Charleston named No. 1 U.S. tourist destination for fourth year; No. 2 in world

Conde Nast readers have voted Charleston the No. 1 U.S. tourist destination for the fourth year in a row. (Leroy Burnell/staff/file)

For the fourth year in a row, Charleston has been named the No. 1 tourist destination in the country by readers of Conde Nast Traveler.

The magazine's annual Readers' Choice awards were announced Monday, and the Holy City was again recognized as a top national and international destination, thanks to its historic sites, food and upscale hotels.

Charleston was named the No. 2 destination in the world behind Florence, Italy, which took the top spot by a fraction of a point.

Pilar Guzman, editor in chief of Conde Nast Traveler, called Charleston "the little city that could" when she appeared on CBS' "This Morning" on Monday to discuss this year's Readers' Choice awards.

"I think there are a lot of parallels between a city like Florence and a city like Charleston," Guzman said on the television show. "It is just one of the most beloved cities and we just keep hearing about it again and again, and you get big name chefs that are opening up restaurants, and more ... hotel properties opening up, so it's a very exciting time for Charleston and the South in general."

Co-host Charlie Rose responded, "I'm surprised there aren't more people buying second homes in Charleston, because it has everything."

The Holy City has been named one of the top five international destinations for the past several years. This year, it was ranked well above the other three American cities - Santa Fe, N.M. New Orleans, La. and San Francisco - that appeared on the top 25 list.

Mayor Joe Riley responded to the praise in a written statement Monday.

"To be recognized for the fourth consecutive year is truly a testament to Charleston's vibrant culture, genuine hospitality and wonderful people, who make it such a special place to both live and visit," he said.

Kiawah Island was also praised by the magazine in the Readers' Choice awards announced on Monday. It was ranked the No. 1 island in the U.S. and the No. 2 island in the world, behind Palawan, Philippines.

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The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort was ranked the No. 17 resort in the country.

The local hotels that were ranked among the top 25 accommodations in the South/hotels category were: the Wentworth Mansion at No. 5, French Quarter Inn at No. 9, Planters Inn at No. 16, Belmond Charleston Place at No. 17, John Rutledge House Inn at No. 19, Market Pavilion Hotel at No. 22 and the Restoration on King at No. 24.

The Readers' Choice awards are the cover story for the magazine's November issue, which will be on newsstands on Oct. 28.

The publication explained that the awards were determined from a recent survey that received more than 76,000 responses. Participants were given a list of candidates for top hotels and cities, which they ranked from 1 through 5 based on their features and amenities.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail