Over the last four years, we've asked our readers to rate a city's "friendliness" in the Readers’ Choice Awards survey, especially with respect to where you felt welcome.
Did an outgoing local show you the way? Was the city easy to navigate? Or were the locals just downright rude?
Some 128,000 people took the survey in 2015—see what you had to say about the friendliest U.S. cities, and the ones that gave guests a cold shoulder.
1. Newark, New Jersey
Alas, Newark takes the top spot again, for least-friendly city in the country. "This was one of the saddest looking cities I've ever seen," said one reader. Another said it was a "business necessity. Extreme traffic, poor signage." "I often stay in Newark...and dine in Hoboken." Geez! Doesn't anyone ever go to the Ironbound District? Or anywhere other than the airport? Those looking on the bright side will tell you to head there, along with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and Prudential Center. Newark has its bright spots, too.
2. Oakland, California
This East Bay city retains its no. 2 position, with one reader simply stating: "Some parts of the city are scary." But more readers thought that "Oakland is starting to renew itself. New eateries are popping up everywhere...most are local finds at this stage." Temescal Alley is still one of the hippest parts of the city, and the weekend markets are where you'll find the best of the city.
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3. Atlantic City, New Jersey
"Atlantic City is a shame," said one reader. "It is not safe to leave the boardwalk. The beach is okay but there are so many beautiful beaches along the coast that AC is not outstanding. It could be a boon to NJ if the surrounding areas could be cleaned up." "It's a strange, split-personality town: an odd mix of grinding poverty and over-the-top conspicuous consumption. The promise of casino-funded urban renewal never really materialized."
4. Detroit, Michigan
We have a feeling Motor City won't be long on this list. While some people said the city was still facing hard times, others reinforced the notion that "Detroit's coming out of the bad times and really has a lot to offer, both in the city and in the surrounding suburbs." "The energy is all you need to feel to want to return to the city again and again," said another reader. "Things are changing and you can be a part."
5. Hartford, Connecticut
Connecticut's "forgettable" state capital "shuts down at night" and is considered "dreary, especially when it rains or snows." "It definitely needs a facelift!" Traffic and "seedy sections" of the city aside, "it appears to be trying to rejuvenate itself." The food scene is on the rise (a few readers loved Firebox restaurant); "Elizabeth Park's rose garden is wonderful" and the "river walk with its cultural and food festivals" are worth a visit
6. New Haven, Connecticut
The city of New Haven, beyond the ivy-covered walls, seemed "tired and spiritless," said one reader, calling Yale within "a little oasis." It's a refrain we hear often: that there isn't much to see in New Haven beyond the university, and "the contrast between the academic wealth and local poverty is poignant." But this year, we were happy to hear our readers trumpet the great restaurants in the city, particularly on Wooster Street, home to some of the best pizza in the U.S. "Frank Pepe's Pizza for life!"