10 Smart Travel Cities in the U.S.

Technology is changing the way we get to and from the places we live, work and play. New York, Boston and San Francisco may take the headlines, but these 10 cities are also driving travel innovations.

Chicago: The Windy City is a digitized metropolis where residents and visitors can monitor crime, water quality at beaches, traffic and other information on the Chicago Works For You dashboard. GPS on Chicago’s buses estimates arrival times, while GPS on the DIVVY bike share program offers riders updated availability. You can even track snow plows with the Plow Tracker.

Chattanooga: Welcome to the Gig City where a fiber network offers one-gigabyte-per-second internet service (200 times the national average speed) and free Wi-Fi downtown. Chattanooga also has the nation’s most advanced smart grid electric power system. The grid allows city leaders to monitor street lights, turning them on as needed, and gives immediate feedback on power outages.

Seattle: Use the light rail system, or a bike or car share program to get around the Emerald City. The mobile Metro Transit Trip Planner makes it easier and faster to plan more accurately for trips around Seattle and nearby cities using buses, the monorail, water taxis and ferries. 

Washington, D.C.: The nation’s capital is a leader in connecting people to neighborhoods and attractions with its Metrorail, Metrobus or DC Circulator. Your smartphone acts as a key to unlock and start cars in the car share program. Meanwhile, the NextGen satellite-based airplane navigation systems at D.C.-area airports help increase safety and boost on-time arrivals.

"Washington, D.C. is filled with so much history it can be overwhelming; download your interests ahead of time," says Elizabeth Donatelli, travel journalist for Lizi on Location. “USA.gov has more than 130 apps to help you customize your trip."

Portland, OR: Hop on a bike to discover the City of Roses. Portland has the highest percentage of residents who pedal to work. Visitors can rent a bike or join a bike tour to visit Portland’s funky neighborhoods. The Travel Portland app gives you the inside scoop.

Louisville: The Derby City’s new, fast-charging, all-electric ZeroBuses produce zero emissions and offer free transportation along former trolley routes. Also new is a program on some streets that lets drivers pay to park with the Passport Parking app, which also lets you extend your parking time remotely.

“App-driven payments for street parking is certainly progressive,” said Jason Falls, digital marketing analyst, author and speaker. “Because consumers are moving to a mobile-first lifestyle and paperless, even card-less transactions, the move by many cities to this approach is smart.”

Charlotte: Getting around Charlotte can be done with bike or car sharing, or use the Ride CATS app to master the Queen City’s transit system. The app tells you when the next CATS bus or LYNX train will arrive and depart, helps you plan trips and even offers feedback to customer service.

Denver: The Mile High City is expanding its light rail system to connect more neighborhoods and attractions. A $500 million redevelopment of Union Station offers Amtrak service, a 22-gate bus pavilion and light rail. Use the RTD Trip Planner to find nearby stops and stations, check schedules, fares and more.

Philadelphia: The City of Brotherly Love’s “Smart City. Smart Choice.” campaign is driving innovation. Figure out the best way to get to your destination, whether by train, trolley or bus, with the SEPTA Trip Planner.

San Jose: The capital of Silicon Valley offers one of the fastest public Wi-Fi networks in the nation. The free Wickedly Fast Wi-Fi Network supports thousands of people on their wireless devices to stream simultaneously without interruption or congestion.

“Investments in innovations can make a traveler’s experience smoother,” said Donatelli. “Making it easy to get around is important for future growth.”

Trevor Thomas is a public relations manager for Verizon Wireless. You can follow him on Twitter at: @VZWtrevor.