SAN DIEGO — With its beaches and sprawling food culture, San Diego has risen in the ranks to become a favorite destination in the U.S. travelers, according to the newest edition of a long-running poll by Conde Nast Traveler.

For the first time ever, America’s Finest City took the No. 2 spot in the 36th annual Reader’s Choice Awards for the Best Large Cities in the U.S. ranking, coming in higher than other popular destinations like New York City and San Francisco.

Over the last few years, San Diego had been on the rise in the survey. In 2021, the city was ranked No. 7 by Conde Nast readers on the same poll.

“Several years ago, travelers headed to San Diego might have wondered what they would do in the city, besides hitting the beaches. No longer,” the magazine wrote. “With a recent string of hot hotel openings … and a legit food scene that offers up some of the best Mexican dishes and seafood platters you’ll ever taste, San Diego has officially stepped out from the shadow of its big sister to the north, earning world-class destination status that goes well beyond the waves.”

Chicago, IL came in at the top spot on the list of best large cities to visit in the U.S. Meanwhile, San Diego’s sister to the north, Los Angeles, did not breech the Top 10. A full list can be found 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

The Reader’s Choice Awards is calculated based on thousands of responses to an online survey that covers everything from cities and hotels to airports and luggage. Each category had a set of relevant criteria and a standard five-point scale for respondents’ answers, which was then calculated to a percentage.

This year, Conde Nast Traveler says over half a million readers — about 526,000 people — participated in the questionnaire.

The record ranking for San Diego was not the only accolades that the city received with this year’s awards. Three San Diego-area hotels — The Pendry (No. 5), Hotel Del Coronado (No. 7) and L’Auberge Del Mar (No. 10) — also made their Best Hotels in Southern California list. Meanwhile, five resorts, including The Lodge at Torrey Pines, and two local spas also received top rankings.

As Traveler wrote, you “Come for the sunshine, sure; but stay for everything else.”