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America’s Great Cities: Walking Through History

Exploring America's great cities has become somewhat of a personal mission of mine. I love learning about our nation's rich history and seeing American attractions up close and personal. The US has so much great travel to offer if you know where to look. The best way to experience America's great cities can be different for each of us. For me, there's no better way to experience a city than hitting the streets for a walking tour.

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America's Great Cities | US Travel Tips | US Destinations | US Cities | Best Cities to Visit in America | Guide to US Travel

Exploring Urban America

Whether you're alone or following a local tour guide, actively exploring the local attractions is a great way to get a sense of a city's pride and personality. But for those of us who prefer to go-it-alone, technology has made it easy to explore and engage with a city.

I've created a collection of America's great cities featuring what I enjoy most about each one. So have fun exploring America's great cities through my lens! I hope it inspires you to hit the streets in your city or next time you're traveling.

New York City

New York truly is one of America's great cities. And my favorite place to wander and walk in NYC is Central Park. You really never know what you may encounter next. The park is full of trails and interesting things to see. It's one of the most iconic things to see in New York.

One of my fondest memories of NYC is the Spring day I spent walking through the park with nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. I was able to slow down long enough to really drink in the beauty of my surroundings and appreciate the small details that make this one of the world’s premier parks. From the school children playing to the lovers strolling hand-in-hand, this park has something for everyone.


While most people enjoy strolling the Miracle Mile, I typically prefer more culturally-rich endeavors. My first time in Chicago was really special to me, so it’s safe to say that I fell hard for this spectacular city. I could go on and on about the many reasons I love Chicago, but, for the sake of this post, I'll keep it brief.

One of the most controversial of America's great cities, Chicago has the best mixture of old and new that I’ve encountered in any of my US travels. I love the well-preserved history juxtaposed with the towering skyscrapers. But my favorite Chicago travel experience was cruising the Chicago River while admiring the amazing architecture.

Millennium Park is a great place for all first-time visitors to start their Chicago adventure. It’s bustling with people and energy no matter what time of year you visit. Take your time to explore the gardens and see the amazing sculpture before heading down the street to my favorite museum, The Chicago Institute of Art.


My visit to Boston was full of “first times”: my first New England experience, my first snow, my first encounter with Revolutionary War monuments. And although it was frigid, my beau and I decided to walk most of the Freedom Trail, a walking tour through the city’s rich Revolutionary War history. Seeing some of these sights really evoked a sense of pride and spoke to my love of all things Americana.

Washington DC

Everyone and I do mean everyone, should visit the nation’s capital. It’s hip, historic, and, best of all, a lot of the best things to do are FREE! Walking the streets of Washington DC is like taking a tour of American history throughout the decades. That's why Washington is one of America's great cities.

Seeing the many famous monuments of Washington DC took me right back to middle school American history class. Another great thing about visiting Washington DC was the stellar art and artifact collections in the various museums. No matter what you like, Washington DC has it! Just be sure not to miss the Air and Space Museum!


While most people don't think of Honolulu when they think of America's great cities, it's rich history puts this gem on my list. There are some many wonderful reasons to visit Honolulu, but one really stood out for me after visiting Pearl Harbor.

Now, I may not always be patriotic, but you can’t help feeling a twinge of patriotism and pride after seeing the memorial. Every aspect of our visit was inspiring and enlightening. You are engrossed from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave. The USS Arizona Memorial is truly breathtaking.

New Orleans

Make no mistake, I love visiting New Orleans. NOLA is like no other US city. To me, it’s the perfect destination if you like great food, fun people and good times in general. But there’s much more to the city than the “laissez le bon ton roulette” attitude. This city is steeped in history and culture, making it my favorite of America's great cities.

Like New York, New Orleans has always been a major US port city, meaning it was once an access point for immigrants entering the US. As a result, the city has a diverse history and unique culture second to none in my opinion. I feel most “at home” walking the streets of the historic French Quarter than anywhere else on the great big globe.


Philly also has a special place in my heart and not for the reason you might think. Sure the food was great and the people were lovely. The museums and galleries were terrific, and vintage shopping was incredible.

But what I loved most about Philadelphia was the connection to American history I felt while walking the streets of Old Philadelphia on the Constitutional Walking Tour. I never thought seeing the Liberty Bell or Benjamin Franklin’s home would move me the way it did. It really is cracked, y'all!

San Francisco

Steeped in history and shrouded in fog, San Francisco has to be on the list of America's great cities. Walking the streets of San Francisco had long been a dream of mine. So when we recently visited I wasn’t surprised to find that I loved the city.

There are truly so many highlights to this historic American city: The Mission District, The Embarcadero, Fisherman’s Wharf, Telegraph Hill, Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, Haight-Ashbury, and the list could go on and on. My absolute favorite part of our trip to San Francisco was touring the Mission District with camera in hand. I truly loved seeing the many beautiful murals and street art collections. The messages were clear and powerful: this city belongs to the people!

What do you love about your city?

I hope you've enjoyed my whirlwind tour of America's great cities. I'm a firm believer that every city has something unique to offer visitors. No matter where I go, I always look for ways to connect with the local culture.

Often times I rely on travel guides for tips on where to go and what to do. But I'd like to hear from readers about their favorite things to do in their own city. Tell me more about your hometown in the comments below!

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  • Reply
    May 21, 2016 at 6:41 am

    Washington DC is the only one I’ve been to! Lol. Clearly I have some traveling to do.

    • Reply
      May 21, 2016 at 8:54 am

      No worries, Jessica! We all have unique travel interests, which is why traveling is so special to us. There are many other amazing cities in the US that are worth visiting, too.

  • Reply
    Rob Taylor
    May 22, 2016 at 7:11 am

    I so very much agree about DC and Philly. Two amazing cities and worth the time. And I always appreciate the free stuff. And SF is amazing too, but then I lived there and totally did leave my heart in San Francisco.

    • Reply
      May 22, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      DC and Philly are perfect places to take kids no matter what age! FREE attractions that they can later relate to in class 🙂

  • Reply
    May 23, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I too love walking and exploring whenever I am in a new city. I walk around the city for hours and hours, taking in the sights and sounds and literally soaking in the spirit of the city.

    • Reply
      May 24, 2016 at 7:40 am

      The “spirit” of the city is exactly right! Each city has it’s own vibe, personality and spirit. I really loved that aspect of all these places, most surprisingly Columbus, Ohio.

  • Reply
    May 24, 2016 at 4:34 am

    I haven’t been in America yet but I’ve heard great stories about San Francisco. I’m not a city person but when I do end up in one, I love to wander the streets and get lost and like you, taking photos of everything that catches my attention!

    • Reply
      May 24, 2016 at 7:36 am

      I could wander just about any city’s streets taking pics. It’s my passion. I like the countryside, too, like you.

  • Reply
    Kevin Wagar
    May 30, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Amazing list of some great US cities to visit. I count myself lucky to have seen almost all of these. Looks like I need to hit Columbus to fill the void!

    • Reply
      May 30, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Yes, Kevin, you must! It’s a creative place with plenty of energy and youthfulness. I loved it!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2016 at 8:23 am

    Glad to see a New England town making the list! I love my home state of New Hampshire- you should visit Portsmouth- great artsy town.

    • Reply
      August 17, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      Ooooo, I would love it then! I’ve never been to NH. I’ve got to add it to the list!!!

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