What’s more important for a fabulous singles scene, attractive people, culture, amazing cocktails or a stimulating conversation?
According to Travel + Leisure readers, the martinis win. In this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers evaluated 35 cities on boutique hotels, coffee bars, mass transit, and how bar scenes lend themselves to meeting new people. The best cities for singles category, interestingly enough, was more correlated to the wild weekend category than it was to town’s known for attractive locals.
New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, ranked well for singles thanks to their combinations of good live music, great restaurants, and diverse populations. Denver, at No. 9, was more of an all around winner thanks to its reputation for attractive bachelors.
“I’ve often heard Denver referred to as ‘Men’-ver by out-of-staters,” says Amber Connor, a Denver native. “We do have more of the rugged, outdoorsy type here.”
As for the “losers” in the singles category, Salt Lake City (No. 34) may be perceived as too squeaky clean, while Anchorage (No. 33) has long had a rep for having too many men and not enough ladies to throw much of a singles party. Orlando (No. 30), on the other hand, has too many “partiers” still drinking from sippy cups.
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to watering holes if you want to meet eligible singles. Museums and art galleries increasingly host happy hours that act as an alternative singles scene. There are always coffee shops for the less boozy types.
And in Austin–which won the silver in the singles category–the key to meeting people may be doing some daily errands.
“One unofficial singles joint,” says Austin public relations exec Marisa Amador, “is the Whole Foods Market headquarters in downtown. You can’t graze the salad bar without spotting a good-looking young professional.”
No. 1 New Orleans
The Crescent City is holding tight to its championship spot from last year: it’s also No. 1 for cocktails and fascinating people. Mingling here is not just about trading Mardi Gras beads, either. If you want to check out the scene beyond Bourbon Street, go to Frenchmen Street, popular with the locals for live music, dancing, and bars—including new clubs such as Maison and Three Muses. Or while away a few hours over a coffee and beignet: New Orleans also ranked first for its neighborhood cafés.
Population in July 2009: 354,850.
Median resident age: 34
Estimated median household income in 2009: $36,468
No. 2 Austin
With its dazzlingly smart, athletic-looking, and eco-conscious locals—not to mention its No. 2 ranking for live music—the Texas capital has climbed one spot closer to the top since last year. Downtown’s Sixth Street is legendary for music and libations, but if you want to get a little off the beaten path, head east across the highway to explore East Sixth Street, with its beer gardens and newly gussied up dive bars. Or check out SoLa (South Lamar) for the lively brunch scene at places like Olivia.
Population in July 2009: 786,382
Median resident age: 30
Estimated median household income in 2009: $50,132
No. 3 Las Vegas
No one would argue that this is the place to find a soul mate. Vegas ranks first in the AFC survey for wild weekends and a keep-it-casual No. 19 for romance. It’s also a feast for the eyes, ranking No. 5 for people-watching. If you want to party with local singles, check out the Blue Martini or Cadillac Ranch in Town Square, on the southern end of Las Vegas Boulevard. Or, walk across the street from the Fremont Street Experience to the Fremont East Entertainment District, home to the Downtown Cocktail Room and Insert Coin(s)
Population in July 2009: 567,641
Median resident age: 35
Estimated median household income in 2009: $50,935
No. 4 New York City
In the No. 1 city for diversity, you can take your pick among several hot zones for bars and singles, from the East Village to the Meatpacking District—or over the Manhattan Bridge to the area around the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Of course, there are also other places to meet singles—coffee bars, museums, and luxury stores. Just remember to dress to impress: this is the No. 1 town for stylish locals.
Population in July 2009: 8,391,881
Median resident age: 35
Estimated median household income in 2009: $50,033
No. 5 Chicago
The Windy City deserves special credit for its lively bar scene, despite having nearly the worst weather in the survey. To mingle with locals, your best bets are at watering holes in cool neighborhoods such as Andersonville, Pilsen, or Logan Square. If you’re staying downtown, you might find a great cocktail and excellentcity views just downstairs from your room: Chicago ranked first in the survey for its business hotels.
Population in July 2009: 2,851,268
Median resident age: 32
Estimated median household income in 2009: $45,734
No. 6 Miami
Dropping four spots since last year, this fun-loving Florida city has slipped a bit off its bar stool. Why? Maybe the residents are a little intimidating. Voters perceived Miamians as not-so-friendly—but also very attractive and stylish. Miami is also one of the priciest cities in the survey; if you don’t want any of the velvet-rope scene in South Beach, check out the bars in downtown’s Design District or Brickell.
Population in July 2009: 11,120
Median resident age: 38
Estimated median household income in 2009: $60,888
No. 7 Nashville
Music City is a cheap date, but in a good way: it ranked first in the survey for both affordability and its omnipresent live music scene, and came in at No. 3 for friendly locals. Lower Broadway is the classic stretch of bars—Willie and Waylon used to toss back a few along here—but if you want to get away from tourists, go to the 12South area.
Population in July 2009: 605,473
Median resident age: 34
Estimated median household income in 2009: $45,540
No. 8 San Juan, P.R.
Unlike some cities in the survey, San Juan offers equal parts romance and party potential—especially on New Year’s Eve,for which it ranked No. 2 in the AFC survey.
Year round, the Old San Juan, Isla Verde, and Condado districts have enough salsa and piña coladas to keep anyone busy. Check out the Plaza del Mercado in Santurce, which becomes a huge block party on Thursday and Friday nights.
#7 Cities with Most Attractive People
No. 9 Denver
The Mile High City jumped six spots in this category since last year—perhaps thanks to rugged dudes who have helped the city earn its nickname “Men”-ver. AFC voters agreed, giving the city high marks for its bench-pressing locals, great outdoors, and beer. You might meet locals while mountain biking, or in a brewpub in LoDo (the Lower Historic Downtown District).
Population in July 2009: 399,827
Median resident age: 34
Estimated median household income in 2009: $52,984
No. 10 Providence
AFC voters love the neighborhood joints (and beer) in this Rhode Island city, where one of the best areas for meeting singles is Federal Hill, the city’s Little Italy. You’ll find bars, lounges, and Italian restaurants that stay open late for dancing. If you’re not the bar type, you’ll do well meeting locals at the great coffeehouses or art galleries.
Population in July 2009: 171,909
Median resident age: 29
Estimated median household income in 2009: $37,619
Happy Hunting Singles