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Posted at 5:08 PM ET, 01/20/2011

America's Favorite Cities? Not D.C.

By Elizabeth Flock
Screen grab from Travel and Leisure's "America's Favorite Cities" map

The District didn't get a rousing vote of approval from the nation in Travel and Leisure's annual survey "America's Favorite Cities," released in T and L's last issue.

Both visitors and residents ranked 35 U.S. cities on their culture, shopping, restaurants, nightlife, and other factors, and it's safe to say the two groups' feelings don't always jibe. This year, D.C. fell behind on everything but culture -- in the ratings by both groups.

Here's the worst of it: We are now the fifth-rudest city in the nation, and we fell to 31st in friendliness. A former intern in D.C. told T & L about a time she passed out on the Metro and no one came to her aid.

But it's OK, because we're pretty, right? No. Our attractiveness has fallen to No. 30, according to both residents and visitors -- 30 out of 35.

The only laurels we can safely rest on are our smarts. We say we're the No. 1 most intelligent city in the nation, and visitors say we're fourth. (It feels like a high school contest in which we've been dubbed both a nerd and ugly-duckling who compensates by being aloof. Reese Witherspoon in "Election," anyone?)

Some more bad news:  The glories of finger-licking BBQ and a good pizza pie elude the District, with both categories falling to the late 20s overall. Our live music concerts are way down there too.

But hey, we've got one thing to hold on to: Our cultural edge. The No. 1 ranking for historical sites and museums and galleries remains ours. We're the second-best cultural getaway in the nation. The only problem? Survey respondents say our hotels aren't cheap and we're sure not romantic.

We'll keep visitors coming anyway by plying them with more big-name restaurants and better ethnic food than ever before. So take that, New York! And visitors love our public transportation. (I have to ask, have they actually ridden the Metro?)

The best thing about this list? Being able to pit two cities against each other. Yes, I've already checked out the District vs. New York. No, the results aren't pretty, with a big LOSER tag next to our name. Same for Chicago.

But hey, we beat Orlando. And that's really saying something.

Your Take: What do you love and hate about DC?

Love the coffee but hate the dating scene? Hate the buses but love the half-smoke? Tell us on Twitter by using #LoveAboutDC, #HateAboutDC or by leaving a note in the comments section below. We’ll post some responses back here in this blog.

Love the people, the burgers, the lighting, the architecture, the cleanliness, the efficiency and that huuuuuge sky. #loveaboutDCless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@washingtonpost @PostLocal Views of the horizon (low buildings), @chuckbrowndc GOGO, and great Ethiopian food #loveaboutDCless than a minute ago via web

The utilities and related infrastructure are outdated. Pretty embarrassing for an affluent, growing region if you ask me #hateaboutdcless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Drivers from Virginia #hateaboutdcless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

How easy it is to find quiet, the super-idealism, the small feel. And that few are fashionable so my mediocre outfit shines. #loveaboutDCless than a minute ago via Seesmic twhirl

spring!cherry blossom trees amazing!RT rank low of America's favorite cities. What do u #loveaboutDC? - via @PostLocalless than a minute ago via web

One thing I #loveaboutDC is I can easily amass a $1K in traffic tickets in one year.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

By Elizabeth Flock  | January 20, 2011; 5:08 PM ET
Categories:  Your Take  
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In the back of your mind, you know it's true. Though, I credit a majority of downtown rudeness and ugliness on people from Virginia and Maryland. I'm sure the government employees who shuffle around wearing tennis shoes with their business suits, unhappy after hours stuck in traffic have something to do with the perception.

As far as live music, also true. We simply have a lack of mid-sized club venues. Baltimore has three (Ram's Head, Sonar and Recher), while we have the 930 Club's monopoly, high ticket prices and all. Therefore, many bands skip us for more fan-friendly Baltimore.

Posted by: thebossman | January 20, 2011 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Scroll down on the survey page and click on 2010 Methodology and you get taken here:

The survey was not even close to a random sample of people. Instead, survey responses came from just a bunch of people that know about and read T&L magazine or frequent its website. What kind of income level do T&L readers come from? Do they tend to be racially homogenous? Do they tend to mostly be people over 50..or 60? Perhaps most importatnly, what subsection of their readership is taking the time to fill out the surveys? The same subsection that filled them out in the past? I would want to know answers to questions like these before putting any faith in their survey results.

Posted by: informedtraveller | January 20, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

In my defense as a DC Metro rider, what's so hard to understand whenever I yell, "Walk left, stand right!!!" I mean, c'mon now. And the lady who passed out at the Metro, I thought she was just resting.

Posted by: eunicedelrosario | January 20, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I love that DC is NOT one of "America's Favorite Cities"!

Posted by: mariabritten | January 20, 2011 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Ok Ok, the Metro area has some problems; many of them are long-standing (traffic, worse each year), crime, and btw--rudeness has been alive and well since I was old enough to shop alone. DC has no customer service. Never did. Ever called a Fed agency? How is the phone answered? Politely? lol. But -whatever-Wash is my hometown, I love it, all of it--if you can't take it, leave.

Posted by: arlingtonian6 | January 20, 2011 6:50 PM | Report abuse

DC is great for the C&O Canal, biking, overlooks of the Potomac U Street corridor Capitoline Hill, and Chinatown.

Posted by: mars11 | January 20, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

DC is great for the C&O Canal, biking, overlooks of the Potomac U Street corridor Capitoline Hill, and Chinatown.

Posted by: mars11 | January 20, 2011 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Thank you very much! Here is my 2 cents, I just printed Coupons for free. You can print coupons before you shop by searching "Printapons" online

Posted by: lindagfoley | January 21, 2011 4:19 AM | Report abuse


G-Deeing, Mutha-Effing lack of parking!!!

Posted by: AnonPoster | January 21, 2011 12:12 PM | Report abuse


G-Deeing, Mutha-Effing lack of parking!!! Its beyond ridiculous.

And for those about to scream "Leave your car at home"; a G-Deeing, Mutha-Effing public transit system that actually worked efficiently 24/7 would get me to do that. But that doesn't exist in DC either.

Posted by: AnonPoster | January 21, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

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