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Some of those ‘best’ lists are just the worst

Some "best" lists are just the worst.Ally Rzesa

Welcome back to Survey Says, in which we share some of the random, absurd, and occasionally useful polls from the world of travel.

You might think a survey that ranks “the best cities for sandwich lovers” would list places with the actual best-tasting and most innovative sandwiches, but that’s not how these things work, sadly. There was no taste-testing, no talking to local food writers, and no on-the-street interviewing occurring for Apartment Guide’s survey released earlier this month.

For many so-called “best” lists, it often comes down to quantity over quality, data over human dealings. And if you dig into the reports a little, you’ll eventually learn that.


“There are 700 cities and towns in the U.S. with a population of more than 50,000, and every one of them loves its sandwiches,” Apartment Guide tells us. “But, we needed to find out which of them were the best cities for sandwiches. Now, this isn’t where the best sandwiches are, but where access to and availability of sandwiches are second to none. So, for each of those 700 cities, we researched and uncovered every single deli and sandwich shop within the city limits. That’s an incredible 56,000 sandwich spots in all.”

So if you’re looking to relocate and the main factor in your decision is how easy it will be to grab a chicken Caesar wrap on move-in day, you’ll be interested in these results: San Francisco topped the list with 117.03 delis per 100,000 people, and 20 delis per square mile, followed by Sarasota, Fla.; Wilmington, Del.; Miami; Jersey City; Pensacola, Fla.; Albany; Berkeley, Calif.; Marietta, Ga.; and Washington, D.C. in the top 10. Boston ranked way down at No. 43 — right behind New York City — with 57.73 delis per 100,000 people and eight delis per square mile.


Another recent “best” list that showed up in my inbox promised to share “the best winter holiday destinations” — both cold and warm. Was I wrong to think this might mean places with fun activities for kids, or really good skiing (water or snow!), or good beaches, cool stores, great hot chocolate, and elaborate holiday lights displays — maybe even a cozy lodge and crackling fire? Yes. Yes, I was.

Instead, the WalletHub study released earlier this month says it was focused “on cost and convenience, rather than scenic beauty.” So these are places that are relatively affordable and easy to reach, even if they aren’t much to look at. The good news? Boston actually shows up in the top 10 here, ranking 8th on the list of “best cold destinations for winter travel.”

“To help Americans plan their travels over the colder months,” the report states, “WalletHub developed a ranking of the cheapest US destinations that are also the easiest to reach. In total, we analyzed nearly 70 of the largest metro areas — grouped as ‘warm’ or ‘cold’ — based on 37 key metrics, including two weeks of flight data, safety indicators, and weather predictions.”

Congrats, Boston! You are so … easy to reach! You must be very proud.

Here are the top 10 “best” cold weather destinations:

1. New York City

2. Atlanta

3. Washington, D.C.

4. Chicago

5. St. Louis

6. Cincinnati

7. Kansas City, Mo.

8. Boston

9. Albuquerque

10. Philadelphia


And the “best” warm weather destinations:

1. Las Vegas

2. Austin, Texas

3. San Diego

4. Dallas

5. San Antonio

6. Phoenix

7. Houston

8. San Francisco

9. Los Angeles

10. Charleston, S.C.

Some other fun facts from the study, including a surprising tidbit about Worcester:

  • The average flight to a popular cold winter destination costs $396.17, lasts 3 hours and 30 minutes, and has 0.28 connections. The average flight to a popular warm winter destination costs $521.74, lasts 5 hours and 17 minutes, and has 0.57 connections.
  • Among cold destinations, Omaha, Neb., has the lowest price for a three-star hotel room, $55, which is 2.4 times lower than Worcester, which has the highest at $133.
  • Among warm destinations, Houston has the lowest price for a three-star hotel room, $40, which is 5.2 times lower than Honolulu, the city with the highest at $208.

Join us next week when Christopher Muther highlights another potentially-useful-but-probably-not nugget from the wide world of travel surveys. Until then, the Globe travel team wishes you the very best. And we actually mean it.

Chris Morris can be reached at Follow her @morrisglobe.