Quick: What city do you think of when you think great coffee shops? How about terrific music? What if you’re in search of the perfect winter getaway?
Say you just want to meet some friendly locals — where would you go? Or perhaps you have a least favorite city, where the restaurants are overrated or overpriced and the people aren’t so attractive — or smart?
TravelandLeisure.com really wanted to know, so for the third consecutive year, we asked visitors to our site to rank their favorite American urban locales. These travel experts weighed in on a wide variety of topics: where they like to go for a family vacation, a shopping bender, or a relaxing getaway; and which spots are the best for cheap eats, haute cuisine, and more.
This year we changed the rules a little. Before the main survey opened, we gave travelers one month to vote for five additional cities to join the 25 veterans in our lineup.
The voting was tight, but the results were clear: Houston, Kansas City, Cleveland, St. Louis, and Providence would all contend for titles in the 55 survey categories.
Knowing how strongly travelers feel about airports and hotels, TravelandLeisure.com also expanded the survey to include questions about how the cities’ airports rate on everything from on-time arrivals to layover-worthy restaurants. And we added questions about which cities offer the best lodging options, ranging from the biggest big-name luxury hotels down to the smallest B&Bs.
The 2009 survey opened at midnight on June 1. Visitors rated the 30 American cities in 10 overall categories (People, Type of Trip, Hotels, Nightlife, Culture, Shopping, Food/Dining, Quality of Life/Visitor Experience, Airports, and Holiday Travel) and 55 subcategories.
By the time the voting closed, at 11:59 p.m. on July 31, visitors had answered almost four million questions about their favorite — and least favorite — destinations.
And what did they tell us? Well, Miami is home to America’s most attractive people (though perhaps not its most intelligent), Cleveland and Kansas City are the best spots for an affordable getaway (they tied), Minneapolis/St. Paul ranks No. 1 for smart people, and Houston is home to the best airports.
But that just scratches the surface. Where do travelers go for a wild weekend? Where do they head when they’re in the mood for a getaway in a stylish boutique hotel? And where would they never take their kids?
The 2009 AFC results are sometimes surprising, often funny, and always trip-provoking.