I thought since there was a discussion about our favorite cities in the world, it might be useful to discuss our least favorite cities. Keep in mind, I know this is entirely subjective . I fully realize I'm opening myself to endless criticism in doing so, so I'll add this: #1 and 2 are so far above the others in cities I HATE that the last three are just cities I have mostly not enjoyed. I've only once been to both Las Vegas and Los Angeles, so that anyone who feels differently can rightfully criticize me since I didn't first love Venice or Rome on my first trips. Still, I doubt you'll convince me...
But I would respond to the possible critique that I hate what LV and LA represent because I think that is what is the worst of American culture. So the last three are just subjective decisions based on extensive experience, while the first two were based on what I simply couldn't stand in one trip in each of the two places. I don't like a culture of beauty, decadence, and superficiality. Snobbish, I know, but still...
LEAST FOR ME FROM WORST TO LESS HORRIBLE:
1) Las Vegas
2) Los Angeles
3) New York
Following your "model", if I take "dangerous - both from a crime and health point of view" through to "unsympathetic" as my key criteria, my list would be:
1 (by some distance!!) Lagos
3. Mexico City
5. Los Angeles
Like you, I have great reservations about London and Paris, largely for practical reasons, but at least they remain truly "global" in their outlook.
This will be a great topic, well done! Mine will be from spots I was sentenced to visit for one reason or another, but shall not return.
2. Tijuana, Mexico or for that matter anywhere in Mexico these days
3. Las Vegas
4. Naples, Italy
I will take a gander at the other post later in the weekend.
Naples we flew into last year and found it very unappealing and dirty as we drove down toward the Amalfi Coast. Just not a good feeling of a place we want to return.
This is a fun topic. Thank you Prof!
1. Tegucigalpa, Honduras (very subjective - was robbed at gunpoint by a group of thugs). Airport had burned-out helicoptors on the tarmac. Most unsafe city I was ever in.
2. New York City - Yes, I know I had this on my Most Favorite List also..... I'm not bi-polar, but my relationship with the city is one of love/hate. go figure.
3. Las vegas - I'm not a gambler, and I just don't get the decadense thing.....
4. Cleveland, Ohio - ' the mistake on the lake'. with all due respect.
5. East St Louis, Ill - anyone that has ever been there will certainly agree.
That's it for now.
Good catch on Tegucigalpa as I didn't even think of it, but I will have to add Lagos to the list as well. Never been there but friends who fly there say it's not the end of the world but you can see if from there!!
i would agree with LA. we have been there a few times and it doesn't do it for me. SF far better to visit.
Haven't been to Las Vegas yet, it doesn't really interest me but I would potentially stop off while visiting Grand Canyon at some stage.
IAH Why Naples? Is it not even worth stopping off for a day on the way to amalfi coast?
Apologies to any LA people out there. I've only been there once (the UCLA area and visited Venice beach -- agh to the latter). LA seems fake to me somehow -- maybe it's all the 'beautiful people' and cosmetic surgeries, etc. I have always loved San Fran -- the view from Golden Gate Park is magnificent.
Sg, we also agree about LV. Long ago and far away when I was a student in the middle of college and got divorced, I took a cross country bus trip (talk about a punishing experience!) from Boston to Berkeley. [I flew back.] Nevada had to be one of the most depressing places I have ever seen, when each time the bus would stop the Greyhound riders would rush off to gamble. I was to LV itself only once for a conference (not an especially good idea for people to hold a conference there if you get my drift), and it reminded me of what I had seen in the rest of Nevada combined with LA.
Even with the views of SF, Seattle is my favorite West coast city. (And I am an ocean person so that explains a lot of my choices.) I loved Pike Place Market, Puget Sound, etc.
I have been through Naples, IT twice, and while some say it is the quintessential Italian city, it has always felt even to this seasoned traveler as a somewhat dangerous place for a woman to travel alone. Then there was the Great Garbage Collectors' Strike which I think took several years to resolve. Still there are things around Naples to see: the isle of Capri, the train route that takes you through to Pompeii, Vesuvius and Herculaneum, as well as the nearby Amalfi coast.
Well, though this discussion is still young, I would like to take the opportunity to jump in to say how thrilled I am that my adopted Philadelphia has not yet shown up. So many people slam the city and perhaps its an acquired taste, but there is great history, art and architecture and one of the hotest restaurant scenes in the country. Heading in today for a movie and dinner at Jose Garces' Amada. One of my all-time favorite restaurants.
Living in the region of such an oft maligned city, I believe there are many things to love about all the cities listed. It is either a matter of experiencing them with someone who loves it, taking the time to assimilate the culture or replacing whatever pain or discomfort or bad experience one had there in the past.
'One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering.', Jane Austen
After returning from my first visit to Paris, it was so low on my list of places to which I would return, I never thought I would agree to go back. My wife had studied at the Sorbonne, fell in love with the city and, after 20 years, returned with me in tow. In about 4 days we saw nearly all she did when she studied there. We got home, I was exhausted and felt I had just watched a movie in fast forward and remembered little. So, after 12 years, I agreed to return but only if we stayed a week, in the city, and limited our daily activity to a few sites and gave ourselves time to enjoy the sites, smells, and people. Last fall, we rented an apartment in the 7th (sorry Marriott) and had such a wonderful time, I would move there. Glad I gave it a second chance.
Thanks for yours re Philadelphia, which I found a little surprising. Though I was aware that the city has perhaps had its greatest days, and has some less attractive areas, nevertheless I've always found it fascinating and sympathetic. I was last there three years ago, and think I read that, since then, a new art gallery has opened, housing what sounds a rich, private collection. Does this ring any bells with you?
Yes, per SG1974, the Barnes Foundation just moved from Merion to the Ben Franklin Parkway, between City Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Next door to the Barnes Foundation is the Rodin Museum - second only to Paris in the volume of Rodin work. The Barnes is a world class amazing collection - Cezanne, Courbet, Degas, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Renoir - lots and lots of Renoir, Rousseau. My wife and I went a month or so ago and it was amazing.
i thought Philadelphia was reasonable. We enjoyed the historical sites and the museum of art.
unfortunately we didn't have time to visit the Barnes foundation http://www.barnesfoundation.org/
if we returned I would make it a priority to visit In its new location.
I was not born in Los Angeles, but I have lived in LA for half of my life. I've seen similar topics in other message boards and the 3 negatives that typically come up (2 mentioned here): fake/superficial (a fair assessment though it does not apply to all LA neighborhoods), overly visual (full of beautiful people) and traffic.
(Fake/superficial) If you ask 99 out of 100 Los Angeles residents who were actually born in LA, they would say all the fake people are from other cities...came for Hollywood, to get rich/famous, live on the beach, etc. There is probably some truth to that because if you are not a great person in Michigan, you are probably going to be a really lousy person in LA. The reality is though that people have been coming to LA for a long time (and they've been having kids)...so the fake side of LA can be attributed to both transplants and locals.
(Beauty) Beautiful people have been coming to LA since the 1920s/1930s to become movie stars. Most of them did not make it, but a lot of them stayed and then settled down and had kids so, yes, there is a lot of beautiful people in LA, which can be a positive or a negative (an emphasis is often, probably too often, placed on the visual in LA). Cosmetic surgery is very noticeable in LA though not a high % of the population. Still, in a lot of big cities, you will not notice anyone with cosmetic surgery.
(Traffic) It is unlike anything you can imagine. Los Angeles is so spread out that you need to drive far distances to get to events or even do seemingly routine tasks.. You waste a lot of time sitting in your car. You also waste time having to overcompensate when traveling 10 miles / 20 miles--leaving far in advance just to make sure you get to where you need to go on time.
I appreciate your input on this. I doubt it will make me come back to Los Angeles, especially since I didn't like even one of the better parts (around the UCLA campus), but I tend to like north ocean, east or west coast. I did get to the Getty Museum when I was there, which is truly remarkable.
I would imagine most would not like visiting LA. It is too spread out. The beaches are not that nice--dirty and the water is cold. And the traffic would be very frustrating. Most well-known parts (Hollywood, Venice Beach) are too touristy and dirty. And that is not counting the people, which a lot do not like.
I have not been to Westwood (around UCLA) that much. Parking there is horrible. Brentwood is nearby (and you probably spent some time there). Some people like it, some hate it. I like it--Suzanne Goin's Tavern is there (great eggs benedict with brioche instead of an English muffin and prosciutto instead of Canadian bacon), beautiful neighborhood, good ice cream from Sweet Rose Creamery and a great family style restaurant and market called Farmshop.
Getty Center is nice and so is Getty Villa. Pasadena is great--beautiful homes, nice downtown area and iconic stadiums like the Rose Bowl and Santa Anita Park. Malibu Canyon makes for a great drive and it leads to a great wild game restaurant called Saddle Peak Lodge. I'm not a Lakers fan but watching a Lakers game at Staples Center is an event.
As you have already mentioned, very subjective. For me, I really liked Chicago--great architecture, can walk to a lot of places, great food. Bay Area is great a place to visit. I like SF, but I always tell people spend time in SF but also take advantage of all the great neighborhoods around it--Healdsburg, Forestville, Yountville, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Palo Alto, Woodside, and so on--unbelievable geographic and architecture diversity that is hard to find. I need to explore Seattle more, but I personally much preferred Portland, Oregon. Least favorite cities to visit though...
(1) Houston - Very nice and friendly people. Nice ballpark. I did not spend a lot of them there, but their downtown area was a little on the depressing side and it is quite hot in the summer. Maybe I need to check out other neighborhoods there.
(2) St. Louis - Great ballpark with a great baseball crowd. Good food whether it is upscale (Niche) or BBQ (great ribs at Pappy's), but the city seems dilapidated--it feels like it has seen better days.
(3) Cleveland - Michael Symon's Lola is great as is the cool shopping and restaurants around it (though it is one nice street in a mostly not-so-great downtown area). There are nice areas just outside of Cleveland though. Drive 15 minutes out and you can visit the quaint town of Chagrin Falls to enjoy Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream or shop at the local grocery store that features high quality beef and seafood.
(4) Philadelphia - Very historic. The Liberty Bell. Independence Hall. If you walk just south of Independence Hall, great historic neighborhood that makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. The city feels quite dirty though.
(5) Dallas - Like Houston, very nice and friendly people. It feels unique too. I went to a Wal-Mart there and saw a woman dressed to the nines (she did her part to class up the joint). It is very spread out though and it just does not seem that interesting in terms of architecture.
I need to be near the ocean so the middle doesn't do it for me. I was once offered a job at SLU, but at the same time as Colby so I knew I couldn't take the heat or the crime in SL. I went on a job interview in Houston twenty years ago, and loved the fish and was surprised it was a very nice city, but again the heat. I have never been to Dallas proper, just once to the airport. Can't say much about Cleveland that is good since that is where I had to depart my Boston-Berkeley bus in 1978 for maintenance at 3am.
OK, here's the hard part and where I know I'll hear from more of you. I grew up in suburban (PA side) Philly and hate the city. More of that has to do with my childhood than Philadelphia, but when I was working there as a secretary in the late 70s before starting college it was like Mad Men. I have been back once or twice and it seems to have undergone a renaissance. But I don't go back unless I have to.
Chicago was my second husband's hometown, and he went to UChicago as an undegrad "Where fun comes to die." I did not make that up -- it's their unofficial slogan -- and when someone tried to change it the alumni were up in arms. Chicago is an okay town for me, though for a Midwestern town I like Milwaukee better. I ended up spending a good deal of time there for my Joan of Arc research (US version) -- Marquette owns a chapel that is from the 15th C. where Joan was said to have prayed. It is the oldest Catholic chapel that exists in North America. It was brought by a rich Long Island woman along with part of a château, dismantled and brought to the US by ship. The castle part burned, but the Joan of Arc chapel was reassembled on the Marquette campus. It's very cool, plus Milwaukee has some fabulous restaurants. Back to Chicago, perhaps because my ex's family were Cubs' fans I became a Chi-Sox fan and made my ex go to many a ballgame in the old Comiskey Park, which I loved. And there's some great restaurants in Chicago.
Since I listed Philadelphia as one of my least favorite cities to visit, I will leave it to Philadelphians to promote their city. I went once and I do not have a strong desire to go back. This will surprise many, but I actually prefer Pittsburgh. It does not have the history of Philadelphia, but it has a great and iconic look with the bridges, a good mix of neighborhoods and you are in the woods just outside the city.
I'm going to Milwaukee and Madison in August. I'll be staying at the new Milwaukee Downtown Marriott. I'll also be spending time in Minneapolis--looking forward to that city. I'm from the Midwest and, I agree, Chicago is definitely not representative of the big cities there (it is its own thing). I've been to both ballparks--Wrigley Field is special.
Hi MMFLA (sorry for the acronym),
I agree. Be sure to do Riverwalk in Milwaukee and they have a fabulous art museum on Lake Michigan. Plus there are all kinds of things going on in August. I was to Minneapolis once as well (another conference) and it struck me as something close to the Boston of the northern Midwest. And I certainly don't mind the weather there .
I did get to Wrigley once too, but being a perverse sort of person adopted Comiskey and made my ex infuriate his mother . I have not been to the new Chi-Sox park (I lived for brief periods in the Chicago area in the mid-to late 80s after Paris and got married in 1983 in Hinsdale). Happily that was the last marriage and divorce for me!
If you were ever to give Philadelphia another try, I am convinced I could provide a great multi-day itinerary of art, culture, sites and great food. Just let me know. Won't try to sell you on it but would be sure you would have a much better impression upon your next departure.
Thanks for the note and potential future suggestions. I only spent a few days in Philadelphia and it is hard to get a feel of a city in a limited amount of time. For me, I have to really explore the neighborhoods and I just did not get the chance in Philadelphia. Every city has great ones, you just need to know where to find them. Good example: Lincoln Park and River North--both considered Chicago, both are completely different.
There were a few high points though. As I mentioned, I did like walking south of Independence Hall (one of the nicest streets I've ever been on). I also liked Penn (great campus and look). In terms of food, I tried Vetri and while there were some good things about it, I was hoping it was going to be spectacular--there are a few Italian restaurants better than Vetri in SF and LA in my opinion.
The Philadelphia Downtown Marriott is also decent. Its lobby has the lively, energetic feel you would expect to find at a metropolitan hotel. Good Concierge Lounge too.
So there were things I liked about Philadelphia, it is just that there are a few cities that speak to me more--Chicago, Portland, DC, SF, and Austin. I may end up in Philadelphia again though...and if I do...I will let you know.
In my opinion, Philadelphia has numerous Italian restaurants better than Vetri. Not a fan. My wife and I went one night, ordered the chef's tasting menu and the wine pairings. $460 later, we saw lots of pretty food, but left hungry. I don't mind paying for a great meal, but that was over the top. More hype than cuisine. I know it is Mario Batali's favorite Italian restaurant, but looking at Mario, I am certain Mark Vetri does not serve him the same portions he served us.
Thanks for these comments. I'm headed to St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Cleveland for the first time in a few weeks and now know a little of what to expect! I'm trying to go to the last few areas of the US I haven't yet been...unfortunately I'll only have time to just quickly hit the big towns and attractions along the way. Any Marriott hotels to avoid in these cities?