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America’s coolest small towns

As the saying goes, good things come in small packages. That’s certainly the case with the small towns you’ll find across the nation. With their people, their scenery and their attitude toward life, many of them pack more personality than cities triple the size.

In a new Bing Travel slide show, we present Budget Travel’s 2010 rankings of the coolest small towns in America. They range from Brevard, N.C., where a visit could land you in the middle of a townwide square dance, to Bandon, Ore., a food-lover’s paradise, and Nyack, N.Y., a Hudson River Valley Town filled with artistry and antiques.

I’ve always been a fan of Port Townsend, Wash. (pop. 8,925), where the natural beauty and maritime charm keep me coming back year after year. What are your favorite destination-worthy small towns across the country? Share your thoughts in the comments section.



  • Sequim WA. Least amount of rain for Washington State. On the Strait of Juan Defuca, looking across at the lights of Vancouver BC. Nestled against the Olympic Mountains and the Hoh Rain forest. A beutiful John Wayne Marina. Been around the block. this is the safest and most beutiful place to live. Good schools, dungeness crab, lavender capital. Started out as a farming, then retirement community. 4300 Residents, with ferry nearby to seattle and British Columbia. Almost no crime, no gangs. Just nice people.

  • You can't beat Prescott AZ. Four seasons, including just enough winter snow for some snowball fun, a courthouse on the park-like town square with square dancing, folk music or clogging on any summer evening. Lots of small town events, parades, fairs. Natural beauty all around and plenty of recreation. Plus old-fashioned friendliness. They call it "Everybody's Hometown" and now it's mine.

  •  I would have to say one of my all time favorite small towns, by far would have to be Baraboo, WI. I lived there for a year. It has a real town square, with restaurants, bars, state police and city police station, post office, DMV, and a famous restored theater. Its only 45 to 30 minutes from Wisconsin Dells. It is also home to Devils Lake State Park. There are also two ski resorts less than 45 minutes away. Every week in the town square they have a lot of local school bands come and perform. It is also home to the Wringling Bothers Circus museum. The town square also has a cool old time diner, antique shops and art galleries. Oh, and I can't forget the small zoo they have. Once a year they have a fest there called zoo crew days. I forget the name, but once a year they have a rubber duck race, where you buy ducks, and if your numbered duck comes in you win a nice cash prize. Every time I think of Baraboo, Wisconsin I think of Bill Murry in the movie "Groundhog Day". The local people there are just that pleasant. There will always be a fond place in my heart for that town!

  • Fairhope, Alabama.  A charming small town with a lovely southern atmophere with stree cafes, antique shops and art galleries not to mention the waterfront and pier with the regular jamming sessions.  The weather is mild and the roads not too busy with plenty of parking and places to stay

  • Harpers Ferry, WV-a cute little town full of history,quaint shops,pubs/restuarants, brick streets, right on the confluence of the Shennadoah and Potomac rivers. Thomas Jefferson thought it was one of the most beautful places he had ever been and it still is!

  • Rockland, Maine!!

  • Cuero, TX is nice, but we prefer a few others, like Blanco in the Hill Country with its river flowing through a State park developed during the WPA.  And Fredericksburg, with it's German heritage and fantastic restaurants. And so many more.  You could do an article on the 25 top small towns in Texas and have many many left over!  And then there's Blowing Rock, NC...

  • Oops!   I forgot to mention Poulsbo, WA...near the aforementioned Port Townsend, but oh so differently charming.  Do visit the Liberty Bay bakery which faces the harbor.  Fresh everything daily...

  • Lewisburg, WV

    Within an easy drive there are the following:

    Caves, Green Bank Radio Observatory, Snowshoe Resort, Greenbrier Resort, Seneca Rocks...

    In the town:

    Pubs with nightly music, art galleries, antique galleries, Greenbrier Valley Theater Company (punches way above it's weight, usually), fine dining, very fine dining if you can get in at Julian's (durn near invitation only).

    Haven't been for a few years, I presume all are still there.

  • Brunswick, ME....donuts, indie movies, WIld Oats Bakery, gelato and more!!!  Great cycling too!

  • I had the pleasure of living in Missoula, Montana for four months. Located in an ancient lake bottom and surrounded by mountains that show effects of the lake's lapping, Missoula has a superb farmer's market and antique/art bazaar every Saturday during the late summer and early fall, where you can buy wild huckleberries, oysters from the mountains, fresh bread. The entire town turns out and many conversations with friends ensue. Excellent restaurants, and so close to nature you encounter eagles trout fishing (a river runs through it), deer on lawns in early morning walks, and elk coming down into town to feed when the snow gets too deep. You can walk anywhere in town (except the airport) in 30 minutes.

  • you have to throw in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  A taste of the Ozarks!

  • Natchez, Mississippi is a lovely enclave of antibellum mansions and outdoor recreation located on cliff overlooking the mighty Mississippi river.  A short drive from New Orleans, Baton Rouge or Jackson, Mississippi, it is a great place to step back in time.  Stay in a historical bed and breakfast, tour antibellum homes, shop for antiques, bike along the historic Natchez trace, and still have time for dinner at The Castle restaurant.

  • You can't do better than many of the small river towns along the Mississippi River, but my favorite is Nauvoo, IL.

    Once the home of 15,000 Mormons in the 1840s, it has turned into the Williamsburg of the Midwest with dozens of restored homes and several visitor centers. The view is spectacular as it sits in a big bend of the River with a lower flat and a top of the hill "down'town. Historic places to eat and a growing number of places to stay.

    There is even a new Mormon Temple that looks exactly like the one they built 170 years ago.

  • mt. dora, fl, about 40 minutes northwest of orlando.  situated on lake dora, hilly, nundreds of mature hardwoods, small downtown with a city park, antique shops, restaurants, boutiques.  blue ridge, georgia. beautiful little mountain town with shops, restaurants, pubs,, downtown city park, drive in movie, german bakery.

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