The Best Cities in the U.S. in 2016

Charleston, SC
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards/Redux

One thing is perfectly clear in our list of the best cities in the United States: travelers (and locals, too) love the charming, historic cities of the American South. Of the top 15 cities on this year’s list, one-third are below the Mason-Dixon line, and two more are in Texas. Every year in our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, food, friendliness, shopping, and overall value. It’s no surprise that New York City and San Francisco are in the top 10 — they’ve been on the list every year since the awards' inception. The growing popularity of the Pacific Northwest, however, shook things up a bit, as Seattle returned after a decade and Portland made the list for the first time ever. “Portland is a wonderful city,” wrote T+L reader Evan Peller, citing its noteworthy shops downtown, nearby hiking at Multnomah Falls, and “top-notch” food. “There's something for everyone, from gourmet food trucks to top-of-the-line restaurants.” The Big Easy also won over readers with its impressive, unique food scene. “I would go to New Orleans just for the food alone,” wrote one reader. Southern cities particularly impressed survey-takers with their diverse offerings (hip art galleries, entire streets lined with restaurants) and welcoming residents. “Savannah is such a friendly, quirky place,” wrote a T+L reader. “We spent an evening drinking beer with locals at a lodge. They made us feel like we lived there, too.” Of course, survey-takers also raved about the city’s charming streets fringed by live oaks draped in Spanish moss and the attractive antebellum houses. The best cities in the United States, it seems, are the ones where visitors feel most at home.

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No. 15: Portland, Oregon

Portland, OR
Dina Avila

Score: 82.81

Want to head to Oregon? Do check out our Portland travel guide.

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No. 14: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, WA
Jake Stangel

Score: 82.94

Time to book a flight? Check out our Seattle travel guide and start planning.

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No. 13: Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, MA
Getty Images

Score: 83.08

Booking a vacation to Beantown? Give our official guide to Boston a read first.

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No. 12: San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 83.99

Looking to plan a trip to the Alamo City? Start building an itinerary from our guide to San Antonio.

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No. 11: Honolulu, Hawaii

Best Cities for Sights and Landmarks
Noe DeWitt

Score: 84.14

For the best trip to The Big Pineapple, check out our Honolulu travel guide.

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No. 10: Asheville, North Carolina

Ashville, NC
Getty Images/AWL Images RM

Score: 84.49

Find the must-visit spots to visit in our Asheville travel guide.

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No. 9: Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas
Jeff Minton

Score: 84.57

Check out our official guide to Austin.

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No. 8: New York City

New York, NY
Tobias Hutzler

Score: 84.82

Off to the Big Apple? Check out our guide to New York City first.

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No. 7: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, IL
Kevin J. Miyazaki

Score: 84.85

On your way to the Windy City? We've got the complete guide to Chicago.

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No. 6: San Francisco, California

San Francisco, CA
Alanna Hale

Score: 85.088

Heading to California? Check out T+L's guide to the San Francisco.

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No. 5: Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville, TN
Andrew Hetherington

Score: 85.09

Start planning your next trip, but give our Nashville travel guide a look first.

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No. 4: Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, NM
Alex Farnum

Score: 87.27

Make Santa Fe your next domestic destination, but check out our guide to the city first.

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No. 3: Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, GA
Getty Images/Glowimages RF

Score: 89.57

Looking to spend some time in Savannah? Read our travel guide first.

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No. 2: New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, LA
Bryce Duffy

Score: 89.75

Planning a trip? This way for T+L's guide to the New Orleans.

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No. 1: Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, SC
Peter Frank Edwards/Redux

Score: 91.66

It’s not just the No. 1 city in the country — this year, Charleston is the No. 1 city in the world. (And the No. 1 city in the galaxy, if one were to believe proud resident Stephen Colbert.) Readers remarked on the warmth of its people, its private carriage tours, and romantic gardens. “Charleston, without a doubt, is the best city to visit in America." For a perfect weekend here, choose either a historic or a boutique hotel, fill up on award-winning Lowcountry fare, and head to Cannon Street to peruse the only-in-Charleston goods.

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