Are These the Coolest Small Cities in America?

published Jan 19, 2018
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(Image credit: Baiterek Media)

In the ever-increasing quest to “live the dream,” one travel blog rated their favorite small cities with fewer than 100,000 residents. And municipal leaders are now keenly listening for the feedback.

According to travel blog Alot, these 30 smaller cities and towns rival the “big, crowded cities” for cultural offerings while they also “flow to a slower pace and have a lower cost of living.”

Some of the picks are truly puzzling — Newport, Rhode Island, Telluride and Aspen, Colorado for “lower cost of living”, really? — but others are increasingly familiar to anyone who follows such quality-of-life-seeking transience lists: smaller cities like Asheville, North Carolina and Charlottesville, Virginia have rapidly been growing in popularity both among millennials and so-called “half-back” retirees.

While Alot doesn’t share their methodology, the inference from their Twitter account is that it’s based on travel editor research and real traveler feedback, aka “cultivated by travel professionals and wanderlust enthusiasts.”

EfficientGov is looking to enhance that list with feedback from real locals living in the top ten of those 30 cities by running a Facebook photo contest through the month of January 2018. The aim seems to be reverse-engineering Alot’s methodology with a single question (and a photo that says 1,000 words):

How do local governments make these cities great places to live, work, and play?

(Image credit: aceshot)

Here are the “coolest” small cities in the United States right now:

  1. Newport, Rhode Island
  2. Aspen, Colorado
  3. Santa Fe, New Mexico
  4. Asheville, North Carolina
  5. Bentonville, Arkansas
  6. Greenville, South Carolina
  7. Ellensburg, Washington
  8. Spring Hill, Tennessee
  9. Telluride, Colorado
  10. St. George, Utah
  11. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
  12. Dubuque, Iowa
  13. Park City, Utah
  14. Portland, Maine
  15. Manhattan, Kansas
  16. Sedona, Arizona
  17. Monterey, California
  18. Bend, Oregon
  19. Saratoga Springs, New York
  20. Marfa, Texas
  21. Appleton, Wisconsin
  22. San Ramon, California
  23. Oviedo, Florida
  24. West Bend, Wisconsin
  25. Cedar Falls, Iowa
  26. Bismarck, North Dakota
  27. Beverly, Massachusetts
  28. Bozeman, Montana
  29. Charlottesville, Virginia
  30. Nashua, New Hampshire

To view the original list (along with each city’s population and headlining attractions), head to — and if you live in one of the first ten cities listed above, head over to Facebook to enter the related EfficientGov contest.