Congratulations to Brattleboro, Vermont (11th) and Brunswick, Maine (13th) for making Smithsonian Magazine’s “The 20 Best Small Towns in America” for 2012.
Here is what Smithsonian had to say about Brattleboro, Vermont:
Nestled in southern Vermont, the riverside town of Brattleboro is a common rest stop for travelers driving up Interstate 91 from Massachusetts. Once you’ve strolled through the downtown historic district, lined with galleries, antiques shops, theaters and dance studios, it might be hard to get back in the car. Brattleboro takes pride in its reputation as a hidden artistic haven. On the first Friday of every month, local artists, galleries and museums exhibit new work and put on performances as part of the traditional Gallery Walk. Even if you don’t plan it, your visit will likely coincide with at least one of the many annual festivals in town: there’s the Womens’ Film Festival in March, the summer Brattleboro Literary Festival, and the Brattleboro Music Center’s Northern Roots Festival in January, which celebrates Northern music. In the unlikely event of boredom, take a day trip to nearby Naulakha, the estate of Rudyard Kipling, who once wrote of “a desire to be back on Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont, U.S.A., and hear the sody water fizzing in the drugstore…and get a bottle of lager in the basement of Brooks House and hear the doctor tell fish yarns.” — Aviva Shen
Here is what Smithsonian had to say about Brunswick, Maine:
Home to tiny Bowdoin College, Brunswick is more than just a small fishing town some 25 miles north of Portland. The Maine seacoast has attracted and inspired artists for hundreds of years, and they’ve left their mark. Bowdoin College’s museum features an extensive collection of paintings and sketches by artist Winslow Homer, whose most famous seascapes were painted just a few miles away. Harriet Beecher Stowe penned Uncle Tom’s Cabin in a house now owned by the college. The town’s artistic sensibility isn’t just historical; it’s revived every year with the Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival, which awards prizes to the best local artists and craftspeople, and with ongoing performances at the well-regarded theaters Maine State Music Theatre and the community-based nonprofit Theater Project. Plus, there’s always activity at Frontier, a renovated mill space downtown that dishes up locally grown organic food with a side of cinema, live music, theater and local art. — AS
Naturally, being Smithsonian Magazine, a large part of the criteria for the selecting these 20 towns was their hosting of various cultural amenities such as museums. Here is their criteria for making the Smithsonian list in case you want your town to aspire to make this list one day:
To help create our list, we asked the geographic information systems company Esri to search its data bases for high concentrations of museums, historic sites, botanic gardens, resident orchestras, art galleries and other cultural assets common to big cities. But we focused on towns with populations less than 25,000, so travelers could experience what might be called enlightened good times in an unhurried, charming setting. We also tried to select towns ranging across the lower 48.