Many Americans have stayed close-to-home these past few years, taking advantage of the incredible urban experiences within a few hours’ drive. Travelers seemed to prefer the warmer climates of the Southern and Western states for these domestic trips — only three cities on the list are in the Northeast or the Midwest. But wherever Travel + Leisure readers went, they sought out cities with a fun-loving spirit, delicious regional cuisine, and historic sites.
Every year for 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 cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.
After a few years of seeking space away from others, many travelers found the rush of larger cities appealing. “It was nice to be back in a big city after the pandemic, and I was glad to see people in the streets,” one reader said of New York City (No. 6). Others were looking for somewhere to go out and join the crowds at concerts. “Nashville has such a fun, creative energy,” said another voter of Music City (No. 15). “It’s all about music, and music brings us all together.”
Still, readers also appreciated destinations — like Honolulu (No. 5) or perennial favorite Asheville, North Carolina (No. 13) — with easy access to some of America’s spectacular outdoor offerings.
Topping our list yet again is Charleston, South Carolina, which has been voted the best American city for 10 years straight, making it a World’s Best Awards Hall of Fame honoree. Read on to find out why, and for the full list of the top U.S. cities.
1. Charleston, South Carolina
There’s a reason people keep going back to Charleston: the city expresses the perfect balance of Southern charm, knockout food and drinks, and walkability. Many readers also found the city’s history to be a draw. Others appreciated the simple pleasures of strolling the side streets of downtown.
WBA Hall of Fame honoree.