Central cities are booming all over the US as Americans rediscover the benefits of walkable urbanism. But the boom isn’t confined to only big cities. Smaller cities are also enjoying a renaissance of their own.
Here are ten little cities near DC with genuinely great urbanism.
Frederick, MD: With stately historic buildings, fancy restaurants, rowhouse neighborhoods, and the best riverwalk in the region, Frederick is a bona fide quality city.
Hagerstown, MD: Less fancy and more blue-collar compared to Frederick, Hagerstown’s solid core of 19th Century streets is more like Baltimore than DC.
Cumberland, MD: If Frederick is a mini DC and Hagerstown a mini Baltimore, Cumberland with its sharply rising hills and narrow valleys is a mini Pittsburgh.
Annapolis, MD: With its baroque street grid, 18th Century state house, and as the home of the Naval Academy, Annapolis was an impressive town years before DC existed.
Winchester, VA: Winchester has a successful pedestrian mall, and the most gorgeous library in Virginia.
Charlottesville, VA: Charlottesville’s pedestrian mall is even more successful than Winchester’s, while the University of Virginia contributes The Corner, an interesting student ghetto neighborhood, and Thomas Jefferson’s famous Lawn.
Staunton, VA: 19th Century warehouse town sister to nearby Charlottesville’s academic village.
Fredericksburg, VA: Similar in size and scale to Old Town Alexandria, if it were 50 miles from DC instead of right across the river.
York, PA: Probably the most substantial city on this list, York is a veritable museum of 18th, 19th, and early 20th Century buildings. And its surrounding Amish countryside offers an object lesson in sharing the road.
Gettysburg, PA: The battlefield is justifiably more famous, but downtown Gettysburg is a charming little place, often overlooked.
Not enough? Don’t miss Ellicott City, Manassas, Leesburg, Martinsburg, Warrenton, Front Royal, Culpeper, Harrisonburg, Brunswick, Harper’s Ferry, and many more.
To qualify for this list, I excluded cities large enough to have tall buildings downtown (sorry Baltimore, Richmond, Harrisburg, and Wilmington) and any city close enough to DC be accessible via Metro (Alexandria, Silver Spring, Kensington, etc). Otherwise the list is essentially subjective.
We first ran this post about two years ago, but we wanted to share it again!
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.