An abundance of programming and experiential options—museums, dining and nightlife—keeps residents and tourists hopping, while robust infrastructure keeps them moving seamlessly. It’s why Chicago finished second only to New York City in Resonance Consultancy’s ranking of America’s Best Cities in 2017.

By Chris Fair

Chicago may have missed out on first overall, but the City of Neighborhoods (or is it Big Shoulders?—either way, local pride and looking out for others rule here) was Top 3 in the key categories.

According to Resonance research, Chicago offers visitors and residents the same diversity of experience as traditionally larger tourism centers like New York and Paris. Here are three reasons why the Second City ranked second best.

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1) CONNECTED INFRASTRUCTURE

The city ranks #1 in the nation in the Product category, comprising such sub-categories as Museums (#5 in the U.S.), Sports Teams (#3) and Airport Connectivity (#2). The Product category—an index that evaluates the “hardware” of a city—is one of the most difficult metrics to get right. Museums, airports and public transit take years to build and are expensive to maintain, but they are vital for urban exploration and empowering a city’s visitors.

2) CHICAGO GETS WITH THE PROGRAMMING

Chicago finished second only to New York for Programming, one of the largest indicators of a city’s magnetism and appeal to both residents and visitors.

Chicago performs exceptionally well in this experiential category, which measures positive traveler and resident social media sentiment across the sub- categories of Culinary, Entertainment, Shopping, Culture and Nightlife. The relentless and distinctive restaurant scene in this vibrant, fearless city is catching up to its celebrated nightlife and music scene. Chicago ranked #3 in the Culinary category overall and second- best in Nightlife, behind New York.

Daring new rooms like Kitsune Restaurant and Pub by Michelin-starred chef Iliana Regan mash up Japanese-inspired pub food with Midwestern ingredients, while the brilliantly named Bad Hunter has Midwestern appetites queuing for inventive vegetarian fare.

3) PROMOTION BY TOURISTS AND LOCALS 

The city also performs well in its #4 overall ranking in Promotion, a vital “top of funnel” traveler consideration when choosing a place to visit. Chicago’s destination marketers excel in ensuring that curious visitors searching for ideas are served with mobile- first guides, apps and maps—free, easy to access and updated frequently. The high Promotion ranking was the result of the city finishing #4 in Facebook Check-ins in the country, and #5 for volume of TripAdvisor Reviews.

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