Three important things draw Daniel Howard to Park City: History, wildlife, and rooftop bars.
“I like the no-chain-store ambience along Main Street, and the mining-era legacy of its buildings,” says Howard, who works for the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort in Santa Barbara. “And, I like seeing moose walking through the town.” His favorite perch to watch either people or antlered creatures is the rooftop bar at the No Name Saloon. “It’s the best place to take in the crowds below,” he says. “While still being above it all and yet under the radar—just like Park City.”
Even though the Utah ski town is increasingly associated with its star-studded film festival each winter, the combination of sophisticated hangouts and small town charm has made it a top-ten favorite of Travel+Leisure readers.
In the annual America's Favorite Places survey, readers of all stripes evaluate hundreds of cities and towns across a range of categories, from the friendliness of the locals to the quality of the pizza. Unlike Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards, which encourages readers to weigh in on travel experiences across the globe, the America's Favorite Places survey is a way for locals to share what their hometowns do best. Among the top 30 winning towns (which have populations under 100,000), a few high-scoring categories came up time and again: friendly residents, a relaxing ambience, and a wealth of little indulgences, like bakeries, burgers, and wine bars.
Some towns charmed travelers with their mix of quirky qualities. “With just one stroll through downtown Asheville on a Saturday night, we were able to window-shop handcrafted art, sip high-end cocktails, and stumble into a full-moon drum circle in Pritchard Park” says Arizona native Laine Strutton. “It’s probably one of the most eclectic towns in America.”
Read on for more about this year’s winners, and to see who ranked where.
The nitty-gritty: Travel + Leisure’s America’s Favorite Places survey opened on 10/8/2015 and closed on 04/15/2016. It was open to everyone, and ran alongside a sweepstakes. The open-response survey asked respondents to submit their favorite place and rate it in over 65 categories, including affordability, notable restaurants, and public parks. Towns were defined as governed bodies with a population less than 100,000. After discarding incomplete ballots and cities that received less than 8 votes, each entry was ranked according to an average score.