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Reader Nominations for Coolest Small Towns

Posted by goober on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 10:12:47 AM
Blowing Rock NC! The Town of Blowing Rock is a unique, year-round mountain destination in North Carolina's High Country known as the Crown of the Blue Ridge. At 4,000 feet in elevation, it sits astride the Eastern Continental Divide, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and from the top of Blowing Rock (yes, there IS one) there are commanding views of layer upon layer of gorgeous mountain scenery. Blowing Rock features four distinct seasons: It's a festival of wild blooms in the spring, cool in the summer, dazzling with color in the fall and a Currier and Ives portrait in the winter. Activities such as hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, mountain and road cycling, rock climbing, fishing and hunting are close at hand, along with skiing in the winter. Blowing Rock has been welcoming visitors since the 1880s. Reminiscent of a small New England village, it has a population of just 1500 that grows to nearly 8000 during the summer and fall months. It's unique as a tourist destination, with virtually no chain hotels, fast-food places or strip malls. Lodging and dining venues are locally owned and operated, many in historic buildings constructed with local natural materials. Accommodations for overnight guests are diverse; visitors can choose from among a variety of small inns, rustic cabins and bed & breakfasts, along with the famous Chetola Resort. The well-known Westglow Spa is nearby. At the turn of the last century, Annie Oakley used to come to Blowing Rock and teach rifle lessons at the Yonahlossee Camp for girls. Blowing Rock's sophisticated small-town atmosphere inspired bestselling author and former resident Jan Karon to pen her famed Mitford series and inspired thousands of Southern Living readers to vote it a Readers' Choice Award for Favorite Mountain Getaway and Favorite Small Town. Within easy Parkway driving distance is Grandfather Mountain, a spectacular, privately owned biosphere reserve with a mile-high swinging bridge, wildlife habitats and incredible views. (grandfather.com) Also close by at Tweetsie Railroad, Linville Caverns, Mystery Hill and Boone. On a mountain overlooking the Town and surrounding area is the Mariam and Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center, a 26,000 square foot state of the art facility. The Center is home to the Blowing Rock Stage Company ~ which has produced traditional as well as original theatrical presentations for 23 years ~ and a variety of touring performances and a classic film series. The Performing Arts Center is a facility typically found in America's larger cities, and it offers function space that is available for weddings, corporate meetings and almost any kind of event. (brcac.org) Events enliven and enhance the visitor's experience throughout the year, starting with the long-running Saturday Art in the Park, May through October. Now in its 47th year, the renowned Art in the Park series features the works of 100 juried artisans in watercolor, oil painting, fiber, metal, wood, basketry, glass, clay, jewelry, photography and more. Blowing Rock is also well known for its fine art galleries, most of which are within a few blocks of each other.

Posted by jennevoy on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 10:05:11 AM
North Beach, MD - Beautiful and quaint town on the Chesapeake Bay. North Beach offers a beautiful boardwalk and beach along the bay. Neighbordhoods are walker friendly and charming shops are plentiful. Local restaurants offer great seafood selections year round. One in particular is Neptunes Seafood Pub, the Cheers of North Beach, where everyone knows your name and offers great seafood, atmosphere and drinks. North Beach is 30 minutes from Washington DC and is home to young military personnel and Washingtonians looking for a break from the big city. North Beach offers a farmers market every weekend during the summer as well as outdoor concerts and an annual festival.

Posted by shannonerickson on Monday, January 19, 2009 7:38:42 AM
Port Royal, South Carolina Lovely small town with an eclectic flair! Wonderful restaurant choices housed in converted warehouses to old school buildings. Old & new blend together to make this safe, inviting community a really happening place. Home to true walking neighborhoods, you can get to the beach or to a backyard oyster roast. The mix of residents ranges from folks who've lived their whole lives in the same house to those who are here for a 3 year military assignment. What used to be a state port site is up for sale (multi-use development) with a complimentary shrimping dock - the only publicly owned one on the southeastern coast- and an incredible seafood restaurant adjacent to the property. Located beside beautiful Beaufort, SC, the Town of Port Royal is a gem in the crown that makes this area of the lowcountry a truly remarkable place to be! (There is even a story book written by a young local about the travels of a landmark sea buoy that broke free of it's mooring!)

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