Tap Water Tourism

(It’s going to be a thing.)

I love tap water! When I visit friends who live in different cities and they offer me water from their fancy filtering apparatuses or even worse, SodaStream, I put on my snooty face and head straight for the tap. Visiting a new city is also exciting for the sheer possibility of discovering a new favorite tap water source.

Clean, potable tap water is something we should never take for granted. After all, it’s the elixir of life. I’m a big believer that drinking lots of water is the best and simplest preventative care you can give your body.

As an amateur tap water enthusiast, I’ve compiled my list of best’s and worst’s. There are a few more cities I’ve been to but unfortunately, I don’t remember how their tap water tasted. If I revisit, you can be sure I’m heading for the tap the second we land.

Best tasting tap water in America

New York City, New York

New York City tap water is great, and I thought this even before I became a self-proclaimed tap water snob. I gush about it so much that my very sweet roommate brings me back a bottle of New York City tap water– from the airport nevertheless– whenever she visits.

San Francisco, California

You should see the looks I get when I tell people that San Francisco tap water is great. It’s no surprise that residents here don’t get a taste of it very often when most tech companies stock their fridges with fancy alternatives such as LaCroix, Hint Water, Vitamin Water (is that still a thing?), and San Pellegrino.

I always felt I was alone in this thinking until I took a tour of the local Anchor Brewing Company. The very nice, knowledgeable, and entertaining tour guide told us that one of Anchor’s ‘unfair advantages’ would have to be the quality of San Francisco’s water! So there you have it– good enough to make great beer.

Tahoe, California

Tahoe’s tap water is amazing. It’s like San Francisco tap water but closer to the Gods, whence it came.

Chicago, Illinois

I’ve never actually been to Chicago, I only stayed near the airport for one night when our connecting flight was cancelled, but wow! The tap water from the hotel left quite an impression on me!

My moment of validation was meeting a friend of a friend at a club in Miami, finding out he’s from Chicago, and (drunkenly) bonding over having similarly high regard for Chicago tap water.

Edited to add one of my proudest moments:

Worst tasting tap water in America

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is where I learned that even if you boil poor-tasting tap water, or run it through a Brita filter, it’s still going to taste bad.

Los Angeles, California

There’s a reason why there’s a cocktail named after LA Water and its color can only be best described as ‘cloudy blurple’.

San Diego, California

San Diego has by far the worst tap water I’ve ever tasted. Interesting fact we learned from the same brewery tour mentioned above: The breweries (and there are a lot) in San Diego use a heavy water filtration system as part of their process in order to produce good tasting beer.1

1: This inadvertently answered a previous random curiosity– for cities that happen to have a lot of breweries (San Diego, Denver, Portland), did the rise of brewing come with being close to the best resources (water, hops, grain), or was it because of the culture? We’re now inclined to think it’s culture. Those hipsters.

Thank you for your readership!

Jen is the founder of Lunch Money, a multicurrency personal finance tool for the modern-day spender. She retreats to Asia as a digital nomad during the Canadian winters and is a self-proclaimed "froodie" – a frugal foodie.

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