Best Places to Live

2011 10 Best Downtowns

A good downtown, whether it anchors a big city or a small town, acts a little like an addiction.

Go once and you can't resist going back for more.

In our search for the best downtowns, we considered the mix of entertainment options they had to offer, the planning that went into their design, and the beautiful architecture and green spaces that inspire interaction.

These downtowns are well thought out, walkable and easy to navigate. There's a range of flavors to be found in upscale eateries and casual cafes, while indie theaters, glossy off-Broadway productions, and family-friendly museums offer residents and visitors endless ways to spend their days. Buildings that have stood the test of time or showcase the edge of modern architecture add to the appeal, with parks and open spaces allowing a break from the city scene.

So whether you're looking to relocate in a city setting or just prefer to spend a day exploring all a downtown has to offer, this list of 10 best downtowns is sure to have a scene that suits your needs.

Be sure to check out our most recent Top 10 Downtowns list as well.

Ranking Criteria
Good entertainment options
Well planned design
Unique architecture
Green spaces
  • 9

    Eugene, OR

    Population: 159,615
    Brian McCord

    In a city well known for the arts and outdoors, Eugene, OR's downtown district serves as the center for creativity and culture, and that's for a whole region, not just the city. Luckey's Bar and Music Venue, the first business in Eugene, combines a feel for the past with the sounds of local bands, while the Eugene Gallery District keeps residents on the cutting edge of culture. Live music, theater and fine arts performances can be seen at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, the McDonald Theatre, WOW Hall or the John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts. There are numerous dance venues for those who like to get down. Upscale eateries and rotating festivals coexist in harmony, and Eugene's emphasis on the outdoors plays out downtown at the beautiful Alton Baker Park.

    The Scene: Cool and Green

    Find more fun things to do in Eugene, OR.