While so many exciting places to go exist during the summer, there still exists several places you should never go in America that haven’t a prayer in the world of ever becoming attractive destinations. While collapsed cities like Detroit slowly rebuild with a bit of culture, others still lay by the wayside. Here are ten of the most undesirable places to go in America. They’re dirty, poverty-stricken hellholes filled with violence and unemployment. Steer clear, unless that’s your sort of thing.
St. Louis, MO
Don’t you watch the news? Aside from the inexhaustible events of violence and protests in Ferguson, St. Louis has always been more of an attraction to crime, boredom and redneck sports teams than tourism itself in its cityscape, however splendid you think a giant steel arch is. Over the years, St. Louis has managed to reach high in the lists of World’s Most Dangerous Cities, getting named the most dangerous city in America as recently as 2010. And if you’re scared of heights, there’s absolutely nothing worthwhile for you here. The Gateway Arch simply serves as a bird’s eye view of a city in decay, despite its recent structural reform. And don’t even get us started on East St. Louis. Don’t run out of gas over there!
Didn’t you see “Sister Act?” Nothing but trouble here. Aside from being the poor, sinful sister of Las Vegas (that’s reason enough right there never to go), Reno is also home to an average of nearly 10,000 crimes annually — 39 per 1,000 residents in a 225,000 resident city — perhaps due to its consistent economic decline since the ’50s when it lost its seat as the gambling capital. With a zero percent effort on culture, your best bet would be to head into Tahoe instead and hit the lakes. They’ve made strides in redevelopment since the bursting real estate bubble, but all that’s left in Reno are casinos, homeless people and the memory of Whoopi Goldberg singing church hymns in the hippest way possible. And so what if they’re doing a remake if Harvey Keitel isn’t in it?!
Daytona Beach, FL
There’s something remarkable about people who think that trucks and the beach go together. If you didn’t get in enough hillbilly drinking back in your formative years, Daytona might be the place for you where life is one big tailgating NASCAR style afternoon after another. Who needs peace and quiet when you can rage like a drunken lunatic and drive on the sand? You don’t have to be a crime-riddled black hole to be a shitty place to visit. Don’t forget your wife-beater, sunscreen and industrial sized plastic funnel, you know, for the beer bong.
For a city closing in on half a million in population, 27 percent of people below the poverty line is an extremely high portion. That’s about the size of a decent town living below poverty line, which in 2014, was set just under $24,000 for a family of four. And aside from staggering low household income averaging close to $27,000 and high numbers of convicted felons, Cleveland is also subject to one of the nation’s toughest winters with an annual snowfall of close to 60 inches. No money and bad weather makes for misery in the city. And have you seen their baseball team’s mascot? (It’s an Indian. No one watches baseball anymore.)
We were kind of planning to just say New Jersey as a whole, but we know how upset the locals get when we talk dirt about their filthy state, one of the worst places to vacation for sure. Camden, however, earns its place on the list, despite having a seemingly safe, secure name, being prized the Most Miserable City in America by Forbes magazine. The town has only about 77,000 people, but more than 40 percent are below the poverty line, 14 percent of that population is also unemployed, which makes sense when you consider it has the highest crime rate in the country at 560 percent the national average. Average household income comes in just over $18k, making Camden a scary place to raise a family, or even to go out for dinner.
Haven’t you seen “Sons of Anarchy?” It’s full of pimps and hoes and guns and drugs! Oakland is no treat, but at least it has tourism and sports teams. Stockton is a 70-miles-east version of Oakland that struggles to grow like most cities with more than 300,000 residents. It’s one of the most dangerous cities in America, and after declaring bankruptcy in 2012, it lacks any money to keep the violence at bay, racking up more than 20,000 crimes in 2013 and holding a steady, high unemployment rate. It’s heartbreaking knowing the ocean and its lovely cities are just a short drive to the west. Come on, people.
Arizona is where good manners go to die and bad drivers go to run you off the freeway, but how do we measure this exactly? Well, it’s one of the worst cities for property crime in America. I would believe that, as I lived in the Phoenix area about an hour away and was robbed four times in one year living in a gated community. Noted as one of the neediest and lowest ranking cities for jobs, Tucson is not only boring but dangerously close to the border, making it a hot spot for drugs, immigration issues and just a dry heat deathtrap — like a Dutch oven. Arizona is also one of the worst run states in America and has been ranked one of the dumbest with the lowest graduation rate in the country. Tucson is home of University of Arizona. Go Wildcats! On the plus side, it’s not too terrible with murder. And apparently it’s still a law that women can’t wear pants there, and cowboys can’t wear spurs in hotel lobbies. Way to stay progressive, Tucson!
Because of its close urban setting to the Mississippi River, Memphis has been deemed one of the dirtiest cities in America on more than one occasion. And with high violence numbers, 1 out of every 12 residents of Memphis is subject to a violent crime, and with more than 650,000 people as of 2013 in its city limits, you have to figure that’s close to 10,000 acts of violence in a 324-square-mile region. Sounds like a small war to us. They do have a pretty solid summer music festival on Beale Street, but there’s a good chance for lewd acts around there, given the celebrity mugshot precedent. We’d throw New Orleans to the wolves for being so dirty too, if it wasn’t so much fun!
It wouldn’t be a credible list without naming some place in the deep south, right? Stereotypes aside, Birmingham is Alabama’s shining shit hole trophy town with large amounts of drug trafficking, a low household income and yet some of the highest taxes in the country. With nearly a third of its people living in poverty and such high taxes, things aren’t going to easily turn around for the southern belt droppers of the lesser distinguished people of Birmingham. You’re more likely to get mooned by a drive-by of assholes than feel welcome here. And rumor has it, Alabama doesn’t take too kindly to…strangers — it’s ranked one of the most racist states in the U.S. — as many parts of Alabama refuse to do business with Birmingham, which is primarily African American. So yeah, lots of tension down there.
If you’re a Mark Twain reader and believe it necessary to visit the Mark Twain Caves of Hannibal, think again. There’s little to nothing to do in this town except stay at one of its poorly rated hotels and visit the Oreo factory. The town feels like it’s dated about 35 years. Quite possibly they don’t know about the Internet, and if they do, it’s probably dial-up. Mark Twain was a great man, but it’s just not worth the time the drive past St. Louis, another of our least desirable places to go, to visit a city lacking so much culture that the cemeteries and methamphetamine starts to look fun. At least we still have the Oreo factory, unless it closed, too. There are plenty of caves and places of history in America, and despite being open for more than 130 years, it’s just not the dream vacation of a lifetime.