So you’ve traveled internationally and are now looking for something a little closer to home, or maybe you want to work up to a big international tour and the best way to do so is to travel more locally first. Either way, there are plenty of gems right nearby! In this post (and the next), I will be counting down a list of some of the greatest musical destinations right here in the USA!
11) Honolulu, Hawaii
Although Honolulu is just another city in America, its lovely state has certainly retained its individuality from the rest of the country. The beautiful island has a rich culture full of unique Hawaiian music and dance, which you could take in while enjoying traditional Hawaiian “Poke” and a cold drink under a swaying palm tree. A bonus for you classical music fans: Honolulu is home to the oldest orchestra in the United States west of the Rocky Mountains!
10) Houston, Texas
You might not think of Houston as a particularly musical city, but it’s actually one of only a few cities to have at least one professional company in each vein of performing arts discipline – the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony Orchestra, and the Alley Theatre, among many others. Houston’s theater district contains nine major performing arts organizations and six performance halls. The city does not lack smaller performing arts organizations, though, and it has a plethora of both folk artists and art groups.
9) San Francisco, California
The City by the Bay is home to a wealth of arts, culture, and beautiful sights for the avid performing traveler. Start the day off by taking a trolley ride up and down the steep hills, enjoying views of the sunny, bright blue bay, walk across the famed Golden Gate Bridge, stroll through Chinatown and check out its fortune cookie factory, and finish off the day by seeing a performance by the San Francisco Symphony, SF Opera, or a concert at the city’s brand new Jazz Center (opened in January, 2013 – not even one year old yet!). The nearby city of Berkeley is also home to a sizeable arts scene thanks to the University of California, Berkeley, and is the location of the oldest established full-time folk and traditional music venue west of Mississippi: The Freight and Salvage. Fun fact: Did you know that San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade is the largest of its kind outside of China itself?
8) Boston, Massachusetts
It comes as no surprise that this historical city boasts an impressive array of performing arts attractions. The Greater Boston area is home to numerous top universities, including Harvard, MIT, Tufts, and nearby Waltham and Wellesley’s Brandeis University and Wellesley College, respectively. In addition, the city also contains higher education institutes revolving around performing arts specifically, such as Emerson College, the Boston Conservatory, the New England Conservatory, Longy School of Music, and Berklee College of Music. Boston’s resident orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, is a “big 5” orchestra, performing at the lovely Symphony Hall in the Fall, Winter, and Spring, and moving over to Tanglewood in the Summer months. While in Boston, you can also see the famous Boston Pops and enjoy many a street performance outside of Faneuil Hall.
7) Cleveland, Ohio
This relatively small Ohio city might not be what you think of when you think “music”, but it actually would be quite an enriching visit for a music-lover. The city’s orchestra, The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, is one of the country’s “big 5”, alongside the likes of the NY Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Straying from classical music, the city is occasionally known as the “birthplace of rock and roll”, as it is where the “rock and roll” term was coined, and is also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Additionally, the city’s Playhouse Square Center is the second largest performing arts center in the United States after New York’s Lincoln Center.
6) Los Angeles, California
We all know that L.A. (accurately dubbed “the creative capital of the world”) is the place to go to get wrapped up in the glamor of Hollywood, so it’s no surprise that the city is also one of the most prominent cities when it comes to the recorded music industry. There is never a shortage of arts-related things to do, whether it be taking a tour of Universal Studios, attending a concert by the city’s very reputable orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, in its very impressive Walt Disney Concert Hall, or casually jamming with some of the city’s many musicians in the street or on the beach. As reported by the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation, “there are more artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers and musicians living and working in Los Angeles than any other city at any time in the history of civilization.”
Stay tuned for my next post for the final top 5 music destinations in the United States!