15 Atlanta

PopulationMetro: 5,884,736
Affluent, charming and dripping with American history, this giant of the American South is creating the future on its own terms.

The thumping heart of the American South can be heard across the country these days.

Hometown of both hip hop and 24-hour cable news, Atlanta, in the words of one critic, “is now dominating popular culture in a major way.” But the city hasn’t forgotten its history, and it still welcomes visitors—whether they’re in town for business or pleasure, or just passing through the world’s busiest airport—with signature southern charm.

With household names like CNN and Coca-Cola headquartered here, Atlanta earns a #9 ranking for number of Fortune 500 companies. Meanwhile, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains the busiest airport in the world, and with 80% of the U.S. population residing within a two-hour flight, Atlanta was #4 for Connectivity.

Place 39
Product 40
Programming 15
People 60
Prosperity 48
Promotion 25

All those big companies have sunk big dollars into attractions like the High Museum of Art and the Georgia Aquarium, the largest in the Americas. Beyond the high-rises of Midtown, the city has a buzzing music scene (now getting the prestige TV treatment in Donald Glover’s acclaimed Atlanta).

Martin Luther King Jr. was born here (the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change is a must-visit), but so was Kanye West, who is perhaps the most well-known in a litany of hip hop acts with origins in the ATL. And all of that contributes to the city’s hot performance in online search, reviews and hashtags, earning a respectable #10 ranking for Promotion.

The Sweet Auburn Historic District was once the wealthiest black community in America, and the majority-African American city is still one of the top in the country for black prosperity.

Atlanta’s rate of home ownership is nearly 45% (compared to a national average of 41), and its close-knit communities, from family-friendly Peachtree Park to trendy Cabbagetown, earn the city a solid #14 rank for Neighborhoods