Budget Travel's Coolest Small Town Results 2012? It’s a Tie!

By Budget Travel
October 3, 2012
Courtesy Budget Travel

In this season of elections and campaigns in politics, Hollywood, American Idol–land, and beyond, the closest contest of all may well have been Budget Travel magazine’s 7th "Coolest Small Towns." It was so close, in fact, that we have declared a tie between Beaufort, N.C, and Hammondsport, N.Y.

Hammondsport and Beaufort had been locked in fierce battle for much of the month-long vote, seesawing back and forth for the top spot. In the final hours of online voting, toward midnight of Jan. 31, the traffic was so intense that it crashed the Budget Travel website. The site had been programmed to cut off voting at the stroke of midnight and declare a winner, and at precisely 12 a.m. it did—picking Beaufort, which was technically ahead by a few votes at that time. However, since voters in several parts of the country had been locked out due to the site crash, Budget Travel editors decided it was impossible to determine which town would have won had all things been equal for all voters. "We have to declare a tie," said Lisa Schneider, the general manager for digital products. "It’s the only thing that’s fair under these circumstances."

In the end, more than 360,000 votes were cast, with Beaufort and Hammondsport receiving 36.2 and 36.0 percent of the vote respectively. Third place went to Weaverville, Calif., with 13.0 percent. The contest is open to towns with populations under 10,000. Last year’s winner was Lewisburg, W.Va.

This year’s nail-biter was helped in no small part by the rising influence of social media networking as a virtual get–out–the–vote tool. The BT Coolest Small Towns page earned over 70,000 likes on Facebook and was Tweeted more than 3,300 times (including a Tweet by best-selling novelist Nicholas Sparks that said: "Everyone please vote Beaufort, NC! If it wins I will giveaway a few signed novels!" Sparks lives in New Bern, N.C.). On Facebook, readers and fans from all over the country banded together, proclaiming their love and support for their favorite small towns, sharing videos of their towns, and even dedicating their Facebook profile pictures to the cause (we're talking to you, Kim Price, Erin Cassidy, and Morgen McLaughlin).

Mindful of the bragging rights—not to mention the potential marketing payoff—officials in several of the nominated towns campaigned tirelessly for their home bases. Local mayors gave repeated newspaper interviews. "There were 647 towns that were nominated and we made the top ten!" said Beaufort mayor Richard Stanley. New York State Senator Thomas F. O'Mara released a statement in support of Hammondsport, the only town in New York that made the top ten.

Local media in all the top–10 towns joined in the chorus, sometimes gently, sometimes not. "No offense to the current leader, Hammondsport, N.Y., but Weaverville has a charm all its own and certainly deserves the notice," read an editorial in the Record Searchlight newspaper in Redding, Calif.

But mostly, the towns were just grateful for the attention, no matter how the race finished. "It's an honor to be recognized in the top 10," said Jerome, Ariz. Mayor Jay Kinsella. Jerome finished in 8th place, with almost 5,600 votes—not bad for a town with only 378 residents.

—Marc Peyser and Kaeli Conforti


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5 Travel Shows You’ve Never Seen—But Should!

Anthony Bourdain is hardly a newcomer to the travel scene—his No Reservations food travelogue has been a television mainstay for over half a decade—so it’s no surprise to see his latest jaunt, The Layover, getting lots of media coverage. Bourdain’s program will see him seeking out new people, cultures and (of course) foods within the small window of time afforded him by airport layovers in Asia, Europe and the United States. The annals of television travel programs contain a number of icons, of which Bourdain is only one example. There’s Michael Palin, the Monty Python alumnus who has traveled the world in a number of television shows and books; David Attenborough, the naturalist filmmaker whose gravelly British accent should be instantly familiar to fans of the BBC’s Blue Planet and Human Planet; and a collection of contemporary pop-travel shows from The Amazing Race to Wild On! But these popular examples are only one side of the travel genre. What of the obscure, the low budget, the un–syndicated? Away from the big names and networks, there are travel treasures to be found for every category of viewer. For the Road Warrior: Forget those cross–country family roadtrips to the Hoover Dam: how about two–wheeling across the entire globe? Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did just that for their 2004 motorbike travelogue, Long Way Round, which took them 20,000 miles from London eastward to New York. Their trip spanned a huge range of environs, from the traffic gridlock of Rome to Mongolian deserts and Russian marshland along the fabled Road of Bones. The trip of a lifetime? Nope—in 2007 the two linked up again for another monster bike ride, this one the “Long Way Down” from the northern tip of Scotland down to Cape Town, South Africa. Where to watch it: Both trips are available on DVD from Netflix, as well as on the Long Way Round online store. For the Traveler with an Iron Stomach: Bourdain might crunch into some interesting cuisine in his wanderings, but for a real look at the dark side of travel food, follow Riku and Tunna on their Madventures. These two Finnish guys travel alone—no camera crew, support vehicles, or huge budgets—and wheedle their way into some of the world’s most exotic cultures and locales. In–between braving drug–fueled shamanic rituals in the Amazon and nuclear fallout in the ghost towns around Chernobyl, Riku and Tunna draw straws for the privilege of sampling some unusual eats—among them monkey brains, blood-gorged leeches, and human placenta. Where to watch it: DVDs of Madventures’ third season are available on the Madventures online store; previous seasons are currently sold out. For the Transit Enthusiast: If you’re the type who would rather take a tuk–tuk than a taxi, try out Charley Boorman’s By Any Means. Eschewing airplanes except when absolutely necessary, Boorman travels from Ireland to Australia (and Australia to Japan in the second series) using local transport. The program’s hook is more than a gimmick: from the windows of Philippine jeepneys and backs of elephants in Nepal, Boorman and his crew observe a world of cultures far removed from luxury cruises and first–class amenities. Where to watch it: Unfortunately for American viewers, both series are currently available only as region–locked DVDs on Amazon’s UK site. Another Boorman program, Race to Dakar—which details Boorman’s attempt to complete the cross–Saharan Dakar Rally—is available on Netflix. For the Backpacker: Three friends and a world of possibilities. It sounds cliché, but Departures’ simple premise—“the revelations of two travelers who strive to find themselves and new perspectives”—has fueled three seasons of globetrotting action. Along with their cameraman, Andre, wanderers Scott and Justin ride reindeer in Siberia, climb into an active volcano in Papua New Guinea, and feed feral hyenas in Ethiopia. The team is currently working on a new travel program, Descending, which will focus on the world’s great dive sites. Where to watch it: All three seasons of Departures are available on the show’s online store. Halogen TV also airs reruns. For the Do–Gooder: We hear lots of stories about how inconsiderate travelers contribute to despoiling the world. That’s why Explore22 is so refreshing: it’s a youth–oriented series that focuses on how travelers can discover and help struggling communities around the globe. Like the cast, the series is still young, but viewers have already been taken to Haiti for earthquake relief and to Peru, where the team joined a construction project to erect a new school. Where to watch it: Put down the TV remote: Explore22 is web–only, and the first few episodes are available for free viewing on the show’s website. Travel shows are no substitute for real experiences, but a good program can help illustrate the world’s wonders. Which travel shows have inspired your own wanderlust? —Ryan Murphy MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Top Budget Travel Destinations for 2012 Solo Travel Websites Worth Checking Out Learn a New Language for Under $100

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65 New Ways to Get Away This Season

It's that time again. As the first below–freezing days start rolling in and the sidewalk musician who plays Christmas carols on the pan flute establishes his month–long post just below my office window, thoughts of escape dance in my head. Fortunately, there are a slew of new routes to consider, as airlines ramp up their winter service. Some will help you save money, and some will help you save time—both of which we could all use a little more of this time of year. [These results were compiled from Jaunted.com, airlineroute.net, and the airlines' own web sites and announcements—and all are subject to change. Check the airlines' websites for the latest updates.] Air Jamaica • Miami, FL to Kingston, Jamaica resumes service December 9, 2011 Alaska Airlines • San Jose, CA to Palm Springs, CA starts February 17, 2012 • Seattle to Kansas City starts March 12, 2012 Allegiant Air • Phoenix to Las Vegas increases January 11, 2012 • Mesa, AZ to Oakland starts January 18, 2012 American Airlines • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Durango, CO runs December 14, 2011 to April 3, 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Aspen, CO starts December 15, 2011 • Los Angeles to Aspen, CO starts December 15, 2011 • Chicago to Jackson Hole, WY runs December 15, 2011 through March 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Gunnison/Crested Butte, CO runs December 15, 2011 to April 2, 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Steamboat Springs, CO runs December 15, 2011 to April 4, 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Jackson Hole, WY runs December 15, 2011 to April 4, 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Montrose/Telluride, CO runs December 17, 2011 to April 1, 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Panama City, Panama resumes December 15, 2011 • Chicago to Steamboat Springs, CO starts January 3, 2012 Copa Airlines • Chicago O'Hare to Panama City, Panama starts December 15, 2011 Delta • Atlanta to Brasilia, Brazil increases December 12, 2011 • Detroit to Sao Paulo, Brazil increases December 19, 2011 • Honolulu to Fukuoka, Japan starts December 28, 2011 • Minneapolis/St. Paul to Liberia, Costa Rica starts January 2012 • Salt Lake City to Charlotte, NC starts March 2, 2012 • New York (LGA) to Nassau, Bahamas starts March 2, 2012 • New York (JFK) to San Juan, PR, increases March 2, 2012 • New York (JFK) to Santiago, Dominican Republic increases March 2, 2012 • New York (JFK) to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic increases March 2, 2012 • Honolulu to Osaka increases March 6, 2012 Emirates • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Dubai starts February 2, 2012 • Seattle to Dubai starts March 1, 2012 Frontier Airlines • Des Moines to Tampa begins December 15, 2011 • Milwaukee to Tampa begins December 15, 2011 • Omaha to Tampa begins December 15, 2011 • Madison to Orlando begins December 16, 2011 • Des Moines to Orlando begins December 17, 2011 • Grand Rapids to Washington Reagan begins January 4, 2012 • Madison to Washington Reagan begins January 5, 2012 • Kansas City to Orlando begins January 5, 2012 Hawaiian Airlines • Oakland to Maui begins Jan 11, 2012 • San Jose, CA to Maui begins Jan 11, 2012 Jet Blue • San Juan, PR to St. Thomas starts December 12, 2011 • San Juan, PR to St. Croix starts December 12, 2011 • Boston to St. Thomas starts December 15, 2011 • Hartford, CT to San Juan, PR starts January 5, 2012 • Hartford, CT to West Palm Beach, FL starts January 12, 2012 Southwest Airlines • Atlanta to Austin begins February 12, 2012 • Atlanta to Baltimore begins February 12, 2012 • Atlanta to Denver begins February 12, 2012 • Atlanta to Houston-Hobby begins February 12, 2012 • Atlanta to Chicago-Midway begins February 12, 2012 • Atlanta to Las Vegas begins March 10, 2012 • Atlanta to Phoenix begins March 10, 2012 Spirit Airlines • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Atlanta starts February 9, 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to New York (LGA) starts February 9, 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Boston starts March 22, 2012 • Dallas/Ft. Worth to Orlando starts March 22, 2012 Sun Country • Minneapolis/St. Paul to Liberia, Costa Rica starts January 13, 2012 to April 13, 2012 United • Mammoth Lake, CA to San Diego starts December 15, 2011 • Mammoth Lake, CA to Orange County starts December 15, 2011 • Mammoth Lake, CA to San Francisco starts December 15, 2011 • Newark to Frankfurt increases January 2, 2012 • Los Angeles to Durango, Mexico begins March 11, 2012 • Newark to Buenos Aires begins April 2012 Virgin America • San Francisco, to Puerto Vallarta begins December 2, 2011 • San Francisco to Palm Springs begins December 15, 2011 Vision Airlines • Champaign, IL to Ft. Myers, FL begins December 19, 2011 • Clarksburg, WV to Orlando begins December 19, 2011 MORE FROMBUDGET TRAVEL World's Prettiest Castle Towns 10 Most Interesting Beaches Top Budget Travel Destinations for 2012

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The 10 Best Wine Regions You've Never Heard Of

Travel writer Stefani Jackenthal spent the past year exploring wine regions around the country for her new book Wanderlust Wining. She hit all the classic regions, of course—Napa, the Finger Lakes—but she also stumbled upon some lesser–known gems. Here are her favorite new discoveries: ten under–the–radar wine regions worth visiting. Get there before the crowds do! 1. Loudoun, VA Where: Dubbed “D.C.’s Wine Country,” Loudoun is a quick 30–minute drive from the heart of our nation's capital. Why go: This is the wine region for history buffs. Tasting rooms are sprinkled across historic landscapes, battle sites, and former president’s plantations. Regional specialties: For reds, you'll find Merlot, Cabernet Sauvigon, and Cabernet Franc, along with a hefty amount of Petit Verdot—a varietal quickly gaining notoriety. For white wine lovers, there’s plenty of Viogner and Chardonnay. 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Winery to try: True to Mendocino’s reputation as a green winery region, Parducci Wine Cellars was the first “carbon neutral winery” in the country (501 Parducci Road, Ukiah, Calif.). Inside its red–tile roofed tasting room, the redwood–barrel bar and brick walls are a great atmosphere in which to sample their Gold–medal winning Chardonnay and True Grit Petite Sirah (from $30 per bottle). 3. Palisade, CO Where: Set on the western slope of the sunny Grand Valley region, Palisade is a 12–mile drive east of Grand Junction Airport on Interstate 70. Why go: The weather here seems made for sipping: Palisade–Grand Mesa averages 290 days of sunshine annually. Regional specialties: Over the last decade, the area has become known for its lively Riesling, sturdy Syrahs and spicy Cabernet Francs. Winery to try: Look for the “Chardonnay Chicken” standing guard outside of Plum Creek Winery’s (3708 G Road, Palisade, CO) rustic tasting room. The seven–and–a–half–foot metal fowl is something of a local landmark and was created out of old farm equipment by local artist Lyle Nichols. Inside the bright, lofty barn–turned–tasting room, a redwood tasting bar takes center stage with cozy couches tucked in the corner and a quaint picnic area outback. The award–winning Riesling features peach and fig flavors, while the Merlot ($13 per bottle) is a dark-fruit delights. Winemaker Jenne Baldwin–Eaton is one of a handful of women winemakers in Colorado. 4. Hudson Valley, NY Where: An hour and a half drive north of New York City, the Hudson River Valley is one of America’s oldest winemaking and grape–growing regions, with some of the country’s oldest vines. Why go: Concord grapes make up the majority of the varietals harvested here, and most are used in grape juice, jellies, and jams. But the region's wine production has exploded in the last 20 years. There are now more than 25 operating wineries. Regional specialties: Expect crisp whites, such as Sevyl Blanc, Riesling, and blends. The reds here vary from light and fruity Beajoulais–style to dark fruit Cabernet Sauvignons and Shiraz. Winery to try: The tasting room and wine bar at Cascade Mountain Winery (835 Cascade Mountain Road, Amenia, NY) sells pate and cheese plates, which are ideal to nibble in their picnic area. Try their snappy Seyval Blanc before moving onto the Riesling, Old Vine Zinfandel ($14 per bottle) and Petite Syrah. 5. Shenandoah Valley, VA Where: Shenandoah's wine country—or SWX, as it's known locally—starts about an hour’s drive west of Washington D.C. and spans from north of Winchester to south of Roanoke. Why go: This is a hotspot for endorphin–junky oenophiles! The area has fantastic hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails, while the road cycling is fantastic along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, both in nearby Shenandoah Valley National Park. There is also the one hundred–million–year–old “Natural Bridge” to see, along with an assortment of caverns, such as the famous Luray Caverns, the largest in eastern America. Regional specialties: The main focus here is on Viogner, Reisling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, Petit Verdot, and fruit wines. Winery to try: Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, Crooked Run Cellars’ (1685 Crooked Run Road, Mount Jackson, VA) tasting room is built in an old Pennsylvania Bank Barn dating back to the early 1900’s. The barn has a horseshoe pit, badminton nets, charcoal grills for use, and a quaint picnic area overlooking the estate's 120–acre property. House favorites include the Equitation—a Chianti–style red—Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay. 6. The Southern Region, Ore. Where: The Southern Region is a rugged mountain valley that stretches 125 miles from south of Eugene to the California border. It's edged by the Cascade Mountain Range to the east and the Coast Range to the west. Why go: Known for its thunderous waterfalls, covered bridges, diverse wildlife, and awesome overlooks, the Southern region also produces nearly 12 percent of Oregon's wines. Leafy vineyards pepper the green valley, along with majestic mountains, breathtaking volcanic formations, and the 7,000–year–old Crater Lake—the deepest in all of North America. Regional specialties: Notably warmer than up north in the better known Willamette Valley, the southern region grows rich dark fruit with higher sugar levels and intense flavors. Big, bold beefy reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc do well here. However, there are cooler areas of this region in the higher sections, which produce floral Viogner, crisp Riesling, savory Gewurtzraminer and spicy Syrah. Winery to try: A boutique family-run winery, J. Scott Cellars (tasting room located at “The Wine Place” on Hwy 101 & 4th street, Eugene, OR) produces hand–crafted, award–winning Viogner, Pinot Blanc ($15.00 per bottle), Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Syrah. 7. New Mexico Wine Country Where: Who knew they make wine in Albuquerque? New Mexico is actually home to 42 wineries and tastings rooms, most located in the super sunny southern part of the state. Why go: It's all about the bubbly! Sun–kissed days and cool nights in the high desert climate allows grapes to slowly ripen and chill–out at night to retain essential acids. The area produces some great sparkling wines. Regional specialties: Along with sparklers, some of the area’s specialties include Chardonnay, Johannisburg Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Winery to try: Established in 1983, Gruet Winery (8400 Pan American Freeway N.E., Albuquerque, NM) was founded by brother and sister duo Nathalie and Laurent Gruet, who are sparkling–wine specialists and originally from the Champagne region of France. Their high–end vintage and reserve bubbly wines will put a dent in the bank, but many of their award–winning non–vintage sparklers like Brut, Rose, and Blanc Noir ($13.75) sell for under $20 and are available at stores and restaurants across the country. They also make terrific Chardonnay, Pinot Noir ($11.00) and Syrah. 8. Wisconsin Wine Country Where: The Badger State has five diverse wine regions, with 36 wineries across the state. The regions include Northwood in the north, the semi-central Fox Valley, Door County along the east coast, Driftless in the southwest, and Glacial Hill in the southeast. Why go: Wisconsin winemaking reaches back to the early 1840s, when Agoston Haraszthy, a Hungarian immigrant, established a vineyard and winery overlooking the Wisconsin River. Most tasting rooms are open daily and—not surprisingly—serve local cheese to pair with their wines. Regional specialties: Many Wisconsin wineries produce Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Domaine du Sac, a bright Beaujolais–style red. Winery to try: Wollersheim Winery (7876 State Road 188, Prairie du Sac, WI), in Sauk City, is nestled in the hillside overlooking the Wisconsin River. The fun, friendly tasting room is terrific for swirling, sniffing and sipping Chardonnay, Domaine du Sac ($12.00 per bottle), Prairie Sunburst Red, and Domaine Reserve ($20.00 per bottle). 9. Missouri Wine Country Where: With over 100 wineries, Missouri wine country is broken into five separate corridors: the Hermann Wine Trail, the Route Du Vin, the Missouri Weinstrasse, the Missouri River Wine Trail, and the Ozark Mountain Wine Trail. Why go: This is where it all began. Missouri winemaking dates back to the late–1830's, when German settlers arrived and planted grape vines in the town of Hermann, on the flanks of the Missouri River. That makes it the oldest wine region in the country. Regional specialties: Some of the area’s standouts whites include Chardonnay and sparkling wines. In red, look for the rich, robust, rustic Norton, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot ($39.00 per bottle). Winery to try: Mount Pleasant Winery (3125 Green Mountain Drive,Branson, MO) is one of the oldest and largest in the state, with over 150 years of winemaking experience. They offer classes, “bottle your own dessert wine” clinics, and daily tastings of their Bethelem Valley Chardonel, Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, and Bethlem Valley Norton ($28 per bottle). 10. Mason-Dixon Wine Trail, York, Penn. Where: This tasting trail winds through 14 family–owned wineries, from the Susquehanna River Valley in Pennsylvania to just south of the Mason–Dixon Line in Maryland. Why go: At these warm and friendly boutique tasting rooms, the winemaker is often on–hand to answer questions and discuss wines. Notable wines: Look for Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and fruit wines. Winery to try: Founded in 1975, Naylor Wine Cellars (4069 Vineyard RoadStewartstown, PA) is the oldest winery in York County. With 35 acres of grapes, their award–winning Intimacy ice wine ($30 per bottle) is a crowd–pleaser as is the Vidal Perfection, Blush, Cabernet Franc, and Chamborcin. More from Budget Travel Road Trip: New York State of Wine 4 Emerging U.S. Wine Destinations A Wine Tour of the Rhône

Budget Travel Lists

8 delicious beers from around the world

From September 17 through October 3—Oktoberfest is on! But why should the fun be limited to one little corner of one country? The original München boozefest is great and all—everyone should experience it once. But we have a hunch our readers traveling in other locales are itching for an autumnal brewsky, too. So we've rounded up our favorite varieties of beer from around the globe. Without further ado, here's the brew.... See also: Confessions of an Oktoberfest Waiter U.K. Oatmeal stout This medieval beer caught on in the late 1800s because people believed the oats made it somehow healthful. ASK FOR: Samuel Smith TASTES LIKE: Molasses mixed with cream GERMANY Doppelbock First brewed in the 17th century by Bavarian monks, it was used as “liquid bread” during Lenten fasts. ASK FOR: Paulaner TASTES LIKE: A Marmite sandwich on pumpernickel FRANCE Bière de garde This farmhouse ale almost vanished during World War II, when brewery equipment was melted to make bombs. ASK FOR: Jenlain TASTES LIKE: Earthy, dry U.S. brews (quelle horreur!) NORWAY Juleøl Dark and sweet, this ale is brewed at Christmastime and designed to stand up to hearty Scandinavian fare. ASK FOR: Aass TASTES LIKE: Whiskey spiced with cloves FINLAND Sahti Brewed with juniper twigs since the 1500s, this hazy beer is one of the oldest varieties still made today. ASK FOR: Lammin TASTES LIKE: Fruitcake that’s heavy on the bananas BELGIUM Flanders red This reddish ale gets its sour flavor from lactobacillus, the same bacteria used to cultivate yogurt. ASK FOR: Rodenbach TASTES LIKE: Apple cider mixed with grape soda ITALY Birra di castagne Italy’s bounty of chestnuts has led to the birth of nut- infused ales, local alternatives to German-style lager Peroni. ASK FOR: Birra del Borgo TASTES LIKE: Bittersweet syrup, almost like grappa RUSSIA Kvass A low-alcohol drink made with fermented rye bread, water, and mint or fruit. Coca-Cola now brews a version. ASK FOR: Ochakovo TASTES LIKE: Moderately sweet, grainy soda MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: New York's hopping beer scene Drink beer better San Francisco: A guide for beer aficionados