The friendliest cities in the U.S.
10. ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA Score: 79.0
Nestled amid national forests, Asheville is “a beautiful city with a small-town feel and a wonderful bohemian vibe.” “Friendly people” fill the “artistic community” with “positive energy” and “beautiful paintings, [and] photography and crafts of all kinds.” “Farm-to-table” and “vegetarian” restaurants dominate the dining scene, as does “local organic beer.” Must-visit spots include Early Girl for breakfast and Cúrate for tapas, and the beautiful gardens of the North Carolina Arboretum (pictured).
Last year's ranking: no. 4 (friendliest).
8. NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE Score: 79.6 (tie)
“Saunter into just about any bar, and you will be highly entertained,” says one reader of the Tennessee city’s famous music scene. ("The bright and colorful characters" certainly help.) Beyond the “boot-scootin’” main drag there is, of course, the Grand Ole Opry, where one show might include “dancers, banjo players, a yodeler, fiddler players, country singers, and even a comedian.” But even if you’re not interested in tunes, “there’s lots to see and do in this hip Southern town,” such as the Frist Center for Visual Arts and “walking downtown just to soak up the flavor.”
8. KEY WEST, FLORIDA Score: 79.6 (tie)
It’s “impossible to be stressed out” when you’re in this “very pleasant, walkable city,” where you can do “everything or nothing, depending on your mood.” For aquatic enthusiasts, Fort Zachary Taylor is lauded as “the best-kept local secret” for its “great snorkeling right off the beach,” while amateur divers were “pleasantly surprised” by their expedition to the Vandenberg shipwreck. Stop by El Siboney Restaurant for “the best Cuban food in town” or D.J.’s Clam Shack for a lobster roll that “can’t be beat.”
7. JACKSON HOLE, WYOMING Score: 80.0
Eclectic is the buzzword for this Western city, which one reader describes as “a busy, funky town that has nearly everything you need, set amidst the most amazing mountains in North America.” More simply put, it’s an “Old West meets upscale” spot where “jeans work everywhere.” No matter what time of year you’re there, there’s plenty to do, from “fly fishing, horseback riding, wildlife spotting, and hiking” to “the most challenging, high-quality skiing in the continental U.S.” To relax, grab a drink at the “can’t-miss Silver Dollar Bar and Grill.”
6. FORT WORTH, TEXAS Score: 80.2
Residents of this Texas city impressed visitors with their “beautiful manners.” One reader enthuses that it’s “Southern friendly done right. Very clean, warm and welcoming.” “Western culture is alive” here, with “cattle drives occurring twice a day in the Stockyards National Historic District,” and there are also “diverse restaurants, exciting nightlife, cultural institutions, and sporting events.” Families stay entertained with attractions like the Fort Worth Zoo and Museum of Science and History.
5. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA Score: 80.4
“The people have been through a lot, but their enthusiastic pride for their city shines,” says one reader. Indeed, nearly every respondent touted the indefatigable spirit of N’awlins residents, who will dole out local recommendations one minute, then “invite you to stay at their place the next time you visit.” Food proves to be another highlight: There’s the “muffaletta at Central Grocery,” “Bananas Foster French toast at Elizabeth’s,” and the “exceptional cuisine” at Adolfo’s, where “the knowledgeable, friendly servers will never steer you wrong—but get the rack of lamb if they have it, or any fresh fish in ocean sauce and shrimp and grits.”
4. TELLURIDE, COLORADO Score: 81.3
“Unbelievable beauty” abounds regardless of the season in this “laid-back” community. Not only do “majestic peaks wrap around you,” but the downtown area boasts National Historic Landmark status, so “you are truly in an original Victorian town that has kept the charm of a bygone era.” During ski season, you’ll find “zero lift lines and smaller crowds,” and in warmer weather, outdoor enthusiasts can “hike Black Bear and rent a jeep for Imogene Pass.” But the most winning aspect, according to most readers, is its “down-to-earth” denizens. As one reader says, “the nearest stoplight is 75 miles away, as is the nearest snob.”
Last year's ranking: no. 8 (friendliest).
3. SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS Score: 82.2
"The beauty and majesty of Big Sky country and the friendliness of the folks who live here makes it a must-do trip." The famed River Walk remains one of its biggest draws, especially “once you discover the Rio Taxi” hop-on, hop-off service and “the quiet upper end.” Culture buffs can’t get enough of the annual Fiesta, an 11-day heritage celebration that’s “a treat for locals and tourists,” while aesthetes flock to the McNay Art Museum for “one of the best collections.” There’s also plenty to eat between “the Guenther House for breakfast” and Lulu's Bakery and Cafe for “the world's best chicken fried steak.” “There’s a little something for everyone” in this Texas city.
2. SAVANNAH, GEORGIA Score: 82.8
Charm abounds in Georgia’s oldest city, as evidenced by the number of readers who raved about the “animated guides in seersucker suits” and “Spanish moss dripping from the trees.” Visitors both new and returning also enthused that the “rich tapestry of our country’s history” here made them feel like they’d “stepped back in time.” For delicious Southern fare, “don’t miss The Pirate’s House Sunday Brunch.”
Last year's ranking: no. 3 (friendliest).
1. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA Score: 84.3
Several visitors praised this “quaint and special little gem” for embodying Southern hospitality at every turn—so much so that they “would consider living there full time.” The historic town earned accolades for its blend of “undervalued local culture,” history, and natural beauty, as well as the “incredible food” and Charleston City Market, with its boutiques and art galleries. In short, Charleston is the total package, landing it atop the list for the second year in a row.
Last year's ranking: no. 1 (friendliest).