This South Carolina Destination Was Just Named the No. 1 City in the U.S. by T+L Readers — Here's Why

Its decade-long reign at the top of the list marks its entry into Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards Hall of Fame.

Waterfront park with pineapple fountain at sunrise in Charleston, South Carolina
Photo: Sean Pavone/Getty Images

Charleston, South Carolina, has once again charmed Travel + Leisure readers, winning the top spot in the World's Best Awards Best Cities in the U.S. for the 10th year in a row — and earning the South Carolina city a coveted spot as a WBA Hall of Fame honoree.

Readers especially loved Charleston's thriving culinary scene and easy walkability, all doused with Southern charm.

The dining scene, of course, spotlights Southern cuisine, with fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, hush puppies, and she-crab soup as staples. Charleston's must-try dishes include the okra soup at Bertha's Kitchen; biscuits from Callie's Hot Little Biscuits; deviled crabs from Dave's Carry-Out, and crab rice from Hannibal's Soul Kitchen.

Buidings line Church Street in Charleston, South Carolina. Red flowers add color.
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The ever-growing culinary scene has seen several new openings already this year, like Bevi Bene Brewing, which opened last month and serves hard kombucha; Captain Harry's Blue Marlin Bar, which bills itself as the city's smallest with only four stools, opened in May; Rancho Lewis, which has been serving up Western Texas and New Mexico–style barbecue since April; and Raw Lab, an omakase-style raw bar that opened in February.

Other additions to the Charleston scene include the Noisette Creek Pedestrian Bridge that will connect Riverfront Park to the north part of Noisette Creek, a major step in developing the former navy base area. The luxury hotel scene is also expanding, with the just-opened Pinch Charleston and the newly crowned No. 1 hotel in Charleston, The Loutrel, which opened in Nov. 2021.

The new hot spots add a fresh perspective to a city steeped in history — another aspect that resonated with T+L readers. Fort Sumter National Monument; Historic Charleston City Market; Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum; Magnolia Plantation and Gardens; Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens; and Rainbow Row all offer a look into Charleston's past. The Charleston Heritage Federation preserves its history through centuries-old homes and museums, while the Historic Charleston Foundation holds an annual Festival of Houses and Gardens in the spring for an inside look at some the nation's most beautiful homes.

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