Small American Cities That Are Getting Cooler By the Minute
By Jamie Moore
Somewhere between quiet villages and metropolises that never sleep are these perfect up-and-coming American cities. With their revitalized downtowns, they’re savvy enough to brew smooth craft beers, land touring Broadway shows, and attract Food Network-caliber chefs. But they’ll welcome you with that unpretentious small-town warmth that automatically puts you at ease. Here are 10 terrific little cities, from Chattanooga to Yakima, and plenty of reasons why each one is worth a visit.
(Photo: Maine Office of Tourism)
What’s Hot: The creative economy. There are so many artists, photographers, ad-agency writers and designers, and high-tech creative types in Portland that collectively they’re driving change in the city. This influx of young creative professionals has fueled new expansion in the historic Old Port waterfront district, with new shops and restaurants that now stay open year-round. It has also transformed the Bayside district’s scrap yards and warehouses into student housing, restaurants, and even a hipster bowling alley.
Why We Love It: Portland has all the trappings of a metropolis—touring Broadway shows, an opera company, two ballet companies, its own symphony, and chefs who regularly turn up on the Food Network—but without any of that pretentious big-city attitude.
If You Go: Don’t miss the First Friday Art Walk tour of galleries and studios or the Old Port with historical red-brick buildings and cobblestone streets. In October, sample seafood at the Harvest on the Harbor festival, when the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year is awarded.
(Photo: Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images)
New Haven, Connecticut
What’s Hot: In the arts hotbed where Yale University makes its home, there are so many impressive new collections and performances that you’ll need more than a weekend getaway to experience even a fraction of them. The university operates two art galleries and a Tony Award-winning repertory theater. Two other theater companies bring live drama to the stage, and music venues range from the Yale School of Music to the local symphony to Toad’s Place, where U2 and The Rolling Stones have played.
Why We Love It: So influential are the arts in New Haven that each summer the 15-day International Festival of Arts & Ideas draws great minds and performers from around the world along with crowds of 100,000.