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America's best small towns

By Astead Herndon, Special to CNN
June 12, 2014 -- Updated 1848 GMT (0248 HKT)
Explore "America's Best Small Towns," listed here in alphabetical order. Wacky and wonderful, Ashland is an arts lover's dream. It's home to the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, Ashland New Plays Festival and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest regional repertory theater in the United States. Visitors can also enjoy dinner at one of the Northwest's signature seafood spots and a trip to Lithia Park. The latter is on the National Register of Historic Places and stretches over 90 acres. Explore "America's Best Small Towns," listed here in alphabetical order. Wacky and wonderful, Ashland is an arts lover's dream. It's home to the Oregon Cabaret Theatre, Ashland New Plays Festival and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest regional repertory theater in the United States. Visitors can also enjoy dinner at one of the Northwest's signature seafood spots and a trip to Lithia Park. The latter is on the National Register of Historic Places and stretches over 90 acres.
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Best small towns: Ashland, Oregon
Bardstown, Kentucky
Beaufort, South Carolina
Calistoga, California
Cooperstown, New York
Marfa, Texas
Paia, Hawaii
Port Townsend, Washington
Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Telluride, Colorado
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fodor's favorite small towns have fewer than 30,000 residents
  • One small town can be seen in the movie "Forrest Gump"
  • One baseball hall of fame town has a lot more than baseball going on

(CNN) -- With their quaint downtowns, undeniably charming shops and distinct personalities, small towns have long held a special place in the American heart.

That homey feel can also appeal to city travelers longing for a slice of small town Americana.

The best of the best are included in Fodor's Travel second-annual list of "America's Best Small Towns," released Thursday. From a funky arts town in Oregon to a popular South Carolina throwback, there is nothing small about the affordable attractions these cities offer.

Top spots in Europe 2014

"There has been a big uprise in traveling to smaller towns that have some quirky and regional appeal," said Arabella Bowen, executive editorial director of Fodor's Travel. "There is a want for a local, authentic, mom-and-pop experience."

To qualify for the Fodor's list, these small towns must have fewer than 30,000 residents, although the majority have under 10,000 residents. The cities also must be able to accommodate short, weekend stays.

"There is a lot of surprising delight in these places," Bowen said.

So whether it's a wedding anniversary or a family vacation on a budget, wave goodbye to big city blues and hello to tiny town delight. Click on our gallery to see Fodor's top 10 choices.

Which are your favorite American small towns? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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