• Charleston, South Carolina, named best US city


    Travel and Leisure has released its annual World's Best Awards, which rank the world's best cities, hotels, islands and more. This year's best cities list made room for two United States travel destinations in the top 10. New Orleans, Louisiana, came in 8th place, while Charleston, South Carolina, took the 2nd spot, behind only Kyoto, Japan.

    For the last two years, Charleston has been rated the top city for travelers in the U.S. However, this year it shot ahead in the worldwide rankings, rising from the No. 7 spot in 2013. Charleston's mix of top-notch accommodations with great restaurants and outdoor activities make it an ideal spot for family travel.

    Where to stay and eat
    The magazine spoke to Charleston native Stephen Colbert earlier this year about what makes his hometown great. Colbert pointed to two restaurants, Hominy Grill and Husk, which serve Southern staples such as fried chicken and of course hominy - or more commonly, grits. He also singled out some of the city's hotels for their historic architecture, great views and affordable rates. The Francis Marion Hotel's harbor views earned Colbert's praise. Readers of Travel and Leisure also mentioned the city's hotels as a highlight.

    On the beach
    Of course, a vacation to the South spent entirely indoors would be a waste of good weather. For outdoor adventures, Colbert recommended Sullivan's Island, a nearby town in Charleston harbor. According to the town's website, it doesn't have any hotels or other accommodations for visitors, but it's well within the distance for a day trip from Charleston. The island features a popular beach, which is much less developed than beaches in many towns popular with travelers. There are no lifeguards or other services on the beach, and marine animals can typically be found in swimming areas. The beach also serves as home for populations of endangered loggerhead turtles.

    Sullivan's Island is also home to Fort Sumter National Monument, where the Civil War officially began, according to the Travel Channel.

    A less wild stretch of sand can be found nearby in Folly Beach. The town, and the beach of the same name, offer more amenities than Sullivan's Island, at the price of bigger crowds. According to the town's website, visitors can take advantage of everything from surfing lessons and bike rentals to close campgrounds and boat docks.

    A city with history
    The city proper also offers plenty of opportunities to see historical sites that teem with things for travelers to do. Travel Channel recommended the Old Exchange Building, which has served as a prison and meeting hall and hosted the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.

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