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America's Best Cities For Singles (PHOTOS)

Posted: 07/16/2012 6:02 pm

In some cities, a night out means martinis, high heels and velvet ropes. In others, even your good jeans might be too formal for the singles bar scene -- and "after five" is open to interpretation.

"In Austin, people love to drink at all hours of the day," says Lindsey Reynolds, a local food publicist. "Flip-flops and jorts -- short jean shorts -- are found everywhere, even at more upscale places." That mellow attitude makes it easy to mingle, so it's no surprise that the Texas capital made the top 10 again this year for its singles scene, according to Travel + Leisure readers.

In the annual America's Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 35 cities on dozens of features, from hotels to wireless coverage, as well as the qualities that make for a vibrant nightlife, such as live music, cocktails, and attractive locals. In the singles/bar scene category, New Orleans took the No. 1 spot yet again--thanks in part to that year-round Mardi Gras vibe, but also because of a certain homegrown effervescence, aside from any booze.

Of course, a singles scene doesn't need to involve any bar stools at all. In Austin, even the jogging trail around Lady Bird Lake can be a pick-up spot; according to Reynolds, "it's meat-market city."

--Katrina Brown Hunt

Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities Survey or enjoy More from Travel + Leisure:
-Best and Worst Airports to Find a Date
-America's Most Romantic Hotels

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  • No. 10 San Diego

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> The Gaslamp has long been considered the city’s main bar neighborhood, but the downtown party scene has both widened and moved high above the sidewalks, namely to the Altitude Sky Lounge, the Ivy Rooftop at the Andaz Hotel, and the Rooftop at the W, which all make the most of the views and the city’s near-perfect weather. Beer purists might prefer close-ups of the good local craft brews, at tasting rooms such as Green Flash and Bottlecraft. <br><br><em>Photo: iStock</em>

  • No. 9 San Francisco

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> Voters would rather flirt over dinner than drinks in the Bay Area: San Francisco ranked closer to the top for fine dining, cafés, and ethnic cuisine. The Mission may be the right neighborhood to strike up a conversation. Right now, the area’s Valencia Street is surging with activity: check out Mosto, connected to Tacolicious II, where the menu of more than 300 tequilas is sure to give you something to talk about. <br><br><em>Photo: iStock</em>

  • No. 8 Nashville

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> Local bands power the nightlife scene in friendly Nashville, but voters also found Music City pleasantly livable: safe, economical, and with good wireless coverage. Aside from classic bars on Lower Broadway, the trendier scenes are found in East Nashville and in downtown’s LEED-certified neighborhood The Gulch, where you can take a break from twangy tunes and listen to swing at dinner club Sambuca. <br><br><em>Photo: Brian Jannsen / Alamy</em>

  • No. 7 Austin, TX

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> Even if the Texas capital slipped five spots since last year, voters still appreciate the mellow scene in this hipster town, which ranked in the top 10 for offbeat and brainy residents. Set your sights on Rainey, the city’s coolest bar street, a downtown stretch of renovated old homes. At Icenhauer, all of the drinks (such as the Allison, a sangria served in a Mason jar) are named after the proprietor’s ex-girlfriends. Nearby, the kitsch-tinged Black Heart has as its signature cocktail a whiskey with muddled cherries. <br><br><em>Photo: iStock</em>

  • No. 6 Chicago

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> In a city full of cool architecture and great pizza, the locals take pride in their neighborhood bars. In Pilsen, Simone’s offers craft beers from a bar top made from an old bowling alley lane, while traditional Simon’s Tavern in Andersonville channels its Swedish heritage by offering both mulled-wine glogg and a challenge: if you can identify the five animals in the bar’s mural, you drink free for the night and wear the house Viking helmet. If you’re in the mood for a swanky night out, head to the rooftop at Zed451. <br><br><em>Photo: iStock</em>

  • No. 5 San Juan, P.R.

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> This colonial island city is a no-brainer for the top 5, thanks to its tropical breezes, plentiful rum, and very good-looking residents. One of the hottest dance bars is the rooftop Mist at the Water Beach Club, which debuted for New Year’s Eve 2011—a good strategy, since the city ranks as the No. 1 place to visit for that holiday. San Juan is also a surprisingly cheap date: it ranked No. 4 for being affordable. <br><br><em>Photo: Danita Delimont / Alamy</em>

  • No. 4 Miami

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> Gorgeous, noisy, and a little unpredictable: with its eye-catching locals and wild weekends, Miami improved its singles scene ranking by two spots this year. South Beach still has its velvet ropes, but Brickell may be attracting the most locals these days. Here you’ll find classic dive Tobacco Road, which claims to be Miami’s oldest bar (boasting Al Capone as a past patron), as well as the M-Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, which offers about 200 martini options. <br><br><em>Photo: iStock</em>

  • No. 3 New York City

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> The No. 1 city for diversity has a style of bar for every demographic, with many of the trendiest clustered in the Lower East Side. One sure sign of the neighborhood’s gentrification: the Experimental Cocktail Club, which also has branches in Paris and London. Drinks fall in the $15 range, although $150 reportedly gets you a Stinger, a “vintage” cocktail made with 1960s Hennessy and a 1940s crème de menthe. Just brush up on your small talk as the city ranks first for both classical music and performance art. <br><br><em>Photo: <a href="http://www.kellybazelyphotography.com" class="external" rel="nofollow">Kelly Bazely</a></em>

  • No. 2 Las Vegas

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br> The continuous parade of “mancations” and bachelorette parties probably helped Sin City solidify its place near the top of the singles scene this year—along with its silver medals for wild weekends and great people-watching. (Voters even ranked Vegas No. 6 for Valentine’s Day.) The see-and-be-seen crowd has lately descended on the Cosmopolitan Hotel, and its Chandelier Bar in particular. Off the Strip, the Fremont East area attracts a more local crowd, as does the Blue Martini bar at Town Square. <br><br><em>Photo: iStock</em>

  • No. 1 New Orleans

    <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2012/survey" target="_hplink">Vote in the 2012 America's Favorite Cities survey!</a><br><br>They’re the friendliest, proudest, and perhaps kookiest people in America, according to AFC voters—and the city also reigns supreme for live music and cocktails. Mix up those ingredients, and sure enough, Crescent City has ranked No. 1 again for its singles scene. To hang with the locals, your first move is to get beyond Bourbon Street: try Frenchmen, Freret, or Oak streets, the latter being the site of Maple Leaf Bar, with nightly live music from the likes of the Rebirth Brass Band.<br><br> <em>Photo: Courtesy of Avenue Pub</em>

 

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