National Geographic Travel Names the Best Small Cities in the U.S.

National Geographic

Traveler's 29 Best Small Cities in the U.S. are categorized by 10 key superlatives that influence both residents and visitors alike. Here's the 10 categories and related features the index factored in:

  • Most Hipster Friendly (coffee shops, tattoo parlors, record shops, vintage stores) 
  • Musically Grooviest (music venues, live music, instrument stores) 
  • Most Instagrammed (hashtags) 
  • Most Artsy (art galleries, art supply stores, art schools) 
  • Best Groomed (barber shops, hair salons, hair removal services, cosmetic dentists) 
  • Meatiest (butchers, delis, steakhouses) 
  • Most Dog Friendly (pet sitting, pet stores, pet groomers, dog friendly restaurants) 
  • Sudsiest (breweries) 
  • Most Caffeinated (coffee shops) 
  • Greenest (parks)

The results in each of these areas were then broken down by population sizes: 40,000-100,000, 100,000-200,000, and 200,000-600,000. Through Resonance Consultancy's algorithm, Traveler surfaced the cities that ranked the highest for each population size and identified "trending" cities that didn't top the list this year, but look to be climbing their way up. The Small Cities Index is based on Resonance Consultancy's World's Best Cities program, which is housed on and features a "Choose Your Perfect City" tool based on this data, as well as extensive city profiles on their top 100 cities.

"Every city is unique," says Resonance Consultancy President Chris Fair. "Our approach to analyzing millions of consumer-generated ratings and reviews to create indexes such as these is an innovative new approach to revealing the characteristics that differentiate one place from another. We're excited to be working with National Geographic to share this data and its insights with travelers around the world."

The 29 Best Small Cities are:

  • Albuquerque, New Mexico (Sudsiest) 
  • Anchorage, Alaska (Trending- Most Caffeinated) 
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan (Greenest) 
  • Annapolis, Maryland (Trending- Dog Friendly) 
  • Asheville, North Carolina (Most Artsy, Sudsiest) 
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Best Groomed) 
  • Boulder, Colorado (Hipster Friendly, Musically Grooviest, Most Caffeinated, Sudsiest) 
  • Charleston, South Carolina (Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy) 
  • Columbia, South Carolina (Best Groomed, Meatiest) 
  • Greenville, South Carolina (Meatiest) 
  • Hagerstown, Maryland (Best Groomed) 
  • Healdsburg, California (Trending- Greenest) 
  • Hickory, North Carolina (Hipster Friendly) 
  • Honolulu, Hawaii (Musically Grooviest, Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy) 
  • Kansas City, Missouri (Trending- Most Artsy) 
  • Lakeland, Florida (Most Dog Friendly) 
  • Louisville, Kentucky (Trending- Meatiest) 
  • Madison, Wisconsin (Greenest) 
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (Trending- Hipster Friendly) 
  • Newport, Rhode Island (Trending- Best Groomed) 
  • Olympia, Washington (Most Caffeinated, Greenest) 
  • Omaha, Nebraska (Trending- Musically Grooviest) 
  • Pensacola, Florida (Most Dog Friendly) 
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Trending- Sudsiest) 
  • Portland, Maine (Most Instagrammed) 
  • Rapid City, South Dakota (Trending- Most Instagrammed) 
  • Reno, Nevada (Meatiest, Most Dog Friendly) 
  • Santa Cruz, California (Musically Grooviest) 
  • Spokane, Washington (Hipster Friendly, Most Caffeinated) 
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