Charleston Named No. 1 Small City in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler


CHARLESTON, S.C. -- For the eighth consecutive year, Charleston has been named the most popular city in the U.S., according to Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Results of the 31st annual Readers’ Choice Awards were announced today and will be celebrated in the November issue on newsstands October 16.

The Awards are widely regarded as the longest-running and one of the most prestigious recognitions of excellence in the travel industry. Nearly half a million Condé Nast Traveler readers submitted a recording-breaking number of responses evaluating their travel experiences. 

Charleston’s overall rating outpaced other small U.S. cities (populations less than one million) in categories including arts and culture, sights and scenery, public transportation, hotels and resorts, restaurants and friendliness. 

“Travelers today have more options than ever. We are both honored and humbled that Condé Nast Traveler readers continue to recognize the Charleston area’s uniqueness, authenticity and charm,” said Michael Tall, Board Vice Chair of Explore Charleston. “World-class accommodations, distinctive culture and attractions, award-winning cuisine, breathtaking waterways and historic streetscapes offer visitors unparalleled experiences.” 

Helen Hill, Explore Charleston’s CEO, said research shows that a strong destination brand helps create and maintain a thriving, vibrant community. 

“Tourism propels economic activity and is the foundation of our region’s prosperity. Among other things, contributing to a stronger tax base reduces pressure on property taxes within local municipalities,” said Hill.

The College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis estimates the tourism industry accounted for $7.4 billion in economic impact across the greater Charleston area last year. The industry directly employs over 42,000 individuals throughout the region.

Further supporting tourism’s increasing contribution to the local economy, the average total expenditure per adult visitor per trip grew 6% in 2017. 

In July, Charleston was named No. 1 City in the U.S. by Travel+Leisure readers. The 2018 award marked Charleston’s sixth consecutive year atop the list. 

Officials at Charleston International Airport credit the national accolades with enhancing the market’s attractiveness to air carriers. Passengers can now fly to and from 30 airports in 25 cities across the U.S. 

“Airlines note the consistent recognition this area receives. We continue to see new carriers enter the market, existing partners expand service, and fares decline. We believe this improves the quality of life for local residents and our capacity to better serve the business community,” said Paul Campbell, CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority. 

In addition to Charleston’s No. 1 Small City in the U.S. ranking, the Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina ranked No. 4 among the top resorts in the South. 

The following were named the top hotels in the Charleston area for 2018 (listed alphabetically): 

●  Belmond Charleston Place 

●  The Dewberry Charleston 

●  French Quarter Inn 

●  Grand Bohemian Hotel 

●  HarbourView Inn 

●  John Rutledge House Inn 

●  King Charles Inn 

●  Market Pavilion Hotel 

●  The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel 

●  Planters Inn 

●  The Restoration 

●  The Spectator Hotel 

●  The Vendue 

●  Wentworth Mansion 

●  Zero George Street

For the complete list of 2018 Awards, visit


The mission of Explore Charleston is to unify and lead the local travel industry in marketing the Charleston area as an individual, meeting, incentive and group destination to both the domestic and international markets. 
High resolution photography available upon request. 

Doug Warner, director of media relations, Explore Charleston
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