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What state/town in America is it easiest to strike up a conversation with a stranger?

What state/town in America is it easiest to strike up a conversation with a stranger?

Mar 29th, 2003, 04:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
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What state/town in America is it easiest to strike up a conversation with a stranger?

I want to travel around the country and talk to a wide variety of strangers about a wide variety of interesting topics. Typically, in Washington DC-my home town, if someone talks to a stanger they are ignored or treated rudely. The people think the stranger talking to them (on the bus, at the mall, from the next table, etc) is trying to bother them or sell them something.

I can not belive that there aren't places in the USA where stangers welcome conversation from each other and are open to each other ideas and comments.

I want to visit those places! Where?
bunchargum is offline  
Mar 29th, 2003, 05:34 AM
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I find that no matter where I go, other travelers are always easy to converse with. I think it's because they're in a good mood (being on vacation) and sometimes they need help or advice...or they have advice to give (like they just ate at the most incredible restaurant, or just saw a ton of wildlife along some trail).

In my travels in the US, I've found a lot of friendliness with locals too. I've easily struck up conversations with locals in Denver and California. In fact, in the one day I spent at Laguna Beach, my coworker and I had lunch with one friendly shopkeeper and dinner with another...and we just met them that day! (it was surreal).

But the friendliest place of all I think was New Orleans. It's great how everyone says "hi" to each other on the streets. The shopkeepers were super nice and gave us advice on what "hidden treasures" to seek out. And the bartender wanted to know our life stories. We never even had to try to start up a conversation, because the locals always started it!

suzanne is offline  
Mar 29th, 2003, 05:35 AM
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I have moved to D.C. twice in the past and I've never experienced rude unfriendly people. What is the problem? People from D.C. come from everywhere so it is hard not to run into non-natives who are more than happy to strike up a conversation. Maybe take a MARC local train and live in Maryland. I did that (lived in Baltimore) and talked with locals everyday.

Stephanie is offline  
Mar 29th, 2003, 05:56 AM
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I moved to DC years ago and I still have NOT found rude, unfriendly people. People who live and work in DC are from a myriad of different places, countries, etc. They have no difficulty striking up a conversation with you. I have bragged about this town to my friends in the town I grew up in (where people only talk to you if you've lived there 150 years)

No I staunchly defend Washington DC and I would probably recommend that you start your travels right here and learn about this great town and it's multi-cultured inhabitants.

LN is offline  
Mar 29th, 2003, 06:01 AM
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For what its worth,I have found DC full of people who WONT SHUT UP. You know the know it all politicians. Boston has got to be the unfriendiest town,Chicago the best. New orleans a close second.
RNC is offline  
Mar 29th, 2003, 07:21 AM
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Well, I have lived in the DC area, and have found both rude and friendly people. Perhaps people are rude to you because of the circumstances under which you are trying to start a conversation. For example, if the person next to you on the Metro is deeply engrossed in the book, they probably don't want to talk to you. If people at the next table are rude, it is probably because they are annoyed at having their meal interrupted by some stranger who just wants to talk. I am not saying rudeness is acceptable, but perhaps there are reasons for the behavior. Hey, I thought you were so scared that you were leaving town?
ilisa is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 02:29 PM
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You may chuckle but I live in Wisconsin which of course you would only want to visit is Summer, but Door County is so beautiful and anyone and everyone will talk to a stranger. People from all over go there. You would love it. Very popular. Great people in all of Wisconsin. Good Luck-Sandy
sschaub is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 02:38 PM
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Another vote for New Orleans - friendly people everywhere.
J_Correa is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 02:44 PM
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I agree with ilisa: There are places where chatting with strangers is kinda nice (waiting in line at the movies or the theatre, Happy Hour at a cool watering hole), but the places you mention trying to strike up conversation are precisely where I DON'T want to talk to strangers. On public transit, if I'm alone I just want to get to where I'm going; if I talk to strangers, it's to ask "Which stop for x?" At the mall, strangers coming up to talk usually want to sell something, have you participate in a survey, etc. When I'm dining, I just don't want to be bothered, ESPECIALLY when I'm with someone-- I want to place my attention with them only. There's something else: What YOU think is interesting may not be what I find interesting. For example, I find a stranger trying to discuss religion or politics with me deeply offensive. Idle conversation is fine with strangers, but NOT a full-on interview. I don't think I'm odd in these feelings.

However, as others have noted, fellow travelers are usually very open with each other. But the subjects are almost always of interest to everyone-- "Have you been to x? Did you like y?" Also, when you're in an interesting place and say something regarding that place to the person next to you, they will often respond and chat with you-- the place is a mutual, shared experience, and just about everyone wants to express their reaction in such situations.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 02:47 PM
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To those who enjoy stereotypes, I am sure there will be disagreement with me, but NYC is full of people who will talk to a person about most anything.
If I am walking my dog, they will talk to me about him. If I am shopping, there is always someone to discuss shopping, eating, drinking, New Yorkers love to talk and I love talking to them
Scarlett is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 03:42 PM
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Please, please come South! Southern hospitality is not some worn out expression, it IS our way of life. You will find it in the cities and in the one traffic light crossroads. Just don't come in August....the heat makes everyone a little cranky by then!
happytrails2u is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 04:16 PM
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Ha Happy Trails,
I am with you.
I'm a native North Carolinian.
Earlier this week I got into a 20 minute long discussion with the pharmacist, the clerk, and all of the people in line while we waited for our prescriptions about how worthless HMO's are.
I rarely wait in line anywhere that I or another person do not start a conversation about the weather, the war, something the person is wearing or buying, etc.
Last week, it was an in-depth discussion with the deli clerk and another customer about how to best make Reubens that ended up being a theological discussion about finding happiness in life.
Just about the only time I've run into non-response on the part of someone is when they are not from the South, but anyone is more than welcome to join in. Maybe people who don't just want to be left alone, had a bad day, or are not used to this type of interaction.
I do know that whenever I used to travel monthly on business to NYC, I was always treated well and no one was ever rude. (I think my silly smile was contagious.)
Almost all comments made to me started with "you're not from around here are you?"
Diana is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 04:21 PM
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I work and go to school in DC and moved here because of friendly people who went out of their way to help me when I was a tourist (ok so now, anxiety runs high in the city and it's a tense).

NYC was full of cheerful people who directed me on the subway and made sure I got to where I was going.

Maybe I'm just a friendly gal
angeleno is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2003, 05:11 PM
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They're everywhere, They're everywhere.

Was it Will Rogers or Mark Twain who tells the story of the traveler asking the man on the porch what sort of people lived in the town?

I've had no problems striking up conversations anywhere. I truly believe people are the same all over. Just that some of us do have our bad days, or hours: like b.c. (before coffee).

rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Apr 4th, 2003, 09:39 AM
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I agree rb, friendly people are everywhere.
Apr 4th, 2003, 10:44 AM
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From my boyfriend and my travels across the US:

Trenton, Maine-local Lobster restaurant-a native demonstrated how to properly eat a whole lobster and we talked to everyone in the small restaurant about our roadtrip.

Salt Lake City-downtown-not in the local gas stations. From the girl at the information desk in the mall to the owner and waitress at the Blue Iguana to the stranger on the sidewalk who blessed me when I sneezed to the girl who gave us a tour of Brigham Young's house-friendly place!

South Dakota-all over.

Not in the US but Calgary, Alberta had people who were easy to strike up a conversation with.
stragic is offline  
Apr 4th, 2003, 11:13 AM
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Hey, bunchargum, maybe the question you need to ask is where -- in ANY city or twon -- is it easiest to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

My number one nomination: a laundromat -- lots of bored people with time on their hands.

The other question might well be -- how do you strike up a conversation with a stranger so that they don't think you are trying to bother or sell them something.

Nomination for least likely to work: "do you mind if I ask you something?"
soccr is offline  
Apr 4th, 2003, 11:36 AM
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Here in western NC we tend to overstay our conversations a tad bit! Just last Sunday I met two hikers at Shoneys from England! They had come off the trail because of a snowstorm and boy were they surprised. They are going to hike the whole trail! Once they got to the end they wanted to go to New York City. Of all the places to go in the States they were most excited about New York City. Imagine that, especially after hiking over 2000 miles! I was in New York City and boy, did I strike up some good conversation. (a couple of people did look at me funny like.) I love that city. I went to a wedding in New Orleans a couple of years ago. You are so right J. Correa, friendly people everwhere! On my recent trip to San Francisco it was amazing how astute and informative everyone was. I was absolutely a babe in the woods there but thanks to all the locals I felt very welcome. I have traveled alot but believe it or not I haven't been to Washington D.C.. I can't wait to go there. Seems like everybody likes to talk there!
Smokyboy is offline  
Apr 4th, 2003, 11:48 AM
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I try to scowl as much as possible so people will leave me the H3LL alone! I live in DC and I'm one of the 'rude' ones. Of course, I grew up in Boston where people don't speak to each other until they've been properly introduced. Anybody remember eitiquette?

Why do people feel the need to yammer on all the time? Most of those chatty types are just blowing noise out of their face, and have nothing interesting to say anyway! I'd rather stare at the gum stuck on the floor fo the subway than hear about someones gassy husband.

Force shields at the ready!

jnn1964 is offline  
Apr 4th, 2003, 01:28 PM
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Hey jnn,
You won't need to worry about hearing from me or my friendly Southern cohorts.
Usually, when we see people like you standing around with a look on your face like something smells bad, we assume politely that you must have hemhorroids or some-such-other affliction that keeps you from being pleasant or joining polite society like the rest of us.
So, bless your heart, we will not disturb your silent miserable reverie.
Diana is offline  

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