America's Coolest Small Towns, Circa 2009

Owego, N.Y. CBS

In a country where bigger is usually considered better, more than 100,000 small town residents have voted to have theirs crowned the "Coolest Small Town in America."

The poll was conducted by Budget Travel magazine, whose editor in chief, Nina Willdorf, revealed You have to be able to get a good cup of coffee
  • When people leave for the big city, they realize they've made a mistake and come back home
  • You'll see more art galleries than country stores. "This is not quaint America," Willdorf remarked to co-anchor Harry Smith." "This is cool America!" Smith quipped. In order, the top ten in the poll were:1) Owego, N.Y. (NOT Oswego, N.Y.)2) Rockland, Maine 3) Grinnell, Iowa 4) Vevay, Ind.5) Huntingdon, Pa. 6) Onancock, Va.7) Jim Thorpe, Pa. 8) Mineral Point, Wis. 9) Silverton, Ore. 10) Port Royal, S.C.Some details on them:1. Owego, N.Y. (24,692 votes) (NOT to be confused with Oswego, N.Y.The scene in Owego looks like it's straight off a postcard: a mix of quaint streets, local pride, and outdoor beauty of the Finger Lakes.Located: About 200 miles northwest of NYC in New York's Finger Lake regionPopulation: 3,794This spring, Owego revealed a new River Walk, a revamped waterfront area, with new storefronts and amenities along the Susquehanna River.This is the kind of place where people don't lock their doors; it's authentic America. Historic buildings are being repurposed in cool ways; the former county jail has been transformed into a restaurant where you can have a pulled pork sandwich in what used to be a cell-block. I mean, what's more fun than that? 2. Rockland, Maine (23,261 votes)This quintessential Northeastern harbor town has experienced a sort of renaissance in the past decade.Located: About 40 miles from the Augusta, the capital, on Rockland Harbor in mid-coast MainePopulation: Nearly 8,000The Strand Theater, one of the few remaining one-screen theaters in the country, shows indie films, documentaries, and classic movies.3. Grinnell, Iowa (9,233)An eclectic small town that blends the charm of a rural community with the quirkiness of a college town.Located: About 55 miles from the capital, Des Moines.Population: 9,205Known for its historic architecture, especially the Jewel Box Bank designed by Louis Sullivan, who was Frank Lloyd Wright's mentor. 4. Vevay, Ind. (7,947)The quintessential Midwestern one-stoplight town.There's literally only one stoplight in this one-mile-long hometown.Located: On the Indiana side of the Ohio River, Vevay sits almost exactly between Louisville and CincinnatiPopulation: 1,622They're big on wine here, and every weekend before Labor Day, Vevay hosts the Swiss Wine Festival, where visitors can taste over 100 local wines, take riverboat cruises, and try their skills at the Midwest Championship Grape Stomping Competition.5. Huntingdon, Pa. (5,926)A diverse college town set in the midst of the Appalachian Mountains.Located: Central Pennsylvania, about 200 miles west of Philadelphia and 124 miles east of PittsburghPopulation: 6,198Juniata College hosts a series of performances from top musicians in classical and folk music. Baker Peace Chapel, a granite circle that sits atop a secluded hill, which was designed by artist and architect Maya Lin. That's some pretty serious architecture for such a small town!6. Onancock, Va. (5,805 votes)An old-school fishing village with remarkable views of the Eastern Shore from the surrounding water.Located: About 181 miles from Washington, D.C. and 161 miles from Richmond.Population: 1,406This is a town best seen from the water. The most prominent historic landmark at the wharf, the Hopkins and Bro. Store, dates to 1842, and was the point of exit for farm goods leaving the shore. Today it's THE place to eat on the waterfront. The guitar-playing chef Johnny Mo serves up crab cakes and original music.7. Jim Thorpe, Pa. (3,920 votes)An old mining town along the Lehigh River, Jim Thorpe sits below two mountains ranges that are considered some of the top mountain-biking terrain in the US.Located: At the base of the Pisgah and Flagstaff Mountains in eastern Pennsylvania, just 80 miles north of PhiladelphiaPopulation: 4,878A growing number of artists from New York and Philadelphia-ranging from silversmiths, ceramicists, painters, and photographers, are opening galleries downtown, which have extended hours the second Saturday of each month.8. Mineral Point, Wis. (3,142 votes)A rural English village filled with 19th century stone cottages surrounded by Wisconsin's rolling hills dotted with farmsLocated: Southwest Wisconsin, 50 miles over from MadisonPopulation: 2,538There's a growing artist community; you can find organic greens!9. Silverton, Ore. (3,142)An artsy, liberal town, that's perfect for nature lovers (It's the gateway to Oregon's largest state park, and it's home to the Oregon Gardens, an 80-acre botanical park).Located: About 45 miles South of PortlandPopulation: 9,433Silverton's also been dubbed the Mural City. Visitors can pick up a walking map of downtown to tour the 14 mural, including one by Norman Rockwell.10. Port Royal, S.C. (2,256 votes)Located: Between the Beaufort River and Battery Creek, in South Carolina's low country, 72 miles down shore from Charleston.Population: 4,766Quintessential Southern charm that the locals really embrace.
    For more on all ten, and a dozen more, to boot, clickhere
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    To vote for your town in the next Budget Travel poll, click here.
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