The top 10 U.S. Riverside Cities to visit begins with the reality that without the Founding Fathers, the American nation would be a very different place. Is this good or bad? That depends on a person’s viewpoint as there are arguments coming from both sides of a coin that still has one common denominator. As a country that now has several riverside cities that grace the nation from sea to shining sea, there is still much to celebrate as a proud American. While each country has its own proud heritage, few have proven to be as colorful as USA’s. Along the riverbanks of this great nation, there are ten cities that come to mind that seem to rank the best among the best.
Top 10 U.S. Riverside Cities To Visit
#10 – Chattanooga, Tennessee
Located in southeastern Tennessee is the city known as Chattanooga. As a riverside city, it sits along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. This is an incredibly beautiful city that has so much to offer. Although not one of America’s largest cities with less than a million residents, Chattanooga is indeed an American gem. Historians who know a thing or two about the American Civil War are aware Chattanooga was the center of a great battle between the Confederate and Union soldiers. As a city, Chattanooga acts as a divider between the Appalachian ridges and valleys and the Cumberland Plateau. The most common nicknames associated with Chattanooga include Scenic City and River City. Also referred to as Gig City, Chattanooga holds the honor as the city with the fastest internet service in North America. What also makes Chattanooga so appealing is the down-home feel one can still experience within its city limits.
Because of Chattanooga’s cultural history, several buildings and three of its neighborhoods are registered with the National Register of Historic Places. Believe it or not, Chattanooga was the official birthplace of the tow truck. It is also the home of the International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame and Museum. This city is also noted for its historical impact on the American railway system. The Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum not only features the iconic passenger train but remains the largest operating historic railroad in the south. Among the locals, they proudly call Chattanooga their home. Among visitors, this is a great tourist destination that has access to everything of interest.
#9 – Riverside, California
As a riverside city, Riverside, California rightfully earns its place as one of the best cities of its kind in the United States. The city earned its name for its location next to the Santa Ana River. As part of the Inland Empire metropolitan area, it is the most populous city of Riverside County. The distance between Riverside and Los Angeles is about fifty miles. It’s actually part of the Greater Los Angeles area but remains its own city. Founded in the early 1870s, Riverside became the birthplace of the citrus industry in California.
Situated inside Riverside’s city limits is Mount Rubidoux. This landmark is the city’s biggest tourist attraction as it graces the community with its presence. Mountains actually surround Riverside and the city itself is close enough to many beaches that grace Southern California’s coastline. If you’re into history, the historic Mission Inn and the Riverside County Historic Courthouse are worth the visit. Much of Riverside’s earliest culture came from the influence of Paris, France. Riverside is also home to the world’s largest paper cup. The Dixie Cup is actually made from concrete but it is an impressive landmark that also reveals a piece of Riverside’s history.
#8 – Nashua, New Hampshire
As a city, Nashua, New Hampshire is one of the USA’s safest to call home. With just under one hundred thousand residents, this beautiful city in Hillsborough County has its eastern boundary sitting on the Merrimack River. Nashua River itself runs through the city and serves as Merrimack’s tributary. By Money Magazine, Nasha was named one of the best places to live in America on three different occasions. One of the benefits of living in Nashua is something residents from Massachusetts like to take advantage of. The lack of New Hampshire’s sales tax makes Nashua a favorite place to stop and shop. Nashua’s popularity as a city is rising as the United States of America contends with the rise of crime within most of its big cities. Nashua isn’t nearly as big in size as cities like Los Angeles and New York but its appeal as an inviting community is huge. Even among tourists, Nashua has been gaining ground as a favorite vacation destination.
#7 – Tampa, Florida
Gracing the Gulf Coast is the city of Tampa, Florida. It borders the north shore of Tampa Bay and the east shore of Old Tama Bay. During the American Civil War, Tampa’s Fort Brooke was a military hub. After the war was over, it was established as a city in 1887. The cigar industry served as one of Tampa’s pioneering businesses before it became a maritime paradise. Although not one of America’s largest cities, Tampa doesn’t disappoint as a favorite place among locals and visitors alike. Although technically a coastal city, Tampa also sits on the riverside of the Hillsborough River. The river itself connects to Hillsborough Bay.
Tampa is home to the infamous Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Bayshore Boulevard, Hyde Park, and Ybor City. Adding to the appeal of this city is its cultural diversity, plus the fact it’s about an hour’s drive from Orlando and its flurry of theme parks and tourist attractions. Tampa also has the benefit of warm weather throughout the year, making it easy to keep the parks and other outdoor spaces in pristine shape. Locals love Tampa as an outdoor playground. So do the tourists.
#6 – Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon is one of the greenest cities in the United States. The location of this city sits where the Columbia River and Willamette River converge. It is here these two large rivers serve as a vital habitat for fish and wildlife. Portland has a reputation as being one of the safest big cities in America. This already is a huge plus why this is one of the best U.S. riverside cities to call home. It’s also a favorite destination for travelers as this is a city loaded with some of the best natural scenery America has to offer. The mountains mostly surrounding it are a huge plus.
The Willamette River is considered a safe river to swim in, at least according to the city officials who monitor it. This is rare as most of America’s largest cities have rivers that have become victims of high pollution levels. Portland is truly a gem of a city that takes pride in all the green space it has within its borders. When it comes to walkability, Portland is among the top cities, and for good reason. Between the scenery and safety levels, the temptation to explore the city on foot is a hard one to pass up. Even in driveability, it’s easy enough to move around without having to worry too much about traffic congestion.
#5 – Boston, Massachusetts
The Charles River is an eighty-mile river that flows in eastern Massachusetts from Hopkinton to Boston. It actually travels through twenty-three communities before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. Once named Quinobequin by the original inhabitants, this river often doubles back as a meandering route before the waters reach its final destination. As a city, Boston is boasted with rich history and scenery that make this one of the best cities in the United States. Before America officially became a nation, Boston was already established as a thriving community. It is one of the oldest municipalities in North America as it was founded in 1640 by Puritan settlers from an English town that had the same name.
During the American Revolution, Boston served as an important port city. Today, Boston serves as a center of scientific research. Notable colleges and universities such as Harvard and MIT make this city the world leader in higher education. Wannabe entrepreneurs look to Boston as the ideal city to turn their dreams into reality. It is also a major hub of activity for members of the LGBT community, as well as a philanthropic activity.
#4 – Los Angeles, California
While it is well regarded Los Angeles, California is a coastal city overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and it also has its own river. Originally known as the Porciuncula River, the Los Angeles River is the major river that runs through Los Angeles County. The headwaters are in the Santa Susana Mountains and Simi Hills. This river flows for over fifty miles, running through San Fernando Valley, Downtown Los Angeles, and Long Beach before meeting with San Pedro Bay. Nowadays, the river runs through a concrete channel on a fixed course out of necessity after the devastation of floods in the early twentieth century. Up until Los Angeles built its own aqueduct, this river was the city’s primary source of fresh water.
As a city, Los Angeles remains one of the favorite destinations for residents and tourists on a global scale. This is where most of the action is, especially if you want to take a crack at making a name for yourself in Hollywood. What also makes this big city so great is its cultural diversity. Aside from the cityscape, the natural landscape in and surrounding Los Angeles is also a primary reason why it’s so popular. Within the rugged terrain, the streets are laid out as a grid pattern. This makes Los Angeles relatively easy to navigate as long as you avoid rush hour traffic.
While cities like Chicago and New York are known for tall skyscrapers, Los Angeles is a stark contrast with its low-rise buildings. Although there are districts that do have highrises, there are not nearly as many of them to be found here. As a tourist’s paradise, Los Angeles is among the top cities of choice to visit. For locals, Los Angeles is the only city they choose to call home. This is a city that doesn’t experience frigid temperatures and it’s a city that basks in the sun most of the time, making it an ideal place to go out and about any time of year.
#3 – Washington, D.C.
Built as a compact city, Washington, D.C. sits on the Potomac River. It borders the states of Maryland and Virginia. This is the official home of the White House as Washington is the U.S. capital that calls all the shots when it comes to American federal politics. Aside from its historical and political impact on the nation, Washington is also among the best American riverside cities to call home. It remains a favorite city to visit among tourists. Aside from its impressive architecture, Washington D.C. also has an impressive display of natural scenery as well. Named after George Washington, this city’s construction as the nation’s capital began in 1791. The District of Columbia was named as a feminine twist to Columbus. On November 17, 1800, the United States Congress held its first session inside the city after passing the Residence Act in 1790. Going into the nineteenth century, the city of Washington, along with D.C. as a state, the federal government seized full control of territories between Maryland and Virginia.
In addition to being a riverside city, Washington D.C. also sits on the U.S. East Coast. The south bank of the Potomac River serves as a border between the city and Virginia. The two major tributaries, the Anacostia River and Rock Creek are situated here. From 1815 until the 1850s, the Washington City Canal was designed as a passageway through the city to the Anacostia River. In Washington D.C., there are over nine thousand acres of city land that are managed by the National Park Service. One thing Washington doesn’t lack as a city is parks, which makes this an ideal riverside city to call home among nature enthusiasts. As a city, Washington D.C. is loaded with history. It’s also a major hub of activity that has more going for it than serving the American nation as its government.
#2 – Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago River passes through the city of Chicago, Illinois, connecting to Lake Michigan. As one of the most vibrant cities in the United States, the rich history of the Windy City includes an array of impressive architecture and a skyline featuring an impressive lineup of skyscrapers. Well known for its musical influence, Chicago’s impact as a city makes this one of the best USA has to offer. In 2022, Chicago was voted Best Big City in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler‘s Readers Choice Awards. In fact, Chicago has earned this honor for six years straight. What makes it such a standout city is the rich culture. As a city with all that jazz and more, locals and visitors seem to be in agreement Chicago is the place to go to take in some big-city excitement. The Chicago River flows through the heart of the city, offering a boat tour opportunity to learn more about it. Chicago was the birthplace of the first skyscraper. Some of the tallest skyscrapers in the US are in Chicago. The Aqua is the second tallest building in the world and was designed by a woman-led architect team.
Aside from the impressive skyscrapers decorating Chicago’s cityscape is the history of the Chicago River itself. After the closing of New Orleans’ Storyville District in 1917, the great migration into Chicago from the south came by riverboats that traveled north on the Mississippi before continuing on Chicago’s own waterway system. Even then, Chicago was the destination to go for a better life. The infamous Roaring Twenties witnessed Chicago, Illinois as the ultimate playground and it continues to inspire jazz musicians and fans to this day.
#1 – New York City, New York
There is no city quite like New York. Many try to compare but that’s a lost cause. Between the rich history of America’s most popular city and its amazing demographics, New York City is, hands down, the best riverside city in the nation. With five boroughs calling it home, the mighty Hudson River and East River. However, to be technical, East River is actually a strait, not a river. In the Bronx, not only does this borough border with the Hudson River, but it also has a river named after it. This is one of two freshwater rivers that flow through New York City. The other one is Hutchison River, which is also in the Bronx and empties into Eastchester Bay.
Between Brooklyn and Manhattan, the East Hudson River borders along these two boroughs. This is New York City’s most popular river that’s loaded with enough history and scenery that puts the Big Apple at the top of the list as the best riverside city in America. In Queens, the Flushing River flows through this borough, straight into New York City. This is the river that connects to the infamous Meadow Lake and its watershed. Sports fans know about this important piece of New York history that played its role in Major League Baseball. As for Staten Island, its connection to New York City is the only one that doesn’t directly connect with the Hudson River. It does, however, connect to the rest of the city as a vital contributor to New York’s awesomeness.
For a city that best defines the true American spirit, New York is it. No matter what the world seems to hurl at it, the heart of this city continues to beat on. Globally, it is regarded as USA’s best city overall. Everything you need is here. Part of the charm behind New York City is how easy it is to escape to the country for some peace and quiet without having to go so far.
Top 10 U.S. Riverside Cities To Visit article published on BigCityReview.com© 2023
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