When it comes to sightseeing in major cities around the country, you might think of visiting neighborhoods like San Francisco’s Chinatown, New York City’s Midtown, or Miami’s South Beach. The problem is that everyone else thinks about going to those places, too. So we scoured America’s metropolitan streets to find six cool neighborhoods that are hip, happening and under the radar. So the next time you’re in town, steer clear of the tour buses and hang with the locals.
Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Silver Lake is no token L.A. neighborhood — beaches are miles away and velvet ropes are few and far between here. In fact, the only reason many visitors might stumble across Silver Lake is by driving through it on the way to Dodger Stadium, located in adjacent Echo Park. But it’s actually worth more than a pass by. It’s one of the most walkable areas in Los Angeles (yes, as it turns out, you can walk in L.A.). Sunset Boulevard cuts through the neighborhood and is lined with restaurants (including some of L.A.’s best taquerías), shops, and craft cocktail bars like The Thirsty Crow, which boasts a selection of more than 100 whiskeys. Where to Stay: Hotel Wilshire, Hotel Palomar
Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York
The realm of hipsterdom that took over Williamsburg has trickled down to neighboring Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY, which has seen one of the fastest transformations from bleak and bare to bustling and trendy. With a rise in everything from music shops like Human Head Records and international restaurants like Momo Sushi Shack and Tortillería Mexicana Los Hermanos, Brooklyn is still where it’s at, yo! Where to Stay: Eventi, Ink48, Muse Hotel
Pilsen has long been a multicultural neighborhood in Chicago, but it’s only recently become more of a hip destination for visitors. The emerging interest is rooted in the art found throughout the neighborhood, from galleries to murals to unique architecture. If you’re there on the second Friday of the month, head to the area for Second Fridays Gallery Night, a self-guided tour of the spaces that stay open until 10pm. Don’t miss local eateries like Del Toro that serve some of the best tacos and Tequila this far north. Where to stay: Hotel Allegro, Hotel Burnham, Hotel Monaco, Hotel Palomar
Dogpatch, San Francisco
San Francisco’s Dogpatch is another microhood that can quickly be walked from one end to the other. Located east of the Mission District and just south of the world champion Giants’ AT&T Park, Dogpatch is a popular weekend brunch spot. Head to Serpentine, where in a city proud of its Bloody Marys, theirs stands out; and stop by Just For You Cafe for the beignets. Your itinerary should also include Sutton Cellars for wine tasting (this is Northern California, after all), MAC – Modern Appealing Clothing, and Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous for ice cream. Where to Stay: Hotel Buchanan, Sir Francis Drake Hotel
H Street Corridor, Washington, DC
The name “H Street Corridor” may not exactly sound like something hip and up-and-coming but look beneath the surface and you’ll find a vibrant arts, entertainment and nightlife district. Weekends are when it comes to life, beginning first thing Saturday morning with the H Street FRESHFARM Market (April through December) featuring seasonal bounty from local farmers. But the unique nightlife really makes the neighborhood stand out, with spots such as Sticky Rice, a local sushi bar with weekend activities that include karaoke and speed bingo, or Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, featuring an impressive beer list and events like costume karaoke (you can hide your inhibitions under a hat, wig and feather boa), open-mic night, and stand-up comedy. Where to Stay: The George
Ballard may be more residential and harder to get to than other Seattle neighborhoods, but it’s worth the trek. After all, how many neighborhoods in America can you visit locks to watch salmon swim upstream? There’s also a high concentration of breweries in Ballard, including Hale’s Ales, Hilliard’s, Populuxe and NW Peaks. On a warm, clear evening, head to Ray’s Boathouse to watch a beautiful sunset from the patio while sipping on one of their specialty cocktails, which change daily. Where to Stay: Alexis Hotel, Hotel Monaco, Hotel Vintage, Palladian (coming soon)
Banner image Mike Steele/Creative Commons.
Updated August 3, 2015