When you’re eager for a city getaway, but you’re not quite up for the big city part (aka New York or Chicago) there are bountiful options.
But don’t take our word for it.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the nonpartisan think tank, the Milken Institute, newcomers are flocking to these cities with populations from 100,000 to 500,000 that are adding residents at a steady clip. Visit for the outdoor pursuits, sporting events and public artworks, but be warned: you may be inspired to stay awhile when you check out these places where the living is easy and the fun is almost guaranteed. Here are 20 of our favorite mid-size cities on the upswing that are worthy of your attention.
Here are 20 of our favorite mid-size cities on the upswing that are worthy of your attention.
Overland Park, Kansas
Overland Park is home to a growing and diversifying population. This mid-size city may be just 20 minutes south of Kansas City, but it’s got a flavor and personality all its own. It’s also earned accolades as a top road trip destination and family vacation spot. Among the favorite attractions are the Museum at Prairiefire and Johnson County Museum of History. Nature enthusiasts, look to the Indian Creek Hike and Bike Trail which runs through Overland Park. Wine lovers, as well as lovers of seriously impressive charcuterie boards, Vintage ’78 Wine Bar opened in early-2023.
After years of decline, Omaha is on the upswing, according to US Census figures, drawing in young professionals eager for walkable neighborhoods and a more urban lifestyle. The new RiverFront Omaha is a big draw, combining three public parks into one with amenities like a sculpture garden, interactive water features and a dog park. In Omaha, you’ll find world-class works of art, including Monets and Renoirs, at the Joslyn Art Museum. This mid-size city is also home to the Henry Doorly Zoo, which consistently ranks among the top zoos in the world.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Fort Collins is growing, attracting new residents and visitors with cultural attractions, outdoor recreation and affordable housing, ranking among the most affordable cities in Colorado, according to Livability. More than 250 miles of paved trails and dedicated bike lanes make Fort Collins a seriously bike-friendly community. The scenic beauty of Horsetooth Reservoir and Cache la Poudre River draw in nature seekers. In-town, more than 20 craft breweries, including Black Bottle Brewery and Envy Brewing, helped Fort Collins earn the title of Craft Beer Capital of Colorado.
Idaho is home to a few of the fastest-growing cities in the US, including three Boise suburbs: Meridian, Caldwell and Nampa. Boise is attractive for its art scene, culture and plentiful outdoor recreation opportunities. For skiers, snowboarders and mountain bikers, Bogus Basin is just 18 miles north of Boise. The state’s capital is also home to the Boise Art Museum and BACON Boise, a restaurant boasting a menu with five different kinds of bacon. It may be the bacon that’s turning Boise into a culinary capital, earning this mid-size city a spot on Food & Wine’s list of top food cities.