What are the best cities in the United States? Everybody has their favorite, whether it is where you grew up or your favorite place to visit. Travel & Leisure just released their “World’s Best” awards and I was intrigued by the list of top 10 cities in the US according to their polling of their readers. Here are their top ten (with my comments added for good measure!), in reverse order…
#10 Asheville, North Carolina: I love Asheville! It has fabulous restaurants (Tupelo Honey is my fave!) and plenty of art and culture. Don’t miss a day at the impressive Biltmore Estate and for those of you who love treasure hunting, there are plenty of antique and vintage stores (visit during one of Brunk’s auctions – they have great sales!) For a luxury hotel experience, channel your inner Vanderbilt at the Inn at the Biltmore
#9 Austin, Texas: I haven’t been there and it is at the top of my list – in large part because my best friend from Greenwich just moved there. She is absolutely LOVING it and I can’t wait to visit! The “Live Music Capital of the World” also is known for the burgeoning food scene. Sounds like a winning combination to me! Any Austin fans? Please share your favorites!
#8 New York, New York: What is there to say? I could easily make the case for it being #1, but it has its flaws. Although, I live in Connecticut, I have lived in the New York Metro area for over 30 years, so this is my hometown. My very short list of faves – the Metropolitan Museum, Central Park, American Ballet Theater, the High Line, Greenwich Village and Eataly. Since I live so close, I don’t usually stay in hotels, but I would probably opt for the swanky St. Regis or Ritz Carlton Central Park or the quiet of the Upper East Side at The Lowell or The Mark. The 1 Hotel Central Park has definitely captured my attention as well!
#7 Chicago, Illinois: I have spent a lot of time in Chicago over the years and try to make it there at least once a year. It is such a great place to visit – so much easier than New York and perfect for a family vacation. Even in winter, it can be a fun vacation destination. The holiday decorations are fabulous! An insider tip for families – the Trump Hotel Chicago (politics aside, it is an excellent hotel option for all visitors) has an indoor pool where the kids can splash while you enjoy cocktails with a view. Chicago’s food scene is legendary – currently, my top choices when I visit are RPM Italian, La Storia and Rosebud Steakhouse. Don’t miss the Art Institute, Millenium Park, the Mag Mile, and if you have kids with you, Navy Pier and the Museum of Science and Industry. Other hotel recommendations are the Peninsula Chicago and the Park Hyatt.
#6 San Francisco, California: So far this list is spot on…who doesn’t love the charm of San Francisco? I wish it was easier for me to get to because I would love to visit more often! For those of you on the west coast, please share your favorites. I enjoy the Ferry Terminal Marketplace, the Mission District, Golden Gate Park (don’t miss the Japanese Garden) and using San Francisco as a jumping off point for another of my favorite places – Napa! A perfect San Francisco itinerary for me would include a few nights in the heart of the action – the Four Seasons is as centrally located as you can get – followed by a few nights literally under the Golden Gate Bridge relaxing and enjoying the knockout views at Cavallo Point in Sausalito.
#5 Nashville, Tennessee: Another one I have not been to and also high on my list. For more on Nashville, check out my friend Tina’s post on her trip here. She loved her stay at The Hermitage so that would undoubtedly be my place to stay. Any other Nashville tips?
#4 Santa Fe, New Mexico: They got me again – I have never been there either! But I do know where I would want to stay when I visit – the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi – I have heard such great things and it seems so quintessentially Santa Fe. If you have been to Santa Fe, please share your experience!
#3 Savannah, Georgia: As a southern girl at heart, I am a sucker for anything southern – Spanish moss and pastel row houses + grits, homemade biscuits and pimiento cheese = happiness for me! Although it has been a while since I have been to Savannah, I loved it when I visited. It is definitely time to go back again! One thing I find somewhat frustrating when I have helped several clients plan trips to Savannah recently is the lack of a luxury hotel. My clients have been happy at the Andaz Savannah, but the city could use a top notch hotel option.
#2 New Orleans, Louisiana: Wow, the South is HOT right now! The Big Easy is always a favorite and it is back and better than ever! My hotel pick would be the Ritz Carlton as I loved it when we stayed there, but I have also had clients love Soniat House, which is more authentic and boutique-y. The food in New Orleans is amazing – you can’t go wrong at Antoine’s, Arnaud’s or Commander’s Palace. And definitely don’t miss coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde! One of my favorite New Orleans experiences is a bit off the beaten path – the Longue Vue House and Gardens is worth the trek.
AND, at last…drum roll please…the #1 city in the United States (according to the readers of Travel & Leisure) is…
#1 Charleston, South Carolina: No argument from me! I adore Charleston and I am so lucky to have my niece living there (which reminds me, I am overdue for a visit!) The Southern hospitality combined with incredible restaurants, excellent shopping, plenty of sightseeing and the proximity to the beach makes Charleston the top of my list, and apparently many others. Here are just a few of my Charleston faves – breakfast at Hominy Grill (do not go to Charleston without going there!), visiting the mansions of Historic Charleston, wandering the streets and peering behind garden gates to marvel at the beauty of the homes, antiquing on King Street and trying out the latest and greatest restaurants (there are SO many) can keep me busy for days. My first choice of where to stay – Planter’s Inn (be sure to eat at the Peninsula Grill and try their famous coconut cake) or Zero George. To really experience the low country, add a few days at the beach – on Kiawah Island, Isle of Palms or Sullivans Island. The Sanctuary at Kiawah is a great place to stay!
Travel & Leisure readers actually named Charleston the #1 city in the world! While I really love Charleston, I might be able to come up a with a few other places on the planet that edge it out a bit for #1 on my list (Paris, Rome, Kyoto, Hong Kong, to name a few…)
SO…there you have it? Do you agree with this list? One of my all time favorite cities in the United States is missing from the top 10 – Washington, DC – yes, the politicians give it a bad name, but in my opinion it definitely deserves top ten status. Do you have a favorite city that is missing?
Hopefully, I am back to regular posting – summer travel plans for clients had to take precedence for a bit, while the blog played second fiddle.