This year's 15 contenders -- which stretch from upstate New York to Hawaii -- have a few things in common: populations under 10,000, beautiful locales, thriving downtowns, outstanding community spirit, and a noteworthy food, wine, art, or music scene.
As someone who swore never to look back and romanticize my formative years in Small Town, USA, I have fallen into the tired cliché of seeing those days as bright beacons, standing in stark contrast to the dark road of uncertainty lying at my feet now.
I'm not black. I'm Asian American. But late at night, in a certain slant of light, I'm just a spook, a boogey man, a creep. I could see how a wary homeowner in hunting country could over-react to a stranger at the door.
For some of these towns, the holiday is an excuse to party, with pub crawls, pumpkin beer on tap and late-night shows. Others take a more low-key, kid-friendly approach, hosting costume competitions for pets or autumn festivals with corn mazes and apple-wine tastings.
America hasn't cornered the market on Coolest Small Towns! Sure, we love London and Paris as much as the next traveler. Over the years, some of the most charming, delicious, historic, and cool places in Europe are off-the-beaten-path villages. Good things really do come in small packages.
A glorious hush falls over the country's favorite beach towns in autumn. Crowds disappear and locals exhale. Here are 10 iconic U.S. beach towns where you can pedal along quiet boardwalks, kayak among fall colors, and score excellent post-Labor Day deals.
Life on a very small campus, I've often said, is akin to living in Mayberry. If I don't show up for a home soccer game or I go an entire week without eating dinner in Kilburn Commons, students notice -- as they should.
My first tenure track gig was in one of those ideal little burgs in the Midwest where suburban kids go to study in splendid isolation. It is a postage stamp of nine thousand souls, voted as one of the "prettiest painted towns."