People hoping to move to a great city might want to try Gaithersburg, Alexandria or Rockville.

At least according to Money magazine's rankings of America's best small cities, which were released Monday. Several Maryland and Virginia locations made the magazine's top 100 list, with Gaithersburg placing 25th, Rockville 31st and Alexandria 47th.

The top-ranked city was Eden Prairie, Minn. The combined Columbia and Ellicott City area in Maryland took second place.

Local leaders said they were happy their towns made the cut.

"It's certainly very nice to be recognized for what we are doing and trying to be doing by a national publication," Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney Katz said.

Having both Gaithersburg and Rockville on the list made it a true "regional award," Katz said, adding that the two cities work together on many issues.

"Our successes and our concerns don't just stop and start where the city lines are located," he said.

Alexandria Mayor William Euille said he was "excited and pleased" with his city's place on the list. Euille said Alexandria's commitment to the arts and historic preservation show that it deserves the recognition.

The magazine noted all of the cities' proximity to Washington. It also said that Alexandria "offers a fusion of suburban and urban living" where "many boutiques and locally owned stores lend a small-town vibe." Of Gaithersburg, the magazine said its start-ups have "allowed it to rebound from the recession better than many other places." And Money said Rockville "boasts a prime location, great schools and economic stability."

But not everyone had praise for Money's rankings.

Such lists "make for good press" for highly rated cities, but they "tend to be drawn on a fairly limited set of parameters," said David Urban, a professor of marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Urban said city rankings usually offer just quick highlights about a town's quality.

"They're good for surface-level knowledge," he said.


America's Best Small Cities 1. Eden Prairie, Minn. 2. Columbia/Ellicott City, Md. 3. Newton, Mass. 4. Bellevue, Wash. 5. McKinney, Texas 6. Fort Collins, Colo. 7. Overland Park, Kan. 8. Fishers, Ind. 9. Ames, Iowa 10. Rogers, Ark. 25. Gaithersburg, Md. 30. Centreville, Va. 31. Rockville, Md. 47. Alexandria, Va. 85. Chesapeake, Va. 91. Suffolk, Va. Source: Money magazine ">