- Vacancy rate: 10.3%
- Recent homes added: 494
- Projected annual growth rate (2015-2020): 1.31%
- Arts-related businesses: 88
- WalkScore (out of 100): 60.5
1. Alexandria, VA
By any measurement, downtown Alexandria, Va.. is loaded. Loaded with restaurants. Loaded with cultural venues and entertainment options. Loaded with historical architecture, picture perfect views and people. Old Town, the historic heart of downtown Alexandria, swells with tourists, shoppers and art-lovers by day, while filling up with beer- and music-lovers who shuffle down brick-lined streets towards bars and pubs in the evening hours. Restaurants in Alexandria are themselves worth flying across the country to try and draw thousands of food connoisseurs from the Washington D.C. area. Residents here take full advantage of their city’s thriving food scene, eating out nearly twice as much as the average American. It all adds up to put Alexandria at the top of our Top 10 Best Downtowns 2016.
Alexandria’s appearance on the Top 10 Best Downtowns 2016 marks the fourth time Livability.com has recongized Old Town as one of the most vibrant, unique and livable downtowns in the country. Low vacancy rates show that Old Town is a sought-after location, and people living in Alexandria typically spend more time visiting the downtown area to shop, eat and hang out than they do in other cities. The PBS series Mercy Street, a Civil-War-era tale set in Alexandria, has created even more interest in the city’s many historic buildings and storylines.
Old Town offers the sophistication you’d expect in a much larger city while presenting cozy comforts, such as the water bowls for dogs, set out on the sidewalks by local shop owners. Among the top things to do in Alexandria are strolling along the Potomac River, admiring the pieces being made at the Torpedo Factory Art Center and touring museums on Market Square. Downtown residents find it easy to reach parks and recreational areas in Alexandria.