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15 American Cities Serving Up Classic American Vibes (Recommended by Locals)

America is a big and diverse country, and not every city here is like the stereotypical American city you see in Hollywood. An internet user asked, “What city would you recommend to a foreigner trying to generalize America best?”. 

The original poster added, “There was a debacle on TikTok about an Irish person trying cheesecake in New York City and generalizing it as American cheesecake. 

It sparked some controversy because cheesecake is very hyper-regional. A lot of cultural things in America are, in fact, hyper-regional. New York City is also unique and a culture shock to even most Americans, so the experience one has in New York City shouldn’t be used to generalize America as a whole. 

This had me thinking, what city would I recommend to a foreigner with a nice blend of all American culture.”

Below are the top responses!

COLUMBUS 

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“I used to live in Columbus and read that companies commonly used it to test market products because it was the most representative of American cities. 

So, I’d recommend Columbus. I also like the town for its own merits.”

CHICAGO 

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“Chicago, Illinois. Source: I live here! You get the big city feel that the United States can offer, but with the midwestern charm, you don’t get on the coasts, which is also a big part of the United States. 

You can get a bunch of different cuisines and people of different origins, and you can take the metro and go to one of the suburbs for a day for a classic suburb experience. I’ve lived in other cities, and Chicago has some pretty cool suburbs in comparison.”

TEXAS

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“To be honest, as an American, I had culture shock in Texas! It’s unlike anywhere in the United States where I had ever been and very dissimilar to where I grew up in the United States. 

It is a neat place to visit. I like that it encompasses the unique blend of cultures with Latin American representation in the population and elements like language, food, music, and media. Other places where you could find that diversity could be Miami.”

PHILADELPHIA AND CHICAGO

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“I know the preconceived notions and general narrative will get in the way, but I would say Philadelphia. Probably the best combination of history and food of any city in the country, and you will meet a large variety of Americans. 

Also, Chicago would be great, as others have mentioned.”

DENVER 

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“Denver. We are a very average American city, but we also have a lot of natural beauty nearby that also defines the American experience. People from the American West also have a strong respect and appreciation for nature.

We have a lot of transplants from the coast but a strong independent streak from our roots in the American West. The only thing we don’t have here is a solid black community. Lots of Latinos and Asians, though.”

TULSA

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“Tulsa. It’s the most average city in an average state in the Midwest. Great spot and good people.”

CHARLOTTE 

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“Charlotte, North Carolina. The city has nothing unique and is almost like if you copy and paste a typical American city into existence.”

KANSAS CITY

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“Maybe Kansas City. Generic accent. Traditional American food (Barbeque). There is always going to be an argument why a city is or isn’t typically American.”

LOS ANGELES 

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“Los Angeles, no question. I’m from Nashville, and I just lived a year in Los Angeles. It’s like every culture in the whole country got crammed into one city.”

DETROIT

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“I want to say Detroit because the auto industry here has pulled in folks from all over the United States and the world for over a century. It’s truly a melting pot, but a lot of midwestern cities would be good picks as well; it feels like there’s been a post-industrial diaspora from Rust Belt cities, and anywhere you go, you’ll find folks that trace their roots back to Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago. 

That would be a fun road trip to tour the Rust Belt; every one of those cities has world-class restaurants and museums.”

SAINT LOUIS 

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“Saint Louis. In the middle of the country, it is not very cosmopolitan. Hollowed out, dangerous, crime-ridden city center, boring white suburbs.” 

OKLAHOMA CITY 

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“Oklahoma City. One is the best Cowboy Museum. There’s the First Americans Museum (as the United States forced most native peoples to relocate to reservations in Oklahoma, it’s a huge melting pot of native heritage. You can see American Buffalo at the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. 

See the historic and still functional cattle stockyards (those Stockyards historically sent the cattle and hogs from Texas and Oklahoma up to the meat packers in Chicago). It has a great cross-section of craft food and beverages. The city is easy to navigate.

I’ve got a thousand other recommendations if you’re interested.”

FLORIDA 

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“I think Florida would be a good pick. People there have moved from all over the country, and you get the mix of traditional old South and Latin influences.”

SAN DIEGO 

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“San Diego would be a good one based on what internationals have probably seen from Hollywood.”

OHIO

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“If a foreigner is trying to see “America,” I could be wrong on this, but look at a map of Ohio and just pick a city. Cleveland. Columbus. Cincinnati. Toledo. I’ve never even been to Ohio, but I tend to think of Ohio as a good bellwether for ‘average America.’”

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This article was originally published on Mrs. Daaku Studio.