Is it something in the water? What makes the locals of one city so consistently attractive or not?
That's what Tennessee marketing exec Natalie Roberson wonders every time she visits one South Carolina city. "I look and feel like a troll every time I'm in Charleston," she says. "Their bone structure, the preppy clothes, and the consistent--almost persistent--friendliness make everyone prettier."
Last year, Travel + Leisure readers agreed and ranked Charleston No. 1 for attractiveness in the America's Favorite Cities survey. But now Charleston has lost its best-looking title to another comely city -- and one with a very different vibe.
Across this year's most attractive American cities, we found distinct personalities: In San Diego, the perfect weather has perhaps given locals a sunny glow while Salt Lake City, known for its clean living, may lend itself to a corn-fed, well-rested appeal. In San Francisco -- with its high rankings for culture, intellect, and fine dining -- the locals exude an aura of urbanity.
Just because you're "cool," however, doesn't mean you have to swat away admirers. Portland, Oregon, scored high on many features in the survey -- environmental awareness and cool food trucks -- but landed near the bottom of the list for looks. Perhaps some regional tendencies just don't translate.
"Why does the soul patch 'work' in Portland," wonders San Francisco-based Web publisher Sara Ost, "but it repulses women in any other metropolis of the world?"
A city's ranking in the friendliness category might also play a part: New York City landed well outside the top 10 this year for good looks, despite its winning fashion sense. Readers also perceived, shall we say, an attitude problem.
Like New York, many cold-winter cities suffered from a lack of warm smiles--and perhaps the chance to get outside and stay in shape. Denver, however, was an exception. With plenty of hiking, biking, and skiing, the Mile High City is home to the fittest folks in the land, according to the survey.
"The entire city of Denver has been indoctrinated by bizarre health and fitness regimes, such as kettlebell swinging," says British Web marketer Matthew Barker. "They're all completely bonkers -- but they look great."
-Katrina Brown Hunt
The South Carolina city tumbled seven spots from last year's No. 1 best-looking ranking, but the locals are too polite to make a fuss. They still rank in the top 10 for style. It's the element of surprise that may be lacking: they ranked in the bottom 10 for being offbeat. Photo: iStock See all of America's Most and Least Attractive People
More proof that feeling good makes you look good. The Hawaiian capital is holding steady in its position from last year--and it's still high on the list for romance, fit locals, and sunny skies. Photo: iStock See all of America's Most and Least Attractive People
All that fresh air and strenuous exercise have paid off for these fresh-faced Coloradans, who are inching closer to the top. Denver is already No. 1 for fit locals, but residents' attractiveness isn't just a matter of brawn; the city also made it into the top 10 for brains. Photo: iStock See all of America's Most and Least Attractive People
Did they have some "work" done? The City of Angels has staged a major comeback in the beauty category, rising 10 slots from last year. Locals could still stand to work on their friendliness, according to voters, but deserve credit for staying reasonably trim, given the tempting dining options. Photo: iStock See all of America's Most and Least Attractive People
Voters couldn't stay away from these good-loving Floridians, even if it wasn't always good for them. Miami ranked highly for being wild and noisy and for having fabulous cocktails. Just watch your step--the city also ranked pretty highly for danger. Photo: iStock See all of America's Most and Least Attractive People
The locals in this Golden State city are holding onto their silver medal status from last year--and can give some credit to the heavens above. The top-ranked weather makes it easy to stay super-fit year round. Since there's no need for bulky winter gear--and almost any clothes look flattering with flat abs--they also ranked in the top 10 for style. Photo: iStock See all of America's Most and Least Attractive People
They're gorgeous, they dress fabulously, and you can't even hate them: the locals in the sunny Puerto Rican capital rank high for friendliness as well as attractiveness. They also know how to charm visitors with simple pleasures: San Juan ranked near the top for its café con leche, and won the street food category. Photo: iStock See all of America's Most and Least Attractive People
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