American's Best Small Towns


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by Michael Alan Connelly and Abbey Chase

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Nothing embodies classic Americana quite like small towns. For the second year in a row, we've compiled a list that highlights some of the best places in the country you don't hear about every day. This year, we've focused on destinations with populations under 30,000 that have a vibrancy of their own and year-round appeal. Our list is made up of detour-worthy towns all over the U.S. that have strong cultural offerings or great outdoor adventures, in addition to standout dining and lodging options. For your next small-town getaway, head to any of these 10 remarkable spots.

Though it's home to the largest population on our list, Ashland is hardly lacking in small-town charm: Picture twisting hillside streets lined with Victorian homes, a town center with a stream running through it, and a gorgeous 93-acre park. Best known as the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which attracts more than 100,000 theatergoers annually, Ashland has year-round appeal thanks to its outdoor activities, cultural offerings, and growing status as a culinary destination. If Shakespeare's not your thing, check out the Schneider Museum of Art, which showcases local artists as well as notables such as Alexander Calder and George Inness. In warmer weather, there are great options for biking, fishing, and whitewater rafting; in winter, the 23 trails at Mt. Ashland Ski Area get more than 280 inches of snow every season. While in town, make a reservation for dinner at locally celebrated Amuse, which serves French cuisine driven by local, seasonal ingredients.