America’s Cities with the Strangest People

- December 1, 2011

“Travel + Leisure magazine ranks Santa Fe No. 2…”

In the December issue of Travel + Leisure, writer Katrina Brown Hunt measures the weirdness factor of American cities and ranks Santa Fe 2nd behind New Orleans in this category. In the article she asks the question: “Are they hippies, weirdos, or just cooler than the rest of us?”

Actually it was Travel + Leisure readers who voted on this subject, evaluating 35 major cities in travel-related categories for the magazine’s annual America’s Favorite Cities survey, and the inclusion of an offbeat category highlights how much travelers appreciate a little eccentricity in their getaways.

Portland, Ore. easily made the top five cities for America’s strangest people. Brown Hunt goes on to state that “Portland has earned a reputation for quirkiness: independent shops, locally produced cuisine, and – how to be diplomatic? – offbeat locals. You can see it in how they dress, perhaps, or through their love of bicycles, eco-conscious living, and craft beers.”

“How did voters define offbeat? For some cities, it likely reflects a long tradition of flamboyance and colorful people watching – found in No. 1-ranked New Orleans. Other top 20 cities, such as Santa Fe and Providence, RI, have vibrant arts communities, ranking well in the survey for galleries, theater and live music.”  Brown Hunt also thinks that the quirkiness of interesting locals in every community is “learned, rather than being an innate quality, and that some locals are striving for just that kind of compliment. After all, strangeness isn’t just something in the water – or even the locally-brewed beer.”

This is how Brown Hunt speaks of No. 2 Santa Fe: “This longtime magnet for artists has an earthy, funky atmosphere, seen up close in the Plaza or along Canyon Road. Shop around a while, and you’ll start to blend in: Santa Fe ranks first for independent boutiques. Locals may be offbeat, but they aren’t off-putting; the city ranks highly for being friendly.”

For my part I have often described Santa Fe as a place where you don’t know whether it is Halloween or not – and I like it that way. And, talk about weird; how about a woman named Katrina writing about New Orleans as a travel destination? Now, that’s weird.