10. Jersey Shore
New Jersey is a common go-to for an easy punchline that every would-be comedian has reached for at some point. Yet, the area is a hub of marine research, resorts, boardwalks, and more. If anything, New Jersey, on the whole, is becoming increasingly gentrified, and even if some parts aren't as great as others, nothing in life is ever as gross as MTV makes it appear.
Amsterdam is seen in pop culture as some sort of stoner mecca, but the truth is that they've been cracking down on drug use for some time now. Yes, prostitution is legal. However, the Netherlands is also a pillar of Western art, from Van Gogh to Mondrian. The Dutch have given us philosophers like Spinoza and filmmakers like Verhoeven. Okay, depending on how strong your stomach is, that last example may not be great. The point is, Amsterdam has a lot to offer serious tourists who care about culture, and it's a shame that stoner culture has claimed it for its own.
7. New Orleans
When people think of New Orleans, they tend to think of Mardi Gras and beads and drinking. Admittedly, the crime statistics aren't great, but New Orleans is also one of the greatest hubs of real American culture. Jazz may be the one wholly American art form, and it fills the air here, not to mention that the cuisine is uniquely American—and wonderful. New Orleans has a lot to offer that shouldn't live in the shadow of one day on the calendar.
6. Las Vegas
Las Vegas is often cited as having one of the highest crime rates in the U.S., but those figures are misleading. There's a rotating group of around 300,000 visitors in the region every day, but crimes reported per-capita only use the population data for the town itself. Vegas has, for its part, deliberately cultivated a seedy image ("What happens in Vegas..."), but the truth is that this city is like the Disney version of a seedy town. You can get the tourist experience, but you're not in as much danger as you are in a place like, say, Mogadishu.
Some people think of Boston as the home of Harvard and MIT. Some people think of the Wahlburgers or Julianne Moore's character on 30 Rock. As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in between. Sure, there are a couple of wicked sketch places, but what huge metropolitan area doesn't have those? There's also the historically-rich Freedom Trail, the upscale North End, and the trendy shops of Newbury Street.
4. Puerto Rico
San Juan shows up on lists of "wildest Spring Break" cities with depressing regularity. But, not only is Puerto Rico one of the most beautiful places in the U.S., it's also a hub of responsible eco-tourism, as befits the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. Yet again, one week a year seems to sully the reputation of a region way more than it has any right to do.
3. Hell's Kitchen
Hell's Kitchen has long had a reputation for being one of the grimiest, most dangerous parts of New York City. For decades, it was a haven for upstart actors and a classic setting for noir stories. However, the neighborhood has gentrified to the point that rent is greater than the average for the rest of Manhattan. When Marvel and Netflix made a miniseries out of Daredevil—a hero long associated with the neighborhood—they had to use the excuse that the events of The Avengers wrecked the neighborhood. The comics simply moved the character to San Francisco.
2. Little Rock
In the 1990s, Little Rock was shattered by gang violence. As a massive hub of the Crips, the Bloods, and the Folk, the city's gang war was so extreme that it was the subject of a 1994 HBO documentary and a follow-up ten years later. Little Rock is no longer that city, and hasn't been for awhile now. Of course, a city cleaning itself up is a gradual process and one that doesn't make nearly as many headlines as a shooting does.
1. Waffle House
Waffle House has an unfair reputation as the sad person's IHOP, a midnight holding cell for the drunk and dispossessed. While each Waffle House is different, it's honestly more a hangout for nighthawk college kids than anything else. And, when you're moving from one city to another and your cat escapes when you stop for gas, they will give you sympathy and help you put up missing posters.