Surrounded by men sporting impressive facial hair? Are the women working an androgynous style? Is everyone listening to indie music, sipping organic coffee and discussing progressive politics? If so, you’ve found your way in to a hipster hangout.
There are cities all around the world where these bright young things choose to shop, eat, drink and party, but some of the hottest hipster haunts are stateside. So go raid the nearest vintage store (or your parents’ wardrobe) and get yourself over to one of these US counter-culture cities:
1. Austin, Texas
The Lone Star State may not strike you as a hotbed of hipster activity, being traditionally a defender of conservatism, but the state capital, Austin, is a breath of fresh air. From real-life cowboys on business in the financial Downtown district, to eco-warriors and fashion conscious kids rolling through the University of Texas campus, Austin is a place where good old southern charm meets creative thinking. With a city motto of “Keep Austin Weird” it’s no wonder the hipster state of mind is not only common here, it’s highly contagious. Music venues on every corner, coffee shops with specialty drinks and food trucks for every taste, Austin has attracted some of the most influential hipsters in the US; Drew Barrymore, Matthew McConaughey and Quentin Tarantino are just a few of the city’s most famous residents. A local indie film and music scene thrives in Austin, and arguably one of the best times to pay a visit is in March, when the city hosts the international film and music festival, SXSW. For international food, just wander along Congress to find trucks serving every type of cuisine, from Mexican fish tacos to microbiotic superfood smoothies.
2. Portland, Oregon
The place where young people go to retire, this place is so cool, it inspired an award-winning comedy show, Portlandia, which takes an ironic look at the hipsters who live in Portland. In many ways, the City of Roses is the birthplace of this urban sub-culture. Its got the food trucks, the quirky stores and the independent art galleries, the finest of which are found in Portland’s Pearl District and along Lovejoy Street. It’s also home to the world famous Voodoo Doughnuts, a doughnut shop-cum-vodka distillery with a recording studio on the side. Partial to a pint? Then Portland is the place for you, as the unofficial ‘microbrewery capital of the world’. Sample over 24 different beers at Bailey’s Taproom, whose selection focuses on Oregon breweries. For a nightcap with class, head over to the Teardrop Cocktail Lounge for a taste of some pretty imaginative culinary cocktails.
3. Seattle, Washington
Say goodbye to 90s grunge, and welcome in the new breed of modern hipster. Seattle has had a vibrant underground scene since the 1980s and things aren’t about to change just because we’ve swapped Nirvana tapes for MGMT EPs – and a load of other pointless abbreviations to make things sound cooler and more exclusive. Seattle is home to all the usual monuments to hipsterdom (see above for food trucks etc.) plus interesting museums such as the EMP Museum. This mecca for music, science fiction or pop culture fans is home to thousands of artifacts relating to musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, as well as housing some of the iconic costumes from the oroginal Star Wars movies. And of course, no self-respecting hipster would visit Seattle without making a pilgrimage to one of the city’s excellent coffee houses. The home of Starbucks offers plenty of independent cafés where you can get your caffeine fix – some fo the cool kids congregate at Bauhaus Books & Coffee, or Vivace (Brix) on Capitol Hill.
4. Brooklyn, New York
There are so many sides to the Big Apple; we’re not talking about the bright lights of Broadway, or the commercial shopping malls surrounding Time Square, but neither are we telling you to check out the original Brooklyn neighborhoods, like Bensonhurst or Bay Ridge. New York’s hipster scene is down in Brooklyn’s Park Slope area, which is a great spot for thrift store bargain hunting, or in gentrified Williamsburg. Drive out of NYC across Williamsburg Bridge, and you’ll find a suburb that seems a million miles away from the rough-and-ready image of old school Brooklyn. Stroll along tree-lined waterfront esplanades, stop for a snack in one of the many organic delis in town and come nightfall, check out the Knitting Factory for live music and comedy.
5. Portland, Maine
Another Portland, this time in the New England state of Maine, is just as cool but on a smaller scale. Fashionistas, art lovers and all-round hipsters flock to pint-sized Portland from all over the US, where they are spoiled with easy access to local galleries, breweries, shops, coffee houses and unique street markets. Portland offers all the hipster essentials; good java (check out Bard Coffee), experimental theatre (Portland Stage Company) and some of the tastiest vegan cinnamon rolls around (Local Sprouts). Let’s not leave out the nightlife, from pints of beer and bangers in the Thirsty Pig, to locally sourced Spanish tapas in Local 188. Be warned, it gets cold in Maine in the winter, so you may want to bring that vintage sheepskin coat, or double up on the flannel at the very least.
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