Just in time for summer, we’ve got the best neighborhoods to explore across the United States. With sights ranging from modern skyscrapers to historic streets, these must-see hoods are tops for travelers. How many of these iconic areas have you checked off your travel life list? Weigh in with your experiences in the comments below.
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles
One of Southern California's most coveted addresses, Beverly Hills became a haven for the starts during the Roaring '20s, when Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, and dozens of other film luminaries built mansions here. Go for the glamour, the restaurants, and the scene. For a Hollywood-influenced stay, choose from the iconic pink Beverly Hills Hotel or the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons, made famous in Pretty Woman.
Downtown Deadwood, South Dakota
For a step back into the Wild West, there’s no place like Deadwood. Nearly $300 million has been dedicated to restoring this once infamous gold-mining boomtown, which has earned recognition as a National Historic Landmark. Small gaming halls, good restaurants, and hotels occupy virtually every storefront on Main Street, just as they did back in the city’s late-19th-century heyday.
The French Quarter, New Orleans
Since Hurricane Katrina, the French Quarter has resumed its role as a major center for entertainment in New Orleans. Music pours from the doorways of bars as freely as the drinks flow within them; on an ordinary evening a stroll through the Quarter is a moving concert, where the strains of traditional jazz, blues, classic rock and roll, and electronic dance beats all commingle.
Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
Long before the District of Columbia was formed, Washington's oldest and wealthiest neighborhood was a separate city with a harbor full of ships and warehouses filled with tobacco. Today Georgetown retains its own unique identity while being one of Washington's main areas for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and boutiques.
Greenwich Village, New York
It’s no longer a haven for folk singers and artists (real-estate prices are now among the highest of any New York neighborhood), but you can still sense a touch of bohemian ambience amid the Village’s restaurants, boutiques, and low-rise residential streets. It’s not hard to imagine turning a corner and bumping into Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.
Historic District, Charleston, South Carolina
Wandering through Charleston’s Historic District, you would swear it's a movie set. Steeples of more than 180 churches punctuate the low skyline, and horse-drawn carriages pass centuries-old mansions. Happily, after three centuries of epidemics, fires, and hurricanes Charleston has endured to become one of the South's best-preserved cities.
The Loop, Chicago
Known as the Loop since the cable cars of the 1880s looped around the central business district, downtown Chicago today pulses with latte-toting professionals scurrying between high-rise architectural landmarks. Between the stunning towers and Lake Shore Drive, Grant Park and Millennium Park are havens for relaxation amid gorgeous landscaping and modern sculpture.
North Beach, San Francisco
Beyond the aromas of cappuccino and focaccia, the café tables spilling onto the sidewalk, and the convivial air, North Beach is alive with the spirit of the Beatniks, those revolutionary artists who electrified San Francisco and shocked the country in the 1950s and '60s. The rhythm of Beat poetry, inspired by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, still pulses in San Francisco’s traditional Italian neighborhood.
South Beach, Miami Beach
The hub of Miami Beach is South Beach, and its main drag is the lively Ocean Drive, which is lined with vintage art deco hotels that are worth exploring even if you’re staying somewhere else. In South Beach life unfolds 24 hours a day: beautiful people pose in hotel lounges and sidewalk cafés, tanned cyclists zoom past palm trees, and visitors flock to see the action.
The Strip, Las Vegas
The Vegas Strip is a place unique unto itself, part lounge act, part amusement park ride, part glitzy hotel, part world-class restaurant—and oh yes, they gamble here, too. It’s a monument to self-indulgence that would satisfy a Roman emperor, but could only be found in America.