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The Best U.S. Cities According To People Who’ve Never Lived There

Grass is always greener (in Portland). No need to imagine life in a new car. Buick's 24 Hours of Happiness Test Drive allows you to experience your vehicle before you leave with it for good.


We asked six people to discuss their favorite cities in America. One catch: They weren't allowed to discuss any cities in which they've previously lived.


From left to right: Dan, Courtney, Josh, April, Michelle, and Alex.

According to them, the following places seem to have some really good things going on.


Michelle: They have that big market, right?

Alex: Lot of boathouses. That's kind of cool.

Josh: They have the city underneath the city because they built on top of it. I forget why they did it... It was either a flood or a fire or something.


April: But what about the weather? I've heard it's really not that bad, they just tell people the weather's bad. It's a "marketing thing."

Josh: Well it's wet enough to support rain forests because between Oregon and Washington they have rain forests.

April: You should have been a history teacher.

Dan: Nobody talked about Frasier? THAT'S weird.

Josh: Is that weird?


Michelle: One of my friends moved there and fell in love in a week.

April: Why did they move there? For love?

Michelle: She wanted city, but less city. Boise is calm. There's only one main street.

Josh: I've been to national parks near Boise, and the driving is incredible. All those car commercials where you see the sidewinder roads, that's definitely Idaho.

Dan: Sometimes you'll be driving and on one side there'll be a storm rolling in, and it looks like the entire landscape is on fire. And on the left side it's completely calm. It's blue as blue can get.

April: That sounds scary, actually.


Michelle: New Orleans seems like a party. It's fun.

Josh: The food is either fried foods, seafood, or fried seafood.

Alex: That's kind of all you need, actually.


April: It's a good-time city.

Josh: They have every vice available on every corner. So remember: It's a marathon, not a sprint.


Michelle: New Orleans also has the swamps which are mysterious and full of alligators.

Josh: I think the crown jewel of that city is Frenchman Street. Some of it is related to Neville Brothers or Gladys Knight and the Pips. They just have this real reverence and respect for New Orleans music.

Michelle: People there seem strong. It's a strong place.


Josh: The musicians in the Broadway honky-tonk bars are required to play the standards. But they've added that damn "It's a quarter after one, I'm all alone, and I need you now" song.

Everyone: *groans*

Josh: They just play that over and over… So that's how I discovered East Nashville because I was running like hell away from Broadway.

April: Nashville is a growing city that's underrated.

Josh: There's a place called Monell's that has buffet-style family eating. You sit at a table with 10 other people, and they bring out giant platters of biscuits and mashed potatoes.

Michelle: Nashville seems like a city that knows what it's about.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock / Via

April: Who put this. Which one of you put this?

Michelle: It's actually really cute! They have all these cute little coffee shops.

Alex: What's the major industry there?

Michelle: Definitely the university. And farming? Probably?


April: Do they have a nightlife?

Michelle: I think it's maybe four bars.

April: So if you want to go out, it's the SAME people.

Michelle: Yeah, you'd have to go to Chicago I think.

Courtney: OK, that's a bit of an undertaking.

April: "Hey, we're going out tonight! Get in the car, let's go!"

Josh: You have to be committed to your vices for it to be worth the effort.

Dan: That's how everyone in the Midwest travels. Everyone is used to a long drive.


Courtney: My life would be filled with sweaters and eating lobster.

Michelle: J. Crew.

Courtney: Portland is supposed to have a great city feel, and a lot of young people live there.

Josh: Portland also has so many brewpubs. Every bar makes their own beer. It's a huge beer culture.


Josh: The real estate in Portland is SO CHEAP. $2,000 in Portland would get you a four-story home with a garage and a backyard.

Alex: What are the property taxes like on that?

Michelle: Property taxes? We've got a real adult in the room...


April: I love Portland. It's kind of hipstery. It has something of everything there.

Dan: I just imagine myself riding my bike all day in Portland. I think of big trees.

Courtney: It's all super outdoorsy. But it feels intimate. It's also a younger city, so lots to do socially.

April: It has like a big-city vibe but also this small Southern vibe. I would move to Portland in a heartbeat.


Alex: I hear they have good coffee.

Michelle: GREAT coffee. And doughnuts.

April: The Voodoo. They have this bakery, and the line is ridiculous. It's like trying to go to Cake Boss. But the doughnuts are worth it.

Josh: I couldn't figure out what people did for a living other than work in hospitality. Because it was just breweries, coffeehouses, and food trucks.

Dan: Bookstores. Bike shops.

April: Yeah, I didn't see corporations or anything.

Dan: So Portlandia is pretty accurate.

Josh: I guess so?


Josh: Everyone who lives in Colorado LOVES it.

Dan: You don't know what purple mountains are until you go there.

Courtney: And the work-life balance seems really great. In Boulder anyway.

Dan: I was only in Colorado for 48 hours, and I remember having two beers and feeling it the next day. It's super high in elevation.

Courtney: Outdoorsy version of me lives in Colorado.


Josh: Colorado has so many different types of mountains.

Dan: Denver is super clean.

Michelle: Have you guys been to the airport in Denver?

Alex: They have the BEST airport. It has these teepees made of this plastic sheet that's thin as credit cards. It's stretched over these poles. It's like a circus tent.

Courtney: The airport is tents that are outside?

Michelle: No, the tents are the airport.


Courtney: Let's just all move there and be beach bums.

April: I have this thing where, like, if things don't work out, I'm going to Hawaii and I'm selling coconuts.

Courtney: We'll have a beer shack on the beach. We'll all be surfers.

April: Just be in Hawaii and eat.

Courtney: I just think volcanoes are cool. I would like to see lava.

April: I LIVE for LAVA.

Courtney: But back to pigs: They're delicious. Pork and volcanoes and pineapple.

April: What's the fish they eat?

Dan: Poke.

April: Poke. Go to Hawaii... Eat poke... That's it.


Josh: "What's the rent? Love it!"

April: I don't even need to see it. You had me at the price.

Josh: One of my biggest takeaways from driving cross-country is that I was blown away at how cookie-cutter the cities are. You pull off the road, and it's just the same strip of all the major companies.

April: Your typical strip mall.


What are YOUR favorite cities in America? Where would you flourish?

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