... or smallest big city? (I'm pretty sure this was tourist slogan for Pittsburgh or somewhere else at some point.)
Either way, one of the things my wife and I love about living here is that Pittsburgh offers pretty much everything a large metropolitan area offers but with such a low housing cost and decent city public schools (at least in our neighborhood) that we can live in close proximity to the major cultural and entertainment venues.
A few years ago we visited Chicago and stayed with friends in Evanston. A trip to the science museum in Hyde Park was an all-day outing with a 45 minute drive in each direction.
A few weeks ago we spent a Sunday taking children to Hebrew school and swim class in our neighborhood, then went downtown to a children's theatre performance, and then went to Oakland to see the renovated dinosaur exhibit at the Carnegie Natural History Museum. We were tired out at the end, but none of the car trips took more than 15 minutes. This was a pretty busy Sunday for us and not typical but we had the tickets for the play and the tickets for the dinosaur preview were issued for a specific time. But a day like that just would not be possible in Chicago or New York.
Another friend, who lives in New York, just e-mailed about her family's visit to a college town in the upper south (trying to keep this anonymous) over the Christmas-New Year's week. She writes: "We had a nice time in ________- it's somewhat of a shock to the system to be in a small town where you can drive anywhere in 10-15 minutes!"