Introducing The Urban America Project
I recently got the great opportunity to interview one of my all-time favorite travel bloggers, Gary Arndt, who I wish I could go see speaking at Blog World this January in Las Vegas (oh college *sighs*). In our interview about America’s best National Parks, we mentioned his American National Parks Project. It really inspired me to announce a project of my own.
By the time I turn 21 on January 22, 2015, I plan on having visited every major American city. We are talking about every city on the map on the US City Traveler home page. It will be quite a journey to attempt to visit all 32 cities before I graduate from college (I plan on graduating a few months later, in April of that year). I want to not just have staff reviews of these cities, but to actually be able to showcase my photography and reviews from each city on the map.
So far I have visited 22, which means I only have 10 left. That sounds very doable when balancing school at the same time, but the thing is that many of the cities were visited prior to the last few years when I started started making videos and storing all of my pictures online. I also just purchased my professional camera (the Canon EOS 6D) in mid-2013, meaning that some of my older pictures aren’t quite as professional as I would have liked, as many were taken with my iPhone. While the iPhone camera works great for “selfies” and shots taken in good lighting, it doesn’t work so well when taking pictures with contrasting colors, as I just learned about on my trip to LA. I just wrote a post that talks all about the quality of the iPhone camera.
Therefore, it is necessary to revisit many of the cities that I do not remember so well nor have video and images from. So this will be quite a journey, especially when balanced with weekly podcasts, summer classes, and up to 18 credit hours per semester, but I am going to do everything in my power to get it done!
One problem for me is that I hate having to drive anywhere outside of Chattanooga, that’s why I plan on moving to a city that has a great public transportation system. So flying to 15 cities in about a years time will be quite difficult and costly, so I will just see how much I feel like doing and how much I even want to do. Another dilemma for me is that I don’t want to just spend a day or two in each place, I would prefer about four days per place (if time permits), but I suppose we will see. Theres’s no point in going just to say I went!
This list was created to not only help me keep up with where all I have been, but also to give you an idea of why I choose to go to the places that I have and share my whole thought process behind it all. So pour you a nice cup of coffee and sit back, relax, and enjoy!
Here Are The Ones That I Have Visited Since 2010:
Orlando – I still don’t have any high quality videos from here, as I had just bought my Sony A33 at the time of my 2010 visit and was experimenting around with my first videos at that point in time. I Just purchased my Canon a few months ago, which is by far my best camera. I do have some great pictures from there, though, so I am in no immediate hurry to return. I’ve probably visited Orlando nearly a dozen times between the ages of 6 and 16, so I am plenty familiar with the place. I was actually there in 2010 for the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Maybe I’ll be able to return for the second phase of the expansion, called “Diagon Alley,” which will be coming to Universal Studios Florida park in 2014. I’m sure it has caused a lot of confusion as people purchased a ticket to just see the original Universal park and then realized that the real attraction was actually next door. I recently interviewed The Theme Park Insider about Orlando, which I highly recommend listening to if you’re planning a trip here anytime soon.
Atlanta – I’ve probably been here about 50 to 100 times over the course if my lifetime, as it is just a two hour drive from Chattanooga, TN and we have a few good friends that live here. Ever since the 1996 olympics, this place has been on a touristy rampage, opening attractions like the “world’s largest aquarium” and the World of Coke.
Nashville – I was just here in January 2013 to revisit their Gaylord Opryland Resort to see all three of their beautifully decorated indoor conservatories, which are free of charge by the way. I’m not so into the country music scene there, though,
so I really have no reason to return! Scratch that, I actually made a nice day trip here two weeks ago to visit their zoo, The world’s only full-scale recreation of The Parthenon in Greece, and The Mall at Green Hills. I look forward to sharing more about that mini trip with you soon.
Denver – I just took my first trip to Denver for my 2013 Spring Break and had fun. But I realized that snowboarding wasn’t right for me, as I didn’t feel safe and couldn’t seem to get into the swing of things. I’ll be writing all about the experience and why I decided to give up. It’ll be out soon!
Las Vegas – Love Vegas, I’ve been here twice already and plan on doing the national study program here next summer. I love its close proximity to LA. Since visiting last year, I’ve learned about so many unique things here that I missed out on the previous two times, which I can’t wait to see when I return next summer.
Seattle – This was a stop on our 2012 road trip last sumer. I had a blast and got to see all I wanted to, so I’m good on Seattle for the next five years. Got that one marked off the good ‘ol bucket list.
Minneapolis – Being a shopaholic and a self proclaimed “theme park extraordinaire,” I just had to take a visit to one of the largest malls in the world, which happened to have it’s very own Nickelodeon theme park smack down in the center of it all. We basically came for the Mall of America and left on out of there, which is just how I liked it. 🙂
St. Louis – Another stop on the 2012 roadtrip, I really just wanted to see that iconic arch and get the dodge out of town! Haha. We got to see it and their incredible City Museum, which I highly reccomend for anyone who has kids. But since visiting I’ve learned about so many cool things there that I missed out on in my St. Louis interview with Adam Sommer. I’ll definitely be returning within the next year.
Chicago – I loved Chicago and got to spend two days here last summer, which was enough to see all of the highlights. This is another place I’d like to return to, especially after all of the insight from Chicago resident Lisa Lubin.
Memphis – We got to see Graceland here on our trip last summer. I’m not even an Elvis fan and I loved seeing how an A-list celebrity lived back in the 60’s.
Panama City – Nothing beats a good beach trip. I’ve been here a few times because it’s the closest beach to Chattanooga and our friends have a condo here at The Shores of Panama. Good times.
New York City – I’ve been here twice now and plan on living here next fall for my internship, where I will be just a few minutes outside of the central city. I can hardly wait to explore Manhattan and get to know their variations a little better between each of the various boroughs.
Los Angeles – We flew into the LAX back in 2008 for a trip to Disneyland. The thing was that we only went to Disneyland and never got to explore LA! Just last week was my first real trip to Hollywood and I had a blast. I got to go on a tour of celebrity homes, get my pictures taken with wax figures of my favorite celebs, see two live TV show tapings, and visit nearby Venice Beach! What an amazing place! I got to see Ryan Seacrest, shake hands with Chelsea Lately’s Chuy Bravo, and see Mac Miller perform live. Not bad.
San Diego – I also visited San Diego this past weekend and had a blast. Balboa Park reminded me of a place I’d find in Europe. What beautiful architecture. I could spend a few weeks exploring all of the museums there. The zoo was great too, I see why they call it the nation’s best. I also went to Coronado Island to see Hotel Del Coronado, which I had remembered reading about in my book about 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. How fun!
Prior To 2010:
Miami – We only got to pass through Miami back a few years ago and I have been dying to finally return and see South Beach for myself. I am always hearing about how much the celebrities love it here so I look forward to returning next year. Miami here I come.
Key West – I went on a great trip here a few years ago but would love to return again to see what it’s all about.
New Orleans – I actually spent a nice long visit here in early 2010, but I did not save the pictures from it. Uggh makes me so mad. But it does give me a reason to return. I would also like to see the additional recovery and renovations from the ongoing Katrina cleanup (yes, even all these years later).
Williamsburg – Yeah I visited colonial Williamsburg alright. But the thing was that I was 10 at the time and this place literally bore me to tears! Whhooo I was so glad when we finally got to go to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA! But now that I am older, I really think I could appreciate it a lot more and learn a lot too.
Philadelphia – The only thing I remember doing here was getting a cheese steak and seeing the Liberty Bell, which is probably because I was only 6 at the time. Nevertheless, I’ve done a lot of research on the place for this site and I would love to return and see what I keep reading about.
Washington, DC – I, just like a lot of you, I bet, got to go here on my 8th grade graduation trip. Once again, I had trouble appreciating a lot of it and I would love to return to get that epic snap shot of me standing in front of the White House. After all, I am the US City Traveler and our nation’s capital is quite vital to our tourism scene! I really want to see our nation’s only Da Vinci painting at the National Gallery of Art and see The Star-Spangled Banner at The National Museum of American History.
Tampa – St. Pete was beautiful, I remember staying at a nice hotel on the ocean and chillin’ in the hot tub each night watching the sunset. How fun. I remember being too afraid to do all of the rides at Busch Gardens and then at the very end I finally talked myself into doing one of the medium sized roller coasters! I was so proud of myself for finally going upside down! 😉
San Francisco – Dying to finally see the Golden Gate Bride in person! Alcatraz sounds cool too!
Phoenix – To be completely honest, I don’t have any real desire to go here but I know that it is one America’s largest cities, so that alone gives me a reason to take a closer look and see what all of the buzz is about. I had a layover here last week and I almost considered that to be good enough to mark it off my list, even though I never left the airport!
Honolulu – Earlier this year I acutally had the opportunity to go to Hawaii but backed out at the last minute because I was afraid that I would appreciate it more when I was older. I am more of a fan of larger cities, rather than outdoorsy attractions, so I wasn’t so sure if I would love it or hate it and I didn’t want to spend all that money to do something I wasn’t absolutely loving. But since then I got to interview Dave and Deb from The Planet D about their first-time trip to Hawaii and it sounded amazing and now I am dying to go! To see those huge volcanos would be a reson in and of itself.
Anchorage – I defintely don’t plan on making the trip all the way to Antarctica any time soon but Anchorage, on the other hand, seems quite doable. I would love to go on a nice cruise through the region and stay warm from my little room and look out the window at all the scenery.
Houston – I’ve been dying to do a little mini Texas road trip (especially after interviewing National Geographic’s Andrew Evans) to see the three largest cities and finally see Schlitterbahn, which is considered to be the best water park in the country, by many. Same goes with Dallas and San Antonio. The Alamo, here I come!
Kansas City – Never visited and never really wanted to, but I am learning how big their tourist scene really is and I’m starting to want to finally give it a chance!
Cincinnati – No real desire.
Wisconsin Dells – The reason this place was added to the US City Traveler map was solely for it being considered the “indoor water park capital of the world” so it’d be fun to see these mega-sized indoor fun parks for myself.
Well there you have it, folks, there’s my thought process behind it all. Do you agree with my reasoning? As always, let me knof if you have any questions in the comments section below.