America’s Most Aesthetic Cities

America’s Most Aesthetic Cities

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When people move into a new home they often look to make the interior of their property as beautiful and aesthetically pleasing as possible. But, outside the walls of the property, the aesthetic of the place you are living is mostly out of your control so it might be important to first decide on a location that holds an aesthetic feel if that’s something you’re really looking for!

The US is full of cities of all shapes and sizes, with many different styles of architecture and natural features giving them a unique look and feel. But which popular American cities are the most aesthetic? By taking a deep dive into the data for a number of aesthetic factors we are able to reveal just that. 

Top five most aesthetic US cities

Top five most aesthetic US cities

The most aesthetic cities in the USA were based on a number of factors including the quality of green parks, pollution and cleanliness levels, historic and beautiful buildings, boutique hotels and social media popularity. These factors gave each city an overall score out of ten.

Surprisingly, some of America’s biggest and most famous cities performed poorly, achieving only a mediocre score overall. New York ranked 48th in our study, with a below-average score of 4.87, while Los Angeles ranked even worse with a 4.55 in 56th place. 

1. St Petersburg (Florida), overall city aesthetic score of 7.23/10:

Although it has nothing on the history and architecture of its Russian namesake, Florida’s St Petersburg is the most aesthetic major city in America according to our study. St Petersburg scores particularly well for air and light pollution, scoring in the top three cities for both categories. The city is nicknamed the “Sunshine City” due to its world record of 768 days of sunshine in the 1960s, this near-constant sunlight allows residents and visitors to get out in the parks and enjoy the city's sights at almost all times of the year. 

2. San Diego (California), overall city aesthetic score of 7.05/10:

San Diego is the second most aesthetic major city in America according to our study, and it narrowly missed out on the top spot by just 0.18. The Californian city performed solidly in every factor resulting in its high overall score. There are many famous buildings in San Diego including the El Cortez Hotel which was the tallest building in the city from 1927 to 1963. 

3. Tampa (Florida), overall city aesthetic score of 6.87/10:

Tampa is the third largest city in Florida and is also the third most aesthetic city in the entire United States according to our study. Tampa ranked in the top twenty cities for four of the eight categories and had an air pollution score of 19.5; the thirteenth best in the country. There are also many seaside walks and parks for people to enjoy in Tampa, as well as the Tampa Riverwalk, a 2.6-mile-long trail along the Hillsborough river. 

Minneapolis (Minnesota), overall city aesthetic score of 6.82/10:

Minneapolis is the fourth-highest-scoring city in terms of its overall aesthetic according to our study. On the shores of the mighty Mississippi river, Minnesota is a city famed for its natural water features and public parks that surround and connect them. The thirteen lakes (as they are collectively known) are all located within the city, many of them surrounded by green parkland, which is connected by public paths built on old railway tracks. 

5. Seattle (Washington), overall city aesthetic score of 6.82/10:

Seattle scored 6.82 to rank as the fifth most aesthetic American city in our study. It’s one of the fastest-growing major cities in America, with the population rising by 21.1% between the 2010 and 2020 US censuses. Seattle scored well for its number of green parks, with around 17 parks per 100,000 people, and also scored highly for park quality. The largest park in the city is Discover Park on the shores of Puget Sound, it contains a lighthouse at the west point, where there are almost 12 miles of footpaths to be enjoyed.

Top most aesthetic US cities

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Best state for each factor

Cities with the most listed buildings

  1. Louisville (Kentucky), 110.21 listed buildings per 100,000 people:

  2. Cincinnati (Ohio), 95.58 listed buildings per 100,000 people:

  3. Portland (Oregon), 92.16 listed buildings per 100,000 people:

Louisville has the most listed buildings per 100,000 people, there are 380 in total. Including historic places like the Big Four Bridge.

Cities with the most parks

  1. Anchorage (Alaska), 28 parks per 100,000 people:

  2. Honolulu (Hawaii), 28 parks per 100,000 people:

  3. Portland (Oregon), 20 parks per 100,000 people:

The most parks are found in Anchorage and Honolulu. There are 28 per 100,000 people in both the Alaskan city and the Hawaiian capital. A total of 98 are in Honolulu, whilst there are 82 in Anchorage.

Cities with the best quality parks

  1. Lincoln (Nebraska), green park quality score of 95/100:

  2. Anchorage (Alaska), green park quality score of 93.75/100:

  3. Madison (Wisconsin), green park quality score of 93.75/100:

Whilst Anchorage had the most parks, Lincoln in Nebraska has the best quality ones, as they achieved a score of 95/100. Parks the citizens of Lincoln can enjoy include Antelope Park, and the Hamann Rose Garden, all parks connected by 248-mile network of walking trails and cycle lanes. 

Cities with the most boutique hotels

  1. New York (New York), 10.33% of hotels are boutique:

  2. Baltimore (Maryland), 8.18% of hotels are boutique:

  3. New Orleans (Louisiana), 8.11% of hotels are boutique:

New York is the only city to have more than 10% of its hotels classed as boutique, there are 891 total hotels in the city, with 92 of them being recognised as boutique!

Most Instagrammed city

  1. Los Angeles (California), 69 million posts on Instagram:

  2. New York (New York), 64.7 million posts on Instagram:

  3. Chicago (Illinois), 30.1 million posts on Instagram: 

Los Angeles is the city where the most Instagram posts have been taken, knocking New York off the top spot by over 4 million. These two famous cities are by far the most Instagrammed in the entire United States. 

Cities with the cleanest air

  1. Winston-Salem (North Carolina), air pollution score of 7.5/100:

  2. Anchorage (Alaska), air pollution score of 9.68/100:

  3. St. Petersburg (Florida), air pollution score of 10.71/100:

The cleanest air in a major American city can be found in Winston Salem, it scored an incredibly low 7.5/100 (the higher the score the worse the air). Anchorage and St Petersburg ranked in second and third place respectively. 

The tidiest cities

  1. Irvine (California), dirty and untidy score of 9.72/100:

  2. Arlington (Virginia), dirty and untidy score of 10/100:

  3. Chandler (Arizona), dirty and untidy score of 10/100:

Irvine in California is the tidiest major American city, it was the only city to score under 10/100. Arlington in Virginia and Chandler in Arizona ranked in joint second place with a score of exactly ten. 

Cities with the least noise and light pollution

  1. Winston Salem (North Carolina), noise and light pollution score of 4.17/100:

  2. Oklahoma City (Oklahoma), noise and light pollution score of 28.7/100:

  3. Lincoln (Nebraska), noise and light pollution score of 29.55/100:

As well as having the cleanest air, Winston Salem also has the lowest level of noise and light pollution of the cities studied, it scores an incredibly low 4/100. This is almost 25 lower than second-placed Oklahoma City on 29, and Lincoln on 30. 

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  • A list of the 100 most populous cities in the USA was compiled from World Population Review, using US census data. 
  • The list was trimmed to 86 cities, as complete data could not be sourced for Chesapeake (Virginia), Chula Vista (California), Enterprise (Nevada), Garland (Texas), Gilbert (Arizona), Irving (Texas), Laredo (Texas), Newark (New Jersey), Norfolk (Virginia), North Las Vegas (Nevada), St. Louis (Missouri), St Paul (Minnesota), and Wichita (Kansas). 
  • The number of listed buildings was sourced from the National Register of Historic Places
  • The number of parks was sourced from the parks and nature section of Tripadvisor.
  • The quality of green park score was sourced from Numbeo
  • The percentage of boutique hotels was calculated by dividing the number of boutique hotels by the total number of hotels in the city, the numbers came from Tripadvisor. 
  • Numbeo was again used to get the scores for air pollution, dirty and untidiness, and noise and light pollution. Note that the lowest score for all three of these categories is the best. 
  • Instagram locations were used to see the number of posts that had been posted in each city, collected on 26/10/2022. 
  • Each city was then given a normalized score out of 10 for each factor before an average of these scores was taken.
Written by
Ash Read
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.

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