America's Favorite Cities, 2009Most and Least Attractive People
Everyone knows Miami is smokin’ hot. This tropical hotspot has ranked #1 for attractive locals for the past three years (but gets burned at 29th place for intelligence).
#2 San Diego
The golden California sun, the beaches, the perfect weather—no wonder so many lookers live here. And indeed, San Diego has come in #2 for attractive people three years in a row. But don’t head to San Diego for high culture: the city finished in the bottom third for theater, classical music, and museums.
Charleston has ranked in the top five cities for attractiveness for the past three years. It also receives high marks for B&Bs and inns (#1), historical sites (#4), and antiques shopping (#2). Just don’t go looking for a wild weekend (#28).
#4 Los Angeles
Angelenos came in at #4 for attractiveness, but second from the last in friendliness. If we were in high school, Los Angeles would definitely be one of the mean girls.
Austin drops behind Los Angeles in comeliness for the first time this year. Has the capital of Texas lost its swing? The city still ranks #2 for intelligence, #4 for friendliness, and #3 for athletic and active locals, so looks don’t count for everything.
The Mile High City has risen to #6 from the #10 spot it held for the past two years. All that fresh air and access to invigorating activities (the city ranks #2 for easy access to the outdoors and #3 for cleanliness) clearly benefits the locals.
Honolulu—that visually alluring melting pot of cultures—remains in the top 10 for attractive people, but drops a few places this year. It still tops the list for romantic trips and relaxing retreats, though, so perhaps inner beauty is the city’s new focus.
Barreling in at #8 in attractiveness, Houston’s enthusiastic debut in America’s Favorite Cities has stirred up a lot of the top categories. The nation’s fourth largest city wins the #1 position for affordable hotels and ranks in the top 10 for theater, classical music, and museums and galleries.
Nashville stagnated in 15th position for attractiveness in 2007 and 2008. What’s changed to push Music City up to #9 this year? Are visitors being influenced by young Nashville beauties like Taylor Swift appearing on the national scene?
They’re tall and blond, or so the stereotype goes, and AFC survey respondents also find Minnesotans smart (#1) and friendly (#5). Those winning features do much to recommend the city to travelers, even if the weather (#28) does not.
#11 San Francisco
Tumbling down from the #7 position it held for two years, San Francisco still offers plenty of treats for visitors: its citizens are stylish (#3) and diverse (#2); its streets are pedestrian-friendly (#4); and it offers a great selection of fashionable boutique hotels (#3). Just don’t look for a bargain: San Francisco ranks near the bottom (#27) for affordable getaways.
Visitors find summers here hotter than the locals (#30 for summer visits), but the desert oasis rates high as a relaxing retreat (#4) and a popular destination for the holiday season.
A new addition to the survey, tiny Providence starts in the middle of this category, but elbows its way into the big leagues for food (#2 for neighborhood joints and in the top 10 for ethnic food and coffee bars). The city’s airport, too, T.F. Green, scored high for all the important stuff, like on-time arrivals (#1), design/functionality (#2), and security and luggage-handling (#1).
#14 Santa Fe
Shoppers may not be coming to peaceful Santa Fe for the country’s top-tier attractive people, but they do love the city for antiques/vintage finds (#4) and independent boutiques (#2). The city also comes in #2 for a relaxing retreat, and it ranks #3 for environmental friendliness (even with all those burning sage bundles).
#15 Kansas City
Squarely in the middle of the pack in this category, Kansas City’s just right if you’re looking for an affordable getaway (#2) with friendly people (#6) and reasonably priced hotels (#2). It’s popular with visitors around Thanksgiving (#4), when the temperature is brisk and the holiday lights on Country Club Plaza are lit.
#16 New York City
New Yorkers may be uber-stylish (#1) and diverse (#1), but they fall in the middle of the field on attractiveness (down from #9 in 2007 and 2008). On the positive side, visitors rank Gotham #1 in theater, big-name restaurants, classical music, and shopping.
#17 Portland, Oregon
Portland’s well-documented alternative lifestyle, which may account for its #1 rank for overall quality of life/visitor experience (for the 3rd year running), may not conform to most visitors’ standards of “normal” beauty.
#18 Dallas/Fort Worth
Visitors don’t rank Dallas residents very high on the attractive scale. In fact, the city didn’t get high marks anywhere: the best it did in any of the 66 categories was a measly 10th place for luxury stores. Voters weren’t so stingy bestowing low marks, though: #28 for cultural getaways; #30 for ethnic food, #27 for intelligence.
#19 Las Vegas
Visitors may be coming for the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” attitude, but they aren’t coming to check out attractive locals. They do, however, appreciate the glam city’s luxury hotels (#1), big-name restaurants (#4), and people-watching (#3).
We’re moving into the bottom third of this list, which means the competition is heating up to stay out of the basement. Fortunately, Obama’s city is still top 20 material. Other highs and lows in the Windy City are easy to forecast: Chicago rates #1 for skylines and views, and at the bottom of the list for weather (places the city has held for three consecutive years). The Second City takes second place for big-name restaurants, luxury stores, and great theater.
Atlanta may not rate high on the attractiveness scale, but business travelers give high marks to its business hotels (#6), and Hartsfield-Jackson Airport’s food and drink options (#4) and shops (#4). The city also rates #6 for shopping overall.
Maybe you can guess where Orlando gets kudos from visitors: it’s the #1 choice for family vacations and all-in-one resorts (even if travelers don’t think Mickey and Minnie are particularly good-looking). The city falls short in predictable categories, too: notable neighborhoods (#29), museums and galleries (#28), and food and dining overall (#27).
#23 New Orleans
While the Big Easy came in low for attractiveness, visitors curiously rated it #1 for people-watching. And New Orleans remains a favorite destination for eaters (coming in #1 in the overall dining category), partiers (achieving a hat trick at #1 for cocktail hour, bar scene, and live music), and as the place to head for wild weekends. Now, that’s southern hospitality.
Yes, Seattle is cooler than your hometown. The city may not rank high for beautiful people, but they’re intelligent (#5), active and athletic (#5), and environmental-minded (#2). They also have access to great farmers’ markets (#1) and the outdoors (#4).
Visitors may be too busy in this tourist-friendly city to notice the local beauty. Boston remains a strong contender for vacations: the city ranks #5 as a cultural getaway, #2 for historic sites, #4 for noteworthy neighborhoods, and #5 for museums and galleries.
#26 San Antonio
While you may remember the Alamo (San Antonio ranks #5 for historic sites and monuments), apparently the locals are less than memorable. The River City still rates with visitors, though, for family vacations (#4), romantic trips (#7), and ethnic food (#5).
#27 Washington, D.C.
Policy wonks may strike visitors to the nation’s capital as intelligent (the city ranks #6 in the category), but apparently not as visually appealing as Miami’s beachgoers. For the third year in a row, Washington finishes strongly for family vacations (#2), historic monuments (#1, duh), and museums (#1).
Yes, we’re getting close to the bottom of the list; sadly, newcomer Cleveland didn’t exactly rock ‘n roll. However, it managed to elbow its way into a #4 position in the hotly contested farmers’ markets category (thanks to the century-old West Side Market, a must-see destination) and into the top 10 for great neighborhood joints. Not bad for a first year in AFC.
#29 St. Louis
In its debut as one of America’s Favorite Cities, the Gateway to the West had to fight to not finish last. However, it did strike visitors as an affordable getaway, finishing #3, behind newcomers Cleveland and Kansas City.
Coming in last place for attractiveness for the third year in a row has got to smart, but we have a lot of brotherly love for Philly. Visitors, too, found beauty in the city’s art museums and galleries—enough to boost the city to the #3 position in that category.