You’re Going Where?

A monthly series highlighting the best vacation destinations you’ve probably never considered.

(Photos by Caleb Chancey; Brittany Greeson; Caitlin O'Hara and Maddie McGarvey/For The Washington Post)
(Photos by Caleb Chancey; Brittany Greeson; Caitlin O'Hara and Maddie McGarvey/For The Washington Post)
With a blend of small-town charm and big-city sophistication, the home of the University of Michigan is a study in attractive opposites.
With revitalized neighborhoods and a ramped-up food culture, Alabama’s largest city boldly returns to the stage and sings to a bigger audience.
Yes, potatoes lurk beneath the surface of everything, but Idaho’s capital city is so much more, blooming with artsy and independent delights. Plus, a river runs through it.
The concise Colorado city certainly does things its own way. But it’s hard not to like a perpetually sunny place with open spaces for athleisure and a month dedicated to beer.
Yes, it gets some snow. Okay, a lot of it. But the newly hot city in Upstate New York — full of sports enthusiasts, restaurateurs and makers — knows exactly what to do with itself in any kind of weather.
Forget the reservations in this bikable capital city in the shadow of the Appalachians, full of creative chefs and artists — and devoid of teeming masses.
A Tennessee city firmly rooted in the past keeps moving on with new music in historical buildings, vintage guitars in a modern museum and a river’s unchanging beauty running through it.
A small-town state capitol where the Wild West hasn’t been totally tamed. Yet.
The country’s 15th largest city, chock full of creativity and innovation thanks to an influx of youthful residents, gives up its secrets.
Iowa’s capital city, in the land of corn and caucuses, is on the move with an emerging food and cocktail scene.
The influence of Mexico is impossible to miss, but its own quirks and charms in cuisine and culture set this border town apart.
A harmonious symphony of dichotomies and diversity keeps “Track Town” running.
A Scandinavian sense ties together a North Dakota community and a city with a lot more to see than snow — and that woodchipper.
Residents of this aging Southern mill town knew it still had life in it. It took decades of hard work, but today it surprises visitors with its low-key culture and high-wattage charm.
Beyond the vroom of IndyCars, a vibrant arts and culture scene make for an energizing treasure hunt in Indiana’s capital city. 
The bucolic Kentucky city is fiercely proud of its omnipresent horses and bourbon, but modernity is creeping in.
Wisconsin’s largest city welcomes visitors with lake views, stellar food, never-ending brews and a hearty dose of Midwestern niceness.
With mountains to hike, rivers to fish and paths to bike, there are plenty of reasons to visit this heavenly former mill town.
It may have a solid Old West legacy, but the future keeps bringing updates to the city while it manages to maintain its strongest traditions.
In the Pacific Northwest, a capital city that long has marched to the beat of its own drum manages to maintain its groove amid plenty of changes.
In perhaps Nebraska’s most innovative and entrepreneurial city, the changes are balanced by the constants: music, art, cuisine — and, of course, Warren Buffett.
This Florida Panhandle town buzzes with creativity, whimsy and high spirits.
This Rust Belt city is known for its potholes and an obsession with the Steelers, but it also features world-class art museums and colorful neighborhoods. 
The smart and urbane college town in Rhode Island is wonderfully weird in a variety of ways.
In “Happy Valley,” two influences are impossible to miss — mountains and Mormons. It wouldn’t exist without the first, and its culture and cuisine wouldn’t be remotely the same without the second.
This progressive point on the Research Triangle is brimming with public spaces full of art and a subtle sense of coolness.
Nevada’s “Biggest Little City in the World” has gambled on art, culture and outdoor adventure. It’s winning big.
A Virginia city stuck in the middle is full of superlatives, with noted architecture, natural wonders (white water inside its confines!) and thriving scenes involving food and the arts.
California’s capital emerges from a lengthy stretch of small stature to become a spotlight city where the gold nuggets aren’t hard to mine.
This buried treasure in Arizona has all the accoutrements of modern living — sights, boutiques and fine foods — for when the coyotes and cactuses just aren’t enough.
Lincoln still looms large in Illinois’ capital city, but there are other draws — including the relics from Route 66 and only-in-Springfield fare like the horseshoe.
With quirky food creations, sprawling green parks, a City Museum unlike any other — and, of course, that Arch — the Gateway City is a fun place to play.