By Katrina Brown Hunt
No one is perfect. But according to Travel + Leisure readers, Miami residents come closest, ranking first in the America’s Favorite Places survey for being attractive. Each year, readers rank major metropolitan areas in dozens of categories, including craft beers, luxury shops, and lovely parks—as well as good-looking locals.
In the attractive category, this year’s survey results saw some shake-ups. Some of the hipster winners from last year have faded in the eyes of the T+L community, which favored cities with a tendency toward sunshine, smiling residents, and serious style.
One disqualifier, meanwhile, may be a weakness for team jerseys: the list of the 10 least attractive cities has an eerie overlap with the survey’s top 10 of enthusiastic sports fans.
Read on for the top 5 in both categories.
No. 1 Most Attractive: Miami
Don’t hate Miami people because they’re beautiful. (Photo: Thinkstock)
After a down year in 2013, the Florida city is tanned, rested, and suitably blinged-out to recapture the Most Attractive title. Since Miami was also voted the No. 3 city for style and No. 1 for nightclubs—including 24-hour-party options like E11even—looking good at all hours is essential. To dress like a local, check out high-end boutiques such as Alchemist on Lincoln Road (a high-rise, architectural feat of its own), the celeb-magnet Jessie in South Beach, or the vintage finds at C. Madeleine’s in North Miami Beach.
No. 2 Most Attractive: San Diego
(Photo: David L. Moore - CA / Alamy)
This SoCal city wins the silver medal for the second time—more proof of the solar beauty power found in warm locales. San Diegans also ranked at No. 2 for being fit, and you can keep up with them by hiking the trails at the windswept Torrey Pines State Reserve, stand-up paddleboarding in La Jolla Cove, or boogie boarding in Pacific Beach. Perhaps because exercise is best done early, San Diego also ranked well for its fortifying brunches. Reward yourself with pineapple-upside-down pancakes at Snooze in Hillcrest and Carmel Valley, or South of the Border–style chilaquiles at the ocean-view Brockton Villa in La Jolla.
No. 3 Most Attractive: Charleston, S.C.
(Photo: Peter Frank Edwards)
These South Carolina locals consistently land among the survey’s top 10 for head-turners. One secret of their success, no doubt, is that pretty-is-as-pretty-does hospitality: Charleston also ranked well for being polite. Another factor, though, may be that with age comes beauty. The city scored highly for its charming old architecture and lovely antiques. To see both, go to Lower King Street’s Antique District, anchored by such stores as the fourth-generation Birlant and the artfully eclectic John Pope Antiques. Take a lunch break for the she-crab soup at Palmetto Café in the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel.
No. 4 Most Attractive: Los Angeles
(Photo: David L. Moore - CA / Alamy)
Looking camera-ready is always important in this celebrity-dotted city, which also scored well for grade-A people-watching. It’s no surprise, then, that voters also acknowledged L.A.’s fabulous shopping opportunities like Fred Segal on Melrose or the revamped, open-air Santa Monica Place, which includes Barneys, Kitson, and AllSaints. Perhaps ironically, the well-toned folk in the City of Angels also have serious sweet tooths, ranking at No. 8 for bakeries. You can eat your way through town with the éclairs at Chaumont Bakery & Cafe in Beverly Hills, the snack-cake-style Ding-a-lings at downtown’s Semi-Sweet Bakery, and the featherweight macarons at nearby Bottega Louie.
No. 5 Most Attractive: Providence, R.I.
(Photo: joeysworld.com / Alamy)
Even though the locals in Providence have dropped from last year’s second-place spot, brains and a hipster sensibility are clearly still appealing to T+L readers: the Rhode Island capital also won the survey for geeks. That said, even geniuses like to have smooth skin, and the city’s day spa of choice is at the Providence Biltmore, where full-body treatments include a cerebral-sounding Harmonizing Ear and Scalp Massage. And despite its distance from wine country, the foodie-friendly city scored high for its well-stocked wine bars. Check out Bocado Tapas Wine Bar, with 40 different small plates and a full list of Spanish wines.
No. 1 Least Attractive: Detroit
Shinola in Detroit (Photo: Jim West / Alamy)
Motor City clearly did not wow voters with its looks, but it made an impression for its cool edge, ranking in the top 20 cities for hipsters. You can find them in the Midtown area, embracing the made-in-America aesthetic at shops like Shinola, known for its bicycles, watches, and leather goods. Detroit also won approval for its pizza, often served in a square shape, as at Buddy’s, a fixture at the corner of Conant and Six Mile roads.
No. 2 Least Attractive (tie): Memphis, Tenn.
(Photo: Ian Dagnall / Alamy)
In a dubious sort of achievement, Memphis actually moved three slots closer to the bottom in this year’s attractive category. But perhaps that offers another good excuse to sing the blues. Memphis still ranked well for its music scene—whether it’s the free blues, jazz, or even opera at Levitt Shell in Overton Park (where Elvis had his first gig), or the acts at the newly resurrected Lafayette’s Music Room (back in the 1970s, it featured Billy Joel and KISS). While you’re in town, try one of the high-scoring local craft beers, perhaps the cans-only American pilsner from Wiseacre Brewing Co. or the French farmhouse–style ale Biere de Garde at High Cotton Brewing Co., whose taproom is near Elvis’s old haunt, Sun Studio.
No. 2 Least Attractive (tie): Oklahoma City
(Photo: Jay Goebel / Alamy)
Readers may have taken the idea of plain a little too literally when sizing up this Plains city, a newcomer to the survey. OKC ranked in last place for high-end shopping, but perhaps the locals are just scoring great deals: the city ranks at No. 2 for feeling affordable and for flea-market-style shopping. Browse vintage fashions and kitschy collectibles at Bad Granny’s Bazaar in the Plaza District and at shops in the Paseo Arts District. Locals did get credit for being friendly and for being excellent drivers.
No. 4 Least Attractive: Baltimore
(Photo: Philip Scalia / Alamy)
Maybe it’s not that these Marylanders are totally unattractive to readers: they’re just a little kooky, ranking in the top 10 for quirkiness as well as sports-team passion. You can watch them fly their freak flags at the high-ranking dive bars. Two notable ones in Fell’s Point: Bad Decisions (home of the Bee Sting, made with mead and Woodpecker Cider) and The Horse You Came In On, legendary as the last place Edgar Allan Poe was seen before his mysterious death.
No. 5 Least Attractive: Philadelphia
(Photo: Jon Lovette / Alamy)
Just because readers did not find residents drop-dead gorgeous does not mean that there are not things of beauty in the City of Brotherly Love. The local art scene—from the big-name Barnes Foundation to the smaller but no-less-fascinating Center for Art in Wood —ranked at No. 5, while several local staples may count as works of art. South Philly’s old-school cheesesteaks at Pat’s and Geno’s no doubt helped the city take the bronze for sandwiches, while food trucks came in at No. 5. Try the Caribbean comfort foods at Gigi and Big R in University City, or the gastropub on wheels (offering, say, braised duck with cucumber) from the roving Local 215.
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