Sometimes when we write something less-than-positive about a place, nobody gives a shit. Like Savannah. We didn’t really like Savannah all that much, wrote about it, nobody cared. Savannah doesn’t care what our blog says, what we think. Other times, like with Salt Lake City and the Salton Sea and Austin, people tell us how we’re wrong. They’re offended, hurt, angry. I have theories about this. I don’t think it’s caused by the inland salt water, though that could be a contributing factor.
There’s something going on similar to Stockholm Syndrome where the afflicted haven’t really been anywhere (or are trapped somewhere through circumstance) so they think whatever they’ve been stuck with / has kidnapped them is the greatest place in the world. It’s sort of why people who are born in certain places turn into wildly-passionate sports fans for the local team. The team just happened to be nearby, therefore it is the greatest team in the world. I want to study it. But before that, I’m going to lay it all out there, put all the cities on a list, show them all where they stand.
It should be noted that this list is entirely scientific, not subjective at all. It includes anywhere of note we’ve visited over the last few years, mostly in the last nine months. So without further ado …
Well … minus this caveat – the rankings are relatively bullshit. The groupings are more distinctive. Think of them like the Richter Scale – the places in the group above are 10x better (yes, better) than the ones in the group below. Within the groups, they’re in order, but is position 47 that much different than 48? No. They’re basically the same. Taos and Sedona are both shit. Because of this, the middle is not numbered.
And this other caveat … even Lisa disagrees with this list in places.
Really Special Places — These places are special and unique and rare.
- Paris. Yep, Paris is on top. I’d live here in a second – the second after I convince Lisa it’s a good idea. We spent 10 days here a couple years ago and can’t wait to go back.
- Durango, CO. But you already knew we liked Durango.
- Boston, MA. Top big(ger) city in America. Who knew? We like confusing streets and old buildings. We’d love to live in Boston, but we’d probably have to get real jobs to swing it. NOT getting real jobs is more important to us than living in Boston.
- Charleston, SC. The Boston of the South. We loved it here. Slavery associations hold it down though. Fantastic food.
- Paso Robles, CA. Our new favorite wine area. Good tacos too.
- New Orleans, LA. Loved this town. I’d live here. Another one I’d have to convince Lisa on. She’d rather just visit again / more often.
- Bisbee, AZ. Favorite place in Arizona. Another place with old, meandering streets and decaying buildings.
- Indian Pass, FL / St Joseph Peninsula. My new favorite place in Florida and home to the trip’s best oysters.
Great Places — Just not quite top-tier but worth singling out.
- Chicago, IL. We lived here for eight years. They were good years.
- New York, NY. We considered moving here after college. I’d like to spend a good couple months living here.
- Los Angeles, CA. Just avoid driving as much as possible and its wonderful here.
- Ithaca, NY. It’s a great place. The Finger Lakes are wonderful. There’s wine. There’s Wegman’s. There’s a phenomenal farmers’ market.
- Boise, ID. Hidden gem of the Rockies. Great hot springs too.
- Seattle, WA. Boston + Chicago on the west coast.
Honorable Mention (slightly random order) — Places where the positives outweigh the negatives. Good places to live, etc.
- Milwaukee, WI. I grew up here. It’s a good place – especially if you like your beer.
- Charleston, WV. Didn’t see this one coming and really liked the time we spent there.
- Ketchum, ID. Second favorite mountain town after Durango. Boise isn’t more of a mountain city.
- Healdsburg, CA. Our old favorite wine town. Paso dethroned it.
- Carpinteria, CA. Our favorite California beach city.
- Silverton, CO. Durango-adjacent, beautiful.
- Tucson, AZ. Our favorite city in Arizona. Not a great place if you need water to survive though.
- Flagstaff, AZ. Second favorite city in Arizona. Feels more like Colorado.
- Minneapolis, MN. We’re looking forward to visiting again.
- Traverse City, MI. Great old logging town. Tasty wine.
- San Diego, CA.
- Denver, CO.
- Kansas City, MO.
- Santa Fe, NM.
- Indianapolis, IN. Looking forward to visiting here again too.
- Cleveland, OH.
- Burlington, VT.
- Knoxville, TN.
- Las Vegas, NV.
- Phoenix, AZ. Too much sprawl for us. Beautiful surroundings though.
- Detroit, MI.
- St. Louis, MO.
- Jackson, WY. Mostly because of Kelly.
- Jerome, AZ.
- Vail, CO. Totally fake and it somehow works.
- Manchester, NH.
Not Our Favorites — We had mediocre experiences in these places. They all have their strong points, but there are nearby areas and cities that are just better.
- Silver City, NM. Crazies live here.
- Savannah, GA. Meh. Go to Charleston.
- Washington, DC. Too spread out.
- Albuquerque, NM.
- Moab, UT. Close to Durango … not even close to Durango.
- Telluride, CO. Too Hollywood.
- Austin, TX. It’s in Texas.
- Salt Lake City, UT. Did we mention Boise? Can I interest you in Denver?
- Taos, NM.
- Sedona, AZ.
- Terre Haute, IN. Honestly, we had fun here, but we have/had good friends here, and we could have had fun with them in Provo. I hope they don’t move to Provo.
- Roswell, NM. Good burgers though.
- Bakersfield, CA.
Avoiding In The Future — To the best of our ability, we’ll avoid these places in the future.
- Dodge City, KS.
- Mobile, AL. God-forsaken.
- Panama City, FL. There aren’t any sidewalks even.
- Beaufort, TX.
- El Paso, TX.
- Yuma, AZ.
- Salton Sea, CA. Stinks, seriously.
- Gatlinburg, TN. Hate.
- Carmel, CA. Double hate.
- Rexburg, ID. While here, after getting a weird vibe, a quick search on Wikipedia taught us that this was the city where the kids chanted “assassinate Obama” on their school bus after he was elected president. Well done, Rexburg.
- Provo, UT. Fucking Provo.
That’s it. I wanted to write something about each of them, but the list is long. Let me know what you think, what we’ve missed. We’ve definitely missed or forgotten some of the places we’ve visited. I’ll add them in and update as we find new ones and remember old ones.
BUT before you rail against some rating, visit a place in a group above. Think Provo is really the greatest city in the world? You might want to take a trip to Paris before you jump to that conclusion. Hell, even Austin will blow your mind. Think we’re wrong about Taos? Visit Bisbee.