For international travelers, the image that comes to mind when one thinks of the US may be large coastal cities like New York or San Francisco. However, while the landmarks in those places have gained visibility in different forms of media, there is not always a direct correlation between the largest 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 somewhere near Savannah, Georgia?
In more than one global survey, countries like New Zealand and Thailand have been ranked among the friendliest, but it’s Savannah that ranked first among US cities in Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards for 2022. Let the state song chorus, “Georgia On My Mind,” begin as we examine why Savannah earned the nickname “The Host City of the South” among surveyed tourists.
Savannah’s Secret Ingredient
What is Savannah’s secret ingredient, what gives her so much charm? Are the streets cobbled? Historic architecture? Live oak trees covered in Spanish moss? These things may conjure up a serene image, but they are not in themselves indicative of why people in Savannah seem so friendly.
Condé Nast speculates that the city’s comfort food, independent bookstores, antique shops and lush parks could contribute to the sense of community and good old-fashioned southern hospitality that shines among the locals. Maintaining the well-mannered heritage in Georgia’s oldest city can also be a point of pride. It’s worth noting that Savannah has appeared in other rankings of America’s friendliest cities, and last year we named it one of America’s most fun cities for solo travelers, in part because of the opportunities to meet up.
On Quora, a former Savannah resident and real estate agent cited the slower, more relaxed pace of life in Savannah as a possible reason why tourists rate people there as friendly. Compared to other fast-paced cities on the East Coast, Savannah seems to project a less stressful lifestyle, with happier and friendlier people. Compare this to Philadelphia, which, despite being nicknamed the City of Brotherly Love, ironically ranked as the rudest city in another 2022 poll.
Other US Cities Ranked Friendliest
It goes without saying that every city has both friendly and rude people (and people who are multidimensional and capable of being friendly or rude, depending on the situation). In case you visit Savannah and run into one of the rude ones and think, “They promised me friendship!” just know that another warm and welcoming face could be just around the corner.
As for which other cities ranked among the most Savannah-friendly, the survey placed Charleston, South Carolina, and Alexandria, Virginia, in second and third place, respectively. Sure, southern hospitality is real and can be felt in those places, along with Nashville, Tennessee, which was ranked #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 of these places would be a good place to visit, but if you want a taste of just how friendly the friendliest city in the US really is, set your sights on Savannah for your next trip.