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Reader Nominations for Coolest Small Towns

Posted by rodwms on Friday, January 09, 2009 4:56:24 PM
Morro Bay, California is located on the Pacific Coast of California about half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles near Hearst Castle and the Big Sur Coast. It is a working fishing village. Its famous landmark, Morro Rock, was named by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo when he first charted this coast during his 16th Century voyage of discovery. The town is a pleasant tourist destination which has very mild weather all year long. Very few homes have, or is there a need, for air conditioning units. There is no such thing as traffic in Morro Bay, unless, of course, you count birds, sea mammals, and fish. Although small in size, Morro Bay has its fair share of fine restaurants from which to choose. Within a drive of 30 minutes you are in the wine country of Central California, dozens if not hundreds of local wineries. Twelve miles to the South is University of Cal Poly, the Harvard of the West, in the quaint and beautiful city of San Luis Obispo.

Posted by Tquilts on Friday, January 09, 2009 4:08:31 PM
La Veta, Colorado is my favorite small town - just under 1,000 year-round residents. it is located in southern Colorado, far from the trend ski areas, so it has more of a hometown feel with an 'arty' edge to it. There are many artists living in the area, many galleries in town, 2 bakeries, just enough shops, and one grocery store where everyone hangs out. The tall Spanish Peaks loom over the town at the south, and it is close enough to Trinidad and Pueblo for more shopping, if you need it. The Cuchara River runs through town, and thee is great fishing higher up in in several lakes. What a great place to unwind and get away from modern uban life.

Posted by bethbuehler on Friday, January 09, 2009 12:25:37 PM
Crested Butte, Colorado, is definitely one of America's coolest small towns. With a population of 1,600 (about 3,900 including nearby Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte South), the town oozes with authenticity, friendliness and free spirit. Founded in the 1880s, Crested Butte's early history was mining and ranching, with skiing entering the picture in the early 1960s. Much of the town was put on the National Register of Historic Places in the early 1970s, way before it was the cool thing to do. When you think of Aspen (you can hike there from Crested Butte) you think of glitzy; when you think of Crested Butte, you think of real. Since new owners purchased the ski area in 2004, Crested Butte has been regularly showing up on Best Of lists and landing on the radar screen of tourists year-round. The town also rocks in the summer and fall, being designated the "Wildflower Capital of Colorado" in the 1980s by the Colorado Legislature and turning amazing shades of gold in the fall. Crested Butte shares the status of the Birthplace of Mountain Biking with Marian County, California, and is home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, located in the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum. The Crested Butte Center for the Arts and Crested Butte Mountain Theatre, Colorado's oldest continuously operating community theatre group, add to the cultural mix as does a jam-packed calendar of events that includes the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Crested Butte Wild Mushroom Festival, Crested Butte Arts Festival, free outdoor summer concerts, Bayou in the Butte, July 4 celebration, Mardi Gras parade, Flauschink, Vinotok, and much more. The culinary scene keeps residents and tourists very happy with the variety and great taste. Soupcon is a high-end French restaurant in an old miner's shack that holds about 30 with two seatings. Secret Stash is an amazing pizza place that has a great vibe and several tables where you sit on pillows. A couple from New York owns the Stash, so surely it holds up to any New York offering. Go to The Alpineer for great mountain clothes and equipment, and the Oh-Be-Joyful Gallery not only is named after a local hiking trail it has great plein air works by a local husband-wife team and others they have hand-picked. An ArtWalk on the third Thursday of the month tours art lovers around the galleries in town. Pooh's Corner is the place to go when your child has been invited to a birthday party and needs a gift, the owner is a former mayor and state senator and has been in business for more than 30 years. Our local mascots are Bubba and Betty, the polar bears that represent the ski area, Crested Butte Mountain Resort. I don't know how the mascots ski and snowboard (and ride the chairlift) in the big costumes but they do with friendly waves to the kids and adults. One of the weirdest pieces of local folklore dates back to 1976, when the first group of 15 or 20 cyclists from the Butte rode one-speed town bikes over the 12,705-foot Pearl Pass to Aspen in response to a group of Aspenites riding their motorcycles over Pearl Pass and parking them in front of the old Grubstake Saloon (now the Brick Oven) in Crested Butte. The Crested Butte rowdies pulled up in downtown Aspen in front of the historic Hotel Jerome upon arrival. This has become an annual bike ride but is not for the faint-of-heart! There also is the Grand Traverse, a 40-mile backcountry ski race that starts at midnight in Crested Butte and ends in Aspen the next morning. There is no Starbucks in Crested Butte and probably never will be if locals have a say. We prefer supporting locals Al and Wythina Smith and their four Camp 4 Coffee locations in Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte and Crested Butte South. Al roasts his own beans and makes a special-recipe chai, and Camp 4 is easily recognized as all their locations are covered in license plates. Buckaroo Beanery also brews a great cup of java. The Eldo is the place to go for local brew, and they have a great deck that looks over Elk Avenue, which is downtown. The Dogwood is a new spot for a great martini and other unusual adult concoctions and yummy small plates. The school is among the highest rated in the stated, with the countywide district just passing a $55 million bond referendum to expand the school and make other improvements in the district (not an easy feat in 2008!). Our library is in the late 1800s school house right across from town hall, which also occupies an old school building. One more thing that's on the edge about this place, Mayor Alan Bernholtz comes up with the most unusual floats for the 4th of July parade (zip line, mountain biking, skiing through a ring of fire into a tank of water) and has been known to ski through fire during the Mardi Gras parade. Go Crested Butte!

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