Savannah, GA

Savannah named America's fourth-best small city of 2021

Peter Watson

Savannah in Georgia has been named America's fourth-best small city in a ranking of the 100 most desirable places to live, visit and invest in over the coming year.

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Savannah, Georgia has been named America's fourth-best small citySean Pavone/Shutterstock

Savannah was recently ranked fourth on a list of America’s best small cities. The report described the city of over 130,000 as an "urban gem that shines bright".

Resonance Consultancy has published the report ranking the nation's cities with metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) of populations above 100,000 but under 500,000.

The report uses a unique combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 23 areas grouped into six core categories.Taking the top spot was Reno in Nevada closely followed by Naples in Florida in second place and Santa Fe, New Mexico, in third place.

"Savannah is not relying solely on its beloved Spanish moss and cobblestone streets to attract visitors... Increasingly, Savannah is garnering more attention for its food than for its historic sights. The ingredients for the rising culinary scene? Fresh local seafood, Southern home cooking and chef-driven restaurants cropping up throughout the Historic Landmark District, Starland and Tybee Island." – Resonance Consultancy

How is the ranking calculated?

The ranking uses a unique combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 23 areas grouped into six core categories.

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Savannah RiverfrontSean Pavone/Shutterstock

The six categories and 23 factors are:

  • Place: weather, safety, sights & landmarks, parks & outdoor
  • Product: airport connectivity, attractions, museums, university ranking, convention centre, pro sports teams
  • People: diversity, educational attainment
  • Prosperity: Fortune 500 companies, household income
  • Programming: culture, nightlife, dining, shopping
  • Promotion: Facebook check-ins, Google search, TripAdvisor reviews, Instagram hashtags, Google trends
"What distinguishes our methodology from all others is that we also incorporate user-generated data to quantify the number of quality restaurants, shops, nightlife and other experiences that make urban living so alluring. Based on the data we have collected over the past five years, we know that a city’s performance for factors such as Facebook Check-ins, Instagram mentions, recommended culinary experiences, museums, nightlife, culture and shopping, have some of the highest correlations with not only the number of visitors a city receives, but investment and economic growth as well. Rebooting this software of urban experiences will be as important as improvements to the hardware in terms of investments in infrastructure when it comes to a city’s recovery from this crisis." – Chris Fair, President & CEO, Resonance Consultancy

What makes Savannah so special?

I stopped by Savannah, the oldest city in Georgia at 288 years old in 2021, during a road trip from Florida to South Carolina last year. ⁣ ⁣ In general, I'm not a big fan of cities, but this friendly town, with its graceful mix of elegant townhouses, green parks and storied architecture, all bedecked beneath a veil of dripping moss, instantly had me charmed.⁣I loved wandering around the city parks and the historic waterfront and who couldn't be charmed by the grand avenue of oak trees draped in moss at Wormsloe?

With more than 150 festivals every year, this Southern gem knows how to celebrate – from the famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade (one of the largest in America) to the two-week Savannah Music Festival in the spring and the Savannah Craft Brew Fest to end the summer on Labor Day weekend. Music, art, culture and food are just a few of the excuses for city-wide parties – and the reason behind the city’s second-place position in the "Programming" subcategory.

Increasingly, Savannah is garnering more attention for its food than for its historic sights. The ingredients for the rising culinary scene? Fresh local seafood, Southern home cooking and chef-driven restaurants cropping up throughout the Historic Landmark District, Starland and Tybee Island. As a city so reliant on gatherings and public celebrations, Savannah has been devastated by the COVID-19 outbreak. When visitors and locals do get back on the cobblestone, they’ll have the new JW Savannah Plant Riverside District waiting for them. The former power plant has been transformed into Savannah’s most luxurious hotel and new entertainment destination.

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Forsyth Park in Savannah, GeorgiaSean Pavone/Shutterstock

America’s 100 Best Small Cities

Resonance Consultancy is a leading advisor in tourism, real estate and economic development. They produce a number of reports and rankings assessing the world’s top cities' strengths and weaknesses.

1. Reno, Nevada

2. Naples, Florida

3. Santa Fe, New Mexico

4. Savannah, Georgia

5. Asheville, North Carolina

6. Anchorage, Alaska

7. Boulder, Colorado

8. Trenton, New Jersey

9. Myrtle Beach, South

10. Ann Arbor, Michigan

11. Santa Cruz, California

12. Napa, California

13. Atlantic City, New Jersey

14. Hilton Head, South Carolina

15. Lansing, Michigan

16. Lincoln, Nebraska

17. Kahului, Hawaii

18. Charlottesville, Virginia

19. Fort Wayne, Indiana

20. Santa Maria, California

21. Mobile, Alabama

22. Fort Collins, Colorado

23. Bloomington, Illinois

24. Ithaca, New York

25. Green Bay, Wisconsin

26. Wilmington, North Carolina

27. Springfield, Missouri

28. Midland, Texas

29. Davenport, Iowa

30. Bend, Oregon

31. Pensacola, Florida

32. Gainesville, Florida

33. State College, Pennsylvania

34. Salinas, California

35. Champaign, Illinois

36. Burlington, Vermont

37. San Luis Obispo, California

38. Punta Gorda, Florida

39. South Bend, Indiana

40. Iowa City, Iowa

41. Barnstable Town, Massachusetts

42. Tallahassee, Florida

43. Kalamazoo, Michigan

44. Fargo, North Dakota

45. Medford, Oregon

46. Erie, Pennsylvania

47. Corpus Christi, Texas

48. Evansville, Indiana

49. Athens, Georgia

50. Las Cruces, New Mexico

51. Rochester, Minnesota

52. Sioux Falls, South Dakota

53. Lawrence, Kansas

54. College Station, Texas

55. Huntsville, Alabama

56. Columbia, Missouri

57. Manchester, New Hampshire

58. Eugene, Oregon

59. St. George, Utah

60. Vallejo, California

61. Flagstaff, Arizona

62. Columbus, Georgia

63. Yuma, Arizona

64. Redding, California

65. California, Maryland

66. Kennewick, Washington

67. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

68. Amarillo, Texas

69. Lubbock, Texas

70. Appleton, Wisconsin

71. Oshkosh, Wisconsin

72. Port St. Lucie, Florida

73. York, Pennsylvania

74. Merced, California

75. El Centro, California

76. Greeley, Colorado

77. Laredo, Texas

78. Waco, Texas

79. Billings, Montana

80. Olympia, Washington

81. Springfield, Illinois

82. Burlington, North Carolina

83. Rapid City, South Dakota

84. Bloomington, Indiana

85. Cedar Rapids, Iowa

86. Blacksburg, Virginia

87. Montgomery, Alabama

88. Prescott, Arizona

89. Lafayette, Indiana

90. Missoula, Montana

91. Peoria, Illinois

92. Bismarck, North Dakota

93. Panama City, Florida

94. Logan, Utah

95. Norwich, Connecticut

96. Wenatchee, Washington

97. Yakima, Washington

98. Bellingham, Washington

99. The Villages, Florida

100. Bremerton, Washington

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Peter Watson is a writer, photographer and adventurer. A keen trekker and climber he can usually be found on the trails of the Greater Ranges. He’s visited over 80 countries and is currently focused on climbing the seven summits – the highest mountain on every continent. Four down, three to go... He has also travelled extensively around the US developing a penchant for American backcountry, abandoned buildings and natural wonders en route.

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