America's Favorite Places

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America’s Most Underrated Cities

Travelers looking for the next undiscovered, under-the-radar destination, pay attention. According to Travel + Leisure readers, you’ve been seriously missing out on these 20 amazing cities. In our annual America's Favorite Places survey, we ask T+L readers to dish about their hometowns — the place they grew up or have lived in and know better than anywhere else on Earth. Unlike T+L’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. Readers ranked their hometowns and cities across a range of categories, from the quality of the pizza to the friendliness of the locals. We also ask if they think their city is wildly overrated, or an overlooked jewel. Locals from these destinations, which range from the Southwest to the Northeast (but are mostly centered around the nation’s less-traveled Midwest), largely feel like they’ve been overshadowed by neighboring cities, or dismissed as "flyover territory." Some cities have had a difficult time shrugging off hard times or negative impressions. (One Clevelander wondered in our survey: "when are people going to stop asking, ‘is the river still on fire?’ That was…50 years ago.") Buffalo and Indianapolis are the only cities on this year’s list of underrated American hometowns that also appeared on last year’s list. Meaning plucky travelers have a lot of exploring to do in 2018.
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America’s Favorite Cities for a Ski Trip

The word may be from Old Norse, and the tradition may be ancient — wall paintings and artifacts date to 10,000 years ago in China — but skiing, which first became viewed as a pleasurable sport in 19th-century Scandinavia and Switzerland, has become a beloved American pastime. Throughout the United States, thousands of lifts transport roughly 55 million ski bunnies to the slopes at nearly 500 ski areas. Conveniently, many of the country's peaks are also within a few hours of big cities. Take Timberline, east of Portland, Oregon. There, skiers and boarders can swoosh down a whopping 3,600 feet of vertical drop on the south face of Mount Hood. Little wonder that T+L readers think Portland is one of the country's best cities for skiing. In our annual America's Favorite Places survey, we ask Travel + Leisure readers to dish about their hometowns — the place they grew up or have lived in and know better than anywhere else on Earth. Unlike T+L'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. The winners in this year's survey demonstrate skiing's broad geographical range — from east to west and north and south. Even a Midwest city earned high marks from T+L readers, who noted several regional ski areas, including one frequented by an Olympic gold medalist. These favorite American cities prove you don't need to live in a tiny mountain town to have access to some of the nation's best skiing.
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These Are America’s Friendliest Cities

There are entire regions of the United States known for being particularly friendly — the South, for example, has become known for its charm and hospitality. And in the nation's literal heartland, there is some intangible, non-threatening, and courteous behavior called Minnesota Nice (or Hoosier Hospitality, depending on where you are). Here, you can more or less count on a smile from strangers — and at least a dozen offers to personally provide directions (or maybe just escort you to your destination) should you look even remotely lost or bewildered. Every year in our annual America's Favorite Places survey, we ask Travel + Leisure readers to dish about their hometowns — the place they grew up or have lived in and know better than anywhere else on Earth. Unlike T+L'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. Readers ranked their hometowns and cities across a range of categories, from the quality of the pizza to the demeanor of the locals. And when it came to general friendliness — not just hospitality toward tourists and neighborly love but also manners, politeness, and warm dispositions — there weren't too many surprises. This year's list was still dominated by cities in the American South and the Midwest, as well as destinations with year-round good weather and natural beauty (we're looking at you, Honolulu). And yet it was an East Coast city in famously frigid upstate New York that earned the No. 1 spot on this year's list of America's friendliest places. But even there, locals seem to be living up to long-held expectations. Buffalo isn't called the City of Good Neighbors for nothing. "I've said for years that Buffalo is a Midwestern city dropped on the other side of Lake Erie," one reader explained. Travelers who love to strike up conversations with locals should head straight to one of these cities, where big smiles and big hearts are easy to come by.
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America’s Favorite Cities

"Norfolk is a great place to live and to visit," said one proud Virginian. "The climate is mild and the art and culture scene is alive with momentum!" Locals also loved the southern city's ample water views, central location, and friendly vibe. "[It's] an amazing, historic city with [a] vibrant downtown area," another noted. Every year in our annual America's Favorite Places survey, we ask Travel + Leisure readers to dish about their hometowns — the place they grew up or have lived in and know better than anywhere else on Earth. Unlike T+L'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. Readers ranked their hometowns and cities across a range of categories, from the friendliness of the locals to the quality of the pizza. But to find out which hometown was most loved overall, we took a composite score of all the individual categories, from the top city for things to see and to do, to the one with the most exciting places to eat and drink. And this year, the small city of Norfolk, Virginia took the No.1 spot in a number of categories. When people who live, or have lived, in Norfolk were asked about their hometown, they raved about how welcoming this port city is to tourists — and what a great place it was to grab a burger, sip a pint of craft beer, and even admire creative street art. Related: America's Most Underrated Cities "Norfolk continues to place a priority on public art as part of any major new development," explained one local, while more than a few pointed visitors interested in street art in the direction of the upcoming NEON District. This year, small cities and major metropolises from every region in the country appeared on the list of America's Favorite Cities. Did your hometown make the cut?
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These Are America’s Favorite Cities for Food

Whether you’re hankering for crispy French fries, fresh fish, or the perfect slice of pizza, cities all across the United States are proving they can compete with international culinary powerhouses. Major metropolises like San Francisco and New York City have long been known as epicurean capitals — but this year, much smaller cities joined the ranks. According to locals, these are some of the best places in the nation to eat.  In our annual America's Favorite Places survey, we ask Travel + Leisure readers to open up about about their hometowns — the place they grew up or have lived in and know better than anywhere else on Earth. Unlike the 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. Readers ranked their hometowns and cities across a range of categories, from the friendliness of the locals to the quality of the cheeseburgers. This year’s top city for food was New Orleans, which earned a collective high score from all the major food and drink categories, including coffee and brunch. Here, locals and visitors can satisfy an appetite for powdery beignets, Po’ boys, and hearty shrimp and grits (just a few of the regional specialties). With its mix of flavorful Creole and classic French influences, this vibrant city wins over everyone with its big flavor. “There is no other city like New Orleans,” one resident wrote, calling it “An awesome city to enjoy wonderful food, attractions, festivals, world class cruise ships, and good music all the time.” Norfolk, Virginia took the silver spot for its rapidly growing food and craft beer scene. And Buffalo, New York, home to — you guessed it — Buffalo wings, landed in third place. The city is also known for its unique pizza (a blend of Chicago and New York City-style crusts).  “No one knows pizza like we do. And wings. We don't call them 'Buffalo wings' [here], just wings. Our worst wings are better than any other city,” raved one reader. From green chile cheeseburgers to Michelin-stared dining rooms, these are 20 of the best-loved places to eat and drink in the United States.
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More America's Favorite Places

These Are the Best U.S. Cities for Adventurous Travelers

Rock climbing and freestyle bouldering. Coming face-to-face with lions and wolves. Surfing towering waves. Exploring underground caverns. These are just a few of the adrenaline-pumping activities that helped make these 15 cities top the list of best places to have an adventure vacation, according to the results of our latest America's Favorite Places survey. For the survey, readers 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. Take the 2017 America's Favorite Places Survey In general, the western half of the country — from Honolulu to the Pacific Northwest to the desert — reigns, taking nine out of the top 15 spots. And with epic snowsports in the winter and hiking and mountain biking come summer, it's no surprise that Colorado has not one, but three cities on the list — and two at the very top, no less. On the East Coast, Virginia also comes in with multiple winners — pretty impressive for a state that's better known for history than for adventure. Read on for how to get active in each of the best adventure cities. And be sure to cast your vote in this year's America's Favorite Places survey.
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These Are the Cities With America's Favorite Pizza 2016

When Travel + Leisure polled readers on their favorite places in the country to get pizza, the results proved half fair, half fairly unexpected. New York City, a hallmark of American pizza culture, didn’t crack the top five this time around. Quintessential by-the-slice stands in Midtown, Neapolitan mainstays in the Village, and hip Instagram-worthy pies in Brooklyn will forever make the city a popular place for pizza exploration. But the bronze, silver, and gold pizza medals have been relocated. In the 2016 America’s Favorite Places survey, T+L readers cast their votes on their favorite towns and cities across the country, ranking everything from the friendliness of the people to their enthusiasm for Christmas lights. Just shy of the top three spots this year, Chicago's famed deep dishes still earn the Windy City a high rank on the list. And Providence, Rhode Island, the birthplace of the grilled pizza, also ranks high. Elsewhere in New York, Buffalo is proving the state's second largest city also has some great pizza, thanks to its distinct medium crust pizza—best topped with the city's signature Buffalo chicken. And Detroit, where major pizza chains Domino's and Little Caesars were founded, is also home to a unique Detroit-style pie: a thick, Sicilian-style dough and reverse-stacked ingredients with sauce on top. But the No. 1 city in the United States seems to have taken the cake—or rather, the pie—by offering a slice for every pizza preference. In Phoenix, locals and visitors can enjoy classic thin crust joints and James Beard award-winning margheritas, or order gourmet Neapolitan, wood-fired pies, traditional deep-dishes and yes, even drive-through pizza by the slice. This Southwestern city even has an annual pizza festival. There are plenty of newcomers to the 2016 list, including Indianapolis, Richmond, and Albuquerque. Though there are plenty of notable absences, too. See if your hometown made the cut, and find out what pizza paradise you need to visit next. 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. Cities are defined as governed bodies with a population over 100,000.