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Visiting Cities

I like to visit cities. And I think most people would probably agree that they enjoy visiting new cities. But the cities we often visit are highly skewed by size. Bigger cities attract more visitors under the belief that they have more going on, and more stuff worth seeing and doing.

Every time I express interest in visiting a smaller city, one that's not one of America's top ten by size (think New York or San Francisco) or known for being a tourist destination (think Las Vegas or Orlando) I get the inevitable question response: why?

(from Flickr user sagarmohan)

When people look at a smaller city and say "there's nothing to do there" or "there's nothing going on there," what they typically mean is, "there isn't an abundance of cheesy touristy stuff there," to which I respond, who cares?

From my perspective, small cities are often ideal for short weekend visits. Hotels are inexpensive, things to do are inexpensive, and frankly, doing 'local-favorite' stuff can often be the most fun anyway. Obviously small cities have things to do, locals spend their time doing something... and usually you only have to ask to find out what those things are.

Time is finite, so even in a place with infinite things to do, only so many of them can be done in a single weekend. Even native New Yorkers often admit they have never experienced many of them gems of the Big Apple. How can a weekend traveler expect to experience them all as well?

This isn't meant to say that big cities aren't worth visiting. Indeed, they are very fun, and I've visited many of them myself in the past few years, but small cities have things to offer too. Maybe they aren't places you could ever imaging living full-time, but for a short visit, they can be fantastic.

Comments

Dave Reid said…
Agreed. Visiting all sorts of cities really is fun, and informative. PS put Milwaukee on your list!
Peter said…
I think I've decided that my favorite town in all of America is Augusta, GA -- just the mile or so that is downtown/Broad St. It's technically the second-biggest city in GA after Atlanta, but I only dig the downtown part. It's just excellent in every way, and is going to be even much better if they allow people to start biking around there.

As I develop my own personal philosophy/plan for how to energize downtowns/cities, I'm going to recommend they emulate the best of Broad St, Augusta, GA.
John Morris said…
I wish more small cities and cities in general had a single day when they opened up lots of buildings for tours.

Have you ever heard of Doors Open?

I went to a great event in Lowell, Mass a few years back.

http://www.doorsopenlowell.org/

I think this is done in other cities but rarely on a big scale.
John Morris said…
Pete,

Could you be more specific about what makes Augusta's downtown great.
Kristen said…
Can't agree more, plus, you should come visit us in Greensboro. We have a couple nice urbanist areas and our First Fridays are always awesome with lots of music, vendors and art galleries open and ready.

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