September 8, 2015

September 8, 2015
World's Unfriendliest Cities

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Tuesday and I hope you had a beary safe and great Labor Day weekend. Dab the AIDS Bear and I enjoyed a peaceful one with our partner Jared.

Dab the AIDS Bear and I have traveled the world speaking at all kinds of events. Today and tomorrow, I would like to blog about what some of the most unfriendly cities are even though I have to admit we have some friends in each of them. These cities—"glum," "rude," and "not exactly the kindest"—didn't impress visitors with their people skills.

Not surprisingly, many of the cities that found themselves on our 2015 Unfriendliest Cities in America list (based on separate data from our annual America’s Favorite Places survey) were also called out in this census.

Here, some of our most-loved cities for cultures and the arts, or for wild nightlife and burgeoning food districts, show that even the best have room for improvement.

Of course, we’ve all had an unfriendly encounter with a local, or caught a city that’s just woken up on the wrong side of the bed. We know these cities, at their best, can all be inviting, vibrant, and dynamic destinations.

Have something to say? Share your worst city experience—or defend your city’s honor—with us on Facebook and Twitter.

30. St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.
Score: 76.403

Good weather and low-key vibes weren’t enough to keep this Florida city off the diss-list. Travelers expressed disappointment in their St. Petersburg experience, suggesting they wanted something more from the city and its people.

29. Newport, Rhode Island
Score: 75.966

This coastal town, with its clutch of ultra-luxe B&Bs and the staggering mansions along the Cliff Walk, is certainly attractive, but the wealth and exclusivity make themselves known to out-of-towners (even if you’re just visiting from another well-to-do city). “It’s too crowded,” one reader reported, “and the locals don’t want you there!”

28. Monte Carlo, Monaco
Score: 75.882

“Monte Carlo has become a playboys’ playground,” Robert Barnes reported ruefully. “It’s haughty and ultra-expensive,” said another reader. Escape the casinos and hotels and head to the Jardin Exotique or the Romanesque-Byzantine Cathedrale de Monaco (Princess Grace’s final resting place) for a touch of the city’s more cultural aspects.

27. Shanghai, China
Score: 75.706

Many travelers found Shanghai to be a bit crowded and overwhelming. “People stayed to themselves,” noted one reader. Spend some quiet time at the new Power Station of Art museum, or the Rockbund Art Museum.

26. Lyon, France
Score: 75.577

Many praised this walkable, attractive city, though unfortunate encounters with locals dragged down Lyon’s overall score. It did, however, outshine many of France’s other, even-less-friendly cities, thanks in part to its praiseworthy culinary scene. After a bowl of steaming truffle soup, puff pastry-crusted sea bass, or a dish of chestnut sorbet drizzled with chocolate sauce, who could stay in a sour mood?

25. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Score: 75.470

In this year’s survey, many repeat visitors to Argentina’s capital sadly noted a decline in atmosphere. Buenos Aires’ nightlife continues to wow, but crime and crumbling infrastructure made many uneasy. While economic troubles have made a visit to this South American destination very affordable, it’s also cast a bleakness over the once inexhaustible city.

24. Milan, Italy
Score: 75.149

“Be extremely careful that tour guides do not take advantage of you,” warned one reader. Other readers observed people seemed self-absorbed. Then again, all eyes have been on this long-loved style hub this year, as the Italian city plays host to Expo 2015.

23. Marrakesh, Morocco
Score: 74.795

One of Morocco’s largest, most-touristed cities is known for its dazzling medieval medina, the bustling souks fragrant with scented oils … and for being difficult to navigate as a tourist. “If [you] even raise your camera, [people] are on you like flies, wanting money.” While its gardens and riads enchant, hassling vendors can be exhausting.

22. Nice, France
Score: 74.407

Bad puns aside, Nice’s people did not get high marks for kindness. “The people we’re not friendly at all,” remarked one unhappy traveler. “I would not pay to go back.” If this French city is on your can’t-miss list, consider a stop in Čze, a medieval clifftop village located halfway to Monaco, or St. Paul de Vence, a hilltop village that has long enchanted artists.

21. Xi’an, China
Score: 74.382

Since the discovery of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army, Xi’an has become a major tourist destination. Tourists from around the world flock to see the life-size terracotta warriors and horses, though the city isn’t necessarily up to the challenge of hosting all the selfie-stick-wielding hordes. Pushy shop-owners make for tense people-to-people experiences.

20. St. Louis, Missouri
Score: 74.124

High crime rate explains St. Louis’ low score; many travelers felt uneasy traveling alone or exploring at night. “[It’s] not good for the future of the city,” worried one reader. What is good for St. Louis? The City Museum’s new 600,000-square-foot playground, with its rooftop Ferris Wheel and 10-story slides.

19. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Score: 73.861

One visitor suggested Fort Lauderdale should work together on its people skills. Nonetheless, Fort Lauderdale was applauded for being exceptionally hospitable toward LGBT travelers. Thumbs up, FTL.

18. Cincinnati, Ohio
Score: 73.492

“I arrived in Cincinnati on a weekend,” said an anonymous voter, “and I thought it was closed.” Slowly, the city has worked to shed its prudish disposition. Institutions like the 21C Museum Hotel are working to revitalize downtrodden districts and give new life and personality to neglected buildings.

17. Naples, Italy
Score: 73.176

Perhaps Naples just paled in comparison to its neighbors, Florence and Rome, which regularly score top marks in the World’s Best Awards. Readers warned travelers to enjoy Naples and its pleasures—crispy S.Marzano tomato and mozzarella di bufala neopolitan pizza, the Pizza del Plebiscito—while keeping an eye out for pickpockets.

16. Providence, Rhode Island
Score: 73.158

Artsy, geeky, and apparently kind of rude: Providence didn’t dazzle many of the visitors who filled out the survey. Fortunately, the once-seedy Westminster Street is getting a makeover, thanks to the restoration of the Arcade, the country’s oldest indoor mall, and the introduction of a few key boutiques. The debut of the Dean Hotel didn’t hurt, either. Here, visitors and locals can put aside their differences at the karaoke bar, beer hall, or barman Mike Sears’ masterpiece, the Magdalenae Room.

15. Boston, Massachusetts
Score: 72.925

“The attitude is awful,” said one respondent about Beantown. “Random strangers will comment on [you]—Mind your own business, Boston!”

Tomorrow I will finish with the top 15 unfriendliest cities. Have a beary safe and great Tuesday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab