The magazine changed their awards from previous years by creating separate categories for big and small cities. In the past, Charleston took home the top spot regardless of city size, but this year it had to settle for winning the "small city" category. Meanwhile, New York was chosen as the Best Big City in the U.S. and Canada. For what it's worth, the Holy City had a higher overall rating than Manhattan.
Another change was the exclusion of U.S. cities from the "Best Cities in the World" awards. Otherwise, based on their ratings, a few U.S. cities would have made the cut.
Here's what Condé Nast Traveler had to say about Charleston:
"With its beautiful gardens, vibrantly painted Georgian houses along Rainbow Row, and carriages clacking across cobblestone streets, Charleston remains one of the country’s most picturesque cities. Underneath its sleepy charm, the city is known for its dynamic food scene—where destination dining reflects its English, French, and West African roots—along with a thriving theater scene, bustling King Street, and historic City Market. Come evening, stroll along The Battery and take it all in."
The magazine’s annual accolades have been around since 1986 and are based on each city’s rankings in several categories – Arts/Culture, Friendliness, Scenery/Sights, Restaurants/Food, Accommodations, Shopping, and Value. Charleston first appeared in the "Top U.S. Cities" list in 1993 with a sixth place finish. It first earned the #1 ranking in 2011.
In addition to the No. 1 Top Small U.S. City ranking, the following businesses were also ranked in separate categories:
- Best Resorts in the South
- # 6: Kiawah Island Golf Resort
- # 20: Wild Dunes
- Best Hotels in the U.S.
- # 2: The Restoration on King
- # 13: Wentworth Mansion
- Best Islands in the U.S.
- # 7: Hilton Head Island
- # 8: Kiawah Island
The Readers’ Choice Awards are announced in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler, which will be on newsstands on October 27th.