One of the amazing things about the United States is how many cities there are that are known around the world. Most lists you’re going to see of cities to visit are going to focus on the biggest tourist destinations – New York City, Los Angeles and Miami.
Iconic doesn’t have to just mean the biggest or the most visited, though. Cities can be famous for other reasons too. This article is going to look at American cities that are iconic for their music. Music is an integral part of who we are and helps us to define ourselves as individuals, while uniting a community.
The five cities discussed here all have deep musical roots. They all are well worth a visit, even if you’re not the biggest fan of the genres they are famous for. Consider picking one for an extended stay or going on a musical tour of the country.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Gambling is the first thing that everyone thinks of when they hear the name Las Vegas. The lights of The Strip are iconic, beckoning gamblers and revellers into the clubs and casinos that line its length. Inside the resort casinos, it’s another world, filled with excitement and a buzz you won’t find anywhere else.
Vegas is also an important musical destination. It may not have a genre of its own but through the casino residencies, Vegas has become the temporary home of some of the biggest pop stars in the world.
The shows have grown from the days of Sinatra’s simple shows at the Sands to the epic popstravaganzas of Brittney Spears, Lady Gaga and Celine Dion.
If you can’t make it to Vegas, there are some great alternatives. Casino movies really set the atmosphere of a weekend on The Strip. Online casinos are also a great way to get the Vegas experience without even leaving home.
The selection of slot machine games available at SlotSource gives you an idea of how much variety there is.
From the flash and glamour of Vegas, we head north to the land of sensible rainboots and parkas. You won’t see many umbrellas, though – born and bred Seattleites tend to avoid them due to how windy the city gets (and the fact that they have a certain amount of soggy pride).
Seattle has a thriving music culture and has produced some of the best artists across many genres – most people don’t know that both Jimi Hendrix and Sir Mix-a-Lot hail from the city. Pay attention when you land at the airport and you will notice that all the music played is from local artists.
Grunge, however, will always hold a special place in the city’s history and heart. The beauty of grunge is its refusal to buy into societal standards. It broke the music (and fashion) rules in a way that was less aggressive than punk. It was counterculture but more relaxed about it.
Seattle has changed a lot in the last decade but that relaxed determination to be true to itself has stuck by the Emerald City and made it an iconic destination.
There was a time where American engineering was second to none – nowhere was this faith more apparent than Detroit. American cars were king and Detroit was Motor City. In recent years, Detroit has been hit hard by economic crises and the city has struggled to survive.
Detroit is, however, still a city worth visiting. There are a number of museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as historic neighbourhoods to explore.
Inexpensive real estate due to the economic downturn has meant that entrepreneurs and small business owners have been able to open up businesses, making Detroit a haven for the quirky and creative.
Alongside these attractions, Detroit is also the home of Motown. Motown Records was founded in the city and helped to bring the genre to mainstream attention, and Detroit has managed to protect many of its music venues.
Today, visitors can celebrate the sounds of the city and even visit the studio where some of the biggest hits of the Supremes, the Four Tops and Smokey Robinson were recorded – it’s now the Motown Museum.
New Orleans, Louisiana
No matter what time of year you’re there, New Orleans is one of the most exciting and enjoyable cities to visit in the United States. It’s impossible to pinpoint just one thing that this beautiful city is famous for. There is Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, Creole and Cajun cooking, music and unique historic architecture.
The French Quarter is one of New Orleans’ most iconic neighbourhoods. Also known as the Vieux Carré, the French Quarter is a magical blend of 19th-century French architecture adapted to fit the Louisiana climate.
There is nowhere else quite like it in the whole world. Consider adding in a visit to one of the city’s old cemeteries. Due to the high water table, above-ground crypts are common and many are solemnly beautiful.
Jazz has roots in many places, including Louisiana. New Orleans is one location where the spirit of jazz is kept alive and well. Some of the most influential jazz musicians of all time, including Charles “Buddy” Bolden, Louis Armstrong, Edward “Kid” Ory, Louis Prima and Harold Battiste, are from New Orleans.
You simply cannot visit the city without stopping at Preservation Hall, one of New Orleans’ many legendary jazz clubs.
The last stop on our tour of iconic cities is Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville is known as Music City, so it is an obvious choice to include on our list.
Similarly to most cities in the American South, Nashville is also known for its barbecue and its bourbon. There are plenty of restaurants and distilleries where you can indulge in all the flavours the city has to offer.
Attractions to visit include the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Music City Walk of Fame, the Johnny Cash Museum and the Patsy Cline Museum (the two are conveniently located in the same building).
The tropical gardens at the Gaylord Opryland Resort are an oasis in the city where you can rest and luxuriate in the natural beauty.
The Grand Ole Opry is one destination that is a place you must visit if you have any interest in country music. The country music showcase radio shows at the Opry began in 1925 and continue to this day.
For decades, playing at the Opry was considered a necessary step to country music stardom. Stars such as Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood all performed at the Opry.