Top 20 U.S. Cultural Destinations for Remote Workers in 2022
Art and culture are essential not only to our mental and emotional well-being, but also in forming our capacity to adapt and constructively overcome challenging times like the present. But, cultural cities also mean good business: In fact, the most recent report on Arts & Economic Prosperity released by the nonprofit group Americans for the Arts found that arts and culture enterprises supported 4.6 million jobs nationally and generated more than $166 billion in economic activity, which included both spending by organizations, as well as event-related spending by audiences.
Furthermore, a thriving cultural scene sustains a buzzing local economy and tends to attract a great deal of creative talent from all walks of life. And now, with flexible and remote work gaining ground, more people can choose to move to a place that matches their cultural interests and inclinations. So, for those still undecided about where to head next, we ranked the best U.S. cultural destination metros for remote workers in 2022.
Top 20 U.S. Cultural Cities in 2022
In our efforts to identify the best cultural cities for remote workers in the U.S., we compared and scored the 50 most populous U.S. metros across several indicators, which could add up to a maximum total score of 80 points (see the methodology section for a detailed account of our method and data sources).
Admittedly, the rich cultural scene across our country’s diverse communities incorporates more than we can quantify for a comprehensive analysis. For this reason, the elements we considered most relevant to the scope of our ranking included: the number of cultural establishments for arts, entertainment, and recreation; cultural and literary, art and music, and historical and heritage tours; yearly film festivals; 2022 music festivals; libraries; how these cultural elements were represented in local employment; and, last but not least, the size of the coworking market in each metropolitan area on our list. Read on for our findings on the top 20 U.S. metros for culture in 2022.
The New York and Los Angeles metro areas tend to dominate any list they’re on simply because they are significantly larger than any other metropolitan area in the country. This is even more so in this ranking, as the core cities of both MSAs have long been home to vast cultural scenes and artistic disciplines at the highest level. With total scores of 68.2 and 55.5 points, respectively, New York and Los Angeles led our ranking at a comfortable distance ahead of Chicago, which placed third with a total score of 27.5 points.
1 New York-Newark-Jersey City
The New York metropolitan area earned top scores for six of the eight indicators we considered: It was home to the highest number of cultural establishments, the largest local employment in the cultural sector, the most libraries, the most cultural tours, and the most film festivals.
Plus, coworking space in New York accounted for the largest flexible and shared space market among the metros on our list. Currently, there are more than 600 coworking spaces across the metropolitan area.
2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim
Perhaps it’s the extra sunshine or the lower real estate density (or both!). In any case, the Los Angeles metro area is home to more music festivals this year than any other location in our ranking — 21, to be exact.
At the same time, the area also ranked second for film festivals; libraries; local employment in the arts and culture scene; and number of cultural establishments. Remote workers looking to the region for inspiration can easily find their best-suited professional environment among the more than 500 Los Angeles coworking spaces in the metro area.
The Chicago metropolitan area landed third-best among the top 20 U.S. cultural cities of the year. In particular, Chicagoland earned the third-best scores for its 81,740 jobs in arts and culture; more than 160 libraries; and 14 musical festivals scheduled to take place here this year.
The metro also scored among the top five for its number of arts, entertainment and recreational establishments, as well as for its yearly film festivals. Moreover, Chicago coworking spaces across the metro area amounted to the fifth-largest coworking scene among the entries on our list.
4 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach
The first of two Florida metro areas to make the top 20, the Miami metro area earned the fourth-highest score among the best cultural cities in the U.S. The Magic City at the core of this metro area also boasted the country’s third-tallest skyline, which reigns above one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in the U.S.
While the artistic strengths of the unique cultural blend here are difficult to put into numbers, the MSA did score quite well across all of the indicators we compared. Specifically, Miami scored fourth for music festivals — on par with the Orlando, Fla., and Austin, Texas, metros, which are home to the same number of music festivals this year. Miami also ranked fifth-best for arts, entertainment and recreation establishments, as well as sixth-highest for local library selection. Notably, coworking space in Miami was the fourth-largest flexible space market among the metros we compared for this ranking.
5 San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley
Nurturing a local scene that is simultaneously counterculture and cool, the San Francisco metropolitan area ranked fifth among the top cultural cities in the U.S. The metro’s strongest suits were film festivals (for which it earned the third-highest score); the ratio of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments per 100,000 residents (fourth-best ratio among the metros we compared); and the selection of cultural tours (fifth-highest score).
Despite its status as one of the priciest destinations in the U.S., San Francisco’s abundant strengths continue to attract significant talent. And, while there is plenty of coworking space in San Francisco, the metro ranked eighth for flexible and shared workspace in the market.
While it’s tempting to attribute a certain level of stiffness and pretentiousness to cultural life in a national capital, the Washington, D.C., metro area doesn’t fit that mold. A long-standing hub of diverse communities and exceptional music, the city formally recognized some of the cultural value of its Black population in 2020 when it signed Go-go into law as the official music of Washington, D.C.
Notably, the cultural scene here revolves heavily around history and the arts, which was also apparent in our research: D.C. ranked as the third-best destination for cultural tours, scored fourth-best for libraries, and was home to the seventh-largest arts and culture workforce. What’s more, remote workers and moveable entrepreneurs inspired by the local cultural scene will be happy to learn that Washington, D.C. coworking space ranked the MSA as the third-best destination for flexible office space on our list.
The Nashville metro area came in as the seventh-best cultural city among the locations we compared. This MSA’s outstanding scores were for cultural accessibility. More precisely, the Nashville metro area scored third-best for its high number of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments — behind just New York and Los Angeles. And, with 25 cultural establishments per 100,000 residents, Nashville earned the top score for this ratio ranking factor.
Although the metro fell outside of the top 10 for other indicators we compared, Nashville remains an uncontested top Southern cultural destination, where every day is a celebration of music and inspiration. Set up shop in any Nashville coworking space and you’ll never be too far from the creative buzz of the city.
A bold and vibrant contemporary art scene has been growing from within the historic, high-brow, cultural aura of the Boston metropolitan area. Home to iconic institutions such as the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) — the first art college in the U.S. to offer degrees — Boston has always preserved a revolutionary spirit, which remains an essential element in the local cultural sphere.
Notably, the Boston metro was home to the fourth-largest film festival scene in the country and boasted the sixth-largest local arts and culture workforce. The metro also scored sixth-highest for cultural tours, cultural establishments, and for ratio of establishments per 100,000 residents. The data shows a metropolis committed to sharing and expanding its culture, which can very well mean a smooth transition for remote workers coming to experience it. And, with Boston coworking space accounting for the ninth-largest flexible office market in our ranking, there are plenty of places to start making friends.
The Philadelphia metro area is home to one of the most exciting business climates: Focused on collaboration and innovation, the regional economy has increasingly diversified to include cell and gene therapy, as well as life sciences and manufacturing among its main industries.
Outside of hard work, both permanent and temporary Philadelphia residents have much to explore and enjoy. In fact, Philly recently took new steps in its quest to become a 24-hour city: The local Department of Commerce now includes a night-time economy director who used to co-chair the city’s Arts and Culture Task Force and is a connoisseur of the region’s diverse cultural experience.
This year, Philly earned the ninth-best score for top cultural cities for remote workers in 2022. The metro also scored fifth for library lovers; was home to the fifth-largest local arts and culture workforce; and landed in eighth for availability of cultural establishments. Try any coworking space in Philadelphia and you’re sure not to be too far from an inspiring interaction!
In Seattle, art is not so much something you go to as something that surrounds you. In fact, the city, its suburbs, and the area’s cultural sphere are so closely woven together that it’s difficult to put a finger on what the local culture scene actually is.
Beyond the city’s established music legacy, almost every neighborhood has an art walk, the area is home to some stunning public art commissions, and nearly every drinking and dining establishment incorporates some form of local art and/or entertainment. As such, it’s safe to assume that every coworking space in Seattle also doubles as a showcase for art and culture that is made and/or appreciated by locals.
Clearly, most of what makes Seattle a great cultural destination for remote workers in the U.S. would be difficult to count and quantify from afar. Even so, this metro area rounded out the top 10 in our ranking. That said, Seattle’s strongest suits were libraries (for which it earned the seventh-best score), as well as seventh-best scores for film and music festivals. These were followed by 11th-best score for local arts and culture employment, as well as the 12th-best destination for local cultural tours.
11 San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad
In our ranking of top U.S. cultural cities for remote workers, this southern California metro landed just shy of 10th place. Its strongest suit turned out to be its local festival scene: San Diego scored sixth-best for music festivals and seventh-best for film festivals.
Fans of immersive urban experiences should note that the metro scored 10th for cultural tours. And, remote workers eyeing the metro for at least a temporary visit can rest assured that there’s plenty of coworking space in San Diego where they can work while still taking time to explore the region: The metro placed 10th for flexible office space availability, which indicates a healthy, thriving and accessible local coworking community.
Orlando earned the 12th-highest total score among the 50 locations we compared for this ranking and was the second Florida metro area to land in our top 20. And, while it would be easy to assume that this was all due to Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and Legoland, there’s a lot more to the culture scene across the Orlando metro area than its world-famous theme parks.
Now, that’s not to say that their value is negligible. In fact, the central Florida metro stood out for its local employment in arts and culture, earning the fourth-highest score for its nearly 79,000 jobs in the select occupations we reviewed.
The metro’s next best-scoring cultural asset was the festival scene: Orlando ranked fourth for music festivals this year (on par with the Miami and Austin metro areas’ respective music festival counts) and ninth for yearly film festivals. And, although it’s not home to one of the most sizeable flexible office markets in the country, finding coworking space in Orlando shouldn’t be too difficult for remote workers who are curious about what else the central Florida culture sphere has to offer outside of working hours.
13 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington
The strength of the arts and culture scene across the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area is evident in the region’s economic data: DFW was home to the ninth-largest local arts and culture workforce among the metro areas we compared for this ranking. The sprawling metroplex also had a lot to offer in terms of flexible office space. In fact, the data we analyzed ranked Dallas coworking space in sixth place, not far behind Chicago.
14 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario
Joan Didion, the late great chronicler of California, wrote of a harsh and desolate Inland Empire, haunted by unrelenting Santa Ana winds, recurring seasonal wildfires, a boom-and-bust economy, and stretches of emptiness. But, some of that is changing: U.S. Census numbers have shown that the Inland Empire is one of the fastest-growing regions in the U.S. Across the state, Californians are trading the big-city life for more open space, a deeper sense of community, and more affordable housing.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic somewhat accelerated this migration trend: New, more diverse communities in the Riverside and San Bernadino metro area are markedly transforming and enhancing the region’s cultural scene. For instance, in our ranking, the Riverside metropolitan area was home to the second-largest music festival scene in the country this year — following only Los Angeles.
15 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta
As a popular, big-box-office filming location; a high-density Fortune 500 corporate headquarters hub; a burgeoning IT enclave; and one of only six U.S. cities to have hosted the Olympic games, it’s hard to believe that there’s any enterprise or cultural event that wouldn’t be successful in Atlanta. Uniquely attractive and one of the most culturally diverse metropolitan areas in the country, Atlanta is among the few U.S. cities to harbor permanent, professional, and resident companies in all major disciplines of the performing arts.
Overall, the Atlanta metro area placed 15th in our ranking of top cultural cities for remote workers in 2022. Its strongest suit was its sixth-best score for local film festival scene; followed by its 11th-best finish for its number of arts, entertainment, and recreation establishments; and 14th-best area for cultural tours. Meanwhile, coworking space in Atlanta ranked the metro as the 11th-largest flexible and shared office space market among the locations we compared.
16 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise
Thinking about taking a gamble and heading to Las Vegas for a while? If so, don’t shy away if actual gambling is not for you because there’s more to explore in the Vegas metro area than casino crowds and neon. For instance, a wide array of quirky museums (including one that’s dedicated to neon) preserve and celebrate the unique architecture, design, and culture of Las Vegas and its surrounding communities.
A treasure-trove of contemporary art, the Las Vegas metro area landed 16th in our ranking of top cultural cities for remote workers in the U.S. The MSA’s best-performing indicator was its fifth-highest ratio of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per 100,000 residents. We also found it to be a great destination for cultural tours (the ninth-highest score) and music festivals (sixth-best score).
Austin’s commitment to “staying weird” almost implies an obligation to embrace and nurture art and creativity in every aspect of life — and so it has. In 2015, Austin became the first (and only) city in the United States to receive a “City of Media Arts” designation from UNESCO. From striking and quirky street art to massive, multi-discipline yearly festivals, Austin continues to deliver on its promise to itself — a rich culture that is always fresh. (And weird.)
In our ranking of top cultural cities, the Austin metropolitan area ranked 17th. Indeed, the metro’s strongest suit was its local festival scene. Specifically, the MSA scored fourth-best for music festivals and ninth-best for film festivals. And, while Austin coworking space is not yet one of the largest flexible office markets in the U.S., it’s worth noting that the metro is one of the fastest-growing office markets in the country and continues to attract innovators in droves.
18 New Orleans-Metairie
An iconic city at the confluence of great food, arts, and history, New Orleans is the fruit of many beautifully rich cultures growing together into one community. A particularly resilient community, the area has bounced back from each challenge it has faced throughout the last three centuries — much as it is bouncing back now from the blows of the COVID-19 pandemic and reopening with even wider arms and enticing cuisine.
This metro area placed 18th in our ranking of top U.S. cultural cities — and its performance across the indicators we evaluated is highly reflective of the local spirit. Notably, New Orleans scored second-best for cultural tours, of which it boasted more than 300 — second only to the much, much larger New York metro area. Next, New Orleans’ second-strongest suit in our ranking was accessibility: It ranked 11th for its ratio of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments per 100,000 residents.
Widely known as the street art capital of the world, Denver also boasts what is perhaps the most unique city park system in the nation. It encompasses more than 200 parks within the city limits and 20,000 acres of parks in the nearby mountains, which includes the dramatic Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre, a spectacular venue for countless live music events.
Whether showcased in restaurants and cafes; makers’ markets; art walks; or traditional and contemporary art museums and galleries, the Denver art scene is making an increasingly bigger splash. In fact, according to the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts’ latest annual report, the metro area’s cultural scene generated $1.5 billion in economic activity and attracted cultural attendance of 8 million people in 2020.
In our ranking analysis, the Denver metro area earned the 19th-best total score among the 50 metros we compared. Its best-performing indicator was #11 for library lovers — a natural fit for one of the most highly educated metropolitan populations in the U.S. The Denver coworking space scene also landed the metro area 12th for its flexible office market.
Baltimore and its surrounding communities wrapped up our list of the top 20 cultural destinations for remote workers. A cultural character that is nearly impossible to pin down into a straightforward definition, the Baltimore metro area embodies a border persona that combines both the northern and southern U.S. — without ever fully being either one or the other.
The region’s long and storied history has shaped a vast cultural complexity that has been made famous around the world through all of its performative art disciplines, from stage to screen and back again. It’s home to a culture that’s both boisterous and contemplative, which we found also shows in the data we scored for our comparative study. Specifically, the Baltimore metro’s best-performing scores in our ranking were as the 6th-best music festival scene and the 14th-best cultural destination for library lovers.
For this ranking, we looked at the largest 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. and evaluated them across eight indicators, which are detailed below. For each indicator (which we also refer to as metrics), the number of maximum points was evenly distributed between the lowest and highest indicator values. On this scale, a score was calculated for each MSA for each metric. This method allows the score of each location to be compared against others.
For all indicators, the number of points awarded was directly proportional to the metric values for a maximum of 10 points. The total score (a maximum of 80 points) was calculated by adding the scores obtained for each indicator.
Under establishments, we considered 2020 U.S. Census data on the number of establishments in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector in each metropolitan area. To this metric, we added a companion indicator that expressed the ratio of establishments per 100,000 metro residents, which referred to the same establishments encompassed in the Census data mentioned above and aimed to level the perspective by accounting for the significant differences in population size between some of the metros included in our analysis.
For cultural tours, we turned to Tripadvisor data on the count of local “Cultural / Literary, Art & Music / Historical & Heritage” tours. Data for this metric was only available at the city level. Therefore, the scores reflected data referring only to the primary urban center in each metro area.
For film festivals, we considered the number of such events as tracked by the New York Film Academy.
Similarly, we turned to data compiled by MusicFestivalWizard.com for the number of music festivals scheduled to take place from January through December 2022 in each of the metros we compared.
Libraries are essential pillars of culture and community. For this indicator, we turned to records on local libraries, as tracked by PublicLibraries.com.
We also considered local employment in the cultural categories we analyzed as an indicator of a permanent cultural scene in the metro area. For this metric, we combined 1) the number of employees in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors as available in the U.S. Census County Business Patterns data with 2) the number of librarians and media collections specialists as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Finally, we turned to CommercialEdge for the number of coworking spaces in each of the metropolitan locations we surveyed for this ranking.
Best U.S. Cultural Destinations for Remote Workers in 2022 (Ranking Values)The table below includes values scored for each of the metros we compared. Use the horizontal scroll feature to view data in all columns. See the article methodology for further details
|MSA||Establishments||Establ / 100,000||Cultural Tours||Film Festivals||Music Festivals||Libraries||Employment||Cowork|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area||1,725||8.6||573||63||11||267||206,050||627|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area||1,197||9.1||187||51||21||197||166,542||549|
|Chicago -Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area||424||4.4||101||11||14||168||81,740||246|
|Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metro Area||360||5.9||109||8||12||76||54,426||264|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA Metro Area||330||6.9||157||18||10||73||50,245||173|
|Washington, D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area||249||3.9||256||8||3||106||57,227||288|
|Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN Metro Area||498||25||53||1||5||28||19,622||71|
|Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area||333||6.7||122||12||3||72||57,333||165|
|Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area||278||4.5||90||4||7||89||71,269||105|
|Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area||192||4.8||86||8||9||75||45,559||96|
|San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area||130||3.9||94||8||10||60||36,582||151|
|Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area||133||5||13||5||12||24||78,623||67|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area||189||2.5||41||5||8||28||53,469||224|
|Riverside-San Bernadino-Ontario, CA Metro Area||74||1.6||0||4||19||36||31,570||62|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area||220||3.6||48||10||6||38||41,813||144|
|Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area||154||6.8||100||2||10||21||25,386||77|
|Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX Metro Area||122||5.3||47||5||12||31||16,734||82|
|New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metro Area||73||5.7||319||1||5||18||15,633||10|
|Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area||116||3.9||48||3||5||62||29,602||141|
|Baltimore-Columbia-, MD Metro Area||104||3.7||13||3||10||49||26,231||67|
|Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ Metro Area||102||2.1||29||6||5||36||43,620||127|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area||242||6.6||13||2||2||47||42,278||72|
|Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area||133||5.3||40||5||5||31||21,877||48|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area||97||3.1||9||4||6||34||27,200||78|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area||139||2||27||2||2||9||44,529||189|
|Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area||86||3.9||6||3||5||36||17,324||53|
|Columbus, OH Metro Area||47||2.2||2||1||9||6||16,468||67|
|Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area||89||2||5||0||3||63||26,448||57|
|Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area||109||4.6||25||1||2||38||23,433||45|
|Saint Louis, MO-IL Metro Area||111||3.9||9||2||1||41||24,634||76|
|Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area||64||2.4||7||1||4||31||28,075||69|
|Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area||75||3.6||1||1||4||34||18,039||64|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area||72||3.6||1||4||2||37||20,822||64|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area||57||3.2||4||0||2||58||16,217||33|
|Providence-Warwick, RI-MA Metro Area||97||5.8||10||4||2||16||13,850||6|
|Richmond, VA Metro Area||80||6.1||19||1||1||19||15,456||24|
|Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area||61||2.7||22||1||3||9||22,400||59|
|Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA Metro Area||50||2.1||12||3||3||23||20,252||43|
|Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area||41||3.3||7||1||5||16||10,641||26|
|Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI Metro Area||80||5.1||13||2||1||19||15,927||24|
|Raleigh-Cary, NC Metro Area||46||3.3||2||0||3||15||14,318||43|
|Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area||76||3.6||10||3||2||4||17,491||29|
|Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area||39||3||11||0||3||20||8,526||18|
|Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY Metro Area||47||4||5||2||2||12||9,088||9|
|San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area||68||2.7||35||3||0||4||18,965||36|
|Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area||36||2.7||12||2||1||20||8,654||30|
|Jacksonville, FL Metro Area||58||3.6||5||0||0||24||11,667||28|
|Oklahoma City, OK Metro Area||45||3.2||3||1||2||10||12,887||7|
|Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metro Area||31||2.8||8||1||1||24||8,547||22|
|Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT Metro Area||57||4.7||0||1||0||16||10,254||7|
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