Best Small Towns to Live In: 2013

Bigger isn't always better -- some people prefer the charm of a small town.

Bigger isn’t always better — some people prefer the charm of a small town.

A small town can hold surprising treasures for its residents.

According to CNNMoney, these superb small towns represent peak living opportunities in places that make everyday life grand.

Take a look at their recent picks for 2013, plus our cool apartment options in these hoppin’ hamlets.

Continue reading

Best Cities for the Hipster Set

Let your authentic eccentricity flag fly! Check out these hipster-friendly towns.

Let your authentic eccentricity flag fly! Check out these hipster-friendly towns.

Are you wearing a flannel shirt, skinny jeans, a vintage tee, a mustache or vintage eyewear?

Find your perfect apartment now!

Consider your calendar: do you have plans to hear an indie band play live, attend an art gallery opening, or meet up with your closest friends for craft pints at a gastropub?

If you answered yes to at least 3 of these, then, my friend, you are very likely a participant in the hipster phenomenon.

If you don’t already live in one of the cities cited by Travel and Leisure that best serve the hipster set, then you might want to scope out an apartment in one of these hip places where the welcome mat is rolled out to the authentic and eccentric!

Continue reading

Top 10 Cities for College Grads: Post-Graduation Moving Trends (Infographic)

Click the image to view the full infographic.

Click the image to view the full infographic.

More than 70 percent of graduates are planning on moving to a new city once they say goodbye to their college campus and hello to corporate America.

Nearly half of all students are most concerned about finding an apartment in the “right” neighborhood after graduation.

Click on the infographic for more interesting insights into what post-grads want most in their next place.

Continue reading

The Healthiest Cities in the United States

dc farmers market watermarked

What are the healthiest cities in America? Some of the top ranking ones might surprise you.

Each year, the American College of Sports Medicine creates the American Fitness Index, a list of the healthiest cities in the U.S. based on diet and exercise habits, recreational opportunities and the prevalence of certain diseases.

Following is a collection of some of the highest-ranking metros in the country.

Continue reading

Hippest Neighborhoods in the United States

Check out a few of the hippest neighborhoods in the United States, according to Forbes Magazine.

Check out a few of the hippest neighborhoods in the United States, according to Forbes Magazine.

Forbes has ranked the hippest neighborhoods in the United States. By looking at key factors like which neighborhoods are home to people with artistic jobs, a large concentration of farmers’ markets and food trucks, and high walkability scores, the magazine’s research turned up some of the most interesting spots to hang out in the country.

The top three they found, in order, are:
Silver Lake in Los Angeles, Calif.
• The Mission District in San Francisco, Calif.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Start your apartment search today!

But what about the other hip hangouts from the twenty places featured?

Here are five of our faves.

#5 Pearl District, Portland, Ore.
Portland, Ore., has always enjoyed a hipster vibe, but over the years, the Pearl District has transitioned from abandoned warehouses to a quadrant packed with coffeehouses, restaurants, hotels, art galleries and studios. It’s walking distance to the Portland Farmer’s Market and is home to some of the most colorful places to spend time with friends. Hip hangouts include bustling brewpubs like BridgePort Brewpub, Deschutes Brewery & Public House and Rogue Ales Distillery & Public House.

#10 Warehouse District, New Orleans, La.
The Warehouse District is the newest place to see and be seen in New Orleans, La. This industrial area near the river is where famous chef Emeril Lagasse opened his first restaurant. The ‘hood continues to get hipper with unique Southern eateries like Cochon and spots like Spun Cafe at the Contemporary Arts Center. Plus, if you get tired of Zydeco music, you can head to the Howlin’ Wolf and rock out to some hardcore hipster bands.

#12 North Loop, Minneapolis, Minn.
Again, this former warehouse district (see a pattern here?) can now be called the coolest neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minn. Plus, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The North Loop warehouses have been converted to apartments, restaurants and boutiques, but this hip hangout also boasts some great outdoor space. The James I. Rice Parkway runs along the river with great bike trails that wind through the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway.

#14 Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, Pa.
Philadelphia has its fair share of hip neighborhoods, but Northern Liberties was the only one that made the list of the hippest in the United States. Impressive! NoLibs got one of the highest walkability scores, and it’s central to some serious nightlife. The Piazza at Schmidts always has something going on, be it music, shopping, or sports. Plus, the neighborhood hosts festivals and events nearly every week. Once you’ve had your fill of outdoor entertainment, roll on over to North Bowl and grab a lane with your pals.

#15 Hampden, Baltimore, Md.
If you live in Baltimore and are trying to find the “scene” in your city, head to the Hampden neighborhood. This kitschy, cool spot was made famous by inspiring the settings of several John Waters films. It’s the kind of place where everyone calls you “hon” — so much so, they even started their own Honfest. Imagine beehive hairdos, cat’s eye glasses and Baltimore’s Best Hon Pageant. Super hip.

There you have it, a sampling of just a few of the hippest neighborhoods in the United States.

For the full list of twenty hip hangouts, check out the Forbes magazine article online.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / CREATISTA

Sample Local Beers at These Brew Pubs in Portland

Oregon is a state that loves its beer. In fact, there are currently 120 brewing companies operating 153 brewing facilities throughout the state, and beer connoisseurs from across the world pay homage to this magical brew at the Oregon Brewers Festival, the largest collective of independent craft brewers in the United States. Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world at 51, and countless brew pubs where you can sample the region’s finest. We’ve rounded up our favorite brew pubs in the City of Roses, so pull up a well-worn bar stool and wash down great grub with the best local brews at these establishments.

Horse Brass Pub

This authentic, British-style neighborhood watering hole in Southeast Portland is a local favorite for its 29 years in business and its more than 50 beers on tap. You’ll find traditional British offerings like fish and chips, bangers and mash and kidney pie. And while there are a great number of Portland beers offered here, the Horse Brass Pub is perfect for spending a chilly Thursday evening sampling local beers from Oregon breweries that don’t have brew pubs in Portland.

Where: 4534 Southeast Belmont St., 97215

Tugboat Brewing Company

Housed in an antique watch repair shop, the Tugboat Brewing Company is a delightfully unassuming, small yet unique microbrewery. Tucked away on a side street in downtown, Tugboat has a comfortable, worn in atmosphere, with bookshelves stacked to the ceiling and oil paintings hung on the walls. The pub features a rotating variety of beers on tap, including Extra Special Bitter, an IPA, Cask Stout and Hop Red.

Where: 711 SW Ankeny St., Portland, OR 97205

Kennedy School

Owned by Mike and Brian McMenamin, two brew pub pioneering brothers who own nearly 20 properties in Portland, the Kennedy School is a restored 1915 elementary school that has been converted into a hotel, a brew pub, a theater and a concert space. The Concordia Brewery is found here, housed in a former girls’ locker room. Wood-burning stoves create a nice ambiance, and the scholastic décor touches really make the brew pub stand out, like the nonsmoking Honors Bar and the smoking Detention Bar.

Where: 5736 NE 33rd Ave., Portland, OR 97215

Gasthaus Pub

The official brew pub for the Widmer Brothers Brewing Company, the Gasthaus is tucked away in a chic industrial center on the east bank of the Willamette River. Widmer is best known for its Hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer, but the pub has nearly a dozen beers on tap, ranging from Drop Top Amber, Widberry and seasonal selections. Round out the experience by noshing on elevated pub fare like local sausage fondue, smoked blue cheese-spinach dip and classic burgers .

Where: 929 North Russell St., Portland, OR 97227

BridgePort BrewPub

One of the most famous craft breweries in the United States, BridgePort is famous for its India Pale Ale, which has won a number of awards in the United States and internationally. Its stellar brew pub is housed in the brewery itself, a former rope factory in Portland’s trendy Pearl district. The menu is fresh and inventive, with offerings like the roasted citrus pork sandwich, freshly baked pretzels and vegan three bean chili, and the expansive wrap around patio is perfect on a warm summer day.

Where: 1313 NW Marshall St., Portland, OR 97209

Photo credit: iStockphoto/stu99

Top 10 Roadside Attractions in the United States

If you’ve ever done a road trip, you know that one of the best parts is the quirky, cheesy and always unexpected tourist attractions you might come across. From giant statues to unique houses, here is our list of the top 10 roadside attractions in the United States.

Henry’s Ra66it Ranch

If you’ve been traveling the long and lonely road along Route 66 and are in need of some companionship, stop by Henry’s Ra66it Ranch. Just look for the signs exclaiming “Hare It Is!” Owned by Rich and Linda Henry, the pair of Route 66 enthusiasts opened this cuddly roadside attraction after noticing the lack of official Route 66 visitor’s centers. As for the rabbits, well, the old adage rings true, as the couple’s daughter got a pair of rabbits and didn’t anticipate the resulting population boom. In any case, these days the ranch holds hundreds of rabbits, as well as a fiberglass jackrabbit that’s perfect for photo-opps and a graveyard complete with tiny tombstones for the ranch’s former residents.

Where: 1107 Historic Old Route 66, Staunton, IL 62088

Blue Whale

Driving along Route 66, you’re bound to come by a number of strange sights. This one in Catoosa, Okla., a grinning Blue Whale measuring 80 feet long, was built in the 1970s as an anniversary gift from one man to his wife. The large, refurbished statue sits in a pond dotted by picnic tables, where weary travelers can stop and enjoy a picnic before hitting the road.

Where: Route 66, Catoosa, OK 74015

Carhenge

If you can’t afford a trip across the pond to see the actual Stonehenge, this wacky roadside attraction in the Cornhusker State might just do. Set on a 10-acre plot in Alliance, Neb., Carhenge was created by artist Jim Reinders in 1987 as an arrangement of 38 automobiles painted slate gray and placed in a formation that recalls the famous ruin in England. The cheeky attraction was placed at number two on TripAdvisor’s list of the wackiest attractions in America in 2009.

Where: Alliance, NE

The Oregon Vortex

Off the scenic I-5 highway in Oregon sits one of the weirdest attractions in the country. Open to the public since 1930, this nondescript shack in the woods is claimed to be a whirlpool of force. Round items appear to roll uphill instead of down, objects in the room seem to defy gravity, hanging at abnormal angles and visitors shrink and grow with every step. Paranormal activity, or just an optical illusion?  You be the judge.

Where: 4303 Left Fork Sardine Creek Road, Gold Hill, OR 97525

Dinosaur Kingdom Park

Often described as Jurassic Park meets the Civil War, Dinosaur Kingdom Park is the alternative history project of artist Mark Cline, who tells the story of a group of Union soldiers who discover a lost valley of dinosaurs in Virginia through his fiberglass creations. Hint: the story doesn’t end well.

Where: 4942 S. Lee Highway, Natural Bridge, VA 24578

Hole N” The Rock

Utah resident Albert Christensen wasn’t content to build just any home; he hand-carved the house of his dreams out of a natural sandstone cliff face in the 1940s and called it Hole N” The Rock. Taking 12 years to complete, what exists now is a 5,000-square-foot home with 14 furnished rooms, packed full of antique tools, quirky knick-knacks and Christensen’s bizarre taxidermy collection. There’s even an exotic petting zoo on the grounds.

Where: 11037 S. Highway 191, Moab, UT 84532

Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue

Located not far from Route 65 outside Jimmy Carter’s hometown of Plains, Ga., this monument to the 39th President of the United States has much loftier origins. First built in 1976 by members of the Indiana Democratic Party to commemorate Carter’s journey through the state, the 13-foot-tall grinning peanut pays homage to his early career as a peanut farmer. A reckless driver crashed into the statue in 2000, but it has since been restored to its former glory.

Where: Highway 45 N., Plains, GA 31780

Jolly Green Giant

At the midpoint of I-90 in Minnesota, the 55-foot Jolly Green Giant welcomes visitors to Blue Earth. This statue commemorates the town’s link to the Green Giant Company, which got its start here and was formerly called the Blue Earth Canning Company. Once you grow tired of craning your neck upward, there’s a comfortable park surrounding the statue where you can take a load off and relax in the shade and grassy space, as well as a rest area.

Where: 1130 Giant Dr., Blue Earth, MN 56013

Paper House

Chances are you’ve never seen anything like the Paper House. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a house made entirely of paper. In 1922, engineer Ellis F. Stenman began work on a summer home using newspapers as insulation when he had the bright idea to make the entire house out of paper, holding it together with glue and covering it with heavy layers of varnish to protect it from the elements. The framework of the house and floor are made of wood, and the roof is shingled. He eventually even made paper furniture for the house. Now, his great-niece operates the house as a tourist attraction.

Where: 52 Pigeon Hill St., Rockport, MA 01966

The Thing

If you’re driving along Arizona’s desert I-10 highway, you’ll see billboards asking you “What is The Thing?” If unanswered questions haunt you in your sleep, pull off exit 322 to check out this site, one of the cheesiest roadside attractions in the United States. Although it probably doesn’t live up to the hype, the good thing is that it will only cost you a dollar to walk through a freaky door, follow the yellow footprints on the floor and reveal the Mystery of the Desert.

Where: 2631 N. Johnson Road, Dragoon, AZ

Photo credit: iStockphoto/tbd

Best Green Establishments in Portland

Portland’s transportation system isn’t the only thing that makes this city green and eco-friendly.

As the most populous city in Oregon, Portland is nicknamed the “Rose City” because of its ideal climate and lush, green beauty. Portland is also known as one of the most environmentally friendly, green cities in the world because of its extensive public transportation networks, efficient use of land and businesses committed to sustainable practices. If you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest or if you already live in this gem in a city, read on to the best green establishments in Portland.

Accommodation: Heathman Hotel

Built in the late 1920s, the Heathman Hotel is a beautiful, historic hotel that also happens to be one of the greenest businesses in Portland. In 2007, the hotel was recognized by PacifiCorp for its sustainability practices, including installing updated windows, ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems and replacing all light bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescents. Additionally, hotel guests can choose to purchase a Go Green package, which includes luxury deluxe accommodations in a green room and transportation in a green-friendly or hybrid vehicle. For every package sold, the hotel plants a tree with the help of Portland nonprofit Friends of Trees.

Where: 1001 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205

Organization: Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a nonprofit organization based in Portland that works to maximize energy efficiency in the Pacific Northwest by creating energy-efficient products, services and practices. Since 1997, the organization and its partners, which includes over 100 Northwest utilities and other organizations, have saved enough energy to power over 500,000 homes throughout this area of the country each year.

Where: 421 SW Sixth Ave., Suite 600 Portland, OR 97204

Restaurant: Bamboo Sushi

Portland is essentially a haven for green and eco-friendly bars and restaurants, but what makes Bamboo Sushi unique is that it is the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. Every fish that the restaurant serves comes from populations that are plentiful and in good health, and the fishermen who catch the sustainable fish do so in an environmentally ethical manner. Meats must come from local ranches in Oregon or Idaho and be grass fed, hormone free and free range. With this commitment to the ingredients, you’d think that Bamboo Sushi would be wildly overpriced, but prices are extremely reasonable for the quality and attention to detail you’ll receive at a meal here.

Where: 310 SE 28th Ave., Portland, OR 97214

Brewery: Hopworks Urban Brewery

Hopworks Urban Brewery is one of Oregon’s greenest and most sustainable brewpubs. The brew kettle and the brewery truck run on biodiesel made from the restaurant’s used oil from the deep fryers, wasted heat from the pizza ovens is redirected and warms brewing water, the landscaping is irrigated and the runoff is caught from the roof and saved in a 5,000 gallon rain barrel and the reflected roof increases the air conditioner’s efficiency by providing a cooler environment. Even the building is sustainable, made from recycled materials and using energy efficient equipment. Beer is made by using organic barley malt, and all the food available in the brewpub is organic.

Where: 2944 SE Powell Blvd., Portland, OR 97202

Retail: Wal-Mart

It may surprise you that Wal-Mart is on our list of the top green businesses in Portland, but this big box store is making waves on the green scene in the Pacific Northwest with the construction of a new 90,000-square-foot store in North Portland that will be home to the largest green roof in the entire state of Oregon. The massive roof, which will measure 40,600 square feet, will be vegetated with wildlife-attracting habitats that will also serve to reduce stormwater runoff. Other green features of the store include recycled construction materials, LED lighting in the parking areas, recycled flooring and an HVAC system that recycles heat. The store is slated to open in the fall of 2013.

Where: North Hayden Meadows Drive, Portland, OR 97217

Photo credit: iStockphoto/thinair28

Get Fresh Vegetables on Your Table from Portland’s Farmers Markets

Get the freshest produce straight from the source at Portland’s farmers markets.

If you haven’t tried shopping at your local farmers market yet, you’re missing out. Not only are you getting the freshest produce when shopping at farmers markets, but you are also supporting your community and local economy. Today, farmers markets are popping up all over the place, from year-round markets to seasonal popup markets. The same goes for Portland; there is no shortage of farmers markets. Thinking about going green? Here’s your opportunity to try with our list of Portland’s farmers markets.

Portland Farmers Market
A favorite among Portland residents, this farmers market has been operating since 1992. The Portland Farmers Market operates six markets around Portland, which means it provides connections to more than 250 vendors from the Pacific Northwest. These vendors include farms, nurseries, bakeries, meat and seafood provides, cheese makers and specialty food producers. Not only will you get the best produce in the area, you’ll also experience local bands, which play while you shop. Additionally, sign your kids up for the Kids Cook at the Market classes.
Where: Portland State University, 1717 SW Park Ave., Portland, 97201. For more locations, visit http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/index.php/markets.

Hollywood Farmers Market
Open year-round, Hollywood Farmers Market’s purpose is to build community, enhance education, create partnership and focus on sustainability. They take pride in the quality of the selection at Hollywood Farmers Market, and the organizers believe that their number-one obligation is to be mindful of the market’s integrity, sustainability and prosperity. The selection at the market is diverse, and it includes a mix of fresh produce, artisan cheeses, wine and flowers. If you want your four-legged friend to join you, Hollywood Farmers Market offers “dog hours” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily.
Where: Northeast Hancock & Northeast 44th Avenue, Portland, OR 97213

Hillsdale Farmers Market
Located in the Hillsdale neighborhood, this farmers market is open on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. year-round. One of the main reasons to visit this Portland market is because it’s not as crowded as other markets in the area, and there is a variety of vendors. Whether you’re looking for vegetables, fresh bread, fruit, smoked salmon or even honey, Hillsdale will probably have it.
Where: Rieke Elementary Parking Lot, 1407 SW Vermont, Portland, OR 97255

Moreland Farmers Market
Part of the neighborhood since 2006, Moreland Farmers Market makes sure its mission of providing locally grown fresh produce, nursery stock, cut flowers, cheese, meat, fish, honey, baked goods and specialty items is fulfilled. Their goal at Moreland is to get the community to get together and socialize during market events, which include music tastings, chef demos and booths for local nonprofits. If your children are joining you at the market, Moreland hosts a variety of free kids’ activities throughout the season, including crafts, face painting and balloon animals. And if Fido is hungry for fresh produce, feel free to bring him to Moreland, as they encourage you to bring your well-behaved dogs to the market.
Where: Southeast Bybee Boulevard & Southeast 14th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/upheaval

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at the Best Doughnut Places Nationwide

Celebrate National Doughnut Month at one of the best doughnut places nationwide.

A culinary medium lending itself to unique combinations, outrageous toppings and crazy shapes, the doughnut is one of the most versatile foods around. The Dutch are largely credited with inventing doughnuts in the 19th century, but you don’t have to travel to Europe to try this treat, as some of the best fried rings can be found stateside (and no, we’re not talking about Krispy Kreme). Since the month of October is National Doughnut Month, you’ll want to go ahead and start planning ahead with our list of the best doughnut places nationwide. After all, who can resist the siren call of a hot, freshly made doughnut glistening with glaze?

Sublime Doughnuts

Recently named America’s Best Bakery by Bake magazine, Sublime Doughnuts is located in an unassuming strip mall in the Atlanta neighborhood of West Midtown, just a stone’s throw from the campus of Georgia Tech. You may not think you’re in the right place, as the sign above this famed bakery merely says “Donut,” but once you see the crowd of people lined up for one of these signature treats, you’ll know you’ve made it. Chef Kamal Grant churns out favorites like the Orange Dream Star, the Chocolate Wild Berry Fritter and the Fresh Strawberry ‘N Cream. If you go on a Saturday, make sure to pick up the Maple Bacon Cheddar, a sweet and salty creation which is only available on that day.

Where: 535 Tenth St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318

Voodoo Doughnuts

You’ve never had a doughnut like a Voodoo doughnut. Featuring crazy flavor combinations and fresh ingredients, Voodoo Doughnuts is undoubtedly a Portland institution. People from all over flock to this funky, offbeat shop for the Bacon Maple Bar, featuring sweet and sticky maple icing topped with smoky, crispy bacon. Other favorites include the Captain My Captain, a vanilla icing doughnut topped with Captain Crunch cereal, and Grape Ape, a soft, fluffy yeast doughnut glazed with vanilla icing and dusted with grape powder and lavender sprinkles. But you can’t visit Voodoo without ordering its namesake doughnut, a chocolate glazed yeast doughnut shaped like a voodoo doll, filled with raspberry jam and stabbed with a pretzel stick.

Where: 22 S.W. 3rd Ave., Portland, OR 97204

Top Pot Doughnuts

Some of the best doughnuts in the Pacific Northwest can be found at Top Pot Doughnuts. Its two-story flagship location in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood is almost as beautiful as the hot pastry creations themselves. You won’t find any majorly crazy combinations or toppings here, because at Top Pot, simplicity is king. Instead, their old-fashioned cake doughnuts, crullers and fritters come in flavors like chocolate-peanut and Valley Girl lemon, but they’re anything but boring.

Where: 2124 5th Ave., Seattle, WA 98121

The Doughnut Plant

Mark Israel, owner of The Doughnut Plant, comes from a long line of bakers and doughnut makers, so it was only appropriate that he open up one of the best doughnut places in the nation. Located in the Lower East Side near Chinatown, The Doughnut Plant continues to come up with innovative options, like the jelly-filled signature square doughnuts, the crème brulee and the sesame seed doughnut. One of the newest additions is a glazed oatmeal cake doughnut, sprinkled with dried fruit bits, oats and seeds, but whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed a delicious, homemade treat.

Where: 379 Grand St., New York, NY 10002

Randy’s Donuts

Los Angeles is chock full of doughnut shops on just about every corner, but Randy’s Doughnuts is a legendary stop located near the Los Angeles International Airport. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the huge doughnut atop the building, a landmark that dates back to 1952 and plays a cameo in the movie Iron Man 2. The buttermilk and crumb raised doughnut is a must-try, as is the size-of-your-face apple fritter, featuring chunks of sweet apple-cinnamon filling and a delectable glaze.

Where: 805 West Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90301

Photo credit: iStockphoto/miflippo