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

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    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

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    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 Bizarre

Treasure Hunters Find Over $1 Million Worth of Shipwrecked Spanish Gold off the Florida Coast

Haul comes from the fabled 300-year-old wreck of the Capitana

A Florida family of professional treasure hunters has struck gold after discovering over $1 million worth of coins and jewelry in a huge Spanish shipwreck from the 18th century, Florida Today reports.

The Schmitt family, who are subcontractors for treasure hunting company 1715 Fleet–Queens Jewels LLC, discovered the treasure off the Florida Coast in the wreck of the Capitana, the flagship of a Spanish treasure fleet.

The haul includes 51 gold coins, 40 ft. of ornate gold chain and a Tricentennial Royal, an extremely rare Spanish coin valued at over $500,000, Florida Today says.

This is not the first time that gold has been found in this famous shipwreck. Captained by Don Juan Esteban de Ubilla, the Capitana carried an enormous fortune in Spanish jewels when it sunk in a hurricane in July 1715, according to Florida Today, and has been the subject of books, documentaries and blog posts.

The Schmitts are seasoned treasure hunters, Florida Today adds, having first found gold in September 2013. They came across the Capitana haul last month, but the news of their discovery was withheld to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the shipwreck.

[Florida Today]

TIME Soccer

Paraguay Asked to Extradite South American Soccer Official Over FIFA Corruption Charges

CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz speaks during a press conference in Luque, Paraguay, on April 23, 2013.
Norberto Duarte —AFP/Getty Images CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz speaks during a press conference in Luque, Paraguay, on April 23, 2013.

Nicolás Leoz was indicted on charges of racketeering, money laundering and bribery

The U.S. has asked Paraguay to extradite Nicolás Leoz, the former president of South America’s soccer confederation, Conmebol, and a suspect in a huge corruption scandal at the heart of the world soccer’s governing body FIFA.

Leoz, 86, has been under house arrest in the Paraguayan capital, Asunción, since June 1, reports Reuters.

“We have received the documentation from the U.S. embassy and have forwarded it to the Supreme Court,” Juana Núñez, the ministry’s liaison with Paraguay’s justice system, told Reuters. Núñez added that there was no deadline for when authorities must decide on the extradition request.

U.S. prosecutors have indicted 14 soccer officials, including Leoz, as well as businessmen and marketing executives on charges of bribery, racketeering and money laundering.

Leoz was president of Conmebol from 1986 to 2013 and was a former member of FIFA’s executive committee. He was not in Geneva in May when seven FIFA executives were arrested by Swiss police, although he was later detained by Paraguayan authorities.

Leoz has maintained his innocence.

[Reuters]

TIME viral

This Hilarious Obituary Celebrates a Woman—And Her Stuff

Anyone need a large ceramic stork?

When Mary Stocks died at age 94, she left a bunch of things to her children that, frankly, they didn’t want.

So instead they used the junk to create a tribute to their mother, in the form of a delightfully funny obituary. “She left behind a hell of a lot of stuff to her daughter and sons who have no idea what to do with it,” the obituary reads. “So if you’re looking for 2 extremely large TV’s from the 90s, a large ceramic stork (we think) umbrella/cane stand, a toaster oven (slightly used) or even a 2001 Oldsmobile with a spoiler (she loved putting the pedal to the metal), with only 71,000 kilometers and 1,000 tools that we aren’t sure what they’re used for. You should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch. Tomorrow would be fine.”

Mary’s son, Sandy Stocks, told Today.com why he decided to write such a unique obituary: “Everything I could think of about my mother was funny. I didn’t want to write a really boring obituary,” he said. “I did it more for my family, so they would have something to remember her that would be fun.”

He said he thinks his mother who, according to the obituary, loved to swear and was a terrible cook, (“If anyone would like a copy of her homemade gravy, we would suggest you don’t”), would laugh if she read it. “I think she would appreciate it.”

Read more viral obituaries:
Teacher’s Sassy Obituary For Herself Is Going Viral for All the Right Reasons
Man’s Obituary Asks Mourners Not to Vote for Hillary Clinton
This Obituary Is Only 2 Words But It’s Perfect
 

TIME Banking

This Is the Most Valuable Bank In The World

A woman walks past teller machines at a Wells Fargo bank in San Francisco, California.
Robert Galbraith—Reuters Wells Fargo promised to enact new Temporary Leave Underwriting Guidelines and educate their loan officers.

Forget the big investment banks, it's all about the basics here.

Forget those flashy big-name banks that always snag headlines. The title for world’s most valuable bank goes to Wells Fargo & Co.

The San Francisco-based bank recently zoomed past Industrial & Commercial Bank of China as the bank with the largest market value worldwide, reported the Wall Street Journal. Wells Fargo is worth $301.6 billion. That’s $40 billion more than J.P. Morgan Chase and almost $120 more than Citigroup.

As China’s stock market struggles and the relative strength of the U.S. economy continues to grow, it’s been a boon to American banks like Wells Fargo. ICBC and Wells Fargo have continually battled for the global top spot, and Wells Fargo first passed it in value in 2013. But, Chinese banks are facing new growth obstacles as the economy inches along, slowing down their expansion significantly from long-running double-digit growth. ICBC shares have fallen about 19% in the past three months, the WSJ reported.

Wells Fargo’s stock has gained 12.4% so far this year, making it the seventh-largest stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. However, when it comes to the largest U.S. bank by assets, that title is still held by J.P. Morgan.

Wells Fargo’s booming market value is a credit to its relatively simple style of business. It doesn’t rely on subprime loans, complex derivatives or risky trades funded by borrowed money. Instead, it focuses on its core units like consumer lending, banking services and mortgage origination. That straight-forward approach may be why Warren Buffett has long been the bank’s largest shareholder (and one of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies).

READ MORE: The big banks of the Fortune 500 that keep getting bigger.

TIME U.S.

Watch This KKK March Get Trolled By a Man and His Tuba

"I didn't really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it," Matt Buck says

South Carolina has long been a crucible of racial friction, a truth tragically brought to light last month when 21-year-old Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. In the weeks since, these muted tensions have amplified, with a number of Confederate apologists loudly and defiantly standing by a heritage marred if not defined by prejudice.

The great thing about America, though, is that for every pack of cringeworthy contrarians, you have someone able and eager to call their bluff. In this case, the contrarians are members of a contemporary incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan, and their most vocal opponent is a sousaphone-playing young man named Matt Buck.

Last week, as the Klan revival group waved their Confederate flags through Columbia, South Carolina, Buck marched alongside them, huffing into his sousaphone (a version of the tuba modified for the marching band).

“I didn’t really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it,” he told the Charleston City Paper. “My goal was to embarrass them, and I think I did a little bit.”

TIME New York

Thousands Protest U.S.-Iran Deal in Times Square

George Pataki
Frank Franklin II— AP Supporters line Seventh Avenue during the Stop Iran protest in New York City on July 22, 2015

"That is not the way democracy should operate"

(NEW YORK) — Thousands of protesters packed into Times Square Wednesday evening to demand that Congress vote down the proposed U.S. deal with Iran.

As the crowd loomed behind police barricades, chants of “Kill the deal!” could be heard for blocks. The event, billed as the “Stop Iran Rally” consisted mainly of pro-Israel supporters, though organizers said it represents Americans of all faiths and political convictions.

The group is asking Congress to reject the deal under which the U.S. would agree to lift economic sanctions against Iran in return for measures to prevent the country from building nuclear weapons.

President Barack Obama has said the U.S. considers Iran an adversary whose activities will be closely monitored.

At the rally, Alan Dershowitz, a prominent Jewish attorney, said he was “opposing the deal as a liberal Democrat.” He said he believed democracy was “ignored” because the Obama administration negotiated the deal without congressional input.

“That is not the way democracy should operate,” he told the crowd.

In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Peter King, a former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said he attended a classified briefing with Secretary of State John Kerry and “is still convinced that this is a bad deal for America.”

“It was entirely wrong and arrogant for the Obama administration to submit the deal to the U.N. before Congress voted on it,” he said. “It is definitely my intention to vote no on this deal with Iran.”

Desiree Soper of Long Island said she was drawn to the protest because she wanted to voice her opposition.

“I don’t trust Iran,” she said. “They’ll find loopholes.”

Demonstrators also took note that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer did not attend the protest, prompting chants of “Where is Chuck?” from the crowd.

Schumer was in Washington Wednesday evening. He said in a statement that he has read the agreement and is waiting to speak with experts from both sides before deciding how to vote on the proposal.

Organizers estimated about 10,000 people attended the event.

TIME Soccer

Jamaica Beats U.S. 2-1 in Gold Cup Semifinals

Joel mcAnuff, Gyasi Zardes
John Bazemore—AP Jamaica’'s Joel McAnuff heads the ball in front of Gyasi Zardes during the first half of a CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer semifinal in Atlanta on July 22, 2015

It marked the first time the U.S. was eliminated by a CONCACAF team

(ATLANTA) — Jamaica stunned the United States with a pair of first-half goals, one off a blunder by goalkeeper Brad Guzan, and held on for a 2-1 victory in the Gold Cup semifinals Wednesday night that dealt the Americans their biggest upset defeat.

Darren Mattocks, who plays for Vancouver in Major League Soccer, put the Reggae Boyz ahead with 31st-minute header directly off a throw-in. Giles Barnes followed five minutes later with a goal on an 18-yard free kick after Guzan was caught going outside the penalty area on a routine throw.

Michael Bradley scored in the 48th minute for the Americans, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a stunning setback in front of sold-out crowd at the Georgia Dome. The small contingent of green-and-gold-clad Jamaican fans saluted their underdog team, ranked 76th in the world but now becoming the first Caribbean nation to reach a Gold Cup final. The Reggae Boyz face Mexico or Panama on Sunday in Philadelphia.

The 34th-ranked Americans, who had played in five straight Gold Cup finals, will face the loser of Wednesday’s second semifinal in the third-place game on Saturday. They also will meet the Gold Cup winner in a playoff for the region’s berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

It marked the first time the U.S. was eliminated by a CONCACAF team en route to the Gold Cup final. In the era when teams outside the region were invited guests, the Americans lost semifinals to Brazil in 1996 and 2003, and a quarterfinal to Colombia in 2000.

In the early going, it looked as though the Americans might romp to another impressive win after a 6-0 blowout of Cuba in the quarterfinals. They had most of the chances but kept sending good looks wide or over the net against Jamaican goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, who plays for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the third-tier United Soccer League.

Suddenly, Jamaica jumped ahead. Kemar Lawrence got everything on a long throw-in, delivering it perfectly into the box. Mattocks, with his back to the goal and sandwiched between defenders Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks, leaped up for a dazzling header that caught the underside of the crossbar, out of a leaping Guzan’s reach, and dropped beyond the goal line. Guzan had taken a step off his line and scrambled back for the ball, but it was too late. He slammed it in disgust as the Jamaicans celebrated.

The U.S. goalkeeper was really steaming minutes later, when his huge blunder set up Jamaica for a commanding lead.

On a routine throw downfield from the edge of the penalty area, Guzan’s right arm went over the line when he let go of the ball. That gave the Jamaica a dangerous free kick and Barnes hooked a shot over the defensive wall and into the right side of net, while Guzan was covering the opposite side.

After the goal, Guzan screamed at the linesman who made the call, but the replay showed it was the proper one.

The Americans fought back early in the second half. Aron Johannsson ripped a shot that was smothered by Thompson, but he couldn’t hang on to the ball. Dempsey tried unsuccessfully to poke it under the sprawled-out keeper, and Bradley swooped in on the third whack for the goal that sent the sell-out Georgia Dome crowd of some 68,000 into a frenzy.

Bradley nearly evened it in the 57th, when his shot one-hopped off Thompson’s chest, caught the near post and deflected away.

The Americans had a number of good chances the rest of the way, but none that came close.

TIME Cuba

Doing Business In Cuba Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

A man drives his taxi past a Cultural Center with the word "Cuba" on it, in Havana, Cuba,, April 14, 2015
Desmond Boylan—AP A man drives his taxi past a Cultural Center in Havana on April 14, 2015

A Florida bank established the first connection with a Cuban counterpart since President Obama’s December decision to open up relations between the two nations.

Stonegate Bank and Banco Internacional de Comercio S.A. (BICSA) signed a deal on Tuesday in Havana that would establish a correspondent account for the Florida-based bank on the island, making it easier for U.S. companies doing business in Cuba to process transactions directly, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Correspondent accounts allow banks to send money back and forth across international borders. Some U.S. business transactions in Cuba use U.S. treasury licenses, but all commercial deals end up going through banks in third countries, adding another step to the process.

These kinds of accounts have come under close scrutiny by federal regulators due to their historical ties to money laundering and other criminal activities, and banks have been hesitant to work with counterparts in other nations that don’t have strong oversight of their banking systems. Cuba has been labeled “high-risk” by the Financial Action Task Force, an organization that supports policies to prevent money laundering.

“We did an extensive risk-management approach to this,” Stonegate Bank CEO Dave Seleski, told the Wall Street Journal. “We feel very comfortable that we did something that is very low risk.”

The move could be the first step toward closer financial ties between the two nations, including the eventual approval of the use of credit cards in Cuba. U.S. credit cards don’t currently work on the island, though the companies have said they would start processing transactions this year.

TIME U.S.

New York Couple Adopts Dying Friend’s 4 Daughters

"She said, 'If anything ever happens to me, I want you to take my girls'"

A promise between two women is defining the meaning of true friendship.

When Elizabeth Diamond, a single mom from Buffalo, New York, was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer in August 2014, she went straight to her best friend, Laura Ruffino, with an important question.

“She said, ‘If anything ever happens to me, I want you to take my girls,’ and I instantly said, ‘Okay,’ ” Laura told 7 Eyewitness News.

In April 2015, Diamond lost her battle with brain cancer – and her friend made good on her promise.

Laura and her husband, Rico Ruffino, welcomed Lily, Ella, Samona and Tara – ages five to 12 – into their home with open arms.

“Ten years ago, I didn’t think this would be my life. But if something gets thrown at you, just accept the challenge and do the best you can,” Rico told the news outlet about the couple’s new family.

A fundraising page has been created to help the family with expenses.

This article originally appeared on People.com

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