25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2020

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

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

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

25. Chattanooga, Tennessee

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

24. Beaumont, Texas

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

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

23. Tulsa, Oklahoma

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

22. Hartford, Connecticut

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

21. Lansing, Michigan

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

20. Nashville, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

19. New Orleans, Louisiana

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

18. Wichita, Kansas

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

17. Indianapolis, Indiana

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

16. Oakland, California

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

15. Anchorage, Alaska

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

14. Springfield, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

13. San Bernardino, California

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

12. Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

11. Rockford, Illinois

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

10. Stockton, California

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

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

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

Source: Todd A. Merport / Shutterstock.com

9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

8. Little Rock, Arkansas

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

7. Cleveland, Ohio

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

6. Kansas City, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

5. St. Louis, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

4. Baltimore, Maryland

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

3. Birmingham, Alabama

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

2. Memphis, Tennessee

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

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

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

Source: f11photo / Shutterstock.com

1. Detroit, Michigan

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

The World’s Strangest Laws

The world is full of strange and unusual laws that sometimes don’t make any sort of sense. Some are just so farfetched it’s hard to believe they are real while others are just confusing and sometimes ignorant. From the illegality of having donkeys sleep in your bathtubs to the ban on building sandcastles to a law that prevents chewing gum into a country; these 15 laws are some of the world’s strangest laws.

15. Donkeys and Bathtubs

michellegibson / Getty Images

It is one of the most ridiculous laws we have ever heard of and it’s unsure why it even exists, perhaps to make people scratch their head and wonder what they were thinking. In Oklahoma, it is illegal to have a sleeping donkey in your bathtub after 7 pm. Does this mean you can have an awake donkey in your bathtub? Or even a sleeping donkey in your house? Apparently, the law is based on a case that happened in 1924 when a donkey fell asleep in a bathtub and headed down the river into a valley.

Locals had to haul the donkey back to its home and signed a petition to pass a law, in case this sort of thing ever happened again. We doubt anyone still has donkeys in their bathtubs, but hey, you never know.

14. Keep smiling in Milan

Rafael Elias / Getty Images

They certainly are happy in Milan but perhaps they are smiling because it is actually the law to do so. The law in the province of Milan actually requires every citizen to smile when they are out in public. Exemptions are made if you are headed to a funeral or visiting someone in the hospital. Breaking this law can lead to being arrested and fined up to $100. It’s a good thing it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown or a whole lot of people would be facing daily fines.

13. No Sandcastles in Eraclea, Italy

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There are a lot of strange laws in Italy and although some make sense, this one baffles us completely. If you are heading to Eraclea, make sure you know that it is absolutely illegal to build sandcastles here. Lawmakers say that sandcastles “obstruct the passage” but try telling your five-year-old that it is actually illegal to do so. It is not known what the punishment is for breaking this law but you should probably leave your buckets and shovels at home when you head to this beach.

12. Check for Children, Denmark

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The road laws in Denmark actually say that you have to check under your car for children before going, but only sleeping children according to officials. We have absolutely no idea why this law came into effect but we have to wonder how the people of Denmark are raising their children if there is a chance someone might find them sleeping under their car. Regardless you can face fines and punishment if you accidentally forget to look under the car for those sleeping children before pulling out.

11. No Public Eating During Ramadan, United Arab Emirates

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If you plan on traveling to the United Arab Emirates during Ramadan, the holy month, you should definitely know the laws during the fasting hours. First up the fasting hours are during daylight and if you think you are going to eat or drink in public without getting a fine, you would be wrong.

The price of the fine can range but just recently two tourists were charged $275 each for taking a drink of juice in public. Make sure you stick to your hotel room if you want to eat lunch, take a drink, or have any sort of public displays of affection with your partner. Because as most of you know, public displays of affection are also banned in this country.

10. Make sure you flush the Toilet in Singapore

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It is actually illegal not to flush the toilet in Singapore and if you thought officials didn’t enforce this law, you would be wrong. According to the law, you can face a fine of up to 5,000 Singapore dollars for not flushing a public toilet after using it. Officials have actually been known to do random spot checks and will certainly find any offender. While this law is strange we must admit we wish every country would put this law into place and crackdown on it. No one likes going to a washroom with a floater in it.

9. No noisy footwear, Capri, Italy

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Don’t plan on wearing your flip flops here, unless you have somehow managed to make them silent as wearing noisy footwear in Capri Italy is actually illegal. These peace-loving locals are serious about their peace and quiet and people have been both fined and arrested for wearing wooden clogs, noisy flip flops, and other shoes that don’t fit the quiet bill. Make sure you are also fully clothed when walking around this island as wearing just a bikini or without a shirt will also lead to a fine.

8. No Camouflage Clothing, Trinidad and Tobago

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Don’t plan on wearing anything that remotely resembles camouflage on your next trip to Trinidad and Tobago or you will be faced with a possible fine of up to $1000 and 18 months in prison. The law was put in effect as camouflage too closely resembles the uniform of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. It is even illegal for children to wear this kind of clothing. You will be in more trouble if you do break this law and someone mistakes you as part of the force. They take their military seriously around here.

7. Don’t Feed the Pigeons, Italy and San Francisco

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In both Italy and San Francisco along with a handle of other cities, it is illegal to feed those pesky pigeons. Yes, it may be tempting as they are one of the only birds brave enough to walk right up to your hand and eat out of it but pigeon feeders can be arrested and fined serious cash. So why is it illegal? It causes over breeding, health hazards, and a few more reasons that lawmakers cite every time someone gets arrested for the act. Some hypothesis the cities just don’t want to pay someone to clean up all the pigeon crap that constantly wreaks havoc on the sidewalks. Both ways, it’s a law and it is highly enforced.

6. Watch where you step, Thailand

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There are a number of strange laws in Thailand, such as it is illegal to leave your house without wearing underwear (we wonder who checks for this one) and you have to wear a shirt while driving a car. One of the strangest laws here though can easily be broken simply but not looking where you are going. It is actually illegal here to step on any Baht, the local currency. For example, if you drop a bill and it starts to fly away, don’t even think about stepping on it to stop it. You can get arrested and fined for stepping on any Baht currency here, as well as if you decide to throw it at a person in anger or deface it in any way.

5. No Overweight People, Japan

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It is the slimmest industrialized nation and it’s no surprise considering it is actually illegal to be overweight here. In 2008 lawmakers in Japan passed the Metabo Law, hoping that it would stop the dreaded metabolic syndrome from affecting aging populations.  Citizens here now have to comply with a government-imposed waistline standard, the maximum waistline size for anyone age 40 and older is 85 centimeters (33.5 inches) for men and 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) for women.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of health risks, including stomach flab, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The penalty for breaking this law is far from harsh though and individuals are required to attend a combination of counseling sessions, monitoring through phone and email correspondence, and motivational support.

4. Don’t Stop on the Autobahn, Germany

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The Autobahn in Germany is one of the last places on earth that you can drive as fast as you want and although many places have speed limits, there is still a fair number of long stretches where you can put the pedal to the medal. There are certain laws though that go with this privilege of driving however fast you want.

First off make sure you don’t run out of gas on this highway as it’s highly illegal. So is stopping on the side of the road. So is walking on the Autobahn. That’s three strikes against you if you happen to pull over because your gas needle is on empty and you have to walk to get gas. Don’t get caught as you can face $100 per fine, and you will be whacked with more than just one in this case.

3. Don’t Cheat in Hong Kong

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If you are a male, we highly suggest not cheating on your wife if you happen to reside in Hong Kong. This is because it is actually legal for a female to kill her cheating husband, as long as she uses her bare hands. Not just the husband but the women who have been with him is also allowed to be killed by the wide, but by any manner she chooses.

There are numerous forms of punishment for wives who have been cheated on, in case they don’t feel like committing murder. Wives can send their cheating husbands away to a work camp for up to two years, the wife can claim half the possessions given to the secret lover and they can even demand compensation from their husbands.

2. No Chewing Gum, Singapore

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A ban on the sale, import, and manufacture of chewing gum in Singapore took effect on 3 January 1992 and the law still exists today. In 2004 therapeutic chewing gum was allowed into the country and dental and nicotine gum are exceptions, but only from a prescription from your doctor.

This law was created in large part because the local railway system was being vandalized but it can be dated back to 1983 when the former prime minister was fed up with the amount of chewing gum that was being left on sidewalks, in mailboxes, and in elevators. Then the MRT started running in 1987 and vandals began sticking chewing gum to the doors, causing the sensors to malfunction. In 1992 Goh Chok Tong took over as president and immediately banned chewing gum.

1. Leave your bible at home, Maldives

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This Muslim nation is serious about their religion and owning a bible here is illegal and can get you thrown right out of the country. The Islamic government here prevents its citizens from converting to any other religion other than Muslim and non-obeyers can face serious consequences. The few that did convert are forced to meet underground. If you plan on moving here and want to be accepted as a citizen, you best leave that bible at home and prepare to convert to the Muslim faith.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 17 Greatest Hits

The great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright once wryly observed that “The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” Following his death in 1959, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) designated 17 of his buildings for special merit and preservation. Almost 50 years later they commissioned a public poll to list the Top 150 Favorite Works of Architecture with Wright placing seven. In 2015, the FLW Conservancy nominated 10 of his buildings to be added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites. This kind of recognition shows the enduring relevance and popularity of the man who the AIA called, “one of the greatest architects of all time.” He never was or will be nominated for Miss Congeniality but he was a great innovator and pioneer, a passionate American nationalist, disparaging about American fashion for Things European. He was the master of “organic architecture” which preached the harmonization of building with environment. Wright expressed its First Commandment like this:” No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” Without further adieu, we present the 17 greatest works of Frank Lloyd Wright:

17. Hanna Honeycomb House (1936) -Stanford, California

Imagine a house with no right angles, not even its furniture. Wright’s design used only hexagonal shapes and the six-sided pattern so resembled a honeycomb it was nicknamed as such. It was actually called Hanna House after the Stanford Professor Paul Janna and wife Jean. It also contained several signature Wright characteristics, including being built with local materials; San Jose brick and redwood. As the National Park Service describes it, “The house clings to and completes the hillside on which it was built” as his ‘organic’ architecture believed. It was also a template for his dream of creating affordable housing for the middle class down to ensuring the wood assembly could be done by a carpenter, not requiring high-priced experts. Of course, he ran over budget and this middle class template ended up costing the Hannas the equivalent of over $600,000 dollars today. Such was the Wright bravado, he built it right over the San Andreas Fault. He didn’t live to see it badly damaged in the earthquake of 1989.

Photo by: Minimalisti
Photo by: Minimalisti

16. Frank Lloyd Wright Residence (1889) -Oak Park, Illinois

The oldest remaining of Wright’s buildings was built with $5000 which the rising architect borrowed from his boss. It was here that he began leaving his indelible mark on the architecture of the twentieth century. The Chicago suburb remains the largest enclave of his work with 25 various structures designed and built from 1889-1913. It established his first big innovation, in the Prairie School of Architecture, glorifying and refining the ground hugging structures of early settlers in the American west, a tribute in Wright’s view to the fundamental American values of hard work and perseverance. The materials and design are far beyond what any settler could have dreamed of. The Children’s Playroom is one of the most notable rooms in any of his creations, famous for the prisms of light that come through the specially designed windows and skylight.

Photo by: The Craftsman Bungalow
Photo by: The Craftsman Bungalow

15. William H. Winslow House (1893) -River Forest, Illinois

Bargain hunter alert! Check this real estate listing: “A most exceptional/livable home, great for entertaining with generous rooms sizes. 4 bedroom/3.5 bathroom Coach House with live-in apt. Original details remain intact: art glass windows, bronze/iron, furniture and built-ins, hardwood floors, 4 fireplaces. Meticulously maintained” And a price tag of just $1.55 million, a full million off the original asking price. One of Wright’s few properties with rooms one can actually imagine mere mortals living in. But then comes the achingly beautiful detailed woodwork, the ridiculously gorgeous dining room and you quickly realize that this residence is anything but ordinary. Winslow House is considered historically important in that it was Wright’s first independent commission after leaving his mentors at the architectural firm of Adler & Sullivan.

"William H. Winslow House Front Facade" by Oak Park Cycle Club - http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakparkcycleclub/707277262/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.
William H. Winslow House Front Facade” by Oak Park Cycle Club – http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakparkcycleclub/707277262/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

14. Ward W. Willits House (1901) -Highland Park, Illinois

This outwardly sedate-looking suburban home was a political statement and the true beginning of an architectural revolution. It was an emphatic rejection of the designs featured at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair which projected the rebirth of the city with towering ornate works of Greek and Roman grandeur. Midwest architects, Wright among them, objected to the old European influence insisting on and creating a new truly American style. This became known as the Prairie School, with which Wright first experimented in Oak Park as a precocious 22 year old. Its horizontal orientation reflected the American experience of the wide open prairie as opposed to the urbanized vertical clutter of the Old World. The AIA calls Willits House “the first house to embody all the classic elements of the Prairie style,” which included the absence of doors to mimic the ‘wide-open space’ of the prairie long before the concepts of local sourcing and sustainability were on trend, Wright was using locally sourced material. Here his ‘organic’ style took hold, the idea that buildings should look like they grew out of the landscape. In return, a hundred leaded windows, the use of which Wright pioneered, firmly integrated the interior living space into its natural surroundings.

"Willits House" by User:JeremyA - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.
Willits House” by User:JeremyAOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.

13. Unity Temple (1904) -Oak Park, Illinois

When Oak Park’s Unitarian Church burned down in 1905 Wright sought the commission to replace it. What he came up with according to the church website “broke nearly every existing rule and convention for American and European religious architecture.” There were few things Wright liked more than breaking rules in his work and life. It looks fortress-like from the outside but inside the space soars with geometric patterns and stained glass in earth tones to denote again the connection to nature. It was there Wright said that he realized that a building’s space was more important than its walls. It has been a national Historic Site since 1971. It was also, as the AIA declares, the “first significant American architectural statement in poured concrete.” The Church’s trustees thanked the architect by resolving that “We believe the building will long endure as a monument to his artistic genius and that, so long as it endures, it will stand forth as a masterpiece of art and architecture.”

Unity Temple

12. S.C. Johnson Administration Building (1936) -Racine, Wisconsin

Thirty years after his Unity Church triumphant exercise in design and space, Wright ventured to his home state of Wisconsin to create what has been called one of Wright’s most “astonishing” spaces, the S.C. Johnson Administration Building. Yes as in Johnson’s Wax. The family owned company’s ambitious leader S.C Johnson sought out Wright in the midst of the Great Depression because, he explained, “I wanted to build the best office building in the world, and the only way to do that was to get the greatest architect in the world.”  Wright had an uncanny knack to design places that look like sets from Star Date 2317.9 on Star Trek. The Great Workroom features 43 miles of Pyrex glass tubing, so-called birdcage elevators. The “lily pad” columns are 18 ½ feet wide at the top and just 9 inched at the bottom but still incredibly durable. Wright also designed dozens of pieces of furniture.

Photo by: James S. Russell
Photo by: James S. Russell

11. S.C. Johnson Research Tower (1944) -Racine, Wisconsin

In the same vein a few years later, another Johnson wanted a research facility that looked as cutting edge outside, as the research was inside. It was here that iconic consumer brands like Raid, Glade, Off! and Pledge were developed. The result was a structure about as far from the Prairie School as could be imagined. In his book on the project author Mark Hertzberg called it one of the most significant landmarks in modern architecture.  “The fifteen-story skyscraper is the only existing example of Wright’s ambitious taproot design. Like limbs from a tree trunk, alternating square floors and round mezzanines branch out from the weight-bearing central core—a truly revolutionary idea at the time and an engineering marvel today.” No longer in use, it is open to the public, the labs inside restored as they would have appeared when it opened in 1950.Wright did build a Prairie style home for the Johnsons called Wingspread which was said to be the “epitome of organic architecture” which is now a conference center.

Photo by: Mashable
Photo by: Mashable

10. Unitarian Meeting House (1947) -Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin

The Church of Tomorrow was at first a country church, though now in a Madison suburb. This was a rare labor of love for Wright. His father was one of the group’s founders and he himself was an off and on member. When money ran short, he charged a modest fee and organized fund raising events. Parishioners hauled tons of stone from a nearby quarry. He accepted the commission at the age of 78 and would turn 84 by its completion. Again, the compact exterior hid the space inside and Wright returned to the relationship in his mind of the geometric and the spiritual. According to the AIA Wright believed that light and a “geometric type of space” allowed a structure “to achieve the sacred quality particular to worship.” And like the Unity Church in Oak Park, traditional religious form, spires and bells, were absent. At its dedication Wright declared that “This building is itself a form of prayer.”

"UM 1" by Nomadseifer - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
UM 1” by NomadseiferOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

9. Price Company Tower (1952) -Bartlesville, Oklahoma

With the exception of the Johnson Research Tower, Wright’s reputation rested on intricate, innovative low rise structures. By the mid twentieth century, with the country’s increasing urbanization, the action had moved to the art of the high-rise and Wright’s ego compelled him to follow the trend. Fortunately he found an equally ambitious and wealthy oil magnate with a bank account to match his ego named H.C. Price. The original commission was for office space in New York in the 1930’s after the sensational debuts of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. The Great Depression forced a long delay, but Wright finally took up the challenge late in life. Though a 19 story building could hardly be called a skyscraper in New York City, it certainly was in Bartlesville in 1956. The AIA praised the concept as having the “organic ideal of the tree. A tap-root foundation solidly anchors the building to its site, and cantilevered floors hang like branches from the structural core.” It can still be seen for miles on the Oklahoma prairie and is open to the public.

Photo by: M Gerwing Architects
Photo by: M Gerwing Architects

8. Beth Sholom Synagogue (1954) -Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

A late tour de force by an architect who was 86 when he accepted the commission struck by the Rabbi’s request to build “a new thing—the American spirit wedded to the ancient spirit of Israel.” Wright responded with a design laden with symbolism, a tent like structure in glass walls whose interior as the AIA says “allows the sanctuary to soar to a height of 100 feet without internal supports.” The peaked front represents Mount Sinai, the beige carpets are the sands the chosen people had to cross. It is almost more spectacular by night as interior light seems to make the glass walls glow with an otherworldly energy source. He wrote he wanted to make the “kind of building in which people, on entering it, will feel as if they were resting in the hands of God.” The formal opening and dedication of Beth Sholom (House of Peace) was held in the fall of 1959, five months after Wright died.

Photo by: Dami's Findings
Photo by: Dami’s Findings

7. Frederick C. Robie House (1906) -Chicago, Illinois

The final seven structures on our list are the ones that also made the AIA’s Top 150 favorite pieces of architecture according to the public poll “America’s Favorite Architecture” conducted by The AIA and Harris Interactive. At #138 on their list is The Robie House, considered Wright’s masterpiece of the Prairie Style. The Institute notes how “Concealed steel beams create long, uninterrupted spaces that extend through windows onto porches and balconies, making walls disappear,” echoing his belief that spaces are more important than walls, and that more than a century before the locally sourced philosophy became a mantra of the creative class, Wright had invoked it as his. Even the wood he used was left in a natural state, unvarnished, unpainted. Its open space inside astonishes after viewing the squat and sturdy horizontal. The attention to detail in furniture, art, glass and windows is mind-boggling but manages to seem truly artistic rather than lavish.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

6. Hollyhock House (1917) -Los Angeles, California

Number 131 on the Favorites List, built from 1919 to 1921, interior rooms connect to gardens with rooftop terraces affording spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills and Pacific Ocean. It was Wright’s first west coast project and he developed a style specific to the region that he called California Romanza, though from some angles it resembles a Mayan temple. The eclectic Wright admired the Mayan ‘mighty, primitive abstractions of man’s nature.” It was commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, a pioneer in the realm of Avant garde theater, a fervent feminist and radical activist for social justice who knew Emma Goldman and was watched by the FBI for decades. Barnsdall and Wright bickered constantly so the full project was never finished. Barnsdall donated the house (said to be named for her favorite flower) to the city. The house was nearly turned into a sports center and fell into such disrepair it was nearly razed. Eventually it was become the artistic center that Barnsdall always wanted and is now open to the public.

trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com
trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com

5. V.C. Morris Gift Shop (1948) -San Francisco, California

Perhaps the smallest gem in the Wright firmament. The formidable looking exterior seems hardly appropriate for a retail space, yet something about its precision and detail beckons, especially the futuristic look of the lighting grilles beside the arch. The effect is created by losing every second brick and filling the space with back lighting. The dazzling interior features the stark contrast of black walnut furniture and the white reinforced concrete of the spiral ramp. It’s known for being the precursor to the grand design of the Guggenheim Museum of 1956. When the owner questioned the absence of storefront windows, Wright, imperiously replied, “We are not going to dump your beautiful merchandise on the street, but create an arch-tunnel of glass, into which the passers-by may look and be enticed. As they penetrate further into the entrance, seeing the shop inside with its spiral ramp and tables set with fine china and crystal, they will suddenly push open the door, and you’ve got them!”

"Frank Lloyd Wright - V.C. Morris Gift Shop, SF - 3" by Daderot - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Frank Lloyd Wright – V.C. Morris Gift Shop, SF – 3” by DaderotOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

4. Taliesin West (1937) -Scottsdale, Arizona

Ranked as 123rd on the Most Popular list, Taliesin West was Wright’s winter home and is now home to a school of architecture and the FLW Foundation. It is a national historic monument and is perhaps his greatest achievement in his beloved organic architecture as it seems to be not so much built onto the desert mountain landscape but rather to emerge from as part of it. The AIA praises it as “most dramatic assimilation of a building into a natural environment.” It’s named after his Wisconsin home (ta-LEE-son), the name of renowned 6th century Welsh Poet and translates as “Shining Brow.” Wright and his apprentices personally built and maintained this much beloved home, which Wright called “the top of the world.” It personifies the Wright creed that everything from the grandest design to the smallest detail were equally important parts of the organic whole. “It is quite impossible”, he said,” to consider the building as one thing, its furnishings another and its setting and environment still another,” he concluded. “The spirit in which these buildings are conceived sees all these together at work as one thing.”

"TaliesinWest03 gobeirne" by I, Gobeirne. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons
TaliesinWest03 gobeirne” by I, Gobeirne. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons

3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1956) -New York, New York

Not only at 74th on the Popular List, the iconic Guggenheim Museum is also one of nine Wright creations nominated for status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for “creating a new paradigm for the museum…the imagination, daring form, new construction techniques, and resonant symbolic shape.” A staggering masterpiece full of staggering masterpieces, and perhaps Wright’s best know work. The whirling dervish exterior is actually derived from the “ziggurat” motif of ancient Babylonian temple design from the 6th century BCE. The stubborn architect insisted on a location near central park to anchor it in nature. The Museum website calls the interior “a symphony of triangles, ovals, arcs, circles, and squares.” He even brought his cardinal rule of open space eschewing walls and compartments, his radical concept takes visitors straight to the top and then lets them wander down a spiral ramp sort of surfing the galleries on the way down to the floor of the spectacular rotunda. Once criticized for overshadowing the Guggenheims’ incredible collection of art.

Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com
Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com

2. Taliesin East (1911) -Spring Green, Wisconsin

The Wright family home after the Chicago years, and 30th most Popular. It has been described as the architect’s “autobiography in wood and stone.” It has a dour exterior but as usual the inside explodes with a celebration of space, light and integration with nature as the Wisconsin River Valley fills every window. There is a fascinating 3D HD tour of the house that is the next best thing to being there, the perfection, the astonishing look of “everything just so”, right down to the single horseshoe over one of the fireplaces. Local wood and stone somehow cohabit in harmony and balance with exotic statuary and huge Japanese prints. The thought suddenly occurs, “What is keeping this place up? The absence of walls and visible beams suggests an insight into Wright’s Byzantine thoughts, that is his tribute to the wide open spaces, the Frontier, which until the intrusion of the automobile defined the American psyche and its expression was a distinctly American style of architecture.

Taliesin Spring Green

1. Fallingwater (1935) -Mill Run, Pennsylvania

The 39th Most Popular is audacious, outrageous genius, just like its creator. The Kaufmann’s were a wealthy Pittsburgh family whose department store was a huge success. They wanted a summer home on their patch of land 67 miles southwest of the city featuring their favorite view of the 30 ft. waterfall. They reach out to Wright who at his point was at the lowest point of his life, down and just about out. The Great Depression and Wright’s own erratic sometimes offensive behavior had left him without commissions, friends or money. Someone in his position might be expected to bend over backwards to please his life-saving client. But true to form, Wright shocked his patrons with a design that placed the home on top of the beloved falls whose view they were so looking forward to. It went the 1938 version of viral when unveiled as a magical place that appeared to be built on thin air jutting out over the falls. Wright said he wanted them to live with the falls, not just occasionally look at them. Deeply influenced by Japanese architecture while on a project in Tokyo, he was proud with the resulting harmonic coexistence of man and nature (although the risky design would lead to chronic problems requiring constant repair.) Wright seized his out of the blue chance at redemption and created his ultimate masterpiece, cementing his legacy as the greatest American architect of all time.

"Fallingwater - DSC05639" by Daderot - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Fallingwater – DSC05639” by DaderotOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

15 Underrated Destinations in North America & Caribbean

Let’s face it, some famous places are so famous, it’s impossible to enjoy them anymore. They have become time consuming forced marches through hordes of tourists that kill the charm or grace of even the greatest destinations. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of the most underrated destinations where travelers don’t have to worry about getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of tourist traffic and can take a moment to enjoy the scene. We’ve even likely named a few you’ve never heard of! Although, you better act quick because there are warnings to heed as some of these places are beginning to grow. The New York Times recently noted that the lovely, uncluttered island country of St. Vincent built a $250 million dollar airport with non-stop flights to cities on both sides of the Atlantic. And the largely untouched Yellowstone National Park is even breaking ground and building hotels! On the reverse end of all this construction, a positive trend is emerging, especially among young travelers, it involves an interest in sustainable tourism, away from the destructive environmental footprints of tourist culprits like huge cruise ships. So here is the list of places that deserve more lovin’, respect and interest than they’re getting.

15. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Beautifully set on the banks of the Arkansas River in the foothills of the Ozarks, Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World after they hit the first gusher in 1901. The subject of many country songs, the old oil capital has now diversified into technology sectors. It has two highly regarded art museums, plus professional opera and ballet companies. Whether by luck or design, Tulsa’s impressive enclave of Art Deco buildings remained intact and oil money went to renovations and additions. They’re building a whole new waterfront with more museums to come including the Route 66 Experience in honor of the city’s legendary status of the birthplace of one of the world’s most famous highways.

Ffooter / Shutterstock.com
Ffooter / Shutterstock.com

14. Saint Kitts Island, Caribbean

­With its neighbor and sidekick Nevis known as the decadent playground of the idle rich, St. Kitts is looking to go up market from its usual cruise ship fare, as well at the price of some of its informality and unspoiled assets. Entrepreneurs with big plans for huge marinas, big name hotel chains and golf course builders are all passing through the new private jet terminal. A development called Kittitian Hill calls itself an innovative exercise in sustainable living with menus ‘foraged’ from land and sea. They claim Irie Fields is the world’s first edible golf course. ‘Instead of the usual shrubs and trees, you’ll find organic crops and trees bursting with fresh fruit. Smart water management and an abundance of crops will all serve to reduce the course’s environmental impact’. Built on a former marijuana farm, Irie is also an island word for being at peace. Obviously named by someone who has never golfed. But intriguing nonetheless.

St. Kitts

13. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Taos hasn’t rated in the big time ski resort list, but it’s staking its claim. Its underdevelopment has been one of its many charms, but now previously inaccessible expert runs are being opened up, the most notable being Kachina Peak with an elevation of 12,500 feet. Snowmaking capacity has been enhanced. The base village is in the process of upgrades, though cranky traditionalists might call them downgrades. The town itself has maybe 7,000 permanent residents. It is a completely charming place with an artists’ colony and a strong native presence. The simple southwestern food is propelled to great heights by local green chili sauce and access to fresh Pacific seafood not far away. In between skiing seasons, it is a wonderful place for strenuous hiking and sightseeing. The great British author D.H. Lawrence spent some time here in the 1920’s, a testament to the presence of sights and sensibilities that stir the soul. The Times advises ‘visit while it’s still manageable’. Julia Roberts bought a spread here. Consider yourself warned.

Photo by: Kevin Muncie via Flickr
Photo by: Kevin Muncie via Flickr

12. Quebec City, Quebec

They have a brand spanking new arena and a down payment on a National Hockey League franchise to renew their bitter rivalry with Montreal which goes far beyond the ice. So visitors will just have to make do with the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s impeccably preserved 17th century Old Town, gourmet French and Quebecois cooking, alongside some fabulous skiing at Mont Ste Anne and kite-flying on the Plains of Abraham. The Marche de Vieux Port is a foodie flash mob every weekend. Visit Notre Dame de la Victoire, a church built to celebrate an audacious victory over the British in 1642. Have a drink at the bar in the old Chateau Frontenac and enjoy the sumptuous views of the lower St. Lawrence and the Ile d’Orleans. The Winter Carnival is the best and biggest on the continent and the summer music festival is worth a detour as well. The list goes on and on with more enchantment at every turn.

Quebec City

11. The Catskills, New York

As recently as 2012, travel media were writing the Catskill’s obituary. For half of the 20th century, the Catskills were called The Jewish Alps. The Borscht Belt referred to the food, the clientele and a whole genre of comedy. Superstars like Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and Mel Brooks honed their skills at the legendary Grossinger’s Hotel, entertaining the Jewish clientele who flocked to the resort when many others denied them entry. Now the resurrection is underway with chic boutique hotels, snappy restaurants with uber-style—it has decider Vogue Magazine’s blessing of the Phoenicia Diner and Woodstock Way’s luxurious cabins.

The CatSkills, NY

10. San José del Cabo, Mexico

San José is the more mature, refined sibling of Cabo (Cape) San Lucas. The beaches and ocean is the same, just the people on them are perhaps a bit older and a good deal less hung over. It is joining the ever-growing trend to having more environmentally responsible tourism with Flora Farms, a resort with an organic garden in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. Try the Farm Julep made with fresh watermelon juice. There is also a level of sophistication to engage the mind as well as the liver. Smart boutique hotels, good restaurants and art galleries showcasing Mexico’s best. This place offers a satisfying all-round vacation with a different far more satisfying version of the all inclusive.

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

9. San Antonio, Texas

There is so much to see and do in America’s seventh-largest city, San Antonio. With over 20 million people visiting every year the tourist economy is booming. People flock to this city not only to remember Battle of the Alamo­, though they do that too, this famed battle site completely overshadows the city’s other UNESCO World Heritage Site, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park with the ruins of four Spanish mission churches dating from the early to mid-nineteenth century. The River Walk is a must and recently grew 500% in length to a full 15 miles. It is celebrated in the country’s musical heart. The legendary blues player Robert Johnson recorded here. It is the “Guitar Town”, home of the great singer-songwriter Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett who sings of his love for his ‘San Antonio Girl”.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

8. New Orleans, Louisiana

The year of 2015 is a somber milestone for New Orleans. A decade has passed since the devastation of Katrina. There will be memorials in honor of the victims, but also much pride to show how far the city and its people have bounced back. There are extra helpings of gumbo and jazz at the beautiful brand new venue of the People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market which was built in dedication to the city’s greatest achievement: the creation of jazz. The South Market has got the resto/condo/boutique treatment, but the city’s unmistakable personality endures. In this time of reflection, go a little more native, beyond the cuisine clichés, a little couche-couche for breakfast, or try some comfort food like rice and beans and the aperitif called the official Cocktail of New Orleans, the Sazerac, named for the cognac that is its base.

Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr
Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr

7. Squamish, British Columbia

The city calls itself “where the oceans meet the mountains”. There is no outdoor adventure activity that can’t be found here – mountain biking, kayaking, white water rafting, wind and kite surfing. It is an acclaimed destination for rock-climbing on the 2000 foot Stawamus Chief mountain which towers 600m (almost 2000 ft) above Squamish, as the 2nd tallest hunk of freestanding granite in the world, after the Rock of Gibraltar. But the most recent addition to attract some of the millions who flock to nearby Whistler is the Sea to Sky Gondola that takes visitors up 3000 feet in 10 minutes to a separate network of high alpine trails to hike and snowshoe. The Gondolas website promises “breathtaking views of the mountains and ocean below”. That is a gross understatement. Each year Squamish plays host to one of North America’s largest convocations of bald eagles who hang out in Squamish during the winter.

Stawamus Chief Mountain

6. Campeche, México

Campeche has everything. It’s a UNESCO World heritage Site. Nearby Mayan ruins perhaps 3000 years old and jungle biosphere that is also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Well preserved Spanish colonial architectures from the 17th century on, some of which have been turned into charming hotels. Not to mention the great seafood! Yet it remains relatively well-know bypassed perhaps for Yucatan’s hyper-popular beaches. The ruins of Calakmul, including the imposing five pyramids lie under the forest canopy teeming with monkeys and toucans. The Times seductively promises visitors “can experience a solitude unthinkable at tourist-clogged Maya sites like Chichén Itzá”.

Campeche Mexico

5. Cleveland, Ohio

Wait let me get my glasses. I thought it said Cleveland. It’s actually true! It’s no longer the ‘Mistake by the Lake’. The city has reconnected to the waterfront with the renovation of the warehouse district, The Gordon Square Arts district has a gaggle of spiffed up theaters – the stage kind. Waterfront warehouses are being transformed and the glassy geometric new home to the Museum of Contemporary Art is the height of sophistication. One wouldn’t expect the iconic symbol of Rust Belt decline to have miles of hiking and biking trails, but it does. And don’t forget the Hall of Fame. Go Cavs.

Cleveland Flats

4. Miami, Florida

South Beach has become the ultimate in North American chic. Loads of celebs, designer hotels and elegant restaurants. It is now larger and if at all possible, becoming more chic. They have hired Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas, two of the world’s greatest living architects, both winners of the Pritzker Prize, the Nobel Prize of architecture, so this will be something to see. Designer giant Tommy Hilfiger bought the historic Art Deco gem, the Raleigh Hotel which has been famous since it opened in 1940. Did you hear that? It was the sound of a lot of coin being dropped. When future archaeologists find the ruins, they will think it the Versailles of Florida Panhandle, the center of a society dedicated to above all, conspicuous over consumption.

Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com
Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com

3. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

It is everything you could want in a Caribbean getaway. Superlatives like ‘idyllic’ and ‘unspoiled’ are often used. Divers love the coral reefs and Saint Margaret beach is one of the nicest on the planet. There’s not that much to actually do on the tiny country’s 32 islands, unless you’re one of the one per cent who have private islands and hidden mansions. There’s not that much riveting history, architecture of culture really, except for the one that preaches of blissful relaxation in an impossibly beautiful setting. However, they did shell out a quarter of a billion dollars for a new airport with nonstop flights to and from North America and Europe. Might be good to see it before everyone else does.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

2. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is the oldest National Park in the United States dating back to 1872. A 500 room lodge is being modernized. A few ‘sustainable’ lodges are opening making the home of Old Faithful a more welcome destination to spend more time in. It is staggering to know that most of the world’s geysers are here. Within the confines of the duty to protect and preserve this treasure, the Park Service is partnering with local nonprofits to responsibly open up the venerable park for both accommodation and exploration. There are new hiking and biking trails. You can take your own snowmobile tour for the first time in over a decade. And veteran visitors swear it is even more spectacular in winter.

Yellowstone National Park

1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

No seriously. It’s a different way to build a city into a popular destination. Sure, there are famous things to see. The Liberty Bell, the Rocky statue on the Library steps.  But there’s not much of the ‘biggest this-’ or ‘oldest that-’. It’s more about creating a very engaging urban space. It’s a very livable, people-friendly functional urban space with European overtones. Which is saying a lot for a city whose previous contributions to American culture were cheese steaks and the most notorious sports fans in the country. There are free yoga classes on the Race Street Pier in the home of hockey’s Broad Street Bullies. Fairmount Park is the largest city park in the United States, bigger even than Central Park, and very runner/rollerblader/cycler friendly. It must be said pockets of shameful poverty remain. But cities in the world without a regrettable blemish are rare. A civilized city to savor.

Philadelphia Pennsylvania

11 State Fairs Worth Visiting This Year

Since the first State Fair was held in Syracuse New York in 1841, State Fairs have been a place for recreation, cooking, music and more. As depicted in movies, conjuring up visions of “the good ‘ol days”, State Fairs today offer some of the same events, but alongside modern exhibitions touting new technologies and of course, new twists on traditional State Fair food. If you can fry it or put it on a stick, chances are someone at the Fair is selling it. From fried ice cream to alligator on a stick, the food booths at the State Fair are always a big attraction. Along with the exhibitions, games and rides, the fair is always a great place to catch a concert. Many entertainers regularly go on the Fair circuit. All in all, the Fair is a great place for families and couples alike, here are our top picks for some of the best State Fairs worth visiting.

11. Oklahoma

The Fair is held in late September at the State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. Fairgrounds are open year round and provide an RV park. Because the Fair is only up and running for a short time, when it isn’t going on various other events take place in this space. Attracting people of all ages, the Fair isn’t just for little kids, it has special days when certain discounts are applied to senior citizens and military. With food as a main attraction, this State Fair is host to The Great Taste of Fair competition, an annual competition between food vendors that offers cash prizes for different categories of Fair food. Livestock competitions and shows, along with carnival rides and a unique interactive frontier experience, the Oklahoma State Fair has it all.

shutterstock_61294903

10. Illinois

Each year in mid August, people around the state flock to Springfield, Illinois for the annual State Fair. The Fair has horse shows and races, judged livestock shows and of course, carnival rides and midway games. Besides these classic State Fair gimmes, there’s also popular events like nightly concerts featuring artists such as Rascal Flatts, Sammy Hagar and Hank Williams Jr. Various companies sponsor tents where guests can sample their products while enjoying some entertainment. There’s food like Cajun Gumbo, Cuban sandwiches, Brazilian beef wraps or for the more hearty meal, people can sample a deep fried turkey sandwich. After enjoying some grub, head over to the several vendors selling jewelry, crafts and other items to buy a great souvenir.

Ohio State Fair

9. Indiana

The Indiana State Fair is held each August and located in Indianapolis. This State Fair features fun events like a car show and competition, rodeo and Wild West show, medieval jousting tournament, a tractor pull and even a beauty queen pageant, just to name a few. Concerts and livestock shows are also popular events, along with the classic carnival and midway rides. Here you can find food like ribeye sandwiches, deep fried bubble gum, roasted sweet corn, pork burgers and saltwater taffy. This year, the Indiana Brewers Cup will enter its 17th year which showcases homebrewers and professional beer brewers in a craft beer brewing competition.Cheers!

Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

8. Iowa State Fair

Located at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, the Iowa State Fair is held every August. The Fair offers a little something for everyone. Contests like the children’s Mom Calling contest, joke telling, singing, cow chip throwing and beard growing contests are all some of this Fair’s annual events. Baby pageants, beauty pageants, cribbage and chess tournaments, along with the one of a kind outhouse races, all give everyone the opportunity to participate or sit back and enjoy. Musical entertainment this year includes Def Leppard, Carrie Underwood, the bands Yes, Toto and Alabama, plus the Rock-A Thon starring Dee Snider.

CREATISTA / Shutterstock.com
CREATISTA / Shutterstock.com

7. Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Fair is located in West Allis, Wisconsin, a part of the Milwaukee Metropolitan area. The Fair runs for 10 days in August each year. Some of this year’s entertainment will include the band Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, the classic rock band Boston, Kenny Rogers and the famed aerialist Nik Wallenda. Spin City, the Fair’s ride and entertainment section is always a crowd pleaser. There is even a day dedicated to sampling all the fair food, it’s called Crazy Grazin’ Day where the foods are all discounted, so you can try as much as your stomach will hold! For a real fan favorite, try the Fish and Chips On-a-Stick or Fish breaded in Fries and deep fried, served on a stick.

Photo by: Wisconsin State Fair
Photo by: Wisconsin State Fair

6. Minnesota

The Fair runs from late August to early September at the fairgrounds located in St Paul. This year Keith Urban, Alan Jackson, Patti LaBelle, Def Leppard, Styx, Carrie Underwood, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard will be entertaining all the fair goers. Various livestock shows and competitions like a 5K run, alongside carnival rides, the midway, shopping venues and food stalls all make the Minnesota State Fair a popular destination for families. Deep fried ribs, Italian dessert nachos, stuffed Italian meatloaf (on a stick, of course) and roasted pig tails are some of the more, shall we say, “exotic” Fair food.

miker / Shutterstock.com
miker / Shutterstock.com

5. New York

Home of the very first State Fair, the New York State Fair in Syracuse, New York runs for 12 days in late August to early September. This year, Syracuse will be hosting its 174th State fair and to celebrate will showcase entertainers like Hank Williams Jr, Patti LaBelle and Comedian Jim Gaffigan. The New York demolition derby and All Star Monster Truck Tour will also take place, along with competitions in cooking, agriculture and creative arts and crafts. Melissa Etheridge, The Steve Miller Band, Rick Springfield, the group Everclear and others will be playing at the Chevy Court, which offers free admission, what a treat!

debra millet / Shutterstock.com
debra millet / Shutterstock.com

4. Oregon

This year celebrates the 150th State Fair in Salem Oregon. Held from late August to early September, attractions include Discover the Dinosaurs which features museum quality pieces, along with animatronic dinosaurs that can educate and entertain. There’s also Dog World where you can see working dogs, Frisbee catching dogs and stop in for a lesson to learn from experts about your pet’s nutrition. Brad’s World of Reptiles features all types of crawly things from rattlesnakes to bizarre glowing scorpions.   Home brewing, amateur winemaking, cooking, livestock competitions and even a talent show are some of the activities fair-goers can find here. A $50 ticket will allow you to experience all the rides on any given day, along with three free games, including a drink or snack. Some of the entertainers this year include Comedian Gabriel Iglesias, Vince Gill, Pat Benatar along with Eric Burdon and the Animals.

Oregon State Fair

3. Nebraska

Located in Grand Island, the Nebraska State Fair has been an annual event since 1868. Held from late August to early September the fair offers daily parades, agricultural exhibitions and judging, free concerts and carnival and Midway games. This years featured entertainers will include Keith Urban, Tony Orlando, Terry Fator from season two of America’s got Talent, and Huey Lewis and The News. The Midway will feature over 40 different rides along with a wide array of games and of course, food vendors. One favorite is the “Around the World” petting zoo featuring camels, llamas, kangaroos, zebras and more.

Photo by: Nebraska State Fair
Photo by: Nebraska State Fair

2. Kentucky

Held for 10 days in late August, the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville is always an anticipated event. The Fair will have cooking contests such as the Evan Williams Bourbon competition (where all dishes must include Bourbon in the recipe), to the Great American Spam competition. The Fair offers exhibitions highlighting the cultural heritage and diversity of Kentucky. This year entertainers will include, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, The Oak Ridge Boys, Aretha Franklin and the Barrels and Boots Music Festival which includes such acts like Montgomery Gentry and John Michael Montgomery. Livestock exhibitions and auctions, with daily shows and Midway games and rides are all available here.

Photo by: Kentucky State Fair
Photo by: Kentucky State Fair

1. Texas

The Texas State Fair runs from late September to mid October each year. The fair entrance is highlighted by the mascot known as ‘Big Tex’, a 55 foot cowboy who welcomes all visitors. Located within the State Fair park is the historic Cotton Bowl Football Stadium, this year is unique because there will be two College football games played during the State Fair. The Fair features a car show where manufacturers can display their models, there will also be a livestock exhibition and auction, and of course, carnival rides and Midway games. A Beer and Wine Garden are both located on the grounds, along with numerous food vendors. Take a bite from a Fletcher’s Corn Dog, the original inventors of the corn dog, or if that doesn’t interest you, try any of the other fair food classics. There are also celebrity chefs giving demonstrations and a contest judging the best Fair Food from all the vendors.

Leena Robinson / Shutterstock.com
Leena Robinson / Shutterstock.com

The Best Things to See and Do in Oklahoma City

A city that with a new and wildly successful basketball team, Oklahoma City is a sports-crazy place and the 27th most populous in the United States with a head count of nearly 1.35 million. The city limits stretch into Cleveland and Canadian Counties (no, not the country to the north) and is the second-largest city in the U.S. in terms of land.
The state capital is as American as it gets; rich in oil and petroleum while employing a large amount of armed forces members at the Tinker Air Force Base. Founded during the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 – a crazy concept where large portions of land were literally up for grabs on a first come, first serve basis – its population hit over 10,000 within a few hours of its founding. Since then, there has been plenty of action to soak up in the land of the Sooner.

10. Oklahoma City National Memorial

This memorial stands as a monument to the dream of a world without any radical violence or terrorism, especially that within its own lands. The Oklahoma City National Memorial is placed in honor of the Oklahoma City Bombing, the terrorist plot that was executed on April 19, 1995.

A site that elicits a lot of emotion, the National Memorial is the burial ground of all 168 victims of the tragedy, while another 650+ were injured during the event. The accompanying museum portrays the stories of all those affected by the bombing, which is the second largest terrorist attack on American soil of all time. Many speak of its inspiration, and others say it has changed their lives. Features include the twin bronze Gates of Time, a gorgeous reflecting pool, the Survivor Wall and Survivor Tree, and the Field of Empty Chairs; the monuments for each victim’s grave hand-crafted from bronze, glass as well as stone.

Oklahoma City National Memorial
MWaits / Shutterstock.com

9. Chesapeake Energy Arena

The home venue of the Oklahoma City Thunder since the franchise moved from Seattle, Washington (then called the Super Sonics) for the 2008/09 season. It was once home to the Central Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Blazers until the team folded, as well as the Arena Football League team the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz who have since changed venues.

For those who don’t know, the Thunder sports some of the best stars in the NBA Including Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Durant was league MVP in 2014, and is a six-time All Star, former Rookie of the Year and four-time scoring champion. The arena formerly known as the Ford Center seats over 18,000 and went through extensive upgrades when the Thunder arrived which cost over $120 million, but basketball isn’t the only event held here. In addition to sports, Chesapeake Energy Arena hosts concerts, family/social events, conventions, ice shows, and civic events.

Photo by: Oklahoma City Thunder/NBA
Photo by: Oklahoma City Thunder/NBA

8. National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Imagine thousands of cowboys (presumably hooting and hollering) stampeding through the mid-west on horseback looking to claim land of their own…that is essentially how Oklahoma City was founded. Pay homage by visiting this museum filled with monuments, artwork and even an old western jail cell to put the kids in when they get too rambunctious.

Sculptures and a plethora of rodeo memorabilia are interesting enough with the array of old movies and TV westerns to reminisce over. Many visitors are astonished at how much time can actually be spent soaking up true American history in its purest form at the National Cowboy Museum, with exhibits to be seen indoor and out. What’s American history without guns? An extensive collection of firearms is expected, but the sheer impressiveness of the site and its layout will impress even those well-traveled tourists. Upgrades are worth seeing for any who have visited in the past.

Photo by: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
Photo by: National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

7. The Escape OKC

This is a site unlike any other you are likely to see on an EscapeHere.com list. Escape OKC puts up to five friends in a room with only one object: figure out a way to exit. Puzzles, riddles and challenges face visitors who are given just one hour to find a method of escape. Put clues together with friends in one of four unique rooms for an experience that is as rare as it is fun.

Friendly staff makes visiting a breeze but due to high demand, reservations should be made ahead of time online. This attraction is likely to cause some frustration, but it is mutually agreeable to all that it is still a great time. Just like the movie SAW, but without all the gruesome torture. Family or friends and visitors young or old are sure to appreciate the clever concept, and for those who are wondering, yes there are restrooms.

Lock and key

6. Oklahoma City Zoo

This zoo sits atop 110 acres of land and is often referred to as a living museum; it’s certainly a spectacle of sorts to be seen. Among its awards is a highly sought after Certificate of Excellence from travel site TripAdvisor.com as this is usually responsible for generating a lot of business for any tourist attraction.

The Zoo has participated in a variety of population management plans and species survival plans, including the Panamanian golden frog, which is one of the many rare species this zoo protects. As well, the gigantic alligator snapping turtle is one of the largest in the United States weighing in at over 200 pounds. Don’t worry though, he can’t run very fast. With over 500 species of animals (54 endangered) there is more than enough to see at the zoo that is only closed three days out of the entire calendar. This means for the other 362, adults get in for $8 and children get in for just $5.

Oklahoma City Zoo

5. Myriad Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens can be made into a trip of its own costing only eight dollars or less per person with plenty of surrounding accommodations. Dog parks, dining and group tours are included in the mix of the Myriad Botanical Gardens where children and adults can get an educational experience.

Along with yoga and gardening school there’s an interesting workshop called “Discover the Wonderful World of Edible Wildcrafting”. This teaches participants how to forage in the wild for edibles such as herbs and mushrooms. The event is hosted by a plethora of experts so everyone is bound to take plenty of knowledge home with them. As beautiful as it is informational the botanical gardens will help anyone looking for gardening or horticulture tips. As well, the site can be made into a beautiful backdrop of corporate events, birthdays and especially weddings. Along with a banquet hall, the Crystal Bridge makes for a perfect place to recite vows in front of a stunning backdrop.

Myriad Botanical Gardens

4. 45th Infantry Division Museum

Free parking and no entry fee, how could one go wrong? There’s so much history to see at the 45th Infantry Division Museum. Find a seldom-seen humorous side of WW2 with “sobering realism” through Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Bill Mauldin’s cartoons chronicling the lives of infantrymen in the second Great War.

Reaves Military weapons collection acts as a timeline of firearms from the Revolutionary War all the way through to Vietnam, but that’s not all. Thunderbird Park is an outdoor monument paying tribute to those from the division who served in World War 2 and the Korean War. Tanks, artillery, personnel carriers, and aircraft are showcased here on the 15-acre park. This outstanding monument also honors current servicemen and women with the Oklahoma National Guard. While admission is free, the museum asks that all groups notify them ahead of time and come at a ratio of one adult per every four children.

WW2 aircraft

3. Overholser Mansion

This turn of the century mansion was once owned by the “Father of Oklahoma City” Henry Overholser and his wife Anna, it’s said to be the first mansion built in the city. The home was sold to the Oklahoma City Historical Society in 1972 and has been preserved by Preservation Oklahoma since 2003. Since then the exterior has undergone extensive restorations including the windows, roof, chimneys and more; upwards of $750,000 has been raised for these purposes with the help of local businesses, foundations and citizens.

Built in 1903, the house is fit for the likes of Bruce Wayne. It has been left intact with full bookshelves, clothes in the closet; the table is set for dinner and the original wood-burning stove sets the ambiance for the evening. The mansion is closed in January however during all other months visitors can enjoy a tour ($10 for adults, $5 for children/students) with a revered and knowledgeable staff that receive rave reviews from almost all visitors.

Photo by: Overholser Mansion
Photo by: Overholser Mansion

2. Museum of Osteology

Listed as “America’s only skeleton museum” this venue focuses on the function of the skeletal system and skulls from all the corners of the world. The huge 7,000 sq. ft. museum shows the adaptation different species have taken throughout history as a part of evolution to fit themselves in and survive within their environments.

Primates, marsupials, flightless birds, reptiles, amphibians and all the wildlife that are home to Oklahoma enjoy their own extensive exhibits. The forensic pathology exhibit lets visitors examine skulls for themselves to determine the cause of death for a variety of animals. The museum showcases over 300 skeletons perhaps most notably a 40-foot humpback whale. The Museum of Osteology offers exclusive packages and catered events for up to 80 people to provide private viewings of every exhibit in the building, while individual prices are only $6 and $7 for children and adults respectively.

Photo by: Museum of Osteology
Photo by: Museum of Osteology

1. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

No trip to Oklahoma City is complete without visiting the home of the University of Oklahoma Sooners football. Just outside the city, the 82,000-seat stadium (approaching its 100 year anniversary) was built for just $293,000 in 1923, the equivalent to $3.93 million today. However, it has received over $125 million in renovations since its ground-breaking to keep it up to date.

The stadium gets its current name from Oklahoman publisher Christy Gaylord Everest who has donated a total of $50 million to the university to date. Record attendance was set recently in 2012 vs opponents from Notre Dame at 86,031 attendees. The memorial stadium is a must-see in Oklahoma to get a feel for the passion and pride of the residents from an up close and personal perspective. The faint of hearing need not worry; the fans are noted for their enthusiasm as well as their famous school marching band that is always creating viral videos with their unique formations during half time performances.

Photo by: University of Oklahoma Sooners
Photo by: University of Oklahoma Sooners