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Top 10 Best American Cities to Visit: 2 US Lists

Updated on October 6, 2010

 Conde Nast does a survey each year to find out which are the best cities in the world to visit according to their readers who travel regularly. I’m happy to see that San Francisco remains number one on that list, not only for the top American city to visit but also with enough votes to be the top city to visit worldwide. If I were to make my own list of the top ten cities to visit in this country, I would also put San Francisco number one. But I can’t say that I’d necessarily agree with all of the other travel selections that were chosen by the Conde Nast readers.

Here’s a look at the top ten cities selected by the 30,000+ people who responded to the Conde Nast survey followed by the top ten cities that I would chose as someone who has traveled extensively throughout the United States:

Conde Nast’s Top 10 American Cities to Visit:

1. San Francisco, California.
2. Charleston, South Carolina.
3. New York City, New York.
4. Santa Fe, New Mexico.
5. Chicago, Illinois.
6. Carmel, California.
7. Honolulu, Hawaii.
8. Savannah, Georgia.
9. San Diego, California.
10. Sedona, Arizona.

My Picks for Top 10 American Cities to Visit:

1. San Francisco, California. I am passionately in love with San Francisco and absolutely agree wholeheartedly that it’s the number one city to visit. It’s a terrific walking city. It’s got beautiful architecture and access to beautiful nature. It’s diverse and friendly and interesting. And although the weather isn’t perfect, it’s decent.

2. San Diego, California. What can I say? I’m a California girl at heart so I do agree with the Conde Nast readers that San Diego should be on the list of places to visit in this country. It’s the stereotypical beach bum destination with gorgeous beaches of all different kinds but it’s also an urban area with tons to see and do. Plus there’s the San Diego Zoo and Sea World and all that so it’s a great family-friendly travel destination.

3. New York City, New York. It is my firm belief that everyone in this country should see New York City at least once. It’s such an important city in the country’s history and it’s such an interesting example of urban life. The busy activity, the diversity, the hugeness of it all … it shouldn’t be missed out on if you live in (or visit) the United States. So yes, I’m in agreement with Conde Nast’s readers here as well.

4. Syracuse, New York. Where I diverge from the readers is in some of the smaller areas that I think should be seen. For example, there is no city on the list in upstate New York or anywhere else northeast of that region. It’s an interesting part of the country and one that I think should be explored. What I love about upstate New York is how very different (slower, more rural) it is from New York City which is only hours away. Syracuse is just one example of a city I’d recommend seeing in this area but you can take your pick.

5. Asheville, North Carolina. Conde Nast’s readers had a South Carolina destination on the list but I believe that North Carolina is a much better place to spend your time. The beaches here are beautiful, the people here are interesting and the weather is typically pleasant. Asheville is an interesting little hippie-type college town with a gorgeous landscape surrounding it and it’s the city that I love most in the state but don’t hesitate to drive closer to the water to enjoy the cities along the coast as well.

6. Lihue, Hawaii. While I agree with the Conde Nast readers that there should be a Hawaiian city on the list, I actually think that Lihue is a better choice than Honolulu. It’s really just the starting point for your trip, though, because it happens to be the place on Kauai where airplanes fly in. Fly here, settle in to a hotel and then embark on nature’s adventures all throughout this great island of Hawaii.

7. Fairbanks, Alaska. I always find it strange when Hawaii makes travel destination lists but Alaska doesn’t. There’s just nothing else like Alaska in the rest of the United States and therefore it shouldn’t be missed if you really want to see what the U.S. has to offer. Fairbanks is my top choice city for the state but you could see something amazing in any travel destination here.

8. Portland, Oregon. What’s great about Portland is that it’s got a bit of that West Coast vibe with a bit of that Northwest vibe with a bit of something that’s unique to the state of Oregon. It’s very nature-loving and peaceful, an urban area but one that’s got a lot of nature in it. It’s interesting and it’s a surprise to me that it wasn’t on the original list.

9. New Orleans, Louisiana. People aren’t spending as much time traveling here ever since Katrina and I think that’s a shame. It’s the best place in the South to visit not only because of the traditional party scene but because of the beautiful landscape and architecture and the rich history and cultural experiences here. Support the redevelopment of the area with a trip here.

10. Tucson, Arizona. In fairness, I’m biased about this one because it’s my hometown. Ultimately, though, I do think that Arizona is a really interesting state that should be on the list. The Conde Nast readers chose Sedona which is definitely one of Arizona’s top cities but I believe that Tucson has a more diverse selection of activities to offer to travelers while still providing a laidback vacation in a desert landscape.

So in short, I think that there are tons of great places to see in the United States and I’m in agreement with the survey responders on some of these but there are others that I feel differently about. What would your top ten list of American cities to see look like?


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