Sarasota Is The Best Artsy Small City For 2012

American Style magazine puts out a list each year of the best destinations for art. The list is split by city size  — large, medium and small — and Sarasota went from #5 on the small city list in 2011 to #1 this year. Which of course means that it now holds two titles, along with the #1 beach in the country. The magazine also points out how eight cities in all three categories were located in Florida — five of them in its southwest. The other Floridian small cities were Bradenton in second place, Key West in fourth and Naples in ninth. For mid-sized cities, St. Petersburg came in first as it did last year, Tampa came in third, and Miami seventh. For big cities, Jacksonville was 15th.

LEGO Terra Cotta army at the 2011 Sarasota Chalk Festival


It must be mentioned again, as it was last year, that the classification system they use for cities is ludicrous: it would be laughable if anyone in the real world labeled Miami a mid-sized city with a straight face, while calling Albuquerque, Nashville and Portland big cities. The magazine is probably using city limits to define boundaries, which leads to exactly this kind of problem. In practice, city limits mean very little, which is why the US government uses Metropolitan Statistical Areas instead. It wouldn’t hurt at all if American Style followed suit. Another problem with the lists is that they’re based on reader polls, so it’s at least somewhat of a popularity contest, especially among the smaller cities.

With those caveats, the top five cities in each category:

Big Cities:

  1. New York
  2. Washington D.C.
  3. Chicago
  4. San Francisco
  5. Boston

Mid-sized Cities:

  1. St. Petersburg, FL
  2. Dayton, OH
  3. Tampa
  4. Alexandria, VA
  5. New Orleans

Small Cities:

  1. Sarasota, FL
  2. Bradenton, FL
  3. Asheville, NC
  4. Key West
  5. Santa Fe, NM

Speaking of titles, it should be mentioned that in 2006, Sarasota was also named the meanest city in America toward the homeless, due to its no-camping law.

See also:

From American Style

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