Methodology Americas | World’s Best Cities


How we ranked America’s Best Cities in 2023

Resonance Consultancy ranks U.S. cities (principal cities of metropolitan areas with populations of more than 500,000) by using a combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 26 areas grouped into six core categories. Principal cities are defined as the largest city in each metropolitan statistical area. Our population numbers are sourced from the U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2021.



Our most layered category quantifies a city’s physical sense of place. To score a city within our Place category, we evaluate the perceived quality of its natural and built environments. From how walkable and bike-friendly it is to how well its parks and landmarks are reviewed, several readily measurable, oft-cited factors influence our perceptions.

Walk Score
A city’s walkability score on Walk Score (

A city’s bikeability score on Walk Score (

Sights & Landmarks
Number of quality points of interest, neighborhoods and landmarks recommended by locals and visitors (

Number of quality parks and outdoor activities recommended by locals and visitors (


This is a ranking of the “hardware” of a city—often the most difficult metric for cities to get right. Our Product category studies a city’s key institutions, attractions and infrastructure. A city’s infrastructure and institutions shape its identity via the quantity, quality and reputation of these “products.” Expensive and difficult to develop and maintain, exceptional, recognizable products are often found only in large, cosmopolitan cities.

Airport Connectivity
Number of direct destinations served by the city’s airports (Google Flights)

Convention Center
Size of the largest convention center (

Number of quality museums and arts institutions recommended by locals and visitors (

Score of the top local university (QS Rankings)

Pro Sports Teams
Number of professional sports teams


This category measures the experiential pillars of a great visit: food, shows, shopping and nightlife. If our Product category is the “hardware” of cities and destinations, the mosaic of cultural programming and lifestyle experiences they offer is the “software” that makes them run.

Number of quality performing arts and cultural experiences recommended by locals and visitors (

Number of quality nightlife experiences recommended by locals and visitors (

Number of quality restaurants and culinary experiences recommended by locals and visitors (

Number of quality shopping experiences recommended by locals and visitors (

Number of quality family-friendly activities recommended by locals and visitors (


The more diverse a city’s population, the more it produces global ideas... on a local scale. Human capital is often a city’s most valuable resource, and, for many cities, is increasingly in short supply. To evaluate the relative strength of human capital from one city to the next, we look at both the educational attainment level of the city’s population and the percentage of people participating in the labor force.

Residents Percentage of non-white citizens (U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2021)

Educational Attainment
Percentage of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher (U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2021)

Foreign-Born Residents
Share of the city’s population born outside of the United States (U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2021)


A well-paid, economically secure citizenry facilitates stewardship and innovation. In general, beliefs about the wealth and prosperity of a city are shaped by statistics such as the income of its citizens, the standard of living and the presence or absence of large, recognizable corporations—despite the fact that start-ups and innovation increasingly drive a city’s development and economic growth.

Fortune 500 Companies
Number of Fortune 500 corporate headquarters (

Knowledge-Based Businesses
Establishments in professional, scientific and technical services (Lightcast 2022)

Cost-of-Living-Adjusted Earnings
Earnings adjusted by the cost of living index (Lightcast 2022)

Poverty Rate
A measure of citizens living below their city’s national poverty rate (U.S. Census, American Community Survey 2021)


A city’s ability to tell its story (and help others do the same) depends on how it incentivizes and rewards the sharing of experiences by locals and visitors. The number and frequency of media coverage, online articles, references and place-based recommendations influence our perception of cities, whether the news is good or bad. Today, residents, businesses and visitors promote a city to the world more than city marketers or chambers of commerce. Resonance ranks a city’s Promotion performance based on the number of stories, references and recommendations shared online about that city.

Facebook Check-ins
Number of Facebook check-ins (

Google Search
Number of Google search results (

Tripadvisor Reviews
Number of Tripadvisor reviews (

Instagram Hashtags
Number of Instagram hastags (

Google Trends
Popularity on Google Trends in the past 12 months (