I realize that this list might be extremely premature as there are still many places left in the world to see. I don’t have some sophisticated spreadsheet formula to score cities on certain criteria to determine which cities are my favorites. I’m just putting together a list of cities we’ve been to as a family that we all really enjoyed and that I’d love to go back and see. I’m just shooting from the gut. Here goes:
#1 Stockholm, Sweden
I thought I was completely biased here since I lived in Stockholm at one point, but my 10 year-old daughter insists it’s her favorite as well. There is nothing better than a Swedish summer. The Swedes are extremely helpful, and the public transportation and walking trails are awesome. Stockholm has this way of making me feel like slowing down and enjoying life.
#2 Paris, France
Paris ranks as Katie’s #1. It was so easy for us to feel like we were slipping into a Parisian life, stopping to get our daily baguette. The buildings and city itself are very beautiful. There is a certain feeling in Paris that is quite special and unique.
#3 Seoul, Korea
Maybe we loved Seoul because of the “rock star” treatment our family received. Because of the kid’s blonde hair, they were gawked at, had their pictures taken, and even received candy from total strangers (but not in a creepy way). The JW Marriott was amazing and the rush of the city was exhilarating. The subway stations felt like little cities themselves.
#4 Hong Kong, China
Some cities in Asia feel “too modern” (Singapore) and others feel “too crazy” (Bangkok), but Hong Kong feels just right. There are distinct differences between the Island and Kowloon, but with everything so accessible, it all feel like one big, perfect blend. I love big cities because of the energy they have, and Hong Kong has plenty. Also, Hong Kong has the top skyline in the world.
#5 Honolulu, Hawaii
OK, so we lived here so again, not completely unbiased. To vacation in Hawaii, one might be disappointed with the large city that is Honolulu. But to live there, it has so much convenience with a mix of Island Aloha, Asian influence, great golf and beautiful beaches.
#6 Munich, Germany
Munich, and the surrounding areas, just felt like how a foreigner imagines Germany. We’ve been to Hamburg, Berlin, and Dresden in Northern Germany, but Munich and Southern Germany have the Alps, excellent biergartens, and beautiful scenery. To me, of all the foreign cities we’ve been to, Munich felt like the easiest city to up and move to.
#7 Austin, Texas
This is the 3rd place we’ve lived in, so again, unbiased. Austin is an amazing mix of high tech, great food, beautiful outdoors, friendly people and just that Texas feeling. We still have a home there and not a week goes by that Katie doesn’t bring up moving back to Austin.
#8 Prague, Czech Republic
Most of our time in Prague was spent in the old city and tourist areas, so it’s difficult to rank it too high since our opinion is quite limited. However, the Old Prague is amazing. We literally felt like we had traveled back in time walking through the narrow streets in this medieval city.
#9 Seattle, Washington
Seattle has a great mix of tall buildings (I mentioned earlier I like buildings), gorgeous scenery, friendly people and great food. It’s a US city that has a feel all its own (not too common in the US).
#10 Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok probably not the easiest city to visit if you’re not accustomed to travel because it is a huge departure from the typical American’s comfort zone. However, everyone that has done a fair amount of travel lists it as one of their top cities for that very reason, it’s so unlike anything they’re accustomed to. It’s busy, dirty, a little smelly and totally amazing. I mentioned earlier that Bangkok is crazy, but it's a good kind of crazy. Is there anything like the Chatuchak Market in the world?
Honorable Mention: Vienna, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Merida and Zurich.