The United States is a continent-sized country and a surprisingly diverse one at that in terms of tourist offer. From the towering skyscrapers of New York to the glitz and glamor of Los Angeles, there is something for every type of traveler.
With as many as 50 states, however, and who knows how many exciting city breaks, it’s challenging to narrow down the very best and get to the one destination that’s appealing to a majority.
Luckily, readers of Conde Nast Traveler have helped us reach a more democratic decision.
This surprising city was voted best to visit in the States, ranking higher than all other tourist favorites, from East to West:
Chicago Is The Best U.S. City
According to CN Traveler readers who participated in their yearly survey, the best city for visiting in the U.S. is Chicago, Illinois.
Though it is a city best known for boasting great connectivity to other global destinations through its busy O’Hare International Airport, which officially serves as an intermediate stop for many Americans going abroad, Chicago is so much more than a mere transit hub.
Topping the CN Traveler list ‘yet again‘, it is the third-largest city in the States, home to beautiful architecture, an inspiring underground music scene, and most importantly, an amazing local cuisine.
Not that many American cities are renowned for their local food.
The U.S. may be a colossal state, but as it is a nation built by and for migrants, food is either heavily influenced by third cultures or directly imported from other countries, lacking the traditional aspect of it.
Chicago is no exception, as it does not have a wealth of native ingredients and dishes itself, but on the other hand, it is known for its creative take on world cuisine and numerous delicacies.
These include the Chicago-style hot dog, the Italian-inspired beef sandwich, and Chicago Barbecue.
The most iconic of them, deep-dish pizza, is baked around a steel pan, resembling an upside-down pie filled with mozzarella cheese.
Some of the best restaurants for trying deep-dish pizza include Giordano’s, with up to 9,721 impressions on TripAdvisor so far, mostly positive, Spacca Napoli Pizzeria, and Piece, a go-to spot for both sampling the unique creation and belting out songs on karaoke nights.
An Electric Nightlife
When it comes to nightlife, Chicago is probably one of the most vibrant cities in America, home to a plethora of entertainment venues, dive bars, nightclubs, and pubs, and no visit would be complete without a night out in trendy Andersonville.
Other than being a Bohemian neighborhood brimming with life after sundown, it is popular for its Swedish architecture, further proof of Chicago’s undeniable multiculturalism.
It houses the Swedish American Museum, where artifacts from Scandinavian migrant communities are exhibited, and Clark Street, a commercial zone lined by adorable antique shops, rustic-looking cafes, and heritage row buildings.
In fact, Chicago’s architectural display is of the reasons why it is so admired by outsiders.
A Fascinating Mix Of Old And New
Strolling along the Chicago River, which cuts through the heart of the city and branches out into several smaller canals, you will meet clusters upon clusters of modern skyscrapers, including the landmark, 110-storey Willis Tower.
In other parts of the city, you will also find ‘Polish Cathedrals’ – a North American architectural style, in spite of their name – evocative of the Old World, and the castle-like Chicago Water Tower, built 154 years ago, and one of the oldest-standing structures.
The best neighborhood for viewing historical buildings is the Old Town, settled by Germans in the 1850s, and a protected zone with a well-preserved Victorian-era townscape.
St Michael’s Church in the Old Town is one of the few buildings in Chicago, alongside the Water Tower, to have survived the Great Fire of 1871, responsible for destroying much of the earlier historical settlement.
If you’re the museum type and would like a deeper cultural immersion beyond just sightseeing, the Art Institute of Chicago and the lesser-known Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures are not to be missed.
Chicago’s Greatness Lies In Its Diversity
As CN Traveler points out, there are as many as 77 neighborhoods to pick from, and whether you’re a culture geek or you’re simply looking for an epic weekend getaway, rest assured Chicago will deliver.
This year, a new stunning luxury hotel also opened in a privileged location in the city center, right by the iconic Chicago Bean, with panoramic views of both the skyscraper-dotted skyline and the winding Chicago River.
Learn more about Chicago and the fun, off-beaten path things you can do in the Windy City here.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com