The 40 Worst Cities to Visit in the United States

Las Vegas Nevada
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While the United States is obviously home to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful and exciting places in the world, there are still some places that… aren’t so beautiful. Hey, we can’t win them all!

That’s because there are some places that exist that have less-than-stellar conditions for visiting, such as poverty, high crime rates, and unemployment. Other areas are just not all that exciting, despite having a name that’s “known,” or in many cases, a well-known celebrity just happened to grow up there.

Before you start planning out your next vacation, you might want to read through this list to see the places you might want to leave off of your bucket list.

St. Louis, Missouri

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Unfortunately, St. Louis, Missouri has become a city known for being one of the most not-so-great places to visit in America. That’s because the risk of experiencing a crime is 1 in 53, and the risk of property crimes is 1 in 10.

The reason for this is mostly because of a declining economy thanks to many of the longer-term residents leaving St. Louis for greener pastures. However, there has been a lot of revitalization going on with hopes of attracting new investments and residents.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Michigan
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Another city with a not-so-great reputation is Detroit, Michigan, and that’s not all. It also has a reputation for having some of the rudest residents! Although “Motor City” used to be a go-to when visiting, most tourists steer clear of that area now thanks to the abandoned buildings and rumors of high crime rates.

Much like St. Louis, Detroit has suffered from an influx of crime and poverty that caused many of its prior residents to leave to other cities and states. Detroit is also trying to revitalize its city to attract new residents.

Reno, Nevada

Reno Nevada
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Reno, Nevada is a well-known city and is specifically known as the “biggest little city in the world.” You might notice a theme with this list, with so many of these cities suffering from some pretty big issues when it comes to things like unemployment and crime.

It’s just a fact that the two go hand in hand and can have dire consequences for the city as a whole. For Reno, this has meant drastic cuts in public services, drops in housing prices, and layoffs.

Stockton, California

Stockton California
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If you thought to visit Stockton, California, think again. Stockton is known for having 1400 incidents per 100,000 people, which means it really isn’t the greatest place to plan your next vacation.

A lot of the issues surrounding Stockton are due to the 2008 financial crisis, and in 2012, they even had to file for bankruptcy protection, becoming the largest city in US history to do so. Even as soon as 2020, the city had an 8.4 percent unemployment rate.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee
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Memphis, Tennessee may be number one in some things, but what it comes in for as a number two isn’t all that awesome. It ranks second highest when it comes to crime, poverty, and corruption by city officials. That doesn’t mean tourists don’t still flock to the city for other reasons though.

Since Memphis is known as the home of Graceland, the shops of Beale Street, and the East Coast Music Festival, there is a lot of things to see. And hey, it’s also the birthplace of the blues. However, visiting still comes at a cost.

New Haven, Connecticut

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Some people travel to New Haven, Connecticut to check out Yale University. Considering it is one of the most prestigious universities in all of the United States, that isn’t surprising.

But what might be surprising is the fact that New Haven has one of the highest crime rates on the East Coast. The city also has a 6.6 percent unemployment rate, with much of the city being impoverished. In other words, the university is pretty great, but the outskirts… not so much.

Oakland, California

Oakland California
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Oakland is our second California city to be listed, and that’s because thanks to high crime rates and difficult economic times, the city has simply gone downhill. This is even after seeing a slight decline in those crime rates in 2018.

Oakland is on this list because it still sits almost four times higher than the national average when it comes to its overall crime rates. Despite the issues mentioned, Oakland is still recognized for being a rather progressive area with stunning views and an amazing climate.

Cleveland, Ohio

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It says a lot when even Forbes ranks your city as one of the most miserable cities in all of the United States. In fact, Cleveland, Ohio earned the name, “Mistake by the Lake,” for good reason! And yep, crime has something to do with it. So does unemployment.

Not only that, but Cleveland, Ohio is also known for its unpredictable and brutally frigid winters. So if you happen to travel to this city at all for a visit, you might want to try going during the warmer months.

Baltimore, Maryland

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Sorry, but we had to include Baltimore, Maryland on this list. The biggest reason that Baltimore has issues at all is because of its close proximity to Washington, D.C., and its specific location along the Atlantic Coast – it’s right at the second-largest port.

If you happen to be a fan of HBO’s The Wire, then you probably already know that Baltimore, Maryland is the setting for the series… and that should tell you pretty much anything you need to know about the crime scene there.

Chicago, Illinois

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I think everyone already knew that Chicago, Illinois would show up on this list. At least, anyone who has happened to bother watching the news at all over the past decade. The name pops up quite a bit!

You’d think that’d keep people away, but there are still reasons people choose to travel to Chicago, Illinois. So if you do happen to venture out, just be really careful not to find yourself on the wrong side of town or you might regret it.

Little Rock, Arkansas

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Little Rock, Arkansas has quite a reputation for being such a small city. Even though it isn’t all that big, it has its fair share of some pretty big problems. Even the smallest cities can have issues with crime and poverty — things that tend to go hand in hand.

Not only that, but if you did happen to visit the city, there’s a good reason why postcards jokingly state that the mosquito is the state bird of Arkansas. You can’t say we didn’t try to warn you!

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas Nevada
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Just about everyone knows the nickname for Las Vegas, Nevada: Sin City. And shouldn’t that say plenty? Towns aren’t named things like that for no reason. There’s also a very good reason that people say that what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas.

If you like getting into sketchy things though, then Las Vegas is definitely the town for you! Granted, many travel guides do call the city overrated. At least if you do visit, you’ll get to tell all of your friends that you’ve been to Vegas!

Miami, Florida

Miami Florida
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If there’s one thing about Miami, it’s awfully hot there. And not only that, but it’s also very, very crowded. So if you happen to like finding your way through huge crowds in the heat, then maybe you would want to visit Miami, Florida.

Miami also has plenty of nightclubs and attractions for people who find their way there, but if you’re looking for beautiful beach communities and scenery, you can probably find better elsewhere without all of the crowds and chaos.

Houston, Texas

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Unfortunately, Houston, Texas has had a whole lot of issues over the past few years. This was especially true after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area in 2017, and then suffered from even more weather-related incidents since then. Not a great time to live in the area, that’s for sure!

But as far as visiting, know that those issues has resulted in high crime rates, both personal and property. In fact, even political figures have been concerned about safety in the city.

New Orleans, Louisiana

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If you’re looking for a place to party, well, you’ve found it in New Orleans, Louisiana! New Orleans is obviously well-known for its party-like atmosphere, which usually goes hand-in-hand with issues like crime popping up.

People visit this area with partying in mind, so you shouldn’t be surprised that New Orleans has the reputation of being a tourist trap. In other words, you might find yourself with an empty wallet by the time you leave if you happen to visit New Orleans.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles California
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People who live in Los Angeles, California know all about the many issues the city has. We’re talking traffic, traffic, traffic with a healthy dose of smog mixed in. If you want to go anywhere in Los Angeles, be prepared to sit on the highways for a while.

You can’t really get around the city on foot until you’ve already arrived at the usual touristy areas, so yeah, you’ll need to sit in traffic. You also aren’t likely to run into random celebrities as much as you might think.

New York, New York

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Of course New York, New York is on this list! Ok, so there are both good things and bad things about NYC. That means although it is listed as one of the worst, it really depends on which part of New York you’re in, since it’s also considered to be one of the best cities. Not to confuse you or anything.

Just know that if you do happen to visit New York, you should prepare yourself to handle the massive crowds and that things can be a bit overpriced. It can also take some getting used to, with the entire subway system and all of the walking involved.

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Atlantic City New Jersey
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Atlantic City used to be pretty great, until it wasn’t. It was sometime between 2012 and 2014 that five out of the city’s twelve casinos on the beach were shut down, according to the New York Post.

This ended up turning the city into a “slum with high crime and high unemployment, plus a beach and boardwalk grafted on.” In other words, perhaps they shouldn’t have closed down so many of the casinos all at once. I’m thinking they probably regret making that decision.

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

Hampton Beach New Hampshire
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There aren’t a lot of beaches in New Hampshire that offer such a great view of the ocean, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Hampton Beach is considered to be such a tourist attraction. It’s home to many things, such as a ballroom, a tchotchke-shop that lines the boardwalk, and even a casino.

That said, Hampton Beach is swamped with hotels that make it hard to get around. There isn’t a lot of parking available thanks to the incredible number of people who visit each year and it’s become more than a little sketchy.

Bentonville, Arkansas

Bentonville Arkansas
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Ah, Bentonville… the home of The Walmart Museum! Isn’t that a place you’ve always wanted to travel to? Sorry to disappoint, but that’s pretty much all that Bentonville has to offer. So if you really love Walmart, then maybe you would like to visit Bentonville. We won’t judge.

That said, Bentonville is the founding location and headquarters of Walmart, and next door to the museum is the Walton Family’s original 5&10 store. If that doesn’t excite you, well…  you can scratch this city off of your travel list.

New Braunfels, Texas

New Braunfels Texas
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The Comal River is a pretty big tourist attraction touted by My San Antonio, and that’s part of the problem. The Comal River is a popular floating area, but it’s become rampant with loud tourists. It’s overcrowded and is known as one of the 11 worst tourist traps in Texas. That’s even included in My San Antonio.

That should tell you plenty if even the locals consider it a place to watch out for. If you must visit the area, you might want to avoid the Comal River and instead visit the nearby Guadalupe River since it isn’t nearly as packed.

Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls New York
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Niagara Falls is beautiful… so beautiful that 30 million people per year descend upon the attraction for a chance to get wet in the falls. It’s also known as the “honeymoon capital of the world,” with the first couple to do so being former VP Aaron Burr and his wife, Theodosia.

This is partially because there was a Marilyn Monroe movie about honeymooning there… but I digress. While the Falls might be quite a sight, there just isn’t much else to do in the area.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Massachusetts
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Ok, so the truth is that there are plenty of things you can see and do in Boston, Massachusetts. From unique shopping to incredible food to important historical sites, it has a lot to offer. Some areas seem like they’re a shoo-in to offer a unique experience.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re all that great. At least, according to the locals. Locals in Boston consider the Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall to be tourist traps in every sense of the word.

Salem, Massachusetts

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Here’s yet another town in Massachusetts you may or may not want to avoid, depending on the time of year. Salem of course attracts many tourists especially in October, which probably shouldn’t be all that surprising.

Salem has pretty much become a mecca for all things Halloween-related, thanks to its annual Haunted Happenings. The Salem News said most tourists seem to visit for “witch-related” reasons. However, there’s also the chance to visit plenty of historical landmarks, and Salem also has a world-class art museum.

Roswell, New Mexico

Roswell New Mexico
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When you think of Roswell, you probably think of all things related to UFOs and aliens. That’s because back in 1947 a rancher found what he thought to be the remains of a flying saucer on his ranch, though the official explanation is that the debris belonged to a weather balloon.

But you know how the news tends to go. Conspiracies bloomed and Roswell became the UFO capital of America. Thing is, Roswell is in the middle of a desert and there isn’t much else there besides an art museum and the UFO museum.

Alliance, Nebraska

Alliance Nebraska
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Who needs the real Stonehenge in the UK when you can just go to Alliance, Nebraska to see a Stonehenge built of cars instead? Because that’s totally classy. Dubbed Carhenge, it was built in 1987 by artist Jim Reinders.

There was a nice reason for him to do so, since he built it in honor of his father, but at the end of the day it’s just a group of cars stuck in the ground in a circle. It is listed as one of the worst tourist attractions in the US by The Street, which captioned the site as “Really, Really?”

Orlando, Florida

Orlando Florida
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There is a lot to do in Orlando, Florida, so we’ll give them that. That is if you like incredibly overcrowded theme parks that require you to wait hours in line underneath a blazing hot sun in the Florida heat. Namely, Universal, Disney World, and other theme parks.

While some people might love this, it’s actually quite expensive. In other words, you’ll be paying a lot of money to spend a lot of time waiting in lines wishing you were already on that ride.

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Ardmore Oklahoma
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Boy, when I think about going on vacation or traveling somewhere, the first area that pops into mind is Ardmore, Oklahoma! …not. But that’s mostly because most people have probably never heard of this small town. Ardmore does have a lot to offer for some folks though.

Specifically, folks who really love dolls. Like, really love them. They’re home of the Eliza Cruce Hall Doll Museum that is filled with, you guessed it! Dolls on top of dolls. If you have a friend who is scared of dolls you might be tempted to go out of your way to visit.

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Los Alamos New Mexico
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Los Alamos, New Mexico can be a really fantastic place to visit if you happen to enjoy the chance of being infected with radiation. Yep, you read that correctly. Los Alamos is the historical site of the Manhattan Project. We’re talking about all the radiation.

Even the nuclear watchdog Los Alamos Study Group has said that “Los Alamos will never be clean,” and there was even a lab worker who was recently hurt on the job who was discovered to be infected with radiation.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg Tennessee
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You know you’ve hit a full-fledged tourist trap when you find yourself in an overcrowded area that offers airbrush t-shirt shops on top of airbrush t-shirt shops. And don’t forget the Ripley’s Believe It or Not attractions! All of that and more can be found in Gatlinburg.

Let’s put it this way. There are only 4,000 residents in Gatlinburg, but they have more than twelve million visitors to Sevier County alone every year. That’s mostly thanks to the Smoky Mountain National Park.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville Tennessee
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Nashville, Tennessee is another one of those places you’ll want to avoid, even though it really does have a lot to offer. Which is again, part of the problem. So many people want to take advantage of those things, such as the Ryman Auditorium and Broadway, that it becomes way too overcrowded.

The city just isn’t all that accessible for what it does have to offer and it can be rather tough to navigate. But if you really like visiting interesting places within strip malls, and you happen to find parking, you might enjoy visiting Nashville.

McLean, Texas

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Do you love wire? Like, really love wire? To the point that you’d travel all the way to McLean, Texas so you could visit the Devil’s Rope Museum that has a tribute to barbed wire? We’re talking the entire history of barbed wire and how it came to be! It’s definitely something most people wouldn’t want to miss out on. Right?

Although McLean has a lot to offer in the form of… well, wire, there really isn’t much else. It has been dubbed as a “nearly-abandoned ghost town frozen in time,” by Roadtrippers.

Mitchell, South Dakota

Mitchell South Dakota
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Behold, The Corn Palace! Yes, if you visit Mitchell, South Dakota, you can find the “world’s only corn palace.” Because that’s something people are just clamoring for after they take the time to visit the Devil’s Rope Museum in Texas. We’re talking entire murals made of corn, y’all.

Amazingly, 500,000 people tend to visit the Corn Palace every year, at least according to the Corn Palace’s own website. If you aren’t quite up for travel, we have good news. The Corn Palace has a live feed so that you can experience all of the corniness from the comfort of your own home.

Rehoboth, Delaware

Rehoboth Delaware
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When people first moved to Rehoboth, Delaware way back when, it was because they enjoyed the quiet beaches that the area had to offer. Who wouldn’t want a nice home on an uncrowded beach? Talk about achieving the American dream! However, things didn’t stay that way in Rehoboth.

The town now attracts thousands of tourists every year and has the usual small beach amenities that tend to pop up as a result. Places like Jungle Jim’s and Funland, with all of the gimmicky shops and overpriced places to eat.

Bloomington, Minnesota

Bloomington Minnesota
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If you really love malls, you should visit Bloomington, Minnesota. After all, it’s home to the Mall of America! While the name sounds big, the truth is not as impressive. In fact, the Mall of America, home to a small aquarium with some rides, was called “slightly depressing” by the Thrillist.

The Mall of America is the largest mall in the United States, but the truth is that most of the stores can be found in just about any other mall. They do have a huge indoor park, but if you’re a parent, that just means your kid is going to escape for hours, ignoring you when you repeatedly tell them it’s time to leave and not being able to reach them.

Murfreesboro, Arkansas

Murfreesboro Arkansas
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Try saying the name of this town three times fast! Murfreesboro is the home of the Crater of Diamonds State Park where you can literally dig for diamonds along with tons of other folks. It’s been open for more than a century, so a lot of people have gone digging. You’d think they would have found every diamond by now!

The first diamond was found in this area in 1906 before it became the site of several mining company ventures that were not all that successful. That should say something about the visitor’s possibilities of actually finding a diamond.

Flint, Michigan

Flint Michigan
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Who hasn’t heard of Flint, Michigan by now and all of the troubles that seem to have gone along with the name? I mean, who would really want to visit Flint, Michigan on purpose at this point? Not only do they have the well-known issues that made headlines over the past couple of years, but Flint has other problems as well.

At one point, Flint was known as the powerhouse city for Buicks, General Motors, and Chevrolets. But when economic issues struck, they had to demolish several of those factories. This led to widespread poverty and an increase in crime rates. Oh, and the water issues.

Compton, California

Compton California
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You’ve heard of the term, “straight out of Compton,” right? In other words, this city has a reputation and they don’t generally get reputations without a good reason. Compton has been widely regarded as one of the most dangerous places to visit in all of America, although it still ranks lower than Flint, Michigan. Sorry, Flint.

The saving grace for Compton is that it’s located in the center of Los Angeles County, so there’s still plenty to do and see around the area. But why Compton if you can just visit those areas instead, right?

Gary, Indiana

Gary Indiana
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Michael Jackson fans might recognize the name of this city considering that it’s where he grew up. It’s also known as the home of the steel industry and is located close to Chicago. With that said, Gary just doesn’t have all that much to really offer.

Gary is located about 25 miles away from Chicago, so for many, it’s just an “oh, we’ve almost made it to Chicago!” point, and it’s also very close to a maximum-security prison. Look at Gary, offering all of the things.

Decatur, Alabama

Decatur Alabama
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Now we’ve made it to Decatur, Alabama along our slideshow journey. Are you feeling well-traveled yet? Decatur is the home of the Point Mallard Water Park, because a water park is the entire reason you should travel to another city.

The truth is that most water parks aren’t exactly known for their cleanliness and this is true even for the Point Mallard Water Park, which is touted as the world’s first wave pool. However, since Alabama is along the Gulf Coast, you’d think people might want to visit actual waves instead. The water park is right there!