America's Snobbiest Cities (PHOTOS)

Who says New Yorkers are snobs?
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Who says New Yorkers are snobs?

Not Travis Levius, a Big Apple photographer who has found that another city along the Northeast Corridor has more attitude.

"In D.C., it's all about what you do," he says. "You can be among New York City's elite if you're an artist, but in D.C., that might get you, at best, a look of 'bless your little heart.'"

Snobbery may indeed be in the eye--or ear--of the beholder. In the America's Favorite Places survey, Travel + Leisure readers rated New Yorkers to be the snobbiest, with D.C. at No. 4 (perhaps they'd accuse Levius of harboring a hometown bias). It's just one of the categories, including wine bars, museums, and cleanliness, in which voters evaluated 38 major metropolitan areas.

Among the survey's snobbiest cities, some residents--like the hipsters in Boston or Portland, OR--perhaps just came off as intellectually, well, confident. Other cities take their specialties so seriously that it borders on pretension. In Seattle, your choice of coffee speaks volumes, while in San Francisco, someone might look down his nose if you don't toss your Pellegrino bottle in the right bin.

Certainly, in many top-scoring cities, the snobby label is only skin deep--if that. Phoenix-Scottsdale spa owner Heidi Lamar laughs at her hometown's nickname of Snottsdale, and knows that even the most ostentatious locals must drop their guard at some point. "Last week I had a Maserati, a Ferrari and a Bentley in my spa parking lot, right next to the VWs, Hondas, and Fords," she says. "But inside the spa, you couldn't tell which guests were which."

Find out which other cities make a snobby impression on visitors--and make your opinions heard by voting in the America's Favorite Places survey.

No. 1 New York City
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Is it really snobby if you’re on top of your game and you know it? New York won handily in a lot of survey categories that may feel elitist to some: art scene, theater, and luxury shopping. Plus, it ranks as the least affordable city in the survey. Money can't always buy access, though: The Standard Hotel’s Top of the Standard bar in the Meatpacking District is off-limits to non-guest-list types by 11 p.m. on most nights. And most New Yorkers would also say that some of the greatest features are its affordable luxuries like classic deli sandwiches and don’t-you-dare-use-a-fork pizza.

Photo: Tobias Hutzler
No. 2 Miami
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These Floridians won the survey yet again for being good-looking, and ranked near the top for their velvet-rope-transcending style. To find them in their natural habitat, go to cocktail bars and nightclubs such as Miami Beach’s LIV or Story, which has 60 VIP tables. (If it’s celebrities you’re after, try to snag a reservation at the Browns Hotel’s steakhouse.) To experience another kind of insider’s Miami—the world of its own in Little Havana—go to the Cuba Ocho Art & Research Center, an art gallery that also offers live music, mojitos, and cigars.

Photo: Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection / Alamy
No. 3 Los Angeles
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In Hollywood, there are those who walk the red carpet, and those who try to get close to it. To feel like you're a little nearer, spend an afternoon on West Hollywood’s Robertson Avenue, where upscale department stores like Kitson and Intermix offer excellent chances to rub shoulders with celebs, who, indeed, shop just like us. Grab a bite at star-magnet The Ivy or at Gjelina over on ever-trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard. L.A. also has an everyman sense of fun: the city ranked in the top 10 for its retro-cool diners, burgers, and bakeries (although one in Echo Park is named Donut Snob).

Photo: Dave Lauridsen
No. 4 Washington, D.C.
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For power-broker-watching in our nation’s capital, head to the leafy, townhouse-filled Georgetown neighborhood (consider Austrian restaurant Kafe Leopold) or to the Politics & Prose Bookstore on Connecticut Avenue. Daily readings—by the likes of Joe Scarborough or New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand—pack the house. And take advantage of the platinum-level free attractions, such as the National Gallery of Art, home to the only Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas, and the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, which offers free daily musical performances. It's a reminder that D.C. still has an egalitarian side.

Photo: Ian Dagnall / Alamy
No. 5 Boston
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In this elite university town, anyone can browse the aisles at the Harvard Book Store, or Schoenhof’s Foreign Books in Cambridge. And you can test your wits while hanging with MIT’s trivia-night types at Area Four in Kendall Square. It serves clam pizzas, croissant-crumb-topped mac ’n’cheese, and appropriately named cocktails like the Last Word, made with gin, Chartreuse, and maraschino liquor. Readers may have encountered another kind of attitude in Boston, when they got behind the wheel: Bostonians ranked near the bottom for their driving.

Photo: Megapress / Alamy
No. 6 Tampa
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Tampa, a newcomer to the survey, made a dramatic entrance by ranking within the top 10 for its snob appeal. Every sophisticated city needs a SoHo, and in Tampa, it’s South of Howard. The upscale Southside delivers good people-watching and dolphin-watching along Bayshore Boulevard. It’s also where you’ll find the Epicurean Hotel, which has a wine shop and a cheeky dessert shop called Chocolate Pi, and faces local institution Bern’s Steak House. Readers also acknowledged Tampa for its cleanliness, giving locals another reason to feel superior.

Photo: Witold Skrypczak / Alamy
No. 7 Dallas
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After a few years of somehow dodging the snobby top 10, Big D reminds readers what old-school attitude is about: this is a city where right-of-way is determined by blue-book value, and the stereotypically well-coiffed locals struck readers as the opposite of quirky. Staying at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, or shopping at NorthPark’s Neiman-Marcus have long been hallmarks of good Dallas living. The new generation of Ewings might also be found at downtown boutique hotel The Joule, which just got three new penthouse suites, a tasteful Taschen library that does a weekly champagne afternoon tea, and Texas’s first imported-from-Europe ESPA spa. Readers gave Dallas credit for backing up its attitude with world-class museums and theaters, including the Rem Koolhaas-designed Wyly Theatre.

Photo courtesy The Joule Dallas

--Katrina Brown Hunt