Forbes Ranks 20 Coolest Places in America

Forbes recently came out with its list of the 20 “coolest” places in America, and some of the results may surprise you.

The financial information site teamed up with Sperling’s Best Places for the project. The researchers looked at 6 data points across the nation’s 60 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas and Metropolitan Divisions with the exception of Orlando, which apparently had some tricky data.  

To rank the cities, Forbes looked at factors like entertainment and restaurant options, population age, and cultural diversity. It also took overall recreational activity and population growth into account. 

The nation’s capital actually took the #1 spot, thanks in part to its massive art and culture index (99), recreation index (93), and diversity. While D.C. may not exactly be synonymous with “cool,” the designation makes perfect sense to Stuart Gabriel, Director of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. 

“D.C. is a high-amenity city. It has its share of cultural arts. It has its share of natural beauty,” Gabriel said.

It also has impressive population growth. The metro area has grown by 4.9% since 2010.

Seattle, Washington came in at #2. In addition to its arts, culture, and recreational scene, it scored big on the foodie metric with a “local eats” index of 81.6%.

Austin, Houston, and San Francisco rounded out the top 5. The San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City area came in with an arts and culture index of 98 and a recreation index of 99. Its local eats index was also a whopping 92.2%, which comes as no surprise to those of us who have a few after a trip to the Mission District.

Overall, California performed well on this list. Eight out of the 20 “coolest” places were in the Golden State. San Diego followed San Francisco at #6 and Riverside came in at #8. The cities of Oakland (#12), Sacramento (#14) also made the cut.

Surprisingly, Los Angeles and San Jose tied for a spot at #16. Los Angeles took a hit, in part, for a net migration of -0.6% between 2010 and 2013. Santa Ana was last on the list at #20.

See the full list here.


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