The South Carolina state flag waving along with the national flag of the United States of America. South Carolina is a state in the coastal Southeastern region of the United States

CondeNaste recently released its 35th annual Readers’ Choice Awards. These awards reflect the travel experiences of their readers. Awards feature the best, from hotels and airlines to cruises and islands. And also cities. And it was a South Carolina city that topped the best small cities in the US list. I have to say, it’s a good one! All but two of the top 10 are on the east coast, with the vast majority in the south. All have a rich history adding to their appeal. And topping the list is a South Carolina city that’s chock full of southern charm (and incredible food!). But it’s not just that one. A second South Carolina city comes in at number 5 and a beloved North Carolina coastal city also made the list.

Personally, I’ve been to 5 of the cities on this list, and there are definite things I love about all of them! Some I’ve visited many times and others I’d love to have more time to explore. I also added a couple of Florida towns to my bucket list today. They are fantastic places to visit and I’m sure even better places to live And at a time when the desire to travel is sky high, you don’t even need a reason to book a trip. I’m out of weekends for this year so moving on to planning for 2023! Here are the best cities in the U.S., as voted by CondeNast Traveler readers:

  • 10. Wilmington, NC

    Also known as Port City is Wilmington, NC. This North Carolina coastal town is filled with southern charm and history. Visitors can enjoy strolling the Riverwalk, touring historic homes, and visiting the Battleship North Carolina. It’s just a short drive away from several beaches- Wrightsville, Carolina, and Kure beach. Wilmington’s National Register Historic District is framed by Spanish Moss draped live oaks and spans 230+ blocks. You can take horse-drawn carriage rides on the old brick-lined streets while enjoying influences from the past and present including shops and restaurants.

    Check out some of what I did on a recent trip to Wilmington here.

  • 9. Palm Beach, FL

    There’s a reason the rich and famous have flocked to this Atlantic barrier island for years. The city is filled with rich history and glamour. On the island, you’ll find legendary resorts including The Breakers, exquisite mansions, and historic landmarks including the Flagler Museum. The Palm Beach streets are lined with impressive palm trees (of course!) and the shopping on Worth Avenue is world-renowned. The city features an abundance of Gilded Age architecture and fantastic restaurants. Plus golf, festivals including the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival.

  • 8. Santa Rosa Beach, FL

    On the northwest corner of Florida’s gulf coast you’ll find a 26-mile stretch of beach known as Santa Rosa Beach Florida. Santa Rosa is full of traditions, charm, and visual style. Here you’ll find luxury beach homes, elegant dining, and the Gulf Place artist community. There’s also plenty of access to nature and not just that crystal blue water. Point Washington State Forest, a 15,000-acre preserve has multiple access points from Santa Rosa.

  • 7. Key West, FL

    The island lifestyle it’s American peak in Key West. The laid back island city truly has it all history (think Hemmingway), restaurants, beaches, and modern luxury. This just 3 mile long island is a vacation destination that some are lucky enough to call home. It’s home to the southernmost point of the contiguous US and is actually closer to Cuba than Miami. The sunsets have to be seen to be believed. Visitors love the pastel-hued, conch-style houses and snorkeling.

  • 6. Greenville, SC

    North Carolina isn’t the only Carolina to make this list. Greenville consistently pops up on these types of compilations and just in general receives positive praise from visitors. What is it about this town that draws people in? The culinary scene continues to develop along with a noteworthy craft beer boom. Then there’s the picturesque Falls Park and the influx of events.

  • 5. Savannah, GA

    One of my favorite cities in the world is Savannah, GA. The Spanish moss live oaks, the cobblestoned riverfront, the restaurants, and just the history. Savannah was planned in squares with historic homes surrounding each of them. It’s also one of the most haunted cities in the country if you’re into a little spooky fun. Must do’s include visiting Forsyth Park, dining at the Olde Pink House, and touring the Mercer Williams House.

  • 4. Alexandria, VA

    Just across the Potomac from DC, you’ll find charming Alexandria, VA. The city is nationally recognized for its rich history and beautifully preserved 18th- and 19th-century architecture found in Old Town. You’ll discover more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques set alongside intimate historic museums along the waterfront.

  • 3. Santa Fe, NM

    Santa Fe, New Mexico is known as The City Different, and it lives up to that. Santa Fe features a  legendary history and culture throughout the city. It has a vibrant art scene featuring both traditional to contemporary pieces. It’s filled with adobe style homes giving it an eclectic feel.

  • 2. Aspen, CO

    Surprisingly this is the only mountain town to make the list. This ski town is known throughout the world but it has much more to offer than just the slopes. The area grew in the late 1800s thanks to a silver boom so it’s rich in history including the Wheeler Opera House and Wheeler-Staller House museum. There are also exquisite high-end restaurants and boutiques.

  • 1. Charleston, SC

    The best small city in the US? Why it’s Charleston of course! Charleston writes the book on southern charm and culture. The city boasts a rich history with impeccable food, numerous churches, and of course Rainbow Row. The historic downtown is filled with stately Charleston-style homes and is located right on the water. Visit The Bowery, shop in the market, or take a horse-drawn carriage ride throughout the city.


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