Why Tourists Are Calling This City The Most Friendly US Destination

For international travelers, the image that comes to mind when one thinks of the U.S. may be that of big coastal cities like New York or San Francisco. Yet while the landmarks in such places have gained visibility across different forms of media, there isn't always a direct correlation between the biggest city with the most famous landmarks and the one that is simply the friendliest. Think about your own travel experiences and the places where you felt most welcome. Where in the world were they, and was it anywhere near Savannah, Georgia?

In more than one global survey, countries like New Zealand and Thailand have ranked among the friendliest, but it's Savannah that took the top spot among U.S. cities in Condé Nast Traveler's annual Reader's Choice Awards for 2022. Let the chorus of the state song, "Georgia on My Mind," begin as we examine why Savannah may have earned its nickname of "The Hostess City of the South" for the tourists surveyed.

Savannah's secret ingredient

What is Savannah's secret ingredient, the thing that gives it such charm? Is it the cobblestone streets? The historic architecture? The live oaks draped with Spanish moss? These things might conjure a serene picture, but they aren't in and of themselves indicative of why people in Savannah come across as so friendly.

Condé Nast speculates that the city's comfort food, indie bookstores, antique shops, and lush parks might contribute to the sense of community and good old-fashioned Southern hospitality shining out from locals. Upholding the heritage of good manners in Georgia's oldest city might also be a point of pride. It's worth mentioning that Savannah has shown up in other rankings of the friendliest U.S. cities, and we named it one of the most fun U.S. cities for solo travelers last year, in part because of the opportunities for meetups.

On Quora, one longtime Savannah resident and realtor cited the slower, more relaxed pace of life in Savannah as a possible reason why tourists rate the people so friendly there. Compared with other fast-paced cities on the Eastern seaboard, Savannah seems to project a less stressful lifestyle, with people happier, and in turn, friendlier. Contrast this with Philadelphia, which, despite being nicknamed the City of Brotherly Love, ironically ranked as the rudest city in another 2022 survey (via NBC10 Philadelphia).

Other US cities ranked friendliest

It goes without saying that every city has both friendly people and rude people (and people who are multi-dimensional and capable of being friendly or rude, depending on the situation). On the off-chance you visit Savannah, encounter one of the rude ones, and think, "I was promised friendliness!" just know that some other warm and welcoming face might be right around the corner.

As for what other cities ranked among the friendliest with Savannah, the survey put Charleston, South Carolina, and Alexandria, Virginia, at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Evidently, Southern hospitality is real and can be felt in those places, along with Nashville, Tennessee, which came in at No. 8 and is a great travel option for music lovers.

America has a diverse geography that goes far beyond the landlocked South, however, with the island paradises of Honolulu, Hawaii, and Key West, Florida, ranking at No. 4 and No. 7. Meanwhile, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and its neighbor, Tucson, Arizona represented the American West at No. 5 and No. 6. And hey, let it be known that all big northern cities aren't unfriendly, as Chicago, Illinois, and Cincinnati, Ohio, made a showing on the list in the No. 9 and No. 10 position.

Any one of these locales might be a good place to visit, but if you want to test how friendly the friendliest U.S. city is, set your sights on Savannah for your next trip.