Cities Journal
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Sister Cities in A Nutshell

Though we’ve heard of them, we’ve always wondered what a sister city really is.

According to Sister Cities International, the program was introduced at a White House conference by President Eisenhower in 1956. The idea was for “individual sister cities, counties, and states across the United States” to link up with the citizens of other countries in an effort to develop “citizen diplomacy.”

The program is always open to cities that are looking for a “sister”, and it turns out you can even have more than one. Chicago is currently leading with 28 unique sister city partnerships, rivaled only by Los Angeles, with 25.

Each pair of sister cities has its own unique bond, but here are some of our favorites.

Charleston, South Carolina and Spoleto, Italy

These two cities love each other so much that they created an annual festival, known as the Spoleto Festival USA. It takes place in Charleston and runs for 17 days and nights, bringing the sister cities together though art, dance and music. You should go for the Spoleto Fest, and stay for the Hominy Grill, shopping on King Street and sweet tea.

Tempe, Arizona and Regensburg, Germany

Tempe and Regensburg are great together as their joint event involves drinking a lot of beer… and for a good cause. The Tempe Town Lake hosts an Oktoberfest every year to raise funds to sends kids and teachers on trips, all in the name of sisterhood. While you take in Tempe, check out an ASU football game, or if you’d rather go to Germany, you can explore the ancient Old Town of Regensburg.

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