Is where I live and while I am on the low end of the wealth spectrum, it is a beautiful place. As one who is tired of seeing my home state and people look like mafioso breeding grounds filled with tanned, high haired Neanderthals this article in Traditional Home makes me breathe better. New Jersey is very diverse with farms, small intimate enclaves, rolling hill estate areas, funky neighborhoods, sea shore, mountains and fun cities. I wish to God people knew that.
Recently I got into a blog discussion with someone from Los Angeles and we were lamenting how Hollywood shows the worst of LA and NJ. When you live someplace, you see the best and the worst, but it seems Hollywood only likes the awful side, the stereotypes. Which I hate more than anything. Southerners are redneck hillbillies who intermarry, Midwesterners are all fat and slow, West Coast is flaky and plastic. Pacific Northwest is filled with hippies. The list goes on and on. Sure stereotypes come from somewhere, but I think it is easier to focus on what makes us uncomfortable and is easy to mock. I have said this before but the best quote I ever heard was "Travel is the enemy of bigotry" and I think we all need to do that domestically to break the ridiculous stereotypes. I am not saying they do not exist. I went to high school with guidos like the ones on Jersey Shore, but those guys were not complete d-bags.
The bottom line is, while we think we know an area in the USA, even the world, but let us focus on USA, unless you have lived there or visited, you do not know the people and if you only do tourist stuff, you have not necessarily seen the true flavor of any place. Here are some places that pleasantly surprised me and are not always touted for a visit:
Providence, Rhode Island
Santa Monica, California
West Palm Beach, Florida
Ithaca and Watkins Glen, New York
There are also a ton of towns in NJ that I have stopped at and walked around.
All those places could feed a serious stereotype but most of the people I met were lovely and the cities/towns were too. I hope I can go to more places without preconceived notions. It is not easy, but since I am used to New Jersey being on the short end of the stick, I think I can do it better then most.