Reader Nominations for Coolest Small Towns Budget Travel Monday, Feb 9, 2009, 2:24 PM Budget Travel LLC, 2016


Reader Nominations for Coolest Small Towns

Posted by Cazana on Thursday, January 15, 2009 6:21:12 PM
Del Mar, California is an awesome little piece of paradise. It's an historic beach town with only a few thousand residents nestled between the Del Mar Racetrack and the scenic Torrey Pines State Reserve north of San Diego. The wide sandy beach stretches the length of the town with access on every block and surfers lining the many desired breaks. The Powerhouse Park is a popular grassy knoll along the beach where the cliff subsides and the train slows downs and passes by the kids waving from the playground. A block away is the downtown, just a few stop signs along the old Highway 101 but it is full of hip clothing shops, intimate restaurants and one of a kind finds like an independent bookstore and the Dinosaur Gallery filled with expensive fossils for sale. Jake's is the staple restaurant perched right on the beach, and the main plaza has the impressive Epazote restaurant with an outdoor bar providing sweeping views of the ocean. Summer means horse racing season in Del Mar and it is still the place to see and be seen with A-list bands rocking the stage for free every Friday. After a fun night on the town it's hard to sleep in. The perfect weather draws everyone out for a walk along the seaside cliffs or dog friendly beach to one of the four cafes. With a top bioscience industry and an oceanography institute and a university nearby, the population is becoming an interesting mix of surfers and the international who's who of science. The slow surfer pace of the town is therapeutic with happy people just enjoying everyday that they get to live in paradise.

Posted by jdrinne on Thursday, January 15, 2009 12:38:37 PM
Dubois Wyoming is the greatest small town! It has a homey western atmosphere, and the people are great. There are many small unique shops and cafes to enjoy, along with the National Bigh Horn Sheep Center and a GREAT museum. In the summer there is hiking and fishing and sight seeing, and the snowmobiling in the winter is the most sought after in the west. For a town of less than 1000, Dubois offers many things to experience. --Kathy

Posted by BurnhamInk on Thursday, January 15, 2009 12:35:38 PM
It's 10 am on a Saturday, and the Liar's Bench at Onancock Wharf is full. The four older gentlemen on the bench have spun a few fishing yarns in their time. From their perch, they watch boat trailers back down the ramp and kayakers in red life vests preparing to launch into Onancock Creek, which leads for miles out to the Chesapeake Bay. Boat slips and a deepwater anchorage are filled with sailboats and cruisers from as far as Nova Scotia and Florida. Local folklore holds that Capt. John Smith came up this very creek in 1608, and a revolutionary war hero is buried downtown, though nobody's sure exactly where! Though small, Onancock (pronounced "o-NAN-cock" by locals), population just 1,500, has much to attract visitors. Eclectic eateries range from Eastern European to local seafood, with a couple of wine and gourmet shops. There are several Victorian B&Bs and a boutique hotel to lay your head. You can peek inside art galleries to see local artists at work, and locally-owned shops offer intriguing, one-of-a-kind treasures for home, garden, gifts and clothing. There's not a chain store in sight in this truly authentic town, where the family-owned pharmacy is located in the oldest bank building on the Eastern Shore, and the hardware store sells nails, local produce, fresh seafood, and muskrat (in season) by the pound. There's usually a running game of Crazy Eights going on in back. The retro movie theater shows first-run films and an international film series, while the playhouse stages first-rate theater throughout the year. Onancock is 'green'-- all the lodgings are Virginia Green certified, and there's recycling at the wharf—and 'pet-friendly,' with waste bag dispensers around town, decals in the windows of shops that welcome furry friends, and a monthly Yappy Hour during the Second Friday Art Stroll. Annual events include a hometown Ice Cream Social and Band Concert in the town square, Harborfest in the fall, and a Christmas Homes Tour. What strikes most visitors about Onancock is the friendliness: there's no vying for parking spaces, and folks nod in greeting. Grab an ice cream cone and take the historic downtown walking tour that includes a half dozen churches and the Ker Place Historic House. You'll soon be on a first-name basis with shop owners and artists, a mix of "born-heres" and "come-heres" in this charming waterfront village. Visit for more info

Get Inspired with more from

Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Budget Travel Real Deals

  • From $1,078

See more deals »


Our newsletter delivers vacation inspiration straight to your inbox.

Check Prices