Every year, map publisher Rand McNally sets off to find the best small towns in the country. For its 2013 contest, the publisher sought winners in categories including most beautiful, most fun, most patriotic, friendliest, and best food.
Citizens were encouraged to vote for their hometowns, and a panel of judges narrowed the finalists down to 30. The judges picked the winners from nearly 1,200 nominees — towns with populations of 150,000 or less.
According to Rand McNally, these are the five best small towns in America.
Most Beautiful: Jefferson City, Mo.
Jefferson City is located on the northern edge of the Ozark Plateau, with views of the Missouri River. It’s dominated by a domed Capitol building, and has a main street that’s popular with visitors and locals.
Runners-up: Punta Gorda, Fla.; Quincy, Ill.; Arvada, Colo.; and Cloudcroft, N.M.
Most Fun: Corning, NY
Corning is located in New York’s Finger Lakes region, near dozens of wineries. Nicknamed “Crystal City,” it’s home to glassmaker Corning Inc. and the Corning Museum of Glass. Corning also hosts a number of festivals and has a vibrant restaurant scene.
Runners-up: Jim Thorpe, Pa.; Lombard, Ill.; Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio; and Nocona, Texas
Most Patriotic: Gallup, NM
Gallup is steeped in both military and Native American history. During WWII, Gallup refused to let the town’s Japanese citizens be sent to internment camps, and its Navajo Code Talkers were an invaluable resource. Gallup also has aVeterans Memorial Plaza and strong commitment to helping veterans returning from war.
Runners-up: Mandan, N.D.; Enterprise, Ala.; Fairborn, Ohio; and Jonesborough, Tenn.
Friendliest: Kewanee, Ill.
Kewanee is a factory and agriculture town. It has many parks and is known for its annual Labour Day “Hog Days” festival. In 2013, it also hosted the 20th annual Walldogs Meet, where painters from around the globe came and painted 15 murals around the city.
Runners-up: Macon, Ga.; Bradenton, Fla.; Murray, Ky.; Koekuk, Iowa
Best for Food: San Mateo, Calif.
Located between San Francisco and San Jose, San Mateo started as an agricultural community and has a huge array of cuisine for a town of 97,000. Its 350 restaurants serveAsian, Middle Eastern, Latin, European, and Classic American, among other cuisines, and it hosts several annual food festivals and farmers’ markets.
Runners-up: Walla Walla, Wash.; Roseville, Minn.; Galesburg, Ill.; and Charlottesville, Va.
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