Chicago, Recognized as the Best Big City in the US for the 7th Year in a Row

Chicago has been named the Best Big City in the U.S. for the 7th time by the Condé Nast Traveler readers, through the magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards. 

For 36 years, Condé Nast Traveler has captured input from readers to determine the winners of their Readers’ Choice Awards, the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry. And every year since 2017, Chicago has led the pack as the Best Big City in the U.S. 

Using input from more than 520,000 readers this year, the luxury and lifestyle publication once again crowned Chicago as the nation’s top city in its 36th annual Readers’ Choice Awards. The Windy City beat out San Diego, Milwaukee, New Orleans, San Francisco and others for the honor. 

“A world-class destination known for its impressive architecture, first-rate museums, brilliant chefs, and massive brewing scene, it’ll take several repeat visits to get through your list of must-dos,” Condé Nast editors wrote.

“Proof that Chicago continues to be a force as a destination for visitors”

This accomplishment speaks to Chicago’s enduring allure to all types of travelers from around the world and follows a record-breaking summer of travel that saw all-time highs for hotel revenue. 

“Today’s recognition of our great city as the Condé Nast Traveler’s Best Big City in The U.S., for the seventh year in a row, is proof that Chicago continues to be a force as a destination for visitors from all over the globe,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “We have something for everyone — 77 amazing communities, beautiful parks and lakefront, world class arts, culture and food, and much more. This is a distinction to be proud of, and we will continue to welcome travelers from all over the world to experience all our city has to offer and the soul of Chicago.”

“For the seventh year running, I couldn’t be prouder that Chicago has been named the number one big city in the nation,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “From our unmatched infrastructure and picturesque lakefronts to our diverse food scene, world-class museums, and, of course, the kindest people you’ll ever meet, Chicago has it all—and the world is taking notice. Whether you’re looking to take a family trip or to relocate your small business, Chicago has something for everyone and we cannot wait to welcome you home.”

A recognition of our city’s incredible hospitality and tourism industries

Chicago’s selection as the Best Big City in the U.S. is a recognition of the city’s incredible hospitality and tourism industries and the people that make our city so welcoming to visitors. For seven straight years, voters have recognized that Chicago is a destination unique among its peers, with something to offer every type of visitor. With 77 vibrant neighborhoods ready for exploration, best-in-class accommodations, an acclaimed dining scene, thrilling live music and theatre, world-renowned museums and cultural institutions, stunning architecture and natural beauty, visitors have endless ways to explore the seven-time Best Big City in the U.S.

“I am so proud to share that Chicago is once again the city of champions,” said Lynn Osmond, President and CEO of Choose Chicago. “For seven straight years, through the challenges of the pandemic and beyond, travelers have recognized the truth about Chicago – ours is a vibrant, hospitable city brimming with attractions and amenities for all types of visitors. I want to thank all Chicagoans for making our city so welcoming to visitors from around the world. I especially want to thank the Choose Chicago staff. This award validates all of our hard work selling and promoting this city we love.”

“More than half a million people cast votes for this year’s Reader’s Choice Awards,” said Glenn Eden, Chairman of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors. “Clearly, those who come here are having uniquely memorable experiences that stick with them – the kind of experiences that will make them return to Chicago and recommend our city as a vacation destination to their friends and families. 

Travelers love to come to Chicago, the city that keeps on giving

Chicago’s tourism and hospitality sector and the unwavering affinity that travelers have for our city. It gives me confidence that we are going to see continued growth in our local visitor economy for years to come.”

Choose Chicago is also thrilled to release summer 2023 performance data today showing that Chicago experienced a strong summer of travel: 

  • Summer (June, July and August) hotel revenue totaled $825 million, an all-time record for summer months.
  • Over one million room nights were filled each month this summer, totaling 3.24 million hotel room nights. That is 4% higher than last year and represents a 92% recovery share compared to 2019 numbers.
  • Leisure visitors in particular came to Chicago in droves this summer – buoyed by a packed calendar of concerts, events and festivals, total leisure hotel room demand increased by 8% compared to summer 2022.
  • International visitation increased by 13% compared to summer 2022

Visitors to Chicago will continue to experience a full calendar of events and attractions through the end of 2023. If your visit is more family oriented, you should know that Chicago will transform into America’s premier holiday destination, kicking off with the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and continuing with events and activities through the end of the year.

But if you are more of a party animal, you will have your choice of an exciting range of Chicago breweries. And if your pleasure is to have a cocktail with a stunning view, you could check out our list of best hotels with rooftop bars

You can see all the winners from the Readers’ Choice Awards on Condé Nast Traveler’s website. Check out the full list of Best Big Cities in the U.S. below.

  1. Chicago, IL
  2. San Diego, CA
  3. Milwaukee, WI
  4. New Orleans, LA
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Boston, MA
  7. New York City, NY
  8. Nashville, TN
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10.  Miami, FL

About Choose Chicago

Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city, its residents and our partner business community.

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