America's Most and Least Attractive People 2010
Where do you find the best-looking people in America? According to our America’s Favorite Cities survey, head for the sunshine.
What makes the people of one city so good-looking and the folks elsewhere…well, not so much? Do some cities become magnets for the Greek god and goddess types, or does the mere act of living in a certain area actually have a transformative effect?
Kristina Levya, a real estate agent in San Diego, has seen this “transformative” phenomenon at work. In her SoCal hometown, she says, “people tend to spend a lot of time outdoors being active, so there are loads of healthy, sun-kissed types here.” In the last place she lived, Miami, there were perhaps more social forces at work (not to mention a laissez-faire attitude toward, um, surgical enhancements). “There’s also a big love of fashion,” she says, “a vibe of ‘don't leave home without your stilettos and Gucci bag.’ ”
Whatever the reasons, Travel + Leisure readers agree. In this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey, voters told us that good weather and great shopping go hand-in-hand with attractiveness. San Diego and Miami, for example, did well in all three categories, ending up among the top five cities to find America’s most attractive people.
America’s Favorite Cities is an annual survey at T+L, where readers rate 35 cities for travel-friendly features such as hotels, restaurants, and airports—as well as essentials like pizza, skylines, cleanliness, and yes, the locals themselves. This year, we’ve expanded the survey to include seven new cities, some of which made a solid showing in the good-looks category, like Savannah, which finished at No. 3. Anchorage, however—perhaps a victim of all those layers of clothing—came in near the bottom, at No. 32.
When we highlighted the top 10 and bottom 10, a few themes emerged. Cities that lend themselves to rigorous activity—whether it’s skiing near Denver (No. 9) or anything under the sun in Honolulu (No. 6)—also tend to produce more comely locals. Cities where one has to bundle up typically fared worse: Portland, ME, joined Anchorage in the bottom five.
Lest anyone think that the readers are just shallow, it’s worth noting that AFC readers also seem to subscribe to the adage of Pretty Is As Pretty Does. New York and Los Angeles—which would seem to attract the lookers, and have all the luxury retail to suit them up well—rank 13th and 14th respectively in the attractiveness category. Perhaps that’s because they also score low in friendliness.
Boston is slightly more affable, according to AFC voters, but ranks even worse in looks, sitting at No. 25. And for whatever reason, weather is only partially to blame. Just ask those who know the city well. “Boston is a sea of North Face fleeces and UGG boots,” says Tony Prado of the Los Angeles public relations firm Lobeline. Paula Franklin, of New York public relations firm Geoffrey Weill, chalks up Beantown’s poor showing to a lack of creativity: “They all seem to have the same haircut.”
Read on to see who captured the No. 1 spots for most and least attractive people in this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey!
No. 1 Charleston
This South Carolina city bumped off perennial winner Miami this year; have the good-looking people really migrated north? Charlestonians also score high for friendliness, rank second for their classic sense of style, and even make the top 10 for intelligence. To see if it’s all true, just stroll the streets of this quaint city, which also ranks No. 1 for its noteworthy neighborhoods.
No. 2 San Diego
Maybe it’s all those sunny blondes in this SoCal city, or just the fact that everyone looks good when the forecast is perfect (its weather ranks No. 1), but San Diego maintains its No. 2 ranking in this category from last year. Certainly the locals take good care of themselves, jogging along the beaches: the city also ranks No. 2 for its athletic citizens.
No. 3 Savannah
This newcomer to the America’s Favorite Cities survey makes a bold entrance into this category. The Georgia city also racks up a huge number of No. 2 berths in the survey, thanks in large part to its ever-so-appealing denizens.
No. 4 Miami
Who cares if these Floridians don’t come off as brainy or even terribly nice? AFC readers ranked them near the bottom for both friendliness and smarts. But though they’ve lost their grip on the No. 1 ranking in this category, Miamians are still top-five material. Perhaps that’s because they seem to be out at the gym (No. 10 for athletic) or just out shopping. Miami ranks No. 9 for luxury boutiques and No. 3 for style.
No. 5 Salt Lake City
Salt Lake is a survey newbie, but that didn’t stop it from cracking the upper echelon of this list. And the Utah natives rank about the same as an overall package: they’re top 10 for being physically active, friendly, and intelligent. They’re a pretty trustworthy bunch too—the city ranks No. 1 for safety.
No. 6 Honolulu
Those island breezes toss the hair in a nice way—and no doubt all that hula dancing nicely tones the abs. The locals in the Hawaiian capital rank sixth for staying fit. And if you want to seize the moment, Honolulu is also the No. 1 city for romance.
No. 7 San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan is one of three newcomers to the survey that cracked the top 10 in this popular category. The locals here certainly know how to charm visitors in many ways: they also made it into the top 10 for friendliness and for dressing to the nines (No. 6 for style).
No. 8 Austin
People in the Texas capital are smart (No. 5) and amiable (No. 8 for friendliness), and they stay in shape too (No. 4 for being active). Luckily, it’s fun finding them, too: Austin ranks No. 2 for both its live music and bar scene.
No. 9 Denver
Even though the Mile High City ranks second for its microbrews, there’s no need to pack your beer goggles when coming for a visit. (The city did slip three spots from last year in this category, however.) Denver also ranks No. 2 for its parks and outdoor spaces, and the fit locals make the most of it, ranking No. 1 for being athletic.
No. 10 Nashville
Something about those cowboy hats must flatter the face—and being able to sing doesn’t hurt either. Music City types don’t go for rhinestones as much as they used to, which maybe helped them land at No. 10 for style. But folks are still plenty country: they rank No. 10 for farmers’ markets and No. 3 for a howdy-there friendliness.
No. 11 SanFrancisco
Winning a place in the top five for its stylish and diverse locals no doubt helped San Fran keep its No. 11 spot for attractiveness. But AFC voters visiting the Bay Area would perhaps rather look at houses, storefronts, and bridges than people. The city’s noteworthy neighborhoods and its skyline views both ranked No. 3 in the survey.
No. 12 Phoenix/Scottsdale
Keep using that sunscreen, Arizonans. The locals in this desert city—No. 2 for all-in-one resorts—are again narrowly kept out of the Top 10 of lookers this year. But at least they have a decent golf swing: they rank No. 15 for being athletic. Inanimate objects, meanwhile, came off as a little more enticing to AFC voters: luxury stores came in at No. 7 and design shops at No. 6.
No. 13 NewYork City
New Yorkers are apparently growing on AFC voters, moving up three slots in the looks category since 2009. This ho-hum ranking is still a backhanded compliment, though, given that New Yorkers win the style category, and the Big Apple ranks No. 1 for luxury stores. But the locals might take comfort in one thing: at least they’re now ahead of Los Angeles.
No. 14 LosAngeles
Angelenos seem to be letting themselves go: the town that prides itself on good looks has fallen 10 spots from 2009, when it ranked No. 4. Part of the problem might be bad vibes: Los Angeles ranks in last place for friendly locals, and it’s near the bottom (No. 33) for both quality of life and peace and quiet.
No. 15 Providence
Having dropped two places since 2009, Rhode Islanders may just need to tone up a bit—and lay off the good pizza (No. 4) and microbrews (No. 3). Even though they placed in the Top 10 this year for both style and diversity, they ranked a beer-bellied No. 22 for being fit. Providence residents may look their best when on stage, or even in costume: the city ranks No. 2 for theater and performance art.
No. 16 Minneapolis/St.Paul
These midwesterners have dropped six slots with AFC voters this year, and may suffer from the cold-weather effect: the city ranks in last place for its climate, and its locals placed a sensible-shoes No. 25 for fashion. But they are still dazzling in their way: the locals rank No. 7 for their friendliness, and the city is a gleaming No. 2 for cleanliness.
No. 17 Portland,OR
Who cares what the locals look like? AFC voters were so impressed with this northwestern city that they were clearly willing to overlook superficial things. The city ranks first for brainy locals, public parks, and for being pedestrian-friendly. And perhaps nothing is as sexy as tossing your empty cans in the right receptacle: the city also ranks No. 1 for being green.
No. 18 Chicago
In the Second City, second impressions can mean a lot. Chicago has inched up two positions since 2009, perhaps because the locals are a diverse bunch (No. 5), or maybe just because they’re a lot of fun. The No. 8 wild-weekend town also ranks No. 5 for its cocktail hour and singles scene.
No. 19 LasVegas
AFC voters haven’t changed their minds one bit about Vegas locals since 2009. But looks—though landing them in the bottom half—seem to be one of the locals’ better qualities: AFC voters found the locals even less friendly (No. 28), fit (No. 31), and intelligent (No. 32). Still, apparently everyone fares better after dark: Sin City placed No. 3 for its nightlife.
No. 20 Seattle
Here’s proof that brains will sometimes get you nowhere: the No. 2 city for smart locals isn’t knocking anybody out with its charm (No. 20 for friendliness) or its all-season Gore-Tex (No. 22 for style), even if Seattle has moved up four slots since 2009. But the outdoorsy city (No. 8 for parks) at least gives the locals a healthy glow: they’re No. 7 for being active.
No. 21 Dallas/FortWorth
Alas, that legendary big hair can only take them so far. This Texas city has sunk even deeper into the blahs, falling from No. 18 last year. Maybe it’s the lack of diversity among the locals (it’s No. 33) or just a lack of chemistry: Big D ranks next to last for romance and last for people-watching.
No. 22 Atlanta
The AFC voters again gave these Georgians, who ranked No. 21 in 2009, a collective shrug: not only do they find the locals not much to write home about (they’re No. 26 for both smarts and charm), but voters also ranked the city No. 28 for overall experience. Maybe that’s why visitors like staying in their hotel rooms: business hotels here rank No. 8.
No. 23 NewOrleans
Looks aren’t everything in this fun-loving city, which also ranked No. 23 last year. The locals come in at No. 6 for being friendly, even if they can’t seem to get on a treadmill (they’re next to last for being fit). And yet, AFC voters are still attracted: they rank the city No. 1 for people-watching and No. 1 for its singles scene.
No. 24 SanAntonio
These Texans have moved up two slots since 2009, and the AFC voters find them jovial and interesting—they rank No. 11 for being friendly and No. 12 for diversity. All that good barbecue and Tex-Mex, meanwhile, may not do any favors for the figure: locals rank No. 30 for being fit. But then, AFC voters don’t seem to come to San Antonio for hotties. The city ranks No. 8 for families and No. 8 for affordability.
No. 25 Boston
Sitting tight at No. 25 since 2009, Boston may turn off AFC voters by being a little too chilly, in more ways than one: Beantown ranks No. 30 for both weather and friendliness. The No. 4 city for historical sites could also use a little gussying up, according to voters: it ranks No. 22 for cleanliness.
No. 26 Santa Fe
Civilized, yes; swinging, not so much. Santa Fe ended up in the middle of this category last year, but has slipped a few spots into this unfortunate position. Still, the New Mexico town still ranks No. 1 for both culture and peace and quiet, and No. 4 for being relaxing.
No. 27 Kansas City, MO
Good thing that this city is such a good deal (it ranks No. 3 for being affordable). Like Santa Fe, Kansas City fell squarely in the middle of this list last year but now, not so much. The locals don’t dazzle on smarts (No. 21) either, but they do serve up some good ribs (No. 2 for barbecue).
No. 28 Houston
How the mighty can fall: in 2009, Houston finished with the No. 8 most attractive locals. Voters who visited this year, however, clearly feel differently. No matter—it’s hard to compete with an excellent double patty or that juicy brisket. The oil town ranks in the top five for deal-making business hotels, barbecue, and a good burger.
No. 29 Portland, ME
Portland is a survey newcomer that didn’t fare so well in this category. Perhaps these Maine residents don’t impress because they’re a blur of blandness: this lobster-loving town ranks last (No. 35) for diversity. And a lobster bib clearly doesn’t count as a good look: locals rate No. 31 for their style. At least they’re a tame crowd: the city ranks second for safety and, perhaps more enticing, No. 5 for a microbrew.
No. 30 Washington, D.C.
This hotbed of culture (No. 2) apparently doesn’t attract the hotties—unless you count lobbyists and policy wonks as hot. But hey, it has moved up from the bottom five of this list, where it sat last year. Our nation’s capital also ranks near the bottom for wild weekends and romantic getaways.
No. 31 Orlando
There aren’t enough hot moms around to elevate this No. 1 family destination out of its fanny-pack dowdiness. Maybe that’s why it also ranks No. 27 for both romance and friendliness: a good reminder not to cut in line at Magic Kingdom.
No. 32 Anchorage
Hopefully this is just a starting point for survey newbie Anchorage. The city definitely struggled: all those parkas and hiking boots landed these Alaskans in last place for style. But why bother looking at, or even talking to, the bipedals when there are real live moose walking the city streets? The city ranks a bleak No. 32 for people-watching but a more intriguing No. 12 for public parks.
No. 33 Philadelphia
Things are looking up in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love has finished dead last in this category for the past three years. No more! While this year’s finish could have been worse, there’s clearly room to improve. It might be tough, though, with such great pizza nearby: voters named it the fourth-best pie in America.
No. 34 Baltimore
AFC readers weren’t smitten with much of anything you’d find while out and about in this harbor city—it also ranks at No. 34 for people-watching, public parks, and safety. What did readers like best about Baltimore? Staying inside, perhaps alone, with a nice beer: it ranks No. 21 for microbrews.
No. 35 Memphis
Survey newcomer Memphis has done what no other city could do: grab from Philadelphia the unfortunate title of America’s least attractive people. But hey, who needs to look at a pretty face when there are so many ribs to behold? Memphis ranks No. 1 for its barbecue. Of course, that can be a messy meal, which may be why the city also came in last for a romantic getaway. No wonder they all sing the blues.