Pick two U.S. cities
December 7, 2006 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Canadian wants visit the bluest area of the bluest state then the reddest area of the reddest state. Have 10-14 days. Plan to spend time in one colour then go straight to the other colour. What two places do you suggest?
posted by larry_darrell to Travel & Transportation (50 answers total)
Hmmm, San Francisco, CA to Provo, Utah? Honestly, there's a lot of options here.
posted by muddgirl at 12:38 PM on December 7, 2006

Cambridge, MA or San Francisco, CA and then maybe a ranch is West Texas or Wyoming?
posted by Rock Steady at 12:39 PM on December 7, 2006

The county-by-county election map here might help.
posted by muddgirl at 12:41 PM on December 7, 2006

You'd be better off in Berkeley, CA than San Francisco for the blue bit (but they are right next to each other so you could do both)
posted by zeoslap at 12:42 PM on December 7, 2006

Third-ing San Francisco. If they're more convenient, though, Cambridge, MA or Northampton, MA will work well also.

Definitely Texas for red. No real question about that!
posted by AthenaPolias at 12:43 PM on December 7, 2006

There's a distinction to be made here. Some places are very strongly politically aligned, but aren't really cut out for 'tourism' in the sense that they don't seem all that outrageous on a day-to-day basis. Other places, on the other hand, you'll find much more of a cultural experience (or culture shock, even). So, Cambridge, MA ("the People's Republic of Cambridge") may be extremely liberal, and in a blue state, but it's not going to be the same sort of cultural experience as parts of San Francisco, CA. Can't think of a good example of the top of my head for red areas, but I'm sure they exist.

Presumably you're looking for the cultural experience more than just the political one?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 12:48 PM on December 7, 2006

Definitely Texas for red. No real question about that!

Horsepucky. I see your Texass and raise you rural south Georgia.
posted by The Michael The at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2006

I grew up in Williamson County, Tennessee (just south of Nashville). Nashville itself is very blue, but the wealthy, educated citizens of Williamson County are as conservative as anybody I've ever seen anywhere, but are not the rural, flyover country farmers that from the red stereotype. I mean, these poeple pitched a fit when churches started bringing in Katrina refugees (Eek! Not poor black people, anything but that!).

Plus, for travel purposes, Nashville is probably more fun than Provo.

If you go here: http://www.princeton.edu/~rvdb/JAVA/election2006/ Williamson is the bright red dot in the middle of purple Tennessee.

For someplace nice and blue, try were I moved to, the SF Bay Area, with emphasis on Berkeley, or Cambridge, MA.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2006

For the red part, you will want to pick a very small town that is unpolluted by that nasty "diversity" we keep hearing about in training videos.
posted by hermitosis at 12:51 PM on December 7, 2006

For blue: Manhattan, in it's entirety. Start at the Battery and work up to Inwood - it's as blue as it gets.

For red: The suggestions above, plus the North Atlanta suburbs - Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, and Gwinnett counties.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:52 PM on December 7, 2006

Horsepucky. I see your Texass and raise you rural south Georgia.

Even the part of rural south Georgia that's represented in Congress by an African American Democrat?
posted by deadmessenger at 12:55 PM on December 7, 2006

Agree with San Francisco for a very "Blue" experience. Heck, last month the city voted to impeach Bush.
posted by vacapinta at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2006

Manhattan is not at all as on-your-sleeve with the blueness. Berkeley is definitely the bluest place I can think of in terms of the experience anybody would have visiting there. Or Santa Cruz, where I live. There's no real hippies in SF any more. Come tour the Bay Area for your first half, then go to Dallas. I think it's only fair to disassociate blue from urban and red from rural if you can help it. Even though that's the way things are. But your strategies may differ. If you'd like a very red place typical of rural US with some stuff to do as a bonus, may I suggest the Deadwood/Rapid City Black Hills area of South Dakota. You can see the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, nice caves, whatnot.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:03 PM on December 7, 2006

The bluest state is probably Massachussetts, but Berkeley/San Francisco are probably bluer towns than Boston.

Texas is not the reddest state—it has some reliably blue parts. Utah and Wyoming are more monolithic in their redness. Then again, Utah has SLC, which is big enough to have hints of blueness here and there. The reddest city in all America is hard to pick, but it might be Colorado Springs, Colorado.
posted by adamrice at 1:03 PM on December 7, 2006

Santa Cruz, for the record, did that in 2003. yaaay.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:06 PM on December 7, 2006

Fort Collins, CO and Frisco.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2006

Utah is the reddest state, but because of the prevalence of Mormonism it is a little different than the "typical" red state. If one wants to experience a particularly extreme flavor of red state I would recommend renting a car and seeing rural Oklahoma. Rural South Carolina would also be a good choice. SC is prettier than Southern Georiga and better for scenic driving; I say this as a Georiga native.

Wherever you decide try to go to church on Sunday. That is where the real Red State experience is.
posted by Alison at 1:07 PM on December 7, 2006

Good call on Colorado Springs.
Boulder is just about as blue as Berkeley, too.
Colorado in the winter can be expensive to visit, though.
posted by Eddie Mars at 1:10 PM on December 7, 2006

I'll agree with Utah for conservative, although my town Billings, Montana is pretty conservative as well. (Even though Montana just chose Democrat Tester for Senate over re-electing Republican Burns.) Probably San Francisco for liberal.

However, I think (hope?) that in a touristy type of visit you will see we have much more in common as Americans than we do differences based on politics. (Or am I being naive?)
posted by The Deej at 1:12 PM on December 7, 2006

I'd suggest the Bay Area -- as other have -- and then Wyoming. The thing about Wyoming is that it is both very red and very beautiful. So if you got tired of politics, you could check out the unbelievable scenery.
posted by dseaton at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2006

What would be the reddest city? Most rural counties are going to be pretty red, including most of California, but a good comparison would be a red city - maybe somewhere in Florida or Anchorage, Alaska.
posted by muddgirl at 1:14 PM on December 7, 2006

I'm Canadian, and I find Burlington, Vermont, to be, um, a weird Canada-like place in America, culturally. I wouldn't know whether they count as blue, or bluer-than-blue, as they just elected a socialist to the Senate.
posted by ITheCosmos at 1:18 PM on December 7, 2006

For a blue city you ought to consider Houston Tx.
posted by BobbyDigital at 1:22 PM on December 7, 2006

There are bits of Texas more blue - or at least purple - than the Lone Star state gets credit for. I'm not saying it ain't mostly red & scary, but there are redder parts of the union.

larry_darrell - I just drove from Texas to Washington. Our route took us through Utah. They sell watered-down booze and you can see the Mormonism oozing off damn near every billboard. A visit to Provo would have your friend seeing a lof or red.

As for the blue, the suggestions of Manhattan or San Francisco seem pretty spot on. I would love to recommend my beloved Evergreen State, but I see too many depressing bumper stickers every day.
posted by EatTheWeek at 1:22 PM on December 7, 2006

I'm sure there's an easy way to figure this out. One needs to find voting info for every county in the U.S and pick the one with the highest republican and democratic voting percentage.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 1:31 PM on December 7, 2006

nth-ing SF/Berkley (Love me some San Francisco Family values!) or NYC for Blue.

As for Red I will throw Cincinnati, Ohio into the ring, it's not in the Reddest State, but damn is it one of the Reddest cities AND influential (unforch). It's prettyi n parts and has some interseting historical things but it's dreadully boring, I know, I lived there for a long, long time.
posted by lannanh at 1:36 PM on December 7, 2006

Las Vegas Nevada and Branson Missouri. hookers, crazies, religious types in both, but different, so different... Best way to see the disparaging parts are united by .. you'll see.
Technically though, the bluest is any ghetto of any city. the reddest is any suburb. Done.
posted by sarcasman at 1:52 PM on December 7, 2006

According to Media Mark Research, for the 2004 Presidential election, Madison County, ID was the reddest county with 93% voting for Bush. The District of Columbia was the bluest with 91% voting for Kerry.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 1:53 PM on December 7, 2006

San Francisco over Berkeley. Berkeley is very non-red but I'm not sure that makes it entirely blue since there's a lot of other weirdness mixed in there. It's more like green or yellow or orange. San Francisco seems more solidly blue.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 1:53 PM on December 7, 2006

I agree that you should compare apples to apples, i.e., if you visit a blue city you should then visit a red city. It may be a question of semantics but while Berkeley, etc. are definitely dyed in the wool blue, they only fit half of the definition of "liberal". The Bay Area is undeniably progressive, but cities like Berkeley are conservative in their liberalism, by which I mean that you better agree with their liberalism because there is no room for meaningful debate.

If you're looking for a state that has a real awareness of politics and whose constituents are highly opinionated and engaged then I would point you to Minnesota. A visit to the Twin Cities area will yield a different experience that doesn't rely on going to red or blue extremes. At the very least you may supplement your trip with a brief stop there before you head back to Canada.
posted by quadog at 1:53 PM on December 7, 2006

FWIW, I seriously doubt if you are going to find what I think you are looking for in this excursion. It is unlikely that, on the surface at least, there will be all that much difference for a casual visitor from a blue city to a red one -- or that what difference exists will come more from the blue areas tending to be extremely urban and the red areas being rural.

I'm also skeptical on a broader level of the whole red/blue distinction.... most Americans are somewhere in the middle.
posted by GregW at 2:02 PM on December 7, 2006

Burlington, VT is a great choice for Blue (I can't believe I didn't think of it). Close to Canada, a great place to visit, and a much bluer "cultural experience", like spaceman_spiff said, than Cambridge.

The Boulder/Colorado Springs dichotomy is a great suggestion, too with practically no in-between travel time. If you do that, I think the Air Force Academy is once again offering tours to the public, so you should definitely do that -- it is a beautiful campus (and you can't get much redder than the USAF).
posted by Rock Steady at 2:03 PM on December 7, 2006

Another thought: it might be worthwhile to visit places that people of both persuasions mention. That is, find someone blue to recommend the "most blue" (positive) and "most red" (negative) places, and then someone red to recommend "most blue" (negative) and "most red" (positive) places.

If you have a lot of time, try to get moderates and extremists both to suggest places.

Hmm, this could be a fun gap-year project for some ambitious high schooler.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 2:04 PM on December 7, 2006

Sorry, for Houston I meant to say Red.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:08 PM on December 7, 2006

Dallas County was split 50% for Bush, 49% for Kerry in the 2004 election. I'm sure that's red compared to Berkeley, but I don't think it qualifies as extremely red in general.
posted by erikgrande at 2:33 PM on December 7, 2006

Probably the easiest way to do this is visit Manhattan's Upper West Side, then walk across the park to the Upper East Side.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:42 PM on December 7, 2006

I third (fourth?) the Boulder/Co Springs juxtaposition. I'm from Boulder which is about as environmentally-minded and liberal as any place I've ever been (for example check out Naropa Institute for Eastern studies and all the Free Tibet bumper stickers) and CO Springs is... well... besides having the airforce there, it has the largest evangelical population in the country. And last time I was there I saw a billboard with a pissed-off Abe Lincoln on it proclaiming "get the US out of the UN!"

They're only about an hour and a half apart, if you measure distance in such terms.
posted by np312 at 2:49 PM on December 7, 2006

I think it might be more fun to hit the reddest part of the bluest state and vice-versa.
posted by jaysus chris at 2:49 PM on December 7, 2006

Also, as has been noted, there are a bunch of different reasons to be a "red county" or a "blue county." Voters from Orange County, CA are Republican for a much different (economic and social) reason than voters from Bexar County, Texas, and voters from San Francisco, CA are Democratic for much different (economic and social) reasons than voters from Cambridge, MA.
posted by muddgirl at 3:19 PM on December 7, 2006

Perhaps to save some shoe leather go to Austin, TX for the blue part, then Sugarland, TX for the red part. Anyone in the area have some feedback to give it a thumbs up or down?
posted by mk1gti at 4:50 PM on December 7, 2006

In addition, if you're on the west coast on the west side of the cascades it will be 'bluer', on the east side it will be decidedly more conservative. As an example, Los Angeles, blue, Palmdale, red, just a few miles apart. Seattle, WA blue, anyplace in Eastern WA red.
posted by mk1gti at 4:51 PM on December 7, 2006

Simple. Fly to Austin, Texas and rent a car, then drive to Waco. Badda-bing, badda-boom.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:19 PM on December 7, 2006

I understand Boulder and Colorado Springs aren't too far from one another.
posted by willpie at 5:19 PM on December 7, 2006

Colorado, Texas, Georgia and California -- to name a few -- should all have both extremes, although since you wanted "the bluest area of the bluest state" (and vice versa), I would assume you would rather hit up Berkeley than Austin, for example. I think a Berkeley-SF to Colo. Springs trip might be the best plan.

Unfortunately, you just missed NASCAR and (most of) football season, two of the best typical red-state activities. Despite growing up in a red state, I've always lived in cities (i.e., blue areas), so I have no idea what there is to do in the winter in the true red areas... But awesome idea, best of luck, and let us know how it turns out!
posted by SuperNova at 5:31 PM on December 7, 2006

If this is an actual vacation that will take place relatively soon, and you'd like to enjoy yourself, why not visit very blue Boston, New York, or Washington, DC for a crazy fun weekend of bars and bands and museums and cultchah, and then wind your way from Salt Lake City down through Utah, skiing and exploring natural wonders, ending up in a place like Zion or Bryce Canyon National Parks, flying home from Las Vegas - a kind of blue place in a kind of red state?

By the way, you'll probably be surpricsed by how similar we'll seem - I have to wonder if "non-Canadian" will be more noticable to you than "red" or "blue."

Have a good time!
posted by mdonley at 5:42 PM on December 7, 2006

Yes, San Francisco is very progressive. But if you want to see where all the socialists who want to live in communes go on the weekends to get away from the citiy's rich, corporate, liberal yuppies, head up to Sebastopol. Trotsky would have been a Sebastopolian if he had the chance.

You'll also notice a big difference if you go from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to the Upper West Side.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2006

Someone recommended going to a church in the red state, let me further that by saying, go to a church in a rural area that looks like it's a warehouse. It'll be the kind with the corrugated siding that's well painted, but still just corrugated metal. For some reason on the rare occasions I've been to one of those churches, they have routinely been the wackiest. Also the snake handling church I know is also one of those.
posted by KirTakat at 8:31 PM on December 7, 2006

Let me say, I think this is the lamest idea for a vacation I've ever heard. What do you expect? Do you think you'll land in a "red" city and get harassed? Or walk around in a "blue" city and be welcomed? Believe it or not, every city in this country is full of people of every stripe. It sounds like you're looking to experience controversy, and everybody else here is eager to contribute their generalizations to your cause. Go somewhere beautiful, go somewhere with history, but searching for some red/blue media-made bullshit is just sad.
posted by erikgrande at 9:50 PM on December 7, 2006 [2 favorites]

More about the reddest place in America: Rexburg, Idaho.
posted by iviken at 12:00 AM on December 8, 2006

In a statistical sense the red/blue divide is a completely fictional. Most states as a whole do not overwhelmingly vote in favor of one party over another. If you were to look at US voting habits on a x,y plot you'd find that it breaks down fairly close to a bell curve with more voters in the moderate region of the scale than anywhere else. The real divide between "red" and "blue" voting patterns is in the urban/rural divide, where you'll find that most cities vote slightly left of center and rural areas to the right of center.

So while the tv news likes to make a big deal about the US culture war and post maps of states duking it out at election time, you'll have a harder time seeing any of that in person.
posted by nerdcore at 10:55 AM on December 9, 2006

« Older I think that's either Château Latour or...   |   How to play with a newborn? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.