For a second time, readers of Condé Nast Traveler voted Chicago to be the best big city in its annual reader survey. While it’s no surprise to locals, everyone else is finally catching on. Between the lakefront, our world-class museums, and award-winning restaurants—what’s not to love?

The travel magazine collected about 429,000 votes for the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards. Due to the high number of responses, the results are divided up into two categories—15 best small cities, with populations under 1 million, and 15 best big cities.

Charleston, South Carolina; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Savannah, Georgia were the top three small cities. Charleston has topped the list for eight years running thanks to its extraordinary food scene, historic mansions, and charm.

Chicago beat out places like San Francisco, New Orleans, Denver, Boston, and even New York City. Here’s what CNT had to say about Chicago:

Find out what other places made the list—check out all 30 here.

Want to find out what makes this city so great? Look through our seasonal pocket guide for a curated list of 26 places to go that will help you see the city in a new way.


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