PopulationMetro: 1,540,000
A business heart beats strong here, which means plenty of money to support innovative city design and local commerce.

Columbus sits in the middle of some vital city metrics: 50 for Place, the measure of the natural and built environment, neighborhoods, landmarks and parks; and 68 for People, which measures a city’s foreign-born residents and the education of the citizenry.

A surprising number of the Fortune 500s in town are fashion-related, including Limited Brands, the parent of Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch. Corporate headquarters make for high GDP per capita (Columbus ranks #43 globally). But does it make for good shopping? Our rankings put Columbus at #147, so not yet. But the Victoria’s Secret in New Bond Street is an over-the-top flagship, and a prototype of a brand-saving Abercrombie was introduced in the city.

Place 32
Product 10
Programming 5
People 55
Prosperity 46
Promotion 7

But where Columbus looks really good is on the Scioto Mile, described as an urban oasis on 175 acres of parkland that connects the downtown to both sides of the Scioto riverfront. An integrated system of parks, boulevards, pedestrian paths and bikeways (there’s bike sharing) includes the Scioto Audobon, a 120-acre stopover stopover for thousands of birds migrating from Central and South America, and home to one of the nation’s largest outdoor climbing walls. Key to the mile is the 15,000-square-foot interactive Scioto Fountain, which extends 200 feet, much to the delight of frolicking children, and is spectacularly lit at night. Adults take note: the mile is anchored on the north side by the eat-drink-play Arena District, with its vast choice of entertainment. Not for nothing does Columbus rank #74 for global Nightlife. Craft brew is big: try Wolf’s Ridge downtown or head to Short North, German Village and the Brewery District, the industrial hub of the city’s historic beer scene. We hear that newcomer Rockmill Tavern is serving up some pretty good Belgian-style farmhouse ales.