The Most Underrated Capital Cities in the US

The Most Underrated Capital Cities in the US

Often centrally located and packed with history, there’s a reason visiting all of America’s capital cities appears on so many travel bucket lists. From entertainment hot spots like Nashville to the chic and historic Washington D.C. (the ultimate capital city), each metropolis is noteworthy in and of itself, a culmination of history, individuality and the allure of the communities that surround them state-wide.

Looking to explore America’s capital cities? These underrated options deserve a spot on the list.

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Frankfort, Kentucky

Louisville and Lexington may be some of Kentucky’s most prominent cities, but nestled between the two stands the capital city of Frankfort. The small but spirited city houses everything that makes Kentucky a great place to visit: Bluegrass, bourbon (Frankfort is home to the famed Buffalo Trace Distillery), thoroughbred horses running through rolling pastures, the list goes on.

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

With more than 300 years of history, Louisiana’s capital city is an eclectic combination of historic landmarks, noteworthy restaurants, lively entertainment and school spirit. Stroll through a collection of museums and sites covering everything from the city’s heritage to its bayous, indulge in decadent Cajun and Creole cuisine, or don your purple and gold to cheer on the Louisiana State University Tigers. Plus, Baton Rouge is home to the tallest capitol building in the US!

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St. Paul, Minnesota

As with any good capital city, St. Paul is a culmination of all things that make Minnesota worth visiting, and then some. The walkable city – known as the older twin to its neighbor, Minneapolis – lines the Mississippi River, but the beauty doesn’t stop at the water. St. Paul is home to the longest stretch of preserved Victorian architecture in the country, and has racked up an impressive 100+ buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Boise, Idaho

Boise has been described as “a city you’d want to have a beer with,” and we couldn’t agree more. It’s a perfect blend of city and country, with both skyscrapers housing Fortune 500 companies and towering mountain ranges blending to form a breathtaking skyline. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie or a city slicker, a visit to Boise has enough to delight us all.

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Annapolis, Maryland

Maryland’s capital city is a coastal treasure, perhaps best known as the home of the United States Naval Academy. There are a multitude of reasons you may find yourself in Annapolis, as it's a center for business, government and education, and a destination for recreational boating. No matter what brings you to the city, the fresh seafood, robust history and stunning views of Chesapeake Bay will keep you coming back time and again.

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Helena, Montana

Helena is truly the best of the west, home to 75 miles of hiking and biking trails, centuries-old history (Helena was a gold rush hotspot) and a central location between two of the country’s most prominent National Parks: Yellowstone and Glacier. Spend the day perusing eclectic shops, browsing art galleries or hopping between microbreweries interspersed within rows of stunning architecture.

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Juneau, Alaska

If you’re venturing to Alaska, a visit to the capital city of Juneau is a must. While it may be one of the most visited cities in the state, its remote location away from the contiguous states earns it a spot on our list of underrated capital cities. The historic downtown district is walkable from Juneau’s cruise ports, lined with adorable storefronts, bars and restaurants waiting to welcome visitors. During your visit, be sure to see the Mendenhall Glacier, set out on a whale watching tour or soar above the town on a gondola.

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Sacramento, California

Not only is Sacramento the capital of California, the city is also known as America’s “Farm-to-Fork” capital thanks to its (almost) self-sustaining food production. Foodies are sure to enjoy the freshest fare possible sourced from nearby farms and agricultural regions, from produce available at local farmer’s markets to affordable Michelin-approved restaurants throughout the city.

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Springfield, Illinois

Lovers of American History will enjoy a visit to Springfield, Illinois, known best for being the home of former President Abraham Lincoln and the city where former President Barack Obama spent his early political career. Lincoln’s former home has been completely restored and is open for tours led by National Park Service Rangers, and the public can also visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and the Lincoln family’s resting place.

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Little Rock, Arkansas

The entire state of Arkansas is a hidden gem for natural beauty, and Little Rock is no exception. What’s more, Little Rock is known for great weather, great food and even better value. During your visit, explore Little Rock’s collection of popular attractions, from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum to the Little Rock Zoo.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is the nation’s oldest capital city, and with a nickname like “The City Different,” you know you’re in for an adventure unlike any other in the world. Slow down and enjoy a walk through the European-like streets surrounded by rugged desert, with a vibrant downtown art scene worth a visit all its own. Despite its relatively remote location, Santa Fe houses 14 museums and countless galleries, plus opportunities to catch world-class performances of dance, theater and music.

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From the coast to the mountains, these capital cities are worth a visit.