25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2020

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

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

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

25. Chattanooga, Tennessee

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

24. Beaumont, Texas

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

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

23. Tulsa, Oklahoma

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

22. Hartford, Connecticut

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

21. Lansing, Michigan

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

20. Nashville, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

19. New Orleans, Louisiana

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

18. Wichita, Kansas

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

17. Indianapolis, Indiana

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

16. Oakland, California

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

15. Anchorage, Alaska

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

14. Springfield, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

13. San Bernardino, California

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

12. Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

11. Rockford, Illinois

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

10. Stockton, California

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

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

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

Source: Todd A. Merport / Shutterstock.com

9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

8. Little Rock, Arkansas

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

7. Cleveland, Ohio

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

6. Kansas City, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

5. St. Louis, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

4. Baltimore, Maryland

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

3. Birmingham, Alabama

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

2. Memphis, Tennessee

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

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

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

Source: f11photo / Shutterstock.com

1. Detroit, Michigan

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2019

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

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

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

25. Lansing, Michigan

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

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

24. Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

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

23. New Orleans, Louisiana

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

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

Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr

22. Newark, New Jersey

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

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

21. San Bernardino, California

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

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

20. Indianapolis, Indiana

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

19. Stockton, California

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

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

18. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

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

17. Kansas City, Missouri

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

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

Sharon Day / Shutterstock.com

16. Rockford, Illinois

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

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

15. Birmingham, Alabama

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

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

14. Nashville, Tennessee

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

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

13. Cleveland, Ohio

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

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

12. Detroit, Michigan

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

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

11. Chicago, Illinois

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

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

10. Anchorage, Alaska

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

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

9. Baltimore, Maryland

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

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

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

8. Pueblo, Colorado

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

mese.berg / Shutterstock.com

7. Chattanooga, Tennessee

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

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

6. Oakland, California

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

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

5. Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

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

 

4. Springfield, Missouri

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

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

3. Little Rock, Arkansas

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

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

2. Memphis, Tennessee

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

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

 

Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

1. St. Louis, Missouri

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

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

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

The 10 Most Unfriendly Cities in America 2015

When people talk about travel, a lot of the discussion will focus on the best places to travel—and there are certain places that rank high on the list of great places to visit. But what about places that are, according to some, better avoided by curious travelers? These 10 cities are considered to be some of the unfriendliest places in the U.S., best avoided by novice and casual travelers. Despite their reputations, however, these places still have their charms—which are left to the intrepid explorer to tease out.

10. Baltimore, MD

Located virtually right next to the District, Baltimore is sometimes characterized as being something of a bedroom community for those who work in the nation’s capital. Baltimore also struggles in the tourism arena since it has to compete directly against the sights of DC, with its museums and numerous other attractions. The city’s downtown core has begun to fall into disrepair and other key cultural attractions, such as the Inner Harbor shopping area, are beginning to deteriorate. Nonetheless, Baltimore offers travelers opportunities to take in Orioles baseball games, visit the Visionary Art Museum or go sailing on Chesapeake Bay. Some suggest that, like other “unfriendly” American cities, Baltimore is best enjoyed with someone who knows the area well—whether a friend who has visited before or a local who knows the city like the back of their hand.

grafitti ally Baltimore

9. Los Angeles, CA

The City of Angels is probably one of the most hyped cities in America, but plenty of travelers find this destination overrated. The city is swathed in smog and the streets are dirty and crowded. The culture is variously described as being “plastic” and “snobbish,” with too many people getting caught up in the bright lights of Hollywood—and too many businesses willing to cater to would-be starlets and star-struck fans. Let’s not even get started on the congested roadways—some of the worst in the U.S.—and the aggressive drivers that clog the city’s arteries. (Public transit is considered a sketchy-at-best alternative.) And while it might sound almost cliché or even borderline hipster, LA is rich in rewards for those who go looking: getting off the beaten path or garnering advice from locals will yield the city’s hidden gems to the discerning traveler.

View Apart / Shutterstock.com
View Apart / Shutterstock.com

8. Reno, NV

Reno, the capital of Nevada, is usually ignored in favor of the bright lights of the state’s Sin City, Las Vegas. The two metropolises are virtually on top of each other. People looking to stay somewhere quieter and cheaper than Vegas might think Reno is a great option for that reason—it’s not Vegas, but still offers easy access—but they might be sorely disappointed if they think Reno is just a discount Vegas. Those who hit the casinos should be prepared to feel the city is “old” and “tired,” despite ongoing revitalization efforts. If you want to enjoy Reno, skip the lure of the slots and get outdoors: the city’s proximity to the mountains offers plenty of recreational opportunities for hiking and kayaking, among other activities. There are also plenty of golf courses around, so hit the greens instead of the card tables.

Reno Nevada

7. The Hamptons, NY

The Hamptons have been enjoying a higher profile thanks to the likes of celebrities such as the Kardashians—but that should immediately tell you one thing about this vacation spot. Once a favorite among old money, the Hamptons have become the go-to vacation location for the “nouveau riche.” That means you need to have money to burn if you want to get anywhere near the Hamptons. During the summer, restaurants and accommodations will be booked and busy, and travelers have begun to decry the “see-and-be-seen” atmosphere that now pervades the area. If you want to avoid the snobbish crowd—and paying top dollar—book your trip during the off-season, when the beaches will be deserted and you can revel in the area’s natural beauty, instead of bumping elbows with superficial beauty queens.

Photo by: Montauk Blue Hotel
Photo by: Montauk Blue Hotel

6. New Haven, CT

One might think that New Haven, as home to one of the country’s Ivy League schools, would land on the list of “unfriendly” cities for being too much like the Hamptons—rich and snobby. Unfortunately, despite Yale’s presence, much of New Haven suffers from stark poverty, which has led to plenty of rough neighborhoods and a reputation as an unsafe place. Some have even commented on the sharp contrasts between the rich at Yale and the poor in the rest of the city. Still, visiting Yale’s historic campus can be a great starting point for a trip to New Haven. The “nine squares” are home to museums, theaters and stunning architecture. The campus is also renowned for its restaurant scene, which is a far cry from the run-of-the-mill cafeterias you’ll find on so many university campuses.

Yale New Haven

5. Boston, MA

Beantown might be rich in history and culture, but the citizens are rich in something else apparently: rudeness. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, really, since Bostonians have always had something of a reputation as being a little snobbish, something that actually stems from their city’s long history and importance as a cultural center. Even though Boston’s given way to cities like New York and LA as the cultural leaders in the U.S., the Athens of America still likes to think of itself as a more sophisticated alternative. There’s no denying the history that still lines the streets here, though, and you can find local artists at the Greenway Open Market every Saturday from May to October. If studying history works up an appetite, you can grab a bite at any one of the city’s many gourmet eateries.

fmua / Shutterstock.com
fmua / Shutterstock.com

4. Detroit, MI

Detroit has always had a bit of a reputation as something of a “rough” city; Motor City was historically full of blue-collar workers and a mixed population. Lately, though, things have been even worse in Detroit, with the bankrupt city cutting services and jobs migrating elsewhere. Abandoned houses have sold for as little as a dollar. In this climate, it seems little wonder that Detroit ranks as one of the unfriendliest places in the U.S. Despite this, Detroit still attracts plenty of sports enthusiasts, as it is the home of the Lions, the Red Wings and the Tigers. Those who know their way around or are willing to do their research will find a thriving culture, one where plenty of restaurants and shops are opening their doors to unique experiences in this post-industrial destination.

LouLouPhotos / Shutterstock.com
LouLouPhotos / Shutterstock.com

3. Seattle, WA

Portland, Oregon, might now be the epicenter of snobbish coffee culture and the mecca for hipsters, but Seattle still ranks high on the list. The home of coffee giant Starbucks, Seattle is also home to a number of indie cafes and microbreweries, as well as a center for foodies, locavores and others who rebel against corporate consumerism. All that can mean that the locals can seem stand-offish or rude, especially if you ask them where the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts is. While it’s easy to get the brush-off for being too “mainstream,” you’ll find Seattle natives are passionate about their interests—and more than happy to share. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, ask them for recommendations about the city’s best and most unique, and you’ll quickly see a different side.

Pike Market Seattle

2. Oakland, CA

A second entry from California, Oakland still hasn’t shaken the bad rap it earned in the late 20th century as a hub for crime. The East Bay city is perhaps one of the most notorious in the country and that alone is enough to keep most people away; the fact that crime rates are still high provides further incentive. The city is working hard to shed its “bad boy” image, however, introducing First Fridays in Uptown and offering support to the city’s exploding arts and culture scene. Temescal Alley is considered one of the hippest parts of the city, featuring a number of one-of-a-kind local shops (like a retro barbershop), and the restaurant scene has been experiencing a new vibrancy. Some have even suggested Oakland might be the new Portland, Oregon.

Oakland California

1. Newark, NJ

Almost nobody goes to Newark, New Jersey, willingly. The area is a stop on a lot of travelers’ itineraries where they wait for connecting flights, maybe weathering an overnight stop before continuing on. Despite being a major travel hub, an easy connection to New York and a city with its own draws (like the Prudential Center and the New Jersey Center for the Performing Arts), Newark is used by most travelers as a stopover to other destinations—seemingly for good reason. Newark has plenty of rough neighborhoods, so visitors need to be wary when they’re out and about, and the city itself is characterized by some as being dirty or even trashy. Despite this, Newark can be a pricey destination, partially because so much traffic does come through from New York and the airport.

LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

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

jskiba / Getty Images

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

Lew Robertson / Getty Images

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.

15 of America’s Prettiest Beach Campgrounds

If you are having trouble deciding between a beach vacation or roughing it at a camping getaway, why not combine both in the ultimate beach camping vacation. All across the United States are breathtaking campgrounds that are located directly on the beach, high on top of beach bluffs or just a stone’s throw away from the ocean. Although many beaches forbid overnight camping, and you have to be extremely careful of tides, these 15 campsites are sure to keep you safe and sound, as you fall asleep to the sounds of the crashing waves. Without further ado, here are 15 of America’s prettiest beach campgrounds.

15. Ocracoke Campground – Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

This barrier island in the Outer Banks is home to a few fabulous campgrounds, only accessible by boat or plane. Ocracoke Campground is the only campground right on the beach, only a short walk over the dunes to reach the water. The campground offers campers flush toilets, cold showers, drinking water, and nice soft sandy soil to pitch your tent on. The beach is constantly quiet, with just handfuls of shore birds that run back and forth from the water. If you happen to take a flashlight out at night you may be lucky enough to see the crabs scampering by. There is no shade at the campground and the mosquitoes can be common, but if you bring plenty of insect repellant and a couple sun umbrellas, you will be just fine. Enjoy visiting the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the country and the oldest in North Carolina on this amazing island.

Photo by: National Park Planner
Photo by: National Park Planner

14. Bahia Honda State Park – Bahia Honda Key, Florida

The remote island of Bahia Honda Key is home to beautiful sunsets, snorkeling and incredible white powdery beaches. With over 72 RV and tent sites available, there are so many choices. Many of the sites are wooded which is a great relief in the hot Florida sun. Amenities include a marina, concession stand, electric hookups and lots of patrols to make sure everyone is safe. The snorkeling here is one of the highlights of the State Park and sea life includes stingrays, sharks, barracudas and tons of colorful fish. The sites that are located right on the ocean are perhaps the best of the best, with an ocean beach and turquoise waters literally at your front door. Rates are a little high for a campground and start around $38 a night, but the blue waters, white sand and the abundance of activities are totally worth the extra cash.

Bahia Honda State Park

13. Anastasia State Park, Florida

Visitors to Anastasia State Park certainly won’t be bored with over 1,600 acres of diverse wildlife and rich ecosystems to explore. It is described as stepping back into time when campers arrive here, with ancient sand dunes and a tidal marsh teeming with plants and wildlife. The campground itself has 139 campsites, ranging from tent only sites to ones capable of fitting RV’s. There are a plethora of amenities here not limited to but including hot showers, grills, sheltered dining areas, campfire programs, interpretive programs and electric hook ups. Kids will never be bored here either renting a canoe, taking a nature hike, surfing in the waves or stargazing at night. Heading to the dunes at sunset is a popular activity for everyone here as you can get a 360-degree panorama of both sea and sand, with a 19th century lighthouse in the foreground.

Photo by: theobine via Flickr
Photo by: theobine via Flickr

12. Kalaloch Campground – Olympic National Park, Washington

This campground is only one of two campgrounds to pitch a tent on the southern coast of Olympic National Park. Open year round with 175 campsites these sites fill up quickly especially in the summer so if you want experience this coastline make sure to book early. This campground is actually perched on a bluff high above the Pacific Coast and is known for its abundance of nearby wildlife and outstanding views. Visitors should count on seeing bald eagles overhead and whales spouting just offshore. There are plenty of hiking opportunities in the area and seven different trails lead down to the beaches just off highway 101. Olympic National Park actually covers a total of 65 miles of rugged coastline and camping here offers an array of awesome experiences. Campsites typically range from $14-$36 a night and the Kalaloch Campground is truly beautiful no matter what time of year!

Photo by: Hip Camp
Photo by: Hip Camp

11. Wright’s Beach – Sonoma Coast State Park, California

Plan on spending the night falling asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing at this awesome campground located in Sonoma Coast State Park. Visitors here spend most of their time searching the beach for shells, discovering the tidal pools and rolling down the sand dunes. Expect the campground here to be quiet, peaceful and open to having your four legged furry friends join you. Campsites 1-9 are the most private and located directly on the beach, where you can expect to see plenty of dolphins and whales playing in the ocean. The bathrooms here are exceptionally clean, the rangers friendly and efficient and although this campsite remains a quiet secret; it may not for long. It is important to note that there is a dangerous undertow and swimming in the water is not recommended. Also there are no showers available here but some located just up the road.

Sonoma Coast State Park

10. Malaquite Campground – Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

This oasis on the Gulf of Mexico offers 48 campsites and starts at just a mere $8 a night. The campground is tucked in the dunes just a short half mile away from the visitor’s center. Tent campers are welcome to set up on the sites or on the beach and campers are accommodated on a first-come first-serve basis. Amenities include cold showers, flush toilets and paved parking. In contrast to the neighboring spring break Mecca, Malaquite Campground is actually located on the longest undeveloped stretch of Barrier Island in the world. If you are lucky enough to visit in the summertime plan on seeing plenty of sea turtles hatching and making their way to sea. These sandy white beaches are a haven for these majestic creatures.

Photo by: Terry Ross via Flickr
Photo by: Terry Ross via Flickr

9. Horseneck Beach State Reservation, Massachusetts

Starting at just $22 a night, visitors can pitch their tent at this beautiful beach park where a breeze provides respite from the intense heat, all year round. Located on the Western end of Buzzard’s Bay, just West of Martha’s vineyards, campers flock to one of the 100 campsites. Pounding surf along this two-mile beach provides excellent windsurfing conditions and plenty of waves for the little ones to splash in. The scenery here is enough to amaze any visitors as wild flowers bloom, sand dunes are in the background and migratory shorebirds are all over the place. The campground offers such amenities as clean shower facilities, accessible restrooms and dump stations. Popular activities include swimming, hiking, biking, fishing, sailing and boating.

Photo by: Tim Pierce via Flickr
Photo by: Tim Pierce via Flickr

8. Ninilchik View Campground – Ninilchik State Recreation Area, Alaska

On top of a bluff over Ninilchik Beach sits 13 awesome campsites. Two 10,000 snow-capped volcanoes frame the horizon and tidal fluctuations constantly change the awesome scenery. The stairway down the bluff leads visitors to vast sandy beaches at low tide, perfect for relaxing or beachcombing. There is tons of wildlife, calling this place home, like magpies, bald eagles and squirrels. Visitors enjoy nearby fishing, clamming and hiking. The campground has a host on site, a dump site nearby and costs as little as just $1 a night to stay there. It is important to note that clamming and fishing are sometimes banned during certain seasons. Watch as the wave’s crash against the cliffs, bald eagles circle overhead and enjoy the peace and solitude of this secret campground.

Photo by: wagnertravelnotes
Photo by: wagnertravelnotes

7. Assateague State Park – Assateague Island, Maryland

This campground is Maryland’s only ocean campground and is located on the barrier island, sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent Bay. Campers will look forward to two miles of ocean beaches that are popular for swimming, surfing, fishing, sunbathing and beachcombing. The camping sites are pretty basic here, with a pad, fire ring, picnic table and a couple of spots with electrical hookups. The bathhouse is stocked with flushed toilets and showers though. All of the campsites are just a short walk to the beach or bay where there are a plethora of activities. Canoeing and kayaking in the bay through secluded coves and marsh areas gives visitors the opportunities to get up close and personal to awesome wildlife.

Photo by: theobine via Flickr
Photo by: theobine via Flickr

6. Sea Camp Campground – Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia

This remote barrier island is a labyrinth of gnarled live oak branches, picture perfect wide flat beaches and an awesome campground with 16 individual campsites as well as two group sites. With rates at $4 per person per night, you can’t go wrong pitching a tent here. This remote island campground is only accessible by boat and visitors should expect restroom facilities with cold showers, picnic tables and firepits at each site. There is a small amphitheatre for ranger programs as well as a boardwalk that takes visitors out to the beach. The beach ranges over 18 miles long and a favorite pastime of many includes searching for shells and shark teeth. Keep your eyes peeled for manatees, sea turtles and over 300 species of birds that call this island home. Swim, bike or kayak around the area and just remember that camping is limited to a maximum of seven nights at one time.

Photo by: Jason and Kris Carter via Flickr
Photo by: Jason and Kris Carter via Flickr

5. Oceanside Campground – Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland

If you happen to love wild ponies, Oceanside Campground located between Chincoteague Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is the perfect place to pitch your tent and watch as a herd of wild ponies roam around; after all they have called this place home for over 300 years. There are a total of 104 waterfront campsites to choose from, all offering superior seaside sunset views. The amenities here aren’t quite as grand as others on this list but that is all part of the charm. Expect adequate restrooms with cold water showers, picnic tables and fire rings. Most of the days here will be spent either surfing or playing in the waves, digging up clams and fishing for crabs. It is important to note that this location is extremely windy and make sure you have extra long tent poles to make sure your tent doesn’t fly away in the middle of the day. It is also recommended to take a flashlight with you on a beach walk at night to see the ghost crabs running all about.

Photo by: Jim Pennucci via Flickr
Photo by: Jim Pennucci via Flickr

4. Jalama Beach County Park – Santa Barbara, California

This Santa Barbara country park maintains just over 100 campsites, all of them overlooking the ocean or beachfront. Each site includes a BBQ pit, picnic table and 31 of them offer electrical hook up. Full restrooms including hot showers are located nearby. Beachfront sites start at $45 a night and do fill up fast so it is recommended you book early in order to snag one of these. Campers here engage in a variety of activities including surfing, whale watching, fishing and bird watching. High winds and rough surf can make the water hazardous for weak swimmers and thankfully there are lifeguards present in the summer months. If you feel like passing on cooking over the campfire the infamous Jalama Beach Grill is just a short walk away. Here visitors can indulge in one of the famous burgers, topped with tons of veggies and an extra special sauce.

Photo by: John Murphy via Flickr
Photo by: John Murphy via Flickr

3. Cape Perpetua Campground – Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon

This rugged section of the Oregon coastline is teeming with sea life, blowholes and an abundance of wildlife. The campground is located between the old-growth forest and the beach, with access to impressive hiking trails and incredible beach views. Steep cliffs, rolling hills, sand dunes and lush forests are all part of the scenery here. There are a total of 40 campsites here; in this one of two national forests that borders the Pacific. Visitors here love to explore the many tidal pools, hiking the 23-mile trail system or simply relaxing on the beach. The campsites are each equipped with a picnic table and fire ring and flush toilets and drinking water is provided. The visitors center provides a breathtaking view of the ocean and show numerous short films in the theater. Rates start at just $22 a night and the view alone is worth it.

Photo by: Prisma Bildagentur AG / Alamy via Travel + Leisure
Photo by: Prisma Bildagentur AG / Alamy via Travel + Leisure

2. Westport-Union Landing State Beach – Westport, California

This campground is located atop a cliff top, making it one of the most dramatic campgrounds when it comes to epic scenery. With 86 sites this campground is first come first serve but don’t let that scare you away. Visitors who get lucky enough to stay here will enjoy the soundtrack of crashing waves, all day and night. This beach covers over three miles of rugged coastline, tree-covered mountains and awesome sunsets making it the perfect place for the budding photographer to pitch a tent. Restrooms and drinking water is available here but that is pretty much it in terms of campground amenities, this is truly primitive camping at its best. Prepare yourself for unpredictable weather, activities such as geocaching, fishing and swimming and enjoy nature at its finest at this beautiful state beach in California.

Photo by: Agathe B via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Agathe B via Wikimedia Commons

1. Wai’anapanapa State Park – Maui, Hawaii

Black volcanic sand, the bright blue sparkling sea and lush green vegetation make this one of America’s prettiest beach campsites. At Wai’anapanapa State Park visitors will be privy to a wild, low-cliff volcanic landscape that offers peace and solitude, a respite from the urban cities. Shore fishing and hiking through the incredible trails are among the most popular activities to do here, although many people love to bask in the hot sun on the small black sand beach. Offering 60 campsites starting at just $12 a night, this campground is located near a ton of natural wonders including the native hala forest, legendary caves and blowholes. Located near the end of the renowned Road to Hana, it is here where campers can pitch a tent and discover the beauty of the quieter side of the island of Maui.

Wai’anapanapa State Park

9 Significant Historical Sites of the American Civil War

From 1861 to 1865 this iconic battle of North versus South waged on to determine the fate of slavery in the United States of America. This battle for civil rights and freedom was a defining moment in our nation’s history and marked the abolition of slavery and the preservation of the United States as one indivisible nation. The Civil War remains today as the deadliest war in American history, with approximately 620,000 military , not to mention the undetermined civilian casualties as a result of the relentless battles. From Gettysburg to Andersonville to Richmond, many of the historic sites are preserved and can still be visited today. Here are a few we recommend any history buff check out:

9. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park -Appomattox, Virginia

Among the preserved and reconstructed buildings at this national historic park is the McLean House. This important building is where General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederacy to Union commander Ulysses S. Grant on April 9th, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. Today the park is home to many original artifacts tied to the events which occurred here, including the pencil used by General Lee to make corrections to the terms of surrender. The park’s visitor center is open daily from 8:30am – 5:00pm and admission is $10 per vehicle.

Mclean House

8. Shiloh National Military Park -Shiloh, Tennessee

Shiloh National Military Park preserves the battlefields of Shiloh and Corinth in southern Tennessee and Mississippi. The Battle of Shiloah was one of the first major Civil War battles in the south and resulted in nearly 24,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing. After this battle the Union troops took the railroad junction at Corinth which is why the sights of both battlefields are preserved within this National Park designation. Among the attractions of these historic sites are the Shiloah National Cemetery, the Confederate Memorial in Shiloah Park, Siloah Indian Mounds and the Sunken Road.

Shiloh National Military Park

7. Richmond National Battlefield Park -Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia played an integral part of the Civil War, having served as the capital of the Confederate States of America during this time. As a result, there are numerous sites of historical significance to be found throughout the city and surrounding counties. Richmond National Battlefield Park includes 13 distinct sites or units, each commemorating an important event or location of the American Civil War. Among these sites are Fort Harrison, Cold Harbor, the defensive battery of Drewry’s Bluff and the famous Tredegar Iron Works, now home to the park’s main visitor center.

"Pattern building, Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia" by Morgan Riley - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Pattern building, Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia” by Morgan RileyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

6. Antietam National Battlefield -Sharpsburg, Maryland

On September 17, 1862 the Battle of Antietam was fought at the foothills of the Appalachians along Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland. This was a significant battle as it marked the end of General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North during the Civil War. Today, the area and its historic sites have been preserved as a National Park and included on the National Register of Historic Places. Each year over 330,00 people visit the park which includes such attractions as a visitor center, National Cemetery, Maryland Monument and the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.

Antietam National Battlefield

5. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park -Fredericksburg, Virginia

This Civil War site in Virginia gives you a 4 in 1 experience as this National Military Park covers 4 important battle sites of the Civil War; the Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of the Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. The park includes 5 preserved structures open to the public (one of which is the location where Stonewall Jackson died of injuries sustained during the Battle of Chancellorsville) and at over 8374 acres, Fredericksburg is the second largest military park in the world.

Confederate Cemetery, Fredericksburg VA

4. Andersonville National Historic Site -Andersonville, Georgia

When we think of POW camps, our minds tend to lean more to Europe and the camps of WWII, long before this however there were POW camps right here in America. Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia preserves the site of Camp Sumter, also known as Andersonville Prison which was a Confederate POW camp during the Civil War. The site is open to the public and includes a National Cemetery, prisoner-of-war museum, and remains of the camp itself. Visit this site to pay your respects to the over 13,000 men that died here as a result of the unlivable conditions; a somber reminder of the horrors of war camps.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

3. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park -Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia/Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

This military park encompasses two distinct locations which were the sites of two significant Civil War battles;  the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia and the Chattanooga Campaign at Lookout Mountain, eastern Tennessee. The park consists of four main areas: Chickamauga Battlefield, Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Point Park and Moccasin Bend. These parks preserve and recount the long and hard-fought battle of the Chattanooga Campaign; the power struggle of North vs South for domination and control of this “Gateway to the Deep South”.

Lookout Mountain  Chattanooga

2. Fort Sumter National Monument -Charleston, South Carolina

Fort Sumter is credited as being the location where the American Civil War really began, when on April 12, 1861 Confederate artillery opened fire on this Charleston Harbor fort. While there are several sites associated with Fort Sumter that are accessible by land, including the visitor center, visiting the fort itself will require transportation by boat as the fort sits in Charleston Harbor. Visitors can either take the public boat tours operated by Fort Sumter Tours at a cost of $19 for adults and $12 for children, or if you have your own boat, there is no admission to visit Fort Sumter on your own.

Fort Sumter National Monument -Charleston

1. Gettysburg National Military Park -Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

It’s no accident that the site of the most notorious battle of the American Civil War comes in as the number one historical Civil War site to visit in America. The Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 was the bloodiest of the entire Civil War with an estimated 46,000-51,000 casualties from both sides. The result of this battle was a Union win, which ended Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North. The significance of this battle was such that it spawned President Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address which honored the fallen soldiers of this bloody clash. Today, the public can appreciate the significance of Gettysburg with a visit to the visitors center, the Soldier’s National Cemetery or David Wills House.

Gettysburg National Military Park

10 Historic US Forts That Shaped American History

The U.S. has an impressive military history, something that becomes apparent when you look at how many forts and garrisons litter the American landscape. From the first landings of Europeans in what is now New England, to the Spanish colonists from coast to coast and the French imperialists to the north, the U.S. has had conflicts from the very beginning; many U.S. cities had their start as military outposts. If you want to better understand U.S. history—or experience “living” history—there’s no better way than paying a visit to at least 1 of these 10 historic forts.

10. Fort Vancouver -Washington

Unlike some of the other forts on this list, Fort Vancouver in Washington state was established with commerce, not defense, in mind. The outpost was established by the Hudson’s Bay Company along the Columbia River during the winter of 1824–25, near present-day Portland, Oregon. In 1846, the trading post was closed as unprofitable; 3 years later, the Americans established army barracks on the same site. In 1866, the fort was destroyed by fire, then rebuilt. It remained an active site during both World Wars, and remained active until a forced closure in 2011. It was already on the National Historic Register, and had been since 1961. Today, you can tour the fort and visit some of the restored buildings, such as the Bake House and Blacksmith Shop, where workers employ historically accurate techniques in their reenactments of life in the fort.

Fort Vancouver Washington

9. Fort Verde -Arizona

While forts are typically associated with the Eastern Seaboard and New England, as part of the legacy of British colonialism, there are forts that dot the U.S.’s western frontier as well, such as Fort Verde in Arizona. Today, the site is part of the Fort Verde State Historical Park in the town of Camp Verde. The park offers visitors a living history museum that attempts to preserve the site as it existed during the Apache Wars. In the late 19th century, settlers near the Verde River requested state protection from Native American tribes that were raiding their crops; a sudden increase in the settler population had disrupted the tribes’ traditional lifeways. Over approximately 20 years, the army built several camps and forts, until they were abandoned in 1891. Four of the 22 original buildings survived until 1956, when preservation activities began. The museum opened in 1970.

Photo by: Coldwell Banker
Photo by: Coldwell Banker

8. Fort Sumter -South Carolina

Fort Sumter is an interesting fortification along the Atlantic coast, located in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The fort was originally constructed after the War of 1812 as part of an American effort to protect important harbors and ports. In order to build up the sand bar where the fort is built, 70,000 tons of granite was imported from New England, although the fort remained unfinished until the Civil War broke out. When South Carolina seceded, U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson relocated to Fort Sumter. Calls for surrender of the fort were ignored, leading to the First Battle of Fort Sumter, in which the Confederates took the fort. Union forces didn’t regain control until 1865. Today, the fort is part of the Fort Sumter National Monument and features a Visitor Education Center and a museum.

Fort Sumter

7. Fort Gaines -Alabama

This historic fort is located on Dauphin Island in Alabama. Established in 1821, the fort is perhaps best known for its role during the Civil War, particularly the Battle of Mobile Bay. It is considered to be one of the best-preserved examples of Civil War-era masonry and the site boasts many of its original structures, including tunnels, and battle-used cannons. Also on display at the museum is the anchor from the USS Hartford, the flagship of Admiral David Farragut—the ship upon which he uttered the now famous line, “Damn the torpedoes—full speed ahead!” Historical reenactment is also part of the fort’s effort to appeal to tourists. Despite this, it is listed as one of the U.S.’s most endangered historic places: the fort has suffered damage from hurricanes, and ongoing erosion of sand dunes place Fort Gaines in danger of sinking into the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo by: Civil War Talk
Photo by: Civil War Talk

6. Fort Ticonderoga -New York

Fort Ticonderoga is an 18th-century, star-shaped fort near the south shores of Lake Champlain in New York state. It was originally known as Fort Carillon and was constructed by the French-Canadians during the Seven Years’ War. In 1758, the Battle of Carillon saw the French repel the British; in 1759, the French abandoned the fort. The fort saw action again during the American Revolution in May 1775, when it was captured by the Americans during a surprise attack. It changed back to British hands in 1777, but they abandoned the fort the same year. In 1781, it was abandoned for good. During the 19th century, the fort became a popular site for tourists, and private owners took steps to restore it. Today, the fort is a museum, teaching and research center and tourist attraction. The reconstructed King’s gardens were opened to the public in 1995.

Fort Ticonderoga

5. Fort Delaware -Delaware

Located on Pea Patch Island, Fort Delaware is a harbor defense facility. The site was first identified as a strategic defense point by the French in 1794. During the War of 1812, efforts were made to fortify the island, but construction of a fort did not begin until 1817. A major fire in 1833 caused the U.S. Army to start over again. Finally, between 1848 and 1860, the present-day fort was erected. During the Civil War, the fort served as a prison for captured Confederate soldiers. The fort was modernized during the 1890s. During the World Wars, it was garrisoned, but did not see battle. Today, the fort is a popular tourist attraction as a living history museum. In June of each year, the fort hosts an “Escape from Fort Delaware,” a triathlon event in which participants retrace the steps of 52 Civil War POW escapees.

"Fort delaware aerial photograph 2011" by Missy Lee - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Fort delaware aerial photograph 2011” by Missy LeeOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

4. Fort Halifax -Maine

Not much is left of the original palisaded star fort that was built in 1754 at Winslow, Maine: only a single blockhouse survives. Nonetheless, that blockhouse is the oldest surviving example in the U.S. today. The fort was 1 of the first 3 major forts built by the British along northeastern waterways, in an effort to limit Native access to the ocean. The fort was raided frequently until 1766, when it was abandoned and sold into private hands. During the American Revolution, it hosted troops on their way to Quebec. After this, the fort was largely dismantled. Tourists in the 19th century damaged the blockhouse by carving chunks of wood from it as souvenirs. Nonetheless, the blockhouse still survives and, in 2011, the Town of Winslow announced plans to develop the area around it with interpretive displays, trails and reconstructed portions of the fort.

Photo by: Maine Trail Finder
Photo by: Maine Trail Finder

3. Fort Independence -Massachusetts

Fort Independence has the distinction of being the oldest continuously fortified site of English origin in the U.S. Located on Castle Island in Boston Harbor, the first fort went up in 1634. It was replaced in 1701 with a structure known as Castle William. It was abandoned by the British during the American Revolution, and then rebuilt. The existing structure, a granite star fort, was constructed between 1833 and 1851. The fort was garrisoned and served as an arms depot during most of the major conflicts the U.S. has been involved in, although the federal government ceded the island to the city of Boston in the 1890s. In the 1960s, the federal government permanently deeded the island to Massachusetts, and today, the site is a state park. Occasional ceremonial salutes are still fired from the fort.

Fort Independence Massachusetts

2. The Alamo -Texas

Possibly one of the most famous battles in U.S. history occurred not at a fort, but at what was originally a Roman Catholic mission known as Mission San Antonio de Valero. In 1793, the mission was secularized, then abandoned. In 1803, it was converted into a garrisoned fortress, during which time it acquired the name “Alamo.” In 1835, the Mexican army surrendered the fort during the Texas Revolution. A small number of Texian soldiers were garrisoned at the fort until the infamous Battle of the Alamo on March 6, 1836, during which they were all killed. When the Mexican army retreated several months later, they destroyed much of the fort. In 1892, conservation efforts began. After many squabbles and disagreements, portions of what had been the chapel were finally restored. Today, the Alamo is a museum that receives millions of visitors each year.

The Alamo

1. Fort McHenry -Maryland

This coastal fort was originally constructed in 1798. During the War of 1812, British warships bombarded the fort in an attempt to gain access to Baltimore Harbor. The shelling went on until the British depleted their ammunition early the next morning. The small flag flown during the assault was replaced by an oversized flag to signal American victory; Francis Scott Key, a lawyer on a nearby truce ship, was moved to write a poem entitled “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” later renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and set to music as the American national anthem. The fort was active during subsequent major conflicts, including both World Wars, and was made a national park in 1925. The fort serves as a museum and thousands visit each year to see “the birthplace of the star-spangled banner.”

Fort McHenry

The 10 Best Children’s Museums in America

In a country that loves innovation and learning it is no surprise that America is home to over 200 children’s museums and it is no wonder that millions of visitors flock to them every year as they offer incredible exhibits, engaging facilities, hands-on learning and fun for adults too. Nearly every city has a children’s museum, but if you want to experience the best of the best, we have rounded up our top 10 in America. From the largest children’s museum in the world to a renovated fish market, there is no excuse not to visit one of these incredible museums in America.

10. Please Touch Museum -Philadelphia, PA

With a name like “Please Touch”, it’s no wonder this is one of the best children’s museums in all of North America. This museum truly invites children to learn through playing and interacting with exhibits. Each section of this museum is designed to create learning opportunities that are completely fun and interactive. The six-themed exhibits include a mini Philly neighborhood, an Alice in Wonderland exhibit, a mock supermarket, construction zone and medical center. Kids love the halls of doors and mirrors, circular mazes and fairytale garden. Don’t forget about taking a ride on the 1908 carousel before you leave. With fair admission prices and enough fun to last all day, don’t miss out on this awesome museum.

Photo by: Jim, the Photographer via Flickr
Photo by: Jim, the Photographer via Flickr

9. Port Discovery -Baltimore, MD

This 80,000 square foot museum resides in a renovated fish market and is truly one of the anchors of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It just so happens that the Walt Disney Company Imagineers designed many of the exhibits here, so you just know they have to be pretty amazing. Kids interested in farming will love the Down on the Farm exhibit where they can milk cows, plant seeds and brush the tail of a real horse. For the active explorer don’t miss the three-storey treehouse where they can crawl through tunnels, explore a whole room of balls and cross narrow rope bridges. The HiFlyer hot air balloon is one of the favorites as kids get to experience a 15-minute ride above the Inner Harbor. Travel back in time to Egypt in the 1920’s, read one of the 3,000 books or join in a sing-along at this incredible children’s museum.

Photo by: Paul Roth via Flickr
Photo by: Paul Roth via Flickr

8. COSI: Center of Science and Industry -Columbus, OH

This is one of the few children’s museums that actually keep adults just as entertained as their kids and is a welcome relief from the normal kid’s museums. COSI has established themselves as a leader in innovation and features a number of awesome exhibits, including a working television station. The daily live show is a hit among all visitors and features such acts as real rats playing basketball. The 10,000 square foot area for kids under first grade was designed by early education experts and is perfect for the little ones to crawl, play and learn. From exploring space and energy to learning how the mind works to playing with gadgets, this museum takes visitors on a journey through science and innovation. A bit more expensive than others on this list, it is well worth it to visit.

Photo by: COSI Colmbus' Dynamic
Photo by: COSI Colmbus’ Dynamic

7. Minnesota Children’s Museum -St Paul, MN

Over six million parents and kids have visited this museum since it set up shop in downtown St. Paul and it remains one of the most loved children’s museums in all of North America. Here it is all about immersive experiences and encourages children to run and crawl through representations of Minnesota’s different natural habitats. This museum is actually promising to get even better with a $28 million renovation and expansion that is set to be complete in 2017. For now though it is pretty awesome and offers an array of experiences including a water-centric exhibit that allows kids to race boats down flowing streams and make their own recycled paper. A pretend neighborhood and art on the rooftop are hits among the kids. Watch for this museum to become even better in the next few years, but make sure to visit now to experience how awesome it already is.

Photo by: minnemom via Flickr
Photo by: minnemom via Flickr

6. Boston Children’s Museum -Boston, MA

This award-winning museum has been operating for over 100 years and offers plenty of fun for the whole family. This museum welcomes guests with its huge 40-foot high red-and-white milk bottle out front. It is one of the only museums to really focus on toddlers and preschoolers, with attractions such as the rock climbing wall that caters to kids aged three to five years old. A favorite permanent exhibit with kids is the Construction Zone, an exhibit allowing children to jackhammer, walk on high beam girders and ride in a real bobcat. Back in 2007 this museum became the city’s first “green” museum with its eco-friendly addition and landscaped waterfront park. The fully functional Japanese house, the three story climbing structure and the countdown to Kindergarten room are all huge hits among visitors. Families are welcome to bring in food into the lunch room or dine outside on the Milk Bottle Plaza, a great alternative for budget conscious families.

Photo by: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr
Photo by: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr

5. Children’s Museum of Denver -Denver, CO

It first opened in 1973 in a converted school bus but since has expanded into one of the best children’s museums in all of North America. Kids who love to build things will head right over to the assembly plant where they can use screwdrivers, saws and clamps to create their own one of a kind creation, which they can then take over to the art studio to paint. The fire station has to be a favorite as it features a real fire truck, 911 call centers, dispatch station and even a fire pole. The new outdoor adventure is a whopping 30,000 square feet of dynamic outdoor fun featuring ruins and forts, caves, hills, bridges and streams. A zip line, sand dunes, tunnels and waterfalls will keep kids running all day long. Stay tuned for new exhibits coming in late 2015, such as a teaching kitchen, three story climber, hands-in water lab and extreme energy station.

Photo by: Chlidren's Museum of Denver
Photo by: Chlidren’s Museum of Denver

4. The Strong -Rochester, NY

It calls itself the national museum of play and this awesome 100,000 square foot museum certainly makes well on that promise. One of the most popular exhibits with both kids and adults alike is the year-round indoor butterfly garden that features lush tropical plants and over 1,000 free-flying tropical and native butterflies. Between the aquariums, the toys hall of fame and the reading adventureland, it can be hard to choose what to visit first. Wee ones will go nuts for the Sesame Street exhibit as well as the life-sized dollhouse. Comic book heroes, e-games, a rock wall and a theatre complete with a stage are just a few of the permanent exhibits that kids go wild for. There are also plenty of food choices in the spacious food court or a sit-down style restaurant in the atrium, making sure everyone’s needs are met.

Photo by: Lee Ruk via Flickr
Photo by: Lee Ruk via Flickr

3. Children’s Museum of Houston -Houston, TX

This elaborate children’s museum recently doubled its size to 90,000 square feet and features both inside and outside exhibits. Kidtropolis is a highlight for kids, a huge pretend city where kids run the show and features its own bank, news center, vets office and more. It was designed to help kids understand occupations and economics and go with the expectation that your kids will never want to leave. Several outdoor galleries include a weather station and watery flow station which is a hit on those hot and humid days. The invention convention encourages budding inventors to create their own gadgets while the TV studio lets kids see themselves on camera, read scripts from the anchor desk and work the control panel. The smaller kids under three won’t be left out as they have their own padded play area and awesome ball bit. A bargain at just $9 for adults and kids, this museum is definitely worth checking out.

Photo by: sikeri via Flickr
Photo by: sikeri via Flickr

2. Brooklyn Children’s Museum -Brooklyn, NY

This New York City landmark is the world’s first and oldest children’s museum and remains one of the best in North America. It features over 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and costs only $9 to explore. The Neighborhood Nature exhibit is a hit among kids as they can explore the natural habitats that can be found throughout the nation, such as woodland fields and ocean tide pools. Youngsters will enjoy the 1,700 square foot totally Tots Area where they explore the sand spot, baby patch and peek-a-boutique. The museum features nearly 30,000 natural history specimens and cultural objects that will thrill both parents and kids. The coolest thing about this museum may just be the entrance, located underground in the side of a hill through an authentic 1905 New York City trolley kiosk.

Photo by: Rubenstein via Flickr
Photo by: Rubenstein via Flickr

1. Children’s Museum Indianapolis -Indianapolis, IN

It is hailed as being the best children’s museum in all of North America and the massive facility that measures over 472,000 square feet does not disappoint. It sits on 29 acres and is the largest children’s museum in the entire world. The Dinosphere exhibit is perhaps the favorite of all and features a working paleontology lab, hands-on simulated fossil digs, life-size simulated dinosaurs and one of the largest collections of real fossils and dinosaur art in the nation. Also this museum has a working 1927 carousel, the largest water clock in North America and a 130-seat planetarium. It is all about hands-on learning here and children are encouraged to touch, play and learn as they make their way through this huge museum. If you happen to be out of town visiting, make sure you spend at least an entire day here.

Photo by: Snassek via Flickr
Photo by: Snassek via Flickr

10 Most Sacred Sites in the United States

There is a world of variety in what different belief systems find sacred, some have passages of rites, others have sites of worship or holy animals and without a doubt all have a list of defining principles to follow. Great thinkers have struggled with the definition of the truly sacred. But it should be safe to say that in the multicultural melting pot of the United States, there are places of impossible beauty that are undeniably sacred, no matter what your religious background is, these sites will instill a feeling of awe at being in the presence of a higher power. Whether man-made or a natural wonder, they can be considered sacred because of what history has unfolded there or simply the depth of faith their natural beauty displays.

10. Sakya Monastery -Seattle, Washington

Sakya, meaning “grey or pale earth”, is one of four major branches of Buddhism. The monastery was a Presbyterian Church from 1928 until converted in 1975. The name resonates with the original Sakya monastery now in China, built in the 13th century containing some of Tibet’s greatest art works. The saffron robes, beaming Buddhas and the gentle teachings give it an aura of peace. Its devotion to the preservation of Tibetan heritage and culture in the face of the overwhelming power of the Chinese government is striking. The Head Lama has reflected that “the changes in Tibet are an example of the true nature of human existence: all is impermanent, and everything changes” adding to the sense of being in the presence of a heavenly power far beyond anything a mere earthly superpower can muster.

Photo by: Wonderlane via Flickr
Photo by: Wonderlane via Flickr

9. Cahokia Mounds -St. Louis, Missouri

Over a millennium ago, Cahokia was a huge settlement cross the river from what is now St. Louis. With an estimated 40,000 people in and around it, it is believed by many to have been the largest city in the world at that time, certainly the biggest in North America before Columbus. The High Priest literally ruled over the center of Mississippian Native culture from Monk’s Mound (so named by Trappist monks centuries later) where the Sacred Fire burned. In shades of England’s Stonehenge Monk’s Mound and the burial site of the Ruler-Priest are aligned by the stars. In fact, a circle of wooden poles nicknamed Woodhenge was used as a solar calendar. There are dozens of mounds once used for ceremonies, burials, sacrifices and with them the tingling feeling that ancient spirits still roam over them.

Cahokia Mounds

8. Unity Temple -Chicago, Illinois

The renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built the Temple after the Unitarian Church of which he was a member was struck by lightning and reduced to ashes in 1905. Its replacement, too, appears to be an act of God, like no other church on the face of the earth with a complete absence of anything resembling tradition liturgical shapes and textures. Instead of soaring domes and gold leafed chapels there is a mesmerizing geometric precision. Wright saw it as a “democratic’ religious space for the worship of God and a “meeting place, in which to study man himself for his God’s sake.” Like a late Mozart symphony, it seems like a masterpiece that could only have been achieved with the help of the angels. Modern and unconventional it may be, but it still induces a powerful urge to fall on one’s knees in wonder. It is designated a National Historic Landmark and attracts visitors from around the world.

Photo by: Teemu008 via Flickr
Photo by: Teemu008 via Flickr

7. Crater Lake -Medford, Oregon

With a depth of 1,949 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest in the country and Top Ten worldwide. It is an underappreciated scenic gem with one-tenth the four plus million visitors the Grand Canyon gets. The Klamath nation still regards it as a sacred site, created long ago by a terrible battle between the Chiefs of the Above and Below Worlds that completely destroyed the mountain that stood there. Scientists believe that Mount Mazama imploded some 8,000 years ago after a series of cataclysmic eruptions to form a caldera or volcanic depression, which became the lake with an unforgettable shade of blue seen only here. New Age spiritual adherents believe that the lake is a major vortex site and the source of positive energy from the earth’s natural power grid.

Crater Lake

6. The Islamic Center -Washington, D.C.

The mosque and cultural center has been ensconced on Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown D.C. since 1957. It was one of the earliest mosques in the country and for a time was the largest in the Western hemisphere. The interior is lush and imposing, recalling the legendary works of the great Ottoman architect Sinan, called the Muslim Michelangelo. In happy historical coincidence, it was in fact built by an Italian architect. There is something about great mosques that are piously humbling but artistically uplifting. It was there that President George W. Bush read the Koran just six days after the terrorist attack of 9/11: “In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule”. As the place the President of the United States reached out to a shaken Muslim community, invoking the words of the Prophet and the souls of the victims, in the name of peace, this must forever be a hallowed, sacred place.

Islamic Center, Washington

5. Mount Shasta -Mt. Shasta, California

Part of the Cascade Range in northern California, Shasta is central to the Creation story for local Native Americans and remains a sacred place for them. They have lived there for 9,000 years and though their numbers have dwindled shockingly, descendants still conduct ceremonies in its honor. The towering extinct volcano, once an active part of the notorious Pacific Ring of Fire, stands over 14,000 feet. No other mountain on the continent has been ordained by so many groups with mystical significance. As with many Native American sacred sites, its spirituality has been adopted by contemporary belief systems. Buddhists built a monastery there with the belief that it is one of the Seven Sacred Mountains in the World. Many New Agers believe it to be a vortex emitting earth’s subterranean energy. More than a few believe it to be a refueling base for UFO’s. Some of it may seem sacrilegious, but in a way underline the beauty and power of a place whose beauty has been put here by a Creator for a higher purpose.

Mount Shasta, California

4. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary -Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland was founded as a safe haven for Catholics persecuted in England, but the pious Puritans took up the persecution in the New World to the point that in some places Catholics could be sentenced to death. It took 145 years after the Declaration of Independence to build this Cathedral in Baltimore, so when the Basilica opened its doors in 1821, it was a major landmark for the country. It is sublimely warm and welcoming inside. Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II have blessed it. He called it “the worldwide symbol of religious freedom”. In a sense it can be said that people died for this to be realized and so remains a moving testament to their faith and conviction in the face of intolerance.

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary -Baltimore, Maryland

3. Devil’s Tower -Crook County, Wyoming

It is as much as 70 million years old. A stunning geological formation, from a volcanic eruption, it has been shaped and scarred by a millennium of erosion. Known in contemporary culture from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, some twenty Indian tribes have said to had close and sacred encounters with this natural beauty for thousands of years. It is also known as Bear Lodge and Bear tipi. There are many different legends of how it was created by the Great Spirit Legend. The crevices down its side are said to have been left by a bear sliding down in futility after his erstwhile victims found refuge on top. It was the first site declared a National Monument in 1906 and is still a place for Sun Dances, vision quests and other ceremonial customs. Its commanding presence juts out of the Black Hills looking down on its domain- does it have a supernatural power and in its mystery lies the questions by the grace of whom?

Devil's Tower, Wyoming

2.  Touro Synagogue -Newport, Rhode Island

The English settled Jamestown in 1607 and the Puritans landed famously at Plymouth Rock in 1620. The first Jewish settlers found their way to New York in 1654 and to Newport Rhode Island in 1658, likely fleeing persecution (as their ancestors and descendants have) in the Caribbean. The community thrived and decided it was time for a synagogue in 1759, so they chose Peter Harrison, who was considered the colonies’ greatest architect of the 18th century. Its interior is exquisite like a small English palace. Intensely symbolic, it was built so that people inside face east to Jerusalem and the number 12 is a recurring theme honoring the Twelve Tribes of Israel. It too is a historic site, but moreover it is a symbol of the devotion of a tiny group who lit a torch of hope for their ill-treated people in the New World.

LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

1. Bighorn Medicine Wheel -Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming

They are scarce, with only a hundred or so remaining set in starkly, spectacular, settings. medicine wheel’s are intensely spiritual, places that were made for worship. The Bighorn is the grandfather of all medicine wheels, though its 10,000 foot elevation makes it a daunting destination. Its intricate celestial significance is captivating. It’s a circle with 28 spokes, the number of days in the lunar calendar and a sacred number to many tribes. The spokes point to the rising and setting places of stars near and distant, the Sun at summer solstice, Rigel in Orion, and Sirius, the Dog Star (whose apogee in August gave rise to The Dog Days of summer) in Canis Major. Medicine wheels are the New World’s Stonehenge. Despite their name, they were not used for medical purposes. They should more appropriately be called ‘sacred hoops’ honoring the gods and seeking divine wisdom to guide them in every facet of tribal life.

Photo by: The Cut via Flickr
Photo by: The Cut via Flickr

10 Awesome Aquariums Where You Can Spend the Night With Sharks

Imagine drifting off to sleep while a shark silently stalks above you, or a school of colorful fish dart in and out of coral, all while you are safely tucked into your warm sleeping bag, next to your kids, or a loved one. Aquariums around the world are taking experiences to a new level by offering a variety of overnight experiences. These sleepovers allow guests to explore the aquarium after dark, learn more about the marine life that live there and have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and participate in feedings and cleanings. From Toronto to California to South Africa, here are 10 awesome overnight aquarium experiences.

10. Vancouver Aquarium -Vancouver, BC

Spending a night at the Vancouver Aquarium is like no other in Canada, and offers visitors an exciting opportunity to go behind the scenes in their marine lab. Visitors on one of these sleepovers will have the opportunity to touch local invertebrates including live sea stars, anemones, sea urchins and more. Visitors can choose from different sleepovers including a family night where participants embark in a variety of activities, presentations and tours. They also offer an incredible Valentine’s night sleepover for the romantic couple that wants to create unique memories. A three course plated dinner, a presentation on the sex lives of sea animals and a behind the scenes tour is included with this sleepover. Fall asleep in the Arctic Canada underwater gallery to sights of the majestic beluga whales swimming right in front of your eyes in this awesome Canadian aquarium sleepover experience.

Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com
Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com

9. Georgia Aquarium -Atlanta, GA

Sleeping at the aquarium doesn’t have to be just for kids as the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta offers adults-only nights, along with a variety of family themed nights. The family nights are recommended for ages seven and up and include a variety of activities and behind-the-scenes tours, specifically focusing on whales and sharks. The adults-only sleepovers here are hugely popular and for good reason. The behind-the-scenes tours, gallery tours, activities and events that the aquarium plans for adults gives you a once in a lifetime chance to get up close and personal with the marine animals. Dinner, snacks, a 4-D movie and more are all included here. Make sure to spend the next day talking in the dolphin show and exploring the aquarium during daytime hours.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

8. Maui Ocean Center -Wailuku, HI

The aquarium here is an exciting place to be after dark as the creatures that normally hide during daylight hours make their debut, while others seem to disappear right before your eyes. The sleep with the shark sleepover at the Maui Ocean Center offers a total hands-on experience complete with fun activities, education, crafts and a movie. Watch as the sharks behavior changes from day to night, learn more about the marine animals and even have the chance to help an ocean naturalist feed the turtles and rays. This sleepover program is offered to anyone ages six to 13, accompanied by an adult. When you are all tuckered out from a fun-filled night, curl up in your sleeping bag and watch the Open Ocean show of the mesmerizing Sea Jelly exhibit. This program is one of the most hands-on sleepovers and promises to delight visitors of all ages.

Photo by: Joe Boyd via Flickr
Photo by: Joe Boyd via Flickr

7. Two Oceans Aquarium -Cape Town, South Africa

Not anyone can spend the night at this aquarium, but if you happen to be a member, part of an educational group or want to hold your child’s birthday party here; you will have access to a pretty awesome sleepover aquarium experience. The aquarium closes to the public at 6 pm, which allows sleepover guests plenty of time to explore the aquarium after dark. A kid-friendly dinner, a ton of planned activities, movies and more await guests here. Exhibits include the penguin exhibit, Indian Ocean gallery, touch pools, Atlantic Ocean gallery, predator exhibit and more. Birthday parties are perhaps the most popular sleepovers here, an experience your child will never forget. They happen to be best for children aged eight to 12.

InnaFelker / Shutterstock.com
InnaFelker / Shutterstock.com

6. Aquarium of the Pacific -Long Beach, CA

Grab your sleeping bag and prepare for the ultimate family adventure at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach California. This is one of the best sleepovers if you are looking for the most hands-on activities. Sleepover guests will embark on an awesome scavenger hunt with the whole family as well as have a pizza dinner, guaranteed to make every kid happy. Next up guests are encouraged to pet marine animals such as sharks, sea stars and sea jellies. You can even help participate in a fish feeding. A light snack before bed and the chance to paint your own souvenir t-shirt is also included with this experience. These themed overnights do fill up quickly and are normally offered in the summer, winter and Halloween; all complete with a different theme. These sleepovers also happen to be one of the most budget friendly on our list.

Photo by: Tracie Hall via Flickr
Photo by: Tracie Hall via Flickr

5. Newport Aquarium -Newport, KY

This awesome overnight experience is something not to miss if you are in the Newport Area. First up, children and adults of all ages are welcome although they do recommend children be at least 6 years old. Each group of children must be accompanied by an adult and there will be no shortage of fun activities to keep everyone entertained all night long. Along with backstage animal experiences and encounters, sleepover guests will get guided tours, help with tank feedings and enjoy either a shark or penguin presentation. The sleeping areas include Shark Tunnel (our personal favorite), Jellyfish Gallery or Coral Tunnel. An evening snack and breakfast is included, as is admission to the aquarium the next day. At just $49 per person, this is an amazing price to check out what happens after dark at this ultra cool aquarium.

Photo by: Jeff Kubina via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Jeff Kubina via Wikimedia Commons

4. SeaWorld -San Diego, CA and San Antonio, TX

For any animal lover ages four to 14, with an adult chaperone, a family sleepover at SeaWorld might just be the most unforgettable and exciting night of your life. Your event begins at 5:45 pm where guests will be invited to check in and eat a delicious pasta dinner. Following that are a multitude of animal encounters and fun and educational activities. Bedtime ranges between 10 pm to midnight and sleepover guests are encouraged to explore SeaWorld the entire next day, as admission is included. Kids also love the fact that they get a souvenir SeaWorld sleepover t-shirt to take home. If you happen to take the kids to SeaWorld San Antonio, try to visit during the Christmas season and stay overnight at the South Pole with the penguin encounter. Nothing says Merry Christmas than waking up to these cheerful creatures. Whichever experience you decide to try, you won’t be disappointed at SeaWorld.

Roka / Shutterstock.com
Roka / Shutterstock.com

3. Monterey Bay Aquarium -Monterey Bay, CA

Seashore sleepovers at this aquarium offer animal loves the chance to experience the aquarium after hours, even choosing to sleep next to your favorite exhibit. Check in begins at 6 pm and sleeping areas are first come first serve, which means you best come early to get the sleeping area you want. The doors close at 8 pm to the general public and that is truly when the adventure begins. Special programming throughout the night means you won’t ever be bored and participants can choose to explore the aquarium on their own or participate in one of the many activities. A light evening snack is offered and bedtime is between 10:30 pm and 11 pm. In the morning have a continental breakfast in the café and spend the rest of the day exploring the aquarium by daylight.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

2. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada -Toronto, ON

Let’s talk facts; this aquarium features over 16,000 animals, North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel and more than 100 interactive exhibits, including three touch exhibits featuring horseshoe crabs, sharks and rays. What makes this aquarium even better, which we didn’t think was possible, is there shark sleepovers. Yes we said shark sleepovers. Visitors are invited throughout the year to curl up under the famous shark tank and sleep under the watchful eyes of the scary sharks that swim overhead. Included in this experience is admission to the aquarium in the evening and the next day, a take home activity in the classroom and a late night snack plus breakfast. The aquarium does remain open to the general public until 11 pm on the night of the sleepover but rest assured you will be the only ones that get to experience the overnight in the dangerous lagoon tunnel, packed full of sand tiger sharks, roughtail stingrays and green sea turtles.

mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com
mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

1. National Aquarium in Baltimore -Baltimore, MD

It is no surprise that this impressive aquarium boasts two awesome sleepovers for anyone over the age of eight. Visitors here can choose to sleepover with the dolphins or the sharks, each offering unique programming. For dolphin lovers the evening begins with a talk from the marine mammal team where you will get to know the dolphins and discover how they learn and play. From there, a kid-friendly dinner is served and you are off to experience the 4-D immersion films, explore the aquarium after dark and discover the behind-the-scenes area with expert guides. Fall asleep in one of the underwater viewing areas and in the morning help wake the dolphins up with an exclusive enrichment session. If you choose to sleep with the sharks, expect much of the same experiences; only substitute the dolphin with the shark. A once in a lifetime opportunity awaits you here at this awesome aquarium.

LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com