By Chloe Mulliner, on September 19, 2018

10 of the nation’s smelliest cities

[travelsensations-widget-author photourl=”” websiteurl=”” name=”Chloe Mulliner”]As a staff writer for Expedia, Chloe Mulliner is dedicated to providing top travel tips for your jaunts around the world. She believes there are adventures to be had on every inch of the globe from surf spots on the Peruvian coast to the charming villages of the English countryside. Chloe specializes in showcasing all the must-see attractions on your travel wish list. She lives by the belief that every adventure is a story worth sharing.[/travelsensations-widget-author]

Cities known for specific food and outdoor smells can trigger your memories. One whiff, and boom! You’re reminded of your favorite travel experiences.

We’ve followed the scent and picked 10 of the nation’s smelliest cities that will remind you of your visit every time you catch a whiff of these signature smells.


Lexington, North Carolina

Scent: Barbecue
The thick, sweet smoke, tangled with the scent of hickory, wafts through from the barbecue pits in Lexington. Here the air smells of tender meat, falling off the bone, slathered in the town’s very own tomato-based sauce. The smell alone will lead you to the best barbeque in Lexington, NC. Home to the highest number of barbecue joints per capita, the city’s signature scent lingers all along the Historic Barbecue Trail, from the Bar-B-Q Center to the annual Barbecue Festival.


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Gilroy, California

Scent: Garlic
Fondly known as the Garlic Capital of the World, Gilroy smells of the potent bulb thanks to the local Olam Spices & Vegetable factory and Christopher Ranch. The stinking rose’s spicy odor permeates Gilroy, where it’s celebrated at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Here the nutty aroma fills the air, as the cloves are sliced, diced, roasted, grilled, and even whipped into ice cream and cocktails! If you indulge in the garlicky goodness, you just may find yourself smelling of it even after leaving town.


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Chicago, Illinois

Scent: Chocolate
Ferry along the river or face the wind in the Loop, and cocoa deliciousness will swirl up your nostrils. Smelling like hot chocolate, the scent from Blommer Chocolate Company instantly taunts your sweet tooth. Follow the cloud of chocolatey perfume to the Blommer Chocolate Store to satisfy your craving or inhale the sweetness as you step into Chocolat Uzma Sharif. Better yet, you’ll practically taste the cocoa on your tongue as you breathe in the air at the Chocolate Fest in Long Grove.


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Washington Island, Wisconsin

Scent: Lavender
Inhale on Washington Island, and a sense of calm will overcome you. That smoothing, flowery scent? It’s coming from the lavender fields. The island is home to Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm, the largest lavender grower in the Midwest. Visit the fields, and don’t miss All Things Lavender Festival, where you’ll feel relaxed as soon as the fragrance tickles your nose. This farm, along with nearby Island Lavender, concocts essential oils, lotions, and soaps using the purple blossom, so you can bring the lovely scent home with you.


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Baltimore, Maryland

Scent: Freshly baked bread
The smell of freshly baked bread drifts from Baltimore’s Schmidt Baking Company and H&S Bakery, wrapping you in a warm hug. Smelling like home sweet home, Baltimore will have you salivating, as a trail of sugary and floury aromas hits your senses. Track down the scent at H&S Bakery Outlet Store for scores of loaves and bagels, or inhale and guess what’s hot out of the oven at local favorites like Hoehn’s Bakery and the Batch Bake Shop.


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Julian, California

Scent: Apple pie
Julian smells like sugar and spice and all that’s nice. The cozy smell of sweet apples, cinnamon, and buttery crust lingers in the air, as bakeries all across this mountain town pull piping hot apple pies from the oven. Julian Pie Company and Mom’s Pie House are major culprits, but as are other beloved spots, from Apple Alley Bakery to Julian Café & Bakery. Follow your nose to the Julian Apple Days, for the annual Apple Pie Contest, and revel in the desserts.


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Little Havana in Miami, Florida

Scent: Cuban coffee
Take a stroll through the streets of Little Havana and wait for the scent of freshly brewed Cuban coffee to encompass you. On nearly every street corner, the dark espresso notes steam from the walk-up coffee windows, known as ventanitas. Cuban coffee in Miami is not only a popular smell, but also a popular taste in this part of town. For a strong jolt, local favorites such as Versailles and La Carreta will lure you in with the scent of their coffee grounds brewing in moka pots.


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Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Scent: Beer
Beer is so ingrained in Milwaukee history that residents have been knocking it back long before Wisconsin even became a state—the faint smell of hops and yeast have practically seeped through the cracks of Brew City. You’ll smell yeast metabolizing sugar, an almost fruity scent, as you tour the vats at City Lights Brewing Co., and floral hop aromas from Lakefront Brewery’s Riverwest Stein will awaken your sinuses. For more hints of caramel, citrus, malts, and more, take a sniff (and sip!) at the annual Milwaukee Brewfest.


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Mackinac Island, Michigan

Scent: Fudge
Mackinac Island embraces its past, and in doing so, it’s smelled like the same chocolate fudge for 130 years. Step off the ferry and the rich, soothing sweetness of fudge immediately dances up your nose. A nostalgic scent, perhaps reminding you of childhood, is detected around the numerous Mackinac Island fudge shops, from Murdick’s to May’s Candy Shop. Who has the best fudge on Mackinac Island? Decide for yourself at the Mackinac Island Fudge Festival.


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Buffalo, New York

Scent: Cereal
No, you’re not imagining things. The air in Buffalo really smells of cereal. Stroll downtown, cruise the Skyway, or kayak along the Buffalo River as the air picks up the toasted oats scent from the General Mill’s production line. There’s certainly something warm and comforting about the smell, and to locals, it’s a sign they’ve arrived home. In fact, they celebrate their city’s peculiar trait, proudly wearing shirts with the phrase, “My city smells like Cheerios,” by the Born in Buffalo clothing brand.


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Header image via Alena Ozerova/