Are they rude, stressed, or just oblivious? Travel + Leisure readers rank U.S. cities by their collective scowls in our annual America's Favorite Places survey.
No. 15 Chicago
The 15 Unfriendliest Cities in America
No. 15 Chicago
Whether you think it’s the City of Big Shoulders or cold shoulders, Chicagoans made the top 20 in T+L's annual reader's survey for being both smart and cool. One of the best ways to break the ice with locals is at one of their neighborhood bars, which ranked in the top 10. As friendly neighborhoods go, try Old Town: you can get a root beer float spiked with Stoli at Marge’s Still, the oldest tavern in the city, or check out the conversation-starting wall art at Old Town Ale House. Nearby, you can confirm the locals’ good senses of humor, and the city’s No. 6 ranking for theater, at Second City or stand-up haven Zanies Comedy Night Club.
Michaela Hall admits that people in Washington D.C. don’t always make a good first impression.
“We avoid making eye contact, we bump you without saying excuse me, and we wear earbuds to drown out any questions you might ask—because being polite takes time,” says the D.C.-based travel blogger. “Most of us are employed by government agencies, nonprofits, or some other entity set on saving the world,” she explains. “So in the morning, we are rushing to make a difference.”
Saving the world, we assume, isn’t always pretty: D.C. made the top 5 for its less-than-friendly locals. In the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, Travel + Leisure readers ranked 38 cities for their most magnetic features, from bakeries to nightclubs to the locals, who might have impressed readers as being particularly good looking, quirky, or friendly…or, the opposite of those things. While cities like New Orleans and Minneapolis/St.Paul got accolades for rolling out the red carpet, 15 other cities, or at least their locals, didn’t seem to make that connection with readers. To be fair, the surliest cities also tend to be the biggest and most fast-paced, which may give visitors an air of indifference—whether it’s intentional or not.
Related: America's Rudest Cities
Of course, finding a city’s friendly locals may just be a matter of knowing where—and when—to look.
At the end of a typical day, says Hall, the rushed and rude folks of D.C. are actually pretty happy to sit down and have a philosophical chat about their day’s work. “D.C. is full of nice people,” she says, “if you meet us during happy hour.”