Charleston celebrates 12 years as No. 1 City in the U.S. in the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards

July 10, 2024

Make it a perfect dozen. For the twelfth consecutive year, the readers of Travel + Leisure ranked Charleston the No. 1 City in the U.S.  Charleston also holds the distinction of being the only U.S. destination voted among the 25 Best Cities in the World.

The news was announced this morning on The TODAY Show by Paul Brady, News Director of Travel + Leisure.

“Being recognized by such a highly regarded publication for 12 consecutive years provides unparalleled exposure and reinforces to potential visitors the many attributes – from outdoor activities in our beach communities to historic sites on the peninsula – that make our region an iconic destination,” said Dan Blumenstock, Chair of Explore Charleston’s Board of Governors and Director of Hotels for Lowcountry Hotels.

The accolades also underscore the significant role that travel plays in the local economy.

“Just as the competition for travelers’ discretionary spending continues to grow, so too does the competition for these respected accolades and the associated downstream benefits they generate for our community. Tourism remains one of the area’s leading economic drivers,” continued Blumenstock.

Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston, emphasized how the awards elevate the region’s profile, fuel its business climate and enhance residents’ quality of life.

“A thriving visitor market supports local businesses, creates jobs and generates a stronger tax base that reduces the reliance on taxes paid by local residents,” said Helen Hill, CEO of Explore Charleston. “The community also benefits from increased air service, vibrant cultural and entertainment amenities, as well as diverse dining and retail options.”

The College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis estimates tourism generated a record-high impact of $13.1 billion for the Greater Charleston Area in 2023. Over 53,000 local residents, more than ever before, now work in the industry. The percentage of countywide sales attributable to tourism increased to 24.7%, which is also a new record.

“We do not take for granted that it’s the readers – avid travelers – who determine the winners and that most cities in the country would love to be in our position,” said Hill.

In addition to the Best U.S. City award, The Wentworth Mansion was named among the top 10 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.

Kiawah Island remains a favorite destination for Travel + Leisure readers as it retained a spot among the top 10 Best Islands in the Continental U.S.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina and Wild Dunes Resort were named among the 10 Best South Carolina Resorts.

Travel + Leisure readers voted the following properties as the 15 Best Hotels in Charleston for 2024 (listed alphabetically): The Charleston Place, The Dewberry, Emeline, French Quarter Inn, Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston – Autograph Collection, HarbourView Inn, Hotel Bennett, John Rutledge House Inn, The Loutrel, Planters Inn, The Mills House Hotel, The Spectator Hotel, The Vendue – Charleston’s Art Hotel, Wentworth Mansion, and Zero George.

The complete results of the 2024 World’s Best Awards Survey are featured on and in the August issue of the magazine.


About Explore Charleston

As the region’s destination marketing and management organization, Explore Charleston represents 11 municipalities across three counties. It seeks to unify and lead the local travel industry in marketing the Charleston area, create overnight visitation, and support responsible development through travel and tourism strategies.