10 Under-the-Radar Olympic Cities You Should Visit
The Olympic Torch may be extinguished but these destinations are as hot as ever.
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St. Louis, Missouri
1904 Summer Olympics
When you think of Olympic cities in the United States, you probably think of Los Angeles, Atlanta and maybe even Salt Lake City. However, way back in 1904, St. Louis was the first city outside of Europe to host an Olympic Games. This was also the first Olympic games where gold, silver and bronze medals were given to the first, second and third place participants. Top Attractions: Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Missouri Botanical Garden, Forest Park, St. Louis Art Museum.
1920 Summer Olympics
After the 1916 Olympics were canceled due to the outbreak of World War I, Antwerp was awarded the 1920 Olympic Games to honor the Belgian people who had suffered greatly during the conflict. At these games, the Olympic flag with its iconic five rings was raised for the first time and 72-year-old Oscar Swahn from Sweden etched his name in the record books as the oldest medalist ever as he took silver in the team double-shot running deer event. Top Attractions: Antwerp Central Station, Museum aan de Stroom, Grote Markt, Cathedral of Our Lady, Park Spoor Noord, Royal Museum of Fine Arts.
Lake Placid, New York
1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics
Lake Placid, New York, is one of three cities to ever host the Winter Olympics twice — the others being St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Innsbruck, Austria. In 1932, Lake Placid, which had a population of less than 4,000, struggled to raise the funds necessary to build various venues during the Great Depression and relied on a generous donation of land for the construction of a bobsleigh track. The 1980 games in Lake Placid are perhaps most well-known for the Miracle on Ice, in which the United States men’s ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in what many call the sporting event of the century. Top Attractions: Mirror Lake, Olympic Ski Jump Complex, Bobsled and Luge Complex, John Brown Farm State Historic Site, Herb Brooks Arena.
1952 Summer Olympics
Helsinki was chosen to host the 1940 Summer Olympics but due to World War II, the games were ultimately canceled. In 1952, Helsinki won the bid again and officially became the northernmost city to ever host a Summer Olympics. At the games, both Israel and the Soviet Union competed for the first time. Top Attractions: Old Market Hall, Loyly, Tori Quarters, Rock Church, Helsinki Cathedral, Kamppi Chapel of Silence, Design District Helsinki.
1952 Winter Olympics
Norway is the birthplace of modern skiing and in 1952, its capital city of Oslo was awarded the Winter Olympics ahead of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and Lake Placid, New York. At these games, computers were used for the first time in figure skating to instantly calculate the scores given by the judges. Top Attractions: Vigelan Sculpture Park, Oslo Winter Park, Munch Museum, Oslo Opera House, Akershus Fortress.
1956 Summer Olympics
Melbourne was the first city outside of Europe and North America to host an Olympics but their strict quarantine regulations did not allow foreign horses to enter the country, thus Stockholm, Sweden, was selected to host all the equestrian events. Top Attractions: St Kilda Pier, Werribee Open Range Zoo, Eureka Skydeck 88, Federation Square, NGV International, Royal Botanic Gardens, Brighton Bathing Boxes, Queen Victoria Market.
Mexico City, Mexico
1968 Summer Olympics
Mexico City won the 1968 Summer Olympics over Detroit, but its selection was somewhat questionable due to the high altitude of the city. The thin air aided in numerous records being broken, including all the men’s races that were 400m or shorter, the long jump and triple jump. Top Attractions: Palace of Fine Arts, Bosque de Chapultepec, National Museum of Anthropology, Frida Kahlo Museum, Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Zocalo.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
1976 Summer Olympics
In 1976, Montreal hosted the first, and as of today, only Summer Olympics to ever take place in Canada. Unfortunately, several nations, mostly African, boycotted the games due to the New Zealand national rugby team touring in apartheid South Africa despite the call for a sporting embargo. These games were the official debut for women’s basketball, rowing and team handball. Top Attractions: Marché Jean-Talon, Parc du Mont-Royal, Montreal Botanical Garden, Parc La Fontaine, Bell Centre, Montreal Biosphere, Notre-Dame Basilica, Rue Saint-Paul.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
1988 Winter Olympics
"Can You Feel It?" That was the motto of the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary where 1,423 athletes competed in 46 events. Jamaica made their Winter Olympics debut and competed in the two-man and four-man bobsledding events. Those who remember the movie "Cool Runnings" may be familiar with their historic appearance. Top Attractions: Prince’s Island Park, Glenbow Museum, Calgary Tower, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Heritage Park Historical Village, Calgary Stampede, Peace Bridge.
2006 Winter Olympics
Turin, or Torino in Italian, was the second city in Italy to host the Winter Olympics (the first being Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956) and with a population more than 900,000, the city became the largest to ever host the Winter Olympics. It was also the first time that fans of the Games could stream live coverage on their mobile phones. Top Attractions: Royal Palace of Turin, Palazzo Madama, Mole Antonelliana, Egyptian Museum, Chapel of the Holy Shroud, Parco Valentino.