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Top 5 Noisiest And Quietest Cities In The USA

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speeding taxi

Speeding taxi. Photo courtesy of Dave Newman.

Looking for a quiet vacation somewhere in the United States? Or are you looking to move out of the big city into a calm area? The constant hustle and bustle of noisy areas can actually impact your health, physically and emotionally, by influencing your blood pressure, heart rate, sleeping patterns, hearing and overall mood. It might be time to do yourself a favor and take a break from the noise of a big city. To take advantage of some peace and quiet, it’s helpful to know both the quietest cities in the US, and the noisiest cities that you may want to avoid if that’s not what you’re in the mood for.

Top 5 Noisiest

New York City As one of the most populated cities in America, the added tourism New York brings from around the world makes this a very crowded and loud city. Detroit, Michigan With one of the highest crime rates in the country, this one may be no surprise. San Francisco, California Research done by the city and UC Berkely showed that traffic noise puts 1 in 6 residents in San Francisco at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and other stress-related illnesses. Miami, Florida Don’t be fooled by the lure of the lapping waves against the beach because between the night clubs, police sirens, and constant construction, this city may not be the perfect beach haven you seek. Chicago, Illinois This city receives some of the most aircraft noise complaints in the country. As an integral piece to the nation’s commercial air traffic network, the O’Hare International Airport has some 2,500 flights land and take off every day, flying right over the heart of the city and the neighborhoods of its residents.
purple flowers

Serenity. Photo courtesy of Jessie Festa.

Top 5 Quietest

Durham, North Carolina This city is the perfect example of a big city where you can find ultimate relaxation. With its unique blend of cultures and heavy influence in the medical field, this town has a ‘homey’ feel that can’t be beat. Cape Cod, Massachusetts Despite the thousands of visitors Cape Cod receives each summer, when you take an early morning walk along the beach in this city you will be surprised at the quiet crash of the waves and the comforting stillness the ocean brings. Hartford, Connecticut A true sense of peace and calm can be found in Hartford. The architecture of the city, with its stone street accents, adds a sophistication that can’t be found elsewhere. Sante Fe, New Mexico Perched high in the desert mountains and acres of forest surroundings, this city is known for its peace and quiet. As a home to hundreds of art galleries, antique shops, boutiques and a diverse ethnic history, Sante Fe is the ultimate cultural destination. Des Moines, Iowa Known for being one of the most beautiful state capitals in the country, this city is also known for its numerous parks, nationally acclaimed cultural events, and historical sites. Settled along the Des Moines River, this city has a comforting quiet. It even has a quiet street, a bicycle friendly commuter route that has low volume and low speed. What US cities have you visited and found to be either striking loud or extremely quiet? Please share in the comments below.  

About Jessie Festa

Jessie Festa is a New York-based travel content creator who is passionate about empowering her audience to experience new places and live a life of adventure. She is the founder of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and is editor-in-chief of Epicure & Culture, an online conscious tourism magazine. Along with writing, Jessie is a professional photographer and is the owner of NYC Photo Journeys, which offers New York photo tours, photo shoots, and wedding photography. Her work has appeared in publications like USA Today, CNN, Business Insider, Thrillist, and WestJet Magazine.

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16 Comments

  1. Nichelle on at 12:58 am

    Thanks for this list! Now, I know where to go when I want to relax and unwind. 🙂

    • jess2716 on at 5:05 am

      @Nichelle: Glad you enjoyed! 🙂

    • Nicole on at 6:56 am

      Tucson is noisy- much more than one would ever think! There are a lot of untrained dogs that bark continuously – at all hours. People are often riding scooters and rev up any vehicle they are driving. Those on foot often are playing some type of musical instrument or singing. Others walk about yelling at another person, or talk to themselves. (not sure if there’s a lot of mental health issues here but some random & strange behaviors). Makes relaxing on your patio a mission you cannot accomplish. Frustrating- because as the weathers great .

      • Darla Desautel on at 10:26 pm

        so sorry to hear that about Tucson… Mesa is noisy just like that… and on the US Transportation noise map is almost as loud as living in New York City… where can someone go to get away from the noise pollution?

    • Melanie Watson on at 11:40 pm

      Thanks for your list!!! Pensacola, FL needs to be on your noisiest list in the top 5. It’s Las Vegas meets Afghanistan. I listen to fireworks literally from June till August every night and from Christmas Night till third week of January and least once month in between. That’s not to mention just the constant traffic. In my area of town there is never a time it’s quiet it’s like people don’t sleep! Midnight, 1, 2, 3 am constant cars in and out of the subdivision tearing down road like their at Daytona. It’s so awful we’re moving! Back to peaceful quiet Alabama.

  2. G Matthews on at 10:00 pm

    I’ve lived in Honolulu, Hi for 25 years now and the noise is incredible. All day long ambulances scream at full blast thru the city often followed by fire engines careening along with their sirens at full blast. Then there are the leaf blowers, weed wackers, and mowers (year round) to contend with. All commercial vehicles are equipped with noise devices that activate when the vehicle is backing up. Oh and don’t let me forget the weekly tsunami sirens that could waken the dead.
    If your looking for a peaceful vacation or place to live, forget Waikiki and Honolulu.

    • jess2716 on at 5:11 pm

      @G Matthews: Hearing you talk about Honolulu reminds me a lot of where I live, Brooklyn. I was woken up at 2am by a super loud oil truck last night that literally just parked in front of my building grumbling for about an hour. WHY?! lol

  3. Blake D on at 11:43 am

    Parts of the greater Seattle area like West Seattle have a low-pitch buzz that can be heard the entire day at different times of the year. People living in these areas say it keeps them up at night and I think would mess with one’s head.

    • Stephen McGreevy on at 11:16 am

      Regarding the “buzz” or “hum” you say you hear in the Puget Sound area – well, there are a LOT of military installations up there including ones devoted to submarines. Go Figure. Additionally, look at the site: thehum.info for more about this worldwide hum syndrome. I am not promoting the site specifically, but the fellow (in British Columbia) whom has created that site had made the best compendium of this phenomenon I have found online. It might lend insight to this sound you hear. SpM

      • Darla Desautel on at 10:30 pm

        thank you, Stephen, we have a similar hum in Mesa AZ and it is driving me bonkers… I’m preparing to move because of it and doing my research ahead of time on trying to find a quieter place to live

  4. Stephen McGreevy on at 11:22 am

    As for a rural area to vacation/holiday in that is *horribly* noisy (up to 120 dB SPL peaks), if you value desert-quietude, totally avoid Inyo County California and a lot of the Mojave Desert also – home to Death Valley National Park and also Mt. Whitney, redneck Inyo County is heavily touristed, BUT also is HEAVILY bombarded by huge (at times) military aircraft (jet) noise from aircraft that can frequently “buzz” your camping spot or even do sustained dive-bombing/mock attacks of your camping spot and vehicle(s). You might be a target there. The general jet-noise-levels in Inyo County on some days (most weekdays but some weekends too) there sound like Bagdad, Iraq back in March 2003 or parts of Syria today…

    I know, I live there – it sucks and is awful if you value peace and quiet… Steve

  5. Jerry Slayton on at 9:13 pm

    Thanks for the info and YES noise is a huge problem. Why are loud motor cycles, cars and pick ups with glass pack mufflers (Non Mufflers actually) allowed in our cities? I think noise is intentionally generated by small ineffectual people who want to be heard in SOME way.
    A major health hazard, noise pollution is huge and ubiquitous . Even in my little town of Folly Beach just South of Charleston SC the usual serene silence is often broken by the intentional noise of motor cycles with straight pipe exhausts blaring out noise for miles around. Should be illegal but keeps happening.

  6. DESMOINES on at 1:42 pm

    Never been to Des Moines Iowa have you. Every 15 minutes a jet flies over the city, You cant even hear yourself talk…. All the places I have been it is by far the worse.

  7. Sharon on at 2:59 am

    Hartford is definitely not the quietest town. Its noisy, filled with cars honking, vehicles backing up with a loud sirens at early hours right outside your home all while you are trying to sleep. Overcrowding. You obviously haven’t been there . I was born there and went to college there.

  8. B on at 4:17 pm

    I lived in Miami, FL for years and thought that outside of Brickell or directly underneath the flight pat for MIA it was pretty quiet. Parts of Columbia, SC on the other hand can be brutal with train horns blowing all day and night….

  9. Bruce Glad on at 11:01 pm

    Albuquerque New Mexico is hell on Earth with never ending vehicle noise and barking dogs.

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