20 Most Cultured Cities in the U.S. in 2020

Zsuzsanna Pengo
·11 min read

Now we are going to invite you for a virtual tour to the 20 most cultured cities in the U.S. in 2020. Click here if you want to jump directly from our introduction to the top 5 most cultured cities in the U.S.

This year we have had to skip so many things we love in life, traveling, entertainment and yes, - culture. The pandemic-stricken world has forgotten to live without fears, tears and deaths. But now, we have brought a very pleasant topic that carries the promise of a nicer and healthier future. So let's put aside our worries for a while, at least while reading through the compilation of the most cultured cities in the US.

At first let's make clear what culture is. Actually it's an "umbrella term" which includes norms and social behavior in human societies, just as customs, beliefs, arts, architecture, laws, capabilities and knowledge. And what is the culture in the United States like? Well, it has primarily Western roots, but actually it's also influenced by other nations such as Native American, African, Latin American and Asian. The culture in the US is as colorful as the many colors that are on a painter's palette. Consequently we can't speak about unified culture in North America. The European origins are still perceptible coming from the first settlers, arcing over centuries. As of the first census in 1790 there was a strong British majority, but there also could be found Scots, Southern Irish, Welsh, Germans, French and even Swedish. Consequently it's easily conceivable how multiculturalism formed in the United States of America in the past. Naturally this phenomena made its impacts felt on culture. In the late 18th century artists generally painted portraits and landscapes in the European style. It was only the developments in the 19th century when the first home grown movements were born such as Hudson River School. The American theater also boasts Western roots, nevertheless it didn't show any significant dramatic style until appearance and rising of Eugene O'Neill in the early 20th century, who is regarded to be the father of the American drama. O'Neill got the Pulitzer Prize four times, and still has been the only American playwright to earn the Nobel Prize for literature. Then, American drama began to coruscate with such brilliant people like Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, William Inge and Lillian Hellman. As for the music, it has a strong African-American influence, and there are really fantastic musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and Madonna. When it comes to cultured cities, we mustn't forget about architecture. American Architecture is not only regionally diverse, but it's considered to be eclectic, which should come as no surprise in such a multicultural country. Without a shadow of a doubt, the most outstanding result of American architecture is the skyscraper as we can see in the compilation of the 20 cities with the most skyscrapers in the world. Unsurprisingly, the famous American megalopolis, New York City has the most skyscrapers across the globe.

Visiting these cultured cities can be an excellent adventure on your holiday, but you should realize that being cultured is not necessarily equal to being friendly at the same time, as you can see in the list of the 15 unfriendliest cities in the US in 2020. Comparing the two compilations, you can observe cities that can be found in both lists. Nevertheless we mustn't hide the 25 dumbest cities in the US, either. But let's turn back to the most cultured cities in the US.

Undoubtedly, a cultured city is attractive. But what makes a city attractive? There are millions of cities out there; many of them attractive, while others are just simple places of living, nothing more. It comes without surprise that people tend to move cities with strong or fast-growing economy. The reason is very simple: it guarantees better job prospects with higher income, and if people don't have to struggle to make ends meet - they can afford to spend on culture, too. If they spend on culture, the city will be stronger economically and more attractive to others to move there. The correlation is obvious. However, economy is not the only factor that is important. People generally like peace. It means, a cultured and attractive city should include the necessary infrastructure for parking and public transport. On balance we must say that an attractive city tends to do better economically, too.

But what makes a city cultured? The question is good. As we could see the definition of the term 'culture', and American culture itself, we must say that the answer has several components. A city is considered to be cultured if it has numerous cultural properties, such as museums, theaters, movies, concert halls, libraries, etc; it organizes lots of cultural events; it possesses primary, secondary and tertiary educational schools. But a city may have all the things we mentioned above, if its streets are dirty, its buildings are in ruins, or its social and human values are not appreciated. Its proof can be realized on the list of the 50 most forested cities in the US, and the 50 most beautiful cities in the US since comparing these two ones, you can see the 20 most cultured cities are among the most forested ones, too. What's more, Seattle tops both lists! As we could learn above, another essential factor is that a really cultured city flourishes. It needs to be economically stable. If the city starves (literally or figuratively) it can't finance culture and cultural events, either. Otherwise investing in historic spaces, museums, parks and landmark make the city attractive and cultured. Yet, if we had wanted to compile all the components in this article, it would've been confusing, so we ranked the cities by cultural events per population. In order to compile this list we investigated this study that needed quite thorough research work to find. We will see that New York is not only the city of skyscrapers but the museums and cultural places, as well. We are speaking about either museums or skyscrapers, only the largest American engineering companies can compete, such as Honeywell International Inc (NYSE:HON), ABB Company Ltd (NYSE:ABB) and Roper Technologies Inc. (NYSE:ROP).

And now, let's have a look at the 20 cultured cities in the US in 2020. We'll start with number 20 as follows:

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20. Kansas City, Missouri

Area: 213,100 km2 / 82,278 sq mi Population: 2,913,314 Number of museums: 35 Starting the compilation of the most cultured cities, Kansas City stands on the 20th spot. It has 35 arresting museums, such as Garden City Arts, Evel Knievel Museum or Fort Larned National Historic site. At Garden City Arts you can visit exhibitions, classes and events.

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19. Dallas, Texas

Area: 993.10 km2 / 383.44 sq mi

Population: 1 343 573

Number of museums: 35

Dallas is not only one of the most cultured cities in the US, but it's the ninth most populous city in the country. It can boast with 35 museums and 248 locations for recreational and cultural activities. If you visit Dallas, don't miss going to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden that has amazingly large public gardens of 64.6 acres!

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18. Detroit, Michigan

Area: 370.08 km2 / 142.89 sq mi

Population: 713,777

Number of museums: 36

Attractions and museum in Detroit are not just for kids, as you can find the perfect place for every interest. Either you are a Motown fanatic, or a car lover - surely you will be covered at several exhibitions. Detroit comprises science museums, nature centers, art museums, African American culture museums – really everything for everyone, such as The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, or Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

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17. Saint Paul, Minnesota

Area: 145.55 km2 / 56.20 sq mi

Population: 285,068

Number of museums: 37

With dating back to the 1840s, Saint Paul has a really rich history. This charming city is known for its excellent museums, such as Minnesota Transportation Museum, Minnesota Museum of American Art, Science Museum of Minnesota, just to name a few.

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16. New Orleans, Louisiana

Area: 438.80 km2 / 169.42 sq mi

Population: 390,144

Number of museums: 37

New Orleans was founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company, and the city was named for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. Philippe II was the Regent of the Kingdom of France in that period. New Orleans includes stellar museums and wide range of cultural places, such as the world famous World War II Museum - in New Orleans, or it's a great opportunity to take part in Mardi Gras Indian culture and learn more about their stories.

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15. Denver, Colorado

Area: 401.24 km2 / 154.92 sq mi

Population: 600,158

Number of museums: 37

Can you imagine more pleasant thing in these dark, cold, winter afternoons than visit an excellent exhibition? Denver offers you many cultural programs and museums, such as Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

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14. San Antonio, Texas

Area: 1,307.00 km2 / 504.64 sq mi Population: 1 547 253 Number of museums: 38

San Antonio is the seventh largest city on the States by population, and it's the proud home to the San Antonio Museum of Art, the San Fernando Cathedral, The Majestic Theater and Spanish Governor's Palace, where you can visit the gorgeous "Space Odyssey" currently, that opens the door of science to a completely new world.

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13. Seattle, Washington

Area: 367.97 km² / 142.07 sq mi Population: 753 675 Number of museums: 39 The Emerald City does not only offer lots of museums and cultural attractions, but it also has gorgeous, thick evergreen forest area, which makes the city the winner of the most forested cities in the United States, too. Its most magic attraction is the Chihuly Garden and Glass, with lots of impressive colorful glass sculptures, as well as the Museum of Flight.

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12. Cleveland, Ohio

Area: 201.33 km2 / 77.73 sq mi Population: 396,815 Number of museums: 41 Up on our compilation, Cleveland stands on the 12th spot. It offers 41 museums to visit, such as Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland History Center, A Christmas Story House, or the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. As Christmas is just around the corner, visiting A Christmas Story House may be the best choice.

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11. San Diego, California

Area: 964.56 km2 /372.42 sq mi Population: 1,307,402 Number of museums: 48

When visiting California, you really must see the museums of San Diego

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10. Atlanta, Georgia

Area: 354.22 km2 / 136.76 sq mi Population: 420,003 Number of museums: 49

Atlanta stands on the 10th spot of the 20 most cultured cities in the US. The city comprises 49 museums, and one of the best attractions among them, is the virtual tour of National Center for Civil and Human Rights exhibiting the city's rich history.

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9. Houston, Texas

Area: 1,739.69 km2/ 671.70 sq mi Population: 2 320 268 Number of museums: 50 Houston is located in Texas and is the fourth largest city in America by population. It can bounce with a jaw-dropping number of museums and cultural places. Among them are the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Theater District as well as Children’s Museum of Houston.

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8. Boston, Massachusetts

Area: 232.11 km2 / 89.62 sq mi Population: 692 600 Number of museums: 53 Surprisingly, Boston is the second smallest city on this compilation, yet it has 53 museums, and 536 places for culture and recreation. Among them we can name the famous the Museum of Fine Arts, and we can see the Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the Big Five, which is a group for the best American orchestras. Fenway Park can also be found here that is the oldest Major League baseball park in America.

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7. San Francisco, California

Area: 600.65 km2/ 231.91 sq mi Population: 881 549 Number of museums: 63 With its 63 museums, San Francisco stands on the seventh spot. Among the city's famous museums and cultural properties we can find the iconic Gregangelo Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Cable Car Museum, the famous Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Zoo and the Palace of Legion of Honor.

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6. Baltimore, Maryland

Area: km2 / sq mi Population: Number of museums: 67 Explore innovation, art and science in Baltimore! There are 67 opportunities to spend a pleasant day in the city, such as Walters Art Museum, Maryland Science Center, Baltimore Museum of Art and Reginald F. Lewis Museum. The city offers other attractions too, like National Aquarium and Maryland Zoo. Please continue to see the 10 most cultured cities in the U.S. in 2020. Suggested articles: