Travel-Worthy Cities You Should Really Stop Overlooking

These cities in Arizona, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, the Dominican Republic and Florida are on the rise.

Tucson, photo courtesy The University of Arizona Alumni Association/Jacob Chinn

Tucson, Arizona

Boasting “The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food,” at least one honey sommelier and plenty of talented young chefs creating delights with ingredients from what is playfully nicknamed the “Sonoran supermarket,” Tucson is turning into a true hot spot for food-focused travellers.

It’s about time.

The land on which the city sits, right in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, has been feeding people for 4,000 years. It’s actually the longest known continuously cultivated area in North America, a fact that recently led UNESCO to name Tucson the first American City of Gastronomy. (Food lovers shouldn’t miss Taqueria Pico de Gallo on South 6th Avenue.)   

Of course, there’s more than just good eating in this colourful and laid-back southern Arizona city. Take a bike tour downtown and wave back when what little traffic you encounter happily stops to let you pass. Visit the beautiful Mission San Xavier del Bac to brush up on your Spanish colonial history, and check out the butterfly room at the Tucson Botanical Gardens—just don’t be alarmed when they check you on the way out to make sure a butterfly isn’t hitching a ride on your T-shirt.

Port Renfrew, British Columbia

Surfers in Port Renfrew are getting used to sharing their space as more visitors make the trek to this once-sleepy little town on the west side of Vancouver Island. Word is out about the city’s gorgeous inlet and old-growth trees (including Canada’s “gnarliest”) at Avatar Grove and Botanical Beach Provincial Park. 

Dartmouth, photo by Aaron McKenzie Fraser

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Long-teased, like a pesky little brother, Dartmouth is all grown up now and attracting more than its share of the cool kids. While technically part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, Dartmouth is behaving more like Brooklyn, sporting its own proud vibe.

Halifax hipsters are known to take the quick ferry ride across the harbour for strong coffee and croissants at Two if By Sea Cafe—TIBS, as it’s known, sells almost as many “I heart Dartmouth” T-shirts as it does lattes.

A few blocks over, The Canteen on Portland Street is creating its own buzz, serving Nova Scotia seafood, wines and craft beers. And down the street at New Scotland Yard Emporium, you’ll find a one-stop-shop to buy vinyl records, pick up a coffee and get a haircut by musician Joel Plaskett’s bandmate Chris Pennell. You might even run into Plaskett himself—the indie darling’s studio is in the back.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

One of the Caribbean’s oldest cities, Santo Domingo has been undergoing quite a makeover—all in the name of boosting tourism numbers. And it’s working. With new hotels and restaurants opening, and a big push to restore its many 16th-century buildings, the city is seeing more visitors wandering the Ciudad Colonial, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Vero Beach, Florida

It’s not as flashy or developed as many of Florida’s other waterfront cities, but that’s part of what makes Vero Beach so visit-worthy. With its uncrowded beaches, fashionable shops (celebrities are often spotted shopping here) and sophisticated Vero Beach Museum of Art, this quiet city is an inviting balance of upscale class and down-home charm.

Read more: Emerging Places in 2017