We sure do like our clichés in the States. In our annual Readers' Choice Survey, we ask readers to rate cities on a number of factors, including "friendliness." Southern hospitality shines on that front -- in the Top 10, all but three of the cities are in the South -- while a total of five towns in the stereotypically brash Northeast earned spots on the mean-city list. After you've explored our readers' choices for friendly U.S. cities, see which of them made it onto our list of the most and least friendly cities in the world.
Disagree with this list? Voice your opinion in our Readers' Choice Survey.
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>10. BRANSON, MISSOURI</strong> Score: 82.8 “A throwback to gentler times,” Branson, Missouri, is a popular destination for visitors looking for a Southern twist on “great family entertainment for all ages.” Newcomers to Branson also find themselves falling for the “good folk” who call the city home. “The people are terrific, the shows are fun, and the area is peaceful and beautiful,” says one fan of the area, which plays host to dozens of theaters, wineries, and tourist-friendly attractions. “Fun is at every turn.”
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>9. SONOMA, CALIFORNIA</strong> Score: 82.9 Travelers searching for a “down-to-earth alternative to Napa” should look no further than Sonoma, California, praised for its “laid-back style and people” and “amazing wines.” A “fabulous destination for foodies,” visitors find Sonoma to be “charming and picturesque” with a “quaint, yet up to date” vibe. But above all, it’s known to be “a wonderful place to unwind and just enjoy the day.”
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>8. TELLURIDE, COLORADO</strong> Score: 82.9 Already popular with in-the-know skiers who admire its “fantastic” terrain, Telluride, Colorado, is also lauded for its “friendly people.” “Wonderful restaurants and great live music options” add to its charms, and longtime fans also urge new visitors to check out the summer festivals that this “overlooked gem” has to offer. The temperatures might be cold in "sophisticated but not pretentious" Telluride, but the locals certainly aren’t.
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>7. NATCHEZ, MISSISSIPPI</strong> Score: 83.0 Known for well-preserved relics of pre-Civil War architecture, including “very beautiful antebellum houses,” Natchez also boasts a sweetly Southern resident community. The hospitable population and slower pace of life make Natchez “an amazing town to visit and relax.” In fact, this “great undiscovered location” made one reader "feel like a real Southern Belle.”
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>7. JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI</strong> Score: 83.0 Visitors to Mississippi's capital—and most populous town—note that “friendly people and great food” make it a worthy stop. Its streets are “steeped in history” and dotted with “green and pretty” public spaces. Take an afternoon to sample “wonderful barbeque” and chat with “lovely” residents.
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>5. AUSTIN, TEXAS</strong> Score: 85.2 It’s no secret that Austin has plenty of “amazing music and food.” Lesser known is the city’s “laid back and friendly” local population, which promotes a “young, healthy vibe.” Locals and tourists alike revel in Austin’s “diverse culture,” “unusual shopping,” and “great history.” As one visitor puts it: “Austin is weird—in such a wonderful way!”
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>4. ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA</strong> Score: 87.5 For “great locally sourced food and friendly people,” savvy travelers head to Asheville, North Carolina, known for its compelling combination of “free thinkers and Southern hospitality.” A vibrant local art scene, plenty of microbreweries, and “excellent restaurants” make for a city with “hidden treasures around every corner.” Visitors insist that above all, it’s the “conscientious locals” who truly make this “welcoming” metropolis a “fun, quirky place to visit.”
FRIENDLIEST CITIES 3. SAVANNAH, GEORGIA Score: 87.8 The oldest city in Georgia, Savannah combines a “very friendly atmosphere” with “lovely places to stay and eat” and “lots of museums that beg to be explored.” Its “warm” local vibe spurred one visitor to rave, “If you want to feel like you are returning home after being away for some time, this is the city to visit.” Simply put, “you can’t have a bad time in Savannah.”
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>2. GALENA, ILLINOIS</strong> Score: 87.9 “When I want to treat myself or lift my spirits—I visit Galena.” A “quaint” city that was once home to President Ulysses S. Grant, Galena, Illinois, is also well known for its “welcoming” atmosphere. Those who make the trip to this former mining town find it “relaxing, with plenty to do.” After all, this “step back in time” has “neat shopping and historical sites” to spare.
FRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>1. CHARLESTON</strong> Score: 91.5 With “sand, sun, history, good food, and friendly people,” Charleston is a consistent hit with the travelers who venture to this “gracious and beautiful” city (in fact, it's also the <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/readers-choice-awards/united-states/top-10-cities-usa?mbid=synd_huffpotravel" target="_hplink">No. 1 city in our entire Readers' Choice Survey</a>, with high scores for ambience, restaurants and culture). Nearby beaches and impressive architecture draw visitors, but it’s the “insanely nice” locals who enhance “magnificent” bed and breakfasts and “amazing shopping.” “The charm of this city brings me back every year,” praised one devoted fan.
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES 10. SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA Score: 43.1 Sacramento might be California's capital, but it's “a real disappointment." One reader comments that it’s a “bit dingy, for being capital of such a beautiful state” and labels the city as “not very impressive or classy or interesting.”
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES 9. ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA Score: 42.5 Despite being the home of Disneyland, Anaheim didn't prove to readers that it's the “the happiest place on Earth.” In fact, "The only reason to go to Anaheim is to visit Disneyland," said one, in a comment echoed by many who took our survey. Others called it "dirty," "rough" and "a dangerous place for Mickey Mouse to hang out."
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>8. WILMINGTON, DELAWARE</strong> Score: 38.6 Wilmington, the state’s largest city, didn't appeal to our survey takers as much as Delaware's better known beach areas. One reader says he “would rather avoid” the city that is only “necessary to visit on business.” Other readers say Wilmington is a place with “not much charm” that “needs work.”
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>7. ALBANY, NEW YORK</strong> Score: 32.8 To be fair, Albany is probably better known as a through-station than a tourist destination. That may be why it scored low on our survey. Still, some readers had strong opinions: The “not-so-nice” northern New York city was described as “dull” by one reader, and others said it was best to avoid, "especially in the winter."
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES 6. LOS ANGELES Score: 32.3 Los Angeles may have the image of being all glitz and glamour, but our readers have also seen the “dirty and crowded” side of Lalaland. One reader says “It’s lost its charm for us,” while another voiced a common complaint for just about any megalopolis: "Too busy and too many cars. Don't like it."
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES 5. ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY Score: 31.1 Readers seem to agree that Atlantic City is a fine place to gamble, but call it a "pale shadow of Las Vegas," saying it has no other attractions besides its casinos. Comments were split between fans and haters, but its low score comes out of perceptions such as this one: “The city as a whole is a dump, and you certainly don't want to wander very far off the boardwalk especially at night,” one reader says. Let's hope that post-Sandy restoration efforts help boost this beach town back up.
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>4. DETROIT, MICHIGAN </strong>Score: 29.9 Detroit isn’t at the top of many travel lists these days for a host of reasons, so it's not surprising that it didn’t score well here. One reader even declared it the "armpit of the world.” Unfair?
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>3. NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT</strong> Score: 29.6 New Haven is the home of Yale, which some thank for the city's cultural activities. But according to our readers, having an Ivy League school doesn’t make the town any more amiable. The people are “rude, unfriendly folks,” according to one reader.
UNFRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>2. OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA</strong> Score: 23.1 Most readers agreed that “Oakland has an image problem and a split personality. Some areas are charming while others are so unsafe travelers wouldn't dare stop,” according to one reader. Other readers noted that Oakland has been "growing very hip in the last years" but some commented that it is “unfriendly,” “another big, dirty city,” and urge “don’t stay too long.”
NFRIENDLIEST CITIES <strong>1. NEWARK, NEW JERSEY</strong> Score: 13.4 Newark is best known for being the site of an airport near New York, and for many of our readers, that’s the only reason to stop there. “I visited Newark on business and would not recommend this city for anything, except a cheaper/less busy airport to fly into while visiting other cities,” says one reader. And while many people commented on the great Portuguese food in the city's Ironbound District, others had negative experiences with the local crowd. One reader says she “ran into a lot of rude people there.” <em>Data compiled by Irene Schneider; source: Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Survey; additional reporting by Aimee Hirsch and Nicole Gifford</em> See Also: <a href="http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2013/07/world-travel-dublin-auckland-cork-friendly-unfriendly-cities?mbid=synd_huffpotravel" target="_hplink">The Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities Worldwide</a>
Follow Conde Nast Traveler on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CNTraveler