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Buffalo tops travel magazine’s ‘favorite cities’ list

Buffalo has landed at the top of Travel +Leisure magazine’s list of “America’s Favorite Cities.”

It’s a huge win for those who market the city as a travel destination and is expected to have a measurable impact on the number of tourist and business travelers visiting the city.

The Queen City beat out such destinations as Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; and Denver.

The poll’s results are decided by online voters who are asked to rank their favorite destinations according to 65 criteria such as architecture, restaurants, craft breweries and public parks. Visit Buffalo Niagara promoted the survey on social media and urged its followers to cast ballots in favor of Buffalo. The survey ran online from October through April.

Visit Buffalo Niagara has made a concerted push to host travel writers in the region. It has paid off, with the city earning 230 mentions in travel publications around the globe. The agency figures those mentions were equal to $4.1 million in free advertising.

“To get our destination in the top travel magazine and to get this kind of recognition, it’s just huge,” said Patrick J. Kaler, president and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara. “We’ve gotten the attention of the world.”

Visit Buffalo Niagara will leverage the high-profile recognition with future advertising mentions and on travel websites such as In addition, Travel + Leisure’s annual poll results are often published in its sister publications such as Time magazine.

The organization expects the city to profit from the attention for years to come. “It will live out there on the internet forever,” Kaler said.

Buffalo earned more than 400 votes to clinch the No. 1 spot. The magazine has a print circulation of nearly 1 million, and its website attracts more than 50 million page views each month.

Readers told the magazine that Buffalo is “wildly underrated” and was singled out for its affordability and high-end dining. Marble + Rye, CRaVing, Canalside, RiverWorks and the Curtiss Hotel each got shout-outs in the magazine, too.

It quotes one voter at the top of the article, a marketing executive from Houston named Judi Griggs who grew up locally. “I love to bring West Coast and European friends back to my town,” Griggs told the magazine. “The more traveled and sophisticated they are, the lower their expectations – and the more likely that they will be blown away.”

Buffalo was followed in the Top 10 by San Antonio; Providence, R.I.; Norfolk, Va.; Nashville; Albuquerque, N.M.; Richmond, Va.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Fort Worth, Texas.