The 10 Most Hipster Cities in America
Posted on March 14 2017
The true hipster is a rare breed, easily identified by their passion for thrift store flannel and locally-sourced coffee. They laugh in the face of your Urban Outfitters record player because they found theirs in an underground vintage shop run by Jack Kerouac himself. But where are these hipsters hiding? We researched the music, coffee, events and vibe of cities across the country to bring you the top 10 hipster havens nationwide.
10. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah’s most notable hipster quality is that you’d never see it coming. Into music? The Savannah Music Festival puts on the largest musical arts event in Georgia. Then cue several coffee shops that capture the hipster essence with cozy couches and a ton of vegan options, like the Sentient Bean or The Coffee Fox. Yeah, you read that right. The South has vegans. Savannah is also home to SCAD, meaning there is no shortage of artsy college students running around town.
9. Chicago, Illinois
Traditionally known for its blues and house music, Chicago's music scene booms with no shortage of entertainment. Festival-wise, the big one is Lollapalooza, but if you’re looking for something less basic don’t miss the Chicago Blues Festival. "Chicago is a cultural powerhouse and music plays a huge role in our city’s vibe. From blues and jazz to rock, house, hip-hop and rap, Chicago musicians are pioneers in the industry," said Mary May of the Marketing and Communications department of the City of Chicago. "The festival salutes Chicago’s rich music history currently taking place over 3 full days in Millennium Park on multiple stages." Try any of the 200 or so theaters in the area or head to the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, which nurtured the poetry slam movement, for a night out and show off your inner Ginsberg.
8. Portland, Maine
Maine’s Portland shares more than a name with the most famed hipster city in the country; it has a long list of hipster credentials in its own right. For starters, Men’s Health ranked it first in a study showing the cities with the most coffee drinkers. And since coffee is the life source of hipsters, this is no small honor. Beer drinkers rejoice: Portland also proudly pays homage to the hipster’s second sacred beverage.
7. Providence, Rhode Island
Providence houses Brown University, which means there’s a built-in congregation of hipster intellectuals with whom to discuss everything from politics to the social message of that latest indie band. It also has the most coffee and donut shops per capita of any city in the state. Take your coffee to catch up on Proust at the Providence Athenaeum, one of the oldest still-active libraries. "Providence is, without doubt, a top hipster city, and the Ath fits right in," said Robin Wetherill, Communications Manager at the Providence Athenaeum. "Our library is still one [of] the oldest libraries in the country." Then transition your intellectual debate to best brews at the Great International Beer Festival. It’s the largest in the country.
6. Boulder, Colorado
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill, writes-obscure-poetry-in-a-coffee-shop hipster. Boulder is all about getting outdoors, and with good reason: hiking is made easy thanks to the neighboring Rocky Mountains. For the shop local and health conscious hipster, Pearl Street Mall has all local goods and farm-to-table restaurants. As an added bonus to all this hipster outdoorsiness, recreational weed is legal. We leave you with that.
5. San Francisco, California
How hipster is San Fran? A politician literally ran his campaign appealing to the bike hipster vote. A coffee shop went as far as installing a “no annoying hipster topics” rule. With a city as walkable as San Francisco that’s known for its hip tech-savvy citizens, it’s no wonder a large portion of the American hipster population calls San Francisco home. This city is all about festivals, both food and music. Of course, Outside Lands is kind of a big deal, but food festivals like Eat Drink SF are where the city's culture really shine. "In decidedly cliched parlance, we do have an abundance of $11 avocado toast, green juice, whiskey barbershops, and no shortage of skinny jeans," said Jenais Zarlin, Marketing and Business Development Director at the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, the company behind Eat Drink SF. "Our festival pays tribute to the fact that we live in the best food city in the U.S. San Francisco has long been a trendsetter in culinary, leading in the farm-to-table movement and using food as a lens to address social issues." Grab your appetites and your wallets next time you're in San Francisco.
4. Austin, Texas
The “Live Music Capital of the World” proves it deserves the title, hosting South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits. Hipsters travel from just about everywhere to geek out on tech and catch up and coming new indie artists. Austin is also the birthplace of Whole Foods, the supermarket of choice for all your locally-sourced squash needs, and has a serious food truck culture. You'll find thousands of trucks ready to satisfy just about every craving throughout the city.
3. Seattle, Washington
The coffee capital of the country goes beyond the beverage to cement its status as a hipster sanctuary. You’ll find most of the mustachioed, flannel-wearing population in the trendy Capitol Hill area. If not, chances are they’re at any of the well-known breweries in the area or Pike Place Market, the world-famous food market. Art-wise, the Seattle International Film Festival is the longest running, largest and most highly attended film festival in the U.S. “Seattle is a diverse, smart city, and loves to learn about the rest of the world through film and art,” said SIFF Artistic Director Beth Barrett. “Seattleites are smart, adventurous, and interested in the world around them.”
2. Brooklyn, NYC, New York
OK, so technically Brooklyn isn’t a city. But it felt wrong to exclude it when Brooklyn is arguably the birthplace of every hipster stereotype in existence. Though the most famous neighborhood is Williamsburg, Brooklyn hipsters can be found in vintage stores and famous beer gardens throughout the borough. Two can’t miss events: Smorgasborg, a "flea food market" featuring vendors from around the city, and Northside Festival, which showcases the latest in music, film, and food.
1. Portland, Oregon
While certain aspects of Portlandia may be a little exaggerated, there’s a reason that Portland is a hipster’s mecca. “The artisan tradition here is strong. For decades, back-to-nature types have been crafting furniture, growing their own organic produce, roasting coffee beans, and of course brewing beer,” said Portland Craft Beer Festival marketer Rebecca Rockom. Although the brewery culture is unbeatable (nicknamed “beervana” for its Exhibit A: Puff, Pass and Paint, an event described as a casual and creative smoking session where attendees get to create their own masterpieces. Samantha Montanaro, whose business Prism House PDX puts on the event, took advantage of the legalization of Cannabis and offers Cannabis-friendly events and themed parties. “The Portland culture is one that is accepting of all levels of weirdness. Creativity is a HUGE theme in Portland culture and Cannabis is a natural stimulant for creativity,” Montanaro said. Whether or not that's your thing, it's obvious that the creative and artisan tradition of Portland makes it the ideal spot for hipsters everywhere.