This City Was Just Voted the Best in the U.S. for the 9th Year by 'Travel + Leisure' Readers

The annual World's Best issue, out now, also names the best international city, hotels, islands and more!

explore charleston
Photo: explore charleston

Travel & Leisure has just released its annual World's Best Awards winners for 2021!

For the ninth year in a row, the same spot has been named the No. 1 city in the United States by T&L readers: Charleston, S.C., took the top spot, with readers citing the beauty, culinary scene and endless attractions for people of all ages to explore around the historic destination.

"How could you not love those cobblestoned streets? The beautiful, colorful houses and gas lanterns. Take a carriage ride…or catch a boat," one reader wrote.

Another praised the city as "one of the friendliest places I have visited," and is now a local of the area. "There is an abundance of activities to choose from for couples', families', and friends' getaways."

explore charleston
explore charleston

"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," another expounded.

The Low Country hotspot has some famous fans as well.

The Late Show host Stephen Colbert hails from Charleston, and still enjoys vacationing there. When he does, the 57-year-old comedian previously told T&L that he too likes to explore King Street when he's not chowing down on shrimp and hominy at Hominy Grill or Husk.

Rounding out the top 10 U.S. cities of 2021 are Santa Fe, N.M.; Savannah, Ga.; New Orleans; New York City; San Antonio, Texas; Chicago; Bend, Ore.; Williamsburg, Va.; and Honolulu.

Charleston comes in at No. 18 on T&L's list of Top 25 Best Cities in the World for 2021.

Travel + Lesiure World’s Best Awards 2021
Travel + Lesiure

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, tops the international list, with Udaipur, India, and Istanbul, Turkey, placing second and third, respectively.

Readers called San Miguel de Allende a "magical" city with incredible sights "everywhere you look."

"San Miguel is an incredible city, very beautiful, historic, with friendly people, fantastic food and restaurants," one reader wrote.

Other cities listed in the top 10 are Ubud, Indonesia; Kyoto, Japan; Florence, Italy; Mexico City, Mexico; Oaxaca, Mexico; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Bangkok, Thailand.

Also among the top 25 cities is Cape Town, South Africa, where Hilary Duff and her new husband Matthew Koma honeymooned in January 2020 following their December 2019 wedding.

"Honeymooning with my honey. Already seen the big 5 and had so many naps," she captioned a photo of the two observing the stunning natural scene outside their hotel window. "Doesn't get better than this...."

T&L also asked readers to rank several other items from hotels to island destinations. Another popular South Carolina destination, Hilton Head, is the No. 1 island destination in the U.S. for 2021.

One voter said, "We can be as busy as we like or just relax and take in all the beautiful beaches and sea life." And with 12 miles of shoreline, 33 golf courses, 60 miles of walking trails — that's hard to argue.

Kiawah Island, S.C., comes in at No. 2, followed by Amelia Island, Fla.; the San Juan Islands in Washington State; Long Boat Key, Fla.; Nantucket, Mass.; the Golden Islands in Georgia; Mount Desert Island, Maine; Mackinac Island, Michigan; and the Florida Keys.

On Wednesday, the publication also announced the launch of a new subscription travel club and booking platform, Travel + Leisure GO, which offers curated itineraries to select locations. The first ten customizable trips highlight World's Best Awards-winning destinations, hotels and activities.

See more from Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards in the October issue, on newsstands now, or visit

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