16 Most tourist-friendly cities in the U.S.

Making friends in these tourist-loving cities

Hotel Deals for Livingston
Murray Hotel
MT, USA
Dec 13 - Dec 13, 2017
per night from
$ 229
$ 114.5

Some places beckon to travelers with their popularity and wealth of things to do, but sometimes those things can come with a cost. In some of the most popular tourist cities, not everyone is happy to see you. From disgruntled locals to overworked hospitality professionals, less than welcoming aspects can color a trip in a negative light.

Thankfully, there are plenty of cities that welcome travelers with open arms, and we’ve rounded up the 16 places where you’ll find the warmest welcome. Based on the following criteria and rated from 1 to 5 ⭐ in each category, these choices represent helpful, hospitable, comfortable, and easy-to-navigate places that never met a stranger they didn’t help out.

Feel free to pull out your camera, ask for directions and recommendations, or simply look around in wonder—in these friendly cities, no one will judge you for it.

Rating Criteria:
Helpful tourism board
Things to do
Quantity/quality of hotel options
Access to an airport or major transit center
City/discovery tours
Amenities and weather ratings*
*Gathered from AreaVibes.com

Bozeman, Montana


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Quantity/quality of hotel options: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Access to an airport or major transit center: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
City/discovery tours: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amenities: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Weather: ⭐⭐


Outdoor lovers are especially welcome in Bozeman, where you’ll be in close proximity to Yellowstone National Park and surrounded by mountains. Locals love to take advantage of the bounty they’re blessed with, and many will be more than happy to offer tips for favorite hikes and camping spots. For the urban-minded, there are plenty of hotel options, like the LARK Bozeman, and the Historic Neighborhood Walking Tour will introduce you to excellent spots to explore in town.

San Luis Obispo, California


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Quantity/quality of hotel options: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Access to an airport or major transit center: ⭐⭐⭐
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Though California is tolerant and laidback, some of its bigger cities can be difficult to navigate and in too much of a hurry to be much help to a curious tourist. One of the friendliest cities in the U.S., SLO embodies just the opposite, and refers to itself as the Happiest Place in America. Once you experience its proximity to beautiful beaches, its superb area wineries, and its plethora of activities, you’ll get it immediately. Take a Breakaway Tours wine tour, and spend a day at Hearst Castle in neighboring San Simeon.

Chicago, Illinois


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Quantity/quality of hotel options: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Access to an airport or major transit center: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Weather: ⭐⭐


For a major metropolis, Chicago is surprisingly big-hearted. Maybe it’s all the good food and neighborhood bars, maybe it’s the Midwest mentality, or maybe it just can’t be explained. Whatever the case may be, Chicago is one of the best cities to travel to in the U.S. Chicago Architecture Foundation offers amazing tours, or for a unique vantage point, take a sunset helicopter tour. Museums, galleries, boutiques, parks—the list of things to do goes on and on. Don’t miss treasures like Chicago Cultural Center and Garfield Park Conservatory.

Columbus, Ohio


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Weather: ⭐⭐⭐


If food is the way to your heart, let Columbus restaurants charm and impress you. Katalina’s Café, housed in a 100-year-old gas station, has all the personality and welcoming spirit you can ask for. Nothing induces good vibes better than a perfect scoop of ice cream, and Jeni’s delivers delightful flavors such as sun-popped corn and milkiest chocolate. You can reach all the goods almost as soon as you land—AirConnect shuttles run from the airport every 30 minutes, and cost less than a Dirty Frank’s hot dog (the most affordably delicious bite in town).

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Tourism is the watchword at this infinitely visitable beach town, where the water’s fine and the residents are friendly. Cinnamon Rainbows Surf Company is passionate about its work, and is a go-to for quality surf lessons and gear. During summer, visitors are treated to nightly shows on Sea Shell stage, a common central gathering spot. For more local entertainment, as well as a super fun atmosphere, great food and drinks, and killer coastal views, Bernie’s Beach Bar is the place. Homey accommodations are yours at Sea Spray Condos.

North Adams, Massachusetts


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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As the smallest town in Massachusetts (by population), North Adams packs a big punch. With events such as Solid Sound Music Festival, world-class exhibits at places like MASS MoCA, whole foods and fresh meals at Eat to Total Health, and the self-described “affable, quaffable brews” of Bright Ideas Brewing, you might just decide to be tourist-turned-local by the end of your trip. Add to all this street festivals, beach parties, fall foliage parades, the must-see North Adams Motorama, as well as many surrounding parks and trails to explore, and you really may decide to settle in for good.

Petoskey, Michigan


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Wonder awaits in the Petoskey area, where you can tour nearby Castle Farms in the daylight then head 36 miles north to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights at Headlands International Dark Sky Park. With an A+ crime rating, Petoskey is a leader in the safe cities club. Stick close to home base and indulge in area wine at Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery or at their downtown tasting room. Bring home local goods from American Spoon, where the friendly flavors of fruit spreads and butters, toasted granola, and unique sauces and condiments will serve as reminders of your sojourn in this charming town. Don’t forget to spend some time enjoying the marvels of Lake Michigan before you go!

Memphis, Tennessee


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Quantity/quality of hotel options: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Strong musical roots, its own rich style of barbecue, one of the most visited houses in America, incredible museums, a boisterous pedestrian mall lined with venues, shops, and eateries—the list of ways Memphis happily tempts travelers goes on and on. You can’t go to one of the top U.S. tourist cities and not visit its most famous draw, so Graceland is pretty much a must. Didn’t know you were suppressing the need to dance it out in the halls of a museum? Memphis welcomes you! Don’t forego the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, where the Express Yourself dance floor will both add and check off this unexpected bucket list item. Take a Memphis Riverboat tour, get schooled at the National Civil Rights Museum, and don’t forget to get messy with a plate of Leonard’s Pit Barbecue. You’ll be treated like family here.

Kent, Washington

Via VisitKent.com


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Twenty miles from Seattle, and merely 8 miles from Sea-Tac Airport, this ultra-accessible city is full of parks, waterways, sporting venues, and friendly faces, and is the perfect center for exploring the wider region, and a tourist’s dream. Visit its first historical landmark, Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks, an environmental art piece designed by Bauhaus artist Herbert Bayer in 1982. Taste award-winning beer on tap at Airways Brewing, then take in the current exhibit at Centennial Center Gallery. Local produce is revered, and Carpinito Brothers’ farm and produce market are your key to tasting Washington’s freshest.

Merriam, Kansas


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐
Quantity/quality of hotel options: ⭐⭐⭐
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The phrase home away from home really means something in Merriam, where familial vibes are strong, a warm meal made with love is easy to come by, and community events bring everyone together. Start at Merriam Marketplace downtown, host to the Merriam Farmers Market and other gathering opportunities. A stroll through Antioch Park, with its winding over-water boardwalk, lush trees, and the scaled-down Wild West Dodge Town play area will make for a peaceful afternoon. Follow your nose to Strawberry Hill Povitica, a town favorite that will have you forever craving the sweet swirled bread from which it takes its name.

Raleigh, North Carolina


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Travelers in search of everything culinary, rejoice. Raleigh is true flavor country, where inventive dishes meet with tradition and reimagine familiar tastes. Take Brewery Bhavana, where top-notch local beers pair with the age-old delights of the dim sum experience in a serene and upscale setting. Feel like letting your hair down? Neptune’s Parlour has arcade games, pinball, late-night DJs, and let’s not forget the drinks. In between amazing meals, meet the friendly locals at great events throughout the year—North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival, North Carolina State Fair, Hopscotch Music Festival, and the African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County, to name a few.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
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With a beautiful resort right in the center of town, this lake city is primed and ready to accept visitors. The surrounding mountainous region is rife with gems to stumble upon, whether they be hiking trails, unique eateries, historical towns, or any of the 55 nearby lakes. Coeur d’Alene Arts and Culture Alliance events are perfect for immersing yourself in the culture of the area, while ROW Adventure Center will bring you into the great outdoors via kayak, raft, bike, or SUP. For a delightful no-frills bite in a family-run mainstay, Hudson’s Hamburgers will welcome you like an old friend—just don’t try to order fries or you may get a bit of side-eye.

Winona, Minnesota


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Art, history, festivals, natural beauty, and nice people are only part of the gifts Winona bestows on visitors. From the Great River Shakespeare Festival to the Great Dakota Gathering, this town loves to welcome guests with big celebrations. Take a walking tour of downtown or hop on the Trester Trolley for glimpses of beautiful brick buildings and Tiffany stained glass, then sit down for a glass and a snack at The Oaks wine bar. Take to the water with Broken Paddle Guiding Company, which introduces guests to the tree-lined splendor of the Upper Mississippi River.

New Orleans, Louisiana


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Quantity/quality of hotel options: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Anyone who has been to New Orleans knows there is something special about the way the whole city seems to envelope you. Maybe it’s the humidity, but we think it’s more likely the warmth of its people, who know how to celebrate in all the right ways. The city hosts festivals and events around the calendar, so you will never run out of dynamic things to do. Don’t get lost in the crowd at Mardi Gras; come during New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, NOLA Downtown Music and Arts Festival, or the Bayou Boogaloo. Better yet, visit any time and drink in classic NOLA. The Sazerac Bar will serve you up the famous local drink that lends its name, grab a sack of boiled crawfish from Schaefer’s, and pick up a muffuletta from Central Grocery.

Manassas, Virginia


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Things to do: ⭐⭐⭐
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Thirty miles from Washington, D.C., and surrounded by nature, Manassas is happily situated for tourists who like to explore. The Manassas Museum System offers tours for the knowledge-thirsty, while just plain thirst is quelled at family-run BadWolf Brewing Company, where the atmosphere is way friendlier than the name suggests. Get your days going at cozy Jirani Coffeehouse, complete with an in-house library. Visiting in fall? Take the family to nearby Cox Farms for the Fall Festival and meet the locals (and a few llamas, rabbits, chickens, and goats). Back in town, fill up at Okra’s Cajun Creole and see a show at Hylton Performing Arts Center.

Buffalo/Niagara, New York


Helpful tourism board: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Spice things up in Buffalo, namesake of the beloved comfort food, Buffalo chicken wings. You must try the original at Anchor Bar, which has seen more than its share of passers-through (celebrities included). The views at nearby Niagara Falls State Park are no less bright than the fiery sauce, but they do skew toward more naturally hued. For more man-made masterpieces, Albright-Knox Art Gallery wows with de Kooning, Rousseau, Miró, and more. With much to see and do in the area, plan for a long stay full of hospitality and adventure. If all that choice is overwhelming, start with a tour to at least scratch the surface.

Where have you experienced the warmest welcome?

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Hotel Deals for Livingston
Murray Hotel
MT, USA
Dec 13 - Dec 13, 2017
per night from
$ 229
$ 114.5

Lily Rogers

Lily is a Southern California-based writer, editor, and traveler. She aspires to never be too far away from her next adventure, whether it be exploring the deserts of SoCal or the mossy forests of her native Pacific Northwest. She also loves international travel and always looks forward to crossing another destination off her bucket list.

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