Manchester was listed by WalletHub this week as one of the best cities for singles to live in. Out of 182 cities ranked, Manchester came in number 12, beating out Boston, which made the list at 43. Nashua was named number 90.
Los Angeles came in at 56; Washington, D.C., at 60; and New York City at 141.
Key metrics used by WalletHub included recreation opportunities, costs and the number of available singles in the area.
Manchester Alderman Will Stewart is the executive director of Stay Work Play New Hampshire, a nonprofit organization established in 2009 to recruit and retain a young workforce in the Granite State.
Stewart said Manchester can support a vibrant dating scene during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the number of outdoor opportunities for single people. There are restaurants with outdoor dining, and trails for potential couples to walk, run and bike on.
Soon, people will be able to snowshoe together around Dorrs Pond in the north end or go tubing at McIntyre Ski Area on Chalet Way, he said.
Stewart said another advantage is that young people who might otherwise consider leaving New Hampshire to find work in other states are reconsidering that option as the pandemic continues — which means more people available to date.
“Manchester occupies a unique spot geographically. For starters, it’s the largest city in Northern New England,” Stewart said. “We’re big enough to have the critical mass to have a dating scene… We’re small enough that as a single person, you’re not going to get lost in the crowd.”
Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig said there are a number of reasons the city is great for single people.
“Just about everything you want to do, you can find here,” Craig said.
Craig said that even during the pandemic, there are safe and affordable ways for people to meet and socialize. Craig announced the first-ever Manchester Holiday Lights Contest on Thursday, an idea that is being shared throughout the state by Portsmouth Mayor Rick Becksted, where they have revitalized their annual contest. Craig said there will be a map created with the addresses of contestants, and a perfect date might include a tour of the lights.
Born and raised in Manchester, Craig said there is something special about the people of the city which cannot be measured on metrics of a survey, and that is the quality of the people.
“The people in Manchester are real, genuine, people, and they make meaningful connections when they are here,” Craig said.
For single men such as Manchester resident Kyle Heavey, who is 35 years old and works in the television industry, being able to stand out in a crowd and develop chemistry with potential girlfriends is important.
Heavey doesn’t like the impersonal nature of dating apps and said he prefers to meet women in person. That has become harder during the pandemic, where there are fewer people out at popular bars and restaurants. Heavey said he is cautious about first dates when he does meet a woman he is interested in.
“I really want to be able to meet someone,” Heavey said. “The question is, how much do you want to get to know someone right now, and it’s a chance you have to take.”
Heavey said he gets out about once a week. He was recently at Strange Brew Tavern on Market Street and said there was about a 60 percent male/40 percent female mix, which is typical for that establishment.
One of Heavey’s favorite places for dates is the Puritan Backroom on Hooksett Road, where there is a relaxed setting, delicious chicken tenders and killer mudslides.
People who live and work in Manchester mentioned Boards and Brews on Elm Street as a popular spot for getting to know someone. The board game café is open at 50 percent indoor capacity and they have a new registration system to guarantee people get a seat at a table.
“You both are in this together when you have to figure out how to play,” Heavey said of the intrigue of going for a date there.
Another popular spot listed by those in their late 20s and early 30s was 815 Cocktails & Provisions on Elm Street. They do not take reservations and service is on a first-come, first-serve basis — with a time limit of two hours.
State Rep. Amanda Bouldin (D-Manchester) said the city has a lot to offer not only to single people who are dating, but young adults with families as well.
“My daughter and I love browsing books and sipping coffee at The Bookery, and we have a good time walking around downtown checking out all the shops,” Bouldin said.
Bouldin enjoys the Currier Museum of Art, where on Thursdays they do not charge admission. She said right now there is an exhibit about video games and they have included some local artists in the show.
“Last year, we toured one of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses, which was beyond description and just something you need to do if you’re going to spend any time in Manchester at all,” Bouldin said.
The Currier Museum is the only art museum in the world with two Frank Lloyd Wright homes, according to its website.
Of course, first-in-the-nation New Hampshire has some interesting things for young folks who like politics to do in Manchester. Victory Park is where President John F. Kennedy delivered his final presidential campaign address the night before the election on Nov. 7, 1960.
Bouldin said she took a trolley tour of first-in-the-nation spots around the city during the presidential primaries this year and standing where JFK stood 60 years ago was emotionally impactful.
“There’s a fun mix of history and transformation in Manchester, and I really appreciate the balance struck between efforts to preserve the past and all the work toward revitalization,” Bouldin said.
Topping WalletHub’s list of best cities for singles were Madison, Wis., Atlanta, Ga., and Denver, Colo.
Portland, Maine, was ranked at number eight.