts are housed in a carefully restored and documented setting. The furniture was locally made during the colonial period and includes some French pieces demonstrating the ties between the plantation owner and his family in France. It’s an important and unique model of the area’s history displaying the influence the settlers had on life in Baton Rouge then and now.

Photo by: Elisa Rolle via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Elisa Rolle via Wikimedia Commons

3. Blue Bayou and Dixie Landin’

The Blue Bayou and Dixie Landin’ are amusement parks adjacent to each other in Baton Rouge. While Dixie Landin’ is more of a traditional amusement park like you’d find elsewhere, Blue Bayou is a waterpark. Blue Bayou features 20 attractions including the world’s largest aqualoop, dark behemoth bowl, tornado slide, water racer and in-line water slide to mention the most notable.  At Dixie Landin’ you can ride a roller coaster, a drop tower, a log flume, a variety of flat rides or many others suitable for different age groups. There is also a carousel, a giant wheel, a merry-go-round and four adrenaline pumping roller coaster rides to choose from. Whether you are a thrill seeker or enjoy something a little more laid back, you can find it here. Between the two parks, you never need to venture any further for family fun and thrills.

Photo by: Blue Bayou Dixie Landin'
Photo by: Blue Bayou Dixie Landin’

2. USS Kidd (DD-661)

The first ship of the United States Navy to be named after Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, the USS Kidd is a Fletcher-class destroyer. Launched on February 28, 1943, the Kidd, during her maiden voyage to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyards, flew the Jolly Roger from the foremast. Subsequently, her crew adopted Captain William Kidd as their mascot and had a pirate figure painted on the forward smokestack. The ship was decommissioned in 1964, entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet and berthed at the Philadelphia Shipyard. From there it was towed to Baton Rouge May 23, 1982, transferred to the Louisiana Naval War Memorial Commission and is now open to the public as a museum vessel. It’s a wonderful piece of American history, a magnificent tribute to the men and women who made history aboard her and worth visiting if you’re in the area.

Photo by: Niagara via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Niagara via Wikimedia Commons

1. Baton Rouge Zoo

Located 15 minutes north of downtown Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Zoo serves as home to over 1,800 animals from all over the globe. The zoo is open to the public every day of the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Exhibits include Otter Pond – which features a replica of a fishing cabin from which visitors can watch otters underwater and Parrot Paradise – a walk-through aviary where visitors can get close and see birds from all over the world. If you love animals, the Baton Rouge Zoo is a great place to visit since they actually participate in more than 30 Species Survival Plans showing they really care. You’re sure to enjoy this small, but well kept zoo and become educated while having fun together with your family.

Photo by: BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo
Photo by: BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo

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