Which cities make unattached travelers feel most welcome? T+L readers ranked those with the liveliest singles scenes, whether at bars, bookstores, or bowling alleys.
No. 17 Tampa, FL
America’s Best Cities for Singles
No. 17 Tampa, FL
Readers embraced this beach city for its ability to let down its hair—and perhaps tie on an eye patch at the same time—making it a winner in the dive bar category. One of the classic watering holes is the pirate-themed Gaspar’s Grotto in Ybor City, which turns up its swashbuckling spirit during winter’s Gasparilla festivities, named for an infamous 18th-century buccaneer. Non-pirate types, meanwhile, might prefer the elegant rooftop bar at downtown’s Fly Bar or bonding over the live zydeco music and “Floribbean” cuisine—like oysters, grouper, and fried gator tail—at Skipper’s Smokehouse. Someday, when you’ve settled down, you’ll want to come back with the kids: the city also ranked near the top for family vacations and peace and quiet.
The singles scene in New York City is a little crazy, maybe even certifiably so.
“This is a city with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but only in the best ways,” says Rachel Harrison, a Brooklyn-based public relations exec. “You can dress a little wilder, slap on some fake eyelashes—you can do anything you want, at any age. There are no judgments.”
Unabashedly batting those faux lashes got the Big Apple more than a few second glances this year. New York City landed in the top 10 for the best cities for singles, according to Travel + Leisure readers. In this year’s America’s Favorite Places survey, readers ranked 38 cities on dozens of appealing qualities, including good-looking locals, cool shopping, and hipster-magnet coffee bars.
The winning cities in the singles-scene category excel in the off-hours, ranking highly for nightclubs, dive bars, and even great diners, where you might lock eyes with someone over a late-night order of fries.
But the most singles-friendly cities also put a creative spin on conventional meet-up spots. Plenty of big attractions—from the Brooklyn Museum to the San Diego Museum of Art—offer monthly happy hours, wooing artsy singles with cocktails and live music. In Boston, one of the coolest bookstores does Trivia Nights, while in downtown L.A. a popular bar stocks old-school video games.
Another strategy for uncovering a city’s best singles scene is exploring the activities that locals love most. “New Orleanians live and breathe festivals—like Jazz Fest, and even Creole Tomato Fest,” says native Stephen Schmitz. Just be warned: “The heat and humidity,” he says, “can make for a rough appearance.”
Read on for the full results. And make your point of view heard by voting in the America’s Favorite Places survey.