Sunday, April 30, 2017

America's Best Social Media Cities - My Own Travels

I have traveled a lot over time for both personal and business reasons and have always been attracted to high-tech socially progressive cities that have a great music scene as well as being a melting pot for entrepreneurs.     My favorite cities have a lot of great business networking, have a positive outlook on life and the economy and access to great scenery.  

I have been to Europe many times but I will reserve this list for my American travels including the US and Canada.    Of course, Boston, my hometown makes the list even if I didn't live here,  Boston is everything a city should be!

So here we go in no particular order, let's travel!


The Emerald City.  The home of Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks!   You want music?  How about Pearl Jam, Soundgarden ad even Macklemore!!  Yes, Seattle is one cool city.   It has a huge entrepreneur scene and is the fastest growing major city in America right now.  The cool thing is now there are direct flights from Boston to Seattle which is a lot better than taking Interstate 90 from Boston to Seattle!  Seattle is socially connected and is as high tech as it gets!  The weather and cost of living is a little shaky in Seattle but after all, you have to sacrifice a little no where you live.   One of my favorites!!

Deep in Heart of Texas Hill Country, I visited the "Live Music Capital of The World" a few years ago for a conference and was amazed at how progressive the city was considering I was in Texas.   The food was amazing and the tech scene was probably the fastest growing in the US with new meetups starting up on a weekly basis.   Austin is the home of Whole Foods, and big footprints for Apple and Facebook.   The weather is great 8 or 9 months out of the year and the scenery is not bad for Texas.   It is one of the few places you will see a pine tree next to a palm tree.   The cons for Austin are the intense summer heat, no pro sports team and growing pains.  

Florida's Magical City is full of surprises.   It is a lot more than Disney and Universal.  There is a huge tech scene here, with networking and mobile application companies such as AirWatch and Juniper Networks.  The business networking scene is booming according to Network After Work and the restaurant scene is the best in Florida (yes, better than the larger Miami to the south).  The great thing about Orlando is that within four hours you can see a sunrise to the east and a sunset to the west in the same day!   Like Austin, the summer can be brutal, but unlike Austin, you can be at a beach in a couple of hours!  Orlando is most popular Florida city when it comes to social media likes and follows!   What a great city!!

I went to Vancouver right before the Olympics and was amazed how it was 55-60 degrees in early January in downtown, yet, you can go a half-hour outside the city and have the best skiing in the world.   I went to Vancouver while working at Nokia and was able to enjoy the great brew pubs, high tech meetups, and probably the best scenery of any city in America.   Vancouver was the most fitness minded city in Canada (probably because it avoids the brutal winters like the rest of Canada).  It is the most expensive city in Canada but worth it.    Everyone should put this city on its bucket list!

Yes, the Music City, the Heart of Tennessee, the Home of the Grand Ol' Opry!   It is the city I have been to the most outside of New England and Florida.  I ran an IT organization in Nashville back in 2008-2009 and was down there every other week for a while.   All I can say is I met some of the most amazing positive professionals anywhere in Nashville.  Of course, the music was amazing.   I was at a club one night and Neil Young just showed up and jammed with this band.   Only in Nashville!  Anyway, health care IT is king here, there are great schools and as a result lots of startup companies.   The restaurant scene is the best in the Mid-South besides New Orleans.   I look forward to another visit to this great city soon!!

I visited the Mile High City a couple of years ago and was amazing at the explosive growth of this amazingly scenic city!   The tech scene and the business networking scene is the fastest growing in the West.  The people are very fit considering it one of the best outdoor cities in the US.  Denver has room to grow so look for it to be a top ten city very soon.   The drawback is that Denver is land locked and the weather is very unpredictable.  The cost of living is expensive but not as bad as the Northeast or California.    Finally, on my bucket list is to see a concert at Red Rocks!

San Francisco!
I remembered going across the Bay Bridge from gritty Oakland into San Francisco and was absolutely blown away how beautiful this city was.  San Francisco is Boston with mountains and palm trees.  It is the king of tech with just about every major tech company based in the metro area alongside San Jose.   The restaurant scene is the best in the West.   I did a power tour of the city the one time I have been there including walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, driving down the zig-zaggy Lombard Street and then hanging on the street corner of Haight & Ashbury, the home of the Grateful Dead.     The city is the most expensive place to live on this list but it is worth it!

Last but not least, is the fastest growing city on the East Coast. Raleigh.  The home of the Research Triangle, Duke, UNC and NC State!   It is progressive with tech companies like Red Hat and SAS headquartered here.   Raleigh is only two hours from some of the most scenic coastline and three hours from the mountains.  It is great spot and it probably has the best weather if you still like to experience the four seasons.  What I liked about Raleigh is the greenery.   There is a lot of open spaces and trees even though you are in a major metropolitan area.   The company I am in business with, Market America, is based in neighboring Greensboro, so Raleigh is a place I will frequenting a lot.   The only drawback is that Raleigh doesn't have the excitement of a Nashville, Boston or Seattle, but it is a great place to call home!!

There you have it, my favorite American cities list.   Yes, I have been to others like Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Chicago, DC, Phoenix and Philly, but these cities did not have the great combination of tech, networking and scenery that the top cities have, in my opinion.   Happy travels!!


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