We’ll admit it; people from New York State aren’t typically known as the “friendliest” people. 

When an outsider is asked to characterize the personality of a New Yorker, their mind will most likely go to the no-nonsense, hard-edged attitudes they’re likely to find in New York City. 

What they often forget is there’s a whole other MASSIVE part of the Empire State - and guess what? A lot of us who live there are pretty nice!

In fact, one city in Upstate New York is SO nice, readers of a hugely popular travel publication declared it one of the friendliest cities in the entire United States.

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Keep reading and we’ll (very kindly, of course) tell you which one it is and why. 

Which City In New York State Is The Friendliest?

Buffalo is known as the “city of good neighbors,” but it’s apparently not neighborly enough to be one of the friendliest. Ithaca may be “gorges,” but we suppose looks aren’t everything. And Schenectady may be the “Electric City,” but they’re not talking about the personalities of the people who live there. 


According to Condé Nast Traveler readers, only one metro in New York State is worthy of being called one of the most friendly in the entire country. 

In their 36th annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey, CNT asked fellow travelers which locations they found the “friendliest” while they were visiting the area, using examples like:

  • Did an outgoing local go out of their way to give you directions?
  • Was the city easy to navigate?
  • Did you simply get good vibes from the people around you?

The answers they received helped them compile a list of ten U.S. cities that their readers loved the most for their friendly and outgoing citizens. 

The Western New York city that was featured as one of the friendliest for 2023 didn’t just make the cut; it was ranked close to the very top of the heap. 

High Falls Rochester NY
(Photo by: John Greim/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Rochester, New York Is One Of The Friendliest Cities In The US

Calling its “friendly population” one of its best assets, Condé Nast Traveler named Rochester the 2nd friendliest city in America, only losing out to Greenville, South Carolina. 

“As you stroll past happy residents hanging out on their front porches or chatting with neighbors on the sidewalk, you may be tempted to make a permanent relocation.”


I’m not one to pick a fight with Condé Nast’s loyal readers who found the Flower City delightful. I actually lived in the city of Rochester for several years, and it can be a great place to live. 

Rochester NY

On the other hand, I’ve also lived in both the Capital Region and Buffalo area, and I’ve spent lots of time in Syracuse and Central New York visiting close friends.

In my mind, anywhere I’ve been in Upstate New York shows a fair amount of kindness and consideration to both visitors and their fellow citizens, and one city doesn’t stand out as more “friendly” than the others. 

No matter where you are, from Hudson Valley to Niagara Falls to Watertown, if you say a friendly “hello” to a stranger, 99% of the time you’ll get a “hello” back. And on the flip side, if you waltz into a New York State town acting like a complete jerk, you’ll most likely get some sass back…

but thankfully, it’s still nothing like what you’d get in NYC. Phew. 

Here are all 10 of Condé Nast Traveler’s Friendliest Cities In The U.S.:

1. Greenville, South Carolina

2. Rochester, New York

3. Lexington, Kentucky

4.Indianapolis, Indiana

5. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

6. Santa Fe, New Mexico

7. Charleston, South Carolina

8. Pensacola, Florida

9. Savannah, Georgia

10. Alexandria, Virginia

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