This post originally appeared at Travel + Leisure.Which is worse when you’re travelling: the local driver who blithely cuts you off in traffic or the surly cabbie who gives you attitude right to your face?
Such skirmishes no doubt fuelled this year’s America’s Rudest Cities contest, voted on by Travel + Leisure readers. Three-time-champion Los Angeles, home of road rage, went head-to-head with classically brusque East Coast cities such as Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.—all of which landed in the top five.
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New York ultimately claimed the title of No. 1 rudest city, a dubious award determined as part of T+L’s annual America’s favourite Cities survey, in which readers rank 35 major cities in categories such as the best pizza, the most pedestrian-friendly streets, and even the most reliable wireless coverage.
A look at this year’s rudest top 20 reveals one overarching trend: the bigger the city, the bigger the attitude—or at least its perceived attitude. “People in big cities tend to be very direct,” says Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and owner of Protocol Etiquette School of Texas. While that alone can be fine, she adds, “it’s no excuse for being rude. “
Smaller cities often have a slower pace, which may help explain why New Orleans, Savannah, and Charleston all ranked in the top five for friendliness. They are also literally warmer cities, which may further mellow the locals.
But don’t give too much credit to southern hospitality. Atlanta made it into the rudest top 10—perhaps because it’s a sprawling metropolis, or because visitors expected more charm from the Georgian capital. Similarly, some visitors assume that they’ll get an all-smiles welcome in Orlando; any subsequent disappointment helped land the city at a grumpy No. 9.
New Yorkers, meanwhile, have long endured the notion that everyone expects them to be hostile. But are they just misunderstood?
“People in New York are constantly in a rush,” says Big Apple manners expert Thomas P. Farley, who writes the blog What Manners Most. “Certainly, they don’t linger on corners smiling, waving, and waiting to help people. But once you’ve stopped a New Yorker and asked them for directions, they’re usually more than helpful.”
And if someone gives you guff anyway? “Move on,” says Gottsman. “You can’t take it personally. If you do, then you start getting rude.”
Apparently, being family-friendly is different from being just friendly. One wonders, though, if it's locals who are snapping at visitors, or if it's just other tourists, who are cranky after waiting in theme-park lines. Perhaps because of that, voters really loved one thing about being in Orlando: getting back to their hotels.
Feeling some heat? Phoenix/Scottsdale moved into the top 10 this year after placing at No. 12 last year. Perhaps the locals get fatigued by the snowbirds that fly in as soon as the local weather turns pleasant: the area ranked as the third-best winter destination.
Voters weren't feeling the love here, in more ways than one. The city scored near the bottom for romantic escapes, and the locals ranked as some of the least attractive. But at least the rudeness is of a fairly mellow variety: Atlanta placed in the bottom 10 for wild weekends.
Locals in this sprawling city have probably tired of tourists' old jokes about oil wells and cattle ranches--and may be venting with the kind of brusqueness associated with big metropolitan areas. At least voters did love the local barbecue joints, where it's actually not rude to lick your fingers.
Are they just a bunch of smart mouths? Folks in Beantown ranked near the top fo rintelligence, but that didn't endear them to visitors. Bostonians might also be guilty of gloating about theirchampionship sports teams. But visitors still love the city as a cultural getaway, and ranked it highly for its festive 4th of July.
The City of Angels is polishing its halo a bit this year, having moved from last year's No. 1 position. While the locals still have some work to do on the charm front, voters gave them props for being attractive andstylish. If someone hurts your feelings here, try retail therapy: the city ranked third for both luxury and design stores.
Politics is ugly, and perhaps getting uglier. Even though our nation's capital still counts as a great family getaway, it got two spots ruder since last year. For less attitude, voters preferred to hang out with any locals cast in bronze or granite: the city ranked first and second for its museums and historical monuments.
They're gorgeous, a little wild, and terrible drivers, according to voters. While bad weather may explain crabbiness in some cities, Miami can't use that excuse. Voters are willing to shrug it off, though, as long as they are whooping it up in one of the city's many loud settings, such as itsbar scene or its raucous New Year's Eve.
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