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Reader Nominations for Coolest Small Towns

Posted by skagitmarketing on Monday, February 02, 2009 3:00:51 PM
La Conner, Washington. We have a population of 860. We have no stoplights, no franchises, no speeds over 25. However, we have 3 museums and 21 art galleries and happen to be where the cascade mountains, the skagit valley, the river delta, and the puget sound collide into a kaleidoscope of blow you away nature. Life Magazine did an article about the great northwest masters hanging out here in the 50's and 60's. Their spirit still remains. We have the only Northwest Regional museum, an outdoor sculpture walk and any day you are strolling along you can view a handful of incredible artists at work (including the eccentric neon mike)....along with a couple of amazing pioneers in the organic farming business, tugboat captains, fresh crab and shrimp being pulled out of the waters by our local fishermen, and award winning chefs delivering organic plates of art with 95% zero waste policy. To Answer Your Questions: 1. Is there a restaurant that's so amazing it could survive in New York? Nell Thorn would thrive in NY! 2. Where do locals shop for unique clothing, furniture, art, or gifts? Mary Davis Lighting if you are into restored antique lighting, Childhood Bliss for one of the best children's boutique experiences in the USA, Earthenworks for arts and crafts, The Museum of NW retail store for art and gifts, Nasty Jacks for antique furniture, Organic Matters, and Cottons for great women's clothing & shoes. 3. Is there a local mascot? of course, the wild turkeys that roam down 1st street 4. What's the weirdest piece of local folklore? let's see...well we are not suppose to talk about it but there is a place called fishtown where there are still artists living in shacks on the river and painting. Also...you could consider author Tom Robbins kind of weird...in a good way :-) 5. Anything else that qualifies as "cool" (i.e. organic coffee shops, wine bars, a hotel in a renovated barn or warehouse)? our own la conner microbrewery, our own coffee roasting company, an art-coop, and a wine tasting bar on the water. also, a famous sculptor artist purchased the old quarry and built an amazing home, guest house, outdoor sculpture garden ... named At The Quarry. So unchain your brain, think outside of the box, and let your right brain go wild. come check out la conner.

Posted by lck111 on Monday, February 02, 2009 2:21:00 PM
Apalachicola, Florida is by far the coolest small town in Florida, and I would argue, the country. Located on the panhandle of Florida, Apalachicola has only 2,237 residents and boasts only 2 traffic lights. Diversity abounds in this small community. It is an historic jewel nestled along a very overdeveloped Gulf Coast. Character, authenticity and timelessness permeate the air. The original town plan, developed in the 1830s, remains in tact. It features wide tree lined streets, rows of brick and granite cotton warehouses, a working waterfront and a charming commercial center. Ship's stores, old net factories and a sponge warehouse now house a mix of eclectic and discretely sophisticated shops, restaurants and galleries. These locally owned and operated businesses create a quaint and friendly atmosphere for visitors as well as local residents. Far from a typical "tourists town", the waterfront is dotted with shrimp boats and other fishing vessels proudly showing the patina of years of service. The business district is interwoven with oyster houses, shrimp packing plants and an original icehouse. The Apalachicola Bay is the source of 90% of the oysters served in Florida, and 10% served nationally. Restaurants are nationally noted for using locally harvested seafood, produce and tupelo honey. Restaurants are a source of great delight, as there are quite a few that could survive in NYC. Touted as "one of the best small food towns" in the October 2006's Saveur magazine, Apalachicola is known for its freshly prepared local seafood and variety of great restaurants. Tamara's Floridita Café fuses the flavors of Venezuela with the fresh produce and seafood in Apalachicola. The Owl Caf? Boss Oyster, Caroline's on the River and Papa Joe's are but a few examples of the excellent restaurants that prepare locally harvested foods with a fine-tuned simplicity that is designed to delight even the most sophisticated palates. In the morning head over to Caf&3233; Con Leche a local coffee shop that offers a great hot breakfast, homemade pastries and a spectacular cup of Joe! Apalachicola also offers great entertainment throughout the year. From the annual Florida Seafood Festival, which shows off our local "mascot" the oyster, to the annual Art Walk in April and Pleinaire Painting weekends that take place every spring. One favorite entertainment spot is the Dixie Theater, located on the downtown square. Built in 1912, the Dixie Theatre became the entertainment center of the county. There are 15 shops and galleries that occupy historic structures in town that include Avenue E Antiques and Interiors and Blue Beach and Home, both noted by publications like Southern Living and Coastal Living. The Grady Market is a particularly interesting shopping destination as it offers a little something for everyone — baby clothes, children's toys, apparel for men and women, home d?cor and antiques. It is also housed in the historic Grady Building, which was built in the 1880s as a ship chandlery and with the French Consulate situated on the second floor. Today, that French Consulate has been transformed into four luxury vacation rental suites that overlook the Apalachicola River. With over 900 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places, heritage tourism is the strongest growing segment of Apalachicola's economy. Overnight accommodations can be found in 8 historic locations. A centerpiece for the town is the Gibson Inn, operated as a hotel since 1907. Its ornate, richly paneled bar and lobby have changed little as they celebrate their 100th anniversary. Finally, nature itself is the centerpiece of this wonderful town. Whether you are sitting in a restaurant overlooking the Apalachicola Bay or driving over the bridge into Apalachicola, the pristine marshlands dotting the coast line and the magnificent birds and wildlife are a form of artwork that can be watched with wonder. There are no high-rise condos, commercial developments or traffic jams in this cool little town. There are only cool people and places — places that transport you back in time when Florida was known for its slow, sweet, Southern charm.

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