Opinion: Love it or gripe about it, Ann Arbor tops several "Best of" lists
At this time of giving and receiving, we find ourselves giving thought to all of the accolades that Ann Arbor has received this year.
Do you value quality of life? Or quality of education? Are you a fan of football or food and drink? Are you young or old, or single or raising a family? Well, it seems you are living in the right place. Once again this year, Ann Arbor found itself on a remarkable number of “Best of’’ lists - an honor that adds to our national luster, if not our own appreciation of all that we have here.
Whether you are an unabashed Ann Arbor-lover or one of those jaded souls who used to read “Ann Arbor is Overrated’’ with relish, it’s hard to deny our town’s special standing in the world when you consider all of the lists that we topped in 2010, such as:
Forbes magazine, America’s Most Livable Cities, No. 4. “The key to finding the easiest places to live may be to follow the students,’’ Forbes said. “Most of the metros on our list - including Ann Arbor . . . - are college towns.’’
Forbes magazine, Top College Sports Towns, No. 1. Our football team may still be trying to climb back to the top of the Big Ten, but our sports environment is second to none, according to Forbes. Citing Ann Arbor’s “excellent mix of livability and sports,’’ it rates us as tops, ahead of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Norman, Okla. Forbes also ranked the Ann Arbor Public Schools in the top 10 among school districts nationally.
Portfolio.com, America’s Top 25 Most Educated Cities, No. 2. This ranking was designed to identify communities with the “highest levels of collective brainpower, as indicated by their residents’ educational attainment.’’ Portfolio.com said that 77.4 percent of Ann Arborites attended college, and 25.5 percent hold advanced degrees.
CNNMoney.com, Best Places to Live in America, No. 46. CNN Money calls us a “friendly college town’’ with all the benefits of a larger city, and describes our downtown as a “mecca’’ of arts and culture.
Parenting magazine, Best Cities for Families, No. 4. Describing us as a “smallish but sophisticated city,’’ Parenting praised Ann Arbor for the amount it spends per student on education. It also noted that Ann Arbor is rated as one of America’s greenest cities, and one of its best cities for walking. Not to be left out in this category, Kiplinger.com also rated Ann Arbor as one if its top 10 cities to raise a family.
CNNMoney.com, top 25 hottest spots for the rich and single, No. 21. Noting that Ann Arbor has “plenty to offer’’ beyond football, CNN Money says “bookworms might find romance at Border’s flagship location,’’ and that a frigid winter day might be spent checking out the Hands-On Museum or staying warm at one of our local microbreweries.
Midwest Living, Top Midwest Food Towns, No. 3. “For years, University of Michigan students and faculty have sipped beers and lattes at downtown’s sidewalk cafes,’’ Midwest Living says. “The city retains that college-town vibe, but the dining scene has grown up.’’ Among the eateries it praises are Zingermans, Vinology, Logan and Gratzi.
CNNMoneycom, 25 Best Places to Retire, No. 11. While acknowledging that our winters may be a “deal-breaker’’ for some, CNN Money says those who chose to retire here will find their calendar packed with theater, art shows and sports. It also praises our high doctor-to-patient ratio, and programs that the University of Michigan offers to those over 50.
Bicycling magazine, America’s Top 50 Bike Friendly Cities, No. 14. The magazine said it ranked cities based on such factors as segregated bike lanes and municipal bike racks. “To make our top 50, a city also must support a vibrant and diverse bike culture,’’ the magazine said. “It must have smart, savvy bike shops.’’
This is by no means a complete listing of the honors that Ann Arbor accumulated this year. But you get the idea. Sometimes, you don’t appreciate what you have when you’re sitting right in the middle of it. Enjoy the holiday season, and find time to go out and partake of the things that make us the envy of most of the nation.