They are America’s unsung gems. While larger and more well-known cities grab the limelight, the state capitals often remain in the shadows. But don’t dismiss them as drab centres of politics and administration – many are lively, vibrant and just plain cool.
Sure, some capitals are also their state’s main tourism hubs, including Denver, Boston, Phoenix, Atlanta and Nashville. But how about Vermont’s Montpelier, the smallest of all 50 state capitals? It may have a population of just 8,000 but it is big on arts, music and eating out, and makes a great base for exploring the Green Mountains.
Love architecture? You’ll find Neoclassical, Beaux Arts, Romanesque, Gothic Revival and Renaissance styles in state capitol buildings, which are often gold-domed and have lavish interiors. Among the most elegant are those of Montpelier, Denver, Boston, Des Moines (Iowa), Boise (Idaho), Indianapolis (Indiana), Charleston (West Virginia), Hartford (Connecticut), Frankfort (Kentucky), Austin (Texas) and Madison (Wisconsin). The state capitol buildings of Baton Rouge (Louisiana), Salem (Oregon) and Lincoln (Nebraska) meanwhile, feature impressive Art Deco towers.
Mile High capital
Sandwiched between Colorado’s Great Plains
to the east and the incredible Rocky Mountains to the west, the modern city of Denver
offers a great mix of city and countryside. In town, (pictured left) take in the downtown area with the recently redeveloped Union station, the new Kimpton Born Hotel
, or Confluence Park where you can kayak down man-made rapids. Hit the RiNo (River North) district for an arty vibe and follow the Denver Beer Trail for fantastic craft beers. Head out of the centre and you’ll find outdoor music venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which should be at the top of every music lovers bucket list.
Oklahoma's state capital, Oklahoma City
, has been transformed over the past two decades with over $5 billion of public and private investment, turning it into a fun, active destination. It is also known as the Horse Show Capital of the World and preserves its Western heritage in the Historic Stockyards City.
Jefferson star city
Virginia’s lively state capital, Richmond,
(pictured right) is set on the James River, and boasts a deep sense of history, a great foodie scene and easy access to the great outdoors. Its grand capitol building was designed by America’s future third president, Thomas Jefferson. Confederate capital during the Civil War, the city’s White House of the Confederacy served as the official quarters for Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Statue-lined Monument Avenue is the only U.S. street declared a National Monument.
At 450 feet high, the Louisiana State Capitol building
in Baton Rouge is America’s tallest capitol building and features a 27th floor observation deck. It also has a darker side. It was the brainchild of governor Huey Long, who was assassinated in its hallway in 1932. A marble column still bears a bullet hole.
Ghostly goings on
New York State’s
striking capitol building in Albany resembles a European chateau with its Romanesque Revival and Neo-Renaissance blend. Finished in 1899, it cost $25 million, took 22 years to build and is supposedly haunted by ghosts including artist William Morris Hunt, who painted its murals.
Strike gold in North Dakota
Bismarck was renamed from Edwinton in honour of Germany’s chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, to attract German immigrants after gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874, becoming the North Dakota capital in 1889.
California’s state capital
is its fourth-largest city, Sacramento. Established when gold was discovered in the nearby hills 170 years ago, the city became a major distribution centre and became the starting point of the First Transcontinental Railroad. Learn about the gold rush and do gold panning in Old Town Sacramento, which recreates the City’s Gold Rush era. However, you might recognise this bustling place with quirky bars, breweries, wineries and farm-to-table restaurants from Golden Globe winning movie Ladybird, and now you can tour the film’s locations
. As the farm-to-fork capital of the US, Sacramento sits among 1.5 million acres of farms and ranches that grow more than 160 crops for markets all around the world. 96% of the country’s tomatoes come from within 250 miles of Sacramento, as well as 95% of California’s sushi rice, exported in mass to huge sushi industries such as Japan.
In the navy
Maryland’s elegant state capital, Annapolis,
served as the USA’s first peacetime capital and is perfect for the history buff with sites of interest including the homes of Maryland's four signers of the Declaration of Independence. Home to iconic institutions including the United States Naval Academy, which dates from 1845, it also boasts more 18th-century homes than any other city in the nation.
Indoors outdoors in Idaho
Boise, the state capital of the Gem State
is a cultural hub with visual and performing arts taking centre stage and events including the Treefort Festival. This is also a great spot for foodies, with restaurants serving locally-sourced menu items and craft breweries and wine tasting rooms sharing the flavours of Idaho. For outdoor lovers, Boise is close to foothills mountain bike trails, a ski area, and the Boise River for fishing and floating, bird watching and much more.
Posted on: 08/04/2018