What are the best overlooked cities in the U.S.? Well, of course, the first question to answer is: What is meant by overlooked? Frankly, I don’t know the answer to that question. So here’s six U.S. cities that I know about that you may have overlooked. To continue to do so would be a shame.
If you think Portland, Oregon, doesn’t qualify as an overlooked city, let me ask you if you know this: depending on the direction you head, within an hour or so you can see whales in the ocean, snow on a mountain in the middle of summer, a Native American settlement on a rocky landscape that looks like something out of a John Ford movie and the most beautiful waterfall in America. That’s not even to mention the historical significance of Luis’ La Bamba, the Portland Farmers’ Market and all those roses. No matter the time of the year, Portland is worth the visit and yet you will still overlook some of its magic.
Some cities are impossible to overlook unless you don’t live anywhere near them. If you live in Dixie and you have managed to overlook the shock of discovering an Alpine village nestled in the region, then you have no excuse. The weather rarely cooperates, but aside from that, a weekend in Helen, Georgia, is almost like spending a weekend in some little hamlet in the Alps. Anna Ruby Falls is no Multnomah, true, but one thing that Helen does have over Portland is Charlemagne’s Kingdom. When you visit this vast spread of model railroad track, see if you can find the flying saucers. Also of interest among those looking for the best overlooked cities in the U.S.: this one has some really fine miniature golf.
Go there anytime. In state that offers the coolness of Austin, the Riverwalk of San Antonio, the outrageous runaway capitalism of Houston and Dealey Park in Dallas, it can be easy to overlook the little hamlet of Marfa. Unless, that is, you enjoy either the sight of unexplained lights in the sky or the the sight of a bunch of conspiracy nuts going all Dale Gribble over the Marfa Lights. If you have any interest in UFOs or debunking them through science, Marfa, Texas, deserves to no longer be on your own list of most overlooked cities in the U.S..
Wilmington, North Carolina
You want to know how overlooked a U.S. city is Wilmington, N.C.? I’ll bet you didn’t know that it is up there with with Los Angeles and New York as being one of the most filmed locations for Hollywood movies these days. Stephen King’s dome fell over the town of Wilmington. If for some reason you want relive some scenes from David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” or conjure up some of the scares from “The Conjuring” then Wilmington should no longer be overlooked. Do me a solid, would you? Head to Wilmington and find out what in the name of all that is decent is keeping “Sleepy Hollow” on the air. The best time to travel to Wilmington? When your favorite actors arrive for location shooting.
Don’t let the fact that both Mitch McConnell and one of the unreal wives found in an Atlanta house were once residents of this Tuscumbia. The fact that Helen Keller grew up here more than makes up for those failures and others. Tuscumbia qualifies as one of the best overlooked cities in the U.S. precisely because it is home to a real celebrity and a real factor in political progression. You’ve seen “The Miracle Worker” scene where Anne Bancroft teaches Patty Duke the meaning of the word water by using a pump outside the house, right? Well, Tuscumbia is a mecca for all those who want to experience a tactile sensation of a world being changed. The real water pump is still there. You can go to it and see it and in that moment of realization you will, I assure you, never want to hear another word from Mitch McConnell’s funny face or tune in to a TV show that is more lacking in any sense of reality than a schizophrenic’s voices. Oh, and one of the Munchkins lived there too.
How can Salem, Mass. be one of the best overlooked cities in the U.S.? Because you only ever hear about it during October. Usually right around the 31st of that month. There is more to Salem than a memorable Halloween. Salem is the very epitome of a pop culture truism: given enough time, all tragedy becomes entertainment for the masses. Go to Salem and soak in the city’s preoccupation with witchcraft not from a historical viewpoint, but from the perspective of a pop cultural studies. Everywhere you turn are icons of the witch hunt. But go beyond those icons to examine how Salem proves the unthinkable: one day even the sites of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, will become entertainment. You may actually need to go Salem in order to believe that.