Special Report

These Are America’s Cultural Capitals

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20. Tulsa, Oklahoma
> Cultural establishments, per 100k: 198.9
> Population: 402,324

Tulsa is the second most populous city in Oklahoma and its cultural capital. It is famous for one of the biggest concentrations of Art Deco architecture in the country and is home to several prestigious museums, a full-time opera, and multiple ballet companies. The city’s Gilcrease Museum houses the largest collection of artifacts of the American West. There is also an aquarium, a space museum, and the Woodie Guthrie Center.

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19. Albuquerque, New Mexico
> Cultural establishments, per 100k: 205.7
> Population: 559,374

The biggest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque is overflowing with cultural venues and attractions. It is known for unique architecture, including historic structures from the Spanish colonial era and buildings in the Pueblo Revival style. The city boasts thriving live music and art scenes and is known for its restaurants and regionally inspired cuisine. Albuquerque is also home to the International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest gathering of hot-air balloons.

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18. Tucson, Arizona
> Cultural establishments, per 100k: 221.3
> Population: 541,482

Tucson is home to cultural events that range from rodeos to book fairs to Modernism Week. It has museums showcasing the history of the Old West, and paintings of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, and the photographs of Ansel Adams. There’s even one dedicated to a decommissioned nuclear missile launch site. There’s also a zoo dedicated to desert fauna, and of course plenty of good places to eat.

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17. San Diego, California
> Cultural establishments, per 100k: 224.2
> Population: 1,409,573

Overlooking the Pacific, with near-perfect weather, San Diego is hard not to like, but the city has a lot more than pretty views and a nice climate. It is filled with museums and historical buildings, including some from Spanish colonial days. A decommissioned aircraft carrier even functions as an interactive naval and aviation museum. In addition, San Diego’s proximity to the Mexican border has created a constant interchange of people, ideas, the arts — and of course food.

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16. Long Beach, California
> Cultural establishments, per 100k: 244.5
> Population: 466,776

The hometown of celebrities ranging from Snoop Dogg to Cameron Diaz to Billie Jean King, Long Beach has a history of producing cultural icons and new trends. It is also home to plenty of museums, including the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Museum of Latin American Art and the Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum. The city is known for street art and murals, both city-approved and otherwise.