ADVERTISEMENT

Meet Berlin, MD, America's Coolest Small Town!

By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
February 25, 2014
horse and buggy
Courtesy Worcester County Tourism

How does it feel to live in the Coolest Small Town in America? Ask the folks in Berlin, MD, the winner of Budget Travel's 9th annual America's Coolest Small Town contest!

Berlin's citizens—and fans from around the U.S. and beyond—helped get the town nominated last fall when Budget Travel solicited suggestions from tens of thousands of online readers. The editors tallied up the nominations, added a dash of editorial discretion for regional and cultural diversity, and came up with a list of 15 finalists—cool burghs from Upstate New York to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, from northern Colorado to the Everglades, and, of course, the Maryland shore.

Now, after more than a month of online voting, Berlin, MD (population 4,563), has earned the title of "Coolest."

Berlin not only has a dedicated citizenry and fan following (it grabbed more than 28 percent of the votes among the 15 finalists), but it's also a truly spectacular place to visit or put down roots. Like the beautiful backdrops in the films Tuck Everlasting and The Runaway Bride? Thank Berlin, where both movies were shot. Ready for a getaway that includes Maryland's awesome Ocean City beach and boardwalk and gorgeous Assateague Island? They're just a few miles from Berlin's downtown (a National Register Historic District), which plays host to fun events all year long, from the regular farmers market to one-of-a-kind bashes like the Berlin Fiddlers Convention, New Year's fireworks, Victorian Christmas (complete with horse-drawn carriages), and even bathtub races! Whether you're a beach lover, hiker, kayaker, bird watcher, or history aficionado, put Berlin on your list of small-town must-sees (in fact, put it at the top of your list—we just did!).  

So, congrats to the people of Berlin, MD, and its mayor, William "Gee" WIlliams III (who just earned a growler of craft beer from second-place finisher Cazenovia's mayor, Kurt Wheeler). And let's join them in a rousing chorus of "Cool Berlin," by local songwriter Steve Frene, written especially to promote the town's campaign for the top spot.

Here are the top 10 towns in Budget Travel's 2014 America's Coolest Small Town contest. (Online voting among 15 finalists began in mid-January and ended at 12 a.m. Tuesday February 25. Total votes cast were 137,819, with the winner receiving 39,285 votes.) Each of these 10 towns will be honored in an upcoming feature on BudgetTravel.com and an upcoming story in Budget Travel's tablet edition:

1. Berlin, MD

2. Cazenovia, NY

3. Buckhannon, WV

4. Travelers Rest, SC

5. Mathews, VA

6. Nevada City, CA

7. Rockport, TX

8. Estes Park, CO

9. Galena, IL

10. Elkin, NC

Keep reading
Inspiration

Food Lover’s Guide to Paris

This article was written by Christine Cantera on behalf of Viator.com's Travel Blog. Cheese. Bread. Pastries. With all the amazing things to eat in Paris, it’s a wonder anyone has time to visit the museums! If your itinerary for Paris looks more like a grocery list than a guide book, check out our tips for food lovers who are ready to fall in love with the City of Light. Steak frites is a simple dish, but don’t overlook it.It can be easy to forgo this brasserie staple in search of more inventive cuisine, but in a way it should almost be your first meal upon arriving. It’s one of the best Parisian comfort foods and should be eaten at a quality place (a great one is Charbon Rouge, 75008). Note that the French love a bloody steak, so if you’re squeamish, go one level up from your normal cooked preference. Read more about France’s best food Don’t overlook the fare at wine bars, either.Wine bars in Paris are especially useful for sampling the fruits of France’s vineyards, as many outside of Paris only serve their own region’s labels. And recently, the trend towards serving more than just some basic snacks has taken over, and now you can easily make a meal out of their offerings—in fact, many chefs are opening up bistrots à vins. Frenchie Bar à Vins (75002) is a fine example. Beware of outdoor seating.Outdoor seating is a popular temptation in Paris—and one I take advantage of regularly. But if you’re a foodie purist, there are two things you need to think about before grabbing that seat. First, this isn’t the States—outdoor seating is snapped up by smokers, and Parisians don’t mind when someone next to them lights up. So if you’re the type who coughs and splutters the second you see a cig, you’ll probably want to eat inside. And second, check out the traffic scene. Some places have a steady stream of buses, scooters, or just plain heavy foot traffic, which can leave you distracted and jostled. Check out the restaurants on tranquil Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine (75004) if the traffic seems way too much for you (but I can’t help you with the smoking). Not all bread is created equal.You can barely walk 15 feet in Paris without stumbling across yet another boulangerie. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find a truly crappy baguette (croissants are another story; boy can they stink!). But if you make sure that the place has a blue and yellow “Artisan Boulanger” sign out front, then you can be sure that it's at least homemade. And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is a “best baguette” in Paris, at Boulangerie Mauvieux (159 rue Ordener, 75018). They have a contest for it and everything. Go behind-the-scenes of a boulangerie Rent an apartment and hit the markets.Even non-foodies enjoy visiting Paris’s many food markets, but if you don’t have any way too cook, it’s no different than a (really awesome) museum. But whether you take a Parisian food tour or go it alone, with a vacation apartment you have the luxury of taking home that strange legume and messing with it for the rest of the morning. Or you can stock up on all the cheeses, even the stinky ones, without stuffing them in the mini-fridge between tiny bottles of vodka and candy bars. For true food lovers, the markets are where it’s at. Don’t miss the Marché des Enfants Rouges (75003), which is open more than just on the weekends and dates back to the 1600s.

Inspiration

How To Do Lima On A Budget

Just because it's called the City of Kings doesn't mean you have to spend like one! Lima has plenty to offer the broke backpacker and savvy traveler, from gourmet meals to free galleries and events. Here's how you can enjoy a budget-friendly holiday in Lima and save your money for other adventures around Peru. Take the MetroWhen most newcomers first arrive in Lima, they rely solely on taxis to get around, which can cost upwards of ten soles (about four dollars) for a short trip. To give you some perspective, that's the same price as a full meal here in Lima. Taking taxis is also a time-waster because the traffic in Lima is unpredictable and you can end up spending a lot of time stuck in gridlock if you get caught traveling at the wrong time. Instead, save time and money by taking the Metropolitano, a system of buses that can get you from one end of the city to another for a flat rate of two soles. If you're staying in Miraflores, for instance, and you want to explore the historic city center, you can take the Metro from the stop called Benavides—where you can buy a card for as little as five soles and reload as necessary—to the stop called Estacion Central. The A, B, and C buses will get you there from the platform marked "Norte," usually in about twenty minutes tops. Meanwhile, the same trip via taxi would end up costing at least 12 soles one way, and if you go during rush hour, could last up to an hour.  Stick to Sites with Free AdmissionIn the center of Lima, you can visit two free museums, the Palacio de Gobierno in the Plaza Mayor and the Museo de Congreso y la Inquisicion (Jr. Junín 548). At the first site, you can take a free tour of the presidential palace. In the second, you can take a gruesome tour of the site where the Spanish Inquisition tried accused heretics and exacted punishments. All materials are in Spanish, but the displays definitely get the point across. If you are going to be traveling to Lima during the summer months of January to March, you can enjoy the sunshine on the beaches in Barranco, a district just south of Miraflores. To get there, just hike down from the Parque de Barranco and cross the highway called Circuito de Playas. While you're in Barranco, you can check out the Galeria Delbarrio (Bernardino Cruz 148), just a fifteen minute walk south in nearby Chorrillos. It's a gallery set in a beautiful old mansion and serves as a showcase for independent artists' work and community art. The best part: it's free! Enjoy a Walk Along the MalecónWith 43 unique districts, Lima is a massive urban sprawl. Some areas are definitely safer than others, but certain spots such as Miraflores, Barranco, San Isidro, and parts of the center are quite pleasant and nice for walking. One particularly breathtaking walk is along the Malecón, which snakes along the cliff tops of Miraflores and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Gourmet Eats on a Backpacker's BudgetLima has been making a name for itself as a gastronomic destination, with world class restaurants and fine dining options just about everywhere you look. But you don't have to break the bank to have a nice meal. On just about every street corner, you can find set-menu restaurants for 7-10 soles offering a range of traditional meals and everything from Andean stews to fresh ceviche. Walk along the street and take your pick of the chalkboard signs advertising the day's offerings. This article was written by Sophia Guida, who has been living in Lima, Peru, on and off since the beginning of 2012, where she works as a freelance writer/photojournalist and takes every opportunity to explore the areas left out of the guidebooks. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. She wrote this article on behalf of Peru for Less, experts in providing tours to Lima and all over Peru.

Inspiration

A Little Valentine's Day Inspiration

Our friends over at AirFastTickets.com, a brand new online travel booking site aimed at uncovering the best prices, recently conducted a survey to find out how women around the country really feel about Valentine's Day travel. According to the survey, 78 percent of women would rather take a romantic vacation anywhere in the U.S. than receive diamond earrings, a brand new designer purse, or have a private dinner cooked and arranged by a top chef. Out of a head-to-toe makeover by a famous makeup artist, a sweet serenade by Adam Sandler on guitar a la The Wedding Singer, or puppies to play with at every seat, which do you think women would rather have while flying? You guessed it, puppies. (Who wouldn't?) The most surprising responses were centered around communication, something that seems to be a lost art nowadays. While 95 percent of women polled said they'd never met a person they ended up dating while on a plane or on a cruise, 42 percent did say they would be willing to at least give out their phone numbers if they were single. (So, guys, take a chance, because, hey, you never know!) The final question offered a more depressing response: almost half of the women polled said getting a text message at the airport from your date saying that the trip was cancelled and it's time for a break would be the worst thing that could possibly happen to them on Valentine's Day. Those polled were also asked whether or not they would accept a free trip to Australia on Valentine's Day if they had to spend the entire 16-hour flight seated next to either Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eliot Spitzer or Anthony Weiner. One out of three women said no. In case you're suddenly in need of a little vacation inspiration, our friends at Room77.com have a list of getaway deals created especially for this Valentine's Day—you can score hotel discounts in Washington D.C., Seattle, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Long Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, and New York City—and have a nifty list of chairlift pick up lines available, you know, just in case the opportune moment strikes on the ski slopes. Whether you're planning a last-minute romantic getaway with your significant other or celebrating being single, we want to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day. We want to know: will you be traveling at all this V-Day? What romantic place would you like to be in this Valentine's Day weekend? Tell us about it below.

Inspiration

Visit the U.K.'s Winter Wonderlands!

Sophie Gackowski writes for HomeAway UK For most tourists, the United Kingdom's best visited in spring, summer or autumn—after all, who wants to risk its tempestuous winter weather? But the truth is, things can only look up after the winter solstice in December: days are longer, the sunshine makes an overdue appearance, and light frosts make forests sparkle in white. Come winter, there's much more to our fair isle than pretty scenery, though it certainly takes pride of place: festivals, winter sports, shopping opportunities and celebration days make up the exciting agenda. Where will you find your winter wonderland? Pick up skills in Snowdonia, North Wales. Make no mistake: come winter, Snowdonia's an icy mistress, and not one to be underestimated. As challenging as the Welsh National Park can be during winter, however, it's a beautiful place for a holiday—there's plenty to do amidst the blanket of snow. Take your pick of ice-climbing operators in the area, and you could learn to use ice-axes and crampons, finally making your way up its majestic, snow-capped mountains. Enjoy winter walks and wildlife, Cornwall. It doesn't usually get as cold in Cornwall as the rest of the U.K., and snow isn't nearly as common—for this reason, it's a fantastic spot for those looking to get outdoors and explore. Thousands of wintering birds can be found as the Tamar Estuary, while Bodmin's Cabilla and Redrice Reserve is home to hundreds of roe deer. Walking amidst the patches of newly bloomed snowdrops has to be one of winter's simplest pleasures. Ski the Nevis Range, Scottish Highlands. When there's a great shower of snow in Scotland, head for the hills. Even seasoned skiers know the Highlands offer some of the world's best winter sports opportunities—when conditions are right. Glenshee, the Cairngorms and Glencoe are all great options, but the Nevis Range is by far the most spectacular. Enjoy coastal vistas from slopes over 3,800 ft, and some incredible off-piste terrain—all just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Glasgow. Hit the High Street, London. Hit up any of the United Kingdom's major cities in winter, and you're sure to find one thing: sales, sales, sales! In London, shopping's taken to a whole new level: everything from High Street brands to luxury designer labels are slashed dramatically in price following Christmas, so if you're brave enough to join the crowds, bag yourself a bargain at one of the capital's most famous stores like Selfridges, Liberty, Harrods or Harvey Nichols. Follow Sophie Gackowski on Google+

ADVERTISEMENT