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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?


Submit a Comment

  • profile image

    Harbor Life 3 years ago

    I have to admit I've lived in both SFO and San Diego. San Diego it far better :)

  • profile image

    Dave 4 years ago

    Glad to see Chicago is impressing visitors to the degree it has arrived from every opportunity to fail. Great Neighborhoods especially built after 1950 and Gentrification older ones near downtown. And OH WHAT a DOWNTOWN THE BUILT. AN iconic SKYLINE some still place above NYC. And what a Front Yard along Lake Michigan even beaches downtown. Tourist always leave with their expectations far surpassed and the old stereotype of Chicago updated.

  • profile image

    Matt 5 years ago

    why isn't Miami Beach on that list?

  • Lisas-thoughts101 profile image

    Lisas-thoughts101 6 years ago from Northeast Texas

    A very interesting hub. Very thought inspiring. I have always wanted to see NYC. Based on my own travels I would have to say


    Key West

    Las Vegas

    New Orleans


    San Diego


    are all cities that should be on the must see list. But of course, this is just my opinion.

    I also really want to go to San Fran


  • profile image

    Cheryl 6 years ago

    Rochester has far more history, and far mire beautiful than Syracuse! Between the history noted above, high falls (higher than niagara), the erie canal, the Eastman house... Not even close! Checkout such outstanding festivals as fairport canal days and the lilac festival!

  • profile image

    Chi 6 years ago


  • profile image

    Come to Duluth 6 years ago

    I think Duluth is the best city!!!!!

  • profile image

    mohannad 6 years ago


  • profile image

    LG 6 years ago

    Guess writer hasn't been to Asheville. Don't know of a beach in the mountain area other than manmade beach at Lake Lure.

  • profile image

    Dan inzitari 6 years ago

    How Boston is not on this list, is absolutely ridiculous. It has my vote as #1, this from a New Yorker.

  • profile image

    Matt 7 years ago

    Upstate NY is beautiful, but as other have pointed out ... Syracuse? No no no if you are going to pick a place in upstate that is a must see ... Ithaca!

  • Scott_Grigg profile image

    Scott_Grigg 7 years ago from Midwest USA-Southeast

    I have to put Charleston at the top of my list. I lived there, love it and find it to be one of the best, most livable cities in the entire world. It has culture, events happening almost every weekend, is small enough to get around the city easily, is easily walkable and is a beautiful, beautiful city. Stroll up Meeting Street from downtown to the Battery, then hang a left when you get to the park and head on Bay Street to Rainbow Row.

    Hot, hot in the summer, but man is this a great city the rest of the time!!!

  • profile image

    customreceiptbooks 7 years ago

    Barcelona every time. Great article - makes me feel like a football supporter - yay Barcelona, go go go!

  • profile image

    Libby Alkalay 7 years ago

    If anyone visits Syracuse NY based on this list, I feel so sorry for this person. Don't do it. Try Lihue, Hawaii instead.

  • profile image

    Colin 7 years ago

    San Fran is the Kron DON!

  • profile image

    Jon 7 years ago

    OH I forgot, Syracuse has some of the best Apple orchards on the east coast in an area called Tug Hill Plateau, in Tully, NY.

  • profile image

    Jon 7 years ago

    Syracuse AREA is a great area. Rochester LOL, please. Syracuse area includes the adirondacks, finger lakes, lake Ontario and some of the nicest surburban settings around. You want to talk about history, then go no further than fort Ticonderoga, and the area has the larger concentration of the tribes of the Iroquois. After all, Syracuse itself is located in Onondaga County. There are beautiful waterfalls, the historic erie canal and the bike/walking trails and endless activities to do.

  • profile image

    Tr 7 years ago

    Syracuse? I went to college there but...Syracuse?! I'd take my hometown of Rochester anyday over Syracuse! We have the abolitionist history (susan b anthony, frederick douglass) george eastman house (founder of kodak cameras) and we are on the shores of one of the great lakes (ontario). plus our city is just nicer than syracuse overall.

  • profile image

    ismilec45d 7 years ago

    1.I’m all for natural wonders and for your first destination might I recommend the Geysers in yellow stone national park in Wyoming. It is perhaps has the most famous geyser in the world, “old Faithful” as it’s called. It is one group of about two hundred actice geysers. Old faithful erupts every hour for about four minutes, it’s an amazing site.

    For those who aren’t sure what a geyser is, it is a hole in the ground that shoots our steaming hot water from the ground. Some geyser shoot water hight into the sky and others just bubble and gurgle. Some geysers go off several times an hour or in a day and some are only active every few years or more. So I recommend you take the kids to Yellowstone park, hey maybe you’ll even see Yogi Bear…LOL

  • profile image

    TopUniverse 7 years ago

    Definitely well worth to consider for those who are waiting for their vacations.

  • Jaynie2000 profile image

    Jaynie2000 7 years ago

    Great hub. My Top 10 list would include:

    New Orleans

    New York


    San Diego

    San Francisco




    Charleston, SC


  • profile image

    Hotels in Carmel CA 7 years ago

    Nice list.. Thanks for sharing this useful stuff with us

  • profile image

    kcin 8 years ago

    ashville really!!!

  • askjanbrass profile image

    askjanbrass 8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Wow, can't believe you have Syracuse on here. I've frequently been to Rochester in upstate New York. It's nice, but I'm not sure I would include it in my top ten U.S. destinations. Just a difference of opinion, I suppose. Not that I don't enjoy the peacefulness of upstate New York. And you're certainly right, it's quite different from NYC. What are you favorite aspects about Syracuse? Are you a college basketball fan by any chance?

  • Stephen Parnell profile image

    Stephen Parnell 8 years ago from Philadelphia, Pa.

    Hey!! What about Philadelphia, Pa. Our entire metropolitan sector is in a 2 mile x 2 mile area. You can walk to everything!!! Anyhoo, I like your articles.

  • gyangroup profile image

    gyangroup 8 years ago

    Fascinating hub as always!

  • ciidoctor profile image

    ciidoctor 8 years ago

    nice cities.

  • Gretchel85 profile image

    Gretchel85 8 years ago

    San Diego, definitely! Thank you for sharing!

  • profile image

    wmb123 8 years ago

    Thank you for putting New Orleans on your list. It is such a cool destination! And since so much of it's revenue depended on tourism, it is really suffering from the lack of it. Thanks for including it!

  • hd1912 profile image

    hd1912 8 years ago from Madeira Beach , Fl

    nice hub my favs are Las Vegas,Chicago and Madeira Beach.

  • mwaky profile image

    mwaky 8 years ago

    nice hub my favs are new york city and chicago

  • profile image

    Portable Hot Tubs 8 years ago

    Beings that I am originally from Oregon I appreciate you including Portland in your list of cities to visit. The whole state of Oregon is like no other, although Northern California and parts of Washington have the same vibe. Great list of cities and it gives me a few ideas of places to visit.

  • nboney profile image

    nboney 9 years ago

    Seattle isn't a bad ol' place either! Revisited it 2 years ago and I've never felt so safe anywhere!

  • profile image

    Lauren08 9 years ago

    Definitely agree with Fairbanks! It's a fantastic city!

  • SoManyPaths profile image

    SoManyPaths 9 years ago from West Coast USA

    New Orleans and Portland are on my list to go. good stuff


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