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Somewhere between quiet villages and metropolises that never sleep are these perfect up-and-coming American cities. With their revitalized downtowns, they're savvy enough to brew smooth craft beers, land touring Broadway shows, and attract Food Network-caliber chefs. But they'll welcome you with that unpretentious small-town warmth that automatically puts you at ease. Here are 10 terrific little cities, from Chattanooga to Yakima, and plenty of reasons why each one is worth a visit.
What's Hot: The creative economy. There are so many artists, photographers, ad-agency writers and designers, and high-tech creative types in Portland that collectively they're driving change in the city. This influx of young creative professionals has fueled new expansion in the historic Old Port waterfront district, with new shops and restaurants that now stay open year-round. It has also transformed the Bayside district's scrap yards and warehouses into student housing, restaurants, and even a hipster bowling alley.
Why We Love It: Portland has all the trappings of a metropolis—touring Broadway shows, an opera company, two ballet companies, its own symphony, and chefs who regularly turn up on the Food Network—but without any of that pretentious big-city attitude.
If You Go: Don't miss the First Friday Art Walk tour of galleries and studios or the Old Port with historical red-brick buildings and cobblestone streets. In October, sample seafood at the Harvest on the Harbor festival, when the Maine Lobster Chef of the Year is awarded.
Read the Entire Story: America's Best Small Cities on the Rise.