Longing for the bright lights of the big city? Although small towns certainly have attractive qualities that make them unique, those looking for new opportunities and experiences may want to consider more populated areas. Metropolitan regions tend to have more to offer when it comes to night life, shopping and cultural events, which is why so many people find themselves migrating toward them. If you're ready for life in the big city, here are some of the best places:

New York
From global commerce to the media, no other city influences the rest of the country like New York. With more than 8 million residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it's the most populated city in the nation. Life in the Big Apple is anything but boring, with more than 100 fashion shows and 47 local film festivals held there each year, according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. It is home to nearly 100 museums, 39 Broadway theaters, 67 movie theaters, 1,200 bars and about 6,400 restaurants. And if you like to shop as much as you like to be entertained, you're in luck. Considered the global capital of retail, fashion and beauty, NYC has more retail square footage, showrooms and buying offices than any other city in the world.

Las Vegas
Even though the population of Sin City was just over 600,000 in 2009, more than 36 million people visited during the year, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. As one of the most entertaining cities in the world, Las Vegas is home to an abundance of nightclubs, shows and concerts. From small swanky lounges to larger than life headliners, Vegas has something for everyone. Not only does this city have a unique night life, it is also known for its fashion and retail industries. From the 170 specialty stores at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood to the 130 stores at the Las Vegas Outlet Center, whether you are looking for a bargain or willing to pay top dollar, you are sure to find something you want.

Houston
Known as the Bayou City, Houston is the fourth largest in the United States with an estimated population of 2.3 million, according to the 2009 U.S. Census. Second only to New York City when it comes to the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered there, Houston is also home to more than 700 restaurants, 600 bars and nightclubs, and 200 arts, science and history institutions, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. Ranked first among "America's 25 Best Cities for Shopping" by Forbes.com, there are 54 shopping centers and 16,938 retail locations located within this city. With so many entertainment venues, shopping locations and cultural opportunities, Houston is the ideal place to live big in Texas.

Los Angeles
As the second largest city in the United States, Los Angeles had an estimated population of 3.8 million in 2009, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. L.A. is most known as the center of the entertainment world with more motion pictures, television productions and recorded music created here than anywhere else. But when it comes to art and culture, L.A. has a lot to offer as well including more than 100 performing arts companies, 87 museums and 246 art galleries, according to the city of L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs. It is also home to more festivals than any other city in the country, hosting a wide range of annual events celebrating fine arts, film, music, food and cultural heritage. And with more than 6,000 fashion-related businesses and a fashion district that covers 100 blocks, shopaholics will find that the City of Angels is a heavenly place to live.

Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the Midwest with an estimated population of 2.8 million, according to the 2009 U.S. Census. Home to various professional dance companies, acclaimed theater troupes and classical music groups, it is well known for its visual and performing arts community. According to the city of Chicago, there are 40 museums and more than 200 art galleries, 200 theaters and 250 live music venues located there. The Windy City also offers unique shopping opportunities, with its famed “Magnificent Mile” and a prominent fashion industry that boasts more than 250 local fashion designers and 400 independently owned boutiques.

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