I'd also like to make a distinction about culture. I think it's misleading to say that, "the culture is in the sticks." You will find certain aspects of American culture emphasized in the mute rural areas, often the folksy'er parts. Our major cities are under the same pressures of homogenization and globalization that the rest of the developed world are under, so that should not come as a surprise. But we still have our regional dialects, customs, and foods. Our regions don't have quite the same . . . "clarity of identity" that the regions of the UK do.
I've lived in both L.A. and Philadelphia and they are drastically different in terms of food, culture, style, climate, pace of life, and even vegetation. I like both for different reasons.
You won't do much hiking IN the cities, but if you want to experience the United states and it's people you would do yourself a disservice by avoiding them. It's a big place, and there is a lot to see.
Fair points. I think it's more a personal choice with me and my general dislike of cities. Think I am turning into an old git in my old age who likes the country life lol