Great Places. You know them when you see them — but how do they become great? All the decisions we make influence the quality of our neighborhoods, streets, and public spaces.

Great Places in America

APA's flagship program celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow.

APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live. They are enjoyable, safe, and desirable. They are places where people want to be — not only to visit, but to live and work every day. America's truly great streets, neighborhoods and public spaces are defined by many criteria, including architectural features, accessibility, functionality, and community involvement.

2013 Great Places in America Slideshow

Click on the logo to see this year's designees.

List of the Great Places in America by state

2013 Great Places in America

Great Neighborhoods

San Francisco, California


Norwich, Connecticut

Downtown Norwich/Chelsea Landing

Decatur, Georgia

Downtown Decatur

Evanston, Illinois

Central Street Neighborhood

Mason City, Iowa

Downtown Mason City

Covington, Kentucky

Historic Licking Riverside

Minneapolis, Minnesota


Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort Historic District

Norfolk, Virginia

West Freemason

Madison, Wisconsin


Great Streets

Milford, Delaware

North and South Walnut Street

Pensacola, Florida

Palafox Street

Honolulu, Hawaii

Kalakaua Avenue

Virginia City, Nevada

C Street

Las Vegas, New Mexico

Bridge Street

Corning, New York

Market Street

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Galveston, Texas

The Strand (Avenue B)

Staunton, Virginia

West Beverley Street

Great Public Spaces

Anchorage, Alaska

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Los Angeles, California

Grand Park

Hollywood, Florida


Boston, Massachusetts

Norman B. Leventhal Park

Cambridge and Watertown, Massachusetts

Mount Auburn Cemetery

St. Louis, Missouri

Forest Park

Newark, New Jersey

Essex County Branch Brook Park

New York, New York

Grand Central Terminal

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Walnut Street Bridge

Vancouver, Washington

Esther Short Park

What Makes a Great Place?

Probably we all can think of a street, neighborhood, or public place that is unique or memorable, but what makes it special? What elements combine to produce a place that not only works for people in the community but rises far above the ordinary?

APA's selection guidelines will be considered in addition to other important factors such as geography, population, demographics, and setting (urban, suburban, rural). Consider these guidelines not as a checklist of "must-haves," but rather as important principles from which we will base our judgments.

Characteristics and Guidelines of Great Neighborhoods

Characteristics and Guidelines of Great Streets

Characteristics and Guidelines of Great Public Spaces

Celebrate Your Great Place
in Style!

APA offers a wide selection of clothing and office products featuring Great Places in America.

Order your merchandise today to spread the word about your Great Place.

View the full line of products

Bronze Plaques for Great Places in America

Franklin Bronze Plaques is the authorized vendor of plaques that mark locations honored through the Great Places in America program of the American Planning Association.

Plaques to mark these recognized places may be ordered by local governments, businesses, donors, or organizations. 

Learn more

Suggest a Great Place Now

Know of a Neighborhood, Street, or Public Space you think merits designation as a Great Place in America? Suggest it today! APA accepts suggestions year-round.

Get all the details and download a nomination form

Members of the APA Board of Directors and AICP Commission are not eligible to submit a Great Places nomination during their term of office.