By Katie Friel / CultureMap Austin
They say coolness is relative, but Apartment Therapy, which itself is a very cool website about cool design, is taking a shot by naming the 24 Coolest Suburbs in America for 2019. Round Rock, nestled just a few miles north of very cool Austin, is one of three Texas towns to make the list.
In order to determine between a suburb versus, say, just a cool town, the design site focused on areas situated outside major cities with populations between 20,000 to 100,000. Admittedly, however, some of the winners — including Arlington, Texas — break this mold.
Distinguishing between towns and suburbs can be tricky, Whitney Airgood-Obrycki, a senior research analyst at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, tells Apartment Therapy. Ultimately it comes down to three factors. “If there’s high home ownership, high car travel, and single family housing, you can call that a suburb,” she says.
Apartment Therapy also tries to quantify coolness. Writes author Jessica Prois: “We ultimately assessed suburbs for stand-out cultural options like diverse dining options, awesome coffee shops, walkable areas, outdoor recreation, unique boutiques, family-friendly activities, a sense of community, and a lively arts scene. Overall, we were looking for suburbs in which it didn’t feel like you’d be making a ton of sacrifices by moving out of the city.” The site then asked staffers and contributors to vote on the winners.
Lucky for Central Texans, Round Rock made the cool cut. “Round Rock may not be known for keeping it ‘weird’ like that other cool nearby place, but it’s pretty solid,” says Apartment Therapy, who points to the city’s many superlatives — fastest growing, most affordable — as evidence of its cool factor.
Among the stand-out attractions the suburb offers is a burgeoning restaurant industry, solid live music scene, and sports teams like the Round Rock Express. (In fact, Round Rock touts itself as the “Sports Capital of Texas,” which, who knew?) Round Rock’s parks — 37 within the city limits — and hike-and-bike trails are also a big draw.
And as previously mentioned, Arlington was also among the 24 Coolest Suburbs, and also named the most “googled.” Nearby Denton also made the list.
Elsewhere in the U.S., the unranked list also declared Alexandria, Virginia; Pasadena, California; Beaverton, Oregon; and Evanston, Illinois among the coolest suburbs.