Coolest Suburbs Worth a Visit
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/21586553@N02/" class="external" rel="nofollow">John Hark</a>
many suburbs are becoming vacation-worthy hot spots, with cutting-edge
restaurants, great shopping, and plenty of parking.
Sure, Atlanta has its
attractions. But head 20 miles north and you’ll find yourself surrounded by art
galleries, boutiques, creative restaurants, and not many generic chain-filled
strips. This hip little town is called Roswell, and it’s…wait for it…a suburb.
Americans have a
love-hate relationship with the ever-sprawling communities outside the
country’s big cities. The quest for more space than cities can afford often
means giving up the unique stores and restaurants that spring up in urban
centers. Of course, Hollywood hasn’t helped the suburban profile, typically
portraying these communities as boring, conformist places, spiced up by a few
desperate housewives here and there. Yet a number of suburbs around the country
blow up the stereotype and are worth a visit on your next trip.
Some of these
are old inner-ring suburbs, while others are small cities that have been folded
into a greater urban area due to population expansion and improved
transportation—but have managed to maintain an independent identity.
Roswell, GA, for example,
is known for its 19th-century Old South streetscapes and for Bulloch Hall, the
antebellum home of Teddy Roosevelt’s mother. But it’s not trapped in the past.
The roads are lined with restaurants like Relish,
which draws a crowd seeking its innovative takes on fried black-eyed peas and
pickled green tomatoes. There’s also a lot of city-like energy. “Roswell is
just an amazing place for singles,” says Valerie Jackson, owner of the Ann
Jackson Gallery, which holds the country’s largest collection of works by Dr.
Seuss. “On my street alone there are 14 restaurants.”
Alameda, CA, built on an
island just east of Oakland in San Francisco Bay, is another cool suburb. It’s a place lined with well-kept beaches and no shortage
of spectacular views. A chill vibe is maintained with the help of a strictly
enforced 25 mph speed limit. Alameda is also home to the Pacific
Pinball Museum, where you can try your hand at a classic game of Buccaneer
or Magic Circle, and Forbidden
Island, a tiki bar with a distinct rockabilly atmosphere and a reputation
for skillfully mixed rum concoctions that draws drinkers from afar.
So instead of
trying to escape from suburbia, join the commuting crowd and try one of these
unsung neighborhoods: you’ll have no trouble finding culinary and cultural hot
spots. Just leave your copy of American Beauty at home.