12. Chicago, Illinois
4. New Orleans, Louisiana
3. Savannah, Georgia
When it comes to the pain points of travel these days, airlines usually get the brunt of complaints. So when a carrier scores big with fliers, it’s usually because of company-wide efforts by pilots, ground crew, gate agents, booking and sales agents, and customer-service reps to deliver premium-class service to all customers — whether they’re flying first or coach.
The airlines that scored big with our readers this year are the ones that are doubling down on making customers happy. Among this year’s winners, JetBlue continues to win accolades for its Mint premium cabin service. When it comes to the onboard snacks, one T+L reader also cited how the airline “goes the extra mile for passengers with food allergies by serving nut-free and gluten-free choices. A serious plus when you travel with children.”
Both Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest consistently rank high for their frequent-flier programs and excellent flight service (mahalo, Hawaiian, for still providing complimentary meals!), with the latter getting extra shout-outs for value. “Southwest offers flexibility and no hidden costs,” wrote one reader. “You can check two bags free of charge, there are no change fees, and the flights are STILL economical.”
Alaska Airlines’ increasing popularity is owed in large part to a great loyalty program and an expanding flight network, and its customer base will soon be growing due to its acquisition — and ultimate dissolution — of Virgin America in 2019. Virgin America has held the No. 1 spot on our domestic airline list for the past 10 years, and it’s no surprise, given that many of our readers praised the customer service. “They really know how to get it right,” said one fan. “Every employee seemed to love their job, and I never felt for one moment that I was a bother as a passenger,” added another.
How do we determine the best? Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. In the airlines category, readers rated carriers on cabin comfort, service, food, customer service, and value. See below for how the best U.S.-based airlines fared among our readers.
15. Portland, Oregon
1. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is that rare destination that, on paper, seems to have it all — and then totally lives up to the hype. History lovers can stroll the historic cobblestoned center, a maze of immaculate 18th- and 19th-century homes, while foodies can schedule their whole day around meals: char-grilled oysters at Leon’s, cocktails at speakeasy the Gin Joint, and a decadent cheeseburger at Husk. At family-owned boutiques like Croghan’s Jewel Box, you can browse for estate silver, one-of-a-kind jewelry, and leather wine totes. Said one T+L reader: “All the elements are there to make it a city that will remain in your heart long after you’ve left.”
7. New York City
11. San Francisco, California
5. Nashville, Tennessee
10. San Antonio, Texas
Catherine Zeta-Jones is one lucky lady. Not only has she been blessed with an illustrious film career and beauty that defies time, but she also always seems to have her loving family by her side no matter where in the world she travels.
This week, the actress stepped out in New York City alongside her 14-year-old daughter, Carys Zeta Douglas. According to the Evening Standard, the mother-daughter duo were in New York to attend Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda couture event.
At the event, both Zeta women looked stunning in the designer’s outfits. Zeta-Jones wore a black corset with lace sleeves and a sheer black lace skirt. Meanwhile, her daughter opted for black trousers with an off-the-shoulder floral top.
In an Instagram video, Zeta-Jones shared, “Just arriving at the Dolce and Gabbana show with Carys. We are so excited.”
While this trip looked remarkably fashionable, it wasn’t the first time Zeta-Jones took one of her children to an incredible place.
In January, the actress and her husband Michael Douglas took their family, including Carys and her brother Dylan, on a tour of India, Cambodia, and Thailand.
While in India, the entire family was lucky enough to tour the Taj Mahal.
“At the Taj Mahal with the three other ‘Wonders of the World’ in my life,” Zeta-Jones wrote in an Instagram post.
Those who consume about two drinks a day are less likely to develop dementia, according to a new study.
We can’t help but feel happy every time a study comes out proving wine has health benefits. The latest happy gram: new research from the Scientific Reports journalfinds that low to moderate alcohol consumption can reduce inflammation and help the brain remove toxins, including those associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
How’s that for the best reason ever to enjoy a glass of red after work?!
The “moderate” part equals about two and a half drinks per day for a 154-pound person—so this is no excuse for polishing off a bottle of Pinot in one sitting (but, hey, we won’t judge). Researchers did find that drinking more on the regular actually increases inflammation, so it is a good idea to keep the refills in check.
As with most things, the lesson here is still moderation!
Double up on the health benefits with good-for-your-gut kombucha cocktails. If you’re sticking to wine, learn once and for all how to really order from a wine list.
How to Order Wine From a Wine List
Getting dizzy just looking at the fatter-than-a-phone-book list? Use these tips from Dorothy J. Gaiter, a coauthor of four guides on selecting, tasting, and pairing, to choose a bottle worth toasting.
Once you decide between red and white, what’s next?
Consider the regions. If the wine list has 20 wines from Italy, five from California, and one from Austria, it’s a safe bet that the sommelier’s or chef’s passion is Italian wines. So focus on that portion of the list. Chances are, he has sampled a lot of those wines and can spot a quality bottle. Based on how much you want to spend, you can get your list down to a few. Then ask the server, “What can you tell me about these?” Read his body language as he responds; go with the wine that makes him the most animated.
Any tips on lower-priced wines?
Yes. Bypass the second-cheapest wine. People pick it because they don’t want to come off as a tightwad. But in my experience, you’re better off with the least costly option, which tends to be priced more appropriately and taste just as good, if not better. Avoid Chardonnay, too. It’s America’s favorite wine, and as a result, most places overcharge for it. As a rule, imported wines are a better value than those from California.
How do you know which winery or producer to pick?
It’s impossible to make judgments across the board, but skip main-stream names that you recognize from the liquor store. You can enjoy them at home for less money.
Memorize these phrases: “Argentinian Malbec.” “Austrian Riesling.” “French Beaujolais.” These are always a good choice because they’re among the signature wines of those regions.
Does the vintage matter?
While some wines are meant to age (like a fine Bordeaux), most are meant to be consumed as soon as they’re released. In other words, the more recent, the better. If the list features a 2011 wine and the waitperson presents a 2010 bottle, the restaurant is trying to unload its backlog. Politely ask the server to bring you the newer one.
Is it smarter to order by the bottle or by the glass?
By the bottle. At many restaurants, when a wine is served by the glass, the bottle is left open for hours, which turns the flavor stale. (Most wine bars are an exception: They use tools that pull the oxygen out of the bottle so the wine stays fresh between pourings.) A whole bottle is also a better deal, as restaurants tend to price glasses so that just one covers the entire cost of the bottle.
The wine has arrived. What now?
Look at the wine in your glass to check that there are no flecks of cork. Then sniff it. If the wine smells like wet newspaper or vinegar, that’s a problem. Ask for a new bottle.
Is it ok to ignore the list and go for the house wine?
Absolutely. It’s often delicious! Ask the waiter if he’s willing to show you the bottle. If he is, that’s a sign that he’s proud to reveal the brand and that it’s probably very palatable.
No one was more surprised than New Yorkers themselves to learn that South Street Seaport — a patch of land at Manhattan's lower end, right where the East River widens into New York Harbor — had become cool. For a generation, suburban-mall megachains dominated its cobblestoned streets, giving locals little reason to make a special trip. Then last year, developers launched a campaign to infuse the area — redubbed Seaport District NYC — with creative energy in the form of buzzy chef residencies, live music, and pop-up shops. The evolution had begun years earlier, after the area was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. But by mid 2017, there was little doubt: Seaport, strangely, had become Manhattan's neighborhood to watch.
These days, smaller merchants have mostly supplanted or outlived the retail giants. Northern Grade, a market of American-made housewares and apparel, opened a flagship in 2015, not far from Farm Candy, which sells small-batch pantry products, and Bowne & Co. Stationers, a paper goods store and print studio operated by the South Street Seaport Museum, an area fixture since 1967. Clinton Hall, a laid-back beer garden with a location nearby in the Financial District, arrived last year, giving the after-hours scene a jolt.
The neighborhood's first boutique lodging, the 66-room Mr. C Seaport (doubles from $500), opens this spring, in a handsome Federal style brick building that for years languished as an unremarkable outpost of a chain hotel. Now it has a European feel, reflecting the sensibilities of designer Thomas Juul-Hansen (best known for his interiors at restaurants like Nougatine and Perry Street) and the Italian owners (two brothers from the Cipriani hospitality family). Rooms are luxurious yet subdued, with gray velveteen accent walls, lacquered-teak trim, and marble-clad bathrooms. Upon arrival, guests will be escorted to the jewel-box lounge for a cappuccino or cocktail while they check in; upstairs, negronis await in the mini-bars. It's just a block from the waterfront, so no matter which room you book, you're guaranteed a picturesque view: the Brooklyn Bridge from the upper floors or the cobblestones of Peck Slip from the lower.
The old shopping mall at Pier 17 has been razed, replaced with a glassy structure that will open later this year with a rooftop event space and new ventures by restaurateurs David Chang, Andrew Carmellini, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. A branch of indie bookstore McNally Jackson will move in nearby, as will the cult-favorite Milanese concept store 10 Corso Como.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
"Travel isn't a hobby, it's a way of life."
- Christina Columbo
10. San Antonio, Texas
Staying close to home has its rewards — as you’ll discover in these top cities.
From New York to Santa Fe, Honolulu to Nashville, American cities represent some of the world’s most thriving hubs for art, culture, music, and incredible regional cuisine.
When we asked T+L readers what urban centers stood out from the pack, they had one clear answer: Southern crowd-pleasers. Eight out of the top 15 cities this year hailed from that region, and the list included iconic weekend getaway destinations like Nashville, San Antonio, and Asheville, North Carolina. “Asheville is a booming city with much to see and do,” said reader Sandra Billings. Other readers noted that the food and drink scene was booming. “The expanding craft beer scene is amazing,” noted Chloe Todd. “The breweries are fun to experience, and the downtown strip has cool, local shops.”
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.
Another common theme among the winners: they all play host to marquee festivals. Austin has been drawing a steady stream of visitors to its annual SXSW Festival, which has become a must-do for actors, musicians, and thought leaders, while New Orleans may be our country’s reigning capital when it comes to celebrating. Beyond Mardi Gras, there’s the French Quarter Festivals, Jazz Fest, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, and Tales of the Cocktail, a celebration of craft mixology. It also has some of the most inventive chefs in the country right now — including Zachary Engel, the chef de cuisine at Israeli restaurant Shaya. Engel was recently named Rising Star Chef of the Year by the James Beard Foundation. “If you don’t like to eat, dance, or listen to the best homegrown music in America, well then, I guess New Orleans isn’t for you,” said one reader.
Just where is the No. 1 city in the United States — a place that has held this honor since 2013? Read on for more on why this Southern hot spot continues to delight our readers, year after year.
6. Honolulu, Hawaii
14. Boston, Massachusetts
Visiting America’s national parks will forever change you. The remarkable beauty that these vast areas have to offer is almost impossible to truly describe — which is why people are often tempted to take a piece of the park home with them in the form of a plant, rock, or something more precious. But it should go without saying you should never, ever vandalize or steal from a national park.
Some people, it seems, didn't get that memo. And it’s become such an issue that rangers at Saguaro National Park in Arizona have been forced to put microchips in some of the park’s famed Saguaros, a variety of cactus that is capable of growing more than 40 feet tall and can live upwards of 200 years.
“It’s ironic that we set aside great places like Saguaro National Park and people think that they can just come take the iconic cactus for which the park is named,” Kevin Dahl, a program manager for the National Park Conservation Association in Arizona, told KTAR News. Dahl added that stealing the plants has become a lucrative business as a Saguaro can be sold for as much as $100 per foot.
According to officials, a number of the cactus plants have been microchipped. However, they note that while the chips can identify a stolen plant, they cannot track them. But they are hopeful this new technique will deter thieves in the future.
And though officials don’t have an exact count on how many of the plants have been stolen, they know the impact has been significant.
As most travelers know, more airlines are charging more fees for services — like seat assignments — that used to be included.
Now the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in the U.K., is investigating airlines that may deliberately split up passengers traveling in groups, forcing them to pay seating charges to sit together.
“We will be looking into how airlines decide where to seat passengers that have booked as part of a group and whether any airlines are pro-actively splitting up groups of passengers when, in fact, they could be sat together,” Andrew Haines, the chief executive of the CAA, said in a statement. “We will not hesitate to take any necessary enforcement action should it be required at the end of the review.”
The CAA estimates that passengers pay U.K. airlines more than £390 million (about $547 million) each year on seat-selection fees, according to the Telegraph. According to the CAA’s preliminary research, many customers are spending money to sit together when they may not need to.
“Our work will consider whether or not these charges are fair and transparent,” Haines said.
Airlines allocate “random” seats based on a computer algorithm — however each airline has its own unique algorithm which disperses passengers in unique seating patterns.
Passengers flying the budget airline Ryanair were the most likely to be separated from their group, according to the CAA. (It happened to 35 percent of passengers.) Emirates passengers were the runners up, separated 22 percent of the time, followed by Virgin Atlantic at 18 percent. Across the 10 airlines surveyed, an average 18 percent of passengers were split from their group when they did not pay a seating fee.
9. Asheville, North Carolina
8. Austin, Texas
If you want to woo your sweetheart with a perfect night out, don’t waste a minute second-guessing your restaurant reservation.
Yelp has put together a list of the 25 most romantic restaurants in the United States (based on volume of reviews mentioning the word ‘romantic,’ as well as rating), to insure your dinner is a home run.
To give the list a bit of geographic diversity, only three restaurants per state were included on this list.
There were many unsurprising mentions on the list, including New York City’s Gramercy Tavern (No. 24), Club A Steakhouse (No. 9), and Thomas Keller’s Per Se (No. 20), which serves a haute dessert tasting menu.
Chicago also had three restaurants appear on the list — Gilt Bar (No. 23), Penumbra (No. 4), and Baette’s Bar & Boeuf (No. 2) — while Philadelphia can take ownership of two (Bistrot La Minette at No. 21; Talula’s Garden at No. 11).
Not all of these charming restaurants are in major cities. The No. 5 most romantic restaurant, Gourmet Italia, is located in Temecula, California, while Mama’s Fish House (No. 8) can be found in Paia, Hawaii.
But the single most-romantic restaurant, according to Yelp reviews, is Café Monarch— a lovely family-owned restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Café Monarch is well known for their special occasion, prix-fixe dinners — and this year, patrons can celebrate Valentine’s Day by ordering the $150, four-course menu. Dishes will feature swoon-worthy ingredients like prime filet mignon, Maine lobster tail and diver scallops, and Chilean sea bass.
Yelp reviewers raved about the attentive service (but not overbearing), the ambiance (bistro lighting, candles, a cozy fire), and incredible food (almost as much as the specialty cocktails).
Really impress your date by reserving a table on the ivy-covered, palm-fringed courtyard, and check out the full list of romantic restaurants below.
The Most Romantic Restaurants the United States, According to Yelp
25. Tidepools in Poipu, Hawaii
24. Gramercy Tavern in New York City, New York
23. Gilt Bar in Chicago, Illinois
22. La Mer in Honolulu, Hawaii
21. Bistrot La Minette in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
20. Per Se in New York City, New York
19. St. Martin's Wine Bistro in Dallas, Texas
18. Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas, Nevada
17. The Black Pearl in Dunedin, Florida
16. Bella on the River in San Antonio, Texas
15. The Olde Pink House in Savannah, Georgia
14. Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida
13. Chef Adrianne's in Miami, Florida
12. Café Amelie in New Orleans, Louisiana
11. Talula's Garden in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
10. Cibo in Phoenix, Arizona
9. Club A Steakhouse in New York City, New York
8. Mama's Fish House in Paia, Hawaii
7. Island Prime in San Diego, California
6. L'ardoise Bistro in San Francisco, California
5. Gourmet Italia in Temecula, California
4. Penumbra in Chicago, Illinois
3. Canoe in Atlanta, Georgia
2. Bavette's Bar & Boeuf in Chicago, Illinois
1. Café Monarch in Scottsdale, Arizona
When you think of a typical Airbnb host, someone with a spare room in their house may come to mind — someone who's perhaps just looking to make some extra cash. And about 80 percent of Airbnb owners fit that bill. But some have taken Airbnb ownership to the extreme, raking in millions of dollars each year from their multiple listings.
The king of them all is a man in London who has 881 properties across the city. In the past year, he made $15.6 million from all of his properties, according to data from AirDNA.
In London, there are currently 57,475 Airbnb listings available — meaning this man owns 1.5 percent of the city’s Airbnb market. AirDNA estimates that 24 percent of Airbnb hosts in London have multiple listings across the city.
Another extreme example is a man who made $15.4 million through his 504 properties in Bali. Last year, a report from Forbes said that 75 people in the U.S. made more than a million dollars from their Airbnb listings. That's about one out of every 3,850 people.
AirDNA says this trend is growing — but people aren’t becoming overnight millionaires from the scheme.
“We’re seeing traditional property management companies operating as many as 1,000 listings,” AirDNA CEO Scott Shatford told The Telegraph. “These numbers don’t show a multimillionaire sitting on a gold mine. These are businesses that have emerged in this new economy, with hundreds of employees, managing other people’s second homes.”
Because it’s impossible for one man to operate almost 900 properties on his own, multiple owners are setting up their own businesses. There are even services to help people set up their own Airbnb management companies.
For those who choose Airbnb as a way to meet locals, this is a disconcerting trend. Travelers who want a one-on-one connection with their host should scour Airbnb before booking and ensure that their host only has one or a few listings. Otherwise the stay could quickly start to resemble something like a hotel.
Free goodies, a range on in-flight entertainment, and spacious seats make this airline the winner.
If you’re looking to get comfortable on your next flight, knowing how much legroom the airline offers and what types of amenities and entertainment you can expect makes all the difference.
Those are the factors that personal finance site WalletHub used to determine which U.S. airline provides the most comfortable experience for travelers across the nine largest U.S. airlines as well as two regional carriers.
JetBlue was given the distinction of having the most comfortable in-flight experience, scoring high marks across each of the categories in the report.
WalletHub looked at which airlines provide at least 30 inches of seat pitch in economy, if they provide some type of entertainment, if they have amenities like free Wi-Fi, and if they offer a selection of complimentary food and drinks. JetBlue scored perfectly on each category.
JetBlue previously took the top spot for the most comfortable airline in WalletHub's 2016 study.
Next, while in Cambodia, the entire family got together to see a truly special gift they donated to a local community.
“The best Christmas gift,” Zeta-Jones wrote on Instagram. “Today we went to see the well we donated to some families in Cambodia. Such a joy for us.”
13. Williamsburg, Virginia