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Cities throughout the U.S. constantly vie to win recognition as the best place to retire, or having the prettiest sites and tastiest food. But one place has them all beat when it comes to being the friendliest: Charleston, South Carolina.
Over the last five years, Condé Nast Traveler has asked its readers to rate how friendly cities are in the magazine's annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey. More than 300,000 people participated, commenting on everything from which destinations are the easiest to navigate to how much interaction locals have with outsiders.
The latest results are in, and apparently Southern hospitality is alive and well. Charleston, which regularly collects top awards (it was named the best U.S. city for the fourth year in a row by Travel + Leisure last month), emerged as the clear winner. Readers who responded to the survey noted that “people speak to each other” there, and that the city is “perfectly designed for visitors to be comfortable, safe, and well taken care of,” making it an easy place to visit.
But it was all about the laid-back mountain vibe that boosted Telluride, Colorado, to the No. 2 spot, beating out Park City, Utah, which held the title last year. “Everyone is very friendly and very healthy,” noted one reader; others described how “chill” it is. “Telluride has the friendliest, most helpful residents I’ve encountered anywhere,” commented another.
It isn’t until the third spot on the list that a beach town finally makes its debut. Key West, Florida, has long been thought of as an escape, a place to relax and a welcoming destination for visitors, and apparently the locals embrace that way of life, too. One reader said that it’s “absolutely the best place to forget about all of your problems,” while another commented on the how lively it is, and touted its “great bar scene.”
As for the remainder of the list, it's a mix of desert escapes, quaint cityscapes and outdoorsy paradises. Nashville, Tennessee, and Ashland, Oregon, rounded out the top five, known for their music and arts scenes, respectively. The full list is below: Meanwhile, Savannah, Georgia, Jackson, Wyoming, Asheville, North Carolina, Sedona, Arizona, and Park City, Utah round out the top ten.
10 Friendliest Cities in the U.S.
1. Charleston, South Carolina
2. Telluride, Colorado
3. Key West, Florida
4. Nashville, Tennessee
5. Ashland, Oregon
6. Savannah, Georgia
7. Jackson, Wyoming
8. Asheville, North Carolina
9. Sedona, Arizona
10. Park City, Utah