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America's Best Cities For Hipsters (PHOTOS)

Posted: 04/20/2012 7:00 am

There's a quirky new microbrew in Seattle: Churchkey Can Company produces a pilsner in a flat-top can, which requires an old-fashioned "church-key" opener to drink it. A beer blog promptly declared it the "most hipster beer in the world"--which may or may not be a compliment.

It's no wonder that pilsner originated in Seattle, where a local taste for the retro, artsy, and wee-bit ironic boosted it to the top of America's best cities for hipsters, according to Travel + Leisure readers who voted in the annual America's Favorite Cities survey. They ranked 35 metropolitan areas on culturally relevant features like live music, coffee bars, and independent boutiques. To zero in on the biggest hipster crowds, we also factored in the results for the best microbrews and the most offbeat and tech-savvy locals.

It's our take on the debated term hipster, which can inspire eye rolls or admiration. Once used to describe counterculture types, hipster is now so prevalent it's at a possible tipping point. Whatever your take, you generally know hipsters when you see them -- most likely in funky, up-and-coming neighborhoods. A smirking attitude toward mainstream institutions means they tend to frequent cool, often idiosyncratic restaurants, shops, and bars, the same kinds of venues that appeal to travelers looking for what they can't find at home.

Here are America's cities with the biggest hipster scenes. --Katrina Brown Hunt

See More on Travel + Leisure:
America's Coolest Coffeehouses
World's Top Geek Hotels
America's Best Cocktail Bars

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  • No. 5 Portland, ME

    These Maine folks have great palates for both food and beverages, winning fifth place for their <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/food-drink-restaurants/coffee" target="_hplink">coffee</a> and the bronze medal for <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/food-drink-restaurants/microbrew-beer" target="_hplink">microbrews</a>—like those found at Shipyard, Allagash, and Gritty’s. For caffeinated <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/quality-of-life-and-visitor-experience/people-watching" target="_hplink">hipster-watching</a>, go to Coffee by Design, which first opened on the once-seedy, and now thriving, Congress Street, where you can sip the same java made for local <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/food-drink-restaurants/fine-dining-restaurants" target="_hplink">foodie</a> magnet Fore Street restaurant.<br><br> <em>Photo: Courtesy of Greater Portland Convention & Visitors Bureau </em><br><br> <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-cities-for-hipsters/7" target="_hplink">See More Hipster Cities Here</a><br><br> <strong><a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011" target="_hplink">See all the America's Favorite Cities survey results!</a></strong>

  • No. 4 New Orleans

    The Crescent City has a legendary <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/food-drink-restaurants/cafes" target="_hplink">café culture</a> and a rich music and arts scene. The newest version of hipster bohemians are found in the Marigny area, a historic neighborhood with colorful <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/quality-of-life-and-visitor-experience/architecture-cool-buildings" target="_hplink">architecture</a> and good spots to sample the city’s top-ranking <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/nightlife/singles-bar-scene" target="_hplink">bar scene</a>, such as the Hi-Ho Lounge and Mimi’s in the Marigny. To dress the part—and see why the city ranked near the top for both <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/shopping/independent-boutiques" target="_hplink">indie boutiques</a> and <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/shopping/flea-markets" target="_hplink">flea markets</a>—check out the local vintage shops, such as the Revival Outpost on Magazine Street.<br><br> <em>Photo: Ellen Isaacs / Alamy </em><br><br> <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-cities-for-hipsters/6" target="_hplink">See More Hipster Cities Here</a><br><br> <strong><a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011" target="_hplink">See all the America's Favorite Cities survey results!</a></strong>

  • No. 3 San Francisco

    Hippies, part of another subculture movement, blossomed here during the flower power years of the 1960s. The <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/people/tech-savvy" target="_hplink">tech</a> age has certainly morphed the city’s hip denizens, who exist in pockets all over the Bay Area, such as the Mission District and South of Market, known as SOMA. San Francisco also ranked near the top of the survey for its <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/food-drink-restaurants/fine-dining-restaurants" target="_hplink">fine dining</a> and its <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/people/diverse" target="_hplink">diverse</a> population—and for being easy to explore <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/quality-of-life-and-visitor-experience/public-transportation-and-pedestrian-friendliness" target="_hplink">without a car</a>. <br><br> <em>Photo: iStock</em><br><br> <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-cities-for-hipsters/5" target="_hplink">See More Hipster Cities Here</a><br><br> <strong><a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011" target="_hplink">See all the America's Favorite Cities survey results!</a></strong>

  • No. 2 Portland, OR

    They’re audaciously <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/people/offbeat" target="_hplink">quirky</a>, and they boast great <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/food-drink-restaurants/microbrew-beer" target="_hplink">beer</a>, creative <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/food-drink-restaurants/street-food" target="_hplink">street food</a>, and <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/quality-of-life-and-visitor-experience/public-transportation-and-pedestrian-friendliness" target="_hplink">bicycle enthusiasts</a> to back it up. In the North Williams area, you can experience several levels of Portland’s unique hipster zeitgeist: buying vintage clothing inside a double-decker bus at Lodekka; playing shuffleboard in the unmarked bar Vendetta; or pedaling on the stationary bikes that actually generate electricity for organic micropub Hopworks BikeBar. <br><br> <em>Photo: iStock</em><br><br> <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-cities-for-hipsters/4" target="_hplink">See More Hipster Cities Here</a><br><br> <strong><a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011" target="_hplink">See all the America's Favorite Cities survey results!</a></strong>

  • No. 1 Seattle

    These northwesterners prove that a key to hipsterness is being ahead of the curve: they won the survey for their <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/people/intelligent" target="_hplink">smarts</a>, their <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/people/tech-savvy" target="_hplink">tech savvy</a>, and their high-octane <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011/category/food-drink-restaurants/coffee" target="_hplink">coffee</a>. As a result, the geek chic may be a little more buttoned-down here than in other cities. Look for representatives in the up-and-coming South Lake Union area, near downtown, or in former Scandinavian neighborhood Ballard, site of some of the city’s hottest restaurants, such as oyster bar The Walrus and the Carpenter.<br><br> <em>Photo: Jake Stangel</em><br><br> <a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-best-cities-for-hipsters/3" target="_hplink">See More Hipster Cities Here</a><br><br> <strong><a href="http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities/2011" target="_hplink">See all the America's Favorite Cities survey results!</a></strong>

 

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