For the best coffee, shopping, and culture, follow the trail of the skinny-jeaned trendsetters. Travel + Leisure readers have ranked the best cities for hipsters.
No. 7 Charleston, SC
America's Best Cities for Hipsters
No. 7 Charleston, SC
This genteel city sashayed into the hipster top 10 for walking the line between old-fashioned and old-school. King Street is a reliable hotbed for antiques and design shopping, and in the area around Upper High King, you can kick back at High Wire Distilling (which makes small-batch rums, gins, and whiskeys) or Bay Street Biergarten, which offers craft beers and a Bavarian menu inside a rehabbed train depot. Don’t let their polite agreeability fool you, however: these South Carolina locals also scored well for being plenty smart.
Portland, OR, is known for its food trucks, but apparently that’s not the only local food on wheels. “One night, I walked by someone singing at the top of their lungs while dressed as a taco and on roller skates,” says Simon Tam, leader of the band The Slants. “It was just another ordinary evening out in Portland.”
No surprise, the city famous for its flagrant quirkiness ranked near the top among Travel + Leisure readers for a high density of hipsters—locals who embody the cutting edge of culture while also embracing simple, retro charms.
In this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers rated 35 major metropolitan areas for qualities such as wine bars, walkable streets, and great weather. To discern the biggest hipster concentrations, we combined the results for offbeat and tech-savvy locals; great microbrews and coffee bars; a buzzing live music scene; and plenty of flea markets.
This year, the top hipster cities included San Francisco, where Hayes Valley's Proxy Project features food and art in shipping containers, and Minneapolis, where residents love their polka-infused supper club. For travelers, following the trail left by hipsters usually pays off—both in good culture and a lot of fun.
That doesn’t make you a hipster, of course. “Perhaps the most ‘ironic’ thing about Portland,” adds Tam, “is that very few people will actually admit to being a hipster.”