≡ Menu

My Top 20 Favorite Large US Cities: 10 through 6

My apologies on the long delay for this posting. I have accepted a new job and things have become a little crazy as you might imagine. More on that to come. For now, hope you enjoy the series:

Boston Common with high-rise housing units in the background

Boston Common with high-rise housing units in the background - Boston, MA

10.  Boston, MA – Boston is one of those cities I really like, but when I’ve gone there to visit, I haven’t felt that it had IT. The city just doesn’t match my aesthetic or my climate preference. I think I’m due for a revisit though… Boston has a fantastic urban park in Boston Common (pictured). One of the most historical buildings in the country,  Faneuil Hall, now functions as a market (with some great food). The T is one of the few subway systems in the country. And you can mention Boston without mentioning Fenway Park, can you? Don’t get me wrong, I love Boston, but I’m not jumping to move there. Photo credit David Berkowitz

A play on the famous Grant Wood painting in the Short North - Columbus, OH

A play on the famous Grant Wood painting in the Short North - Columbus, OH

9. Columbus, OH – So I might be a bit biased here since I essentially lived in Columbus part-time for almost two years, but I loved many things about Columbus from the first time I visited. I love art, and Columbus has my favorite art district in all of America–the Short North (be sure to go to a First Friday Gallery Hop). Aside from that, I could just name many of the great neighborhoods: German Village, Brewery District, Italian Village, Victorian Village, Arena District, Clintonville, and so on. What I love about Columbus is that it has great energy. It’s becoming very cosmopolitan and more walkable, but yet it maintains the charming character of its historic neighborhoods. Things to fix include the insane sprawl and mega arterials; the poor, dilapidated neighborhoods; the poor transit service, and a few other things. But it’s well on its way. Columbus Photos

5th Street in the Gaslamp Quarter - San Diego, CA

5th Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter - San Diego, CA

8. San Diego, CA – There are so many things to love about San Diego: the weather, the beaches, the high rise condos and apartments, the Gaslamp Quarter, beautiful Petco Park, Balboa Park, the Trolley, and many hip neighborhoods. So, why is it ranked this low? Because most of San Diego is a sprawling concrete wasteland with freeways running everywhere. In addition, the Trolley system I don’t feel is as good as everyone makes it out to be. And, it’s uber expensive. San Diego Photos

An artist paints the Dupont Circle Fountain - Washington DC

An artist paints the Dupont Circle Fountain - Washington DC

7. Washington, DC – Admittedly, Washington, DC is probably ranked too low on my list. But, really, the differences in my rankings of the remaining cities is very small, so it could easily climb to number one after my next visit. Obviously, there are many great things to see and do in DC. I spent a lot of time doing the tourist track and not getting to know the neighborhoods. However, I know it boasts one of the best transit systems in the country. It also has a great mix of really old, historical neighborhoods, and new, high-density, mixed-use developments. I also like the fact that it’s a little farther south than some of the other great US cities. I am dying to go back for a visit! Photo credit Shubert Ciencia

Sodo Neighborhood near Pioneer Square - Seattle, WA

Occidental Park - Seattle, WA

6. Seattle, WA – I think Seattle has the most beautiful natural setting of any city I’ve visited in the US. With the Puget Sound, natural lakes, evergreens, mountains, and Mount Rainier overshadowing the city, its location is breath taking. I also love many neighborhoods: Downtown, Pioneer Square, Sodo, Capitol Hill, the UW District, Belltown, Fremont, Ballard, and Green Lake are a few I visited and loved (among several others). The bike path system is spectacular (many thanks to my friend Pete Lagerway for that). And I’m incredibly jealous of their beautiful high rise condos and apartments, as well as the abundance of public art and parks. So, why would I rank Seattle at number 6? One obvious reason is the weather. The other bigger reason is that I felt Seattle was still too concrete for my taste. I think Seattle was quickly evolving before the economic meltdown, and I expect that it will continue afterward. It was really difficult to keep Seattle out of my top 5. Seattle Photos

I hope to not take such a long break between the next posting in this series, but my time to write will be extremely limited over the next few days. Here are links to the first two articles of this series:

My Top 20 Favorite Large US Cities: Intro and 20 through 16

My Top 20 Favorite Large US Cities: 15 through 11

(Visited 6,427 times, 1 visits today)

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • James :{) June 16, 2009, 4:39 pm

    No question that Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in the USA, but beauty has an UGLY side! Google: Seattle Freeze. To anyone thinking about relocating to Seattle…be sure you have enough pocket change for a round-trip ticket. “Seattle nice” is a bit of a trick!

  • db June 18, 2009, 7:11 am

    Thanks for including Columbus on your list. I moved to Columbus right after I graduated from high school about 16 years ago. I still love it. There are such great neighborhoods, events, art, parks, fabulous bike and walking trails. And you are right, the Short North is fantastic. There’s just something about it that makes you feel a little more alive strolling down high street and in the neighboring Victorian Village. I’m glad to see someone give Columbus the recognition it deserves!

  • ron September 17, 2009, 1:45 pm

    Why do you mention Seattle’s weather when you mention nothing about the weather of NYC or Boston even though they both get over 12 inches more rain per year, more cold and snow days, and way more hot sweaty days than Seattle?

  • carl brazil April 19, 2011, 3:17 am

    I am cool with your choices, but you have not mentioned pittsburgh, and I doubt it is in the top five. Pittsburgh has become more of a model city than any other, not to mention it is beautiful. The most beautiful city in the world is Rio de Janeiro, the second is Vancouver. But when I think of other cities, Pittsburgh always crosses my mind.

  • carl brazil April 19, 2011, 3:19 am


  • Scott November 17, 2011, 5:30 am

    I enjoyed reading your list of favorite cities. I would just add that Minneapolis should be included, it is one of the best cities in the U.S., and it always ranks high on numerous top 10 lists. It is a very urban and cosmopolitan city with some great neighborhoods. If you haven’t visited Minneapolis, you should. I am sure you would include it on your list.

  • Scott November 17, 2011, 5:33 am

    I enjoyed reading the list of your favorite cities. I would just add that Minneapolis should be included on your list, it is one of the best cities in the U.S. It is a very urban and cosmopolitan city with some great neighborhoods. If you haven’t visited Minneapolis, you should. I am sure you would include it on your list after a visit. Just don’t visit in the winter 🙂

  • Jim May 27, 2013, 8:00 pm

    I have to sound off a bit about your less-than-flattering description of Boston. This almost 400 year old city is arguably the most historic city in America. Boston has some incredible architecture (is that the best photo you could find?!) Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay is one of the grandest boulevards in the US, the South End is the country’s largest intact neighborhood of Victorian architecture, Copley Square has two of the most architecturally perfect buildings in America: Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library’s McKim building. Symphony Hall is one of four acoustically perfect music halls in the world. World class universities, museums, and a presence that looms much larger than its 600,000 inhabitants. Not to mention the Emerald Necklace, Frederick Law Olmstead’s chain of beautiful parks that string through the (most walkable) city in America. Modern meets Colonial, picturesque Beacon Hill, and countless other gems…this is also the most European city in the States. So the weather is terrible at times. Every city has some weather related drawbacks. Nor’Easters are not without their charm…they tend to bring out the best in people, even mistakenly labeled ‘cold reserved Bostonians’…Try sailing on the Charles River for a stunning view. Your description sounds more like nearby Fall River, MA.
    I feel better now : )

Leave a Comment