The abandoned factories of the Midwestern Rust Belt sat empty for decades until, in recent years, creatives types moved in. They’ve opened stylish new restaurants, shops, and art venues that have jump-started flatlining neighborhoods. You know when an area first heats up but isn’t overrun yet? That moment is now. Go before it has passed.
1. Drink Up Cincinnati’s Beer
In its heydey, Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood was home to 17 breweries, most of which specialized in clean, easy-drinking suds. Then, three years ago, Rhinegeist opened, and more offbeat stuff entered the equation. Try these two, which you can sample on one of the brewery’s tours: Truth, an unconventionally fruity IPA with a lean, gritty, dry finish, and Peach Dodo, a sour ale with a twist ending—hints of peach. —William Bostwick
2. Eat Acclaimed Pintxos—In Pittsburgh
This city has long been known for pierogis, but Morcilla, which opened in December and quickly snagged a James Beard nomination, has put it on the map for Spanish cuisine. Chef and butcher Justin Severino sources aged jamón ibérico from Spain, rolls maple pork cheek croquettes, and smokes coriander-caramel ribs in Lawrenceville, a happening part of town. After dinner, wander the area’s countless bars for live music. —A.R.
3. Bask in Buffalo’s Music Heaven
So just what has singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco been up to since the ’90s? For one, converting a Gothic revival church into Asbury Hall, a music venue, in her native Buffalo, New York. Wooed by the building’s acoustics, stained glass windows, and other period details, she pulled together $10 million to overhaul it. And the space still feels sacred, especially when it hosts angelic voices like those of Sufjan Stevens and St. Vincent. —Lynn Freehill-Maye
4. Buy Something Besides a Car in Detroit
There’s so many more shiny toys besides automobiles being made in the Michigan city. Take Shinola, for example, which helped employ 372 people after the auto industry crisis. The 5-year-old company has expanded beyond watches and bicycles to handsome leather goods. For the home, you can stop by conjoined stores City Bird and Nest, which feature a mix of eclectic goods: ceramic coasters, garden gnomes, and mirrored glass terrariums from local artists. And then there's Kerosene, a fragrance house that uses unexpected notes such as green tea, smoked vanilla, and peppered flowers. Scents are mixed by a mechanic who loves the smell of diesel. —A.R.