TIME Travel

Your Guide to Marijuana Tourism in America

Recommendations for the classiest of cannabis connoisseurs

Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, but only Colorado and Washington have licensed dispensaries that can legally sell recreational cannabis. Since legalization and sale came to those communities, the budding pot industry in these two states has tried to shape a future of vineyard-esque tours of marijuana farms, and fatty-friendly salons reminiscent of Amsterdam’s cafes. (The phrase “Napa Valley of weed” gets tossed around a fair bit.)

In the meantime, Colorado and Washington still have a ways to go before pot tourism can flourish. Jeremy Bamford, who started the Colorado Pot Guide website in 2013, directs thousands of daily readers to 420 tours and “Bud & Breakfasts,” but official barriers remain. City and state tourism boards still shy away from promoting weed as an attraction, marijuana lounges are still against the law, and hotels tend to give a pretty firm reiteration of their no-smoking policies when you ask about, say, using a marijuana vaporizer in your room, or smoking a joint on your balcony. (Though a few have vague advertisements on Bamford’s site that provide neither their names nor their addresses.)

One of the problems when it comes to official support is the lack of hard numbers. Over the 4/20 holiday, says Bamford, Visit Denver took stock of hotel occupancy rates, and found they were no greater than on an average weekend. Which makes sense, he points out, because Denver’s weed pilgrims are booking cannabis-friendly accommodations instead. The ongoing stigma of marijuana usage among big-name hospitality brands “reflects a bit of a perception problem, because Colorado’s cannabis tourists actually tend to skew older,” says Bamford. This reefer madness mindset is causing hotels to turn away Terry Gross listeners, not Miley Cirus fans.

Still, marijuana-themed tours of Denver and Seattle continue to fill up, and the boom in recreational dispensaries in Colorado and Washington has produced a range of offerings, with highlights and must-sees for newbies and discerning connoisseurs alike.

  • Denver, Colorado

    medicine-man-denver
    Courtesy of Medicine Man

    Despite a lack of promotion from the Colorado Tourism Office, a handful of cannabis-themed tour operators have sprouted up in the Mile High City. For the most part, they don’t offer anything you couldn’t get into on your own, but the aim is to be “your Colorado friend who holds your hand and shows you this is real,” says Matt Brown, who founded My 420 Tours with business partner James Walker. What their company offers is easily the most complete of those guided experiences. In the four-hour Dispensary & Grow tour, which starts at $129, guests are loaded onto a tinted-windowed party bus (that will, throughout the day, intermittently be filled with pot smoke, the shine of green LEDs, and the soothing tones of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High”) and given a short marijuana user’s guide, outlining the differences between sativa and indica plants; the effects of THC and CBD; and the pros and cons of smoking methods, vaporizers, and edibles.

    After being treated to a mixture of those sampling options, guests are whisked off to the Native Roots Apothecary for some discounted weed shopping. Out-of-staters can buy up to a quarter ounce of marijuana at a time, but edibles, says Bamford, “are the more popular option, because of the novelty, and because people on the street don’t have to know that’s a weed cookie you’re eating.” Which helps, because public consumption of pot is still banned in the state. Luckily, Colorado’s new regulations on labeling and potency restrictions makes it easier than ever to stay at or below the state’s (very sensible) recommended dose of 10 milligrams of activated THC per edible serving.

    Next up is a tour of Medicine Man, one of the biggest commercial marijuana grow facilities in the U.S. After a somewhat forgettable but by that point pretty satisfying meal at the Icehouse Tavern, the tour ends at Illuzion Glass Gallery, a high-artistry head shop with an extensive selection of smoking paraphernalia and “functional glass art.”

    For $1,000, a full weekend excursion with My 420 Tours includes airport transportation and a two-hour cannabis cooking class (pot-infused pumpkin muffins, anyone?) with chef Blaine Alexandr of Conscious Confections, which can also be booked on its own for $129. The $1,000 weekend package also comes with two nights at the Denver Crowne Plaza and a Silver Surfer vaporizer on loan. Edibles aside, vaporizing is the only way you can legally consume marijuana in a hotel room, but even that is best done on the sly, with a pocket vaporizer, as the city’s hotels remain wary of marijuana use, and include it with general smoking bans when it comes to balconies, outdoor lounges, and plazas.

    PuffPassPaint-Denver
    Adam Jeffers

    If you’d like to smoke marijuana in your room, your best bet in Colorado (or anywhere else in the U.S.) is to search Airbnb or HomeAway for the words “420 friendly.” Otherwise, in downtown Denver, there’s the Adagio “Bud & Breakfast,” a 122-year-old Victorian house in the Wyman Historic District, which has a well-reviewed “420 Happy Hour” and on-site cannabis-infused massages, done with a “blend of unique oils high in THC, CBD, and CBN, utilizing a full cannabinoid spectrum and allowing for maximum healing potential.”

    If Cannabis concierges and “Puff, Pass, Paint” art classes aren’t really your speed, Denver has no shortage of recreational dispensaries and head shops you can visit on your own. For a relaxing, controlled buzz, try the Cherry Slider at LoDo Wellness, or for something more euphoric, order the Ed Rosenthal Super Bud at EuFlora. Both dispensaries are a short walk from the 16th Street Mall, Denver’s pedestrian-friendly shopping district.

  • Colorado

    Other noteworthy shops from Colorado’s early dispensary boom include Helping Hands, an all-organic dispensary in Boulder; Telluride Bud Company, the only dispensary in Telluride that grows all its weed in town; and Aspen’s STASH, where strains come with print-outs detailing soil nutrients and grow conditions. Maggie’s Farm, which is touted as Colorado’s only true outdoor marijuana grow, runs a handful of dispensaries throughout the state, but its Manitou Springs location is the most popular, due to its location at the foot of Pike’s Peak. It’s not hard to find a dispensary near any one of Colorado’s many national parks, but keep in mind that possession of marijuana on federal land is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

  • Seattle, Washington

    CannabisCity-Seattle
    Courtesy of Cannabis City

    Seattle’s leader in kush tourism is Kush Tourism, a tour operator founded by Chase Nobles and Michael Gordon. For $150, they offer a three-and-a-half hour jaunt led by employees dressed in refreshingly non-stonerish khakis and polos. The education-focused tour includes a walkthrough of Sky High Gardens, a 30,000-square-foot growing facility on Harbor Island; a visit to Analytical360, a pot-testing lab; a demonstration at the Boro School of glassblowing, which also offer beginners classes where you make your own pipe; and Uncle Ike’s, a popular local pot shop. “You can get stoned anywhere in this country,” Nobles once told the Seattle Times. “Our tour’s more about education … we take you to see something you can’t otherwise see.” The menu at Uncle Ike’s changes fast, but a few current highlights are the Bettie Page, which offers a potent but clear high that is great for daytime smoking, and Champagne Kush, which has a refreshing, bubbly-reminiscent taste.

    bacon-mansion
    Courtesy of Bacon Mansion

    If you’re stationed in Lower Queen Anne (Space Needle territory), Cannabis City, the first recreational marijuana store in the city, is another great place to buy weed. Short-term rental sites will be your best bet if 420-friendly accommodations are a must, but the Bacon Mansion, a Capitol Hill bed-and-breakfast, permits marijuana smoking on outside porches and patios, or the use of vaporizers indoors.

  • Washington

    the-evergreen-market-renton
    Courtesy of The Evergreen Market

    Head outside Seattle, and you can check out the Evergreen Market, which offers a pretty awesome vision for what the weed dispensary could be, with modern fixtures, a generous, open floor plan with an industrial vibe, and hardly a pot-leaf insignia in sight. In Olympia, Green Lady Marijuana is an unassuming little pot shop with a great selection of edibles and discreet vaping pens. Spokane also has a fine selection of weed shops, including Satori, which is known for its friendly, knowledgeable staff and impressive selection.

    As of July of this year, recreational marijuana use is legal in Oregon, but production and retail licenses won’t be approved until January of 2016. (Alaska is in a similar situation.) Just across the Columbia River from Portland, however, you can spend a few hours touring the grow operation of farmer Tom Lauerman, the “Walt Whitman of weed,” in Bush Prairie, Washington. On the first tour, in June of 2014, Oregon Live reported that he “spoke with equal pride about his tasty sugar snap peas and his Chemdawg, a popular strain of marijuana,” and began the event “with an offer of a complimentary joint.”

    This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

These Are America’s Best Cities for Picnics

Take note of the local rules

Jennifer Pearson-Smith packs a few vital tools when she embarks on a road trip: a vintage Pendleton blanket, a soft-sided cooler, a corkscrew and a cheese plane. “We’ve dined al fresco in such destinations as Sedona, Lake Tahoe and Napa,” says the Costa Mesa-Calif.-based social media consultant. “It’s so much fun to discover local markets when selecting picnic eats.”

One of her favorite picnic cities—San Diego, where she has dined above the crashing waves at Sunset Cliffs— is also a favorite of Travel+Leisure readers. In the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 38 cities on such urban qualities as luxury shopping, cocktail lounges and cool food trucks. But to calculate which cities offer the best grassy dining, we looked at the more outdoor-feast-friendly rankings: parks and gardens, gourmet markets, epic sandwiches, accommodating weather, and perhaps the lovely accompaniment of wine.

With or without a fine bottle, there is something magical about a picnic while traveling: picking up sandwiches, local tacos, or just some fresh bread and cheese (assuming you packed that cheese plane) and settling in for a fresh-air meal and people-watching in a city park. In some winning cities, the best picnic spots offer uniquely local settings, whether you’re next to a natural spring, in front of an iconic band shell, or in the shade of an 80-foot-tall shuttlecock.

Picnicking can also make you feel more like a local—though it’s also important to know the local rules. Pearson-Smith, for instance, has learned that there’s no glass permitted in San Diego’s Balboa Park. “No picnic in San Diego would be complete without sampling a brew or two from the local craft beer scene,” she says, “so I stock up on versions from local breweries like Saint Archer and Ballast Point—in cans.”

  • 10. Houston

    houston
    Shannon O'Hara—Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

    While summer temperatures in this Texas hub may have you looking for shade and a breeze, Houston still impressed readers with its picnic-friendly gourmet markets and deep wine selection (you can find both at Revival Market). The best new picnic spot is Buffalo Bayou Park, near the spot where the city was founded in 1836, which now has pedestrian bridges and canoeing trails. Houston also ranked at No. 5 for its world-class art—like the Menil Collection, which has a picnic-magnet lawn, and the promise of air-conditioned bliss afterward, as you look at the Byzantine and Surrealist art inside. Its Museum District location also means you can pick up some portable sliders from Little Bigs, a representative of the city’s No. 5 ranking for burgers.

  • 9. Kansas City

    kansas-city
    Visit KC

    A day of art mixes nicely with a picnic in this Missouri city, which ranked at No. 7 for museums and No. 1 for affordability. There’s Penn Valley Park, which lies next to the free-admission National WWI Museum, or the Hall Sculpture Park at the also-free Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, where you can feast in the shadows of the iconic, 18-foot Shuttlecock. In mid-July, the Nelson-Atkins even hosts a big picnic on the lawn, where diners can participate in a living-quilt installation. To pack a meal with the nation’s top-ranked barbecue, get some brisket mac ’n’ cheese from Broadway Butcher Shop or sausages from The Local Pig— like those made with bourbon-apple, goat chorizo or local burnt ends.

  • 8. Tampa

    tampa
    Visit Tampa Bay

    This Florida city exudes a serene vibe to readers, who ranked it highly for feeling clean and peaceful, and for having nice parks—many with water views. In fact, you can even picnic on the water: local operator eBoats lets you bring your basket and captain a boat on Tampa Bay or Hillsborough River. But for many travelers, just sitting next to the water is enough: Water Works Park, on the northern tip of the Tampa Riverwalk, has a bandshell, old oak trees and possible sightings of dolphins and manatees. To complement the view, pick up a Beef Martini sandwich (rare roast beef with bacon and white-wine-marinated mushrooms) from Wright’s Gourmet Café. For a local beverage, pick up some Florida Cracker Belgian-style White Ale from hot craft beermaker Cigar City Brewing.

  • 7. New Orleans

    new-orleans
    Karim Rezk—Flickr

    New Orleans always charms readers with its lovely architecture and festival atmosphere, but it secured its lock on the picnic top 10 by winning the survey for sandwiches. For an excellent po’ boy, go to Parkway Bakery and Tavern or Killer Poboys, but if you want a classic muffaletta, head to Central Grocery on Decatur Street, which is credited with making the first olive-laden indulgence. Once you’re armed with your sammie of choice, take it to moss-canopied City Park, or to Crescent Park, which sits on the Mississippi River with lovely views of downtown. The city also ranked at No. 1 for fascinating people-watching.

  • 6. Charleston

    charleston
    Peter Frank Edwards

    Perhaps because the South Carolina city ranked at No. 2 for relaxing getaways, Charleston excels in picnic-friendly settings: you can get harbor views from Waterfront Park, or see Castle Pinckney from White Point Garden, along the Battery. As a top five city for fine dining, Charleston doesn’t take any shortcuts in its lunch options, either: Caviar & Bananas has duck-confit paninis and Creole white fish sushi, while Queen Street Grocery—a corner store that’s been around since 1922—offers sweet and savory crepes (including a chicken-and-waffles crepe called the Dashing Ashley). In accordance, the locals also ranked at No. 3 for being pretty.

  • 5. Providence

    providence
    joeysworld.com/Alamy

    The Rhode Island capital ranked at No. 6 in the survey for historic charm, and one of the most popular picnic spots embraces the city’s beginnings: the 435-acre Roger Williams Park, named for the city’s founder, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has more than 100 acres of ponds. If you want a soundtrack for your picnic—Providence made the top 10 for live music—go to Waterplace Park, along the Woonasquatucket River, where you can hear free concerts on summer Friday nights. Otherwise, readers’ favorite activity in Providence was chowing down, ranking it in the top 10 for pizza, bakeries and brunch. For a locally authentic basket, pick up some Italian sandwiches from Venda Ravioli in Federal Hill.

  • 4. Atlanta

    atlanta
    John Davidson—Corbis

    Thanks to the ever-expanding BeltLine project along an old railroad corridor, the city’s picnic-ready green spaces are only getting better. The Historic Fourth Ward Park, for instance, is one of the first completed parks along the BeltLine–and it sits conveniently behind food hall Ponce City Market, which is about to get a branch of the renowned cheeseburger purveyor Holeman and Finch (Atlanta ranked in the top 10 for burgers). For dessert, stop by Alon’s in Morningside, which has won awards for its sold-by-the-pound cookies, like the chocolate chip pecan or Krakovskis: an almond cookie topped with raspberry preserves. With their flair for colorful accents, Atlantans also made the top 10 for fashion sense.

  • 3. Los Angeles

    los-angeles
    Ian Dagnall—Alamy

    While Los Angeles boasts a long coastline of beach-picnic locales—from Redondo Beach (pick up a sub at Rinaldi’s) to Venice and Santa Monica, where you can take out from Tacos Por Favor—Los Angeles also impressed readers with its picnic-ready concerts. Maybe you’re listening to live jazz on Friday evenings while eating outside LACMA, or getting a gourmet basket from Patina before a show at the Hollywood Bowl. Readers also applauded Angelenos for their elegant (if perhaps snooty) taste: you can join them for a refined picnic at Hollywood’s Barnsdall Art Park (home of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House), which does Friday night wine tastings during the summer.

  • 2. San Diego

    san-diego
    Courtesy of Jim Blank

    In the No. 1 city for weather, who would want to eat inside? Balboa Park offers a variety of pastoral settings—from the Japanese Friendship Garden to the butterfly-filled Zoro Garden—and neighbors some of the best takeout options in the city, like Big Front Door in Hillcrest (which does an avocado-topped Cali Cubano) and North Park’s Venissimo Cheese, which is located inside craft-beer shop Bottlecraft. For a blissful picnic on the sand, head north to uncrowded Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, with its backdrop of sandy bluffs and feathery pine trees. Whether it’s the idyllic scenery or the good-looking locals, San Diego also made the top 5 for romance.

  • 1. Albuquerque

    albuquerque
    Cindy Petrehn

    With its fresh mountain air, farmer’s-market cuisine and mellow ambience—the city ranked at No. 5 for peace and quiet—Albuquerque topped the list for blissful picnics. At Downtown Growers’ Market, for instance, you can fill your basket with fresh fruit and plenty of local flavors, like burritos from Java Joe’s or green-chile bacon quiches from New Mexico Pie Company. After that, you don’t even have to walk far: the center of the market has a park area, often featuring live music. To dine al fresco at a higher elevation (like 6,500 feet), go to the Elena Gallegos Picnic Area, which has hiking trails, pinon-juniper trees, and views of the Sandia (meaning “watermelon”) Mountains. To pick up a local vintage first—Albuquerque also ranked in the top 10 for wine—stop by centuries-old Casa Rondena Winery.

    Read the full list here. This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

How to Master a Disney Cruise

The Disney Dream docks at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the tropical waters of the Bahamas.
David Roark The Disney Dream docks at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the tropical waters of the Bahamas.

Be prepared to stay offline, but limitless activities will keep you busy and entertained

For those who love to have their vacations well-mapped, a Disney cruise—with an itinerary that’s almost entirely pre-planned—holds a lot of appeal. It’s why, when I booked my first-ever cruise, I went with a four-day trip in the Caribbean on the Disney Dream—despite the fact that I was going with my boyfriend… and that we don’t have any children. Still, I spent many hours researching to make sure we maximized our time on board, and learned way more upon embarking. The takeaways, below:

Pre-Purchase

Disney, which has made a name for itself in the service industry, makes you feel like you’re in incredible hands throughout the entire booking process. Because it’s one of the most popular cruise lines and almost always sells out, Disney rarely offers deals—as a rule of thumb, the sooner you book, the lower the price. Once you confirm your booking, Disney sends a pre-cruising booklet, with just about any information you could ask for—general itinerary, embarkation and disembarkation times, what to bring (and what’s prohibited), and more. I loved having a physical copy to refer to as I was planning my trip. And don’t toss the booklet after you’ve read through it, because it includes luggage tags to ensure your bags get delivered to the right room.

Flights and Transportation

The official embarkation time is noon, but the process actually starts much earlier. We took the earliest flight in, and ended up with precious extra hours on the ship. And while disembarkation starts at 7 am, and Disney recommends not booking a flight before 1pm, we got off the boat with time to spare. Budget in extra time for customs upon disembarkation—sadly, TSA doesn’t (yet) run as efficiently as Disney.

Disney offers transportation from the airport to the ship, but at $70 per person, I thought it was a bit steep (though it may be worth it for the peace of mind, or if you have a lot of luggage, because they’ll check your bags onto the ship for you). We ended up taking a shuttle from CorTrans, for $40 each roundtrip.

Port Excursions

Even though we were only docking in two places, Nassau and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island), there was an insane amount of activities to choose from, from basic equipment rentals to a full day at Atlantis’s water park to a rum tasting tour. Book these early, as the most popular ones fill up. We decided to snorkel in Nassau, which worked out perfectly because it happened to be drizzling that day. On Castaway Cay, we opted to just enjoy the pristine beach. There’s a family beach and an adults-only one, and more than enough space for everybody.

Day Bag

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that once you’ve handed your luggage off to crew members—which could be as early as 10 a.m., you won’t see it again until much later that afternoon. So make sure to have a separate bag with a change of clothing in case you want to hit the pool early on, any medications, and of course, your passport and required forms for boarding.

On the Cruise

The only semblance of calm you’ll see on a Disney Cruise is if you get on board as early as possible on day one—the water slide line will be shorter, the buffet lines more approachable. Use this time to sign up for last-minute port excursions, get tickets to meet Disney princesses and characters, or just to enjoy the room. Every night, a Personal Navigator is delivered to your room with the next day’s activities, movies, events, and more. Even better, download the Disney Cruise app, with a map of the ship and the full calendar, before you board—this saved us time when we forgot where certain activities were held or if we wanted to know what was going on elsewhere on the ship. And don’t miss the amazing water slide, which is great during the day but even better at night when it’s lit up with lights. Yes, the line can get long, but if you go while the ship is in port, it’s much more manageable. And the movies on the big outdoor screen above the pool are a welcome distraction while you’re waiting.

Food

I’ll admit I didn’t have the highest expectations for the food, save for the specialty restaurants, Remy and Palo, which cost additional. I’m happy to report that the food far exceeded my expectations. There were a few favorites at the buffet I returned to over and over again—stone crab claws, peel-and-eat shrimp, chicken fingers, chocolate chip cookies—and the evening meals were varied and delicious. But the highlight, without a doubt, was our meal at Palo, the Italian restaurant on board. For $30 each, we had an incredible meal that rivaled any fine dining experience in New York. (Remy, the newer French restaurant, costs an extra $80 per person.)

Entertainment

The first thing we discovered, to my utter delight, was that the in-room TV has every single Disney movie available on-demand, for free. I’ll admit I could have gladly watched movies for 72 hours straight, but stopped myself. Every night, there’s a different musical show that incorporates Disney songs and characters, both classic and new. And first-run movies are shown in the two big theaters—on our cruise, these included Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tomorrowland, and Big Hero 6. There’s popcorn and soda sold outside the theaters, or you can save a few bucks by heading to the buffet before the show for soda, soft serve, and yes, more chocolate chip cookies.

Final Notes

Cash is not accepted on the ship or at the island, so all you have to do is carry your room key, which is connected to a credit card. Cell service is non-existent on the ship and at Castaway Cay, and Wi-Fi is quite expensive on board, so be prepared to stay offline the entire cruise. I was worried about being so disconnected, but the seemingly limitless activities kept me more than busy, and the lack of email meant I truly felt like I was on vacation. In fact, as we returned to Port Canaveral, I felt pangs of sadness as the AT&T bars popped back up—it meant it was time to leave the incredible cocoon of a world that Disney has created at sea.

This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

These Are the Friendliest Cities in America

These cities will welcome you with open arms

As a Nashville native, Meagan Nordmann thought she knew all about friendly locals—until she flew to Albuquerque.

“Before my plane had even landed in The Land of Enchantment, I
had probably 20 tweets from locals offering to take me out for coffee,” says the digital marketer, who recently relocated to the New Mexico city.
 “I dare say, Albuquerque is even friendlier than Nashville. I suppose this is one of the reasons locals here jokingly call it ‘The Land of Entrapment.’ ”

That group-hug mentality is indeed one reason why the Southwestern city—as well as the affable folks in Tennessee—made Travel+Leisure’s top 10 for friendly cities. In the most recent America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 38 metro areas for such inviting features as wine bars, pizza and luxury shopping—along with the conviviality of the locals who might be serving drinks, ringing up your order or just offering directions outside your hotel.

Geographically, the top 15 winners represent a distinct advantage among heartland cities—though one could argue that the size of city, not the location, may be a better indicator of heart. The winning cities also ranked well in the survey for some concrete features that make it easy for locals to show off their sunny demeanors: pedestrian-friendly streets, cool boutiques, coffee houses, and even communal, picnic-table-equipped food truck pods.

The friendliest cities have certain intangible qualities, too. Charleston’s high ranking may come in part from its slower-paced lifestyle, says Isabelle Furth, a p.r. exec who lives in Washington D.C. (a city that, ahem, did not make the top 15 this year). “I remember walking into an upscale boutique in Charleston and being offered sweet tea and a cookie,” says Furth. “The soft Southern accents don’t hurt, either.”

  • 1. Nashville

    1-nashville
    Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation

    With a song in their hearts—and probably one on their lips, too—these Tennesseans won the survey for making visitors feel welcome. Not surprisingly, they also won the survey for their music scene: you can mingle with the locals at the singer-songwriter-loving Listening Room Café; the rehabbed, music-plus-eats Acme Feed & Seed; or at lovable dives like Santa’s Pub, the double-wide-trailer-housed bar managed by a suspiciously jovial bearded fellow. Nashville also ranked at No. 11 for its cheery food trucks, like Biscuit Love and Smokin Thighs. All that smiling is apparently good for the skin: Nashvillians also made the top 10 for their good looks.

  • 2. Salt Lake City

    2-salt-lake-city
    Adam Barker

    These outdoorsy locals apparently treat visitors like family. In that spirit, the city also ranked near the top for being both kid-friendly and having a sense of adventure; outside of ski season, you can combine the two at Snowbird—by hiking, mountain biking or riding its twisting Alpine Slide and Mountain Coaster. If you come to ski in December, though, you can see why the city also ranked at No. 3 for Christmas lights. Year-round, readers’ favorite food in SLC was the burger, in part because the city has its own regional quirk: pastrami-topped wonders, like the originals found at Crown Burgers.

  • 3. Minneapolis/St. Paul

    3-minneapolis-st-paul
    Meet Minneapolis

    If they’re weren’t so darn nice, you might have to loathe these Minnesotans, who also ranked at the top of the survey for being smart and super-fit. Plus, they know how to entice visitors, earning the silver-medal spot for free attractions like the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (currently showing an exhibition of pieces from the royal Habsburgs) and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (home to Claes Oldenburg’s Spoonbridge and Cherry). To bond with the locals over one of their well-ranked craft brews—they took the bronze medal for beer in this year’s survey—go to Dangerous Man Brewing Co., where, just to be nice, patrons are invited to join in community volunteer projects. Speaking of perceived danger, the Twin Cities also ranked near the top for feeling nicely non-threatening.

  • 4. Kansas City

    4-kansas-city
    Visit KC

    These helpful Missourians clearly made readers feel at ease: the city ranked at the top for being both affordable and having good drivers. The locals also warmed the hearts of readers with their barbecue, which won the survey this year. While you can’t go wrong with the classic burnt ends at either Arthur Bryant’s or Gates Bar-B-Q (with its “Hi, May I Help You?” sign), carnivorous foodies also love The Local Pig, near the East Bottoms stockyards district, which boasts of using only humanely raised meats and gets creative with lamb, rabbit, and duck, along with dishes like burnt-end bratwursts and Thai peanut sausage.

  • 5. Oklahoma City

    5-oklahoma-city
    Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau

    The folks in Oklahoma’s state capitol struck readers as having few pretensions: they ranked as the least rude and the least snobby in the nation (but, alas, also as the least stylish). But perhaps they just have a misunderstood fashion sense: some of the best shops in the artsy Plaza District have a serious streak of kitsch, like the retro boutique Dig It and the in-your-face vintage of Bad Granny’s Bazaar. To channel a little more of the city’s grandmotherly karma—and see why the city was perhaps underrated for its wild side—order a slice of Bird Dog Buttermilk (peaches, raspberries and brown sugar oat crumble) at the neighborhood’s Pie Junkie.

  • 6. Charleston

    charleston
    Peter Frank Edwards

    Not only do these South Carolinians rank as some of the best-mannered people in the nation, they’re also some of the best coiffed, ranking at No. 3 for being pretty. Charleston also scored No. 1 for its pretty (and hospitable) architecture: You can stay in the John Rutledge House Inn, the only home of a Constitution signer that is now a B&B. Since the city also ranked near the top for home décor and antique shopping, you can take some of the hospitable vibe home: check out the Matouk and Sferra linens at The Boutique, off Washington Square, which, despite all the crystal and china, also welcomes dogs (assuming they are well-mannered, too).

  • 7. Pittsburgh

    pittsburgh
    VisitPittsburgh

    These Pennsylvanians got high marks for being exuberant—they ranked at No. 1 for sports-team passion—but they know how to make nice in the off-season. If you want to break bread with them, go to one of their famed (and No. 6-ranked) sandwich places—like Primanti Bros., where the sliced-bread sandwiches are topped with coleslaw and French fries, or Peppi’s, where you can butter up the Steelers fans by ordering a Roethlisburger (named for quarterback Ben, and topped with ground beef, sausage, eggs and cheese). Pittsburgh also made the top 20 for its mass transit: the buses and light rail are accommodatingly free within the city’s Golden Triangle zone.

  • 8. New Orleans

    8-new-orleans
    Pat Garin

    In the city that triumphed at No. 1 for quirky locals, wall-to-wall festivals, and wild weekends, readers clearly felt they could be themselves here. Since the city ranked in the top five for nearly every nightlife category, locals might seem even friendlier after dark: you can come as you are to the no-cover-charge, Saturday night dance party at The Hi-Ho Lounge (with DJ-spun funk, jazz and “underground disco” until 3 a.m.), or pull up a stool to the tabby-cat bartender at beloved dive bar Snake & Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge (known to attract fun-loving celebs like Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney). No coincidence, the city also ranked at the top of the survey for vivid people-watching.

  • 9. Albuquerque

    9-albuquerque
    MarbleStreetStudio.com

    The New Mexico city made the friendly top 10 for its affable citywide demeanor: it ranked well for its lack of noise, great weather, and overall relaxing vibe. The locals also seem to have a healthy sense of humor: You can spend the night in a rehabbed psychiatric hospital (the sleek Hotel Parq Central), or pick up sweets related to the city’s connection to Breaking Bad, like the faux crystal-meth candy from The Candy Lady or even the “Blue Sky” donuts at Rebel Donut. Just don’t spoil your appetite: Albuquerque also ranked well for its street food, and has a large presence on the state’s so-dubbed Breakfast Burrito Byway: two classic spots are Frontier and Burrito Lady.

  • 10. Austin

    10-austin
    Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau

    The Texas capital is a highly social town. You can find chatty locals jogging around Lady Bird Lake (they ranked at No. 5 for being fit), taking a dip in the bracing waters of Barton Springs, or just waiting in line for the legendary brisket and trimmings at East Austin’s Franklin Barbecue. The city also ranked well for brainy locals and bookstores—and you can find both at BookPeople, the city’s nerve center for readings and book signings. Granted, these locals might want to be more than friends: Austin also ranked in the top 5 for its singles scene.

    This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

These Are America’s Most Charming Cities

These cities are sure to captivate your heart and soul

To find the heart of New York City, you need the right shoes.

“I always seek out a city’s charms on foot,” says Rachel Rudman, co-creator of the travel series How 2 Travelers. In the Big Apple, she says, walking gives her the thrill of “moving through a sea of people who are drastically different from one another, yet all working to make a life in the city,” while in Charleston, “every main street, alleyway and market feels as though it holds centuries of stories.”

Travel+Leisure readers would agree, placing both New York City and Charleston in the top 10 of uniquely charming cities. In this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers voted on dozens of features that make 38 cities special, from museums to bakeries and flea markets. To highlight the most bewitching cities, we combined the rankings for interesting architecture, pedestrian-friendly streets, quaint bookstores, a sense of history and a friendly atmosphere—and nice wine bars didn’t hurt, either.

Several winners had one thing in common: old neighborhoods that have found new life, with cobblestone streets as well as cool shops and little cafes. Otherwise, in some winning cities, charm means easy access to public art, or food truck pods where locals gather around the fire pit with guitars. One cozy city even has a self-proclaimed “snuggery.”

With most the winners, too, those walkable streets are key—assuming you stray off the tourist grid. Barri Bronston, author of Walking New Orleans, advises Crescent City visitors to do Bourbon Street once—then move on. “Take the Bywater neighborhood,” she says, “with its houses painted in vibrant purples, oranges, and blues. Until I walked its streets, I had no idea how cool it really was. I’m a life-long resident of New Orleans, but I always feel like I’m discovering something new.”

  • No. 20 Baltimore

    20-baltimore
    Philip Scalia / Alamy

    The town that dubbed itself Charm City—granted, as a long-ago marketing strategy—clearly has planted its flag in the charming top 20. (That flag may be a freak flag, though: the locals also made the top 10 for being offbeat.) Baltimore also scored in the top 10 for historic appeal—like Fell’s Point, the waterfront community that that was once the nation’s second-largest immigration point, after Ellis Island. To experience the neighborhood to the fullest, stay at boutique hotel Admiral Fell Inn (once the home of the Seamen’s YMCA) and enjoy one the city’s highly ranked dive bars, The Horse You Came In On—which was likely a dive even when it first opened in 1775.

  • No. 19 Pittsburgh

    19-pittsburgh
    JP Diroll

    Pittsburgh’s most charming area does not ignore the Rust Belt’s industrial roots—instead, it embraces it. Just north of downtown, the Strip District was once the home of Andrew Carnegie’s first mills as well as the nerve center of the city’s produce markets. Today, it’s the home of the Pittsburgh Public Market, Pittsburgh Opera and the modern-dance Attack Theatre. The city also ranked at No. 6 for its pizza, like the classic Neapolitan at Il Pizzaiolo in Market Square and downtown’s Proper Brick Oven and Tap Room. Charming or not, the locals won the survey for being the most enthusiastic sports fans.

  • No. 18 Seattle

    18-seattle
    iStockphoto

    Even if it’s a first stop for many tourists, nothing exudes the charm of Seattle—and can make you feel like a flowers-and-fruit-buying local—quite like wandering the 9-acre Pike Place Market. But a block or so away from the market’s salmon-tossing workers, the charm factor compounds on Post Alley; the brick-paved detour features spots like The Pink Door, which serves candlelit Italian cuisine and quirky live shows like Eastern European jazz and trapeze acts. Seattle also came in at No. 2 for its coffee: one of the most relaxing places to enjoy it is at the café in the Elliott Bay Book Store, where you can also see why the charmingly rainy city ranked at No. 3 for its bookstores.

  • No. 17 Cleveland

    17-cleveland
    ThisIsCleveland.com / Cody York

    Forget the old jokes about this industrial town, which has elegantly cultivated its old-school charms. The nerve center of its appeal is in the Victorian-era Tremont neighborhood, once settled by immigrants and now home to Prosperity Social Club, a lounge set in a former ballroom, which has craft beer, Polka music and pierogies. To embrace the city’s civic pride, pick up a t-shirt that reads “Buck Yes” or “I Liked Cleveland Before It Was Cool” at downtown’s CLE Clothing.

  • No. 16 Atlanta

    16-atlanta
    Courtesy of Krog Street Market/Little Tart Bakeshop

    Readers love Atlanta for deftly walking the line between historic charm and buzz-worthy cool. You’ll find both at the Swan House in Buckhead’s Atlanta History Center: you can chat with costumed character guides at the 1920s mansion’s Open House tours—or, you can take its Capitol Tour, and see how the house was used in the film The Hunger Games. The Georgia hub also worked its way into readers’ hearts by way of their stomachs, ranking at No. 2 for Southern-comfort diners: At Buckhead’s old-style Highland Bakery, for instance, you can tuck into both sweet-potato pancakes and sweet-potato biscuits. Another heartwarming touch: at downtown’s Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the hostess still offers free back rubs at your table.

  • No. 15 Philadelphia

    15-philadelphia
    iStockphoto

    Quaint streets all over the U.S. don’t have much on Elfreth’s Alley, the tiny cobblestone road in Philly that boasts of being the oldest continuously lived-on street in the nation (you can tour the old homes once a year, on June’s Fete Day). Beyond that one street, though, the cradle of democracy gets high marks from readers for being both historic and pleasantly accessible—like the Society Hill and the Rittenhouse areas, offering gracefully restored lodgings like Rittenhouse 1715. Even some newer places can’t resist a little old-style appeal—like Random Tea Room in the Northern Liberties area, which features a Curiosity Shop of antiques alongside a 21st-century massage room.

  • No. 14 Albuquerque

    14-albuqurque
    Raymond Watt

    The New Mexico city made the top 10 for festivals, thanks to lovely parties like October’s International Balloon Fiesta. But this farm-friendly town also wooed readers with its literal cornucopia of edible delights: Casa Rondeña Winery, for instance, has wine-growing roots that go back to the 1600s. For down-to-earth lodging, stay at the 25-acre Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, whose crops include lavender, casaba melons and endangered Chimaya chilies. The city also ranked near the top for being affably kooky, like Albuquerque Alpacas’ charming sweaters, socks and dyed yarns (as well as plenty of live, fleece-producing alpacas).

  • No. 13 Nashville

    13-nashville
    Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation

    Music City’s magnetism comes in part from its people: it ranked at the top of the survey for friendly locals. But its revamped older neighborhoods let this city of music-industry high rollers keeps its homey vibe. In the 12 South neighborhood, for instance, you can wander the bungalow-lined streets, browse in boutiques likeWhite’s Mercantile (offering such down-home delights as locally sourced grits and biscuit mix) or sit at coffeehouse-and-wine-barFrothy Monkey, where you can sip your Merlot from a quaint jelly jar. 12 South is also home to some of the city’s highly ranked barbecue: Edley’s Bar-B-Que, which smokes its brisket and ribs using local White Oak wood.

  • No. 12 Houston

    12-houston
    Courtesy of Sara's Inn

    The quaint factor in this giant business hub may not be immediately obvious, but voters still applauded the city on a variety of civilized features, from its top-ranked gourmet groceries, like Revival Market, to museums like the soothing Rothko Chapel. To get a sense of the city from earlier (and smaller) times, go to the Historic Heights neighborhood, which is filled with homes from the 1800s, some lovely inns (like the restored, Queen Anne-style Sara’s Inn on the Boulevard) and cheeky establishments like Mighty Sweet Mini Pies and Alice’s Tall Texan (where a 20-ounce Lone Star beer, served in a frosty goblet, goes for just $2.50). Indeed, the Texas city also ranked in the top 10 for both bakeries and brews.

  • No. 11 San Francisco

    11-san francisco
    Stanislav Volik / Alamy

    The City by the Bay can be one giant photo op, with such iconic charmers as the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, and Alamo Square’s Painted Ladies. But if you want to spend a charming afternoon alongside the gourmand locals, browse the stalls at the Ferry Building Marketplace and its Saturday farmers market, or, sit at Caffe Trieste with a classic cappuccino and see why, even before the thoughtfully-made pour-overs of Blue Bottle and Ritual Roasters, the city has always been a winner for its coffee culture. Despite its chilly summers, San Francisco also made the top 20 for weather—proof that rolling fog offers plenty of atmospheric charm.

    Read the full list here. This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

8 Travel Itineraries for English Literature Lovers

Plan a literary pilgrimage with this guide to storied travel destinations around the world

Reading can be an escape from everyday life. Some writers—J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, and C.S. Lewis come to mind—created entire worlds only accessible through the pages of their books. But other authors choose to base their stories in the real world, giving fans the opportunity to follow in their favorite characters’ footsteps. Read on for eight vacation itineraries written with book lovers in mind.

  • Dublin

    dublin
    imageBROKER/Alamy

    Even if Dublin’s only literary son was James Joyce, the Irish capital would still deserve a spot on this list. Once a year on June 16, fans of Ulysses—often decked out in period costume—retrace the fictional Leopold Bloom’s journey through the city. Visiting another time? Celebrate the stream-of-consciousness connoisseur with a walking tour curated by James Joyce Centre, then stop in the Dublin Writers’ Museum or sneak a peek of The Book of Kells, housed at Trinity College, to celebrate the bookish history of the city. Prefer poetry to prose? Celebrate the life and works of W.B. Yeats at The National Library of Ireland’s interactive exhibit.

  • New York City

    new-york-city
    Sandra Baker / Alamy

    Practically every neighborhood in New York, from The Bronx to Brooklyn Heights, lays claim to an iconic author, so consider this an abbreviated itinerary for the city:

    Make the most out of a quick trip by checking into the Library Hotel, a Midtown boutique that caters specifically to book lovers, with a reading room, poetry garden, and a collection of texts organized by—what else—the Dewey Decimal System.

    Start your day with a bite to eat outside Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue, in honor of Truman Capote’s much beloved short story. Then, make your way uptown to Central Park with stops at the Alice in Wonderland statue, the literary walking path, and—unless you’re a phony—the duck pond made famous by Holden Caulfield inCatcher in the Rye.

    Recreate From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler at the Met, then head to Harlem for a Renaissance walking tour or grab a seat at The Algonquin Hotel’s storied Round Table.

    Finish with a stroll around Washington Square Park paying homage to poets and writers from Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson to Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.

    Want to take home a bit of bookish goodness? Pop in the Strandand pick up a worn copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, or pose for a snapshot with Patience and Fortitude outside the New York Public Library.

  • Bath

    bath
    Jeff Morgan 15 / Alamy

    Once a fashionable escape for the London elite, Bath has long claimed tourism as a major industry. After walking through the town’s namesake attraction and sampling the healing spa waters, visiting English lit nerds should duck into the Jane Austen Centre for a look into the novelist’s life, a talk from a costumed curator, and tea service at the restaurant upstairs—the Champagne Tea with Mr. Darcy and the Lady Catherine’s Proper Cream Tea, which includes warm scones served with locally sourced jam, both come highly recommended. True Pride and Prejudice diehards should plan a trip around the town’s Jane Austen Festival, which features a Regency costume ball.

  • London

    london
    Pawel Libera

    Like in New York, the literary sites in London are too numerous to see in a short trip, but here are a few can’t-miss attractions:

    Fans of The Bard should head straight to The Globe, a replica of the theater where Shakespeare’s plays were performed during his heyday. Too cold for an outdoor show? The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse next door offers a schedule of indoor performances and concerts by candlelight.

    Old-school mystery buffs and legions of Benedict Cumberbatch fans can both be seen stopping for a selfie with the sign at 221b Baker Street. While there, check out the Sherlock Holmes Museum for a full exhibit on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective.

    If you’re in England’s capital around Christmas time, stop by the Charles Dickens Museum. It’s open year-round, but during the holidays, they go all out with Victorian decorations, mulled cider, and readings from A Christmas Carol.

    English majors the world over can pay tribute to their idols at Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, where writers like Lord Byron, Rudyard Kipling, Jane Austen, William Blake, and many more are memorialized.

    Have time for a day trip? About an hour and a half outside the city lies Ashdown Forest, the original 100 Acre Woods where A.A. Milne’s son Christopher Robin used to play.

    And finally, no London vacation would be complete for Harry Potter fans without a photo op at Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station.

  • Oxford, Mississippi

    oxford-ms
    Martin Norris Travel Photography / Alamy

    Part of the genius of William Faulkner is that most of his stories are set in the same fictionalized version of Oxford, Mississippi. Known in the author’s universe as Yoknapatawpha County, the real-life college town boasts not only Rowan Oak, the now open-to-the-public abode of the Faulkner family, but also the author’s final resting place in Saint Peter’s Cemetery, where literary academics and co-eds alike leave half-empty bottles in offering to the Southern storyteller (and notorious whiskey drinker). Throughout the city, be on the lookout for plaques bearing passages of the author’s text or stop by the Thompson-Chandler house, which served as inspiration for the Compson home in The Sound and the Fury. If Faulkner’s stream-of-consciousness style gives you a headache, hop down I-55 to explore the Eudora Welty House, filled with the short-story writer’s personal library, and her stunning garden.

  • Edinburgh

    edinburgh
    Zsolt Hanczar / Alamy

    Named UNESCO’s first “City of Literature,” Edinburgh offer travelers a taste of bookish history upon arrival; the main train station in town is named after Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley, and the literary attractions don’t stop there.

    London may lay claim to Baker Street, but Edinburgh is where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is said to have dreamed up the eccentric detective—purportedly based on one of Doyle’s medical school professors. His childhood home is now the site of a school; a statue of Sherlock himself stands across the street.

    If money is no object for your journey, book room 652 at the Balmoral Hotel, where J.K. Rowling finished the Harry Potter series—and left her mark on a bust of the Greek god Hermes—then pop in The Elephant House for hot cocoa and a peek at the view that is said to have inspired Hogwarts in the first place.

    Stop in to Deacon Brodies, a traditional pub honoring the real-life inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, for a stronger drink or frequent The Oxford Bar where Ian Rankin is a local.

    Prefer to hear about from the rising stars of the literary world? Plan a trip to Scotland during the International Book Festival; it’s the largest in the world with hundreds of events like discussion panels, book signings, and author meet-and-greets.

  • Key West

    key-west
    Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO

    Hemingway’s former haunt welcomes fans of Papa year-round, but when the island shines is during its annual Hemingway Days Festival. Scheduled events include a lookalike contest, readings, a literary competition, and a quirky take on Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. Can’t make it to this year’s celebration? Stop by theHemingway House during visiting hours to see the author’s former home and the feline legacy he left behind. Not a fan of Ernest? Key West also lays claim to Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, and Shel Silverstein.

  • Baltimore

    baltimore
    Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

    Few cities are so tied to a single literary character as Baltimore. From its football team, The Ravens—complete with an aptly named mascot—to The Annabel Lee Tavern, whose drink menu features cocktails like the Mesmeric Revelation and Morella, the Maryland city fully embraces its former resident, Edgar Allan Poe. True Tomahawk Man enthusiasts should stop by the poet’s house for a tour, raise a glass to The Raven writer at his gravesite à la the “Poe Toaster,” or order a round at The Horse You Came In On Saloon, a Fell’s Point bar that claims to be haunted by a spirit named Edgar.

    This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

These Are America’s Best Cities for Historic Sites

These cities offer art galleries, live music and architecture, and well-preserved historical sites

When you’re exploring our nation’s capital, suggests one historic-tour guide, don’t miss the chance to tour the Pentagon, explore the tucked-away Theodore Roosevelt Island—or stand in a parking garage in Arlington, VA.

“Many people don’t realize that the ‘Deep Throat’ garage—where Mark Felt met with Woodward and Bernstein—is still a working parking garage in Arlington’s Rosslyn neighborhood,” says Andrew Terranova, concierge at Philadelphia’s Hotel Monaco, and the guide for the nearby Spirits of ’76 Ghost Tour. “A historic marker has been placed outside.

”

No doubt, history can live on in the most unlikely locations—even in stately, landmark-filled cities such as Washington, D.C., and Philly, which both made the top five for historic significance among Travel+Leisure readers.

In the most recent America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 38 metropolitan areas for such cultural attributes as their art galleries, live music and architecture—and also how well they have preserved their pasts.

Certainly, some of the top 20 winners have provided the settings for various chapters in U.S. history, but the definition of “historic” need not be limited to monuments and museums. In some of the top 20 cities, you can step into another era just by pulling up a stool in the pub where Paul Revere used to be a regular, by checking into the hotel where famed gangster John Dillinger was captured, or by catching a concert where Elvis first performed for a crowd.

That offers a nice cover for anyone who likes to balance museum visits with historically legit downtime. “It’s more than the original buildings and period characters,” says Terranova. “It’s truly the spirit of the city. Sometimes you can’t touch it—it’s just a feeling.”

  • No. 10 Atlanta

    atlanta
    National Center for Civil and Human Rights

    Atlanta is a hotbed for civil rights history, thanks in part to two native Georgians: the Carter Center adjoins the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, while the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site features both King’s birthplace and his home church. Adding to the educational mix these days is the Center for Civil and Human Rights, just a year old, which is running an MLK exhibit through this summer. Atlanta doesn’t forget its strong Southern women, either: At Margaret Mitchell House, you can see where the author wrote Gone With the Wind, and you can experience one of the last “tea rooms”—the term once used for women-owned restaurants—at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, a classic in Midtown. Try the peach cobbler, and you’ll see why Atlanta also ranked at No. 6 for its baked goods.

  • No. 9 Albuquerque

    albuquerque
    www.newmexicostock.com

    The Pueblo-Spanish-style architecture tells you a lot about the history of this New Mexico city, whose San Felipe de Neri church dates back to the 1700s. Readers also applauded the city for its quirky locals—like the one who carved the Virgin de Guadalupe into a tree stump by the church’s parking lot—but also its rich cuisine, ranking it in the top 10 for coffee, wine, and even pizza. Some restaurant and nightlife settings are historically rich, too: Old Town’s La Placita (known for its fabulous sopapillas) is housed in an 18th century building that has been a fort and a mercantile store, while Casa Esencia, a hacienda built in the 1780s, now houses an elegant nightclub (it’s not too elite, though: the city ranked at No. 2 for feeling un-snobby).

  • No. 8 Nashville

    nashville
    Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation

    Certainly, the Tennessee city has some solid presidential history, by way of The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s plantation home. But plenty of travelers no doubt come here to explore music history. At Historic RCA Studio B, you can see where Elvis recorded most of his catalog, and where Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, and the Everly Brothers have all laid down tracks. Country music purists will also want to check out The Belcourt Theatre, in Hillsboro Village, which was home to the Grand Ole Opry in the 1930’s, and now shows art films. To glimpse some of the city’s highbrow past, go to Belle Meade Plantation, known for raising thoroughbred race horses, and which now offers both an on-site winery and Southern-style pimento-cheese burgers (another category in which Nashville made the top 10).

  • No. 7 Baltimore

    baltimore
    NPS

    The national anthem has two special connotations in Charm City: it gives Orioles fans at Camden Yards a chance to yell “O!” in booming unison, and it’s given Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine extraordinary significance (the fort helped defend Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812, and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the song). The city is also home to its own Washington Monument, the first one built for the father of our country; this July 4, it will celebrate its bicentennial and reopen after a huge renovation (visitors can now climb its 228 steps). To delve into the city’s literary history, order a drink at The Horse You Came In On, the last place where native son Edgar Allen Poe was seen alive in 1849.

  • No. 6 Providence

    providence
    Nicholas Millard/GoProvidence

    The city founded by iconoclast Roger Williams (after he got kicked out of Massachusetts) has preserved plenty of its centuries-old appeal. You can stroll past 18th century homes on Benefit Street’s Mile of History, or get lost in the city’s more contemporary credits: Providence is the birthplace of H.P. Lovecraft, a founding father of science fiction, who will be celebrated at this summer’s NecronomiCon festival and has inspired his own beers at Narragansett Brewery. Foodie-friendly Providence (which placed in the top 5 in 10 culinary categories this year) also scored at No. 1 for its diners, and no wonder: according to an exhibit at the city’s Culinary Museum, Providence is also the birthplace of the iconic eateries, including local favorite Seaplane Diner.

  • No. 5 New Orleans

    new-orleans
    Danita Delimont / Alamy

    As the No. 1 city for offbeat locals and the No. 2 city for interesting architecture, New Orleans has only gotten better with age. Take Jackson Square’s iconic St. Louis Cathedral—the oldest continually-operating cathedral in America—or fine-dining legend Antoine’s, which celebrates its 175th anniversary this year. The city also won the survey for its watering holes, and some of the most classic bars hold their own history: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar on Bourbon Street boasts of being one of the oldest bars in the U.S. (and once acted as a smuggling post), while the rotating Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone has attracted such literary icons as Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and Eudora Welty.

  • No. 4 Boston

    boston
    Chuck Pefley / Alamy

    The city where patriots dumped tea in the harbor in 1773 was a shoo-in for the top 5, thanks to its wealth of history-steeped locales—from Faneuil Hall and the Bunker Hill Monument to the JFK Presidential Library and the new Edward M. Kennedy Institute of the Senate. Walking the museums and the Freedom Trail does work up an appetite, though: to refuel and call it historical research, go to Green Dragon Tavern, which once counted Paul Revere and John Hancock as regulars, and where “by land or by sea” now means a choice of fried shrimp or steak tips marinated in Guinness. The locals, meanwhile, ranked in the survey’s top five for brains, but the bottom five for friendliness.

  • No. 3 Charleston

    charleston
    Courtesy of Zero George Inn

    It’s not just that colonists first settled the city in the 1670s, or that nearby Fort Sumter saw the start of the Civil War. Charleston—with its cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages—made the top 3 because it continues to feel like a quaint time capsule. The newest piece of living history is the McLeod Plantation Historic Site, which focuses on the lives of the slaves who worked here (and is also home to a six-century-old oak tree). Charleston makes it easy to eat, sleep and shop in the past, too: the city placed at No. 2 for antique décor (like the reproduction Battery Benches from George C. Birlant & Co.), and one of the chicest places to stay is Zero George Street, comprised of five historic homes. Charleston also ranked in the top five for notable restaurants, like McCrady’s, a Georgian mansion where George Washington once dined, and which now offers a low-country-meets-postmodern-gastronomy menu from James Beard Award-winner Sean Brock.

  • No. 2 Philadelphia

    liberty-bell-philadelphia
    J. Sterling Ruth for VISIT PHILADEPHIA

    The City of Brotherly Love won the silver for its timelessness—after all, even if you saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall on a school trip a long time ago, they’re always worth another visit, especially given the historic district’s ongoing additions of roaming storytellers. History buffs will also love the revamped Benjamin Franklin Museum, the National Constitution Center and the President’s House (a recreated look at the one-time home of Washington and Adams, when Philly was the nation’s capital). To get a more exclusive look at Independence Hall, take the Independence After Hours tour, which includes dinner at City Tavern and an appearance by Thomas Jefferson. Philly also scored well for its craft beers, like those found at Independence Beer Garden, conveniently located across the street from the Liberty Bell.

  • No. 1 Washington, D.C.

    washington-dc
    White House Historical Association

    Our nation’s capital easily topped the list, acting as a treasure trove of American history while constantly writing new chapters, too. The newest perspective on our nation’s past is at the National Museum of American History, which debuts this summer a section on American ingenuity, from Thomas Edison to video game pioneers. If you didn’t book a White House tour in time for your visit (think 6 to 12 weeks ahead) you can always peruse the recently renovated White House Visitor Center, home to such artifacts as the desk FDR used during Fireside Chats. Both sights have no admission fee—a big reason D.C. also ranked at No. 1 in the survey for free attractions. To soak up history while you sleep, stay at The Mayflower Renaissance, once a regular lunch spot for J. Edgar Hoover, and home to Harry Truman for the first 90 days of his presidency.

    Read the full list here. This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

These Are the World’s Best Airlines

These airlines are bringing back the Golden Age of air travel

Decades ago, flying was an incredible privilege. Travelers would don their sharpest duds and dine on real, non-plastic glassware. Boarding the plane meant settling into cushy—and dare we say it: spacious—seats for a few hours of relaxation, bubbly, and spectacular views of the world 30,000 feet below.

The World’s Best airlines, as selected by our readers, are fighting to bring back the Golden Age of air travel. Instead of cutting corners (read: leg room) they’re rolling out 82-inch-long beds fitted with natural mattresses and custom Italian linens. Instead of charging for that depressing bag of salted peanuts, they’re presenting a la carte menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs. Even in economy, passengers enjoy in-flight entertainment on HD-enabled screens while juicing up their devices via personal USB chargers.

This year, 39 airlines were ranked based on cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value, and food. No one was surprised to see Singapore Airlines in the No. 1 international spot this year. That’s where it always is. In fact, Asia-based airlines repeatedly get high scores on our annual survey, and there are five in this year’s top 10. But the big story is the resurgence of carriers from Down Under.

Air New Zealand (the quirky carrier with innovative features like the convertible Sky Couch, viral safety videos starring icons like Richard Simmons, and amenity kits stuffed with “Beware, I sleep walk,” eye masks) leapt five spots since last year. And for the first time since 2007, Qantas appeared on our list.

As our World’s Best Airlines prove, relatively small creature comforts—in-flight Wi-Fi, seats that recline without disturbing neighbors—are being noticed by flyers. Plus, at the end of the day, genuine and helpful customer service, both on the ground and in the air, is crucial to getting top customer scores.

Competition for your miles is more rigorous than ever before, and these airlines are out to prove that they can, and will, give you something to look forward to on your next long-haul flight.

  • No. 10 International: Qantas Airways

    qantas
    Courtesy of Qantas

    Score: 82.72

    Consistent growth has finally placed Australia’s flag carrier on the International Top 10 list. Chalk it up to continued improvements to in-flight comfort, such as Marc Newson’s Skybeds with massage settings in business class, and economy seats with clever hammock-style footrests for tired tootsies. Also in business class? Chic, his-and-her amenity kits with graphic prints and hues by Jack and Kate Spade. Inside are Australian ASPAR products in South Pacific scents like sweet orange, almond, and rose geranium. Qantas also flies the world’s longest flight: 8,500 miles and a solid 16 hours. Is it any wonder travelers demand only the best from this far-flung flier?

  • No. 9 International: All Nippon Airways (ANA)

    ana
    ANA

    Score: 82.83

    Fashion-forward flight attendant uniforms, designed by Prabal Gurung, are just one of the ways this Japanese airline continues to rise in the ranks, overshadowing even Japan Airlines. In business class, passengers can enjoy a seat that lies flat. Another plus: the seats’ unique staggered configuration, which makes it possible to move about the cabin without disturbing your seatmates. A competitive premium economy cabin and a good sense of humor also keep the airline on top: consider the Star Wars-themed R2-D2 livery coming soon to an airport near you.

  • No. 8 International: Korean Air

    korean-air
    Courtesy of Korean Air

    Score: 83.86

    Despite that embarrassing “nut-rage” incident earlier this year, Korean Air still won over T+L readers. Excellent service, menus that feature Western, Chinese, Japanese, and quintessential Korean dishes, and seats in economy that somehow provide 34-inch pitch might have something to do with it. Updates like USB ports at every seat and in-flight duty-free shops peddling Longchamp totes and Crown Royal whisky are outshone only by the Celestial Bar on A380s. Here, first and prestige-class passengers can unwind, sip hand-crafted cocktails, and enjoy impressive views from the stratosphere.

  • No. 7 International: Thai Airways

    thai-airways
    Stefano Politi Markovina / Alamy

    Score: 83.93

    Many travelers believe this Asian airline could use a refresh, but it hasn’t kept the carrier from slipping down the rungs. We suspect it has something to do with its award-winning economy class cabin, which doesn’t reserve comfort and small luxuries exclusively for premium class cabins. Even in coach, passengers enjoy 32-inch seat pitch, foot rests, and two meals even on six-hour flights. What’s not to love about stir-fried chicken, pork with noodles, or chicken curry with rice?

  • No. 6 International: Virgin Atlantic Airways

    virgin-atlantic
    Virgin Atlantic

    Score: 84.30

    Sir Richard Branson celebrated the 30th birthday of his flagship carrier this year, bringing on sharply tailored Vivienne Westwood-designed uniforms (in the company’s iconic red hue) and a new fleet of Dreamliners. The cheeky airline, known for pioneering seat-back video and amenity kits in every class, continues to impress. Its trailblazing premium economy class offers roomy leather seats with a 38-inch pitch (the distance between the back of your seat and the fellow in front of you) a welcome glass of champagne, and traditional British fare served on china with stainless steel cutlery. There’s afternoon tea, of course, and pudding.

  • No. 5 International: Air New Zealand

    air-new-zealand
    Courtesy of Air New Zealand

    Score: 84.73

    Air New Zealand’s new fleet of Dreamliners outfitted with Economy SkyCouches is earning gigantic gold stars with families. The flexible seating option allows passengers to purchase three adjacent seats and, thanks to armrests that virtually disappear and pull-out footrests, becomes a comfy sofa. T+L readers have always given the Kiwi carrier high marks for value and service, sometimes best expressed through small, thoughtful touches: think hilarious in-flight safety videos (featuring everyone from Betty White to Richard Simmons and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models) and adjustable winged headrests in economy.

  • No. 4 International: Cathay Pacific Airways

    cathay-pacific
    Ed Turner

    Score: 84.90

    China-based airline Cathay Pacific keeps its strong position by making incremental changes to its interiors and food service in every cabin. By working with Michelin-starred restaurants in Hong Kong to create upscale, regionally-inspired menus, and loading their fleet with specially-designed equipment, like the revolutionary onboard rice cooker, Cathay Pacific distinguishes itself as one of the world’s best airlines for food. Thanks to fixed-shell economy seats (which allows you recline within your own space, and not into your neighbor’s) a long-haul flight on this carrier can be a pleasure.

  • No. 3 International: Qatar Airways

    qatar
    Courtesy of Qatar

    Score: 85

    After slipping significantly on the World’s Best list, the Doha-based carrier has returned to the top of the pack. Maybe it’s the new extra-wide body Airbus 350, or its in-flight menu designed by Master Chefs Nobu Matsuhisa and Vineet Bhatia. Or it could be the impressive on-board wine list, developed by Master of Wines James Cluer, who literally climbs mountains to make sure your wine tastes excellent even at 30,000-feet? Next year, Qatar Airways will expand its service to Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles. And for those looking to shorten their travel to-do list, the airline’s groundbreaking print-at-home luggage tags can be downloaded for 103 outgoing routes from the new Hamad International Airport.

  • No. 2 International: Emirates

    emirates
    Courtesy of Emirates

    Score: 87.59

    This Middle Eastern carrier has returned to the top of the pack, which suggests an improvement in customer service. In-flight food continues to impress, with regional specialties (Arabic meze, lamb stew) served on bone china and fine linens in first class. Whether you’re in economy or elbowing up to the first class bar, the in-flight entertainment can’t be beat, thanks to the live TV programming. Even the amenity kits blow the competition away. The rugged Italian-leather men’s kit contains Bvlgari products, which can also be found in the airline’s signature first class Shower Spa.

  • No. 1 International: Singapore Airlines

    singapore
    Singapore Airlines

    Score: 90.94

    For 20 years in a row, Singapore Airlines has maintained its position as the No. 1 international airline. How has it stayed on top? Singapore always sets the industry standard for service and for comfort. It was the first commercial airline to offer complimentary beverages and more than one meal option in economy. More recently, it became the first airline to fly the Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, and it recently revealed its premium economy class. Here, travelers can watch in-flight entertainment on 13.3” high-def monitors, sprawl out with foldout leg (and calf!) rests, and sip champagne. Whether you’re lounging in first class—on lie-flat beds reaching 82-inches in length and eating off Givenchy china—or in economy, on bolstered backrest cushions, the iconic “Singapore Girl” flight attendants, donning traditional batik-print sarong kebayas, provide unbeatable service to all, thanks to a rigorous four-month training program.

    Read the full list HERE.

    This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

These Are the World’s Best Airports

From China to Texas

For years, airports were little more than stale, gray holding grounds endured only briefly before boarding and during layovers. Cramped, tandem chairs and saran-wrapped sandwiches were the status quo.

Significant innovations and attractions have transformed airports into more than just a stopover to your final destination. Efficient layouts, epicurean dining, and luxe shopping are just a few of the features turning the airport experience on its nose.

That’s why Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards added airports to its annual survey in 2013. That year, Singapore’s Changi Airport took the No. 1 spot for international hubs. And it did so the following year, too. Since inaugurating the category, Changi has come out as the best international airport every time.

Last year, we separated International and Domestic Airports into two distinct categories. In doing so, Portland International Airport was vaulted to the top of the U.S. list. It’s been No. 1 two years in a row, and we suspect it will continue to be a local and visitor favorite.

The next time you’re booking a flight, consider connecting to one of the world’s best airports—both small regional terminals and major international hubs made the list—and you might even find yourself actually enjoying the wait between flights.

  • No. 5 International: Munich Airport, Germany

    munich-airport
    Courtesy of Munich Airport

    Score: 75.615

    Would you expect anything less than pint perfection from Germany’s second busiest airport? Travelers celebrate flight delays over a cold brew at Airbräu, a tavern-style biergarten with onsite brewery, live music, and a fringe of chestnut trees. Afterward, retreat to an individual, space-age sleeping pod (outfitted with iPhone and USB docks) or wake up with a cup of free coffee and complimentary copy of the Financial Times. This impressive steel-and-glass complex, with its impressive runway views from the skywalk and assortment of Bavarian pastry shops, is becoming even more notable. Before the end of this year, the airport’s new satellite Terminal 2 will be complete.

  • No. 4 International: Zurich Airport, Switzerland

    zurich-airport
    Zurich Airport

    Score: 77.188

    Calm and convenience are two words rarely associated with airports: or travel in general, for that matter. But as the Swiss historically do, logic and order have been enforced with an airport we can only describe as graceful. Self-service check-ins (programmed in three languages), seamless integration with the metro, and separate arrival zones for speedy security are a few of the airport’s smart innovations. Thanks to a $200 million expansion that was completed in 2011, the European hub now sports twin rooftop terraces. Board the Skymetro to enjoy the calming sounds of the Alps while shuttling between Terminals A and E.

  • No. 3 International: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands

    amsterdam-schiphol
    Remko de Waal—AFP/Getty Images

    Score: 79.198

    Century-old Amsterdam Schiphol Airport boasts a number of firsts. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is the world’s only museum annex at an airport, and for no cost travelers can spend their layovers appreciating paintings by Dutch masters such as Steen and Rembrandt. Settle into a cushy armchair at the world’s first airport library and browse the collection of tomes printed in 29 languages. Can’t get enough of this airport? A five-star Hilton will open before the end of the year. All the more reason to linger at one of the outdoor terraces and appreciate the relative airport calm made possible by the Buitenschot Land Art Park, a noise-reducing series of ridges and ripples.

  • No. 2 International: Hong Kong International Airport, China

    hong kong
    Courtesy of Hong Kong International Airport

    Score: 85.067

    If all airports had iSports simulators, regulation golf courses, and IMAX theaters, we might (cheerfully) arrive a few hours early in the hopes of securing a bit of playtime. Kick-off the fun at the city’s Central station, where you can check your bags for a comfortable, hassle-free train ride to the airport. Fill up before boarding on tender pork dumplings at Crystal Jade, or the outpost of Michelin-starred Hung’s Delicacies. After all that action, head to the OM Spa at the connected Regal Airport Hotel. Treatment highlights include mosaic steam rooms and soothing jasmine milk baths.

  • No. 1 International: Changi International Airport, Singapore

    changi airport
    Changi Airport Group

    Score: 89.547

    For three years in a row, Changi International Airport has asserted its superiority over all other international urban hubs. As the 15thbusiest airport, Changi’s layout is necessarily intuitive and thoughtful. Hundreds of so-called “Changi Experience Agents,” sporting purple and pink blazers and wielding iPads, are on hand to assist lost, perplexed, or harried travelers. Charging stations with lock-boxes and free foot massage machines are a few of the small touches that make people pleased to idle here. There is also something clearly Singaporean about the aesthetic. There’s a two-level butterfly habitat in the new Terminal 3 filled with thousands of fluttering creatures, a Balinese-style rooftop pool, and five distinct gardens throughout the property presenting everything from waterfalls to sunflowers and orchids. Movie theaters, lounges, and authentic restaurants are great for those seeking a diversion. And for those looking to refresh, there are dedicated Snooze Lounges in every terminal. One thing is for certain—we’re sincerely looking forward to the new terminal, scheduled to open in 2017.

  • No. 5 Domestic: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

    austin-bergstrom
    Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

    Score: 74.022

    Despite a growing volume of travelers—nearly 11 million in 2014—Austin-Bergstrom International Airport keeps flights on time and passengers pleased. The hassle-free hub is just around the corner from downtown Austin, and for those who experience serious pinings for local grub before leaving the city limits, there’s Salt Lick Bar-B-Que. The venerable local franchise serves up sauce-covered sandwiches and sides worthy of entrée portions, such as coleslaw and potato salad. Excellent customer service from check-in to departure doesn’t hurt, either.

  • No. 4 Domestic: Dallas Love Field, Texas

    dallas-love-field
    Courtesy of Dallas Love Field

    Score: 74.621

    DFW’s little brother is moving up the ranks, beating mainstays like Charlotte Douglas and Orlando. While enplanements at Love Field plummeted when Fort Worth opened, the result was a unique, leisurely airport experience. Murals, sculptures, and paintings from local Texan artists decorate the new Terminal 2, which is also home to community-favorite food and beverage options. Wait for your next boarding call (probably for Southwest, which now has 16 gates at Love Field) while sipping a frozen margarita at Cantina Laredo.

  • No. 3 Domestic: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

    minneapolis-airport
    Courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

    Score: 75.48

    Maintaining its spot at No. 3, this bustling hub doesn’t falter when it comes to cheerful service (even in the face of those horrible Midwestern winters). Shopaholics have long favored Minneapolis-St. Paul for its upscale mini-mall disposition, with storefronts like Aveda, Bose, Tumi, and Wilsons Leather making it a worthy retail destination even if you don’t have travel plans. A full-scale renovation in 2010 saw $3.2 billion in improvements to infrastructure, including two new terminals with a skyway security checkpoint.

  • No. 2 Domestic: Tampa International Airport, Florida

    tampa-international-airport
    David Lawrence

    Score: 76.671

    Travelers may just choose to enter the Sunshine State via Tampa, thanks to its uncomplicated layout and light-filled rooms. The current renovation and expansion project aims to add an indoor/outdoor terrace and dozens of new concessions, as well as a new conductor-free train to teleport the airport into the 21stcentury. Already, modern features such as estimated checkpoint wait times have kept things sailing smoothly through security and ticketing.

  • No. 1 Domestic: Portland International Airport, Oregon

    portland-airport
    Courtesy of Port of Portland

    Score: 79.162

    PDX shines as the best airport in the U.S., thanks to an impressive on-time departure record and convenient location just minutes from downtown. Advancements like in-line baggage screening have helped keep the process streamlined, while such quirky, crunchy granola novelties (goats to remove invasive plant life, protected from predators by a llama) and food trucks (steamed buns and vinegar sodas from Pok Pok) give the airport an authentic Portland vibe.

    This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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TIME Travel

These Are the 10 Best Cities to Visit Around the World

Add these places to your travel bucket list

For globetrotting travelers, it’s easy to recognize a spectacular city. They are energetic, diverse destinations intent on preserving local heritage, revitalizing undervalued neighborhoods, and they possess distinct personalities that set them apart from other metropolises.

Whether it’s the city you’ve called home for years or one you only just stumbled upon during your travels, you know that the best cities are intriguing cultural centers that can’t be replicated anywhere else.

Kyoto, in Japan, returned for the second year in a row to the No. 1 spot on our World’s Best list. Readers called it the quintessential Japanese experience, offering visitors everything from history (in the form of spiritual shrines) to notable cuisine (shojin ryori) and encounters with the infamous Geisha dancers.

Some of the world’s best cities evoke the romanticism of travel, such as Italy’s classic crowd-pleasers, Florence and Rome. Both have appeared on the Top 10 Overall list for ten consecutive years.

Perhaps most evident, however, are the cities that appeared on the list despite political and social turmoil. Charleston, South Carolina—the only domestic city on the overall list—has suffered greatly since the polls closed. And Jerusalem, the controversial capital of Israel, is at the crux of an ancient and ongoing conflict. Bangkok was likely bumped from the list in 2012 due to governmental unrest.

Because cities are, in many ways, a great convergence of people and ideas, it is inevitable that conflicts will arise. So we keep these cities, and their people, in our thoughts, while we celebrate their resilience and their virtues.

Where did your favorite city rank, and which ones should you put on your travel bucket list? These are the most dynamic, beloved cities across the globe.

  • No. 10 Jerusalem, Israel

    jerusalem-israel
    Karen Kasmauski—Corbis

    Score: 88.178

    Christians, Jews, and Muslims converge to worship in this 4,000-year-old holy city, and their respective churches, synagogues, and mosques surround the historic Old City. Here, you can tuck a miniature prayer into the Western Wall, or see a fragment of clay engraved with cuneiform at the excavation site at Temple Mount. The iconic, gleaming gold Dome of the Rock is best photographed from the Austrian Hospice, which offers unparalleled views of the city and Mount of Olives. Jerusalem, like every other city on our list, also has a stake in the contemporary and the secular. Luxury apartment buildings now erupt like stalagmites from the Judean Desert, and high-end restaurants, such as King’s Court at the restored Waldorf Astoria, are bringing a new upmarket appeal to this arid oasis.

  • No. 9 Cape Town, South Africa

    cape-town-south-africa
    iStockphoto

    Score: 88.271

    Forget everything you thought you knew about Africa. Cape Town is cutting-edge, artsy, and buzzing with energy. There are few places in the world where you can exercise your shopping skills (head to Woodstock’s Neighborgoods Market on Saturday mornings for Afrikaans jerky and silk-and-leather sandals), take off on a safari, or indulge in world-famous cuisine all in one weekend. Atlantic-facing Clifton Beaches are the South Beach of South Africa, known for enormous natural boulders tumbling into the sea, pristine sunbathing conditions, and the capoeira dancers that entertain crowds with fire and African drums on Monday nights.

  • No. 8 Barcelona, Spain

    barcelona-spain
    Gunnar Knechtel

    Score: 88.587

    This beachside city is the offbeat counterpart to Madrid. It’s unquestionably hip, and strikes a perfect balance between its iconic attractions (the Antoni Gaudí-designed Parc Güell) and cutting-edge developments (the zinc-and-glass design center DHUB, Michelin-starred restaurant Saüc). Museo Picasso is a must-see, with an impressive collection of the artist’s early works. Catalan culture may be best appreciated through the city’s renowned food scene. Grab breakfast at the Pinotxo counter inside La Boquería market, or another small-plates-centric spot, Tickets. Here, brothers Ferran and Albert Adrià, of famed El Bulli, spin out sophisticated tapas like fascinating liquid olives and raviolis, algae tempura, and seasonal sorbets. Further mad-scientist experiments can be sampled at ABaC. Think oysters tartare with fennel, and Hamachi with cherries and aptly named cucumber snow.

  • No. 7 Krakow, Poland

    krakow-cracow-poland
    Maciej Czekajewski / Alamy

    Score: 88.693

    Poland’s second city has been experiencing a quiet cultural revolution, and it’s finally getting the attention it deserves. This World’s Best debut, known for Gothic fortifications and a laid-back, blasé attitude, has enchanted travelers with something akin to magic, and overcome even stalwart favorites like Istanbul and New York City. Perhaps it’s the marvels of the Old City, like Rynek Glówny—the largest Medieval square in Europe—and the Royal Castle of Wawel that have captivated intrepid travelers seeking something unfamiliar out of their explorations abroad. In the old Jewish quarter of Kazimierz, where synagogues that survived WWII still stand, there’s a notably bohemian vibe taking hold in new hip spots like Bar Propaganda, appropriately outfitted with a bust of Lenin. Some, however, will tell you it’s the mystic chakhra stone of Wawel Hill that has, like a love spell, bewitched the world.

  • No. 6 Bangkok, Thailand

    bangkok-thailand
    iStockphoto

    Score: 88.907

    After a year of unrest, Bangkok has been restored to the World’s Best list, where it clung to the No. 1 spot from 2010 to 2013. Bustle may be an understatement here, where sweet and spicy street food perfumes the avenues and gilded Buddhist temples stand in dramatic juxtaposition to slick skyscrapers. It’s frenetic, colorful, and a curious amalgamation of past and present: tuk-tuks and monks clad in saffron-hued robes fill the streets at dawn, their reflections cast in the steel and glass high-rises. At night, head to Sukhumvit Soi 38 for an equally vibrant street-side feast, where pedestrians elbow up to tables for fat rice noodles, mango sticky rice, and pathong ko (Thai doughnuts) with pandan leaf custard. Seize a moment of serenity at the Wat Suthat temple, the Himalayan-style art gallery, Serindia, or on a long-tail boat tour along the Chao Phraya River.

  • No. 5 Rome, Italy

    rome-colloseum-italy
    Fedor Selivanov / Alamy

    Score: 88.992

    Eternal City, indeed. It’s impossible to tire of the capital city’s storied landmarks, such as The Pantheon and The Colosseum, both relics of the Roman Empire. Tour St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel in the sovereign Vatican, or stroll leisurely along the 2,300-year-old cobblestones that make up Appian Way. When you’ve had your fill of the old, explore the new breed of design-forward buildings that have risen in brilliant contrast to the original masterworks. Now, you can enjoy creamy gelato in the shadows of Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI Museum, or next to starchitect Richard Meier’s glass-and-travertine frame for the Ara Pacis. Most T+L readers agree that one trip simply is not enough. “There will never be sufficient time to see all there is in Rome,” one said. But if you fancy fairytales (of which there are many in this intrinsically romantic city), toss a coin into the Baroque white marble Trevi Fountain to ensure a return visit.

  • No. 4 Florence, Italy

    florence-italy
    David Kukin

    Score: 89.429

    This Italian city is a perfect example of a destination that is constantly reinventing itself and offering even veteran visitors variation and excitement. Known for being a Renaissance repository with such highlights as Michelangelo’s David and red-roofed buildings reflected in the river Arno, Florence is livelier than ever. New art galleries, like EX3 and Museo Novecento, feature contemporary works, and aperitivo time at the local bars entices sightseers with salumi and rustic crostini. The quaint, pedestrian-friendly streets are prime for admiring (or buying) handcrafted leather goods and the classical architecture. Still, the city is a monument to its monuments, and the magnificent Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (known simply as Il Duomo), with features dating back to the 7th century, remains the most recognizable feature of the Florentine skyline. Put things in perspective with a jaw-dropping vista from the Giardini & Villa Bardini, or the impeccably restored San Niccolò tower.

  • No. 3 Siem Reap, Cambodia

    siem-reap
    iStockphoto

    Score: 89.57

    For adventurous travelers, this Cambodian city is nothing short of a necessary pilgrimage. The unmistakable silhouette of Angkor Wat, the massive, 12th century Buddhist temple, is perhaps Siem Reap’s best-known landmark. Other Khmer ruins, like Ta Prohm (recognized by the way enormous strangler fig and silk trees root down through the sandstone structure) are like gateways into an ancient and spiritual past. But this is hardly a perished city. Along the urban center’s riverfront are art galleries, where tourists can browse black-and-white prints of the striking shrines, and boutique hotels, such as the Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor and Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor. Splurge on an Angkor Wat pass, which will allow you to return throughout the day or week, for various shots of the temples in different weather and light.

  • No. 2 Charleston, South Carolina

    charleston-south-carolina
    Peter Frank Edwards

    Score: 89.843

    South Carolina’s oldest city has consistently charmed T+Lreaders with its quintessential antebellum aesthetic and old-fashioned Southern hospitality. It’s the only U.S. city represented in the overall list, and repeatedly appears on our America’s Favorite Cities lists. Despite its famed friendliness, Charleston has become the most recent site of a great national tragedy and intense civic debate. We send our sympathies to the people of Charleston, and pay tribute to the qualities that have captivated the hearts of travelers from around the world. “Charleston has it all,” one reader said. It’s been applauded for its beautiful, jasmine-fringed neighborhoods and historic battlegrounds. A stone’s throw from downtown is Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach, where locals and visitors go on balmy summer days to cool off amongst the grassy, soft sand dunes. Explore the galleries on Broad Street, or the city’s award-winning restaurants. Don’t leave without trying lowcountry fare like shrimp with hominy—late night king and Charleston native Stephen Colbert’s personal favorite.

  • No. 1 Kyoto, Japan

    kyoto
    Courtesy of Hoshinoya Resorts

    Score: 91.22

    For more than 1,000 years, Kyoto was the imperial capital of Japan, and vestiges of this royal history remain in sites such as the Kyoto Gosho palace. While the year-old Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, appeals to luxury travelers with its private Zen gardens overlooking the Kamogawa River, consider staying in a traditionalryokan, or guesthouse. You can’t see Kyoto without exploring the city’s incredible Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines—there are more than 2,000 scattered across the city—but insiders recommend Sanjusangendo, which houses 1,001 statues of the god Kannon, carved from cypress in the 12th and 13th centuries, as well as the iconic Kinkaku-Ji (Golden Pavilion). Of course, this traditional city has a touch of the modern, too. Check out the sleek new Yoshio Taniguchi-designed wing of the Kyoto National Museum, and the bustling Nishijin neighborhood for kawaii artisan shops.

    This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure

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