Meet the 20 Nicest Places in America
These are the 20 Nicest Places in America, from tiny Hayesville, North Carolina (pop. 371), to the city of Providence, Rhode Island. You really can find kindness all over the U.S.
With America more divided than ever, where can you turn to meet nice people who treat each other with the respect and civility that we all deserve? As Reader’s Digest recently found out in its nationwide search for the Nicest Place in America, lots of places!
In a recent poll, 75 percent of Americans called incivility a “national crisis.” Well, we found nearly 300 places where that’s just not the case—and here are the top 20!
Yassin’s Falafel House in Knoxville, Tennessee
Amanda Friedman for Reader’s Digest
Yassin Terou, a refugee who came to Knoxville in 2011, is a local celebrity. His falafel house won the Nicest Places in America contest in 2018 because it serves as a welcoming and safe place for people of every color, culture, and religion. Even though not everyone accepts him for who he is, Yassin likes to give everyone a chance because he was given a chance to fulfill the American dream. Read more about Yassin’s Falafel House and why it’s the Nicest Place in America in 2018.
In 2017, Katy, Texas was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. About 700 homes and 80 businesses were destroyed or damaged in the small town. Without hesitation, local residents and businesses immediately pitched in to help their neighbors recover. Read more about this resilient Texas town.
Courtesy Rick Lucas
Ellijay, Georgia might be a small town, but every resident has a very big heart. One couple that stopped in for a quick breakfast felt so welcomed and at home that they ended up moving there. Read more about the kind spirit of Ellijay.
Courtesy Kalamazoo Public Schools
Student loan debt is an ever-present issue for students looking to further their education, but in Kalamazoo, it’s not an issue. An organization funded by anonymous donors called The Kalamazoo Promise pays for any student that attend Kalamazoo public schools to go to college. Read more about this town’s amazing promise that is keeping hope alive.
Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore, Maryland
Courtesy Enoch Pratt Free Library
Enoch Pratt isn’t your typical library; it’s more of a community services center. In a city with a high crime rate, it offers help to people that got in trouble with the law. Volunteers, including local lawyers doing pro bono work, serve hundreds of people every week. This library is writing a new chapter for Baltimore. Read more about this inspiring library.
Courtesy Judy Gratton
In Bothell, Washington, there’s a small coffee shop that knows how to serve up kindness. The owner, Beca Nistrian, started an annual Cup of Kindness Day to spread joy around her community. Read more about Beca’s Brew and one very special employee that inspired the day of kindness.
Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, Texas
Courtesy Life Moves Yoga
Killeen, Texas, is home to the largest military base in the country, and it’s working to help reduce the stress that comes along with being a service-member. One military spouse opened up Life Moves Yoga studio right across the street from the base to help wounded warriors recover from their time serving our country. Read more about this anything but ordinary yoga studio.
North Riverside, Illinois
Courtesy Carol Spale
Everyone in this small Chicago suburb takes kindness seriously, including the mayor. The town runs an organization called the Neighborhood Services Committee. Every street has a “block captain” that serves as a guardian angel to the houses on their street. They do everything from building a community among all the residents, to raising money for a family in need, to being a shoulder to cry on. Read more about all the acts of kindness North Riverside has seen over the years.
Courtesy Ashley Erikson
Folks in the North Evergreen Street neighborhood in the city of Burbank, California, love to share. Whether it’s a smile, wave, a cup of coffee, or help with yard work this community makes every member feel welcomed and right at home. Read more about this kind community nestled in the bustling city of Burbank.
Mower County, Minnesota
Courtesy Gina Grundmeier
After a local couple lost everything in a fire the community of Mower County came together to help them get back on their feet. Once their life was back on track they set out to help other members of the community. Read more about the town that knows how to give back and see what the Grundmeier’s did to pay back their community.
Photograph by Glenn Glasser
Gallatin was our winner for Nicest Places in America 2017. Aside from winning our online popular vote, Gallatin separated itself from the pack among our judges, who felt that the town’s story of racial reconciliation and grace through hardship really showed what “nice” is made of. It’s easy to be “nice” when things are going well. It’s much harder when folks face challenges. Read more about Gallatin and why it was the Nicest Place in America in 2017.
Pflugerville High School near Austin, Texas
Courtesy Sara Herrera
Pflugerville High is a special place. High schools aren’t exactly known for their random acts of kindness, but Pflugerville is different. In an era when kids get trolled for being different, the student body at Pflugerville High goes out of its way to be accepting to all. Read more about the unique ways that Pflugerville students make all welcome.
Rock Hall, Maryland
Photograph by Erin Patrice O'brien
Rock Hall is the kind of place you visit and think, “I should move here.” On Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, this town treats strangers like neighbors and neighbors like family. “Nice” is even part of this 310-year-old town’s motto: “Nice People Live Here.” Read more about why Rock Hall is one of the Nicest Places in America.
The Doak’s House in Waterford, Ohio
Courtesy Janelle Patterson/Marietta Times
Roger and Shirley Doak are the kinds of neighbors we wish we all had, and for one weekend a year, they show us all how we should behave every single day. Encapsulating the best of small-town America, the Doaks turn everyone into family—especially on Apple Butter Weekend. Read more about this special tradition.
Oriole Park in Baltimore, Maryland
Professional baseball isn’t just our national pastime, it can also be a force for good in the world. By holding its powerful spotlight at the right angle, Oriole Park has gone beyond its role as America’s best ballpark to help big-hearted Baltimore honor its most important heroes. Read more about how OPACY isn’t merely America’s best ballpark.
KidsCycle: NS in Shorewood, Wisconsin
Photograph by Jim Wieland
Sometimes something small can turn into something big. In Shorewood, Wisconsin, a tiny online group built for families to swap gently used goods has turned into a social movement. This town outside of Milwaukee created a Facebook page to ensure that all of its citizens are looked after. Read more about what makes KidsCycle special.
Providence, Rhode Island
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Here’s all you need to know: The Good Night Lights project will absolutely melt your heart when you read about it. It melted ours. Read more about Good Night Lights and why Providence is one of the Nicest Places in America.
Courtesy Jill Christensen
When the darkness of cancer closes in around you and your family, where can you turn for help? For the residents of Franklin, a tiny town of 1,000 in Nebraska, you turn to each other. Nobody circles the wagons like the folks in Franklin, who band together to face challenges big and small, leaving no one behind. Read more about Franklin and its resilient community.
Hayesville, North Carolina
Courtesy Hinton Center
What would you if your town was surrounded by wildfires? Call in the Hotshots, of course! This federal firefighting crew was parachuted into the tiny hamlet of Hayesville when it was surrounded by 10,000 acres of fires. Through weeks of some of the toughest firefighting these heroes had ever experienced the townspeople worked night and day to make them feel welcome and cared for. It’s a potent reminder of the power of gratitude. Read more of the inspiring story of the Hayesville Hotshots.
South Whidbey, Washington
Photograph by Justin Burnett
On an island, even if you don’t agree with your neighbors about everything, you have to live with them. That’s why on South Whidbey, the residents have learned to stay civil and respectful even when they have disagreements. It’s something all of America could learn from. After all, on an island, like in America, you have more in common than the things that divide you. Read more about civil discourse on South Whidbey.