A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

This Just in! These Are the 10 Nicest Places in America of 2018

We received hundreds of entries for our Nicest Place in America contest, showing off the best our country has to offer. These spots were chosen for their open hearts and endless generosity.

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Paying it Forward - Austin and Mower County, Minnesota
Courtesy Gina Grundmeier

Austin and Mower County, Minnesota

Even in a state known for “Minnesota Nice,” the people of Austin and the surrounding Mower County stand out for their friendliness and generosity. The local PayItForward initiative has helped raise money for a baby with brittle-bone disease, replaced a stolen snowblower for an elderly resident, and built brand-new bathrooms for six local families at no charge. And that’s just for starters. Now in its fifth year, the nonprofit isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Don’t miss these other 17 heartwarming stories of everyday people with extraordinary generosity.

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Nicest Places - Bothell, Washington
Courtesy Mary Leah Moore

Bothell, Washington

Pop into Beca’s Brews for a cup of coffee and a kind word from Will, the town’s friendliest resident. While May 10 is the town’s official “Cup of Kindness day,” when everyone is urged to share a good deed, that’s the Bothell spirit the other 364 days of the year too. Learn inspiring stories about 21 people whose lives changed after a random act of kindness.

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Nicest places - Ellijay, Georgia
Courtesy Dita Paukert

Ellijay, Georgia

In Ellijay, locals have an unspoken rule of never turning away strangers. The reader who nominated this town popped into a crowded diner and was ready to leave when the locals scooted over to make room. Seven years later he moved here with his family. And lately, another kind of visitor has been looking to call it home. Migrant workers have started to settle in—and they have been welcomed with open arms. These are 32 signs that you live in one of the nicest places in America.

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Nicest places - Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland
Courtesy Enoch Pratt Free Library

Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore residents who need legal advice, job leads, or a good book to read can pop into the Enoch Pratt Free Library—or just keep an eye out for the big bus marked “Mobile Job Center,” a modern twist on the old book mobile and a model for libraries across the country.

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Nicest Places - Kalamazoo, Michigan
Courtesy Sherry Ransford Ramsdell

Kalamazoo, Michigan

The city of Kalamazoo has made a vow to all of its public high school students: If you get into college, it’s paid for—as long as you keep your grades up. The “Kalamazoo Promise” is funded by anonymous donors who will shell out $15 million in scholarships this year, the program’s 12th year. After gun violence marred the city a few years back, the city gave itself a new motto as it supported survivors: “Kalamazoo Strong.”

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Nicest Places - Katy, Texas
Courtesy Trish Johnson

Katy, Texas

The Houston area had no shortage of heroes in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Katy stands as an example of hanging tough, neighbor helping neighbor. The owner of the local Buc-ee’s convenience store told first responders to come and take what they needed. Bass Pro Shops donated boats for search and rescue. People left their own flooded homes to help evacuate others. Of their efforts, Mayor Chuck Brawner said simply, “We just did what Katy has always done: We all just got together and helped each other out.”

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Nicest Places - Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, Texas
Courtesy Amanda Brown

Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, Texas

Who says tough guys don’t do yoga? Drop into the Life Moves Yoga studio in Kileen, Texas, just outside the gates of the Fort Hood Army base, and you’ll find wellness classes geared toward soldiers, including wounded warriors, and their spouses. Spread the love with these 10 random acts of kindness that can change someone’s life today.

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Nicest Places - North Evergreen Street in Los Angeles, California
Courtesy Ashley Erikson

North Evergreen Street in Los Angeles, California

In the city where new versions of “reality” are manufactured every day, North Evergreen Street is as real as it gets, with homegrown vegetables given to neighbors, a bike ride to a different fun event every Thursday night, and a community spirit worthy of any feel-good movie made in the studios across town.

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Nicest Places - North Riverside, Illinois
Courtesy Kathy Ranieri

North Riverside, Illinois

Wish there was a rule book on being nice? North Riverside has one! The town has put together a 65-page manual on caring for each other that can be boiled down into one dictate: the Golden Rule. Each block has its own volunteer captain who welcomes new neighbors, helps seniors run errands, makes sure kids play nice, and so much more. Here are 21 more of the nicest small towns everyone should visit before turning 50.

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Nicest Places - Yassin’s Falafel in Knoxville, Tennessee
Courtesy Laura Maples

Yassin’s Falafel in Knoxville, Tennessee

Yassin Terou left Syria in 2011 and arrived in America unable to speak English. Seven years later, he’s a pillar of the Knoxville community and has turned his Yassin’s Falafel restaurant into a home away from home for the refugees he employs and for anyone who stops in for a delicious meal.