Condé Nast Traveler

Charleston Is the Best Small City in the U.S.

Perhaps it’s the cobblestone streets. Or the pleasant locals. Or the outstanding food items, charming hotels, and unlimited drinking water sights. Regardless of what the cause, our visitors go on to be completely charmed by Charleston, South Carolina. In point, it was just voted the most effective tiny city in the United States in our 2022 Readers’ Preference Awards.

Now in its 35th 12 months, our yearly Readers’ Selection Awards continues to seize the travel ordeals our audience adore greatest, from motels and airlines to cruises and islands. The numbers confirm what we presently understood: Enthusiasm for vacation has in no way been increased, as demonstrated by the approximately quarter of a million of you who loaded out this year’s survey. The greatest cities in the world (big and smaller) are a testament to the remaining electricity of perennial favorites, by thick and thin—with some newcomers to look at. 

Charleston is no stranger to accolades. Our viewers named it the ideal small town for an extraordinary 10 consecutive many years right until it was edged out by Aspen in 2021—not surprising, with most tourists in search of out extensive open spaces for the duration of the pandemic. But the Holy City took back again its crown this year, and almost everything feels comparatively ordinary when all over again.

While there are clearly a lot of causes to appreciate this Southern metropolis, you really simply cannot chat about the vacation spot without straight away calling out its dining scene. “Excellent restaurants” and “delicious food” had been stated in countless survey responses, with distinct consideration paid to seafood, sweet tea, and hearty breakfasts.

Wine and Spanish groceries at Malagón Mercado y Tapería

Photograph by Olivia Rae James

Fried grouper cheeks at The Glass Onion

Photograph by Jonathan Boncek

The city excels at Southern cuisine, of course, but do not rest on Charleston’s more diverse dining options. Be sure to try the escargot at Maison, the tender agnolotti and veal scallopini at Wild Olive, the gazpacho at Malagón Mercado y Tapería, and the fried smelt with garlic skordalia sauce at Stella’s. We wouldn’t dare convey to you to skip the Southern classics, even though: If you’re blessed plenty of to discover an vacant parking place at The Glass Onion, break any gentle website traffic regulations to get it. The shrimp po’boys, fried grouper cheeks, and lemon meringue pie are the stuff of legends.

Fortunately for any calorie counters out there, Charleston also features an really walkable downtown spot and a plethora of out of doors actions. You can hop onboard one of the famous horse-drawn carriages (“carriage rides the two working day and evening are a need to,” writes just one reader), or choose a self-guided strolling tour previous Waterfront Park, the dwell oaks at White Stage Gardens, Legare’s stunning residences, and a lot more.

There are a lot of good beach locations to pick from in the spring and summer time, with “water as heat as a bath,” but we’re certain fans of the stretches of sand on Sullivan’s Island. These beach locations are vast plenty of to fit the crowds, have mild waves, and are surrounded by pure strolling paths via lush vegetation. Get out on the water with a kayaking tour—one of Charleston’s trademark outdoor activities—and you might even place a pair of surfacing dolphins or an elusive summer months manatee.

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