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While many food worshipers look to large-scale cities like New York and San Francisco when they’re searching for their delicious fix, others turn to quaint, small towns that have just as much culinary zeal. Many of these spots are teeming with local restaurant concepts focused on freshness and the highest-quality ingredients. Small towns across the country are now celebrated for their passion for food and their timeless mantra that food brings people together.
Click here to see the America’s Best Small Towns for Food 2013 (Slideshow)
For the traveling food lover, finding small-town culinary hot spots has become a calling. Quick road trips to find the best lobster in Maine aren't out of reach, and certainly swinging by Tarrytown, N.Y., for a tour of Blue Hill at Stone Barns’ farm and winery isn’t a bad idea, either. California is flooded with small towns, mostly around wine country, which are overflowing with top-notch restaurants from up-and-coming chefs that boast incredibly inventive cuisine coupled with killer wine lists. San Mateo, Calif., is also now on food lovers' radar after being a 2012 Best for Food finalist in the Rand McNally Best of the Road contest.
Some lesser-known places like Hilton Head Island in South Carolina may surprise many, but the island has stepped up its game when it comes to its food selections. While it offers traditional island seafood, it also offers a mixture of local Gullah cuisine at restaurants like Roastfish and Cornbread, and for a higher-end dining experience, there's Vine Bistro & Wine Bar. Not to be outdone, towns like Traverse City, Mich., and Galesburg, Ill., each have their own charms.
The Daily Meal is updating its list from last year, and while many of the same small towns made the cut, there are a few new additions that have been making waves in the media over the last year. Towns that were included on the list have a variety of restaurants in the region with a focus on local, fresh, and seasonal ingredients as well as a flair for culinary creativity. They also have a population of fewer than 300,000 residents.
To see all of our 11 favorite small towns for dining, click trough the slideshow.
Visitors come to this idyllic town to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and perhaps to stay for a gin and tonic on the porch of the lakefront Otesaga resort. But in the past few years, the food has become its own draw. Local chefs shop at the year-round farmers’ market, and their restaurants serve the local beer, which (happily) comes from the town’s nationally revered Ommegang Brewery.—Gina Hamadey
Alex & Ika
Chef Alex Webster is the former manager at New York City’s famed Dean & DeLuca market, and he brings the same level of obsessive attention to detail to his terrific Cooperstown restaurant: His superlative BAT sandwich uses smoked bacon, fresh arugula and roasted tomato. This is the kind of place where customers come for a quick lunch and decide to return for dinner to try more elegant dishes, like roast duck and apple tarte Tatin. 149 Main St. alexandika.com.
Ommegang Brewery Café
At this bucolic, Belgian-style brewery, the enthusiastic staff give hourly tours that culminate in a beer-tasting session. The café, which opened last spring, serves Ommegang’s delicious brews and imported Belgian beers (like the hoppy Houblan Chouffe). The food is very ale-friendly: crêpes filled with duck confit or bratwurst and frites with inventive dipping sauces like chile aioli and beer-and-cumin ketchup. 656 County Hwy. 33 ommegang.com.
Cantina de Salsa
Alex & Ika chef Alex Webster opened this new restaurant 15 miles from Cooperstown, but his homemade chips alone are worth the drive. The menu covers a broad range of Latin and Caribbean dishes (like Jamaican goat-curry fajitas) in addition to light, fresh takes on Mexican burritos, tacos and mole sauce. “We don’t smother everything in cheese,” says Webster. 11 Main St., Cherry Valley 607-264-9500.
This year-old, family-run Italian restaurant has the feel of a place that has been around forever—locals celebrate birthdays and anniversaries here, and the owner’s mother, Giovanna Vezza, makes fresh gnocchi and fettuccine daily. The Neapolitan pizzas, with toppings like prosciutto, peppers and an egg, come out of a superhot, shiny silver wood-burning oven, custom-built in Naples. 5438 State Hwy. 28 boccaosteria.com.
Formerly a mining town, Telluride offers a unique way to experience Colorado's mountains, replete with small-town charm that many other major ski areas lack. The town has a storied history&mdashTelluride was the site of Butch Cassidy's first major recorded crime in 1889&mdashand Victorian storefronts and frontier-era facades still adorn the compact downtown area. Today, the town is an all-season resort, with world-class skiing at nearby Mountain Village and mountain biking, hiking, and almost every outdoor sport imaginable in the summer. The annual bluegrass festival in June and film festival in August are two of Telluride's biggest summer draws, though the 4th of July celebration is a local favorite. Proudly boasting no chain restaurants or shops, the town has seen its fair share of celebrity guests in its history, but still maintains its untainted, small-town allure. For a truly Colorado experience, take the Telluride gondola to Station St. Sophia for breathtaking views and exquisite food at Allred's.
Where to Stay: Largely due to its celebrity clientele, Telluride has an extensive line-up of luxury hotels, particularly for a town that doesn't have a stoplight. A self-described “adventure boutique hotel,” Lumiere is one of the town's premiere lodgings. For a more budget-friendly option, try the New Sheridan Hotel and indulge in its rooftop hot tubs.
PLAN YOUR TRIP : Visit Fodor's Telluride Guide
The 10 Best Small Towns in the U.S.
From hidden gems to happening hamlets, here are our favorites from coast to coast.
Introducing Country Living's picks for the best small towns in America, hidden gems and happening hamlets rising to prominence like that ol' water tower on the horizon. From favorites blessed with a double scoop of Main Street momentum to lesser-known towns undergoing sidewalk-to-steeple revitalizations, you'll find a host of places where you can slow your pace. There are picks for outdoor lovers as well as options for art-and-food focused folks. You may even find your new hometown among the group!
If charming Main Streets, quirky festivals, friendly locals, and lovely country landscapes are top draws for a vacation destination, you should also check out our list small towns that leave a big impression after a visit. If you've always thought the towns in Hallmark movies seem like great places live, here are eight small town filming locations you can actually go to. Looking for Stars Hollow, Serenity, or Virgin River vibes from the comfort of home? These photos capture all the charm of small town life, from farmers' markets to covered bridges to cozy inns. Here are the best small towns to visit throughout the year, too, for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Motto: "Small Town, Big Ambitions"
Everyone loves a comeback, and Wilson's is one for the ages. Founded in 1886 as a hub for timber and cotton production, the town fell into disrepair in the 1950s as agricultural work declined and residents moved elsewhere. Then, in 2010, the Lawrence Group acquired it as part of a larger land purchase. "It was an opportunity to not only restores Wilson to its former glory, but make it a hub of food and culture in the Delta while staying true to its roots," says Norbert Mede, who heads up the town's development.
The past few years have seen a renovation of Wilson square's Tudor Revival buildings, now home to stylish shops like White's Mercantile, Wilson Cafe, and the Hampson Archeological Museum. Wilson Grange, the town's agricultural and culinary venue, hosts wine tastings and a weekly farmers' market. A new 16-room boutique hotel is also in the works.
Joseph sits in northeast Oregon's Wallowa County, renowned for both its natural beauty and remoteness (there are no stoplights, and it's a four-hour drive to Boise, Idaho, the closest big city). While Joseph may be best known for its community of bronze artists, summer rodeo, and the Wallowa Lake Tramway (among the steepest on the continent, which takes riders to the top of Mt. Howard), it's also attracting a growing group of entrepreneurs.
"I fell for the landscape of Wallowa County and wanted to figure out a way to make my home here," says Greg Hennes, founder of the Prairie Mountain Folk School as well as the design-forward Jennings Hotel and artist residency, both in Joseph. Nearby, Arrowhead Chocolates serves small-batch sweets like dark chocolate truffles made with award-winning whiskey from Stein Distillery, a short stroll away. Main Street newcomers include the Gold Room, a spot for wood-fired pizzas and cocktails from former Portland chefs Ross Effinger and JoMarie Pitino.
Motto: "The Height of Happiness"
Highlands, North Carolina, has long been a favorite getaway for Southern city dwellers and and antique hunters. "But there have been more and more young families moving here to live full time, too," says Margaret Shutze, who moved with her own family in 2019 to create Flat Mountain Farm, a workshop and event space. The town surrounded by Nantahala National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
"Highlands has really become a year-round town," says Jason Reeves, owner of the new Highlander Mountain House hotel and The Ruffed Grouse Tavern. "Highlanders are a dynamic bunch who care about Southern hospitality, and they've been very welcoming." Despite changes, beloved parts of Highlands (like its many antique shops) remain the same. There's a vibrant arts community nurtured via local institutions like The Bascom visual arts center, as well as outdoor adventure aplenty in the Blue Ridge Mountains. "The town really is idyllic, like a throwback to simpler times," Jason adds.
Nickname: Heart of the Rockies
What do you get when your town is home to FIBArk, the oldest and biggest white water festival in the country? A bunch of former river guides running things. "We're everywhere," jokes Mike "Diesel" Post, Salida's Director of Parks and Recreation, who says the Arkansas River is central to town life. "You can ski Monarch Mountain, then kayak, and have time left for mountain biking," adds mayor P.T. Wood, who is&mdashyou guessed it&mdashalso a former guide. More of an artsy soul? Salida is also home to Colorado's first Creative District, with many artist-owned galleries to visit.
Motto: "A great place to visit, a better place to live."
It's easy to make the case for Honesdale's charm. The town has been the headquarters for children's magazine Highlights since 1946, and its quaint streets inspired the Christmas carol "Winter Wonderland." But there's plenty to sing about these days, too, with a new generation starting businesses here and around the Poconos. "Honesdale is progressive, but it maintains a slower pace and has a tight-knit community that wraps you up like a warm hug," says Allaina Propst, owner of Here & Now Brewing Co., which she opened in 2017. "Young entrepreneurs are taking notice." Honesdale's Main Street is lined with historic buildings, many dating back to the 1800s.
The Stourbridge Line historic railroad, based in Honesdale, offers rides along the Lackawaxen River Valley in restored 1920s train cars. An extensive new trail system is also in the works along the river. The town is also the perfect jumping off point for day trips to other Poconos towns like Jim Thorpe, Stroudsburg, and Milford.
Nickname: The City Beautiful
It's near impossible not to fall for the oak-lined streets of this south Mississippi hamlet, the setting for HGTV's Home Town. Now in its fifth season, the show stars Laurel locals Erin and Ben Napier, who have helped revitalize the town's homes and businesses. "When we moved back from college, there was almost nothing in downtown," says Ben. "Now it's tough to find parking!" There's lots to explore, including the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, the oldest art museum in the state. And there's no shortage of good eating, from the sticky buns at Sweet Somethings bakery to crawfish etouffee at Cafe LaFleur. It's also downright friendly (see the "Greetings from" and "Welcome to" murals). As Mayor Johnny Magee says, "You're here, you're family."
Nickname: The Friendly City
"Some say river towns ebb and flow, and I think Hudson is always reinventing itself," says Jocie Sinauer, proprietor of antiques shop Red Chair on Warren. Case in point: a slew of new businesses opening their doors in this Hudson Valley hamlet despite the challenges of the past year. Among them: The Maker, an 11-room boutique hotel spread across three historic buildings from the owners of Fresh beauty products. Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg. "We were drawn to Hudson's diversity and creative energy," says Lev.
Shoe-and-lifestyle boutique Intentionally Blank and Nikki Chasin's eponymous clothing store both offer new shopping options, while Breadfolks bakery and Sonder natural wine bar provide new spots to dine and drink along Hudson's commercial strop, Warren Street. There's also a lot of excitement around Zio & Son's recently opened This Old Hudson Maison guesthouse, inspired by the French countryside. Factor in longtime draws like excellent antiquing. a top-notch farmers' market, and easy access to outdoor adventure, and it's easy to see why more folks are calling Hudson home.
Local Lingo: "El Paso de Robles" (the Pass of the Oaks) is just "Paso" to locals.
This Central Coast town has plenty to boast about, with more than 200 wineries and award-winning restaurants. Yet "it is completely unpretentious," says Alexis Negranti, founder of Negranti Creamery. "There's a cowboy vibe. It's fine to wear boots and a hat to a five-star spot." Still, dressing up for a seat at, say, Les Petites Canailles, a recent addition from Michelin-starred chef Julien Asseo, wouldn't be out of place. "In Paso, everyone is welcome, any way you are." When you go, visit the new Paso Market Walk showcasing local makers, farmers, and vinters, and stay in a retro camper at Rêves de Moutons, located on a goat and sheep farm in the heart of wine country.
Nicknames: Mule Town and Dimple of the Universe
Columbia natives Susan and Bryson Leach hadn't expected to move back to their hometown, but when they decided to buy a house and open their homewares shop Needle & Grain and kids boutique Little Neighbors, "we realized Columbia was everything we wanted," says Bryson. "It's very affordable and has lots going on culturally, plus a revitalized downtown."
Small businesses surround Public Square, including Bleu 32 Vintage Marketplace, Duck River Books, Hattie Jane's Creamery, and Trek Bicycle Shop, co-owned by American Pickers's Mike Wolfe and housed in a circa-1857 building. "Columbia is focused on preserving its architecture and history, while at the same time supporting new businesses," Mike says. A vibrant Arts District, green spaces, and annual festivals, including Mule Day (which celebrates the town's history as a mule-trading center), add to the appeal. For country escapes, visit Kindred Farm, which hosts dinners on its 17-acre property, or nearby Natchez Hills vineyard.
Founded by Dutch settlers in 1847, this town along Lake Macatawa celebrates its heritage with attractions typical of the Netherlands. There's Windmill Island Gardens, Nelis' Dutch Village filled with fun rides for kids and, most famously, the annual Tulip Time Festival in early May, when Holland is awash with millions of blooms. May also sees the long-running Fiesta, a celebration of West Michigan's Latino culture and community.
Stroll Holland's downtown shopping district for a mix of longtime, family-run businesses rooted in the town's Dutch heritage, like DeBoer's Bakery, and newer offerings like garden and home-goods shop Gezellig. Holland is also on the water, so there's beach time, too, at spots like Holland Beach State Park, home to the iconic Big Red Lighthouse.
50 of the Most Charming Small Towns in America
Explore the hidden gems of each state: towns with quaint shops and restaurants, fascinating histories, fun experiences and natural beauty.
Pretty Fairhope, Alabama, is home to Southern authors Rick Bragg and Fannie Flagg. (Look for their signed books at one of the state's best bookstores, Page & Palette). This Mobile Bay town also boasts its own French Quarter, and the luxurious Grand Hotel Golf Resort and Spa, named the state&rsquos top hotel and top spa, is just minutes away in Point Clear. Its two golf courses repeatedly make the list of Best Golf Resorts in America.
With a population of around 4,524, the small town of Unalaska, Alaska, is the perfect spot for a quiet getaway. It's starting to attract more visitors, however, as Viking, Windstar and other major cruise lines add it as a destination. Remote and beautiful, Unalaska is accessible only by plane or boat. Its attractions include whale watching, hiking and exploring World War II history at the Aleutian WWII Visitor Center and the Museum of the Aleutians.
This is it: the Winslow, Arizona, you heard about in the Eagles' song Take It Easy. Once a railroad stop on the "Mother Road," Route 66, Winslow is a popular stop with drivers and motorcyclists. La Posada Hotel, designed for the Santa Fe Railroad, still books guests into elegant rooms furnished with Zapotec rugs and Mexican tiles. Outdoor adventurers head north of town, to Homolovi State Park, to hike the trails and look for archaeological sites and Hopi petroglyphs.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Named one of a "Dozen Distinctive Destinations" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is a secluded, peaceful town in the heart of the Ozarks. Magnificent Victorian homes built on cliffsides line its winding streets, while its historic downtown area offers more than 100 shops and art galleries to explore.
Officially known as Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel is a world-renowned, one-square-mile village on California's central coast. It's beloved for its fairytale-like cottages, as well as its upscale boutiques, art galleries, historic Carmel Mission Basilica, wineries and other attractions. Carmel Beach has been ranked as one of America's top beach towns.
The spirit of the West is alive and well in Mancos, Colorado, where ranching is still a way of life. This community of about 1,600 sits just east of the entrance to Mesa Verde National Park, so it's a great base for nature lovers and adventurers who like to ride horses, bike and hike. More than 150 artists and other creatives live in the area their galleries line historic Main Street in the creative district. Book lovers, take note: This area was home to the late Western author, Louis L'Amour.
Often called a "storybook village," Essex, Connecticut, is a little-known treasure on the Connecticut River. This historic seaport town has a quaint Main Street filled with the restored homes of sea captains, galleries and boutique shops. Don&rsquot miss the Connecticut River Museum, housed in an 1878 steamboat warehouse. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it&rsquos the only one of its kind still on the river. Train enthusiasts can catch the only steam-train-to-riverboat ride in the U.S. here.
New Castle, Delaware
The cobblestone streets in New Castle, Delaware, are a reminder of the town&rsquos colonial past. Visitors come to see fine townhomes and mansions like the Read House & Gardens or stroll beside the Delaware River in lovely Battery Park. Other popular attractions are tours of period homes and churches like Dutch House, Amstel House and Immanuel Episcopal Church on the Green. The downtown courthouse, shown here, is part of the First State National Historical Park.
Crystal River, Florida
Located on Florida's Nature Coast, Crystal River draws visitors who enjoy boating, diving, fishing and eco-touring. It's also the only place in the United States where people are allowed to swim with manatees when accompanied by trained guides. Visitors may also see these beloved "sea cows" when they kayak or paddleboard or walk the Three Sisters Springs boardwalk in Crystal River. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a short drive away.
Discover dinosaurs and fine Western Art in Cartersville, Georgia, located about 50 minutes from Atlanta. Its world-class Tellus Science Museum houses permanent galleries of minerals, fossils, transportation technology and much more, while the Booth Western Art Museum is the world&rsquos largest permanent exhibition space for Western art. After browsing the museums, visit Cartersville&rsquos historic downtown and make a selfie in front of the first painted wall ad for Coca-Cola.
Visitors come to the charming town of Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii, for its world-famous Punalu'u Black Sand Beach and the Kahuku Unit of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Downtown Hilo offers a fun mix of shops, restaurants, museums and art galleries to explore. Many of its old, wooden storefronts are on the National Register of Historic Places.
History buffs, take note: The entire town of Wallace, Idaho, is on the National Historic Register. This 1884 mining town, nicknamed "the center of the universe," offers historical sites, museums and outdoor adventures that include the Rails to Trails Hall of Fame Route of the Hiawatha bike trail (shown here), the Trail of the Coeur d&rsquoAlenes and the Pulaski Tunnel Trail.
Alton, Illinois, the hometown of jazz musician Miles Davis, is located where Route 66 meets the Great River Road. This quaint river town is known for its limestone bluffs, which make it one of the best spots in the U.S. to see bald eagles. Every January and February, the town kicks off the eagle-watching season with the Alton Audubon Eagle Ice Festival. Alton is reportedly one of the most haunted small towns in America at least 10 spirits are said to inhabit the McPike Mansion.
Spend a day relaxing by beautiful Winona Lake in Warsaw, Indiana, and leave time to wander through the beautiful, historic Village at Winona. Once a summer retreat, this Northern Indiana destination is now a shopping mecca and a venue for concerts, performances and festivals. The Village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Explore your Norwegian heritage in Decorah, Iowa, population 8,127 and home to an annual Nordic Fest and the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. Even if you're not of Nordic descent, you'll want to ride the popular Trout Run Trail, an 11-mile bike trail that loops around the community, or visit Decorah to fish for trout, shop for fresh produce at the local farmers' market, and buy heirloom seeds at the famous Seed Savers Exchange.
The small town of Lindsborg, often called "Little Sweden USA," is located off Highway I-135 in Kansas. Stop downtown to explore the fine art galleries and unique shops, or stay for a weekend and see how many colorful dala (Swedish folk-art figures of horses) you can find. Plan to visit during a festival to enjoy live Swedish folk dancing.
In 2019, Paducah, Kentucky, celebrates its fifth anniversary as a UNESCO Creative City it&rsquos one of only nine in the U.S. This riverside town has a blossoming culinary scene (five new eateries in repurposed historic buildings have opened), and its many studios, workshops, galleries and cultural events attract quilters, fiber artists and other creatives.
Every spring, Ponchatoula, Louisiana, celebrates its delicious berry crop with a Strawberry Festival held in beautiful, historic Memorial Park. The town is known as America's Antique City, thanks to the many restored shops in the downtown area where you can purchase antiques, handcrafted items and artwork. Wondering about the town's name? It comes from a Choctaw Indian word meaning "hair to hang," which refers to the Spanish moss that hangs from the local trees.
Once a shipbuilding center, Kennebunkport, Maine, became a summer retreat by the late 1800s affluent vacationers flocked to the grand hotels and mansions along its coastline. Visitors still come each summer to relax on the beaches and stroll around the town. Don't miss Dock Square, a popular shopping area in a village setting, and drive along Ocean Avenue for spectacular coastal views.
Cumberland, Maryland, was known as the "Gateway to the West" for its vital roads, rails and canals. Today, it draws bikers who connect through the town to two legendary bike trails, the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath. History buffs and nature lovers come to ride the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and drive the Historic National Road scenic byway. Cumberland is also a shopping destination for great local, regional and national works of art.
The seaport of Nantucket, Massachusetts, lies just 26 miles south of Cape Cod. Visitors come to stroll its cobblestone streets and weather-beaten wharves and explore its charming Main Street, known for its fascinating architecture, boutiques and shops, galleries, restaurants and museums. The entire 50-square-mile island is a National Historic Landmark. Sailors once called it the "Little Grey Lady of the Sea," and National Geographic has ranked it as the world's best island. Shown here: a view from Cliffside Beach Club.
Picturesque Houghton, in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula, is surrounded by inland lakes and streams. Its 233 miles of snowmobile trails and world-class biking opportunities attract adventurers, and history buffs come to explore its colorful mining past. The sunsets on Lake Superior are stunning, and in the winter, McLain State Park, shown here, invites visitors to hike, enjoy its spectacular ice formations, cross-country ski and snowshoe.
Park Rapids, Minnesota
Go ahead. Park in the middle of Main Avenue in Park Rapids, Minnesota. (It's okay to park on the sides, too. The shops and restaurants here are so popular, the town built extra-wide streets.) Vacationers come to enjoy the lake and stay at nearby resorts or campgrounds Park Rapids is a gateway to the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park. Pick up some buttery caramels at Aunt Belle's Confectionary, browse the craft and quilt stores, or shop for cabin decor and other items.
Hannibal, Missouri, celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2019. Author Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, lived in this Mississippi River town as a boy. In his honor, it offers a variety of shops, museums, riverboat rides and other experiences, many based on his characters. A week-long Tom Sawyer Days Festival is held each year. A new Big River Steampunk Festival has been drawing visitors, too, many of whom dress in Victorian-era costumes.
National Geographic once named Whitefish, Montana, one of the "Top 25 Ski Towns in the World," but this small town on the shores of Whitefish Lake offers even more to do and see. Visitors come to snowboard, hike, boat, bike and enjoy live, professional theater and fine dining. For nature lovers, Glacier National Park is a short drive away.
Nebraska City, Nebraska
Home to the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center, and a former station on the Underground Railroad, Nebraska City, Nebraska, is especially lovely in the fall. The changing colors of the trees, u-pick apple orchards and cozy lodgings draw visitors. Don't miss Arbor Day Farm, where you can take a ride through the trees, and stop to pick apples at Kimmel Orchard to eat fresh or turn into pies.
Carson City, Nevada
Carson City, Nevada, dates back to the 1850s, when the discovery of silver in nearby Comstock Lode made it a boom town. Today, Victorian-era homes still stand in the historic downtown area and along the popular Kit Carson Trail. History buffs will find plenty to explore here, including the Nevada State Railroad Museum. The Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum is scheduled to open in spring 2019.
Littleton, New Hampshire
Some 5,937 people reside in Littleton, nestled in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire. This lovely, walkable town, settled in 1770, draws visitors with old-fashioned shops like Chutters, home to the world&rsquos longest candy counter. (It offers 112 feet of jellybeans, chocolates and other popular and nostalgic treats.) Littleton also boasts America&rsquos oldest ski shop, Lahout&rsquos, and elegant, historic lodgings like Thayers Inn.
Lambertville, New Jersey
"The Antiques Capital of New Jersey," Lambertville is home to a variety of talented artists and crafters whose shops and galleries sit alongside the scenic Delaware River. This town of 4,000 residents, founded in 1705, also boasts federal townhouses and Victorian homes, a restored 19th-century train depot, Zagat-rated restaurants and award-winning hotels and B&Bs. Shoppers can find treasures at The People&rsquos Store Antiques and Design Center and other shops on Bridge, Main and Union Streets.
Taos, New Mexico
Taos is a small gem of a town at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Northern New Mexico. Known for its historic adobe architecture and Taos Pueblo, a village continuously inhabited for more than a thousand years, it's rich in Hispanic and Native American history. Look for regional artwork in the town's many galleries and museums.
Skaneateles, New York
Celebrities and former presidents discovered charming Skaneateles, New York, years ago. Like other visitors, they&rsquove come for live performances at the gazebo on Skaneateles Lake, the farm-to-table restaurants, tour boat cruises and racetrack, and to admire the beautiful waterfalls and restored buildings dating back to 1796. This four-season destination hosts festivals, art shows and other events throughout the year.
Book lovers know Oxford, Mississippi, as the home of world-famous author William Faulkner. It was also once the home of contemporary author John Grisham. Nicknamed the "Cultural Mecca of the South," Oxford attracts artists, musicians and prominent chefs like James Beard Award winner John Currence. The town square, with its decades-old bookstore, boutiques, vinyl record shop and more, is a don't-miss.
Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Residents of Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, like to say their town is the "cure for the common beach." The beach is accessible by ferry and sits beside Silver Lake, a scenic harbor. It's popular for its shops and restaurants, historic British cemetery, and its light station, the oldest still operating in the state. Like a good scare? Take a ghost walk with a descendant of Blackbeard's quartermaster, or catch a short boat ride to Portsmouth Island's so-called ghost village.
Medora, North Dakota
Find your inner cowboy in Medora, located in North Dakota's Badlands. This historic city offers lots of Old West charm, thanks to its proximity to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the non-motorized Maah Daah Hey Trail System, 144 miles of breathtakingly scenic trails. Buy tickets for the Medora Musical, a western-style show dedicated to Roosevelt's legacy, and gaze up at the dark sky at night visitors sometimes see the Northern Lights.
Every year, the riverboat community of Marietta, Ohio, which sits along the convergence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers, celebrates with a Sternwheel Festival. From its beginnings as the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory, Marietta has become a thriving town, and its revitalized, historic downtown boasts art galleries, a music hall, museums and unique shops.
Medicine Park, Oklahoma
Medicine Park feels almost hidden in the Wichita Mountains in Southwestern Oklahoma. But that&rsquos part of its charm, along with its many shops and restaurants built in old cobblestone structures made from locally quarried granite. In fair weather, visitors congregate at Bath Lake, a restored "swimming hole," mountain bike on the Lawtonka trail system, paddle board or just relax in comfortable rental cabins.
Historic Jacksonville, Oregon, is in Southern Oregon's wine country and a gateway to the Applegate Valley Wine Trail. Come in the summer to enjoy the Britt Music & Arts Festival, the Pacific Northwest's premier outdoor summer performing arts event, or explore the town's independently owned shops, restaurants and hiking and biking trails year-round. Jacksonville has been called one of America's 10 "coolest small towns."
Recently listed in Smithsonian Magazine as one of "The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2018," Latrobe, Pennsylvania, honors its native son, TV pioneer Fred Rogers, with the new Fred Rogers Trail. Tourists can stop at the Latrobe Brewery (the original home of Rolling Rock beer) and Saint Vincent College (home of the summer training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers), or just head to a local ice cream shop to celebrate Latrobe as the birthplace of the banana split.
Bristol, Rhode Island
One of Rhode Island&rsquos most picturesque towns, Bristol is still largely unknown to many travelers. They&rsquore missing its fine cuisine, fascinating history and architecture, and the many different waterfront activities offered along its miles of coastline. Visitors can explore a historic saltwater farm and oceanfront wildlife refuge, tour the Herreshoff Marine Museum/America&rsquos Cup Hall of Fame, enjoy Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum (called one of New England's top five public gardens by Yankee Magazine), or stroll the pedestrian-friendly downtown area.
Newberry, South Carolina
Newberry, South Carolina, is a college town with lots of extras: lovely architecture, a historic Opera House, a winery where rocking chairs beckon from a big porch and world-class dining and drinking experiences. Nicknamed the "City of Friendly Folks," it's been called one of the 100 best small towns in America.
Yankton, South Dakota
Settlers moving West often stopped along the Missouri River at what is now Yankton, South Dakota, and riverboat captains once built their large Victorian homes there. Today, the town draws history buffs and water sports enthusiasts. Visitors can kayak, sail, fish or canoe on the Missouri National Recreational River, which runs along Yankton's historic waterfront, or on Lake Yankton or Lewis and Clark Lake. Landlubbers can enjoy beautiful Riverside Park and Meridian Bridge, a converted railroad bridge that leads into Nebraska.
Home to a 70-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, Tennessee, draws visitors to its historic district and winery. It's also known for hosting the World's Biggest Fish Fry, where the town serves more than five tons of catfish every year. Reel in your own catch at Paris Landing State Park, shown here, or golf, swim and camp. An annual Christmas festival, Heritage Center and dozens of seasonal events are other big draws.
The original buildings in Gruene, Texas, built circa 1800 to 1900s, almost fell to developers until an architecture student from the University of Texas at Austin saved the day. His efforts helped land the town on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, residents and visitors shop at local boutiques and Old Gruene Market Days, tube the Comal River and dance at Gruene Hall, built in 1878. The town is about a 45-minute drive from Austin and an hour from San Antonio.
Home to the largest animal sanctuary in the U.S., Kanab, Utah, combines the spectacular geography of the Rocky Mountains with the Desert Southwest. It's also the gateway to the south entrance of Zion National Park and a short drive away from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Lake Powell and other don't-miss stops. Dozens of Westerns have been filmed in or near the town, earning its nickname, "Little Hollywood."
It's the smallest state capital in the U.S., but Montpelier, Vermont, has a thriving arts and music scene, and it's rich in history and natural beauty. It's also home to the New England Culinary Institute, so visitors come for its diverse cuisine and fine restaurants. Wintertime brings snowshoeing, ice fishing, ice climbing, skiing and other outdoor sports to enjoy.
One side of the main street in downtown Bristol lies in Virginia the other is in Tennesee. This lovely Appalachian Mountains town is a destination for music lovers and history buffs. Check out the Smithsonian-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum, and hear live music nightly at venues or events around town. Bristol also boasts art galleries, great local dining spots and live dance and theatrical performances. It's a designated Arts & Entertainment District.
La Conner, Washington
Visitors often come to La Conner, Washington, a small town on the waterfront, for some "retail therapy" at its galleries, needlecraft and quilt stores, gift shops and wine bars. It&rsquos also known for its delicious eateries and, for travelers, its easy access to Interstate 5 and the ferry to the San Juan Islands. Each spring, La Conner hosts its popular Daffodil Festival, where thousands of cheerful daffs open against the backdrop of Mt. Baker. More tulips, iris and daffodil bulbs are produced in La Conner than any other county in the U.S.
Thomas, West Virginia
Wear your comfortable shoes for a self-guided walking tour around Thomas, West Virginia, where you'll find more than 50 homes and sites on the National Historic Register. Along the way, stop for a cuppa at a coffee shop or browse the town's unique art galleries and antique shops. The Purple Fiddle and Fiddler's Roost Guesthouse are located on historic Front Street in this lovely mountain town, overlooking the North Fork on the Blackwater River.
Fish Creek, Wisconsin
Arts and outdoor adventures meet in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, in the northern Door County Peninsula. This walkable town offers hundreds of miles of scenic trails and shoreline. In warm weather, visit the local apple and cherry orchards and wineries, bike or hike in Peninsula State Park, play on the beaches or enjoy live entertainment. In the winter, book a cozy cabin, visit the charming shops and play in the snow.
Think "New West" when you visit Sheridan, Wyoming. Neon signs line its historic Main Street, where legendary outlaws once roamed. Town highlights include the Sheridan Inn (once the home of Buffalo Bill), the Brinton Museum (dedicated to 19th, 20th and 21st century Western and American Indian art) and the Mint Bar, the oldest bar in town. Ride into the foothills to explore local ranches and enjoy the stunning beauty, or hike the canyons of the Bighorn Mountains.
The Usual's fried chicken is anything but usual. It's made with a colorful mix of cajun herbs and spices that make it stand out in a city saturated with fried chicken places from all across the country, and the world. Furthermore, it comes with a house made ranch that's so good you'll end up licking your plate. Even on a menu with dozens of ensembles designed by chef Alvin Cailan, it's the restaurant's top-rated dish on Yelp (where The Usual has an impressive 4.5-star rating).
Note: If you find yourself craving fried chicken in upstate New York, check out Hattie's Restaurant in Saratoga Springs. Whereas The Usual opened last year, Hattie's has been serving award-winning fried chicken since 1938. (Its chicken was even once deemed the "best fried chicken in the U.S." by Food & Wine Magazine.)
The South's Tastiest Town: Durham, NC
A scrappy scene of artisans devoted to coffee beans, brews, and the craft of humble foods.
With a reverence for life&aposs everyday pleasures (we&aposre talking coffee, beer, pizza, and pie here), a passionate mix of chefs, farmers, brewers, bakers, and baristas have quietly transformed Durham into one of the hottest food destinations in the South.
Part of what makes Bull City compelling is the confluence of old and new: Its foodie future is gradually wiping out its tobacco past, yet remnants of the town&aposs first industry provide a backdrop for its current scene. Both the American Tobacco Historic District and Brightleaf Square, two mixed-use developments brimming with restaurants, bars, and live music venues, are housed in former tobacco warehouses that date back to the 1800s and 1900s. The town&aposs top tastemakers are also drawing national attention. Durham recently scored four James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist nods, includ- ing one for Scott Howell at Nana&aposs for Best Chef Southeast.
But it&aposs not white tablecloth restaurants driving the scene here. Instead, it&aposs artisans committed to crafting their own to-die-for takes on simple culinary delights. Take Phoebe Lawless, owner of celebrated Scratch Bakery, who left fine-dining kitchens to create swoon- worthy pies. Durham is also home to the South&aposs best buzz, thanks to beverage makers Counter Culture Coffee, the acclaimed roaster that schools baristas across the country, and Fullsteam Brewery and Tavern, which uses locally sourced grains and native ingredients like sweet potatoes, figs, persimmons, and chestnuts to produce brews with a distinctly Southern flavor.
Some inventive new sipping and snacking spots evolved from whimsical on-the-go prototypes. Cocoa Cinnamon, a new coffee, chocolate, and tea lounge, began as a coffee bike, while Monuts Donuts, which serves beer, bubbles, and handmade donuts, started as a wildly popular cart.
Even the city&aposs full-fledged restaurants have embraced the local trend of elevated casual fare. In his first solo venture, Matt Kelly of Mateo Tapas deftly concocts Spanish tapas with a Southern influence (such as his take on chicharrónes: chicken-fried chicken skin with piquillo chowchow). Last fall, Durham native Gray Brooks opened Pizzeria Toro, where he composes wood-fired pies with house-made sausage, artisan cheese, and delicacies such as Hog Island Bay clams.
"There will always be this grit, honesty, and blue-collar history that makes Durham so authentic," says Sean Lilly Wilson, owner of Fullsteam Brewery. His family- and dog-friendly beer garden—which might include a mix of post-race runners, Duke scientists, and farmers𠅎pitomizes best the eclectic, egalitarian, "it&aposs good to be in Durham" food scene.
You&aposll need two hands for the local, pasture-raised burgers ($10) at Geer Street Garden. Crust enthusiasts can&apost miss Gray Brooks&apos white pizza with Brussels sprouts, pancetta, and cippolini onions ($14) at Pizzeria Toro, or the tart-sweet Lemon Shaker Pie ($3.50/slice) at Scratch Bakery.
Stop in for a pint of Fullsteam Southern Lager ($4) and a lively scene at Fullsteam Brewery and Tavern.
What to Eat in Wisconsin: Iconic Eats from America's Dairyland
Everybody knows Wisconsin is renowned for its top-notch cheese — but that's not the only food the state is known for. Here's a tally of all the great grub Wisconsin has to offer, plus tips on where to sample the iconic eats.
Photo By: Wisconsin Bakers Association
Photo By: www.oldfashionedthemovie.com
Photo By: Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant
Photo By: Inthewoods Sugar Bush
Photo By: Deer Creek Cheese
Photo By: White Gull Inn, Jon Jarosh
Photo By: OJâs Midtown Restaurant
Photo By: The Walker House
Photo By: Island Cafe and Bakery
Photo By: Native Food Network
From Colby to Craft Beer
It&rsquos known as America&rsquos Dairyland, but Wisconsin serves up an extraordinary array of edibles: produce from apples to zucchini ethnic sausages and grass-fed meats fish from lake and stream foraged foods and specialties like craft beers and cream puffs. And, oh yeah, there&rsquos also cheese galore. The state&rsquos lush food culture stems from its varied geography and climate, a rich tapestry of ethnic backgrounds and a deep-rooted history of dairying and mixed agriculture. In Wisconsin, we don&rsquot just celebrate with food we celebrate because of food.
Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs
If you like sausages, you’ll love Wisconsin, where butcher shops churn out a cornucopia of links — the savory, spicy gift of diverse ethnic groups that have settled in the state throughout its history. The undisputed king is bratwurst, the German-style sausage that’s mandatory at picnics, tailgate parties and backyard cookouts. In fact, when the Green Bay Packers play at home, you can smell the peppery aroma for miles around Lambeau Field. Still, the most-brat-obsessed town in the state is Sheboygan, self-proclaimed Bratwurst Capital of the World, where joints like the Charcoal Inn offer a “double with the works”— two brats on an oversized hard roll with mustard, onions, pickles and ketchup. (There are locations on both sides of town just follow your nose.)
European-born cream puffs earned local status at the Wisconsin State Fair during the 1940s, when visitors queued up in the Wisconsin Bakers Association’s facility there to get a rare taste of a wartime scarcity, whipped cream. Bakers heaped dense clouds of it into golden pastry puffs and showered the treats with powdered sugar. No wonder the demand turned into a tradition. Today, visitors down some 50,000 cream puffs a day during the fair’s two-week run. Can’t make it to the state fair? Then get thee to a dairy festival or county fair, where the longest line at the event will lead you directly to a cream puff truck or stand.
Brandy Old Fashioned
If states had official cocktails, as they do mottos, Wisconsin’s would certainly be the brandy old fashioned. Why brandy and not whiskey, as is customary elsewhere? It could be the penchant for fruit brandies that Germans brought to Wisconsin in the 19th century. It could be marketing: Some say Korbel’s introduction of its brandy in 1893 at the Columbian Expo in Chicago turned the heads of Wisconsin Germans who visited the fair and then spread the word throughout Dairyland. Old Fashioned's go hand in hand with another beloved regional institution, the supper club. At classic places like the Ding-A-Ling, the cocktails are so prevalent as an evening starter that bartenders can practically mix them with their eyes closed.
Stroll downtown in the village of New Glarus and it’s as if you’ve been transplanted to Old World Switzerland. Chalet-style storefronts and a quaint hillside church set the stage for the Glarner Stube, a Swiss restaurant with carved-wood decor, a hammered-copper-topped bar and a community feeling inside. Diners start with a stein of beer and a chewy landjaeger sausage, both from nearby producers, then order pork schnitzel or veal kalburwurst or maybe a bubbly cheese fondue. Whatever the choice, locals know not to skip the roesti, a crusty golden round of butter-fried grated potatoes with onions and melty Swiss cheese throughout.
Surface-ripened, aged and famously malodorous, Limburger is a 19th-century northern European cheese that was traditionally layered between slices of dark bread with raw onions and horseradish (or mustard) and washed down with good local beer. When the sandwich-beer combo came to Green County, Wisconsin, with Swiss and German immigrants, taverngoers went for it in such a big way that it wasn’t until decades later, when saloons closed during Prohibition, that Limburger sales declined. Yet the last Limburger cheese factory in the country, Chalet Cheese Co-op, still makes and distributes more than a million pounds of it annually, and you can still get an authentic Limburger cheese sandwich at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern, located on the town square in little Monroe.
Limpa bread? Waitresses wearing dirndls? Goats grazing on the sod roof? It can only be one place: Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay, near the top of Wisconsin’s Door County Peninsula. Tourists flock here to photograph the goats, to browse the Scandinavian boutique and, most of all, to dig into thin, eggy folded Swedish pancakes with tart lingonberries. (For lunch or dinner, it’s Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes.) Scandinavian heritage is strong in Door County, and Al Johnson’s has been its icon for decades.
Beer, bratwurst and cheese may be Wisconsin’s best-known culinary icons, but when it comes to reflecting the region’s history, culture and climate, they can’t beat maple syrup. It’s a deeply beloved, hauntingly delicious indigenous food that permeates Wisconsin’s history, seasons its cooking (both sweet and savory) and shapes its cultural psyche. Most of the state’s maple operations are family-run businesses that market locally and online, like Inthewoods Sugar Bush of Manitowoc. The folks at Inthewoods also welcome visitors during maple season, to show off their syrup in the making and share that wondrous, life-is-sweet taste of 100 percent pure liquid gold.
Few towns have as close an identification with a food as Racine, the kringle capital of the nation. Bakeries there produce millions of the multilayered, fruit-filled pastries annually, meeting the formidable local demand and shipping to kringle lovers nationwide. Like many of Racine’s residents, kringle is a result of Danish immigration in the 1800s. And like most newcomers, it adapted to American ways while retaining its ethnic heritage. It was once a huge, doughcentric, pretzel-shaped affair, but today’s kringle is smaller, flatter and oval-shaped, with many filling varieties and a high ratio of fruit to pastry. Nobody bakes it better than the folks at O&H Bakery, where Wisconsin Kringle features two local favorites: cranberries (the state’s No. 1 fruit) and cherries from fruit-growing Door County. Kringle became Wisconsin’s official pastry in 2013.
Two of Wisconsin’s signature foods come together in beer-cheese soup, a luscious, grin-producing potage found on countless menus around the state. At The Old Fashioned in Madison, where regionally sourced cheeses, meats, potables and other specialties are the order of the day, the beer-cheese soup is made with Huber Bock beer and sharp cheddar, and is garnished with yet another Wisconsin favorite: popcorn. As for the rest of the menu, if you read through all the food descriptions in this gallery and find yourself wishing for a place you could try them all, your best bet is The Old Fashioned, “where Wisconsin is king.”
Fried Cheese Curds
Cheese curds are small, bumpy lumps of (usually) cheddar that are collected before the cheese has formed into blocks. Kids of all ages love them for their moist, springy bite and mild, salty flavor. Try to get them as fresh as possible, before they are fully chilled, because that’s when they squeak. Yes, this cheese makes noise when you eat it. Fresh cheese curds are hugely popular in Wisconsin, but deep-fried cheese curds have attained cultlike status. Batter-fried and served with tasty dips, they’re on the menu at such restaurants as the landmark Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee. Guess what goes really well with them? Yep: beer.
If you think cheese must be strong-flavored and stinky to be world-class, think again. Invented in Wisconsin by Joseph F. Steinwand in 1885, Colby is sweet-salty and mild-mannered, with a buttery note and a pleasingly nubby texture. It’s so yummy, in fact, that one factory’s version of it was deemed the best cheese in the world in 1982. The reputation of this classic suffered during the 1990s, however, due to efficiency demands and changes in standards of identity, and these days only a few cheesemakers still make the real deal. Among them are Hook’s (winner of that global honor) and Deer Creek Cheese, whose handmade Colby is named after Wisconsin’s state bird, the robin.
Friday Night Fish Fry
Fried-fish meals occur in many parts of the country, but seldom are they as communal, habitual and widespread, and nowhere are they as closely identified with a state, as they are in Wisconsin. The tradition links Wisconsinites to their water-wealthy environment and to a history of native and immigrant dependence on this once-abundant food source. Additional factors that drive the weekly craze include a large Catholic population (who historically went meatless on Friday) and the influence of gemütlichkeit, a German concept that connotes sociability in the context of food and drink. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of fish-fry joints in Wisconsin. If you can experience only one, make it the landmark Serb Hall in Milwaukee. It’s big. It’s beloved. And it’s terrifically good.
Artisanal Cheese Plate
Wisconsin’s “cheeseheads” chuckle good-naturedly at their nickname but also take immense pride in it, in part because America’s Dairyland crafts nearly half of the nation’s artisanal cheeses. Many are featured at Fromagination, a premier cheese shop that’s perhaps the best place in the state to assemble a cheese plate. Located on the Capitol Square in Madison, Fromagination carrries such champions as Marieke Gouda Mature, a 2013 world champion that’s aged on Dutch pine planks, and Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese, the most-awarded cheese in American history, which is a Gruyère-like variety made from the nonpasteurized milk of a single herd.
The name is weird the meal is anything but. The defining culinary experience of Wisconsin’s thumb-shaped, water-surrounded Door County, a fish boil is an unctuous combo of fresh whitefish and red potatoes (and sometimes baby onions) cooked over fire in salty water, drizzled with hot butter and served with rye bread, coleslaw and the fruit-growing region’s signature dessert, tart cherry pie. Thing is, you don’t just eat a fish boil you attend one. At restaurants like the White Gull Inn of Fish Creek, tourists gather at dusk around the outdoor boil pot, breathe in the smoke-happy scents and gasp at the final drama, when fuel hits fire, flames shoot high and the water boils over to douse the blaze. Then local, communal and gourmet-worthy dinner is served.
Ahh, frozen custard. Plush, creamy and egg-enriched, with no sparing of butterfat, this Dairyland treat is a Wisconsin phenomenon. It came north via the 1925 World’s Fair in Chicago and first took hold in Milwaukee, where ice harvesting and access to fresh cream from nearby farms made it a natural fit. One of the most-lauded custard companies today is Kopp’s, started by the late Elsa Kopp in 1950 with three locations. Custard’s reach widened in recent years with the growth of Culver’s, a regional fast-food-and-frozen-custard chain that operates nearly 600 restaurants in the Midwest and beyond.
Cream Pies and Tortes
Small-town diners are places where folks build bonds of community connection and identity, often over pie. And in Wisconsin, it’s likely to be over cream pie. (It’s the Dairy State, after all.) At OJ’s Midtown in friendly little Gillett, the bakers are pie artists who fill homemade crusts with every imaginable flavor of creamy custard — banana, coconut, peanut butter, sour cream raisin, chocolate and more — and smother the pies with whipped cream or meringue. Related to cream pies, and just as iconic as a Dairyland diner dessert, are tortes, which are not the fancy cakes of European fame, but chilled confections that typically start with a nut or cookie crust that’s layered first with cream cheese pudding, gelatin, fruit or ice cream, then with whipped cream and finally with nuts or crushed cookies or candy. Yowza.
Hmong Egg Rolls
When Hmong refugees came to Wisconsin after the Vietnam War, they — like so many immigrant groups before them — brought their own flavors to the state’s culinary culture. Hmong growers introduced fragrant lemongrass, footlong asparagus beans and other Southeast Asian crops at farmers markets around the state. They opened restaurants that feature fresh, colorful traditional dishes like larb (ground beef and herb salad salad), som tum (spicy vegetable slaw) and spring rolls. Especially popular is the Hmong fried egg roll, which is filled with noodles, vegetables and meat, set off by fiery chile sauce. Visit Hmong’s Golden Egg Rolls in La Crosse for the real thing.
When the last big glacier swept down from Canada across Wisconsin 10,000 years ago and petered out near the southwestern corner of the state, it left that region’s wooded hills and deep, river-filled valleys free of glacial drift . making it the best place in the state to find forest mushrooms. Indeed, hunting for morels — those most elusive and delectable of mushrooms — is a passion for area families during the damp days of May. Non-foragers look to farmers markets, grocery stores and farm stands for their supply, or attend the annual Morel Mushroom Festival in Muscoda, the state’s official Morel Capital. And chefs at local-foods-focused restaurants, such as the Driftless Café in Viroqua, positively revel in the bounty.
Created in the early 1970s at the groundbreaking Ovens of Brittany restaurant-bakery in Madison, morning buns are so lushly delicious they once caused a journalist to declare: “Only one other thing is better in the morning than a morning bun.” The legendary pastry was born when a baker sprinkled cinnamon sugar onto croissant dough, rolled and cut the dough into oversize rounds, baked these until high and golden, then tumbled the warm buns in more cinnamon-sugar. The city was addicted at first whiff. The Ovens organization — which grew to seven restaurants, in part because of the pastry’s popularity — is gone today, but the morning bun lives on at bakeries around the state. For the real McCoy, in all its flaky, cinnamon-y glory, visit Lazy Jane’s Cafe on Madison’s east side.
Wooden booths, tin ceilings and a bakery case full of homemade specialties give Schubert’s a cozy, old-fashioned feel. Located on Main Street in downtown Mt. Horeb — one of many Norwegian-American enclaves in Wisconsin — the restaurant includes Norwegian specialties like crispy rosette pastries and tender lefse (potato crepes) on its mostly Americana menu. Don’t miss their Norwegian meatballs, served with real mashed potatoes and homemade gravy. Around the state, Norwegian meatballs are also a favorite at church suppers and Syttende Mai (May 17) events, which celebrate Norway’s Constitution Day.
When Cornish miners came to southwestern Wisconsin in the early 19th century to work the newly opened lead mines there, they brought a taste for pasties with them. Cornish wives filled the hearty, hand-held pies with almost anything — meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, even cooked fruit. Today, at area festivals and restaurants like The Walker House, the customary pasty features beef and potatoes. But you'll still hear a bit of old folklore repeated about how people with Cornish blood have great virtue, since, as is said, the devil is afraid to come near them for fear that he'll be put into a pasty. The turnovers have a presence in northern Wisconsin, too, where Cornish miners also immigrated, and where other ethnic groups took to pasties so enthusiastically that the pies gained a regional identity.
Imagine a pat of butter melting atop a grilled rib eye and you’ll get the appeal of the Kroll’s East burger style. It starts with a hand-formed Black Angus beef patty that is charcoal-grilled, accented with condiment choices and crowned with real Wisconsin butter. Tucked inside a toasted hard roll, the sandwich is crusty on the outside and bathed in buttery juices on the inside. No wonder Kroll’s burgers have been a Green Bay favorite since the place opened in 1935. A rival Kroll’s across town (with different owners) and plenty of other hamburger joints in Wisconsin also do their own variations of the butter burger.
Smoked fish is a Wisconsin tradition that dates to native peoples who preserved their catch by slow-cooking it over a smoldering flame. Woodsy-sweet, as delicious as secret good news, the delicacy is available in several varieties, including whitefish and lake trout from the Great Lakes and rainbow trout raised by inland fish farmers. It’s typically eaten plain with crackers or in a cream-cheese spread, and it becomes positively epicurean in the smoked whitefish chowder cooked up at the Island Cafe and Bread Company, a farm-to-table cafe and European style bakery on Lake Michigan’s tiny Washington Island.
Native to the region and about as nutritious as a food can get, wild rice has been vital to the diet and culture of indigenous tribes in the Wisconsin area for centuries. (One tribe, the Menominee, even took its name from an Indian term for the grain, manomin.) True wild rice — hand-harvested and deeply flavorful — has long faced threats such as development, mining and industrially grown paddy rice. But tribal initiatives like the Native Food Network are working to protect and promote this important gourmet grain the NFN’s Native Market and Gallery sells wild rice and other native foodstuffs online, as well as via a mobile farmers market and from a storefront in Madison.
Like the celebrated Door County fish boil dinner, booyah is a much-loved Great Lakes tradition that may be related to the one-pot, outdoor meals the region’s first peoples prepared. They likely shared their soupy, wild-foods concoctions with fur traders, who used some form of bouilli — a French root word for soups — to describe it. In northeastern Wisconsin the name became “booyah,” and the preparation a long-simmered, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink stew of chicken and vegetables that is ladled up at church picnics, taverns and family reunions. Or visit The Booyah Shed, a mobile restaurant that serves a mean booyah at the Green Bay Farmers Market and other community venues.
50 Best Leaf Peeping Small Towns Across the Country
Meet the most stunning fall foliage spots in America.
No fall would be complete without pumpkin picking, apple treats, cozy sweaters, and, of course, gorgeous foliage. Mother Nature puts on a breathtaking autumnal show year after year, which is why so many rightfully call fall their favorite season. But if you&rsquore itching to take your leaf peeping hobby beyond your neighborhood this year (or just want the perfect seasonal getaway), you definitely need to book a trip to one of these beautiful small towns in the United States, known for their autumnal displays and views. No matter where you live, there&rsquos a quaint spot just a hop, skip, and a jump away for your fall viewing pleasure. Soak up mountain locales&mdashlike Utah and Colorado&mdashbefore ski season hits for primo leaf peeping pleasure. Or, get views and brews with a journey to the "Bourbon Capitol of the World" in Kentucky. Nature-lovers of all ages will also thrive in picturesque places like Bayfield, Wisconsin, or Taos, New Mexico. From the California coast to New England and Vermont, these are the absolute best places to travel to this leaf peeping season. For even more autumn enjoyment, check out the best fall foliage train rides across the country and must-visit fall festivals.
The region is already known for its beautiful fall colors, but this scenic village in the Adirondacks also offers miles of lakes, mountains, and hiking trails to enhance your leaf peeping experience.
One of the best ways to glimpse fall colors? Cascading down the Great Smoky Mountains, which surround this eastern Tennessee town. Expect to see vibrant trees at various elevations throughout the season.
Vermont's known for having some of best fall color in the world, and no place proves it better than this charming town. Home to the famous Trapp Family Lodge, the quaint spot also boasts the most brilliant color peaks from the last week of September through the first few weeks of October.
The Boreas Pass Road and all nearby trails give visitors an up-close look at the colorful mountain views. We also recommend timing your trip around the area's annual Breckenridge Oktoberfest.
25 Happiest, Healthiest Cities In America
People who live on the Greek island of Ikaria are three times more likely to reach age 90 than the rest of us&mdashthey work hard, eat well, nap, have plenty of sex, and "just forget to die," as one resident told a researcher. They're living proof that where you call home can predict how healthy and happy you'll be. There are pockets of good health and contentment on our shores, too. We know: We painstakingly evaluated 100 of the nation's largest cities on 48 measures of health, happiness, and well-being to find the healthiest, happiest cities in America.
We explored the glorious: from access to green space and concert halls to number of farmers' markets (not to mention the inclination to eat five fruits and veggies a day). We looked at the grim: disease incidence, depression measures, unemployment rates, even FBI crime statistics. After some high-level number-crunching, we came up with 25 hometowns you may want to call your own. But don't bother packing. We also identified what put those ZIP codes on the list, and our tips will help you be healthy and happy wherever you live.
Why it won: Tops in eating organic produce
Happiness hub: Sunday morning Japantown farmers' market for exotic ethnic choices
Given San Jose's blissful Mediterranean climate, it's no surprise that this Silicon Valley hot spot came up at the top of our list. And organic food plays a big part. "It's not just that there are so many farmers' markets," says Marjorie Freedman, PhD, an associate professor of nutrition at San Jose State University. "It's that organic foods are available in many places, including mainstream restaurants and supermarkets. Plus, many people garden here, and since our growing season is so long, we're eating local tomatoes and zucchini for much of the year."
The city also boasts 18 community gardens on roughly 22 acres of land. More than half of the gardeners who tend them are immigrants from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe the produce they raise lends a sophisticated global flavor to an already upscale food culture.
San Jose is also committed to making healthy food accessible to everyone, right where they live. The city council recently passed an ordinance that will allow vendors to sell fresh fruits and vegetables near schools, libraries, community centers, and houses of worship.
Takeaway: Clean up your plate. There's growing evidence that exposure to pesticides can increase your odds of developing cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and other health problems. To find an organic market near you, visit localharvest.org.
Why it won: Low cancer rates, along with the best cancer-survival rates among our 100 cities
Happiness hub: The Japanese-style healing garden at Huntsman Cancer institute
Cancer must hate Salt Lake. Thanks to the influence of the Mormons, people in this city are both clean living and much younger than in other places in the United States. (Large families lower the median age to 30.9 years versus the national average of 37.) That may be one reason Salt Lake City has one of the lowest rates of cancer per 100,000 people in the country. And for those who do get sick, the capital of Utah ranks No. 1 in cancer survival.
That makes perfect sense to Anna Beck, MD, medical director of supportive oncology and survivorship at Huntsman Cancer Institute. "The most obvious reason is that the predominant religion doesn't endorse drinking or smoking," she says, "so that cuts down on cancer incidence. And when people do get sick, it often means they were healthier in the first place, so their chances of recovery are also better."
In addition, outdoorsy residents tend to keep their weight in healthy ranges, which also lowers cancer risk.
The area's strong family and social supports are also key. Dr. Beck, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, knows that firsthand: "I'm luck. I had a thousand patients as role models, and they pulled me through."
Takeaway: Watch your BMI. With fewer people smoking, Dr. Beck says, a greater proportion of cancers are caused by obesity and being overweight. One report predicts that if Americans could reduce their BMIs by 5%, we could actually avoid 530,000 cases of cancer by 2030. (Consider this better BMI diet.)
Why it won: Top scores for heart health
Happiness hub: chain of Lakes, a downtown park that provides more than 2 miles of idyllic canoeing
It's not the rustic Nordic diet that catapulted the Twin Cities to heart-healthy superstardom. Credit city planners, local doctors, and area hospitals&mdashand it's been decades in the making. "It's part of the fabric of our work here," says Courtney Jordan Baechler, MD, a cardiologist at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. "People have spent decades boosting heart health by making the area more bikeable, for example, and offering cholesterol and blood pressure screenings to everyone."
It also helps that people here tend to understand that food is medicine for the heart. Of our top cities, it has the highest per capita number of farmers' markets and among the highest access to fresh produce.
Takeaway: Stand up for your heart. Staying active is one of the best ways to lower risk of heart disease, but if you're sitting most of the day, regular exercise may not be as protective, according to a new study from Harvard University. Dr. Baechler tells her patients to take a 5-minute "movement break" every hour. (These 25 10-minute exercises fit the bill, too.)
Why it won: Top score in access to fitness facilities residents maintain healthy weights
Happiness hub: Yorba Regional Park&mdashlocals are more apt to visit there than Anaheim's Disneyland, the self-described Happiest Place on Earth
To most of the world, Anaheim is a tourist magnet, home not just to Disneyland but also to a massive convention center and two professional sports venues. And that's just fine with those who call the "real" Anaheim home, lapping up its many health-and-happiness perks, including some of the highest fitness scores in our survey.
Take Karolynne Johnson, 55, the chief nurse executive at Kaiser Permanente's Anaheim Medical Center, who has been living and working in the city for the past decade. "My fitness center is less than a half mile from my house," she says, "and through our fitness program at work, I do Zumba twice a week. On weekends, my husband and I go for a 45-minute walk together."
She says the city's sunny climate lends itself to spending as much time outdoors as possible, as does clever planning, such as Kaiser Permanente's extensive grounds: "There are beautiful fountains and gardens, and just walking from one building to another at work is enough to make me happy."
Takeaway: Find a gym you can't avoid. The American College of Sports Medicine says picking a fitness facility that's smack-dab in the middle of your life, like at the halfway point of your commute home, makes it more likely you'll use it.
Why it won: Has the most active residents, with the highest percentage of people who work out regularly
Happiness hub: Take your pick from beautiful beaches along 70 miles of coastline or the many mountain, desert, or canyon hiking trails.
San Diego makes our list not just because people who live here are so much more active than much of the country (they are) but also because they know how to make fitness fun.
Michelle Ocampo, 36, for example, is president of a club called the San Diego Surf Ladies. Yes, they surf. "But I also do yoga and run," says Ocampo, a project manager at a publishing company. "I like indoor soccer and flag football. And one of the things I love most about the surf club is that many of the members are into other sports, too, so we often go snowboarding or play tennis."
Takeaway: Schedule workouts&mdashin ink. People who exercise regularly are 85% more likely to be happy than those who don't, says a recent Canadian study. For mental health benefits, aim for 2 to 3 hours a week.
More from Prevention: 7 Habits Of Truly Happy People
Why it won: very high scores in regular church attendance
Happiness hub: Northern Plains Botanic Garden, designed by horticulturists to inspire mental reflection, rejuvenation, and artistic expression
Sure, the winters are long, snowy, and cold. But Fargo's fans say the city's strong sense of community, which shows up in high scores for regularly attending religious services, makes up for it. It's also a big clue to the town's warmth, says Stephanie Tollefson, 35, a pastor at Hope Lutheran Church, which welcomes some 5,000 worshippers weekly. "People say a generous heart is a happy heart, and I see that here. The more you connect with other people, the more joy you get back," she says. "And the more joy you have, the more you want to give back." In Fargo, she says, "people genuinely seem to want to belong to something that's bigger than just themselves."
Takeaway: Flex your faith. Research shows that participating in any formal religion or worship increases happiness measures, including well-being, a sense of belonging, and a sense of meaning. It also reduces anxiety and depression.
Why it won: Almost endless cultural offerings, perhaps one reason it has high physical and mental health scores, too
Happiness hub: Golden Gate Park's treasures, including bison and a tea garden
When it comes to big-city charm, San Francisco has all the usual urban offerings. But when it comes to nourishing the soul, the city's vibrant arts, entertainment, and recreational offerings set it apart. While it may seem obvious that those options make people happier, they also make them healthier: Research suggests that attending cultural events may lower blood pressure and help ward off anxiety and depression.
Those who love it here say the city's constantly changing cultural scene, including arts, entertainment, architecture, and food, feeds their spirit. "People here seem so very settled," says Kimberly Hayes, 36, executive director of the African American Art & Culture Complex, where she oversees theater, music, dance, and gallery events. A recent transplant from New York City, she loves exploring the city's neighborhoods when she runs. "In the evenings, I've been going to hear lots of music, including the symphony," she says. It's winning her heart: "There's so much to do here, and most people seem very content."
Takeaway: Up your culture consumption. A study of more than 1,200 US adults found that the more times people had been to an art exhibit, dance performance, music recital, play, or movie in the past year, the healthier they said they felt, no matter what their age.
Why it won: Highest scores in low crime rates and affordable fresh produce
Happiness hub: The University of Wisconsin&ndashMadison Arboretum, which includes prairies, savannas, and 20 miles of trails
Laid out on an isthmus surrounded by two sparkling lakes, Madison is known for its natural beauty. But it didn't win for its good looks. Madison's low crime rates and easy-to-find, budget-friendly healthy foods make it our No. 1 pick for city life. Neighborhoods are key, and more than 120 distinct neighborhood associations work together to protect each other. "Both the city and the police force here are very proactive," says Patti Seger, a nonprofit administrator who came to Madison for college in 1979 and never left. "Safety of all kinds is something people here take very seriously."
Madison is both a college town and state capital, which has made civic involvement part of its DNA. "This isn't a city of sheep," Seger says. "The fact that people here are so vigilant about what's happening in state and local politics also makes them more vigilant about crime." That safety means Madisonians move freely outdoors, riding the city's plentiful bike paths (plowed all winter), cross-country skiing under the lights at the city's largest trail, or paddling kayaks.
Madison is also home to the country's largest producer-only farmers' market. (If you didn't grow it or produce it yourself in Wisconsin, you can't sell it.)
Takeaway: Heart your 'hood. Community involvement doesn't just make you safe, it makes you healthy. Volunteering just 100 hours per year&mdashless than 2 hours a week&mdashhas been shown to boost self-esteem, reduce risks of heart disease and depression, and help you live longer. (Find the right opportunity to match your personality, here.)
Why it won: Highest levels of self-reported health
Happiness hub: The 19-mile bike trail, starting downtown in beautiful Falls Park, which spreads over 123 acres
When it comes to finding the pure essence of happiness, Sioux Falls must be on to something. While it didn't score particularly well in some of our key measures related to fitness and nutrition, its plain old "I feel great" esprit comes through loud and clear. Of the 100 cities we tracked, Sioux Falls is No. 1 in terms of people ranking their own health as "good or better." (It also got high marks for easy commutes, low crime and unemployment, and access to health insurance.)
"It's very free-spirited here, laid-back, and very family oriented," says Chantel Olson, 36, who runs an art business with her mother, Pennie Ogden, 60. "It's got a small-town feel, and yet it's big enough to make sure there's a good selection of things to do, from shopping downtown to eating at new restaurants."
Takeaway: Give yourself a health appraisal. Research has found that we're pretty good at assessing our health. In one study, people who rated their health as fair or poor had a twofold increase in risk of premature death, compared with those who ranked theirs as good or excellent.
Why it won: Off-the-charts mental health scores
Happiness hub: Any beach, anytime
Few states are as racially diverse as Hawaii, and the melting-pot mentality may be a key reason the people of Honolulu are so happy here. "There really is no majority group," says Bill Haning, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Hawaii. "That leads to a sense of belonging and of being respected that other cities may not enjoy."
Of course, it's healthy, too, with low BMIs and high cancer-survival rates. "Plus, we've had near-universal health care here since the 1970s, so most people get really good care," Dr. Haning says.
The other reason residents here are so happy? It's pretty close to heaven on earth, with rainbows, waterfalls, and balmy island breezes year-round.
"I literally pinch myself on my drive to work every day," says Nancy Sidun, PsyD, president-elect of the Hawaii Psychological Association. Her fellow Honoluluans appear to feel the same. "People really cherish that beauty. Whether you walk on the beach at 5 am or 8 pm, there is always someone swimming. Five months out of the year, you can see whales spouting."
Takeaway: Get more "vitamin G" (as in green). Being active outdoors increases your sense of well-being and reduces stress. Benefits kick in within 5 minutes.
Seattle High number of college graduates optimistic plenty of organic food purchases
Aurora, CO Highest overall health (a combination of low diabetes, cancer, and heart disease rates, as well as healthy BMIs) plenty of access to green space
Boise, ID Lowest rate of traffic fatalities lots of regular exercisers
Austin, TX Among the most active and college-educated in our review
Lincoln, NE The country's lowest unemployment rate healthy hearts
Raleigh, NC Low binge-drinking rates plenty of sneakers purchased
Plano, TX Tops in purchasing workout gear and organic products most married most pet owners highest percentage with bachelor's degrees lowest rate of violent crime
Colorado Springs Active low diabetes rates healthy blood pressure
Jersey City, NJ Highest per capita concentration of fitness professionals the most gyms highest score for overall access to fitness
Portland, OR Heart healthy cheerful easy access to affordable produce
Denver Healthy BMIs low cancer rates
Virginia Beach, VA Healthy cholesterol levels big buyers of athletic clothing
Boston Highest percentage of people with health coverage
Burlington, VT Lowest percentage of people with diabetes highest percentage of those who walk to work
Manchester, NH Impressive number of gyms and farmers' markets positive mental health status