To find the coolest cities in the country, market research company Harris Interactive polled adults across the U.S., asking them which of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the country they thought were the coolest. These are the ten cities that won out for coolness, alongside the number of nightlife, culture and recreation outlets in each place, as measured by AOL City Guides.
What makes a city cool? Having a lot of interesting things to do is a big part of that, and the cities that topped this list keep their residents and visitors busy day and night. But attitude and image are just as important. Read on to see if your city is one of these hip hotspots.
10. Washington, D.C.
It’s appropriate that one of the country’s top cities is also its capital, and with Washington, D.C.’s high number of galleries and concert venues (409), it’s no surprise. D.C. offers a winning combination of things to do and see.
With Latin culture setting a powerful backbeat, Miami is an exciting, 24-hour place to be, and has the warm weather to allow the party to last high season to low. With an impressive number of restaurants, bars and clubs (10,098) and places to experience art, history, sports and performance culture (626), this top city proves that you will have to sleep later if you want to eat, dance and be inspired in the many ways it has to offer.
8. Los Angeles
The Entertainment Capital of the World had better be a cool place, right? Los Angeles, bastion of kooks, creatives and good-looking folks of all stripes, continues to reinvent itself. From the beaches to the valleys, LA is a glamorous pool of possibilities and self-creation. Like New York, it has an inexhaustible supply of ways to stretch your senses. Bring your appetite for food, drink and music because there are 23,583 restaurants, bars and clubs to visit.
7. San Diego
San Diego is not exclusively about sun and surf, though those do make up the centerpiece of life in this SoCal city. With 70 miles of beaches, San Diego is the seventh largest city in the U.S. The proximity of Mexico, a short drive south to the border, makes for a vivid, cultural blend that expresses itself in food, music and art.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Orlando boasts a vast array of theme parks to choose from, including four major offerings from Disney (one of which is EPCOT Center), Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure, and Sea World. With museums and natural areas to choose from, Orlando is one of the best cities to keep visitors and residents entertained and educated.
5. San Francisco
If you ask a resident, the City by the Bay has always trumped the southern part of the state with its better taste. Thanks, in part, to cooler climes and slightly less hospitable beaches, San Francisco and the East Bay (Oakland is included in the survey) have always been more about experimentation in music, media and food than fun in the sun, though there’s plenty of that to be had, too. The result is one of the country’s coolest cities, with a high number of clubs, restaurants and galleries.
How could a town with the musical history of Chicago not be on a list of the coolest cities? As the biggest city in the Midwest and the third largest city in the U.S., Chicago continues to anchor the region with cutting-edge art, food, and cultural innovations. With the second highest number of museums, theaters, stadiums and arenas in the study (509), Chicago is a culture-packed town that keeps residents and visitors happily exploring.
Grunge and Starbucks put it on the map, but in the eyes of residents and visitors, Seattle has a lot of other reasons why it’s one of the best cities in the U.S. With its dramatic coastal location, proximity to national parks and plenty of art and music, there is a lot to see and do there. The Space Needle, Pike Place Market and the busy port are all must-see destinations.
1. (tie) Las Vegas
From its time as a Rat Pack playground through the family-fun era of theme park hotels, Las Vegas continues to evolve as a fantasyland for all comers. With the focus in recent years on hot, stylish clubs and world-class restaurants for grown-ups, Vegas’ cool quotient has obviously been on the rise.
1. (tie) New York City
It’s no great surprise that New York, a longtime Mecca for the latest and greatest in American culture, ties for first place in Forbes’ study of coolest cities. With 37,851 restaurants, bars and clubs; 2,268 galleries and concert venues; and 1,339 museums, theaters, stadiums and arenas, the Big Apple has the greatest density of things to do of any of the contenders. Add to that its historical and cultural hodge-podge of things and people and New York is a quintessential place to get what you want, when you want it.
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