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.
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.
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.
America’s Most Underrated Cities 2016
Meggie Dials left Illinois for Indianapolis 13 years ago. “Mostly, people think of Indy as a quiet town in a rural state,” Dials, VP of sales at a local tech company and founder of The Sussy Project, told Travel + Leisure. “But we are so much more.” Dials touted Indianapolis’s long list of perks: major sports teams, a thriving music scene, one of the country’s top children’s museums, and friendly locals. “We have a community of people that love our city, that can get to work without hours of traffic, can afford beautiful homes and can find grassy areas for kids to play at every corner. And, maybe most importantly, we are nice.” T+L readers agree, and think that Indianapolis is one of America’s most underrated cities. 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. Other destinations that readers think deserve a better reputation include a petite Northeast city with a revitalized arts scene, a Southwest town with stellar access to hiking and skiing, and a town in California with restaurants that are well worth their high prices. Did your hometown make the cut? From big cities on the East Coast to small, southern hubs, don’t overlook these U.S. cities.  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.
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America's Rudest Cities 2016
Fair or not, locals in Miami are known for being a little aloof.  “They’re multilingual, beautiful, and wealthy,” said the Florida-based travel blogger Christine Austin. “For regular folks, visiting here can feel like stumbling into a nightclub full of supermodels while you’re wearing yoga pants.” But she insists it’s not mere vanity that makes the residents so brusque: “It's hot here — like, all the time,” she said.  “The kind of heat that makes you just want to blame someone.” Whether it’s the heat or the velvet ropes, Miami made its debut as the No. 1 rudest city, according to Travel + Leisure readers. In the latest America’s Favorite Places survey, voters ranked big cities (with populations over 100,000) for such cosmopolitan features as their world-class museums, chef-driven restaurants, and cocktail lounges. But the survey also scored some quality-of-life features, like how walkable a city is, how safe it feels, and how cordial (or not) the locals seem.  This year’s list of America’s 15 Rudest Cities includes some returning winners — or losers, depending on your prerogative — as well as some shakeups. New York City, for instance, shed its title as the rudest in the land, and only three of the top 15 are located in the stereotypically gruff Northeast. Nine of the surly cities also scored highly for passionate sports fans, so perhaps that in-your-face enthusiasm is rubbing out-of-towners the wrong way. To be fair, rudeness in cities on the list can be in the eye of the beholder. Manila-based travel blogger Marlon Uy Cana says that while he has experienced some classic New York City attitude, he has found just as many friendly locals — when he makes a little effort.  “Most New Yorkers were courteous, and I’ve chatted with them on the subway,” he said. “But as a tourist, I say ‘Hi’ first, and a big smile goes a long way. You get back what you give.” From the Pacific coast to the frosty eastern seaboard, these are the year’s rudest cities. (To check out the ones that impressed travelers with their congeniality and good vibes, check out our list of America’s Friendliest Cities.) 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.
These Are America’s 20 Most Cultured Cities 2015
When she first visited Washington, D.C. as a 12-year-old, Elizabeth Avery was blown away by two cultural landmarks—both of which were away from the National Mall. “To this day, I remember my wonder upon seeing the beautiful Islamic Center and the Neo-Gothic National Cathedral,” says the founder of travel site Solo Trekker 4 U. Today, the D.C. denizen and self-proclaimed “culture vulture” still gets a thrill discovering the city. Some of her favorite only-in-D.C. experiences, she says, include the often-overlooked embassies, which offer a lot of free events. “From Irish jigs to the Austrian Embassy's musical series, or Bulgarian folk dancers,” she says, “you can travel around 18 countries while saving on airfare.” Those dense layers of artistic and international culture made our nation’s capital one of the top cities for “culture vultures,” according to Travel + Leisure readers.  In the latest America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 38 cities on the kind of categories that, as Avery says, “give cities their unique vibrancy”: their art scenes and sense of history, as well as their theater communities, live music, and bookstores. Another factor that, for better or worse, contributed to the cultural atmosphere: some well-versed, even snooty, locals. And why not? In one top 20 city, you can hear concerts played on period instruments Beethoven would have used, and in another, you can watch the nation’s longest poetry reading—even if it’s in a dive bar. Great culture, after all, need not be limited to museums and concert halls. After a stimulating day of D.C. culture, Avery says she likes to head to Vienna—or the closest approximation. “I love the Kafé Leopold,” she says,  of the Viennese café in Georgetown, “for their authentic Sacher Torte.”