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The 40 Worst Cities to Visit in the United States

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

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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

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

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.

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Chicago, Illinois

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

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!

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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

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

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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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

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.

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