Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Some people say America’s “small towns” are a dead concept, that mum-and-pop stores are a thing of the past, and that quintessential neighbourhood relationships aren’t built for the 21st century.Map publisher Rand McNally and USA TODAY are rebutting that notion. They partnered up to compile a list of the best small towns in America, asking people to vote on factors including friendliness, food, and beauty.
So if you’re in a mood for a trip, and New York, LA, and Chicago aren’t quite your style …
Closest major highway: U.S. 80
Tybee Island, located on Georgia's coast right near the South Carolina border, is known for its relaxing, laid back atmosphere, great seafood, and breathtaking views -- 272 of its 499 votes were awarded in the 'Most Beautiful' category.
The island has centuries-old historical monuments, notably the Battery Garland of Fort Screven -- which was used in the Seminole War (which is also known as the Florida War).
Closest major highway: Interstate 476
Just a couple hours away from New York City and Philadelphia lies Jim Thorpe, ranked number nine. A stunning 442 of its 510 votes came in the 'Most Beautiful' category. Many come to take in the sights provided by Flagstaff Mountain and the Lehigh Valley, and use the beautiful setting to enjoy outdoor activities and sports.
Closest major highway: U.S. 82
Aptly named, Cloudcroft sits 9,000 feet above sea level, and boasts great winter sports for visitors. It's charming, fun, and quaint. The Lodge Resort, a local treasure, offers plenty of activities, and the town even has its own Opera company. Like Jim Thorpe and Tybee Island, Cloudcroft's ranking is due to its beauty -- it received 405 'Most Beautiful' votes.
Closest major highway: Interstate 35
Burnsville received 580 votes for 'Best Food,' coming in second overall in that category. It's got some pretty diverse cuisine -- the survey recommends going to the Cruise Café for Mediterranean, Burger Jones for a good burger, and Chianti for fine Italian dining.
Plus, it's pretty close to Minneapolis and St. Paul, in case you want to take in the sights and enjoy everything the Twin Cities have to offer.
Closest major highway: Highway 89A and Interstate 17
Sedona, known for its beautiful desert and magnificent sunsets, ranked third of the 'Most Beautiful' towns. It's known for its quintessential desert and southwestern activities, like horseback riding, golf, tennis, rock climbing, off-roading, and fishing. The annual arts festival draws artists from all around the country.
Closest major highway: Interstate 190
Lewiston, which is just across the border from Canada, topped the rankings in the 'Best Food' category, receiving 802 votes in that category alone. The city houses remnants of the War of 1812 and the Underground Railroad if you're a history buff, and is quite close to Niagara falls if you want to have a beautiful picnic.
The Annual Wine and Culinary Festival in July is quite the draw for foodies, as is the Harvest Fest in September.
Closest major highway: U.S. 94 and U.S. 641
Murray was ranked the second-friendliest town in the country by Rand McNally and USA TODAY. It's home to Murray State University, so it's got a college-town feel -- the central park has even has a disc golf course. The annual Freedom Fest, held for four days at the end of June, attracts people from all over for its street fairs, cookouts, concerts and a parade.
Closest major highway: Martha Layne Collins Blue Grass Parkway, Highway 31E
Bardstown has so much going for it it's hard to capture it all here. It came in second in 'Most Beautiful' towns and was ranked the fourth-most friendly. It's filled with charming bed-and-breakfasts and quite the Civil War museum.
Oh, and did we mention it's the Bourbon capital of the world? Bardstown is home to the Jim Beam and Maker's Mark factories, along with a handful of small Bourbon distilleries as well. The annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival is held in September in Bardstown.
Closest major highway: U.S. 150 and Kentucky 33
Although Danville came in second overall, it was ranked the most beautiful town in all of America in 2012.
But Danville is home to a rich history too -- it's where the state's constitution was signed, where the first state-funded School for the Deaf was founded is home to the and first black home school in the county.
Closest major highway: Interstate 35
And the winner is Denton, Texas! Denton placed first overall in a dominant fashion: it also was voted the friendliest town, the most fun town, the fourth-best town for food, and the ninth-most patriotic town in the country.
Denton has a trendy yet diverse arts and live music scene, a handful of colleges -- University of North Texas, Texas Women's University, and North Central Texas College -- and some impressive local horse farms where visitors can tour and ride.
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