Most Americans put this neighborhood feature #1 on their amenity wish list

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Whether you live in a small town or urban metropolis, access to neighborhood amenities can make you more satisfied with your home and community. One study found that 45% of Americans who live in walkable neighborhoods with parks, libraries and restaurants rate their community as excellent. Further, two-thirds of Americans in large cities with access to few or no access to amenities say they’d gladly ditch their current zip code if given the opportunity.

So, which upgrades make a community great? We ran a survey to see which neighborhood feature is most desired, and then took a look at U.S. cities who offer the best amenity access for residents.

Our findings revealed that:

  • 41% of Americans rated local shops and restaurants as the top neighborhood amenity
  • Hartford, Conn. is the best city in the U.S. for local shopping and dining
  • The Northeast is the friendliest region for independent business owners

Because Americans desire neighborhood features (like independent restaurants and local retailers) most, living in close proximity to these amenities can improve both your community satisfaction and your home’s property value.

Below, we’ll walk through our survey findings and highlight the three best neighborhoods in each region for homeowners looking to eat and shop local! You can also jump to our infographic to learn how you can support your favorite small businesses during COVID-19 shutdowns.

Americans want to support businesses in their neighborhood

Our study found that people desire vibrant neighborhood activities to enjoy with family and friends.

Forty-one percent of Americans preferred proximity to local shops and restaurants above all other neighborhood amenities, including waterfront access or a resort-style recreation center.


The second most desired amenity was shared green spaces, which include parks, walking trails and more. Only eight percent of respondents gave a golf course/clubhouse combo their top rating.

The best neighborhood for eating and shopping local in each region

Since Americans rated local shops and restaurants the most-desired community amenity, we took a look at the top neighborhoods in the U.S. to support local business owners.

To find our winners we calculated the chain restaurant percentage, home value index, number of small businesses per capita and walkability and livability scores of each city from The Yelp 50.

Here’s what we found:


West Hartford in Hartford, CT


Five miles west of downtown Hartford, you’ll find the small town of West Hartford bustling with local shops and restaurants. While not as walkable as the city center, the area has been rated as the best place to live in Connecticut.

Area highlights:

  • Most residents (72%) in West Hartford own their homes
  • 82% of restaurants in Hartford are locally owned

Coral Gables in Miami, FL


Coral Gables is an affluent suburb with family-friendly amenities in Miami. While real estate doesn’t come cheap, buying in Coral Gables gives you access to top schools, plenty of diversity and is just a 20-minute drive to downtown Miami.

Area highlights:

  • 64% of residents own homes in Coral Gables
  • Miami has 141 small businesses per capita

Bernal Heights in San Francisco, CA


Bernal Heights is a diverse and culturally rich residential area of San Francisco. If you can afford the high price tag, you can enjoy cozy neighborhood vibes in one of the country’s most dense urban areas.

Area highlights:

  • 86% of restaurants in San Francisco are locally owned
  • Six in 10 residents of Bernal Heights own their properties

Linden Hills in Minneapolis, MI


If freezing cold winters aren’t a deal breaker for you, Minneapolis is a great city to call home. There’s a thriving arts and culture scene, plenty of job opportunities and outdoor recreation for active families. The Linden Hill neighborhood, known for its hilly and tree-lined streets, has plenty of independent restaurants and shops to enjoy.

Area highlights:

  • Minneapolis has 102 small businesses per capita
  • Linden Hills has a bike score of 70

Supporting local while social distancing

The coronavirus pandemic has put a strain on local business owners in cities across America. As of April 19, more than 175,000 businesses had shut down, including 30,000 restaurants and 48,000 shopping establishments.

While some economies are committed to fully reopening, many more are embracing the new normal while the U.S. battles COVID-19. Some businesses have opted to reopen with limited hours, lower capacity and face mask requirements, while others have decided to remain closed until the threat subsides.

Supporting local businesses in your neighborhood is one of the best ways to keep your community thriving, especially as small business owners battle economic fallout from the coronavirus. Check out these tips for supporting the local businesses in your area impacted by this unprecedented event.


Living in a high-amenities community full of sought-after features such as independent eateries and local retailers can add happiness to your daily life and add value to your home.

A thriving neighborhood can also reduce crime and lower your home insurance policy rates, putting more money back in your pocket each month.


In order to determine the best city for shopping and dining locally, The Zebra compared a sample of the Yelp Top 50 cities in the U.S.

We rated each city on a sliding scale based on these three factors:

Chain restaurant percentage – 30 points
Home value index – 20 points
Small businesses per capita – 30 points
Walkability – 10 points
Liveability – 10 points

Sources: | Niche | Walkscore | Yelp | Facebook