Everyone talks about great U.S. cities, and we all know that list would include New York City, Seattle, and other hotspots. But what about great American neighborhoods? Every large city is hiding a dozen different identities within its confines, and you're bound to like one area over another. After all, would you rather stay in San Francisco's Mission District or hang out in the Tenderloin? Here are a few of America's top neighborhoods, none of which are like anywhere else — even in their own cities.

Image via Flickr by masev

Image via Flickr by masev

San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury

The hippie movement was born right here, so you know Haight-Ashbury is dripping with characters as colorful as the alleyways. You'll inevitably find plenty of eclectic holes-in-the-wall and a sufficiently weird list of things to do, even if you're not really trying. But for starters, just head to the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets. This is where the likes of Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane all got their start. When you're done gawking, hit up Little Chihuahua for the best Mexican grub this side of the Rio Grande.

Boston's Beacon Hill

Gas-lit streets and cobblestones for days? Sign me up. Beacon Hill is steeped in history, dating all the way back to the 1700s when its main thoroughfare was a cattle path. Get to the top of the hill and take in the view from the State House, and then hit up Figs for pizza and the Beacon Hill Pub for suds. If you're staying, be sure to rest your head in the Charles Street Jail. It's now a hotel, but it's still rad — former or otherwise.

New Orleans' French Quarter

Beignets. Do you need more of a reason than that? (No. No, you don't.)

New York's Astoria

If you Google "best New York neighborhoods," the writer of whatever article you pull up will probably say something like, "I don't know. They're all great, okay?" While they are, Astoria is creeping up lists for good reason. It's not super expensive when compared to the rest of the city, and the list of entertainment and dining options is off the charts. Check out The Bonnie for a post-Friday-night brunch and Taverna Kylades for gyros, and don't leave before you get your paws on some of the best ramen you'll ever slurp, bar none.

Atlanta's Little Five Points

If graffiti and vinyl had a birthplace, it would be Little Five Points in Atlanta. Picture a better world, one full of secondhand vintage shops, cozy tattoo parlors, and fusion restaurants that somehow make a weird amount of sense. That's Little Five Points. Grab a bench, take it all in, and then book it to Criminal Records. End the adventure with one of the best burgers in America at The Vortex. In Little Five Points, there's no such thing as regret.

Seattle's Ballard

Back in the day, this used to be a Norwegian fishing village. It almost became its own town until Seattle swallowed it up and claimed it. It's one of those neighborhoods where you can just wander down the street marveling at the architecture, but don't. Do more than that. Hit up The Walrus & The Carpenter for a sturdy cocktail and Bitterroot for the PNW's spin on barbecue, and then take a stroll through Golden Gardens to get in some much-needed green time. And then take in the sweet street views.

Portland's Pearl District

You know how there's that super popular industrial movement, where warehouses and train depots are turning into lofts and brewpubs? That originated in the Pearl District. Head here and pick up on the metallic vibes. Don't miss iconic spots like Powell's City of Books, Union Station, and Rogue Distillery and Public House. You guessed it: there will be plenty of craft beer to go around.

Have you been to these spots? What would you include on the list? Don't forget, this also begs the question: in 20 years, what will America's top neighborhoods be? We'll have to wait and see!

 

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