Plan a Trip to One of America’s 5 Friendliest Cities

The Best Urban Experiences in the United States

Travel+Leisure recently published an article about the world’s friendliest urban centers, as selected by their readers. Numerous American cities made the list, with most of them lying south of the Mason-Dixie line. If you’re looking for long-weekend travel ideas, plan a trip to one of the five friendly cities listed below.

#5: Asheville, NC

Asheville by: David Wilson (CC)
Asheville by: David Wilson (CC)

Nestled between two major mountain ranges, Asheville sits in the picturesque western section of North Carolina. A thriving arts community makes this city one of the most exciting destinations in the U.S., often called the “Paris of the South.” The city’s main architectural landmark, Basilica of Saint Lawrence boasts the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America. Designed by Spanish architect Rafael Guastavino, the building features stained-glass windows and two chapels with marble reliefs, mosaics, and icons. A great place for visitors looking for a less-than-conventional sightseeing experience, the city also features eclectic attractions like Rivers Arts District.

For more ideas on what to see and do, take a look at a full Asheville itinerary.

#4: Nashville, TN

Nashville by: Ron Reiring (CC)
Nashville by: Ron Reiring (CC)

The popular capital of country music, thriving Nashville blends old-world southern charm with a very progressive urban atmosphere. A major center of culture and entertainment, the city boasts some of America’s finest museums, art galleries, and performance venues. Once you get your fill of Nashville’s blossoming culinary scene, dig into the region’s country roots with a visit to Grand Ole Opry, the site of legendary performances by Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams.

To get a local’s perspective on the city, visit the outstanding experience nashville blog. It should provide plenty of inspiration for customizing this Nashville itinerary.

#3: Austin, TX

Downtown Austin by: Michael (CC)
Downtown Austin by: Michael (CC)

Don’t let Austin’s relaxed college vibe throw you off–this city is a major center of politics, technology, film, and music. Known for its mix of alternative cultures, Austin remains one of America’s growingly popular tourist destinations, offering visitors everything from exciting sporting events and live concerts, to top-notch theater productions and festivals. Start your tour at Bullock Texas State History Museum, home to the original wooden gate of the Alamo. Spread over three floors, the museum’s permanent exhibits narrate the history of Texas, from its early Native American communities and Spanish missions, to the struggle for independence and the modern era.

Browse through the full Austin itinerary and read the Free Fun in Austin blog–a super guide for visiting the city frugally–to find some free activities to add to your plan.

#2: Savannah, GA

Savannah street scene by: faungg's photos (CC)
Savannah street scene by: faungg’s photos (CC)

Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah remains a rare southern city with most of its antebellum charm and architecture virtually intact. Home to one of the largest historic districts in America, the city draws huge tourist numbers with its walkable central areas filled with well-preserved 18th and 19th-century buildings. English socialite Lady Astor once called Savannah “a beautiful woman with a dirty face,” and the city continues to live up to that reputation with its open-container law, allowing tourists to explore the Historic District with an alcoholic beverage in hand. Discover the city’s rich history at Old Fort Jackson, a historic landmark with a view of the Savannah river.

For more ideas on things to do in Savannah, read through Visit Savannah. Then, add these activities to your Savannah itinerary.

#1: Charleston, SC

Charleston by: James Williams (CC)
Charleston by: James Williams (CC)

Established in the 1670s, the seaside city of Charleston boasts a historic downtown area located on a peninsula carved out by two rivers. The city managed to get through the Civil War without suffering too much property damage, which means that its oldest neighborhoods retain much of their antebellum look and feel. Old church steeples continue to dominate Charleston’s low-rise skyline thanks to a restriction on the construction of tall buildings in the downtown area. Learn some regional history at Old Slave Mart Museum, one of the few remaining buildings originally used for securing slave labor. Charleston Museum, reportedly the oldest museum in the United States, features exhibits about Native American people who originally inhabited the area, as well the African slaves and European settlers who arrived much later.

See this detailed Charleston itinerary, which shows off the wide range of sightseeing activities available in and around town.

America’s Friendliest Urban Centers

With so many urban centers full of attractions and quaint towns surrounded by pristine nature, choosing a long-weekend destination can pose a challenge. If you want to plan a trip for that upcoming holiday weekend, consider one of America’s friendliest cities. In addition its amiable locals, each one offers some of the country’s finest museums, galleries, landmark buildings, and historical districts.

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