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michimaize

"Cool Cities"

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Every state has one (or more). Michigan has Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. Wisconsin has Madison. What's what in your state?

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For the non-Walmartesque type of cool in Michigan, visit Detroit.

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While living in Charlotte (the largest city in NC) I believe the 'coolest' city in our state is likely Asheville with its eclectic mix of artsy type individuals that really make the city stand-out from other cities in the state. It is all of course personal opinion as what is cool to me may not be for the next guy.

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Cities I would classify as cool in NC:

Asheville, NC - definetly a different vibe thanks to the artsy crowd. Very liberal city for our state.

Chapel Hill, NC - classic college city.

Wilmington, NC - almost an 'Asheville by the Sea'

:shades:

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Minneapolis for its music scene. This city continues to produce great musicians.

St. Paul for its neighborhoods and bars.

Both MPLS & STPL are great college towns (second to Boston in number of students) and they are "cool" because of their arts and political scenes as well.

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Well I lived in Raleigh for 6 months and figured out by the first 2 weeks that the town was BORING. But I did visit Asheville a few times and fell in love with that place.

But I have to represent my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI. Detroit...eh - not so cool IMO.

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I'm an NC guy, so I'll second the NC and SC mentions above.

But since I'm in the south (in general) I gotta mention Athens GA and Richmond VA - two fantastic cities.

I've hung out in Richmond lots over the years and have yet to feel like I've exhausted the possibilities - some great music over the years, some really great neighborhoods, Chaco Bottom, great skyline, and those class-3 rapids running through downtown. The Sound Of Music Recording Studios in downtown Richmond (a restored 3-story tenement) is owned by some members of Cracker / Camper Van Beethoven, and the place has won favor among indie rockers, but they've also recorded so much VA music of all genres (from punk to experimental to hip-hop to blues) over the last 10 or 15 years, they've evolved into chroniclers of a fairly enormous whos-who of current VA (and mid-Atlantic) grassroots music.

Ditto for Athens - a great time every time I've been there. The city has a great scale and atmosphere, all of the hipness of Chapel Hill, but a LOT less of the uptightness. One of the greatest music clubs (The 40 Watt) and one of the greatest record stores (Wuxtry - one Michael Stipe is a former employee) in the south. Rodger Lyle Brown published an engrossing history of the rise of Athens' vast, vast music community (Party Out Of Bounds); there's also the film Athens GA Inside Out, which popped up on DVD a couple years back, and covers the art scene, gospel music and adds a bit more context as well. The N GA countryside outside of Athens is mighty purty, too.

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But since I'm in the south (in general) I gotta mention Athens GA and Richmond VA - two fantastic cities.

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In my state Memphis certainly has the coolness points while Nashville is briefcase cool.

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In Washington, the cool places are:

Humptulips - come for the name and the rain

Aberdeen - come as you are, live under a bridge to escape the rain and write some multiplatinum records before ODing on herion

Pullman - a taste of Nebraska/Kansas etc. in Washington

Chehalis - floods = waterfront property occasionally

Raymond - smelly, muddy estuaries are fun!

White Center - housing project laden unincorporated areas rule!

Parkland - high crime, low income, transient military unincoporated areas rule!

Shelton - nothing like a giant lumber plant taking up the entire downtown waterfront

South Tacoma - see Parkland, except more crime and less military

Longview - pulp mills = smelly smells

The places not worth visiting and totally uncool are:

Seattle - sandwiched between sound and lake with mountain views from all angles. Could get in an accident from all the distractions.

Bellingham - Between the San Juan Islands and the North Cascade Mts. 50 miles from Vancouver, BC. Might get mauled by a caribou or Canadian shopper.

Sequim - in the rainshadow, driest place in Western Washington. 15 inches of rain. Sounds boring.

Friday Harbor - San Juan Islands, also in the rainshadow. water = boats = seasick.

Chelan - Located at the end of a 50 mile long fjord like lake that cuts through snowy mountains. 50 miles boat ride = mega seasick.

Leavenworth - Washington's Bavarian village. Mountains and lederhosen are scary!

Walla Walla - considered by some to be the next Napa Valley. Wine tastes nasty. Give me kool-aid!

Port Townsend - Victorian seaport. Old stuff is old and boring. Oh, and more kool-aid please.

White Salmon - Columbia Gorge, windsurfing capital of the world. Wind can be scary.

Westport - surfing, sport fishing, cranberries, and ocean. Drowning, smell,sour, and tsunami.

;)

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Neat topic & of course rather relative - but from personal experience & just hype based on what I consider cool:

SC - Charleston

GA - Athens & sometimes Atlanta

NC - Chapel Hill & Asheville

FL - Miami

LA - New Orleans

TX - Austin & sometimes Dallas

CO - Boulder & sometimes Denver

Most cases the cool towns are in fact, college towns. I mention some cities as being 'sometimes' cool, because of course what is 'cool' is subject to what is fashionable at the time. Also, negative hype - as there are aspects of Atlanta that many would consider cool, but the negative aspects most often trump the positive ones. It's all about the image, I think most sunbelt cities in the 70's through 90's would be consider uncool - they symbolized what was uncool at the time of course. Perhaps now not so much.

But really, it's all bull crap & completely debatable.

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Neat topic & of course rather relative - but from personal experience & just hype based on what I consider cool:...

...But really, it's all bull crap & completely debatable.

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In my state, Birmingham has the "coolness" factor and so does Huntsville to an extent.

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The easy answer for Texas is Austin, of course, but I'll also say that Fort Worth might very well be the next Austin - mark my words.

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I think Ft Worth's success is based on the city accepting it's image & exploiting it. Downtown Ft Worth is simply more fun than downtown - it's like an over-sized small town & of course the local culture is intriguing. Not to mention the old town (where that awesome Mexican restaurant is with the kickass margaritas) helps along with the art district home to the Kimball.

So sure - I'll agree with you on this one.

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Off the top of my head:

Charlottesville, VA

Burlington, VT

Madison, WI

Asheville and Chapel Hill, NC

Athens, GA

Austin, TX

Seattle, WA

Santa Fe, NM

Boulder, CO

Boise, ID (up and coming cool)

Miami Beach (but not Miami)

Red Bank, NJ (up and coming)

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I'll have to mention my home, Providence, RI. I've been to quite a few places but nowhere else does it for me. Definitely the coolest city outside of New York in the Northeast.

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I think Ft Worth's success is based on the city accepting it's image & exploiting it. Downtown Ft Worth is simply more fun than downtown - it's like an over-sized small town & of course the local culture is intriguing. Not to mention the old town (where that awesome Mexican restaurant is with the kickass margaritas) helps along with the art district home to the Kimball.

So sure - I'll agree with you on this one.

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I agree that Fort Worth has a great downtown. However, two nights I was there I saw church people on the street disseminating their beliefs. I respect them and I'm sure they are all good-natured people but I didn't think that their activities would add to the coolness of the city. One night a couple were shouting "there is no santa clause" outside Bass Performance Hall after the Nutcracker performance and sadly there were so many kids around. Fort worth has a wonderful downtown and a lot of things to do, but I feel it is just not quite progressive or diverse, at least not as Austin or Dallas, yet. I hope i'm not digressing here... :)

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CT - New Haven

MA - Boston (People like Berkshires towns like Pittsfield, Lenox, Williamstown ... not my sort of thing, perhaps it's yours)

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Cool means different things to different people. But in general terms, there are few "cool" cities in my state. Don't get me wrong, I love North Carolina and I love Charlotte; I am happy living here, but cool? Not really.

My NC votes are for these cool towns, as I can't really call them cities:

Brevard

Black Mountain

Seagrove

Southport

Asheville

The only cool city in NC is Durham. Keeping it real there. Nothing plastic about it. It is Cary's antithesis.

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I will add Northampton MA because we all know boston, but Northampton is as "hip" as they get even if it is only 30-50k (i really have no idea how many people live there)

and in CT I will add West Hartford as it is the cool center of central CT

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