Cities & Towns of North America
North America Travel Blog› entry 30 of 69 › view all entries
Well since I'm from the New York area, almost every other city seems quaint by comparison. Still quaint is what I like and I must confess to never really feeling like a New Yorker. Here are some thoughts on some cities on this side of the pond that I've visited.
San Diego, CA- I love the many climates in one city. If you don't like your weather drive 15 minutes and try that. The Old Town was very touristy and nothing special (except for the margaritas which were awesome). The Pacific Coast is stunning though and Balboa Park is lovely in an old world way.
Del Mar, CA- Cute town on the Pacific Coast. Strange to see Alpine-like architecture in southern California though.
Mystic, CT- This pretty town is overrun by tourists, many hoping to see Julia Roberts serve pizza. Mystic Seaport however is very interesting if you're into learning about the maritime history of the area.
Greenwich, CT- Great town... if you're rich!
Essex, CT- Another cute little New England town. This one however has a Christmas train, complete with Santa. Nice scenery, a warm cider, and caroling put you right in the yuletide spirit. My buddy brought his cat along who actually got a picture with Santa. Don't stay at the Rodeway Inn nearby though. It's haunted!
New London, CT- This reawakening small city really feels like an English port town. It is using its ferry and train station as a focus for downtown redevelopment. Lots of clubs and restaurants and the Custums House has a nice little museum.
New Canaan, CT- Little historic railroad town. Cool diner.
Litchfield, CT- Very well kept New England town with money on the way to the Berkshires. Nice place to break for lunch.
Bridgeport, CT- Struggling city on the coast. Transit hub for rail, road, and ferry. It appears that it is trying to revitalize itself, but so far unsuccessful.
Washington, DC- Yes the museums are great and the monuments on the mall are beautiful. But the cool neighborhoods like Adams-Morgan, and the suburbs in Arlington are fun places to visit.
Wilmington, DE- Nothing to see when I visited there years ago, but now there are many diverse attractions on the riverfront including a museum, music, and minor league baseball. Also a great base to explore the historic Brandywine (love that name) Valley.
Rehoboth Beach, DE- As beach resort towns go, this happily is not Ocean City or Myrtle Beach, it's more laid back, but it is full of DC politicians, so pick your poison.
Newark, DE- Very lively college town with some history, and an execllent Main Street. The University of Delaware's University Gallery is interesting as are some of the historic taverns.
New Castle, DE- Not sure why this isn't more of an attraction. Very beautifully preserved Colonial capital looks like Annapolis or other colonial city but no crowds. Considering its proximity to major metropolises this confounds me.
Fort Lauderdale, FL- A good example of an urban beach experience. Nice promenade along the beach. Nothing terribly tacky around.
West Palm Beach, FL- Typical American small city, albeit with palm trees. Fort Lauderdale is much more interesting.
Deerfield Beach, FL- Nice seaside town, great beach. Seems like a nice down to earth place for families.
West Boca Raton, FL- Golf courses!
Miami, FL- South Beach is an interesting mix of regular and flamboyant people. There was a nice food festival there with many tents. Great place to eat Cuban food and imbibe colorful drinks.
Key West, FL- I was very disappointed by this city. I thought it would be touristy, but charming, like a tropical Charleston. However I found it VERY cheesy. Lots of honky-tonk. VERY humid also. I needed gills to breathe. The architecture in the neighborhoods is nice however and the Cuban food cheap and delicious.
Savannah, GA- Very pretty city amisdt a revitalization effort. Wonderful shady old-world parks every couple of blocks lend a repreive from the unrelenting heat. The city was populated mainly with chain establishments, which made it feel like a hot, pretty, outdoor mall. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was stunningly beautiful though.
Lawrenceburg, KY- Small historic town that seems to be one of the centers of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Distillery tours are free and complete with bourbon tastings. Surrounding countryside is quintessential Kentucky horse country.
New Orleans, LA- Beautiful unique city. Quintessentially American and quintessentially not. A wonderful mix of cultures and music which America is all about, but it looks like Spain and feels a little French. Amazing food! The French Quarter is so much more than Bourbon Street, which is in fact a touristy smelly nightmare.
Williamstown, MA- Love this little town in the Berkshires. Very quaint, but lively. This little college town has quite a nice cultural scene without losing it's charm. A world-class art museum located there was a refuge for priceless art that might get blown up in a nuclear attack on New York!
Great Barrington, MA- A bustiling town in the Berkshires. Not as picturesque as Stockbridge or as sophisticated as Williamstown, but a nice town in its own right, with a nice mountain to hike with beautiful views of the Berkshires.
Stockbridge, MA- Yes it actually does look like the famous Norman Rockwell painting! Magical in the winter, but also lively in the summer. A must-see in the Berkshires.
Lee, MA- Another cute little Berkshires town. Not as large as Great Barrington or as picturesque as Stockbridge, but many B&B's to choose from when exploring this wonderful region.
Newburyport, MA- Small city reminiscent of a Tourist-free Annapolis. Really vibrant environment with great colonial architecture and squares. Nice riverfront promenade adds to this town's charms.
Hyannis, MA- Cape Cod is not what I thought it would be. The hub of the mid-Cape, Hyannis has lots of hotels and crap. It does have a decent but small downtown that you can visit while waiting for the ferries off the Cape.
Nantucket, MA- Much nicer than Cape Cod! Quaint doesn't even describe it, although traffic was much more congested than I thought it would be. Great island for biking. Great seafood!
Plymouth, MA- Plimouth Plantation outside the town is fascinating. The town itself hosts the Mayflower II, which is quite interesting and Plymouth Rock which is under a ridiculous Greek style Temple edifice. The downtown seemed quite lively with lots of antique shops. Definitely worth a visit.
Deerfield, MA- Home of Yankee Candle. The historic district is a nice mix of museum and residential with beautifully preserved colonial buildings.
Northampton, MA- Energetic counter-cultural and historic city. Thriving theatre scene, eclectic, and diverse. Lots of recreational opportuiities as well.
Baltimore, MD- This is the city that feels most like home to me. Spent many summers here staying at Grandma's. Lived in nearby Delaware for a time too. I root for the Orioles and Ravens (yes the Mets & Giants too). I love the food and the neighborhoods. Underrated cultural institutions make this a world-class city. Fells Point is the best place to drink in the world! Be careful though, the nice neighborhoods are safe but often abut dangerous areas. Don't get lost!
Annapolis, MD- Wonderful colonial city with history oozing out of every block. Sailing capital of the USA. Naval Academy is definitely worth a visit. Great seafood.
St. Mary's City, MD- Pretty much a college and an archeological site. The reconstructed original capital of Maryland is interesting to walk around in.
Solomons, MD- Small historic resort town on the Chesapeake Bay. Good seafood.
Berlin, MD- Great little town near Ocean City geographically but light years apart in ambience. Nice historic downtown with lots of antique stores and an awesome dinner/coffee/entertainment place.
Frederick, MD- Nice revitalized town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Lively little city and close to the bloody Civil War battlefields of Antietam and Gettysburg.
Cumberland, MD- Pretty Victorian city set in the mountains. Terminus of the C&O Canal Park and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. Downtown is pedestrianized but closes after dark. Good base for exploring the region.
Frostburg, MD- Lively and lovely little college town in the mountains.
Emmitsburg, MD- Little town near the Civil War battlefields of Maryland & Pennsylvania. Cute little historic district. Also is the destination of many Catholic Pilgrimages due to the shrines in the area. Also near nice hiking in the Catoctin Mountains.
North East, MD- Pretty little "gateway" to Eastern Shore. Lots of antique stores and seafood restaurants.
St. Michaels, MD- Nice little nautical town on Chesapeake Bay's Eastern Shore. Wonderful maritime museum and quaint downtown. Also good base from which to explore central Eastern Shore Maryland from land or sea. Also a great place to eat local crab dishes.
Easton, MD- Great real town on Eastern Shore. Somewhat touristy but feels very livable and is quite historic. Upscale too.
Princess Anne, MD- Little town in southern Eastern Shore. Not much going on there, but its location is convenient to visit the region.
Ewell, Smith Island, MD- The "capital" of Smith Island, this tiny little town is only accessible by boat via Crisfield. Nice island to explore by foot and see how the locals live away from everything. There is a little museum about local life and 2 restaurants. One is where all the tourists head. The other is in a dilapidated farmhouse that has junk everywhere, some rickety tables, and the BEST crabcakes you will ever have.
Ocean City, MD; Virginia Beach, VA; Myrtle Beach, SC; Cape Cod, MA- Tacky beach towns are all the same: Loud, garish, crowded. Admittedly not a beach bum, but on Long Island the beaches are wonderful, relatively unspoiled expanses of sand meeting ocean with only some amenities.
Bar Harbor, ME- Cute little town on Mount Desert Island. Hub of activity for visitors to majestic Acadia National Park... one of the most beautiful places on earth. Awesome Lobster Bisque and Blueberry Daquiris can be had here.
Rockland, ME- One of the ports for Maine's famous Windjammer fleet. Decent places to eat and a nice Wyeth museum. But the main reason to go is to take one of the awesome Windjammer cruises for 4-6 days. Times of my life!
Camden, ME- A more polished version of Rockland. Also home to the Windjammer fleet. There is a Windjammer Festival every August that is lots of fun, especially watching fireworks from the ships. Definitely come by windjammer.
Wiscasset, ME- A little tourist town on the way to Rockland & Camden. Red's Eats in town has the best lobster roll... EVER!
Freeport, ME- Charmless town full of EVERY outlet you can imagine. I must admit the LL Bean complex was interesting. Just outside the town is the bizarre Desert of Maine... yes a desert. This strange geographic anomoly is a nice little detour.
Bath, ME- Thriving naval town with a burgeoning arts community.
Boothbay Harbor, ME- Former home of the HMS Bounty recreation (which tragically sunk in Superstorm Sandy), it is a very touristy little Downeast Maine town.
Stonington, ME- This island town is gritty and still very much a seafaring town. A taste of real Downeast Maine.
Waverly, MN- Small quiet city on a beautiful lake.
Minneapolis, MN- Bustling, growing city with a lot of construction. Getting ready to host the Super Bowl. Will be curious as to what it's like in 2 years.
St. Paul, MN- Twin City to Minneapolis. Seemed much quieter though. Very large historic district filled with old magnificent Victoria homes.
Wayzata, MN- Affluent lake side town. Quite touristy and lots of mosquitos.
New Ulm, MN- Old city with strong German heritage. Lovely neighborhoods, parks and the famous and charming Schell Brewery.
Bozeman, MT- Funky little city near Yellowstone National Park and surrounded by the Gallatin National Forest. Great recreational opportunities nearby which explains why there are more outdoor stores than supermarkets and everyone owns a Subaru. Nice downtown with a surprisingly vibrant art scene.
Belgrade, MT- Rapidly growing town near Bozeman. Nice walkable neighborhoods with amenities.
Virginia City, MT- Old Wild West Town. Definitely looks the part.
West Yellowstone, MT- Totally tacky gateway town for Yellowstone National Park. Unlike Virgina City, totally inauthentic Wild West town.
Pray, MT- Blink and you miss it town set in stunning Paradise Valley. Chino's Hot Springs is located here for an old-fashioned soaking good time.
Keane, NH- I heard how great this town is, that it is one of the best places in New England. I guess with that kind of hype, it was natural to be disappointed. I really saw nothing particularly special here. Maybe I should have gone in October when they have their world-famous Jack-O-Lantern festival.
Jackson, NH- A very small and cute town nestled in the White Mountains. Very close to Mount Washington. Cool covered bridge brings you into town. Lots of charming places to stay and eat. A quaint alternative to congested and touristy North Conway when visiting the Presidential Range.
North Conway, NH- Convenience to the White Mountains is all this town has going for it. Very commercial in an Everywhere, USA kind of way.
Littleton, NH- Little town full of lodging. Nice little downtown area and very convenient to the White & Franconia Mountains.
Lambertville, NJ- Sister city to New Hope, PA. More down-to earth than the city across the Delaware but still plenty of galleries and restaurants.
Frenchtown, NJ- Quaint town on the Delaware River. Surrounded by lovely countryside, worthy of the "Garden State" The town makes a great base for recreational activities on the river.
Hewitt, NJ- Small residential community on lovely Greenwood Lake. Great place for lake activities.
Lake George, NY- Beautiful natural setting but VERY touristy town. Lots of history nearby. Definitely meander through the back roads of the Adirondacks when you're there. The 3 hour lake cruise is quite nice though. Also not too far from cave complexes and the Catholic Shrines to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and the North American Martyrs.
Bolton Landing, NY- A much nicer alternative when visiting Lake George. Just enough restaurants and shops to keep one occupied, but it does not overwhelm the town. One can rent a kayak here too.
Lake Placid, NY- Yes sight of the Olympics many years ago. Very resort-like. I guess it's great if you're into winter sports. I was there in August and am not.
Tivoli, NY- Quirky little town in Upstate NY. Everyone seemed to know each other in that "Northern Exposure" kind of way. Pretty diverse little downtown for such a small community.
Rhinebeck, NY- Pretty town in the Hudson Valley. Norman Rockwellian charm, while a little trendy. Beekman Arms is an old inn and tasty traditional restaurant that refound it's charm. Great place for a day trip.
Red Hook, NY- Seems to be the center of the Christmas Tree industry in the Fall. Small town has lots of antique shops. Nearby Rhinebeck and Tivoli are much more interesting.
Hudson, NY- Reborn little city on the Hudson River. Former manufacturing base has all but disappeared but has been replaced by upsacle antique shops, artistic venues, restaurants and bars. Lots of nice urban architecture in a small area. Feels like a Williamsburgh Brooklyn in the mountains.
Cold Spring, NY- Cute little village in the Hudson Valley. Somewhat artsy and nice surroundings make this worth a stop.
New Paltz, NY- Funky bohemian college town surrounded by ski country. Everything a modern hippy could wish for. Also oldest intact street in America.
Woodstock, NY- Tourist hippyish town as one would expect, but unlike New Paltz, this is for former hippies with money. The infamous concert venue is not here but in Bethel, some 20 miles away.
Geneva, NY- Finger Lake City which seems to be experiencing a rebirth. Seems to have religious foundations. Upcoming boat museum will be a nice touch.
Cooperstown, NY- Yes the Baseball Hall of Fame is here and you can't miss it! Baseball dominates this town. But it is a nice lakeside town noetheless with plenty of interesting architecture, neighborhoods and places to eat.
Clayton, NY- Town on the St. Lawrence River. Quite a bit of life in this city. The Antique Boat Museum is a must-see. Also the birthplace of 1000 Island Dressing.
Alexandria Bay, NY- Charmless hub of the 1000 Islands Tourist Industry. Tacky! Cruises through the 1000 Islands & Boldt Castle depart from here.
Sacketts Harbor, NY- Small town on Lake Ontario that was the site of a War of 1812 Battle. Very interesting restaurant scene.
Watertown, NY- The center of the 1000 Islands region. Large downtown is occupied and attractive but not very lively. This is the best place to base yourself for a visit to the 1000 Islands.
Fonda, NY- Location of the National Catholic Shrine to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Too bad the pilgrims there don't seem to inject any economic activity into this depressed town in need of a lift.
Katonah, NY- Pretty little town north of NYC. As close as you will get to "Bedford Falls" from the movie "It's a Wonderful Life."
Greenport, NY- Working class port on Eastern Long Island's North Fork. Discovered by tourists but still feels real (the anti-Hamptons). Very convenient to the North Fork's famous wineries.
Port Jefferson, NY- Gateway town to Connecticut as a ferry connects Long Island with Bridgeport. Very New England feel. Lots of nice places to eat. Charles Dickens Festival is a quite festive event before Christmas.
Niagara Falls, NY- Depressed Rust Belt city trying to re-invent itself and reap some of the economic rewards from its namesake. While the Canadian side has more recreational opportunities and the tacky infrastructure that goes with them, the American side was where one FEELS the Falls and EXPERIENCES them. The lines for the Maid of the Mist are much shorter here and do the Cave of Winds at the Bridal Veil Falls. I've never laughed so hard!
Ticonderoga, NY- Town near the famous fort and head of Lake George. Has some charm, but definitely needs some investment.
Essex, NY- Pretty little rich town on Lake Champlain near Quebec border. Had lobster poutine, their take on a Quebecois classic. Very good!
Wilmington, NC- Pleasant historic southern city. Apparently the furthest north palm trees can grow. Nice pit stop on the way to South Carolina.
Cincinatti, OH- Pleasant hybrid city, part mid-western, part southern, part northeastern. Some interesting architecture. The city seems in the middle of a rebirth after a massive depopulation. Try the Goetta. (No I didn't see Jennifer Marlowe.)
Montgomery, OH- Historic suburb of Cincinatti. Nice downtown, but otherwise just a typical fairly affluent suburban community.
Blue Ash, OH- Sprawling suburb of Cincinatti. Was here for a wedding. Nice fireworks on July 4th.
Philadelphia, PA- Lots of history. Years ago I was here and not impressed. However the city seems to be revitalized. The Center City is very walkable, vibrant and I loved the quiet historic lanes and neighborhoods hidden among the busy thouroughfares.
Gettysburg, PA- A must for the Civil War buff. The battlefield is serene and feels like sacred ground. The auto tour is definitely worth doing. The town itself is very pretty and lively as well.
Chambersburg, PA- Kind of a less polished and more blue-collar version of Gettysburg. Lively downtown.
Intercourse, PA- Typically funny Amish town name. Typical Amish country town. Lots of farms, quiant Amish & Antique stores, and eatieries.
Strasburg, PA- In the heart of bucolic Amish Country, this town has a great railroad museum and wonderful family-style Amish restaurants. It's near the outlets if you're into that sort of thing (I'm not). Defintely ride the Strasburg Steam Train- 1st Class if you can. Very old world elegance.
Hew Hope, PA- Very touristy town in Bucks County. Lots of galleries and good places to eat. Nice riverside hike by the Delaware. Cross the bridge to its sister city Lambertville, NJ.
Doylestown, PA- Much more real feeling city in Buck's County than New Hope. Vibrant downtown with lots of shops and restaurants. beautiful architecture. It's real claim to fame are the Mercer castles that house museums on tiles and Americana.
Nescopeck, PA- This little town is in the middle of nowhere. Nothing to see here except the 3 Mile Island Nuclear Power plant unnervingly nearby. Went hear to pick up a Chris Craft boat kit with my buddy. I'm a good friend!
Providence, RI- The Renaissance City definitely lives up to its name. The Waterplace Park is a gem of urban renewal.
Newport, RI- Beautiful seaside town, full of restaurants, gilded age mansions and the Tennis Hall of Fame. Very touristy, but worth it.
Jamestown, RI- Island town just outside of bustling Newport but feels a world away. Quiet and bucolic.
Charleston, SC- I LOVE this town. If it wasn't so hot in the summer, I would live here. Lovely old world charm, beautiful architecture, and AMAZING food. Lots of history too. The Live Oaks and Palm trees complete the picture post card.
Beaufort, SC- Historic southern town south of Charleston. Wonderful waterfront park with shaded swing-benches overlooking a river. That was my happy spot!
Hilton Head, SC- Unless you are rich and all you like to do is golf and go shopping, avoid this charmless place. I had heard so much about it and was hugely disappointed.
Summerville, SC- Several historic plantations can be found here which are nice, but the town is kind of boring. Head back to Charleston.
Gatlinburg, TN- Charming tourist town in the Smokey Mountains. Lots of great moonshine! Not quite as tacky as nearby Pigeon's Forge.
Abingdon, VA- Nice town in the sourthwestern part of the state. Nice historic downtown which includes the historic Barter Theatre. Lots of antique shops. Virginia Creeper Trail begins here.
Arlington, VA- Nice place to live and stay if you're in the DC area. The Pentagon & the Iwo Jima Memorial are very near the National Cemetery. Many diverse neighborhoods, some with a lively nightlife.
Williamsburg, VA- Nice colonial town in the middle of the Historic Traingle (with Yorktown & Jamestown). If you're an American History buff this is the place for you. Stay at one of Colonial Williamsburg's lodgings and you'll get a great package deal that includes everything.
Charlottesville, VA- City in Western Virginia that doesn't have many special sights but a nice gateway to Monticello and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Fredericksburg, VA- Small city between Richmond & Washington. Site of many Civil War battles. Many of the earthworks are still visible.
Bennington, VT- Nice vibrant New England town (especially in the snow). Unique and striking Revolutionary War monument is a centerpiece of the town and there is a nice comprehensive museum to Grandma Moses (I'm a fan).
Burlington, VT- I love this pretty city. Beautifully located on Lake Champlain, it has a very vibrant atmosphere. The Church Street Marketplace is a wonderful amenity for a town this size, with lots of places to eat and shop... not just tourist shopping, but real shopping. It seems to have a very active population.
Shelburne, VT- A suburb of Burlington, this town has the wonderful Shelburne Museum featuring all sorts of Americana, the Shelburne Dairy Farm, and for those that care, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Be warned though: Route 7 will be full of traffic- not what you expect in Vermont.
Westin, VT- Cute little village in Ski Country. Home to the very peaceful Westin Priory and the touristy Vermont Country Store.
Manchester, VT- Wealthy town near Ski Country. Kind of like the Hamptons with mountains instead of beaches. Very posh stores and outlets dominate the village unfortunately. Lots of traffic. The Lincoln Family Home is surprisingly located here and worth a visit.
Peru, VT- A blink and you miss it town near Bromley Mountain. Stayed at a friend's house off of a couple of dirt roads. DARK at night.
Springfield, VT- A little town in Vermont with a wonderfully festive Christmas Tree Farm.
Brattleboro, VT- Small, vibrant, and artsy city. Great base for visiting the candle factories in neighboring Massachusetts.
Seattle, WA- Stunning setting among lakes and mountains. Those post cards that show Mount Ranier as part of the Seattle Skyline are not fakes. It really does appear that way! It didn't rain as much as I had thought it would, but I did go in the summer. The best Asian food I ever had was there (sorry NY Chinatown). Starbucks coffee was also much better there than anywhere else I've been to.
Hudson, WI- Small but active riverside city facing Minnesota. Lots of recreational opportunities and a small vibrant downtown.
WYOMING- Just splendid Yellowstone & Grand Tetons National Parks. No towns.
CANADA (2002, 2006, 2012, 2014):
Vancouver, BC- Modern city with many glass towers surrounded by water and mountains which makes a gorgeous setting. Funky Pacific Northwest vibe with a definite Asian tilt. Beautiful parks that include old growth redwoods and beautiful views. Very livable city that smells like flowers and pot.
North Vancouver, BC- Separate city that feels like a part of Vancouver proper. Connected by a quick seasbus ride. Nice waterfront promenade affords spectacular views of Vancouver.
Richmond, BC- Sister city south of Vancouver and integrated into its transit network. Very Asian! Feels like a modern, dense, transit-oriented suburb, but also has many farms. Lovely Village of Steveston within the city is like a step back in time. Often used in films and TV shows. Currently outdoor scenes of "Once Upon a Time" are filmed here. Great old time waterfront and fish and chips.
Victoria, BC- Capital of British Columbia which feels both North American and British. Much more a Commonwealth vibe than Vancouver. Connected to mainland by scenic ferries. Great recreational opportunities. Nice castle too. Very laid back and friendly. I could live here.
Montreal, PQ- Wonderful French-speaking city just north of the border. Feels like a European-American hybrid (think a French Manhattan). Lots of nightlife and beautiful churches.
Quebec City, PQ- A piece of Europe in North America. Wonderful old-town exudes old-world charm. The food is a unique mix of Canadian staples with French sauces (for instance, a tasty moose stew) You really feel far from the U.S. here, but you're really not.
St. Ann de Beaupret, PQ- Little village, along the St. Lawrence River, surrounding the Basilica of the same name. Many pilgrims here. The basilica complex is spiritually enriching though and the setting beautiful.
Rougemont, PQ- Center of the Quebecois cider industry. Little town surrounded by flat fields of orchards and strange outcroppings that come out of nowhere. Do the Cider Route.
St. Jean sur Richelieu, PQ- Very blue-collar city in the midst of a revitalization. Burgeoning restuarant scene but it still needs a few years to take off.
Magog, PQ- Touristy town on a lovely lake that really is an extension of Lake Champlain. Lots of restaurants to choose from.
Hemmingford, PQ- Another center of the cider industry just a stone's throw from the American border with New York. Very little downtown is quiet with a couple of nice pleaces to eat.
Kingston, ON- Small city that functions as the Capital of the otherwise rural 1000 Islands. Felt quite British and had a nice fort to visit.
Genanaque, ON- The Canadian hub of the 1000 Island tourist industry but unlike Alexandria Bay, NY it has not lost its charm. Vibrant arts community. 1000 Islands cruises depart from here.
Toronto, ON- Comparisons to New York City are understandable as there are similarities such as the Theatres and the ethnic mix. However, Toronto is much more ordered. Loved the streetcars. The city is VERY green with many leafy neighborhoods and the Toronto Islands are a nice and easy-to-get-to respite.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON- Prettiest village in North America. Looks like a larger and even more polished Stockbridge, MA. Flowers everywhere and it's right were the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario. Fort Niagara, USA is just across the river and on a clear day you can see Toronto. When visiting the Falls base yourself here.
Niagara Falls, ON- Part depressed struggling city, part Disneyworld on the Falls. Unfortunately the tourists don't seem to venture inland to the old downtown. This side of the Falls feels like a Carnival. Good for families I suppose. The American side of the Falls were more natural and more my taste.
San Juan, PR- A vibrant Carribean city with great local food, a charming old town that evokes Mother Spain, and the sound of the aquamarine waves crashing on the beach. However the unending sprawl and choking traffic do detract from the experience.
Rio Grande, PR- Home to the magical El Yunque National Rainforest. Many shacks outside the forest. The main commercial area looks like Everywhere, USA: big box stores, malls, wide highways, no charm. If you eat here, eat in one of the dilapidated looking places within the Rainforest where the local food is awesome. Be prepared to wait in line- it's that good.
Anse Marcel, St. Martin- Touristy harbor village in quiet northeast of the island. Good base for sailing.
Marigot, St. Martin- Capital of the French part of the island. Interesting architecture along the waterfront. City is small and full of traffic. Good foodie scene though.
Gran Case, St. Martin- The restaurant scene of the St. Martin. Wonderful cheap BBQ places that have awesome food. Tried Conch here. Lookd like a not so polished mini- New Orleans French Quarter.
Anguilla- Island felt like Jamaica-lite. British possession inhabited by locals wearing rastafari, drinking copious amounts of rum on the beach and smoking pot.
Gustavia, St. Barthelemy- Loved St. Barth's! This city felt more European than Caribbean. Definitely lives up to its posh reputation. Saw many Bridgette Bardot wannabes, high end stores and even a 125,000 Euro watch. But you can find reasonable places to eat good food and drink and it is a delight to explore. Some beautiful beaches nearby.