8 Habits of Highly Successful Cities

Great places to live don’t just happen—they’re made. We talked to experts around the country to find out exactly what the most livable towns are doing to rev up the local economy and attract adventure-loving residents.

Successful cities have a few things in common. Here are six of them. (Hannah McCaughey)
best towns

How does a city become a thriving adventure destination, the kind of spot where most people long to move? According to America’s favorite cities, you’ll need a spruced-up waterfront, some craft beer, and a commitment to recreation.


#1. Pave Paradise (Just a Little)

Never underestimate the power of a rejuvenated shoreline

urban planning
Pave paradise, but skip the parking lot. (Raymond Forbes/Stocksy)

Greenery. Diversity. Liveability. Culture. You can have all this (and more!) on your city’s waterfront. It just takes some time and a heavy dose of good planning.


#2. Reboot Urban Renewal

Traditionally, downtowns were made for the wealthy. But what happens when they’re specifically designed to attract multiple income levels?

urban planning
Newwark is thinking about housing in a new way - and it's changing the face of the city. (Stephen Speranza/The New York Times/Redux)

A new kind of city center is sprouting up in a surprising place: Newark, New Jersey. The developer making it happen reveals his plans for the downtown of the future.


#3. Exploit Natural Resources

Outdoor rec doesn’t just bring in tourists. It builds local business (and adds jobs to boot).

mountain biking
Nature's where the green is (in more ways than one). (Wesley Hitt)

Towns that have invested in their natural resources see more profit and a vibrant new culture.


#4. Pay to Play

Adventure's an investment. But exactly how much are cities making when they take tourists outside? 

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Adventure is an economic asset - and these towns know it. (Daniel Holtz/Tandem)

We did a little bit of math


#5. Make a Beer Run

Towns that win the bids for a new brewery come out on top in more ways than one

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Towns with breweries see an influx of outdoor lovers. Why? Because adventurers flock to beer. (Sam Dean)

Craft breweries inject culture, youth, and cash into communities. It’s no wonder towns across the country are fighting to get one.


#6. Spread Out

Denver’s making suburbs cool again

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Denver: a working example of how sprawl can actually relieve pressure on growing cities. (iStock)

Floods of people coming out of Denver looking to save has positioned its suburbs for renewal. Here are some of the places with a plan to make the future of urbanization their own.


#7. Set Up a Silicon Outpost

Tech nerds need fun, too

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Businesses are looking to move to cities with places to blow off steam. (Bernd Jonkmanns/Laif/Redux)

The high-stress tech innovation environment makes for a prime adventure-seeking population. Cities looking to invite the next wave of digital revolution will do well with adding a little green to their skyline. Take Pittsburgh, for instance


#8. Put Sustainability at the Forefront

The craft-beer industry is growing with the planet in mind

Mills River
Sierra Nevada vice president Brian Grossman (Bill Manley)

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s new outpost in little Mills River, North Carolina, gave them a rare chance to do something novel: go green from day one.

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