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Tourist traps are a dime a dozen in big cities, but many popular urban destinations have up-and-coming neighborhoods that offer cool alternatives to the guidebook staples.
The travel experts at Lonely Planet scouted the neighborhoods that will deliver the goods if you’re looking to visit promising eateries, browse artisan products at local shops and sip some craft brews on your next vacation or work trip. The travel company worked with U.S.-based experts to highlight the hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods in America.
Using those recommendations, Money then calculated how much it will cost you to spend a week exploring these worthwhile neighborhoods. Money drew from its Best in Travel database, which includes hotel prices from Hotels.com, plane tickets from airfare prediction app Hopper and vacation spending from ValuePenguin.
1. East Liberty & Lawrenceville (Pittsburgh, PA)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $2,448
This Pennsylvania steel town has reinvigorated its cool factor in recent years, with the influx of new bars, restaurants and hotels. “Pittsburgh won’t be the first American city to beep on your cool-o-meter, but its eastern neighborhoods might just be the sleeper hit your hipster sensibilities have been craving,” says travel writer and TV host Brandon Presser.
Speaking of hotels, check out the Ace Hotel in the East Liberty neighborhood. Housed in a former YMCA, the hotel kept the old-school gym where guests can play cornhole, ping pong, and video games.
2. Avondale (Chicago, IL)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $2,728
This Northwest Chicago neighborhood has a “scruffy, artsy, lived-in magic,” says travel writer and Chicago resident Karla Zimmerman. With its history as an old Polish community, the architecture of the neighborhood has a lot to offer. Check out the Morris B. Sachs Building, a very cool Art Deco-inspired structure—and don’t miss the picture perfect St. Hyacinth Basilica.
But Zimmerman recommends making time to visit sooner rather than later — it may be discovered by the masses shortly. “Avondale teeters on the edge. Hipster ‘hoods nibble at its borders, poised to spill over,” she says.
3. Point Loma (San Diego, CA)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $2,518
There’s more to this California town than the spectacular views—which are certainly worth a visit by themselves. It’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat, according to Jame Bremner, a writer and Lonely Planet Local for San Diego. “Foodies also gravitate to Point Loma for the outstanding seafood brought to shore daily by boats, and served in local restaurants,” she says. And food is only the start. Try out a pint at Modern Times Beer—an employee-owned craft brewery or grab a cup of coffee at the bike-themed Coffee Hub & Cafe.
On Point Loma’s Southern tip you’ll find the Cabrillo National Monument, a 144-acre national park that offers several lighthouses to explore, as well as miles of trails to hike, and a visitor center that details the history of the area.
4. Frelard (Seattle, WA)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $2,834
This Seattle neighborhood’s name, first coined by Frelard Pizza Company owner Ethan Stowell, is a foodie’s delight, brimming with great eateries and drinking spots. In fact, Seattle was among the places named as one of Money’s Best Drinking Cities. “It’s the perfect place to refuel on a day spent exploring beyond Seattle’s main tourist sights,” says Valerie Stimac, a Seattle-based travel writer and editor.
5. East Nashville (Nashville, TN)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $2,832
If you’re looking for something other than the honky tonk Nashville is famous for dishing up, head to East Nashville. Here, tattoos, street murals and alternative music venues are far more common, according to Evan Godt, an East Nashville resident and a managing destination editor for Lonely Planet focusing on the Americas. If you’re looking for the infamous Nashville hot chicken, Godt recommends Pepperfire, Bolton’s, and of course, Prince’s—all of which reside on the East side of town.
6. Capitol Riverfront & Yards Park (Washington D.C.)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $3,118
If you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of D.C., check out the neighborhoods of Yards Park and the riverfront. While these areas were a gritter part of D.C. at one time, now the area plays home to the Nationals Park, the city’s major league baseball stadium. But don’t just visit for a game and a hot dog. “These days, there are more reasons to visit here than for sport alone; the entire waterfront precinct now features an attractive boardwalk, small riverside parks and a handful of top-notch eateries,” says Kate Armstrong is travel writer and Lonely Planet contributor.
7. Sunset Park (Brooklyn, New York)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $3,303
There’s no doubt that Brooklyn is the reigning King of Cool when it comes to New York City neighborhoods. But within Brooklyn there are dozens of outposts that vary dramatically in tone and vibe. One neighborhood to visit is Sunset Park, which offers great views of the Manhattan skyline. “Sunset Park sits below Park Slope on the south and western borders of Green-Wood Cemetery, and hosts a heady mix of cultures and traditions,” says New York-based Robert Balkovich, a Lonely Planet writer. This area cuts a wide swath through Brooklyn, with Green-Wood consisting of 478 acres. You can even take a trolly tour of the ground and see some of the famous burials, including artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and musician Leonard Bernstein.
8. South 1st Street (Austin, TX)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $2,586
South Congress is one of the more famous hot spots around Austin, but one street over is another area worth exploring. Don’t be fooled by what looks to be a “ho-hum stretch of cottages, food trucks and weathered buildings,” says Amy Balfour, a travel writer for Lonely Planet who has researched the US Southwest. The South 1st Street neighborhood is a good mix of old and new, she says, recommending travelers check out the indie coffee shop Bouldin Creek Café and the beloved Torchy’s Tacos.
9. Montavilla (Portland, OR)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $2,532
An older Portland neighborhood with tree-lined streets and classic homes, Montavilla has shed its gritty image for a quiet cool. “Now there’s a busy Sunday farmers market, a handful of craft-cocktail and beer bars, cute little independent shops and a dive bar (Montavilla Station) known for its weekend blues jams,” says Becky Ohlsen, a Lonely Planet Local and resident of Portland. Ohlsen says the lynchpin of the neighborhood is the historic Academy Theater. Built in 1948, it underwent an extensive renovation in 2006 that returned it to its 1940’s splendor.
10. River North (Denver, CO)
Cost to Spend a Week for Two: $2,350
An arts and culture district of the first order, River North (RiNo) has an industrial vibe that comes through in the many old, historic warehouses and factories that now house a number of hopping bars, restaurants, galleries and music venues. And yet, RiNo’s punk-rock roots come through, says Greg Benchwick, a Lonely Planet contributor from Denver. “You’ll find it in the street murals that seem to pop up overnight, in the experimental galleries that play open house on Friday nights, and in the innovative food halls and rockabilly microbrews that play host to the city’s young, bold and tattooed,” he says.