Hot New Neighborhoods

Prospect Heights, rutlo, flickr

You know how it is when you arrive in an unknown city; you spend most of your time searching for a scene, then you stumble into a buzzing up-and-coming neighborhood just before you leave. It's hard keeping track of the newest and the coolest hot spots, as urban centers continue to renew themselves -- try locating where young chefs and artists are setting up shop for the affordable rents or where industrial wastelands have given rise to funky garden projects and innovative architecture.
Stephan Crasneanscki, founder of Soundwalk, which offers downloadable audio tours of newly emerging neighborhoods in cities such as Paris, New York and Shanghai, recognizes how transitory hot new 'hoods can be. "Most of the time, what is "cool," tends to be something that has remained unnoticed, right in front of you, that has an authentic life of its own -- and not the hip new hotness that invariably vanishes as fast as it appeared."

Here we list ten hot new neighborhoods to keep on your travel radar.

edenpictures, flickr

NoMad, Manhattan, NY

The 2009 opening of the Ace Hotel and its hip in-house gastropub, The Breslin, with stoves stoked by April Bloomfield of Spotted Pig fame, has transformed this dilapidated stretch of wig shops, perfumeries and psychic readers -- which once only attracted people for it's Shake Shack proximity -- into a hot stretch of Gotham. Newly dubbed NoMad (for North of Madison Square) and nestled between New York City's Garment District, Chelsea, Murray Hill and the forlorn Flatiron District, the new hip 'hood is a fave of both locals who work in nearby Silicon Alley, and visitors staying at the trifecta of 2010 hotel openings, including the posh Gansevoort Park Avenue, the Kimpton's swank Eventi and Fashion 26.

tkksummers, flickr

Downtown Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara has long been thought of as L.A.'s nutty feel-good burb, but in the last two years a wave of younger residents has helped to transform the sleepy place into a stretch of Pacific Ocean kissed with coolness. Julienne, opened in 2008 by young chef Justin West and his wife Emma, has slowly transformed the crunchy dining scene by offering items like in-house-cured charcuteries, Central Coast Syrahs, and locally caught sardines. In 2009, the Presidio was altered from a dumpy roadside motor lodge into a luminous (but budget-conscious) art-filled motel with free sporty beachcruisers to explore the town's Urban Wine Trail. Discreetly located in downtown's Funk Zone on Anacapa Street, Municipal Winemakers is the newest (and hands-down coolest) of the tasting rooms. When the sun sets, check out the KCRW DJs spinning tunes next to contemporary Korean photography at Santa Barbara Museum of Art. The museum's new "Nights" program, a series of live events that began in summer 2010, has given Central Coast night owls a long-awaited evening option.

wallyg, flickr

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn's Park Slope always had a penchant for attracting organic-minded folks, but the plethora of neighborhood kiddie menus and doublewide strollers sometimes make it hard to handle. If "family friendly" makes you feel decidedly unfriendly, head to Prospect Heights to sip experimental cocktails, without someone's little darling knocking your table. Scruffier and largely concentrated on Vanderbilt Avenue, the neighborhood has become one of NYC's premier cocktail hubs, with an eclectic series of bars and lounges opening in 2008 and 2009. Go-tos include the Soda Bar and Weather Up, while an upgraded soccer bar/gastropub, Woodwork, and an elegant poor man's oyster nook, Cornelius ($1 oyster Happy Hour), keep things shaken and stirred. For excellent eats, try the Vanderbilt, which was opened in late 2009 by owners of neighboring Michelin-starred Saul (try the house-cured beef jerky and brussels sprouts painted with sriracha sauce, lime and honey). Cowboy-centric Branded Saloon and soon to open Eton, known for dumplings, Hawaiian ice and bubble tea, have continued the crafty cocktail tradition but added some artisanal edibles to the scene.

Rusaffa, Valencia, Spain

Scruffy neighborhood Rusaffa (aka Ruzafa), a former Arab community whose name means "orchard," refined its coolness in 2010. Hot 'hood arrivals include eco-eatery L'Eco de Russafa, which makes good use of its location a block away from the bustling, ethnic Russafa Mercado. The cheery bright cafe offers organic teas, wines and inspired plates using locally sourced beef, poultry and veggies. More boho and infinitely moodier El Desvan Café, which opened in May 2010, offers cheap glasses of wine and occasional readings by local poets and writers. Increasing numbers of art galleries, architecture studios and design ateliers are opening along the neighborhood's graffitied streets too. The Sporting Club Russafa has regular exhibits by neighborhood artists, while in 2008 Russafart began offering an annual tour of the 'hood's artist studios each May.

iwouldstay, flickr

Zürich West, Switzerland

What started in 2009 with a few nightclubs and a Frietag handbag shop, has transformed Zürich's quasi-industrial Zürich West from a rusty wasteland into a revamped zone of innovation. Suits and creatives have softened this gritty neighborhood, now home to the glimmering new Prime Tower, Switzerland's tallest building unveiled in July 2010. Nearby, the former Toni dairy factory at Förrlibuckstrasse is being converted to a cultural space and living quarters for Zürich's students. Also in 2010, two aqueducts (Letten and Wipkinger) once used to transport coal into the city, have been transformed into elegant market areas with tapas bars, delis, galleries and boutiques. Among the new stores are Bogen 33, a vintage furniture store called Erfolg, a Swiss shirt and sweater designer and cozy, industrial-chic Restaurant Viadukt.

su_mo, flickr

Santa Maria la Riberia, Mexico City, Mexico

The twin iron steeples of the Museo Universitario del Chopo were newly revamped by local starchitect Enrique Norten in May 2010, offering an iconic view of Mexico's City's hottest new neighborhood, Santa Maria la Riberia. As Mexico draws more and more visitors for contemporary arts, its cultural institutions continue to swell. The new museum, or El Chopo, as it's known, is a sanctuary for experimental art and performance, galvanized by the nearby Saturday-only Tianguis Cultural del Chopo, a market devoted to all things ska, punk and hippie and the newly opened midcentury furniture shop at Eligió Ancona 171, stocked with the pieces that the owner also sells to the uber-hip Habita Hotel group.

davidclow, flickr

Hampden, Baltimore, MD

Hampden, Baltimore has always been a kitschy-cool destination for beehive- and tattoo-sporting locals and indie-minded fans of John Waters' movies, but this year the neighborhood has taken on a mature patina and seen a new generation of visitors. Newcomers like burrito food truck Curbside Café keep the vendor scene mixed. A kids clothing boutique called Urban Baby Runway, which specializes in rockabilly fashions for infants, toddlers and kids will open in September. Hontown, a boutique brought to you by the folks at Café Hon, is scheduled to open at the old Hometown Girl location in October. Every September the neighborhood's offbeat oddities culminate with the Hampdenfest, celebrating local food and music.

Jamie Squire, Getty Images

Butchertown, Louisville, KY

This disheveled but tree-lined former meatpacking area of Louisville is the latest 'hood where chefs and young designers are taking up residence in the Bluegrass State. Drawing on the neighborhood's heritage of booze and meat, a new gastropub called the Blind Pig opened in spring 2010, and it churns out tasty shepherd's pies and bourbon-and-bacon cocktails (try the bacon-flavored Manhattan). In 2008, Bourbon Barrel Foods opened in nearby Butchertown Market, a great place to score bottles of blueberry-flavored Kentucky sorghum, soy sauce aged in bourbon barrels and bourbon-smoked salt and pepper. Another hangout for the area's hipsters is Patrick O'Shea's Public House, which opened in January 2010 and is outfitted with reclaimed lumber from an 1880s-era bourbon warehouse.

Dashanzi Art District (aka 798 Art Zone), Beijing, China

Beijing went global in 2008 with a slew of new structures built for the Olympics-and the media hype that followed the games. But little focus of the hype went to the former military electronics Bauhaus factory district, the artsy 798 Art Zone that once put Beijing on the art map and is now beginning to experience nascent forms of arty Chinese hipsterdom. Ullens Center for Contemporary Art opened in 2007, while Galleria Continua, Pace Beijing and the Tang Gallery are tried and true galleries. Owned by artist Huang Rui, At Café churns out strong Italian roast coffee, while Timezone 8 is a bookstore stocked with Rizzoli and Taschen titles in English.

duncan, flickr

Bermondsey, London, U.K.

On the far-out South Bank stretch of the Thames, the ancient neighborhood of Bermondsey is giving the hipster-haunted 'hoods of Chiswick and Clerkenwell a run for their money. Bermondsey Square Hotel, a funky Sixties-influenced property that opened in spring 2009, attracts a free-spirited and well-heeled clientele who are partaking in nearby cultural events at Southbank Centre, as well as visiting the internationally acclaimed gallery Tate Modern and the Fashion and Textile Museum. Foodies will love Borough Market -- a favorite of London's top chefs-and newcomers like modern Italian Zucca. Bermondsey Square itself just received a 2009 urban design award for its revamped Antique Market space.
Read Full Story

From Our Partners