• Why We Love Conde Naste Traveler’s 10 Most Underrated American Cities: Part II

  • by Lauren Russell

In October, Conde Naste Traveler released its 2014 list of the 10 Most Underrated American Cities and unveiled to readers just what they may be missing out on. After checking out the list, we did our own research on these cities and fell even more in love. In the first post of this two-part blog series, we showed you why we love Portland, Baltimore, Athens, St. Petersburg, and Birmingham. In this second part, we’ll show you why we love the list’s other five most underrated cities in America.

#6 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Named the Best All-American Vacation by The Travel Channel, Pittsburgh is a city of firsts including the first polio vaccine, Ferris wheel, and internet emoticon.  : )

Restaurants: Opened in 1933, Primanti Bros. quickly became a Pittsburgh tradition with its famous sandwiches, which come stuffed with French fries and coleslaw. For fancier dining, try Grand Concourse, an historic restaurant inside a restored railroad station that offers homemade pastas and some of the most grandiose décor we’ve ever seen.

Attractions: History buffs and veterans will enjoy the Southwestern Pennsylvania World War II Memorial, a monument made from stainless steel spires and glass that pays homage to those who fought in World War II and those who worked in the Pittsburgh mills that produced one third of the steel that was used for artillery in the war. For a unique experience, visit The Mattress Factory, a museum of contemporary art with irreplaceable works from artists around the world.

#7 – Detroit, MI      

We may be a little biased (it’s the home to one of our offices, after all), but we think Detroit is the best city on this list! Getting to experience the greatness of this city every day, we could write multiple posts on why we love Detroit – from the rising art scene and amazing architecture, to the unique restaurants and deep history. Mostly, we love the hope and “can’t knock us down” attitude of Detroiters.

Restaurants: Dine on wood smoked meats paired with one of five house sauces in Slows Bar BQ, a popular barbecue joint that also serves craft beer. Of course, we can’t leave out Coney Island – a Michigan staple. While you’ll find a number of Coney Islands in Michigan, American Coney Island in Detroit is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) of the Greek American restaurants in the state. Make sure you order the famous Coney Dog, a crisp hot dog that comes topped with beanless chili, onion, and mustard.

Attractions: Revel in Detroit’s art culture inside an unexpected place – a parking garage. Each floor of “The Z” parking structure features murals by local and international artists and muralists. If you’re a fan of Motown music, you can’t leave Detroit without visiting Hitsville U.S.A, Mowtown’s original headquarters, now a museum, where the Temptations, the Supremes, and Marvelettes recorded hits.

#8 – Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff is so cool, even a meteor wanted to visit it about 50,000 years ago. At least that’s what is evidenced by one of the world’s best preserved meteorite impact sites. Along with a 550-foot-deep crater, Flagstaff offers a number of attractions.

Restaurants: Watch where you are going because you may just pass Speakeasy, a new American restaurant and lounge that features live piano music and is located on a side street in what it calls “the most unlikely of places.” Said to have one of the best bloody Marys in town, Criollo is a popular brunch and happy hour spot that serves Latin inspired, locally grown foods including slow roasted pork belly tacos and seared salmon tostadas.

Attractions: Get a glimpse of the galaxy at Lowell Observatory, which allows visitors to view space from a number of telescopes and learn more about the great beyond through multimedia shows and exhibits. Open May through October, The Arboretum features 2,500 species of plants and specializes in plants that thrive in high elevation.

#9 – Boise, Idaho

Conde Nast Traveler also titled Boise “The West’s Best-Kept Secret,” noting the city’s wine scene and sense of optimism. This isn’t the first time Boise has been recognized in media with flattering articles in Men’s Health, Life, and Women’s Health to name a few. We personally love the city’s open space reserves – more than 150 miles of trail and 4,000 acres of historically-, ecologically-, or culturally-significant protected properties.

Restaurants: The local fare on Bittercreek Alehouse’s seasonal menu includes cheese boards, poutine, and grass-fed beef and lamb burgers. If you like potatoes, you may want to visit Boise Fry Company, an eco-friendly restaurant that serves hamburgers atop a potato bun and makes eight types of fries from six different potatoes.

Attractions: Experience 100 years of Idaho’s prison system with a visit to the Old Idaho Penitentiary, where you can view solitary confinement, cell blocks, and gallows of the prison that opened in 1872. For a variety of attractions all in one place, visit Julia Davis Park, which is home to the Idaho Black History Museum, Zoo Boise, and a new cancer survivors’ plaza that features inspirational plaques, colorful landscaping, and a kinetic wind sculpture by a local artist.

#10 – Oakland, California

Often called the “New Brooklyn” or “Brooklyn of the West,” Oakland has seen a surge of San Francisco transplants along with young residents and young families moving in to enjoy the urban space and cheaper rent. Residents and visitors alike will find there is much to do in the Oakland area.

Restaurants: Burma Superstar’s menu comes packed with Burmese entrees with influences from India, China, Laos, and Thailand. For soul food with an elegant twist, visit Brown Sugar Kitchen, which also features wines from California African-American vintners and bottles from France.

Attractions: If you visit Morcom Rose Garden between late April and October, you’ll find exotic roses in bloom by the thousands. To view interesting artifacts year round, visit the Pardee Home Museum, which is the old residence of one of California’s most influential families. The home’s exterior displays great architecture, while inside the home plays host to a collection of 70,000 objects from around the world.

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