New Orleans rated best American city to visit by Travel + Leisure

For the second consecutive month, New Orleans has claimed an elite rating as a travel destination from a major tourism magazine. This time, in fact, it scored the highest honor, when Travel + Leisure declared it the best American city to visit.

Cities that won top scores in the reader survey, but didn’t quite match those of New Orleans, include Santa Fe, Nashville, New York, Minneapolis, San Diego, Savannah, Charleston, West Virginia, San Francisco and Chicago.

In October, New Orleans came in 8th on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of Top 10 Cities in the United States, making that list for what the magazine described as “the first time in ages.”

The accolades come as the city prepares to host the country’s largest annual sporting event, media spectacle and television ritual — the Super Bowl — in February. It will be the city’s tenth turn as host.

Travel + Leisure called New Orleans a “clear winner,” scoring in the top five in more than half of the 66 categories it surveyed, including fine dining and the music scene. The magazine asked readers to rate 35 metropolitan areas.

The travel publication has praised New Orleans in various categories in recent years. For its overall top commendation to the city, it cited an alluring mix of appealing traits.

“The Crescent City is the ultimate crowd-pleaser,” the magazine wrote. “These high marks run the gamut from the quite civilized — fine dining, architecture, and antiques — to the boisterously unpretentious, such as its top-rated music scene and the colorful people-watching. As reader Larry Lovell posted to T+L on Facebook: ‘In New Orleans, the people are friendly, the bars have history, and the local music culture has no comparison. It’s easy to be comfortable there.'”

Michael Hecht, president and chief executive of Greater New Orleans, Inc., hailed the recognition as a sign of rising perceptions of the city as the post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding era progresses.

In unveiling its Readers’ Choice Awards last month, Conde Nast last month said, “After a few years in flux, New Orleans is becoming ‘a magical city.’ It also doesn’t hurt that our readers believe that they have ‘the best food in the U.S., with live music around every corner.'”