What makes a good singles scene? Sometimes it’s charming locals—or just a whole lot of bars. Here’s where to go for both.
#1 New Orleans
America's Best Cities for Singles 2010
#1 New Orleans
The Crescent City is a nightlife triple threat in the AFC survey: not only does it rank first for singles, but it wins for its cocktail hour and live music scenes—and it’s the winner in the wild weekend category too. Its locals rank high in friendliness (No. 2) and diversity (No. 3), and if they’re not letting the bon temps rouler, they’re sitting down (and we do mean sitting down—the Big Easy came in last place for active people) for a nice beignet.
Social media strategist Jani Bowe moved to Chicago from Minneapolis in 2007 and was glad she did. “Before moving to Chicago I wondered where on earth all the 20- to 30-year-olds went, as the dating scene in Minneapolis was extremely thin,” she says. But she found a lot more action in the Windy City. “Chicago is a vibrant, tech-savvy city, and this is where people come to start their careers,” she says. “So many men, so little time!”
Lots of people feel the same way. Chicago came in as the sixth-best U.S. city for singles in the annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, where Travel + Leisure readers rated urban areas on culture, hotels, weather, and even how good-looking the locals are. Of course, the race for the top singles cities boils down, in many ways, to how good the bar scene is. It explains, for instance, why party-centric cities like San Francisco and New York slid into the top 10 as easily as a Jell-O shot.
That’s not to say smaller cities don’t have their appeal for unmarried types. Austin cracked the top 5 thanks to its unbeatable music scene and smart, friendly locals. But the capital city wasn’t the lone star in Texas—nearby Houston also has a sizzling scene. What gives? Warm-weather spots did well in the survey, since more people can get out year-round to enjoy the city’s offerings. Having good cultural outlets, as Houston does in spades, doesn’t hurt either.
Some warm-weather spots defy that logic, though, like Orlando, where you’re more likely to trip over a stroller than stumble upon a singles bar. Honolulu, meanwhile, won in the AFC survey for romance but scored low for its singles scene—implying that people come here when they’re already in love, or are too busy pushing strollers to hold a mai tai too.
Meanwhile, some chillier places apparently make their own heat—perhaps that’s why Chicagoans ranked only No. 19 for friendliness. Smaller cities tended to rank higher for local charm, and offer a different kind of bar scene. Providence came in at No. 10 for singles, perhaps thanks to its friendly people and neighborhood joints, while Nashville is perfect for anyone—single or not—who wants a night on the town backed up by a steel guitar.
So what’s your poison? Read on to see which city has the singles scene for you.