Top 10 Best Downtowns in the USA

There's no doubt about it—the most interesting places in the United States are found downtown. No matter where you go, the big cities in the U.S. have fascinating downtown areas filled with amusement parks, hidden restaurant gems, and plenty of cultural excursions.

If it’s fun, education, and culture you’re after, then head downtown. Here are the top ten downtown areas in the United States. Get out and get exploring!

The Best Downtowns in America

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1: New York City, New York

New York City, New York

When we’re talking about downtown New York City, we’re usually talking about downtown Manhattan. And what a downtown it is! Even if you’ve never been to Times Square, you’ve certainly heard of many of its attractions.

The intoxicating draw of Times Square, the historic romance of the wharf, and the cultural sensationalism of the arts scene attract thousands of visitors a day. There’s something for everybody in lower Manhattan: Broadway, Central Park, nightlife, shopping, and so much more!

From the fine dining to the incredible street art, downtown New York is hard to beat for an urban vacation.

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown New York City

Address: Lower Manhattan, New York, NY

2: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s downtown area is known for the best pizza in the United States. You haven’t had pizza until you’ve had a Chicago deep dish!

There are also many other things to love about Chicago, too. Millennium Park is a definite Chicago highlight. There are plenty of fun things to do in the park and less of the smog that characterizes the city.

Chicago also boasts many fun museums and learning experiences, such as Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and 360 Chicago, an incredible high-level viewing platform. Don’t forget to get a gander at the Sears Tower!

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Chicago

Address: Chicago, Illinois

3: Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria, Virginia

Old Town Alexandria is both a wonderful adventure and a historical experience. It just a short trip from Washington, D.C., making the perfect getaway for a traveler who needs a break from the Capital.

Alexandria is delightfully historic; in fact, it was founded around 1750 and was home to George Washington. The old streets are filled with shopping, dining, and learning opportunities.

Explore buildings that existed before the founding of the United States and learn what life must have been like back then! Don’t forget to try the King Street Trolley while you’re at it.

When you’re done touring and snapping photos, head to one of the many cafés and restaurants for relaxation and good food.

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Alexandria

Address: Alexandria, VA


4: Burlington, Vermont

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is both a historic town and a college town, making its downtown area an attractive mix of hip culture and old-time charm.

There are many lovely red brick buildings throughout the downtown area, from government buildings to churches. Burlington is also naturally scenic. It is built on the shore of Lake Champlain, and its wharf has a stunning view of the Adirondack Mountains’ romantic blue layers.

If you’re hoping to visit Burlington, it’s easy to get there—the city boasts an airport, public transport, a train, and a ferry in addition to its several nearby highways and interstates.

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Burlington

Address: Church Street Marketplace, Burlington, Vermont


5: Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana

The most wonderful attraction of Indianapolis is the river walk that winds through the downtown area. The river walk attracts many types of people: middle-aged business people taking brisk walks on their lunch breaks, college students from the surrounding campus going on a jog, wide-eyed tourists drinking in the street art.

Each tunnel on the river walk is filled with beautiful artwork, and even many of the businesses adjoining the walk have chosen unconventional décor. As far as the sky rise scene goes, there’s also a lot to do apart from the river walk. Food, fun, and culture all have a place here.

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Indianapolis

Address: Mile Square, Indianapolis, IN


6: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Flickr/Richard Freeman

Pittsburgh is located on the juncture of the Allegheny River, the Ohio River, and the Monongahela River. With so many waterways around the downtown area, it’s only natural that much of downtown life revolves around the rivers.

Pittsburgh has been called the “City of Bridges” because of its many river crossings. Downtown itself has 18 bridges, which are popular for joggers, walkers, and Instagrammers.

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Pittsburgh

Address: Downtown, Pittsburgh, PA

7: Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

“Charming” is the perfect word to describe Savannah. After all, it is in the South! Pretty much the entire downtown area is part of the Savannah Historic District, which goes all the way back to the antebellum era of the United States.

The downtown area is serviced by trolleys, but it’s nice just to walk around and take in all the sights. A definite must-do activity is one of the many historic home tours in the area. A riverboat cruise is also a popular downtown Savannah activity.

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Savannah

Address: Savannah, GA


8: Plano, Texas

Plano, Texas
Flickr/David Wilson

Plano’s historic downtown has a lot to love. The first thing many visitors notice is the many brick buildings. The buildings are filled with shops, pubs, restaurants, and locals’ homes. The downtown area is a fun place to experience the arty side of Texas.

On any given night, you can wander through the art galleries as you listed to the music that fills the places of business. The old-time look of the streets makes it a fun place to walk around the see the sights!

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Plano

Address: 1037 E 15th St, Plano, TX 75074


9: Greenville, South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina

Downtown Greenville is a pedestrian city. It has wide sidewalks, plenty of squares, and lots of friendly faces! The central attraction of downtown is Main Street, which is the quintessential southern tree-lined avenue.

The area is perfect for daytime shopping and nighttime fun! There’s no end of activities to be enjoyed on the streets of Greenville at any time of day.

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Greenville

Address: Greenville, South Carolina


10: Santa Monica, California

Santa Monica, California

The most famous part of Downtown Santa Monica is, of course, the Santa Monice Pier. This is a fantastic place to come and play, and it has been the area’s most famous attraction for an entire century!

From the iconic Pacific Park Ferris wheel to the fine dining, you won’t want to leave the area. Of course, when you do venture out into the rest of downtown, you’ll be able to enjoy many other activities, such as museums, dining options, and nightlife.

Accomodation: Where to stay in Downtown Santa Monica

Address: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401

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