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Old 11-08-2020, 01:02 PM
 
Location: Cole Valley, CA
791 posts, read 339,419 times
Reputation: 1435

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Hello all.

My wife and I enjoy travel and have traveled quite a bit. We've started to prefer the more off-the-beaten-trail places over the big hits. In Europe, for example, we'd prefer Delft, Krakow, and Budapest over Paris, London and Rome. We're also trying to get a more authentic feel of the places we visit. For example, I'll often spend a good deal of time in local markets looking at all of the produce and products of the area. We also like to see live music at smaller venues and find pubs and cafes inhabited by locals.

One thing we've done is sort of ignored the travel in the US where we live (San Francisco). I'm originally from Wisconsin and we've been there, Chicago, Boston, NYC, up and down the West Coast, and to Utah, Arizona, and New Orleans. However, I've started wondering about lesser known location in the US - Portland ME, Ashland NC, Bowling Green KY....I wonder what Buffalo, NY or Colombus, OH are like?

Can anyone suggest any nice places in the US that are sort of off the tourist trap trail and still have a sense of place and character?
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Old 11-08-2020, 09:17 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
28,368 posts, read 47,357,571 times
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Well that would be a pretty huge list, since much of America has surprisingly nice towns (very taste dependent). There is a lot of variety of your interests (Markets, food, pubs, music...) in USA, even within towns.

Of course you can pick out those who are known for this in each state, (Such as Boulder, CO and Ashville, NC, Manchester, NH, Burlington, VT, Door County area of WI and the very fertile areas of UP / northern Michigan). I was pleasantly surprised by Greenville, SC and also with the Farmer's Market in Kingsport, TN ( A Chemical factory town...)

Go out exploring using a theme. We did a RTW purposing to see Botanical Gardens, different intensive AG, Fiber arts and wool production. Also did a USA trip focusing on State Fairs and the 4-h / educational learning's at each. Many people travel and follow folk festivals (non Covid era), others follow guides like "Road Food", "Scenic Byways", and unique attractions (Roadside America).

There are some really great markets / market venues within a day trip of SF area.

In Europe and Asia I often visit the 'minor cites' rather than fight the traffic / hassle of big cities. (Which I often visit early on Saturday and Sunday mornings (if at all). ) Establishing local relationships really helps to find your 'pot-o-gold' / unique qualities of an area. We seldom stay at a hotel / commercial accommodations.

Lots of treasures out there, but you gotta 'Dig-them-up' and look for the silver lining in each endeavor.(Typically not what you plan for or expect, or try to create)

Example is finding a very unique museum in a non-important small town and a local curator who can spend all day with you since they probably won't have another visitor that day.

There are also some small regions in USA who are doing a 'cluster' type accumulation of themes / reason to visit. (Similar to Napa Valley theme / tours).
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Old 11-09-2020, 02:21 AM
 
1,335 posts, read 574,707 times
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Bluefield, VA/WV. Seemed like we had fallen into a Twilight Zone of familiarity, we kept running into the same people over again, nodding their recognition when we passed by. I almost expected to meet a smiling Dick York.
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Old 11-09-2020, 04:04 AM
Status: "is it true, is it fair, is it necessary?" (set 28 days ago)
 
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Jim Thorpe- In PA. Absolutely stunning scenery and the quant train ride is worthy of mention.
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Old 11-09-2020, 11:20 AM
 
2,881 posts, read 4,550,962 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dapper Zoom View Post
Hello all.

My wife and I enjoy travel and have traveled quite a bit. We've started to prefer the more off-the-beaten-trail places over the big hits. In Europe, for example, we'd prefer Delft, Krakow, and Budapest over Paris, London and Rome. We're also trying to get a more authentic feel of the places we visit. For example, I'll often spend a good deal of time in local markets looking at all of the produce and products of the area. We also like to see live music at smaller venues and find pubs and cafes inhabited by locals.

One thing we've done is sort of ignored the travel in the US where we live (San Francisco). I'm originally from Wisconsin and we've been there, Chicago, Boston, NYC, up and down the West Coast, and to Utah, Arizona, and New Orleans. However, I've started wondering about lesser known location in the US - Portland ME, Ashland NC, Bowling Green KY....I wonder what Buffalo, NY or Colombus, OH are like?

Can anyone suggest any nice places in the US that are sort of off the tourist trap trail and still have a sense of place and character?
I know the Northeast more extensively so I’ll limit myself to those states (plus OH). As a big fan of the different styles of American pre-WWII residential architecture, I have found that many cities and towns have neighborhoods that are very interesting to walk (or sometimes drive). Some places in the Rust Belt are also rather impressive although sad (because of blight). Some of my personal favorites:

Pittsburgh has amazing hilly scenery that I will never be tired of, very distinct neighborhoods, and a few good museums. Not the greatest ‘local market’ vibe though. Cincy is Pittsburgh’s little brother, many similar features.

Buffalo’s Elmwood Village neighborhood has plenty or quirky and hip shops. The Albright-Knox museum is good. The adjacent Delaware Avenue neighborhood (and its Flank Lloyd Wright mansions) is great. Buffalo’s downtown itself has good early skyscraper architecture. Not nearly as interesting as Boston or SF but certainly underrated given how many people write it off as a dump. Rochester also has a few interesting things too, and the whole Finger Lakes region is very pretty (hills and lakes, Chautauqua Institution, Corning glass shops and museum of glass).

Portsmouth NH, Newport RI and Bath ME are my personal favorites among coastal cities in the East. All 3 are prettier than Portland ME, although Portland is alright and of course larger. If you visit during shoulder season instead of mid-summer you will also find life at a very different pace there and in the nicer-looking towns all over the Maine coast (Wiscasset, Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, Camden, Bar Harbor).

I have never really cared much for Burlington VT but I can understand the appeal. As far as college towns go, I prefer Hanover NH, Ithaca NY and Brunswick ME. Nearby Middlebury VT has maybe the prettiest rural university campus though.

To understand the Rust Belt, a drive down the Ohio River valley from Pittsburgh to Parkersburg WV would truly be eye-opening. The combination of great scenery, huge factories (some still operating) and once-gorgeous decrepit main streets in small towns is very striking. Places like Wheeling WV, Beaver PA and Marietta OH have great bones.

The Jersey Shore gets a bad rap and some of it is nondescript but Cape May and Ocean Grove are two gems. If you can visit in June or better in September you will find great beach towns with grand Victorian architecture.

Since you asked about Columbus: it’s underrated IMO but that’s not saying much. The downtown is surrounded by some interesting neighborhoods, not as gritty or historic as Cleveland or Cincy though. Cleveland/Akron has a good set of museums and very good-looking old money suburbs (Shaker Heights, Northwest Akron).
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Old 11-09-2020, 08:57 PM
 
4,147 posts, read 5,955,096 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dapper Zoom View Post
Hello all.

I've started wondering about lesser known location in the US - Portland ME, Ashland NC, Bowling Green KY....I wonder what Buffalo, NY or Colombus, OH are like?
Bowling Green KY has the Corvette Museum and factory.

Buffalo, NY is near world-famous famous Niagara Falls. The better part of the falls is on the Canadian side which requires a passport (after the travel ban is lifted).

Ashland, NC - no such place. Asheboro has the NC state Zoo. Asheville is a very popular city with a hippie, artistic, liberal vibe, and the gateway to tons of hiking, recreation and mountain attractions. Many retirees there. It's somewhat expensive.
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Old 11-09-2020, 09:55 PM
 
6,074 posts, read 5,970,420 times
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Sounds like you are mainly interested in cities & towns over countryside.

If so, here are some possibilities:

Taos, NM. Obviously not completely off tourist trail but off it compared to Sante Fe.

Livingston MT. Or Buffalo WY.

Bisbee AZ. (Touristy but not like some big name places.)

Maybe Walla Walla WA if you are into wine.

Fredricksburg TX or smaller hill county towns near it.

Staunton VA or nearby.

Berlin, NH.

Berea KY.

Beaufort SC.

Breaux Bridge LA.

Last edited by NW Crow; 11-09-2020 at 10:25 PM..
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Old 11-09-2020, 10:17 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
28,368 posts, read 47,357,571 times
Reputation: 33715
here is a list of trendy small towns (in the USA 'South' Some are really great winter / early spring spots...
https://www.chron.com/life/travel/ar...h-15713250.php
Here are the small town gems across America that made the list:

Beaufort, South Carolina
Fredericksburg, Texas
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Williamsburg, Virginia
Mount Dora, Florida
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Fairhope, Alabama
Ponchatoula, Louisiana
Isle of Hope, Georgia
Maysville, Kentucky
Oracoke Island, North Carolina
Jonesborough, Tennessee
St. Augustine, Florida
Covington, Georgia
Berkley Springs, West Virginia
Boone, North Carolina
Leiper's Fork, Tennessee
Dahlonega, Georgia
Rugby, Tennessee
Manteo, North Carolina
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Oxford, Mississippi
Jefferson, Texas

In WA...
Bellingham / Fairhaven
Poulsbo
Pt Townsend
LaConner
Gig Harbor
Leavenworth
Twisp
Walla Walla

ID has some really nice (scenic) towns
Sandpoint
Coeur d'Alene
Moscow
McCall
Alpine
Salmon

Colorado has too many to list! (I grew up in Estes Park in it's prime (1950 - 1970))
Tough to beat Ouray, Telluride, Ridgway

Montana treasures... Big Sky, Columbia Falls, Thompson Falls, Missoula...

WY... my favorite is Burgess Jct (population 5?) https://travelwyoming.com/listing/lo...visitor-center

SD...
Hill City (Hotel that only serves Filet Migon one night / week. it's great!)
Spearfish is nice too.


Nebraska is a foodie bonus!!! Lots of unique faire from Nebraska.
Paxson is a nice stop to see dead wildlife from around the world. (Bring some friends! https://www.olesbiggame.com/oles-big-game-coach/)
https://www.olesbiggame.com/

Minden has the treasure of "Pioneer Village" (Private collection)

Valentine is a true 'Sandhill small town'.

Then if you are not cooking your own via "Manifold Destiny" (cooking on your car engine while you drive)...
find good eats and friends here:
https://roadfood.com/
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Old 11-12-2020, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Cole Valley, CA
791 posts, read 339,419 times
Reputation: 1435
Thanks for the wonderful responses everyone. Now I'm sad that I don't have more vacation time.

Bookmarked thread for future research.
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Old 11-12-2020, 05:17 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
11,491 posts, read 6,362,108 times
Reputation: 21866
Quote:
Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
Well that would be a pretty huge list, since much of America has surprisingly nice towns (very taste dependent). There is a lot of variety of your interests (Markets, food, pubs, music...) in USA, even within towns.



Go out exploring using a theme. We did a RTW purposing to see Botanical Gardens, different intensive AG, Fiber arts and wool production. Also did a USA trip focusing on State Fairs and the 4-h / educational learning's at each. Many people travel and follow folk festivals (non Covid era), others follow guides like "Road Food", "Scenic Byways", and unique attractions (Roadside America).
The theme idea is a good one. I’ve met people who were going to see minor league baseball parks and games. My hobby is visiting historic hotels on some cool places. Go visit wine regions in the US. Some people visit civil war sites. There are some nice overlooked towns in all of those theme trips.

Some of my favorites:
Las Vegas, NM
Durango, CO
Buffalo, WY
Winston Salem, NC
Marion, KS
Rhine beck, NY
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