Downtown Frederick, Md., is a beautiful place to take a walk.
In this area of the country, Washington D.C. gets most of the attention as a major draw for millenials and other urbanites. But it was both Alexandria and Frederick, Md., and not the nation's capital, which got the nod this year in Livability.com's list of top 10 downtowns in the country.
The list takes into account criteria like population gains, the ratio of people who live and work in a downtown area, income growth, length of commute and more. But the list's authors concede that personal preferences made a contribution as well.
"Numbers alone can’t tell you what makes a downtown great. For that you need to see the skylines, hear the street sounds and talk to people who've been there," says Livability.
In the case of Frederick, which came in No. 6 on the list, the authors cite a combination of the arts, amenities like dog parks, and preservation of "Colonial-era architectural elements" as contributors that give the downtown its special flavor. It probably doesn't hurt either that Frederick has also been named of America's safest places to live.
At No. 5, Old Town Alexandria also got points for its Colonial architecture, as well as the ease with which it can be explored on foot or by bicycle.
"Within eyesight of the Washington Monument, across the Potomac River, Old Town offers a refined waterfront setting where international dignitaries and statesmen visiting nearby Washington, D.C., often come for cocktails and exquisite meals," say the list's authors.
Don't feel bad, though, D.C. residents. The primary focus on Livability.com's lists is small to mid-sized cities, so D.C. is just in another weight class.