Meet the Coolest Small Town in America 2016

By Robert Firpo-Cappiello
January 12, 2022
Sykesville Main Street Association

Congratulations to Sykesville, Maryland, the winner of Budget Travel's 11th annual Coolest Small Town in America contest! With an enthusiastic campaign to amass the votes needed to claim the title "coolest," Sykesville earned its victory by a wide margin.

The Coolest Small Town in America contest is one of the high points of our editorial calendar at Budget Travel, and we love getting to know more about these amazing communities across the country where so many truly cool things are happening in the worlds of art, food, public parks, and community spirit. This morning, I had the privilege of hearing from some of Sykesville's residents, and I couldn't help asking the obvious question: How does it feel to wake up in the Coolest Small Town in America 2016?

Stacy Link, Sykesville town council member, enthuses, "When I pulled into town this morning, crossed the railroad tracks, and turned the curve at Baldwin's Station to get a clear view of our Main Street, I was like, 'Yes, we are!'"

Mary Vaccarino, owner of Revive & Company, says, "We're SYKED!  This contest inspired us to show our community spirit and it shines.  We are feeling blessed to live in such a great community.

Rachael Beck, owner of EW Becks Pub, tells us, "If you’re from Sykesville, you’re family. If you are a visitor to Sykesville, we will make you feel like family before you go."

Steven Colella, director of economic development for the Town of Sykesville, shares, "Waking up this morning to find out I work for the Coolest Small Town in America was pretty surreal. I knew throughout the contest that if we won, it could do big things for our town – promoting tourism, community events, and new businesses, but I was so focused on promoting the contest that I didn’t stop to think what it would mean if we won. Now that we did, it’s exciting and a little overwhelming to think of all of the COOL things that lie ahead!"

And each resident of Sykesville is looking forward to upcoming events such as First Fridays, the town Farmers Market, and Farm to Table Progressive Dinners.

Budget Travel's 11th annual Coolest Small Town in America contest started by gathering online nominations from tens of thousands of readers. The towns that received the most nominations (subject to a bit of editorial discretion for geographical and cultural diversity), made our 15 semifinalists list, and a month of voting saw towns like Sykesville; Baker City, Oregon; and Pipestone, Minnesota vying for the top spot.

This year's nine runners-up (all cool towns in their own right) deserve a shout-out:

Pipestone, MN

Baker City, OR

Fairport, NY

Abingdon, VA

Kidron, OH

Ocean Springs, MS

Niles, MI

Taos, NM

Steamboat Springs, CO

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5 Tips for Navigating NYC's Outdoor Food Markets

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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. 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