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9 Oct 2021
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Charleston’s done it again.

The Holy City has been crowned as the number city in the United States - for the ninth year in a row.

This latest accolade comes as part of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards, the 2021 edition. 

Each year, Travel + Leisure editors poll their readers on their favorites in a myriad of categories and locales.  Their goal: to name the best of the best in regards to all things travel, all over the planet. 

T+L readers tend to be a pretty travel-savvy bunch, used to seeing much of the world and forming opinions as they go.

The categories that editors poll for include the very best cities, islands, hotels and resorts, national parks, cruise lines, airlines, car rental companies, destination spas, tour operators and safari outfitters.  Then they distill the results into lists of varying lengths - top 5, top 10, top 15, top 20, top 25, depending on the category. 

In the case of the top cities in America, they ranked the top 15.  Readers judge cities based on certain criteria:  sights and landmarks, culture and arts, restaurants and food, people, and value.  Then they tabulate the votes and come up with the rankings.

And here are their results…

 The Top 15 Cities in the United States:

01) Charleston, South Carolina

02) Santa Fe, New Mexico

03) Savannah, Georgia

04) New Orleans, Louisiana

05) New York City, New York

06) San Antonio, Texas

07) Chicago, Illinois

08) Bend, Oregon

09) Williamsburg, Virginia

10) Honolulu, Hawaii

11) Nashville, Tennessee

12) Fort Worth, Texas

13) Austin, Texas

14) Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

15) Asheville, North Carolina.

The South had a strong showing, indeed - nine out of the top 15, if you go by the U.S. Census Bureau’s designation of what constitutes a southern state.  In case you’re wondering, they consider the South to include Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

I’m proud to have lived in three of the top 15 cities.  I must say, I whole heartedly agree with all three of them being on the best list.

Why Charleston is #1

Here’s what Travel + Leisure had to say about our fair city of Charleston, SC, and what makes it so terrific: 

“With its charming architecture and powerhouse culinary scene, Charleston has reigned as T+L readers' favorite U.S. city for an impressive nine years running. ‘How could you not love those cobblestoned streets? The beautiful, colorful houses and gas lanterns. Take a carriage ride…or catch a boat,’ wrote one reader. ‘Charleston is such a historic treasure with beauty at every corner. Also heaven for foodies. King Street has excellent shops, bars, and restaurants and is great for nightlife.’ But there's also plenty of all-ages appeal. ‘There is an abundance of activities to choose from for couples', families', and friends' getaways,’ wrote one visitor turned local, who also touted the city as ‘one of the friendliest places I have visited.’" 

Very well said, T+L readers.  Great things to see, wonderful places to eat, lots to do, and polite people to boot  -  Charleston’s an all-around perfect place to be, whether you are visiting or you live here.

Dan Blumenstock, Chairman Emeritus of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, had this to say after one of T+L’s #1’s rankings: “Charleston is endowed with many attractive attributes – be it the sunny weather and raw natural beauty or the grand tradition of Lowcountry cuisine.  No matter what compelling reason draws a visitor to the Charleston area, all visitors have the chance to experience the warmth and genuine hospitality put forth by the local community.”

As I covered in recent blogs, while you’re here you can eat in some of the best restaurants in America here in Charleston… including some of the nation’s best hot dogs!

Why Not Stay at the Beach?

And I must add, that if you are visiting the top city in the United States, one of the best places to stay is in one of Exclusive Properties’ luxury vacation rental homes on the IOP. 

The Isle of Palms is an easy drive into historic downtown Charleston.  So by staying here, you also get a beach vacation at the same time.  Two vacations in one, of you will.  Enjoy the ocean breezes and serenity of the lapping waves at night, then head into town during the day.  It’s a win-win.