25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2020

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

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

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

25. Chattanooga, Tennessee

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

24. Beaumont, Texas

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

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

23. Tulsa, Oklahoma

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

22. Hartford, Connecticut

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

21. Lansing, Michigan

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

20. Nashville, Tennessee

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

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

19. New Orleans, Louisiana

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

18. Wichita, Kansas

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

17. Indianapolis, Indiana

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

16. Oakland, California

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

15. Anchorage, Alaska

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

14. Springfield, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

13. San Bernardino, California

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

12. Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

11. Rockford, Illinois

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

10. Stockton, California

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

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

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

Source: Todd A. Merport / Shutterstock.com

9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

8. Little Rock, Arkansas

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

7. Cleveland, Ohio

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

6. Kansas City, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

5. St. Louis, Missouri

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

4. Baltimore, Maryland

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

3. Birmingham, Alabama

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

2. Memphis, Tennessee

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

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

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

Source: f11photo / Shutterstock.com

1. Detroit, Michigan

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

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

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

Source: Shutterstock

25 Most Dangerous Cities In The US In 2019

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

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

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

25. Lansing, Michigan

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

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

24. Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

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

23. New Orleans, Louisiana

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

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

Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr

22. Newark, New Jersey

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

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

21. San Bernardino, California

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

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

20. Indianapolis, Indiana

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

19. Stockton, California

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

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

18. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

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

17. Kansas City, Missouri

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

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

Sharon Day / Shutterstock.com

16. Rockford, Illinois

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

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

15. Birmingham, Alabama

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

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

14. Nashville, Tennessee

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

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

13. Cleveland, Ohio

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

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

12. Detroit, Michigan

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

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

11. Chicago, Illinois

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

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

10. Anchorage, Alaska

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

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

9. Baltimore, Maryland

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

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

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

8. Pueblo, Colorado

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

mese.berg / Shutterstock.com

7. Chattanooga, Tennessee

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

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

6. Oakland, California

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

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

5. Albuquerque, New Mexico

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

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

 

4. Springfield, Missouri

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

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

3. Little Rock, Arkansas

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

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

2. Memphis, Tennessee

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

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

Natalia Bratslavsky / Shutterstock.com

1. St. Louis, Missouri

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

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

The Top Things to See and Do in Madison, Wisconsin

Madison is Wisconsin’s scenic state capital. Built around five beautiful lakes, the city and its surrounding suburbs are home to about 650,000 people. However, Madison offers a range of things to see and do that put it on par with much larger cities. It’s a hub of Midwest culture, with live performances and events throughout the year. The city is also well-known for having a highly educated population, and it is one of the region’s best places to raise a family. Many students from the city’s University of Wisconsin campus end up sticking around after graduation, just because Madison is so livable.

If you’re in town, these 12 recommended activities will help ensure you have a pleasant and memorable visit:

12. Marvel at the Wisconsin State Capitol

The Wisconsin State Capitol is famous for its Roman-inspired headquarters, which is home to the only classical granite dome ceiling in the entire country. In addition to this awe-inspiring architectural feature, the Wisconsin State Capitol building is also constructed from more than 40 different varieties of stone, and features hand-crafted antique furnishings and beautiful wall murals. The building is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful state capitols in the U.S., and if you’re visiting during the summer months, you can also head to the observation deck for panoramic vistas of the city and its famous lakes.

11. Go for a Bike Ride

If you’re visiting Madison between about mid-April and mid-October, it’s a pretty safe bet that your stay is going to be snow-free. Getting active is one of the best ways to see the city, and Madison enjoys a reputation as one of the best cycling metro areas in the United States. It holds a rare “platinum” rating from the League of American Bicyclists, thanks to its strong biking culture, outstanding cycling infrastructure, and ease of access to fantastic trail networks.

You can rent a bike by the day, week, or month from numerous sources in the city, and Madison also supports affordable access to municipal bike-share services.

Juli Hansen / Shutterstock.com

10. Discover the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is often cited as the place where the American nature restoration movement began, and the campus’s beautiful arboretum offers compelling evidence that its conservation tradition remains alive and well. Open year-round, the arboretum is also free to enjoy, making it a fantastic opportunity for budget-conscious travelers to experience some authentic Midwestern scenery without spending a dime.

Inside, you will find over 1,200 acres of breathtaking natural vistas. In addition to many different native Wisconsin plant and tree species, visitors can also see a varied range of landscapes including plains, lakeshores, woodlands, natural springs, and more. The arboretum features more than 20 miles of hiking trails and 4 miles of paved cycling routes, making it easy to explore.

Photo by: UW-Madison Arboretum Facebook

9. Stroll Through Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Speaking of nature, Olbrich Botanical Gardens has long been one of the city’s most popular outdoor attractions. It is particularly famous for its conservatory of tropical plants, which offers a unique viewing experience considering Madison’s relatively cool climate. This beautiful park also houses a stunning garden of perennial plants and flowers, as well as wildflowers, artistically arranged rock gardens, and collections of herbs, roses, and wildflowers. It’s a great way to enjoy a summer day, but fall visits are also fantastic as you can walk amid brilliantly colored leaves as the foliage starts to change.

Photo by: Olbrich Botanical Gardens Facebook

8. Pull up a Chair on the Memorial Union Terrace

This local institution has been a favorite place to relax and people-watch for decades. Founded in 1928, Memorial Union Terrace is an icon of the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus, but you don’t have to be a student, staff member, or faculty member to enjoy it. The terrace is open to all visitors during the spring, summer, and fall.

A wide range of beverages, including alcoholic drinks, are available for purchase with proper ID, but you’ll need to have a guest pass to buy them if you’re not a Wisconsin Union member. Visitors can get up to three guest passes per year by visiting the Memorial Union’s restaurant, café, or front desk. They are also available online through the Wisconsin Union website.

Photo by: The Wisconsin Union Facebook

7. Sample Some Suds

Wisconsin is almost as famous for its craft beer as it is for its cheese. Visitors have a wide range of options when it comes to Madison beer tours, including guided visits to local breweries and organized pub crawls.

One popular pub crawl, the Trolley Pub Madison, even carts participants around on a shared trolley bicycle so you don’t have to worry about stumbling around if you indulge a little too much. This option is particularly popular with young people, so if you’re looking for something a little more mature, consider Hop Head Tours instead. Hop Head Tours visits breweries, wineries, distilleries, and brew-pubs, with an emphasis on refined tastes and educational experiences.

Photo by: Trolley Pub

6. Bask in the Genius of Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright is a legend of American architecture, and his creations can be seen in locations throughout the United States. One of his most popular buildings, Taliesin East, is located about 35 miles outside Wisconsin near the city of Spring Green. Taliesin East has drawn throngs of Frank Lloyd Wright fans for generations, and it is widely considered one of his most iconic homes. Some experts even describe it as Wright’s signature masterpiece.

Construction of the home began in 1911, and continued until Wright’s death in 1959. Today, you can enjoy educational guided tours of the property, which shed light on the visionary skill that went into its creation and the unique features that make it well worth the drive from Madison.

Photo by: Tailesin Preserve Facebook

5. Head to the House on the Rock

Frank Lloyd Wright was unquestionably a genius, and geniuses inspire others to follow in their footsteps. One such man was Alex Jordan Jr., who designed House on the Rock, an architectural curiosity that’s well worth a look if you want to see something that’s truly one of a kind.

House on the Rock sits atop Deer Shelter Rock between Dodgeville and Spring Green, and you can easily pop in for a visit on your way to or from Taliesin East. Featuring over 3,200 windows and the bold Infinity Room, which extends 218 feet over the Deer Shelter cliffs, House on the Rock is a oddity you won’t soon forget.

Photo by: The House on the Rock Attraction Facebook

4. Go Museum-Hopping

Madison has a thriving arts and culture scene, and there are many museums to discover during your stay. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is definitely on the list of must-sees, and history buffs will love the Wisconsin Historical Museum. However, if you’re only going to see one, many locals would tell you to make it the Chazen Museum of Art, which houses one of the region’s most complete collections of American and European photography and fine artwork.

Photo by: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Facebook

3. Take the Kids to Henry Vilas Zoo

Since 1924, Henry Vilas Zoo has been one of Madison’s most enduring attractions. Now owned and operated by municipal officials, the zoo spans 28 fascinating acres and draws over one million visitors each year. Kids will love riding the old-style carousel, and they can also learn more about nature with a session at the site’s Zoo School. Dozens of animal exhibits are featured, including exotic beasts like lions and apes.

Photo by: Henry Vilas Zoo Facebook

2. Head out on the Water

Madison is built around five beautiful lakes: Kegonsa, Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, and Wingra. Lake Monona is one of the most popular, and if you didn’t get your fill of Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin East, you can explore further at the shorefront’s Monona Terrace. The terrace was conceived and proposed by Wright in 1938, but his original plan was rejected by Wisconsin city council. Wright’s original designs were finally brought to life in 1990, more than three decades after his death.

1. Lose Yourself at Lake Kegonsa State Park

All five of Madison’s lakes are gorgeous, but Lake Kegonsa is especially worthy of a visit thanks to its eponymous state park. Ideal for a summertime camping trip, Lake Kegonsa State Park features a beach, a varied range of perfectly conserved landscapes, and miles of hiking trails. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities including boating, fishing, swimming, and water skiing. The park is located just southeast of the city, and makes for an easy drive.

Top 12 Mountain Biking Trails in North America

If you have ever thought about taking up the sport of mountain biking, there is no better time like the present, as thousands of incredible trails are awaiting you across the country. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced rider, these trails are packed with incredible scenery, technical descents, and grueling uphills. From narrow trails along the edge of cliff tops to trails winding through 300 year old forests, we have gathered our favorite 12 mountain biking trails in America. So what are you waiting for, grab your gear and hit the trails!

12. Bangtail Divide Trail, Bozeman, Montana

The Bangtail Divide Trail is regarded as Bozeman’s most notorious mountain biking trail, and not because it is difficult in nature. No, the Bangtail Divide Trail is known for its breathtaking scenery and smooth single-track trails. The views here will include several mountain ranges and endless fields of wildflowers. Riders can do the whole loop, which runs about 31 miles and starts off with a big climb, utilizing twenty some off switchbacks.

It’s around 18 miles that you will reach the best part of the trail, a five-mile ride downhill through a pine forest that is nice and smooth. It’s so good, it’s almost enough that you want to go up and do the whole thing over again.  Rounding out the trail is a final downhill that features some tricky switchbacks. All in all, the ride is smooth, moderately easy and full of epic scenery.

Via southwestmontanamba.org

11. Poison Spider Messa down Portal Trail, Moab, Utah

You will either love or hate this trail and it will definitely make you cry, however old and in shape, you may think you are. Technically, physically and mentally this trail will rip you to shreds and that is what makes it all worth it. Words that have been used to describe it are deadly, dangerous, scenic and stunning. Riders can choose to ride the loop which is about 13 miles or as an out-and-back trail, but it starts off the same way, a relentless climb over deep sand, technical bedrock and slippery stones.

After you reach the viewpoint looking over Moab, you will join the Portal Trail that edges closer to the cliff walls than you have ever imagined. It is imperative to know your abilities before attempting this trail and in some places, you must dismount and walk your bike as you are literally on the edge. After riders have cleared the cliffs the trail gets even gnarlier with ledge drops, loose rocks, narrow squeezes and crazy turns.

Via Moab Utah

10.  Top of the World Trail, Whistler, British Columbia

This trail is only a few years old and is already a favorite among riders. To start, head up to the very top of Whistler Mountain via the lift, and make sure you get your ticket early as they only sell 150 of them a day. The trail starts at a whopping 7160 feet with incredible views of the shimmering lakes, Black Tusk, and the coastal mountains. There are two ways to go, as indicated by signs stating “this way is hard” and “this way is harder”.

It’s a 5km descent to the bottom, through creeks, around tight corners, and through rocky sections. The trail itself is a mix of alpine single-track and double-wide ski-runs with views of alpine trees, brilliant blue lakes and the backcountry of Whistler. With no uphill pedaling required, riders should be sure to have the proper gear including bike to ensure they make it the way down on this jumpy, fun, awesome new trail.

9. Mountainside Loop, Kingdom Trails, Vermont

This is the perfect trail to hop on if you are staying at the Burke Mountain Campground as it starts and ends here, but even if you aren’t camping, we suggest trying this trail out. Riders will start off pedaling the 15.5 mile trail by making their way up some switchbacks in this wooded incline but prepared to immediately switch gears as you break into a quick descent.

The downhill is loaded with roots, bumps, a few jumps and some narrow bridges sans railings to navigate. Another ascent/descent awaits riders, although less challenging than the first. The final leg of this trail is an uphill climb to end at the campground where you will surely be ready for a cold beer. This route is technical and for riders that have experience with true dirt trails loaded with bumps, objects to navigate and other riders to contend with.

8. Deep Steep Trail, South Carolina

This single-track 4.6 mile track certainly doesn’t sound that daunting but locals that ride here have a love/hate relationship with Deep Steep Trail. This trail actually has more climbing than any other in the Forks Area Trails and as much fun as it is to go down, one must go back up. It has also been described as one of the most fun trails in the area and riders can choose to ride it either way, with both offering tons of uphill’s and downhills.

The ride is perfect for beginners and advanced riders as beginners can practice their stability and control on the descents whereas advanced riders can let loose. The trail is non-technical and littered with whoops, berms and gentle turns and promises that you won’t want to ride it just once.

Via The Mountain Hiker

7. Downieville Downhill, Downieville, California

What awaits riders coming to this trail is a whopping 17 miles of the sheer vertical downhill drop and is recommended for the intermediate or advanced riders only. The town of Downieville is located a couple hours into the mountain and is a true mountain biker’s destination. To get to the top of this trail, either take a shuttle up or have someone drop you off. From there it is all downhill, taking over an hour to reach the bottom.

Riders have the privilege of having this single-track trail to themselves for 85% of the way down and expect a steep technical ride on top as you battle your way through rock gardens, creeks, and long suspension bridges. Don’t be fooled thinking you won’t have any uphill battles though, as although this trail descends 17 miles, you will still have to pedal a few uphills.

Via vitalmtb.com

6. Munds Wagon Trail, Sedona, Arizona

The most difficult part of this trail is actually staying focused on riding, rather than admiring the beautiful scenery, although many will argue that this trail is both physically and mentally demanding as well. The trail is a tough 21.55 miles, single-track and is in excellent condition. Riders will be faced with a literal uphill battle though as they climb through stunning scenery.

The views only get better the higher you go and the reward at the top is simply surreal. Riders should prepare to contend with a few hikers that are often on the trail as well as a 5-6 hour ride, make sure to pack plenty of fluids and sunscreen. Think lots of speed, lots of technical spots and lots of pictures to be taken.

Via singletracks.com

5. Rock Lake Epic, CAMBA Trails, Cable, Wisconsin

The Rock Lake Epic is, just like the name says, an epic 27 mile trail that is located in the hilly woods of Cable, Wisconsin. It is part of the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) Trails, which host a seemingly endless network of single tracks in the summer. The Epic loop takes riders through a web of tracks that winds its way through maple and oak forest through four of the best trails in the network: Rock Lake, Glacier, Patsy Lake, and Namakagon.

This dense terrain features plenty of rock ledges, plank bridges, step-ups and beautiful wilderness lakes.  This trail is not for beginners even though no climb is more than 100 feet, what gets riders through it’s the constant rollers, downed logs, rock features and plenty of mud.

Via McKinney Realty

4. Paradise Royale Trail, California

Although much of California’s land is off-limits due to preservation efforts, the Paradise Royale Trail was built specifically for mountain biking. Located deep in the King Range Mountains off the northern coast, this 14 mile loop thrills riders with its brief descend and then steady climb. Riders are advised to ride clockwise to take advantage of the long flowy descent on the east side.

Expect 19 gritty switchbacks which have been nicknamed “The Prince of Pain” along with steep side slopes, a skinny trail, and exciting flowy descents. Riders will take in incredible views of the Pacific Ocean as well as having the choice of optional jumps and drops on the way down. Once you get through that tough climb on the get go, it’s nothing but laughs and fun on the way down, as long as you know what you are doing.

Via MTB Project

3. 401 Trail Crested Butte, Colorado

It is one of the best rides in the area as voted by riders and is a mix of road and single-track trail, which has you climbing and dropping for miles. This loop begins with a long but easy climb up Gothic Rd to Schofield Pass where you will catch the single-track trail and this is where the scenery begins to get epic with an incredible view of Emerald Lake.

Around 6.5 miles in is where the climb pays off as riders can take in unparalleled views of the Elk mountains and as you descend expect to see fields of colorful flowers. The downhill is generally fast and flowy with a few skinny sections to watch out for. Expect two more climbs after the downhill which are a little more technical than the first, or take the exit at Rustler’s Gulch back to Gothic Road to end of one awesome ride.

Via Mountain Bike Bill

2. McKenzie River Trail, Oregon

This trail on the west side of the Cascade Mountains will take riders through lush green forests and lava fields on a single-track that is meant for both beginners and advanced riders. It is recommended that riders shuttle to the top and then ride down to the bottom, zipping past crystal blue pools, towering waterfalls, and hot springs. The total distance of the trail is 26 miles and riders will do plenty of bobbing, ducking and weaving as they make their way through one of America’s top trails.

Riders won’t find any painful climbs here but will find challenging lava rock sections along with an abundance of logs, roots, and rocks. Don’t expect to be going downhill the whole ride though, this trail drop 1800ft and goes back up 1000ft with lots of pedaling. Prepare to want to stop every few minutes to gaze at the waterfalls, 300 year old forest, mountain river and other spectacular scenery.

Via Greg Vaughn Photography

1. Porcupine Rim Trail, Moab, Utah

This world-famous ride should definitely be on your bucket list of trails, only if you are an advanced rider though. It can either be one-way with a shuttle car or a grueling 34 mile loop, for those truly hardcore riders. An incredible climb at the beginning takes riders up to the rim for breathtaking views of Castle Valley. From the top, the trail descends quickly through slick rock sections and some long smooth bits.

It is when you reach the single-track where the downhill gets extremely technical. The trail gets fast, the rocks start sloping sideways and the trail stays narrow. The views start to get incredible and riders should make sure to stay focused as the trail twists and turns. Expect to reach the bottom brimming with relief and excitement, knowing you just completed one of the best mountain biking trails in the country.

Via Doug in Idaho

The 5 Best Places to Try Fat Biking

Mountain bikers used to dread the wintertime as snow would descend onto the trails and bikes would be put away for months at a time. Luckily for biking enthusiasts, the sport of fat biking was recently introduced to the world. For the past few years this sport has been growing in popularity and it is no longer just a fad but a sport that is here to stay. Nowadays this sport is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and bike clubs and land managers are creating and grooming trails specific for the sport. Discover 5 awesome spots in the United States to try this epic new winter adventure.

5. Kincaid Park, Anchorage, Alaska

Most people agree that Alaska is the birthplace of the fat biking movement and it’s easy to understand why due to its weather. Kincaid Park is the fat biking hot spot here, offering 16 miles of singletrack. The tracks are groomed by volunteers making the trails flow both in the summer and the winter.

Snow machines are in place to pull around car tires to create a 2-3 foot firm trail. Head on over to Arctic Cycles to rent a fat bike if you don’t have your own, just make sure you reserve a bike ahead of time. This outfitter also hosts epic fat bike adventures, whether you want to spend a day exploring Anchorage or even take an overnight fat bike adventure.

Via Michael Dinneen Photography

4. Kingdom Trails Nordic Adventure Center, Vermont

This adventure center is packed full of fat bike trails, a total of 30km in fact. Whether you want to ride in the summer or winter, fat bike riders will be pleasantly surprised by the land access and trail design, adopting a separate but equal approach to trail access for skiers and bikers. No need to worry about running into each other on these trails. With miles of single-track to choose from, including some pretty epic summer favorites, there is no shortage of adventure here.

As an added bonus the trails are marked like ski slopes- green for beginners and black for experts. At just $15 for a day pass, this is a steal. If you don’t own a fat bike head on over to Village Sports who will rent you a bike for under $60 for the day.

Via vtsports

3. Methow Trails, Washington

The Methow Valley Sports Trail Association operates the largest Nordic ski system in the lower 48 and has started opening their groomed trails to fat bikes in the last three years. Although skiers have over 120 miles of groomed track to explore, fat bikers now have 18 miles of groomed trails to choose from.

Most of the trails are wide, with expansive views and rolling terrain. Beginners can choose easy loops that start in the town of Winthrop as well as grab a rental bike from Methow Cycle & Sport located in the town. For the more experienced fat biker why not head to the seven-mile Gunn Ranch Trail where riders get sweeping views of the valley and ridges. Make sure to stay at the Grizzly Backcountry Hut if you choose to do this trail for an extra special experience.

Via Methow Trails

2. Levis Mound, Neillsville, Wisconsin

There are just shy of 10 miles of machine packed fat biking singletrack trails here for enthusiasts. One of the features that make the trails stand out is the fact that they were created specifically for fat bikes, unlike other trails, which are retrofitted for snow bikes.

Essentially what this means is fewer hills, wider trails, removal of problem trees and a commitment to make fat biking an on-going trend. This also happens to be the home of the Sweaty Yeti fatbike race and Yet-Fest. Facilities include washrooms, a large parking area, and running water and at trail passes at just $5 a day; this is one epic place to start your fat biking adventure.

Via Wasatch Rider

1. Marquette, Michigan

This hamlet may only have 20,000 residents but the four bike shops it has says something about its passion. Biking is at the forefront of activity in this community and that love has transferred over to the winter months with the sport of fat biking. In the town of Marquette alone there are over 70 miles of singletrack that are groomed specifically for fat bikes.

The clubs here are committed to building more trails each year with an emphasis on winter fat biking. The south side of the town is host to a 12-mile Snow Bike Route system that is absolutely killer. Head to one of the four bike shops for a rental and recommendations on where to start out.

Via GearJunkie

North America’s Coolest Indoor Waterparks

Indoor water parks promise endless summer, a perfect getaway as the winter months are quickly coming. These water parks are only getting bigger and better, featuring huge wave pools, wild water slides, ziplines, arcades and even spas inside. From Niagara Falls, Canada all the way to Galveston, Texas we have rounded up 15 incredible indoor water parks across North America.

15. Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park -Erie, PA

This park is loaded with a ton of water slides and rides, along with a tropical colorful atmosphere that sets the stage for the perfect getaway during the long cold winter months. At just over 100,000 square feet, Splash Lagoon is full of exciting thrill rides for the adventurer. Among the unique features here are two bowl rides, The Cyclone which accommodates one and two rider tubes and Hurricane Hole, which sends you flying down at over 40 mph. Watch out for the tipping bucket on top of Tiki Tree House which dumps on unsuspecting riders on the The Cyclone. If you are looking for something a little more relaxing head on over to the Frog Pond Whirlpool where giant lily pads, tall amphibians and splashing fountains set the stage. A large arcade, mini-free fall ride and onsite restaurant compliment this awesome water park.

Photo by: Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort
Photo by: Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort

14. Schlitterbahn Indoor Water Park -Galveston, TX

Although this water park is an outdoor park most of the year, it actually transforms into an indoor park during the colder months and with over 70,000 feet of indoor play, it is one of the best in North America. With four tube slides, three speed slides, a heated pool, a man-made wave and a tidal wave river, there is no shortage of things to do here. The Torrent River is a favorite among visitors as it sends inner tubers along a quarter mile long, 20 foot wide wave filled river, twisting and turning riders throughout. Kids will love their own beach section that is full of tipping buckets, a beached boat, smaller slides and spraying jets. Although this indoor water park is one of the smaller on the list, it deserves recognition for the ability to change from an outdoor park to indoor park, and still offer amazing fun.

Photo by: Schlitterbahn Galveston
Photo by: Schlitterbahn Galveston

13. Palmetto and Palm Water Parks at Dunes Village Resort -Myrtle Beach, SC

There are actually two water parks located at the Dunes Village Resort in Myrtle Beach and guests to this resort get access to both. Palmetto caters to the younger guests with a 250-foot lazy river, a Kiddie Adventure pool with tons of spray features and a lagoon pool with basketball nets. Adults will also enjoy this park with two water slides and two hot tubs. Over at Palm Water Park there is something for everyone to enjoy including a lap pool, teen pool, three hot tubs and more. The Wild Winding Slide and Speed Slide are there for the more adventurous riders. Little ones will love the Silly Submarine, a water play structure that is loaded with spraying water features. The parks are open from 9am-11pm and while there are no lifeguards on duty, there are attendants at the top of each slide to ensure each rider descends safely.

Photo by: Dunes Village Resort
Photo by: Dunes Village Resort

12. Fallsview Indoor Waterpark -Niagara Falls, Canada

It boasts itself as the largest indoor water park in Niagara Falls and visitors will delight in the sheer number of thrilling water slides here. A total of 16 water slides make up this water park, along with a massive wave pool, adult-only whirlpools and a massive beach house play area. From extreme racing slides where riders will shoot down on mats to four different tube slides and one gigantic super bowl; there are enough slides to keep any adrenaline junkie happy. Planet Hollywood Beach Club is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat and is located on the main floor of the water park. Little ones can head to the Tiny Tots Splash Park where they can swim, splash and slide down kid-sized water slides. Don’t forget about the year-round outdoor sun deck which is heated in the winter and operates an outdoor pool in the warm months.

Photo by: Fallsview Indoor Waterpark
Photo by: Fallsview Indoor Waterpark

11. Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark -Boyne Falls, MI

Michigan’s largest indoor water park resort offers plenty of thrills and excitement for the whole family. Always at 84 degrees and open all year around it is easy to make your way here any time of the year, especially in the cold winter months when you are looking to escape the cold. One of the latest additions to this park is The Big Couloir, a water slide which begins in a capsule and shoots riders down a narrow tunnel into a super loop, with powerful g-forces keeping them glued to the sides the entire time. The lazy river on the other hand will lead riders throughout the park, while flowing water features hide around corners. The amazing 800-gallon water avalanche though is perhaps the highlight of this park and when the horn blows you will want to look out below! This climbing structure with its bridges, buckets, slides and climbing wall provides hours of endless fun.

Photo by: Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark
Photo by: Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark

10. Klondike Kavern at Wilderness Resort -Wisconsin Dells, WI

This indoor waterpark offers over 65,000 square feet of water fun for all ages. Guests to this water park rave about the famous Hurricane, a ride that sees riders whip down a 45-degree angle in a four person raft, scoot across a funnel at 20 mph, experience weightlessness and then drop into a splash pool. This ride is made even better with sound effects, fog and strobe lights. For those wanting a little less excitement, head over to the lazy river or the indoor hot spa. Little ones will love Bonanza Bluff, a huge structure that features over 50 squirt features and smaller slides, all situated in a shallow pool. A new ride is currently under construction here and promises to combine exciting water sliding with video game technology.

Photo by: Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort
Photo by: Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort

9. Chula Vista Resort -Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wisconsin Dells is known as the water park capital of the world and Chula Vista is among one of the best indoor water parks in all of North America, and perhaps even the world. The most loved attraction at this park is the Fly’n Mayan; an uphill water coaster that is designed to take riders throughout the park on an exhilarating ride. It prides itself on being on the longest and fastest uphill water coasters in the world! The Jungle Adventure complete with lights and sounds is also one of the famous rides here, a bowl ride that will leave you breathless. The never-ending tropical lazy river is great for relaxing while the oversize wading pool is perfect for little ones to splash around in.

Photo by: Chula Vista Resort
Photo by: Chula Vista Resort

8. Kahuna Laguna at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort -North Conway, NH

It is New Hampshire’s largest indoor water park and features over 40,000 square feet of fun and excitement. This water park has gone all out to bring the tropics indoor and comes off more like a large tiki hut with its colorful decorations and faux palm leaves. There are only four water slides here, two tube slides and two body slides, totaling 900 feet in length, which means you will want to try them all out. The 67,000 gallon wave pool is one of the highlights of this water park, with three patterns of powerful three foot waves, perfect for those who want to body surf. The pool also features two waterfalls and is no more than five feet in depth. The Adventure Tower teems with slides, sprayers, rope bridges and one huge tipping bucket, which anyone of any age can enjoy. At the end of the day make sure to head over to the adult and kid 25-person hot tub that overlooks the entire water park.

Photo by: Kahuna Laguna Water Park
Photo by: Kahuna Laguna Water Park

7. Big Splash Adventure Indoor Waterpark -French Lick, IN

A retractable roof covers this awesome 40,000 square foot indoor water park, which means whether it is hot or cold outdoors, visitors here can enjoy this space any time of the year. With an abundance of pools, tube slides, body slides and over 50 interactive features; there won’t be any time to be bored. Favorite activities here include the Treasure Lagoon Vortex, a round pool with fun whirling water, as well as the Jolly Roger Jetty, a tube ride that takes riders through seven curves and can accommodate both single and double inner tubes. The Splish Splash Pool has been designed for the youngest of visitors, and they can choose to sit in the swings and bounce until their feet hit the water, or slide down the mini slide.

Photo by: Big Splash Adventure
Photo by: Big Splash Adventure

6. Wings & Waves at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum -McMinnville, OR

This ultra-cool water park is both a water park and an educational experience, but don’t fear, kids won’t even know that they are actually learning because they will be having so much fun. The water park includes 10 water slides, 91,000 gallon wave pool and a Boeing 747 plane on the roof. Kids are encouraged to learn about water by building tsunami-proof models in the classrooms and then test them in the wave pool. A favorite of visitors here is climbing the 111 stairs up to the plane and then sliding down one of the four water slides, one of which drops a total of six stories. Aquaplay is a favorite among young visitors as the structure is loaded with smaller slides, water guns, spouts, valves and a 300 gallon firefighter bucket that drops on you. Trained and certified lifeguards are on duty at all times at this incredible and educational water park.

Photo by: Hydro Logic
Photo by: Hydro Logic

5. Water Park of America -Bloomington, MN

It is one of the biggest and the best water parks in all of North America, hence the name and it certainly doesn’t disappoint in terms of activities. It houses the tallest indoor water slide in all of America, stretching 100 feet into the air, along with a scenic and relaxing lazy river, indoor arcade and the Lake Superior Wave Pool. The 7th Floor Body Slides are among the favorites here as riders can race each other as they travel down twin body slides that actually go outside the building before a final splash. Friends and families should check out the Family Raft Ride, at over a mile long and 10 stories high, this ride offers tight turns, big splashes and lot of laughs. Learn how to body board, shoot a game of hoops in the pool or take the little ones to the zero depth activity pool where they can safely splash and slide.

Photo by: Water Park of America
Photo by: Water Park of America

4. World Waterpark, -West Edmonton Mall, Alberta

It is home to the world’s largest indoor wave pool and more than 17 unique water slides and play features. World Water park is also home to two high water slides, both 83 feet high, and favorites of all visitors. The Cyclone is perhaps the most well known water slide here as it is one of the most extreme slides in all of Canada, where riders enter into a capsule and fall straight down, into a gravity defying loop and ending up in a splashdown chute. The world’s largest permanent indoor zipline is also found here and riders will zip across the water park, over the wave pool and end up near the children’s play area. Speaking of the little ones, World Water park is home to an awesome kid’s area with plenty of water cannons, buckets, rope bridges, slides and pipes to play with.

Photo by: Pinterest
Photo by: Pinterest

3. Great Wolf Lodge -Niagara Falls, Canada

The fun never stops at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, especially at the indoor water park that offers thousands of square feet of non-stop fun. From tube rides that can fit the whole family to body slides to an uphill water coaster; the whole family will enjoy this park. The Rapids Run tows tube riders up and sends you plunging down a 15.8 meter vertical drop, along with zipping you through enclosed tunnels and around thrilling curves. An indoor wave pool, lazy river, a multitude of slides and specially designed play areas for the little ones makes this one awesome indoor water park.

Photo by: Great Wolf Lodge
Photo by: Great Wolf Lodge

2. Wild West at Wilderness Resort -Wisconsin Dells, WI

It is the largest indoor water park of four that is located at Wilderness Resort, spanning over 70,000 square feet. Thrill rides are the highlight of this water park, with The Black Hole being at the forefront. This thrilling slide has a huge descent followed by spins and turns, before dumping riders into the unknown. A 4-person raging raft ride provides plenty of laughs and thrills. The four-storey interactive play feature is loaded with body slides, water blasters, cannons and one gigantic tipping bucket! The indoor bumper boats are fun for the whole family where you can battle it out against both family members and other visitors. For a more relaxing activity, make sure to visit the indoor and outdoor hot springs.

Photo by: Wilderness Resort
Photo by: Wilderness Resort

1. Kalahari Water Park at Kalahari Resort -Sandusky, OH

It hails itself as being the largest indoor water park in all of America and at 173,000 square feet, we don’t doubt it is. Kalahari Resort is an African themed resort and throughout the water park this theme stays true with ride names such as Zig Zag Zebra, Cheetah Race and Crocodile Cove. A 920 feet lazy river runs throughout the park crossing through waterfalls and rapids while thrill seekers can head over to Zimbabwe Zipper where they can reach 40mph. A 12,000 square foot wave pool, kids only play area, tons of exhilarating water slides and indoor whirlpools all make up this awesome water park. An uphill water coaster ride and the two FlowRiders are among the most loved activities here. No matter what the weather outside is like; you can certainly play all day here.

Photo by: Kalahari Resorts
Photo by: Kalahari Resorts

7 Pieces of US Topography Worth Checking Out

There’s no denying that the U S of A is an incredibly large country. It’s not the largest (falling behind Russia and Canada, then slightly ahead of China), but it’s still pretty darn huge. Ranging an entire section of a continent, and even reaching into boarders that aren’t connected to its majority. (Shout out to Hawaii and Alaska, as well as the Virgin Islands.) It’s not necessarily the space that makes it so impressive, however, but the ability to inhabit virtually every portion of the land. Countries like Australia, Canada, and Russia host citizens only in specific areas, while others are too harsh for sustainable living. Leaving them with areas that are thickly populated, and others that are completely free of life. Within the US, however, there are houses and cities in virtually every corner. Of course, there are areas left free for farming and wildlife, but a house is never too far away. The land simply allows for it. Throughout each burst of mountains, desert, intense forests, etc., there are those who call the space home. What that means for travelers, however, is great news. Rather than land that’s untraveled and unsafe, virtually everywhere is up for exploration.

7. The Coast

No matter which direction you head, The states are sure to offer up some beautiful ocean views. The West Coast is more calm and comes with warmer weather, South is ideal for fishing and taking in tropical views, while the East will show you just how incredible Mother Nature’s force can be. Not to mention the natural sight of cut rocks and Oceanside cliffs. In order to get the full effect, make plans to visit all over throughout a lifetime. Not only is it a good excuse for travel, it will provide you with a more cultured idea as to what the US coasts have to offer. In both experience and views.

west coast california

6. Northwestern Rivers

Often thought of as chilly or hosting inclement weather throughout much of the year, the Northwest is actually home to some incredible topography. Raging rivers cut through colorful rocks – which run straight through towns and city centers. Visitors can walk bridges, or check out power plants that are entirely run by moving water. With steep hills, there’s plenty of gravity to keep everything moving, and all the different types of rocks, it’s a sight that’s worth driving hours upon hours to see in person. Photos and posters simply can’t do it justice.

Multnomah Falls Columbia River Gorge Oregon

5. The Mountains

Whether you head to Colorado or Tennessee, even California, you’re in for a beautiful, mountainous sight. Better yet, each range has is own set of sights. They might be rocky, forest-filled, or full of steam from an incoming rain. Whatever its unique features, you’re sure to be in for breathtaking photo opps. Sure be sure to check your brakes when driving through – these roads are rough on vehicles and call for frequent stops and slow driving. But considering all you get to see for less-than-ideal driving conditions, virtually all who stop by see it as more than a welcome trade.

Smokey Mountains Tennessee

4. Niagara Falls

Located in New York (and in Canada), this jaw-dropping landmark is a must-see for anyone in the area. It’s force is so loud, so tremendous, that it can be heard and seen for miles around. Each second, the falls drop more than 750,000 gallons of water. Which drop for an incredible 167 feet before hitting its watery bottom. (An incredible stat that lands it as the country’s biggest waterfall.) Visitors can admire this giant from afar, or take a boat tour that encompasses both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls. Just don’t forget to wear a poncho – with a drop that forceful, visitors are sure to get soaked even without venturing too close.

Massimiliano Pieraccini / Shutterstock.com
Massimiliano Pieraccini / Shutterstock.com

3. The Great Lakes

Just how great are the Great Lakes? They’re, individually, the four largest lakes in the entire United States. Yet they’re packed in right next to one another. In fact, three make it into the list of top-five biggest lakes in the entire world. Accompanied by lake Victoria in Africa, and the Caspian Sea in Europe. (The latter is controversial, as it hosts a large salt water section, leaving some to classify it as more ocean than lake.) Superior is also the largest lake in the world, aside from Caspian, and holds more water than all other three great lakes combined. And then some. Still not convinced these lakes will make for a great view? Come winter they’ll be coated in a beautiful layer of icy frost, while summer leaves them blue and watering plenty of green plants. It’s a combination that simply can’t be beat, no matter what time of year you visit.

Lake Superior Michigan

2. The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is huge, vast, and deep. And unlike most landmarks, you can explore it right to the very depths – that is, if you dare. When proper planning is done, visitors can hike straight into the canyon’s center. Though it’s dangerous, those who’ve traveled say there’s nothing quite like walking that deep into the earth. (Or that hot.) However, for the rest of the population, there are also plenty of walking paths that provide a great view, but without the dangers of hiking treacherous terrain. Besides, up high provide the best views and layout of the land.

Grand Canyon National Park

1. The Giant Forest

In many cases, if you’ve seen one forest, you pretty much have an idea as to what the rest will look like. But that simply isn’t true of the Sequoia forest inrn in California. These are some of the largest trees in the entire world – in height and width, and there’s an entire forest of them to be explored. In fact, the General Sherman Tree is listed as the biggest in existence, and its neighbors are no slackers. Most are about 26 stories tall, and are wider than two streets. Impressive? Yes. It turns out trees can grow pretty huge when they’re more than 1,000-2,000 years old. Visitors can hike through to get up-close views, check out the trees from afar, or even stand right next to some of the biggest among them. Just to see how small they are in comparison. Either path will offer some seriously unforgettable views.

 

General Sherman Tree

8 Great Microbreweries in the Midwest

The heartland of the U.S. has brought us world-famous beers like Budweiser and Miller High Life and in recent years, it’s become home to an increasing number of outstanding microbreweries. These shrines to foamy goodness in a glass are bringing back the art of hand-crafted lagers and ales that was the norm for so long. Many of them are housed in cool, historic buildings and offer behind-the-scenes brewery tours as well as tap rooms where you can get a great meal and taste some of their finest, small-batch creations not available anywhere else. Here’s my “Great Eight” Midwest microbreweries.

1. Great Lakes Brewing -Cleveland, OH

Cleveland, like other cities, has seen the craft beer craze catch on in a big way recently. The one that got it all started is Great Lakes Brewing, Ohio’s first and most celebrated microbrewery. Many of Great Lakes’ brews like Burning River Pale Ale are among Ohio’s most popular craft beers, while others are only available at its brewpub. The brewpub and brewery are located in Ohio City, one of Cleveland’s oldest neighborhoods located across the Cuyahoga River from downtown. The brewpub, housed in an historic brick complex, serves excellent pub-style food in several quaint spaces including a tree-lined beer garden along a cobblestone street. Its beautiful tiger mahogany bar once hosted Eliot Ness, the leader of the ‘Untouchables’ law enforcement team that battled infamous gangster Al Capone. Brewery tours cost $5, last an hour and include four five-ounce samples. A gift shop sells Great Lakes and Cleveland memorabilia.

Photo by: Great Lakes Brewing
Photo by: Great Lakes Brewing

2. Bell’s Brewery Inc -Kalamazoo, MI

Bell’s Brewery was the first brewery in Michigan to open an onsite brewpub (1993) and since then, the downtown Kalamazoo landmark has become as an entertainment center with an expansive outdoor beer garden and indoor events center that holds up to 375 people. The two-story brick complex was expanded in 2011. Large and airy with lots of wood tables and an impressive collection of art and memorabilia, the centerpiece of the complex is the Eccentric Café and its creative menu featuring everything from deviled eggs and falafel to beef brisket and green curried tofu. Up to 20 Bell’s brews are poured at any given time at the brewpub including small batch, pub-exclusive options. The events center hosts popular bands on national tours and even square dancing and trivia nights. Free brewery tours are offered on weekends and take 30-45 minutes.

Photo by: Bell’s Brewery Inc
Photo by: Bell’s Brewery Inc

3. Barley’s Brewing Co. -Columbus, OH

Walking into Barley’s Brewing on bustling High St. in downtown Columbus is like stepping back in time. The delightful brewpub, located near the Ohio State University campus, has been serving hand-crafted beer since 1991. The brewpub is chock-full of charm, with authentic wood booths, underground brewery and rathskeller-like events area with century-old stone walls and brick arches. These guys take their ales seriously, keeping them unpasteurized and brewing only 10 barrels per batch. Every Friday, they tap a different cask-conditioned ale that complement a dozen other Barley’s 12 brews that rotate weekly. The large menu features burgers and gourmet dogs as well as upscale pub grub like white truffle mac and cheese. The quality of Barley’s food and beer has built quite a following over the years. Patrons have included best-selling author Stephen King, actor James Doohan (Scotty on “Star Trek”) and rock band Cheap Trick.

Photo by: Barley’s Brewing Company
Photo by: Barley’s Brewing Company

4. Schlafly -St. Louis, MO

The town that introduced Budweiser to the world has some great microbreweries, too, as evidenced by Schlafly, debuted in 1991 in two adjoining brick and timber buildings that opened in 1902 and 1904. The massive complex had steel-reinforced beams to hold printing presses that operated for the Swift Printing Co. for 65 years. After Swift moved out in 1969, the buildings vacant for 22 years and were almost destroyed by a fire. The thriving taproom, located between St. Louis University and downtown’s riverfront, serves 16 small-batch draft beers and a menu featuring brew and food pairings like mussels and pale ale. Taproom and original brewery tours on Sundays are free and end with a pint (also free). Schlafly’s nearby Bottleworks brewery and restaurant complex also offers free weekend tours and Friday afternoon ‘beer school’ seminars that focus on the brewing process and end with, you guessed it, beer tastings.

Photo by: Schlafly
Photo by: Schlafly

5. 3 Floyds Brewing Co. -Munster, IN

Some of the rich, aromatic ales brewed by 3 Floyds have reached cult status, like its Zombie Dust Pale Ale that people (including me) sometimes stand in long lines simply to buy a single 12-ounce bottle. If you want to find out where the legend was born, you’ve got to travel to Munster, IN to visit the 3 Floyds brewpub. There, you’ll find a rotating menu of fine brews including its popular Alpha King Pale Ale and, if you’re lucky, Zombie Dust. They also offer pub-only selections and a creative food menu which changes seasonally to stay focused on the availability of locally sourced ingredients. Brewery tours are conducted on Saturdays from 12:30-5:30 and last about an hour. The brewpub also sells collectible-quality merchandise featuring the colorful comic book-like artwork that graces the 3 Floyds bottle labels sold in five Midwest states.

Photo by: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Photo by: 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

6. Rhinegeist -Cincinnati, OH

Rhinegeist translates to “Ghost of the Rhine” and for good reason. The brewery is located in downtown Cincinnati’s historic Over the Rhine (OTR) district where thousands of German immigrants—and 38 breweries—called home at the turn of the 20th Century. The microbrewery, which opened in 2013, is housed in the circa 1895 Christian Morlein Brewing Co. plant that sat empty for decades after Prohibition shuttered Morlein and other OTR breweries. Today, Rhinegeist offers up to 13 different ales, lagers, pilsners and hard ciders in its classic, beer hall-style taproom. The 25,000-square-foot space with high ceilings is massive, with rows of community tables and enough room to include indoor games like ping pong and foosball. TVs broadcast sports daily and guests are welcome to bring their own food. Private tours cost $10 and include a pint of beer. Free yoga sessions are offered on Sunday mornings in the beer hall.

Photo by: Rhinegeist
Photo by: Rhinegeist

7. Lakefront Brewery -Milwaukee, WI

The city that brought us beer icons like Miller High Life and Pabst Blue Ribbon has a lively microbrewery community. Its most popular micro operation is Lakefront Brewery, located in the former Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company building downtown that opened in 1908. Lakefront’s own history began in 1987 when brothers Russ and Jim Klisch took their love of brewing to the next level. Today, Lakefront has surpassed the 40,000-barrel milestone. Weekday tours are limited due to production but weekend tours give you the run of the place. Tours cost $8 and include four six-ounce samples and a souvenir pint glass. In-depth, technical tours are offered on Sundays for brew aficionados. They end with special beer and food pairings. Lakefront’ s beer hall is open daily and features a menu focused on locally sourced products. Fridays feature fish frys and live polka music (it is Milwaukee, after all).

Photo by: Lakefront Brewery
Photo by: Lakefront Brewery

8. Goose Island -Chicago, IL

Some people might not view Goose Island as a microbrewery anymore, given that its brews are sold in all 50 U.S. states and the U.K. But, the brewery on Chicago’s Near West Side certainly started out that way in 1988, and its lineup of ales, stouts and other delicious brews continue to taste hand-crafted. Interestingly, Goose Island recently opened its brewery to tours for the first time. Thursday through Sunday, the 45-minute, $12 tours include a tasting and take-home pint glass. Reservations are required. Its beautiful taproom overlooking brewery operations features several favorites as well as a changing menu of limited releases that are exclusive to the taproom. It doesn’t serve food but you’re welcome to bring your own.

Photo by: Goose Island
Photo by: Goose Island

10 Amazing Historic Hotels in the Midwest

With a long history as an industrial manufacturing hub, the U.S. Midwest also is home to some of the nation’s finest hotels. But just as the fortunes of the region’s business barons have risen and fallen over the decades, so have many of its longest-standing hotels. Some of the Midwest’s most revered, historic hotels narrowly escaped fires, the Great Depression and the wrecking ball, but today, they are better than ever thanks to a new generation of forward-thinking preservationists. Here are 10 amazing historic hotels in the Midwest that are still open for business, and the stories behind them.

10. Palmer House Hilton -Chicago, IL

The iconic Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago got off to a most inauspicious start when the elegant hotel feel victim to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 only 13 days after its grand opening. But, business magnate and owner Potter Palmer quickly rebuilt the 1,641-room hotel which opened in late 1873 and has been a landmark ever since. Palmer’s wife Bertha decorated the hotel with opulent chandeliers, paintings and other art inspired by her French heritage including a majestic ceiling fresco by painter Louis Pierre Rigal. The decadent hotel has hosted everyone from Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde to U.S. presidents, and top entertainers such as Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald performed in its Golden Empire Room. A $170 million renovation has ensured the Palmer House’s place among the top hotels to be found anywhere. Afternoon tea in the lobby is not to be missed.

Photo by: Palmer House Hilton
Photo by: Palmer House Hilton

9. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza -Cincinnati, OH

Some hotels stand the test of time as a stunning architectural design achievement, like the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, an Art Deco masterpiece that’s a registered National Historic Landmark. Elaborately decorated with rare Brazilian rosewood paneling, two-story ceiling murals and original German silver-nickel sconces, the circa 1931 hotel in downtown Cincinnati is one of the world’s finest examples of French Art Deco style. Its Orchids at Palm Court is among the most beautiful restaurants in America, made even more memorable by Chef Todd Kelly, named the America Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year (2011-12). The opulent Hall of Mirrors ballroom has been at the heart of Cincinnati’s business and social scene for over 80 with its two-story ceilings, mezzanine and original light fixtures. The Netherland Plaza is connected to the 49-story Carew Tower which opened in 1931 and has an observation deck with sweeping views of the Ohio River Valley.

Photo by: Carlos Muela
Photo by: Carlos Muela

8. French Lick Resort -French Lick, IN

The mineral spring waters that abound in French Lick were once thought to be the elusive Fountain of Youth due to their reported restorative and healing qualities. This attraction gave birth to the luxurious French Lick Resort that opened in 1845 and continues to be a destination for travelers seeking memorable accommodations. The 443-rrom hotel was restored to its original grandeur via a $382 million restoration and expansion project that added a 42,000-square-foot casino and restored and reopened the historic “Hill” golf course that originally opened in 1917. Prior to the restoration, the hotel had declined under several different owners. Over the years, it has hosted numerous dignitaries and historic events including the 1931 Democratic Governors Conference where Franklin D. Roosevelt secured support for his party’s presidential nomination. Today, the opulent resort has an array of amenities including a 27,000-square-foot, world-class spa with 24 treatment rooms.

Photo by: Sceindy
Photo by: Sceindy

7. Westin Book Cadillac -Detroit, MI

The story of most buildings that stand idle for a quarter-century rarely end well, especially a luxury hotel like the Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit. Originally opened in 1924 as the tallest building in Detroit, the 33-story Hotel Book-Cadillac played host to eight U.S. presidents and the likes of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its heyday. It boasted more than 1,200 rooms as well as three ballrooms and various restaurants and shops. Its Italian Garden and Venetian Ballroom incorporated architectural elements from Europe, and the hotel was featured in “State of the Union” in 1947, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Alas, it closed in 1984 as Detroit’s own fortunes began to wane, only to be reborn in 2008 after a $190 million project restored it. Today, it features 455 hotel rooms and 67 luxury condos.

Photo by: Kathryn W Armstrong
Photo by: Kathryn W Armstrong

6. Hilton President Kansas City -Kansas City, MO

Known as the Hotel President when it opened in Kansas City in 1926, the Hilton President Kansas City has lived up to its name. The 453-room hotel hosted the 1928 Republican National Convention where Herbert Hoover received the party’s nomination. Three other U.S. presidents—Eisenhower, Truman and Nixon—have either stayed or visited the opulent hotel. Its Drum Room lounge became equally famous after opening in 1941, hosting the likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. The hotel closed in 1980 but soon was reborn as a smaller, 213-room luxury hotel following a $45 million restoration. Located in Kansas City’s vibrant Power and Light entertainment district, the Hilton’s immaculate lobby and mezzanine were meticulously restored, and its elegant Congress Ballroom features the original terrazzo floors installed in 1926. Its Walnut Room restaurant features original stained glass and majestic wood columns as well.

"Hotel President KC 01" by Nightryder84 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Hotel President KC 01” by Nightryder84Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

5. West Baden Springs Hotel -West Baden Springs, IN

Some hotels are famous for their history or their uniqueness and a few like the West Baden Springs Hotel are noted for both. The current West Baden Springs Hotel opened in 1902, but a hotel has occupied the site since 1855. In 1888, it was upgraded to a grand resort for the elite, complete with a casino and opera house. It burned to the ground in 1901 and was rebuilt just a year later with a spectacular circular design topped by an awe-inspiring 200-foot, free-span dome that was touted as the eighth wonder of the world. The Depression forced the closure of the hotel in 1932 and it later served as a seminary and private college. It reopened in 2007 as part of a special casino district in Indiana after a massive restoration.  The luxurious, 246-room hotel now features a formal garden, an 8,000-square-foot spa and 12,000-square-foot indoor pool.

Photo by: Bloomington Chamber
Photo by: Bloomington Chamber

4. The Pfister Hotel -Milwaukee, WI

When the Pfister Hotel opened in downtown Milwaukee in 1893 at a cost of nearly $1 million, it created a quite a stir with unheard of features like individual thermostat controls in each guestroom and electricity throughout the hotel (imagine that). Sporting a Romanesque Revival style, the Pfister also had two billiard rooms (one for both sexes) and a private bar for men only. Owner Charles Pfister utilized the hotel bearing his name to showcase his extensive art collection. Today, the Pfister’s priceless Victorian art is among the world’s top hotel art collections. In 1962, theater operator Ben Marcus purchased the aging hotel at auction. He restored the grand dame of Milwaukee hotels and added a 23-story guestroom tower. The 307-room hotel is now better than ever, with a top-notch spa and a 23rd floor martini and wine bar with great views of Lake Michigan.

Photo by: The Pfister Hotel
Photo by: The Pfister Hotel

3. Omni William Penn -Pittsburgh, PA

The Omni William Penn Pittsburgh was once the largest hotel between Pittsburgh and Chicago, with 1,600 guestrooms, when its 600-room, Grant Street Annex addition opened in 1929. The original hotel, opened in 1916 at a cost of $6 million, was industrialist Henry Clay Frick’s dream to build a Pittsburgh landmark to rival the Old World elegance he saw in European hotels. He hired noted architects Franklin Abbott and Benno Janssen to design the hotel, and he spared no expense. The Grand Ballroom on the 17th floor of the original hotel has been lavishly restored. With huge crystal chandeliers and opulent gold and white décor on two levels, the large ballroom looks like a scene from “The Great Gatsby.” Traditional afternoon tea is served at the William Penn, which recently received a multi-million-dollar renovation. It now has 597 guestrooms, 52,000 square feet of function space and multiple restaurants.

Omni William Penn Hotel
Photo by: Omni Hotels

2. Renaissance Cleveland Hotel -Cleveland, OH

Hotels have occupied the corner of Superior and Public Square in the heart of downtown Cleveland since 1812. Its current occupant, the Renaissance Cleveland, opened in 1918 as a 1,000-room luxury hotel with vaulted ceilings, high arched windows and an impressive marble fountain in the lobby. It is connected to the Terminal Tower building that opened in 1930 as the city’s rapid transit center. Today, the 52-story Terminal Tower is known as Tower City Center and features shops, restaurants, cinema and casino. After going through several names and owners over the years, the original Hotel Cleveland remains a luxury hotel with 441 guestrooms with marble bathrooms, 50 suites and three ballrooms among 64,000 square feet of function space. Its aptly-named Grand Ballroom can seat 2,900 people. Its San Souci restaurant features fine dining in elegant surroundings including pastoral murals and wood columns.

Photo by: Raw News
Photo by: Raw News

1. Omni Severin Hotel -Indianapolis, IN

The Omni Severin Hotel is one of the last original buildings standing in the Indianapolis Union Station Wholesale District. Built by Henry Severin, Jr. with help from the founders of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the hotel originally opened in 1913 as the Grand Hotel of Indianapolis. It thrived as a daily stream of train passengers arriving at adjacent Union Station needed a place to stay, and it continues today as the city’s longest-running luxury hotel. The Severin’s history is on display throughout the hotel. The original marble staircase remains, as does the crystal chandelier hanging outside the Severin Ballroom. The original 1913 mailbox serves as a working mailbox today, and original furniture from the hotel rests outside the elevator on each floor of the 424-room hotel. Completely modernized while retaining its historic charm, the Severin is connected via skywalks to the downtown Circle Center Mall and Indianapolis Convention Center.

Photo by: Omni Severin Hotel
Photo by: Omni Severin Hotel

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.