10. New Orleans, LA
Located at the base of the Mississippi River, New Orleans has been a major port for distributing Midwest goods to the rest of the world since the French founded it in 1718. Don’t let New Orleans’ modern reputation for wild Mardi Gras nights keep you away — participating is optional (and might be more fun than you think). From historic -steam-powered, paddle-board riverboats to tours of mansions, plantations and nearby Civil War battlefields, there is plenty to see in this city. A great way to get a taste of New Orleans is by biting into freshly caught speckled trout, redfish, flounder or famous shrimp and oysters. Be warned, though: New Orleanians like to add some serious spice to their native dishes. Music in this region also benefits from a bit of a kick. Considered by many to be the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans boasts more than 30 official halls and watering holes that feature live jazz performances on a daily basis. If history or architecture pique your interest, the historic French- and Spanish-influenced mansions and plantations that line St. Charles Avenue and the French Quarter are places you won’t want to miss. The commercial traffic on the mighty Mississippi is entertaining, but travel north of the city to Lake Pontchartrain for marinas and some wide-open water.