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When traveling within the United States, your trip can be greatly affected by how warm and inviting the city that you are visiting is. While you want to have new and different experiences, you also want to feel comfortable and welcome. Certain regions, such as the South and America’s heartland (think, Minnesota), have reputations for being particularly, albeit intangibly, hospitable. But what about individual cities?

If you are looking for friendly places to visit, you shouldn’t just rely on the word of tourist organizations that depend on drawing in outsiders to spend money at establishments within their community. Rather, take it from the locals. If they are willing to embrace friendliness—which includes a general presence of politeness, good manners, and warm dispositions, in addition to neighborly goodwill and hospitality toward outsiders—then you are in good hands.

Looking for your next adventure in a city that will embrace your presence and serve you a helping of cordiality and kindness? Try out one of these destinations, which have been identified as America’s top five friendliest cities (according to Travel+Leisure Magazine).

5. San Antonio, Texas

Maybe it is no surprise that one of the friendliest cities can be found in the great state of Texas. San Antonio takes pride in many things: the legendary Alamo, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, an iconic miles-long downtown River Walk lined with cafes and shops, a rich colonial heritage, and, first and foremost, being friendly. Even those who have lived in the south-central Texas city for decades bear testament to a genuine vein of hospitality that runs throughout San Antonio and its community members.

4. New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is, in a word, open. Not simply because it boasts round-the-clock nightlife, an intriguing heritage that combines African, French and American cultures, and festive vibrancy often displayed in street parties, but also because the people who live there are amicable and receptive. Not only do residents talk about neighbors sitting out on their porches, figuratively offering their company, but they also lay claim to a general, genuine interest in learning about other people and hearing their stories.

3. Greenville, South Carolina

Graced with a quintessential southern charm, Greenville is a mecca of friendliness, where people walk down the street bearing smiles and exchanging greetings. Perhaps warmth and kindness are a reflection of the beautiful and pervasive natural attractions within the Greenville community, including Falls Park on the Reedy River and the Swamp Rabbit Trail. One thing is for sure, though: whether you are visiting Greenville to enjoy its robust art scene, popular festivals, diverse dining, or outdoor recreation opportunities, you are sure to be greeted by passersby.    

2. Norfolk, Virginia

Not to be left off a list that includes other Southern states, Virginia also possesses one of America’s friendliest cities: Norfolk. In this waterfront town situated on Virginia’s southeastern coast, southern hospitality is a badge of honor and one that is consistently supported by the community. Along with goodwill and courteous manners, travelers also can experience Nauticus, a maritime museum; the scenic Chesapeake Bay; the Chrysler Museum of Art, with its impressive collection of glass art, sculpture, and European and American paintings; and the riverside Virginia Zoo.  

1. Buffalo, New York

At first glance, this list-topper may come as a surprise, considering its position in the reputably cold northeast. However, based on input from locals, Buffalo lives up to its popular nickname, the City of Good Neighbors. Residents take pride in their community and it shows in the way they come alongside one another in times of both need and celebration, share smiles with friends and strangers on the street, and are more than happy to not only give visitors directions, but also occasionally escort them to their destination. The city embodies a strong sense of community that is seamlessly shared with outsiders.

Deep-rooted common courtesy

When considering these five culturally and geographically diverse cities, it is easy to see that they have one important quality in common: authentic friendliness. Not the kind that’s plastered on to make visitors feel welcome when shilling out dough within city limits, but the kind that is deeply ingrained and frequently manifests itself through the everyday dispositions and manners of the locals. They take pride in being friendly and are happy to live up to the reputation with words and actions.

Next time you want to take a trip to a new destination, consider one of America’s top five friendliest cities. Not only will you be able to enjoy a variety of enticing cuisines, interesting and engaging attractions, and memorable experiences, but you can tour each city at ground-level, thanks to the warm nature of their welcoming residents.

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