Two North Carolina towns rank high on list of ‘coolest towns in America’


Downtown Hillsborough (Photo by Caroline Culler via Wikipedia)

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Ever heard of Grand Marais, Minnesota?

Located on the north shore of Lake Superior along the border of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Grand Marais is Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town in America for 2015.

Winner of the travel magazine’s 10th annual award, Grand Marais typifies the small American town that is both hip and humble, the magazine says. The population must be less than 10,000 people for winning towns.

“Budget Travel defines a ‘cool’ small town as one with an energetic vibe, often blending community spirit with a vibrant arts scene, unique local history and gorgeous scenery,” Editor in Chief Robert Firpo-Cappiello said in a statement.

“With a population of only 1,351, Grand Marais is a great example of that something extra small towns often have — in this case, a very happening outdoors scene right alongside music and contemporary art.”

High temperatures in Grand Marais right now are hovering in the 30s and 40s but are bound to warm up.

After Budget Travel readers nominated 385 small towns across the country last year, the magazine’s editors picked 15 great spots they thought fit the bill of cool small towns.

The public had the final say: The magazine’s website collected 103,961 votes in five weeks, with voting closing on March 4. While not entirely immune to robo-voting, editors tried to prevent it by allowing just one vote per 24 hours per IP address.

Previous winners include Berlin, Maryland; Lititz, Pennsylvania; Hammondsport, New York, and Beaufort, North Carolina (a tie in 2012); Lewisburg, West Virginia; Ely, Minnesota; and Owego, New York.

Top 10 Coolest Small Towns in America 2015

1. Grand Marais, Minnesota (population: 1,351)

2. Chincoteague, Virginia (population: 2,941)

3. Hillsborough, North Carolina (population: 6,087)

4. Allegan, Wisconsin (population: 4,998)

5. Washington, North Carolina (population: 9,744)

6. Delhi, New York (population: 3,087)

7. Fort Myers Beach, Florida (population: 6,277)

8. Huron, Ohio (population: 7,149)

9. Snohomish, Washington (population: 9,098)

10. Old Orchard Beach, Maine (population: 8,624)

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