You've all been there, and are probably there now, when you're searching for a destination and the same cities keep popping up as if from nowhere. There are several cities that continuously haunt the "top" lists with no other seeming merit other than their huge populations. Why are they that great? Why should we visit such-and-such? Well, I'm so glad you asked.
New York City is one such destination and it commonly holds the numero uno place on a myriad of lists. Whether it's the best bakeries or the highest number of popular attractions, New York City pretty much always makes the cut for one of the best cities in America. People living elsewhere, who have never visited, may think this is all hype and it can't really be that great. Well, let's just put it this way: New York City has been the center of our cultural, economic, and social civilization for the last century and as of yet, the city hasn't been abandoned. Instead, New York has only grown in population and prestige over the years. It's not just Manhattan either. Boroughs like Queens have, in recent years, burgeoned and bloomed into new tourist centers completely separate from Manhattan and even Brooklyn. So why should you pay attention to New York? It's the largest city in America, it's the culinary center of the country with more restaurants than you could visit in a lifetime of continuous eating, it has a plethora of historical sites dating back to the Revolutionary War, and it literally has something for everyone. If you don't like crowds, spend your time in Queens where there's a smaller population, or even take a trip to the Adirondacks or Catskills outside the city.
However, if you find you don't like the sound of New York City, where the city never sleeps, try the opposite. Los Angeles, the West Coast's sleeping beauty, is almost as giant as New York but you'd hardly ever know it. Where New York grew up and up, Los Angeles spread way out, stretching her limbs which makes it easier to maneuver and frankly, feels better than a concrete jungle. Surrounded by palm trees, sitting on the shore of the bright blue Pacific, Los Angeles is laid back and golden. Capital of the world's entertainment industry, home to Hollywood and all that it implies, the original land of Disney and a recorded history dating all the way back to the Pleistocene Epoch (La Brea Tar Pits), Los Angeles is a wide open book with nothing to hide. She's beautiful like a movie star and welcoming like your favorite aunt. So bottom line, why should you visit Los Angeles? If you like movies, if you like endless summers, if you like the wilderness and mountain recreation right in the city center, if you like history and culture and religion and fame and fortune, if you like the ocean...then Los Angeles is your destination.
Other cities that don't quite reach the height of New York City and Los Angeles, but are close, include New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston, and Orlando, Florida. Many lists feel the obligatory pull to put the top two cities on there and then mix it up with some underrated but fabulous choices like Santa Fe and Portland. These other cities though, make the mark because of their undeniable qualities that no other place has.
New Orleans is the Big Easy, full of excitement and joie de vivre, French-American-Caribbean culture that has fused into a wonderland of delights, amusements, and beautiful sites. From the Garden District's voluptuous manors to the historic ivy strewn streets of the French Quarter, New Orleans boasts an elegance in being over the top. This is hard to do but the city's personality helps pull it off. Not many cities can boast such a personality that seems to have imbued itself in the very fabric of the metropolis, weaving itself into the culture and community.
Next, with Washington, D.C., the allure should be obvious. Every American should visit the nation's capital at least once and see the landmarks of the past, the building blocks for the future. D.C. isn't nearly as beautiful in appearance as, say, New Orleans or Los Angeles (sorry, D.C.) but what the city lacks in aesthetics, she makes up for in attractions - free ones too! The landmarks and memorials in D.C. are of great national importance, unlike those in other cities. From the Lincoln Memorial to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the many Smithsonian museums, and more, Washington, D.C. stakes its claim as a top city based on political and historical significance.
Like D.C., both Philadelphia and Boston make the cut based on their historical importance - for the most part. Both played major roles in the making of this wonderful country, having played host to the start of the Revolutionary War and the beginning of the American democratic republic government. Both cities are consistently recommended for their historical purposes and extant landmarks. However, in the last two hundred years or so, both cities have grown in the cultural, culinary, and entertainment departments as well making for even better vacations. Still, while you're in these cities it's practically mandatory that you visit the Liberty Bell (Philadelphia) and tour at least some of the sites along the Freedom Trail (Boston).
Finally, we come to Orlando. Can you guess why Orlando is a top city? It probably has something to do with the massive number of theme parks which, combined, draws in millions of tourists every year. Walt Disney World is the number one theme park in the entire world. Magic Kingdom alone brought in 19,332,000 visitors in 2014, and that doesn't include Epcot, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom. That is an unfathomable amount of people, more people than there are living in New York City. But, Orlando isn't just home to Disney. You also have Sea World, Discovery Cove, Wet n' Wild Orlando, and Universal Studios plus all of that park's off shoots including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.