Can just traveling to a city make you better looking?
Liz Eckert would say so. On a recent visit to southern California, the Connecticut real estate agent was struck by the gorgeous scenery—as in, the people. She chalked it up to the locals’ regular access to sand, surf, and sunshine. “After one week there, I actually looked and felt healthier,” she says. “My skin was glowing, my hair was shiny, and even my nails grew—and they never grow.”
Given the area’s seemingly magical powers of osmosis, it’s no wonder that both San Diego and Los Angeles made it into the top five cities for America’s best-looking people, according to Travel + Leisure readers. New results are in from the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, in which readers rate 35 metropolitan areas for qualities such as people-watching, walkable streets, and hot music scenes.
This year, the attractive locals category saw a fair amount of movement: the new No. 1 city is a past champ that had previously fallen from grace, and several cities have made impressive rebounds in the rankings or else seemingly let themselves go. (What happened, Las Vegas?)
While plenty of the top 20 cities offer the potentially transformational elements that Eckert found in SoCal, other winners offered proof that being gorgeous is more than skin deep. Non-coastal (or downright chilly) cities such as Minneapolis, Nashville, and Kansas City fared just fine—and also ranked well with readers for being friendly.
One new category in this year’s survey may have also boosted chemistry: a charming accent, something T+L readers found lacking with the folks of Phoenix and Seattle, who also ranked among the less attractive.
Of course, a key ingredient in attraction is a solid fashion sense and that may be a reason that some sunny cities landed near the bottom. “Locals in Orlando know what they are to the world”—a giant theme park—“and don’t even try anymore,” says Lisa Finkelstein, a Tallahassee-based freelance writer. “Since it’s warm much of the year, shorts and a pullover shirt, plus tennies, takes them everywhere,” she says. “Even Angelina Jolie can’t work that look.”