Similarities between Honolulu, Omaha and Charleston?
Honolulu has Waikiki Beach, Omaha has pioneer history (and the home of Warren Buffett), and Charleston has cobblestone streets with horse-drawn carriages. So what do these 3 diverse places have in common?
All these US cities have less than 1 milion in population and are considered to be the best of the best, making the Top 10 list of the best small cities in America by Resonance Consultancy, an advisor in tourism, real estate, and economic development.
Whether considered a tourist destination or not, these small cities all got their start somewhere. Before Orlando, Florida, became the home of Walt Disney World, it was simply known for its oranges, and Las Vegas was nothing more than a stop on a mail route from the US west coast.
So how did the number 1-ranked city of Honolulu – specifically Waikiki – get its start?
In the mid to late 1800s, Waikiki served as a vacation retreat for the kingdom’s royalty who maintained residences in the area, enjoying moonlight horseback rides, thrilling canoe races, and carefree romps in the ocean.
Foreign visitors began to visit Waikiki in the 1830s, and a road was constructed in the 1860s, along with a tramway and tramcars in the late 1880s. In anticipation of an increase in visitors after annexation, the Moana Hotel was opened in 1901 accommodating wealthy European guests. Visiting celebrities such as Bing Crosby, Shirley Temple, Groucho Marx, Clark Gable, and Carol Lombard graced Waikiki and many such as Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, and Amelia Earhart stayed at the famous Moana, sealing its reputation as a first-class destination.
In 1907, under what was called the “Waikiki Reclamation Commission,” tourism development was in full swing with the widening of streets, building bridges, and draining the duck ponds, rice paddies, and taro patches that formed Waikiki’s aquaculture. By 1927, new recreational opportunities began to spring up: the Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial and the Honolulu Zoo, while at the same time Hawaiian Olympian Duke Kahanamoku introduced the world to the modern sport of surfing.
Today, Waikiki is in full bloom with world-class hotels such as Hilton, Sheraton, and Hyatt, all welcoming tourists to its famous Beach and the iconic slopes of Diamond Head Crater. Today, there is the 500-acre Kapiolani Park, the Waikiki Aquarium, and the International Marketplace along with some of Hawaii’s finest restaurants and hottest nightspots.
But perhaps the best thing about Waikiki is that all of this is within walking distance. The stretch along well-known Kalakaua Avenue that is home to the famous beach, hotels, restaurants, and shopping is just around 2 miles long with benches, pavilions, grass, trees, and of course the Pacific Ocean acting as superb places to take a break along the way.
The top 50 cities were determined based on criteria that included: the quality of arts, culture, restaurants, and nightlife; key institutions, attractions, and infrastructure; economic prosperity; and promotion via stories, references, and recommendations shared online.
And the Top 10 Best US Cities (population of less than one million) are:
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Omaha, Nebraska
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- Reno, Nevada
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Myrtle Beach, Florida
- Madison, Wisconsin