Stats: Albuquerque, Anchorage Top U.S. Small Cities

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Looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination for a city break this year? National Geographic Traveler has announced its 30 "Cities on the Rise" in the United States based on both a unique set of metrics as well as expert picks from its editors. To identify these rising small cities, Traveler worked with global destination branding advisors Resonance Consultancy in developing a Small Cities Index, a survey that drew from statistics and social media mentions to determine which cities rank highest in a variety of distinctive, fun categories including green spaces, coffee shops, live music and even Instagrammable moments.

Traveler's 30 Best Small Cities in the U.S. are categorized by 11 key factors that influence both residents and visitors alike. Here's the 11 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 Literate (bookstores, college degrees)
  • 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.

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The 30 Best Small Cities are:

  1. Albuquerque, New Mexico (Sudsiest)
  2. Anchorage, Alaska (Trending- Most Caffeinated)
  3. Ann Arbor, Michigan (Greenest)
  4. Annapolis, Maryland (Trending- Dog Friendly)
  5. Asheville, North Carolina (Most Artsy, Sudsiest)
  6. Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Best Groomed)
  7. Boulder, Colorado (Hipster Friendly, Musically Grooviest, Most Caffeinated, Sudsiest)
  8. Charleston, South Carolina (Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy)
  9. Charlottesville, Virginia (Most Literate)
  10. Columbia, South Carolina (Best Groomed, Meatiest)
  11. Greenville, South Carolina (Meatiest)
  12. Hagerstown, Maryland (Best Groomed)
  13. Healdsburg, California (Trending- Greenest)
  14. Hickory, North Carolina (Hipster Friendly)
  15. Honolulu, Hawaii (Musically Grooviest, Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy)
  16. Kansas City, Missouri (Trending- Most Artsy)
  17. Lakeland, Florida (Most Dog Friendly)
  18. Louisville, Kentucky (Trending- Meatiest)
  19. Madison, Wisconsin (Greenest)
  20. New Orleans, Louisiana (Trending- Hipster Friendly)
  21. Newport, Rhode Island (Trending- Best Groomed)
  22. Olympia, Washington (Most Caffeinated, Greenest)
  23. Omaha, Nebraska (Trending- Musically Grooviest)
  24. Pensacola, Florida (Most Dog Friendly)
  25. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Trending- Sudsiest)
  26. Portland, Maine (Most Instagrammed)
  27. Rapid City, South Dakota (Trending- Most Instagrammed)
  28. Reno, Nevada (Meatiest, Most Dog Friendly)
  29. Santa Cruz, California (Musically Grooviest)
  30. Spokane, Washington (Hipster Friendly, Most Caffeinated)

Source: National Geographic

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