If you’ve never been to one of America’s friendliest cities, it’s time to visit.
Most big cities are known for their traffic jams, crazy drivers, and fast-paced lifestyles. It’s hard to find time to get to know your neighbors (does anyone bake pies or cookies for the new couple down the street anymore?), and even if you live in an apartment building with 16 other units, chances are you and your neighbors pass each other without ever getting to know one another. We even wrote an article on what not to do in NYC to avoid pissing off the locals. That’s how unfriendly the city is.
That’s not to say that every person in every big city is a total jerk. But it is tough to find an overwhelmingly nice city. These towns are where people smile at you as you walk down the street, take the time to talk to you as you wait in line together at the grocery store, and maybe even stop to help if you run out of gas on the side of the road.
There are lots of places where you will find helpful, friendly people. We searched far and wide for America’s friendliest cities and are excited to share them with you.
The five friendliest cities in the United States are a mix of Southern hospitality, Midwest charm, and West Coast cool. See what cities made our list.
5.) Charleston, South Carolina
It’s no secret that Southern charm is, well, charming, and Charleston, SC, is one of the best places to find it. As such, it could come as no surprise that it’s on our list of Healthiest and Happiest Places to Live in America.
Charleston is one of the oldest cities in America. Founded in 1670, it was originally known as Charles Town after England’s King Charles II. The city itself is a mixture of old, pastel buildings, live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, golf courses, and restaurants and bars.
It’s a walkable city, so if you’re in town for a visit, you can get by without a car (although if you live there you’ll likely need one). Because Charleston is on the water, there are plenty of beaches and fishing spots too.
Charleston has a slow pace coupled with a rich arts scene, history, restaurants, and sweet-as-pie people. That Southern hospitality goes a long way here. You might find yourself saying “y’all” and “bless your heart” in a matter of weeks. As any Southerner will tell you, “bless your heart” is a sugar-coated insult. But it still sounds better than what you’d hear elsewhere!
4.) Nashville, Tennessee
Located in middle Tennessee, Nashville is one of the happiest and healthiest cities and also one of the friendliest. Seriously friendly.
The capital of Tennessee is the second largest city in the state and known for its music scene. It’s the Country Music Capital of the World and often referred to as Music City. The city attracts an array of musicians, songwriters, and singers. Miley Cyrus was born in Nashville, and country stars Johnny Cash (and June Cash), Trace Adkins, Patsy Cline, Clarkson, and many more called Nashville home at one point in their careers.
Nashville is beautiful and has a rich history of food and straight-up good times. If you want to mix your handshaking with great music year-round, Nashville is worth checking out. There are some gorgeous neighborhoods and fun outdoor activities, plus hiking and biking are just a car ride away.
3.) New Orleans, Louisiana
The Big Easy. N’Awlins. The birthplace of jazz. New Orleans goes by a lot of names, and if you haven’t checked it out just yet, we highly recommend you get to it.
To know New Orleans is to love it. Forget the pictures of Mardi Gras that look like something out of a “Girls Gone Wild” video. Yes, partying is one aspect of the city, but there’s so much more.
New Orleans has come back stronger than ever after Hurricane Katrina, and the spirit and enthusiasm of the locals are infectious. Match Southern hospitality with incredible music, delicious food, and a thriving arts culture and you have yourself one hell of a friendly city.
And speaking of food, if you like gumbo, jambalaya, and other Creole concoctions, this is the city for you.
If you want to walk into the store and hear, “Hey, welcome back!” then New Orleans is your speed.
2.) Walla Walla, Washington
How can you not smile if you live in a town called Walla Walla?
Walla Walla is a small town in southeast Washington with a population slightly over 30,000. It’s a laid-back place where you can enjoy the outdoors, check out good restaurants, and get to know your neighbors. You will not find too many Manhattan-esque traffic jams or screaming matches here.
Like wine? You’re in luck! It has also become somewhat of a wine town with more than 100 nearby wineries. We recommend visiting in the summer and taking a hot-air balloon ride, too.
It might not be sunny California, but it does have that mellow West Coast vibe.
1.) Cleveland, Ohio
You’ve heard about how nice and well-mannered Midwesterners are, right? Cleveland is one of the cities that gives truth to the rumor. The Midwestern ease of Cleveland makes you feel right at home whether you’re from Manhattan or Montreal.
A city right on Lake Erie, Cleveland comes in at number one for friendliness. There are plenty of charming neighborhoods with boutiques and restaurants, great sports teams, and events that bring people together. You can also sit by Lake Erie and have a glass of wine while you chat up your neighbors at the next table. Sounds pretty sweet.
Next time you’re planning a trip and want to feel welcomed into a place, give one of these friendly cities a try.