It’s fairly easy to recommend popular tourist-friendly cities but much harder to find truly unique cities. There are hundreds of lists just waiting to tell you all about how great a trip to San Francisco or New York City could be, if you’re looking for certain hot spots of culture or the melting pot of cuisine for whichever coast you prefer.
Suggesting something more unique cities is much harder. There are more cities in the world than we’ll ever have the time or money to visit yet many of us are content visiting only the most popular or the most well-explored among them. Instead, we’re going to take a look at eight of the best cities to visit for those with an interest in the unique, the relatively unexplored or just those with a taste for stepping off the beaten path. You may have to rethink what qualifies as the coolest or most unique cities to visit after you’ve seen some of these oddities.
So what are the most Unique Cities?
1) Camden, Maine
2) Battambang, Cambodia
If you want to try something overseas without going straight to Siem Reap, Battambang offers up some of the Cambodian charm yet lacks the drawing power that might clog it with tourists. You won’t visit Angkor Wat, sure, but there are plenty of Buddhist temples to visit and outdoor enthusiasts will find no lack of spots to go for a swim, country roads to bike along or hiking trails to partake in.
3) Mackinac Island, Michigan
Suggesting Mackinac is nearly cheating, as it’s not so much a city so much as an odd spot for those with a distaste for driving: Thanks to island ordinance, there are no cars to be seen. Spending your day away from the hustle and bustle of city life in one of the only places in the world to lack motor vehicles might seem odd, but there is an upside in the island’s abundance of fudge and a love for sweets. That’s probably worth a stop, right?
4) Cienfuegos, Cuba
Cuban vacations might lead most to Havana, but you can explore one of the nation’s best-kept secrets in Cienfuegos. If you have an interest in Cuban heritage and the arts you’ll be right at home, considering the city holds several of Cuba’s best artists, musical performers and even an orchestra or two. It’s an unusual stop and just may be the one of the unique cities to visit that hasn’t been discovered yet.
5) Chattanooga, Tennessee
Barbecue. There’s plenty of barbecue. If that isn’t enough to draw your attention, Chattanooga does pride itself on being a cozy tourist spot that isn’t at the top of many people’s lists, which gives it an odd sort of outsider accessibility while still holding itself up to the standards of a tourist-friendly town. It’s nestled in just the right spot to go for an afternoon of horseback riding, whiskey-tasting and a diversion into the local music scene.
6) Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
If you actually know someone who has vacationed in Idaho, congratulations! You might just be friends with someone who is 1) somewhat strange, or 2) from Idaho. As it turns out, Coeur d’Alene has more to see than you’d expect out of your average Idaho trip as long as you have an enjoyment for the outdoors and a love of water. With boating, fishing, swimming and even a golf course with a hole that requires a boat ride to reach, you can spend the week getting wet and then unwind over the weekend with the shopping centers of the metropolitan.
7) Ostuni, Puglia, Italy
More of a hillside town than a proper city, Ostuni is worth a visit just to experience old world design in a modern world. This unique city was built without plans, leading to a wide web of streets that might leave you more turned around than is entirely necessary, but the city’s beautiful cathedral and seaside view are worth the confusion.
8) Louisville, Kentucky
If there’s one thing the South does properly, it’s food. Louisville hosts a food scene with more restaurants than you’ll have the stomach space to visit and that soundly makes it one of the most unique cities to visit for those with a love of eating. It’s not all barbecue, either, with food tourism stops that serve up everything from sushi to French-American fusion cuisine.