10 great neighborhoods you've never heard of

Window-shopping for neighborhoods is fun. Here are some of the coolest around the country.

By Marilyn Lewis Apr 24, 2013 5:53AM

If you like window shopping for real estate, you probably also love window shopping for great neighborhoods. The Internet is your enabler in this, letting you search for maps, restaurants, playgrounds, schools and that indefinable something that makes you long to live in a place.


USA Today and USA Today Travel's 10Best came up with 10 supercool neighborhoods around the country where, I don't know about you, but I'd just love to live.


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The paper doesn't rank them from good to great, so you've just got to assume they're all intriguing. In no particular order, here's a handful of them:


Boston: The Seaport District

This revitalized, formerly "rotten" industrial part of Beantown has been a priority of Mayor Tom Menino, says this Boston Magazine profile of Seaport. It became a favorite dining destination for Bostonians when the $6 million Liberty Wharf development opened in spring 2011, bringing more and varied eateries. "With an easy highway off-ramp and plenty of parking, suburbanites were suddenly able to come in for a high-end dinner on the harbor," the magazine says.

Nashville, Tenn.: East Nashville

East Nashville has an indie identity, as you can see from a visit to the Historic East Nashville Merchants Association. The business directory offers a capsule look at the district, from a body-waxing salon to a whole-foods market, from a neighborhood charity to an indoor advertising company called Graffiti. USA Today calls East Nashville "a breath of fresh alternative air" compared with the crowds in downtown.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: Cobble Hill

A tree grew there (in Brooklyn, that is -- here's a YouTube clip from the 1945 Elia Kazan movie of Betty Smith's classic novel) and now French cafes, wine shops, small grocers and boutiques sprout amid Brooklyn's famous brownstones. A major Cobble Hill destination, says USA Today, is "96-year-old Staubitz Market, one of New York's oldest and most respected butcher shops." How New York is that?


Seattle: Ballard

Seattle is a city composed of many neighborhoods. Some, like Ballard, function just like little towns. In fact, Ballard was its own city for 18 years after its founding in 1889. The waterfront village was built around lumber and shingle mills. It grew into the home port for a large fleet of commercial fishermen, many of them Scandinavian immigrants. Today, this quaint neighborhood is a hipster paradise, with the usual shops and eateries and far more than its share of clubs that add up to a hopping nightlife.


Chicago: Wicker Park

Jamie Bartosch of 10Best calls Wicker Park Chicago's trendiest neighborhood. Why, you ask? Residents tend to work in creative fields, Bartosch says, so they're out and about at all hours of the night and day. "Countless coffee shops, food trucks and a farmers market vie with inventive eateries for dining dollars."


For the remaining five coolest neighborhoods, check USA Today's story, 10 best neighborhoods that tourists haven't found yet.



Sep 30, 2013 8:59AM
Any neighborhood without blacks or mexicans is a good neighborhood.
Sep 15, 2013 3:56AM
Grew up in McLeansboro, Illinois, so I know what you mean about Carmi. 
May 8, 2013 2:33AM
I am so surprised to see the comment from the readers who know the areas do not agree with the writer. 

May 4, 2013 10:02AM
Wicker Park is a garbage dump for poor twenty-something suburban transplants who think it's cool living in the city.   Yeah, it's really cool when you're paying guys like me 3K for rent in a building that was once a toilet for the homeless.  Now, the homeless pee outside of it only.
May 4, 2013 9:27AM
Boston's Seaport District? You've got to be kidding. You have a convention center, the Westin, Marriott, and Seaport Hotels, and something called the World Trade Center - a trade show venue. It's a long, tortured walk to anywhere, including the few Silver Line transit stops and there's not a single solitary private residence, nor any building more than five years old - and no single family homes at all - it's an iron curtain of shoddily designed and constructed high-rise Soviet-style apartment/condo buildings. Your your neighbors could be from Anytown, USA (meaning they're not from Boston or Massachusetts - we know better and there are too many nicer better places to live) and the builings have nothing at all, whatsoever, in any possible way, shape, or form in common with Boston's architectural gems. There's now one convenience store. There are no supermarkets, banks, dry cleaners, or any other retail business that isn't a restaurant.. Planes land and take off at Logan International until 1 or 2 am and start up at 5 in the morning (about 1 mile across the harbor) and you're right under the approach path most days. There's a cruise terminal, too, so every Saturday or Sunday (and the occasional weekday) the place is overrun with arriving and departing passengers.

Even the policing is weird: because it was a "redevelopment district" it's under the control of the State Police, not the City of Boston. Nasty, every last one of 'em, - the regular rules don't apply.  

It's empty after 5 pm when people who work there leave. There aren't as many as many as before, but there're still huge swaths of undeveloped land used as giant parking lots, and it's going to be a construction site (so they can build more shoddy apartments and office buildings) for the next 15-20 years.

No one in their right mind would live there (nor does - it's all transients housed there for a work project) and to call it "A Great Neighborhood" is to misunderstand both the words "Great" and "Neighborhood." It is neither and never likely to be unless your idea of amenities is a Federal Courthouse, Boston's contemporary art museum, and some mediocre fish restaurants.

This article, on the basis of including this "neighborhood" alone, is a candidate for the worst article ever on MSN. 
May 4, 2013 9:16AM

These aren't exactly neighborhoods that no one has ever heard of.  Seattle's Ballard is a mess of new construction getting rid of everything that used to make the neighborhood great. 

May 4, 2013 7:55AM
The minute neighorhoods make lists like these they immediately start not being quite as quaint, charming or authentic anymore. Thanks, MSN.
May 4, 2013 7:54AM
One time I lived behind a McDonald's in East LA...it was pretty nice.  Sometimes I would play with myself and eat chicken nuggets, just staring at people as they pulled in the drive thru.  Ahh, those were the days!!!
May 4, 2013 7:18AM
I don't know... When I moved to Ballard in 1987 as a 25 year old, it was an old neighborhood of small bungalows and traditional Scandanavian shops.  If you told someone you lived there, they would laugh. I loved it because it was quiet and safe, and close to the University and downtown. I got married and moved to my husband's neighborhood. After I moved it began to change.  A lot of the bungalows have been snapped up, others have been razed to make room for higher-density condos.  The "downtown" part that always made Ballard- "Ballard" to me, is all high-rise shops and apartments or condos-so may of the quaint shops are gone.  What is there now isn't quaint in the same way at all.  It's just a totally different place now.  I guess it's the cool place to be from now.  No one would laugh at me anymore...but, then, what did the Eagle's song say?  "Call someplace paradise/ kiss it Good-bye".  Check it out if you visit Seattle.  You just won't see me there. 
May 4, 2013 6:17AM
If you are looking for 1. corrupt judges, sheriff, and cops that cover up their murders and their friends murders 2. cheap houses with high taxes  3. horrible schools  4. 19th century mentality  5. few jobs, all with low, pay except civil service  5. too-faced, back stabbing people trying to take every nickle from others; then come to carmi, illinois.  When the nation took a crap it landed in Carmi.
May 4, 2013 6:02AM
Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Awesome downtown with unique shops, small restaurants and even 3 breweries/brewpubs.
May 4, 2013 5:47AM
Highlands, North Carolina is one of the coziest little towns in America. It has wonderful little stores to visit  and shop. They have very nice cafes and/or bed and breakfasts. Highlands is nestled in the beautiful hills of western NC. A must getaway for anyone wanting out of the "huslte and bustle".
May 4, 2013 5:11AM
OK, tell us where the best neighborhoods are so everyone can move there and screw them up! How about this idea instead, what can you do to make YOUR neighborhood a BETTER neighborhood? And what exactly makes a neighborhood a "Good" neighborhood?
May 4, 2013 4:58AM

well if the object was to get me excited then stomp on my dreams this article takes the cake. 


AUTHOR: "Hey I have these 10 great things you will love to see and hear about!"


READER: "Oh really? You've got my attention."


AUTHOR: "Great! That's all I wanted. Now I'll just waste your time with these crappy excerpts of only half of the towns I baited you with and give you no images to go along with my lack of description, so you have no possibility of mental imagery."


READER: "Well gee, thanks."

May 4, 2013 4:44AM
"Ten great neighborhoods.........."
And then they only talk about 5,  and no pix?  This article needs work.
Plus most of the 'great undiscovered hip',  chic,  funky neighborhoods are a lot like living on Main Street Disneyland.  Everybody has a holier-than-thou attitude as if the place bestows upon its residents and extra topping of cool.  But they are still just people,  and it's still just a place.

May 4, 2013 3:23AM
If your in to gossip, people talking behind each others back and having others back stab you, then Tryon, NC is a great place to live.
Apr 24, 2013 11:37AM
Plastic places.....make believe......nothing's for real....looks like something.....like the old movie cow-boy towns....behind the facade.....the desert.....jejejejejeje
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