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According to recent data from the New American Economy Cities index, the top five cities for immigrants and foreigners are:

Chula Vista, CA

Jersey City, NJ

New York, NY

Chicago, IL

Baltimore, MD

These cities were systematically studied and ranked based on a variety of factors including local policies and socioeconomic outcomes. For the details of this study, be sure to check out the NAE Index. But in the meantime, if you find yourself in any of these cities, we’ve rounded up some of the fun activities for foreigners, families, and locals alike!

Chula Vista - #1 City for foreigners in the U.S.
Chula Vista, California

#1 City for foreigners – Chula Vista, California

According to census data, one-third of Chula Vista’s population is foreign-born. Chula Vista is also proud of its designation as a Certified Welcoming City granted by the non-profit Welcoming America for its success in immigrant inclusion. 

Fun Fact

Olympic athletes train year round at the Training Center in Chula Vista.

Top Attractions

  • Spend a day at the Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water center
  • Catch a sunset in the Harbor

Local Food

Novo Brazil BrewingAward winning beers brewed in California, inspired by Brazil

Grind House – All day cafe in historic Third Avenue Village for coffee, food, beer and wine

Tacos El Gordo – Popular authentic Tijuana taco spot with South of the Border inspiration and fresh ingredients

Hidden Gem

Salt Mountains – where the salt ponds of the South Bay Salt Works, reach up to 40 feet in height. This is one of the longest running businesses in the area mining salt from the ocean. Located at 1470 Bay Blvd, Chula Vista, California 91911 or hike the trailhead at Bayshore Bikeway (Silver Strand Bikeway) Imperial Beach, CA 91932 (32.589535, -117.109966)

Chula Vista, California

#2 City for foreigners – Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City has always been a welcoming place for foreigners and those who needed a safe haven. From being the second largest post for immigrants behind Ellis Island to serving as a stop on the Underground Railroad, Jersey City has made a name for itself in opening its arms. Most recently, the City has implemented the Division of Immigrant Affairs and has been awarded National Accreditation to the U.S. Department of Justice Recognition and Accreditation Program for helping immigrants navigate the strenuous and confusing immigration process and offering free legal services. 

Fun Fact

Jersey City was one of the last stations on the Underground Railroad. The only remaining evidence of this historic stop is the Holden House located at 79 Clifton Place.

Top Attractions

  • Catch stunning views of the Manhattan skyline or hop the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island from Liberty State Park
  • Take a break from the city and spend some time relaxing in the urban Van Vorst Park. If you’re lucky there may be some local events to catch your attention. 
  • Take in a collection of foreign and domestic art and learn more about Russian history at the Museum of Russian Art

Local Food

Beechwood Cafe – Homey neighborhood cafe with some outdoor seating and classic American meals

Pinwheel Garden Dumpling and Noodle Bar – Fresh simple ingredients, family owned and community driven

Razza Pizza – Artisanal pizzas from wood-fired ovens

White Mana Diner – Retro burger joint built as the “diner of the future” at the z1939 World’s Fair

Hidden Gem

Reservoir #3 in The Heights – Enjoy a peaceful urban escape of 14 acres of serenity and a pond to relax near. The Reservoir was built in the 1870s and is currently slated for a full restoration to enhance and preserve this beautiful oasis for all to enjoy. 

Chula Vista, California

#3 City for foreigners – New York, New York

It’s no surprise that New York is on the list of one of the most welcoming places for immigrants and foreigners alike. As a gateway to the United States, both historically and in the present day, New York has prided itself on being an accomodating and foreigner-friendly city, offering something for everyone in its big city streets.  

Fun Fact

The first American chess tournament was held in New York in 1843.

Top Attractions

  • Catch some of the action New York is known for throughout the world by attending a Broadway show and exploring the Theater District
  • Take a stroll along The High Line on the west side of Manhattan in a unique combination of urban landscape and greenery. Built on a former New York Central Railroad spur, The High Line offers a 1.45 long trail for visitors to enjoy.
  • Walk across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge and explore a new borough when you get there.

Local Food

We won’t pretend to be experts on the local food available in a city that has so much pride in their offerings. All we can do is offer some of the best suggestions we’ve received from natives and foreigners alike. 

NY Pizza Suprema or Prince Street Pizza for your obligatory slice

Murrays Bagels for a highly beloved bagel

Variety Coffee Roasters for when you need a pick me up while exploring Brooklyn

Jing Fong for dim sum when you need a deliciously warm and inexpensive meal

Hidden Gem

Check out Greenacre park for a hidden oasis in the middle of the hustle of the city. The park opened in 1971 and boasts a 25-foot waterfall and lush greenery to step away when you need a moment to breathe.

Chula Vista, California

#4 City for foreigners – Chicago, Illinois

PondLeap is especially proud to see our home city on this list and may be just a little bit biased at how great of a city this is. Chicago has been the home to many immigrants historically being centrally located and a hub of industry. Even to this day, immigrants play a crucial role in this city and are more likely to be entrepreneurs and their native-born counterparts, further contributing to the economy.

Fun Fact

Downtown Chicago’s underground pedestrian system, known as the Pedway, consists of tunnels and overhead bridges that cover roughly 5 miles and link more than 40 blocks in the Central Business District.

Bonus Fun Fact: Chicago has beautiful beaches! The lakefront of Lake Michigan creates a stunning scene for a casual afternoon by the water.

Top Attractions

  • Any good Chicagoan will tell you that you must check out the Architecture Boat Tour, great for visitors and locals alike, showcasing the incredible architecture the city has to offer. 
  • For the well-known iconic views of the city without the ticket to the observatory, sit down for a drink and the Signature Room and the John Hancock building. 
  • It’s on every list for a reason, the Art Institute of Chicago is a must-see for anyone interested in the arts.

Local Food

Dimo’s Pizza – while Chicago might be known for its deep-dish, true locals know that you can’t have that every night, so we opt for thin-crust. 

Mario’s Italian Lemonade – Cool off on a hot summer day with a local favorite, Italian Ice

Kristoffer’s Cakes – Scoop up their legendary Tres Leches Cake

Jim’s Original  – Pick up a traditional Maxwell Street Polish or an Italian Beef

Hidden Gem

Hyde Park Neighborhood and Lakefront. Nestled on the South Side of Chicago, Hyde Park is a beautiful and diverse neighborhood with quintessential and picturesque houses and tree-lined streets. Home of the University of Chicago, a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and miles of pristine lakeshore, it’s a favorite Chicago gem. 

Another little-known attraction on the near South Side is the Bridgeport Art Center, boasting a locally owned coffee shop and artists’ showrooms throughout. If you can, try to attend an open studios event to see everything the artists have to offer.

Chula Vista, California

#5 City for foreigners – Baltimore, Maryland


Another East Coast port, Baltimore is not new to the immigration of foreigners. In recent years, they have seen an influx of immigrants from Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East and have retained their designation as a top place for immigrants due to the resources made available to support inclusive environments. 

Fun Fact

The waterfront neighborhood of Fell’s Point was the second-largest point of immigration to the U.S. after New York’s Ellis Island.

Top Attractions

  • National Aquarium boasts award-winning exhibits, located in the inner harbor
  • Explore the Historic Ships in Baltimore and experience 19th-century life at sea on these expansive military vessels

Local Food

Papermoon Diner – funky diner serving Baltimore since 1994

Faidley’s Crab Cakes – can’t miss out on crab cakes when in Maryland, this is largely referenced as one of the best spots to indulge

Blue Moon Cafe – Popular breakfast spot in Fell’s point

Hidden Gem

Head to Graffiti Alley to experience what some of the cities local artists have to offer. Known as a safe space for creative expression, you can find yourself immersed in a colorful paradise.

This is just an introduction to what some of these great cities have to offer and living and working in these cities as a foreigner can offer up the opportunity to explore some of the amazing connections and community that can be found as an immigrant in these inclusive and welcoming cities.

If you are foreign-born living in America, we’d love to hear some of your favorite cities or spots! Drop us a note and let us know where we should include in our next roundup!