From coast-to-coast, our RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers know that the U.S. is second-to-none when it comes to our downtown districts.
Sure, there is the Honky Tonk Highway on Lower Broadway in Nashville, Bourbon Street in New Oreleans’ French Quarter, and a lot more that are pretty well known, to say the least.
But some of the lesser-known options are worth adding to your list of stops while plotting out your RVing road trips.
Consider these six identified with some help from the team at TravelTrivia.com:
King Street – Alexandria, Virginia
Founded in the earliest days of America, King Street in Old Town Alexandria was once a neighborhood hot-spot for some of the country’s most iconic historical figures. That includes George Washington, who helped plan its original construction. A quaint cobblestone path runs westward from the Potomac River and to this day is surrounded by many 18th- and 19th-century buildings, such as Alexandria Town Hall and Market House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The famous King Street Mile boasts D.C.’s largest grouping of independent boutiques that offer everything from colonial antiques and fine art to modern rock records and yoga gear. The thoroughfare also plays host to the country’s oldest year-round Farmer’s Market, held continuously at the same spot each week on Market Square. At the east end of King, you might want to check out The Torpedo Factory, a collective of independent art studios and galleries that also houses the Alexandria Archaeological Museum. You may also want to try an enchanting tour on one of the Potomac riverboats that dock just behind the museum, and get a sailor’s eye view of King Street’s picturesque appeal.
Broadway – Skagway, Alaska
Broadway’s double dose of charm stems from two things: a stunning Coast Mountain backdrop, and its unparalleled snapshot into the Klondike Gold Rush. Planned and built with record speed during the prospector influx in 1898, the street served as the staging ground for thousands of hopeful treasure hunters.
Many of the prospectors began their respective journeys at the Pantheon Saloon, where men would crash in a common room before heading off to stake their claims in the wilds of Alaska.
Today the Pantheon serves as a center for junior rangers of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park to learn about the region’s rich history. It’s surrounded by buildings and renovated store fronts that capture the spirit of those prospecting years of fortune seeking, such as Boss Bakery — a first-class food service that provided both trade goods and delicious breads and pastries to the men who swarmed Skagway’s main street. It’s now the location of the park ticket office offering passes to the original Native American Chinook Trail that runs parallel to the newer White Pass used by many prospectors during 1898. Broadway showcases other authentic turn-of-the-century scenes, such as an early town life display at the renovated Mascot Saloon, and an exhibit about women and the gold rush at the well-traveled Goldberg Cigar Store.
East Kossuth Street – Columbus, Ohio
East Kossuth is an off-the-beaten path pearl that delivers big on social charisma. Nestled in the heart of Columbus’s historic German Village, the street was the original southern boundary of a neighborhood that was built up during the early part of the 19th century by a large influx of working class immigrants. Developed before zoning laws, visitors will find beautifully renovated houses interspersed with brick-architecture businesses that highlight the creative flair of the community.
Art lovers might want to check out The Red Stable Art Gallery, a collective of more than 100 local vendors, and at the acclaimed Helen Winnemore’s, where a group of eclectic creators have been crafting unique usable art for nearly nine decades. The roadway’s most renowned gathering spot is Schmidt’s Restaurant with a history that dates to the 1880s. Another East Kossuth legend is the corner diner Old Mohawk, which unofficially operated as a speakeasy during America’s “dry” years.
Beale Street – Memphis, Tennessee
Beale is probably best known for its varied blends of blues music, from the original Delta style to the Chicago technique popularized by legendary musicians like B.B. King. Today, King’s namesake club can be found in the heart of the street’s lively Entertainment District that houses a hidden gem all its own just up the venue’s fire escape — the decadent Itta Bena Restaurant, with menu selections patterned on classic Deep South favorites.
Running nearly two miles from the Mississippi River down to East Street, Beale Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated by Congress as the official “Home of the Blues” in 1977. All in all, Beale Street offers visitors an unparalleled cultural experience that is part rock concert, part walk through living history, and pure Southern charm.
Canyon Road – Santa Fe, New Mexico
This one isn’t exactly new to RV Lifestyle Fellow Travelers since I also included it on our list of “4 Underrated Destinations for Art Museum and Gallery Lovers.” With over 100 restaurants, art galleries, and shopping boutiques, Canyon Road is a mecca of peaceful, multicultural charm that’s situated pretty close to the bustling Santa Fe Plaza. The shaded southwestern-style road runs along an original Native American trail, and features many businesses located in one-story adobe houses, some built more than two centuries ago by Spanish farming settlers.
The street’s clothing and jewelry boutiques span from classy and comfortable designer apparel, handbags, and footwear to handcrafted stone, bead, and metal jewelry and accessories. More than 80 art galleries light up the street to create a kaleidoscope of artistic flavors, including stunning desert photography, traditional and contemporary Pueblo pottery, and majestic Moroccan interior designs. Canyon Road also features a variety of creative events spread throughout the year for you to enjoy, including the Spring Art Festival, summer Edible Art Tour, autumn Historic Paint and Sculpt Out, and fun and festive winter Holiday Block to Block pARTy.
Front Street – Sacramento, California
Front Street is home to an eclectic mix of museums, historical sites, restaurants, and venues, all of which helped transform this gold rush town into a thriving center of independent commerce, tourism, and entertainment. On the street’s northern edge you’ll find the Old Sacramento State Historical Park, featuring several early gold rush buildings, along with the California State Railroad Museum where you can tour an authentic 19th-century Pullman car to experience the luxury travel of the day.
Head south and visitors can find the 1927 steamship Delta King docked at Front and K, which shuttled passengers between Sacramento and San Francisco in the decade before highways and byways became the preferred means of travel. Consider taking in an exhibition at Front Street’s creative Latino Center for the Arts, recipient of a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts award. Front Street’s rich history, multifaceted appeal, and serene waterscapes help make it one of America’s most appealing streets to explore.