The Best Cities in the United States

THE MOST EXCITING travel story in America right now? The resurgence of cities large and small.

At Nat Geo Travel, we’re passionate about tales of urban renewal, about communities that have collaborated to improve their Main Streets, about smart cities that have pursued development policies that produce happiness.

For this story, we partnered with Resonance Consultancy, a global destination branding advisor, to identify the top U.S. small cities based on unconventional metrics that we think lead to happiness: green spaces, galleries, coffee shops, breweries, music venues, Instagrammable moments, and more.


Though Pittsburgh’s iconic Iron City Ale is now produced an hour away in Latrobe, the Burgh is home to more than 30 craft breweries. Many of the suds are made and poured in rehabbed historic buildings, such as a decommissioned 1902 Catholic church (Church Brew Works) and a 19th-century school (11th Hour Brewing Co.). In the pipeline: a 50,000-square-foot brewpub/museum.


Topping our list in four categories, Boulder boldly leads with music venues, vintage clothing boutiques, and craft breweries. And there seem to be as many coffee shops as cyclists here, so it’s no surprise that several combo java joint/bike shops have opened recently. On downtown’s main Pearl Street drag, At Full Cycle sells wheels and gear as well as lattes and local beers. Cycling clubs crowd the minimalist café/bike shop Rapha for espresso, pre-ride waffles, and post-ride pastries.

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