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Riverside Is A Cooler City Than L.A., According To Forbes

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Mission Inn in downtown Riverside (Photo by Shawn Park via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Well, this is unexpected: Forbes released their list of the top 20 coolest cities in America, and Riverside made it to number 8. And L.A.—well, we tied with San Jose in 16th place.

Eight Golden State cities made the cut (including Santa Ana in 20th place), beating out the East Coast in being cool. Washington, D.C. snagged first place.

This might make you wonder what constitutes cool in the eyes of Forbes, who partnered with BestPlaces to rank the 60 largest metropolitan areas.

It's not hard to see how Riverside made the cut when you look at some of criteria. They looked at areas with large young adult populations aged 20 to 34, growth in population since 2000 and cities with an "ethnically and culturally diverse population." That describes Riverside to a "T."

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They also tallied up the number of entertainment options per capita in the area. (And by entertainment, they're talking about professional and college sports events, golf courses, zoos, theater performances and national parks.) They also studied the "foodie" culture of the cities, favoring more mom-and-pop shops than your average chain restaurants, and also farmers markets and breweries.

Riverside is a big college town that boasts Joshua Tree National Park and Riverside County Philharmonic. Riverside's population jumped up 30.5 percent from 2000 to 2013, and growing populations typically show that an area is considered desirable, according to the Press Enterprise.

Another thing that made Riverside cool? Well, being so close to (dare we say it) much cooler places like Los Angeles, San Diego (which clocked in at #6) and Orange County. That's called the "halo effect."

"The ranking was a surprise to me," Forbes reporter Erin Carlyle said. "Riverside, I'm sorry to say, is considered cool primarily by the proximity it has to so many attractions it shares with Los Angeles and San Diego."

However, there were folks who defended Riverside's ranking. Beth Baumann told the Press-Enterprise: "Riverside is close enough to all the action of bigger cities, like L.A., (San Diego) and the beaches. But it's also far enough away that it's not as hectic or crazy as those bigger places. Plus, we have the Mission Inn and Festival of Lights."