Smithsonian.com recently named its 20 best towns in America, but they didn't just randomly choose towns they like. They did their research. They limited their search to towns with populations less than 15,000 people. Then using statistical data from geographical information company Esri, they determined the towns with the highest concentrations of museums, art galleries, historical sites and other cultural draws. It shouldn't come as any surprise that there are Select Registry inns in nearly half of these small towns. Smithsonian.com commented that "the top towns also boasted heartwarming settings where the air is a little fresher, the grass greener, the pace gentler than in metropolitan America. Generally, they're devoted to preserving their historic centers, encouraging talent and support careful economic growth. This sounds a lot like how many of our innkeepers describe their inns and locations. We have made visiting some of Smithsonian.com's top small towns easier by matching them with the Select Registry inn in town.
Smithsonian.com raves about the Gettysburg battlefield, interesting relic stores, the Shriver House Museum, the Rupp House, and Adams County Winery. It also recommends dining as the Dobbin House Tavern and the Blue Parrot Bistro. The Inn at Herr Ridge has as much to offer and so does the town itself. Built in 1815, the inn is located between the historic battlefields of Gettysburg and Caledonia State Park. After a day spent exploring all that the town has to offer, you will appreciate a fireplace in your room or a Jacuzzi bath. These luxuries will be ever better enjoyed after a glass of wine from the inn's extensive Wine Spectator Award Winning wine list. This inn also has a restaurant where you can indulge in incredible food after a long day exploring.
3. St. Augustine, FL
Why was St. Augustine named to the number three spot? Smithsonian claims, with a restored fortress, coquina limestone city gates, central plaza and nine-building-strong Dow Museum of Historic Houses, St. Augustine stands as the most lovingly cared-for vestige of the Spanish New World in the United States. If you are looking for a little excitement in addition to your history lessons check out the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. The Park is the oldest still-operating tourist attraction in Florida and the only place in the world that exhibits living specimens of all 23 crocodilian species. St. Francis Inn is located in the center of the restored historic district of this historic town, yet is private and serene. The inn pays tribute to the history of the town while providing guests with modern comforts such as spacious whirlpools tubs and mp3/iPod connections. To make your exploration of the town easier and more enjoyable, the inn offers guests packages and specials on their website.
6. Petoskey, MI
Petoskey, a favorite destination of the (Ernest) Hemingway family, is full of small-town charm. Its petunia filled Gaslight Shopping District, Little Traverse Bay History Museum and Crooked Arts Center attract visitors from near and far. While visiting, many enjoy hours on the beaches of Lake Michigan searching for fossilized coral Petoskey stones. Stafford’s Bay View Inn is one of the favorite land marks of many visitors to Petoskey. The Victorian Era inn is a perfect fit for the small town of Petoskey. Its country inn dining, elegant accommodations and fresh water breezes gently blowing over the porch will make you want to stay all summer. Can you find a bit more to write on this one? I think they are known for their Sunday brunches where the innkeeper does the meat carving.
10. Providence, MA
With historical claims to fame such as being the first place the Pilgrims stepped on dry land in America and the natural beauty of miles of National Seashore beaches, it should be no surprise that Providence is in the top 10. Writers and artists frequent this small town to seek inspiration at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. We think Providence must be a special small town to have two Select Registry Inns call it home: Carpe Diem guesthouse and Gabriel’s at Ashbrooke Inn. The Carpe Diem is an intimate guesthouse and spa located in the center of town with each guestroom named after a renowned writer. Before exploring town, guests enjoy a handmade breakfast that includes farm-fresh eggs, a daily special and homemade breads. After a full day or days of artistic inspiration and history lessons, visit the on-site Namaste Spa for relaxation at its best. Gabriel's at The Ashbrooke Inn, also located in the center of town, offers guests the opportunity to relax and enjoy the luxuries of the inn. Meander through the lovely gardens, or lounge on the sundecks. Stroll along the quiet sidewalks of Commercial Street at twilight, or enjoy the last rays of sunlight fading over Herring Cove.
11. Galena, IL
Attracting visitors from Chicago and all of its attractions is no easy feat, but the small town of Galena does just that. The art galleries, restaurants and small shops that call this town home are quaint and spectacular at the same time. If those attractions aren't enough to have you planning your visit, the fact that Ulysses S. Grant called it his hometown several times throughout his life should have you planning. The Inn at Irish Hollow makes the most of its proximity to Chicago but also the fact that it is miles away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The inn sits gracefully on 500 acres, which includes hiking trails, forests, wildflowers and wetlands. While incorporating all-natural elements whenever possible, the inn offers exceptional service, delicious dining options and luxurious amenities.
15. Jackson, WY
With attractions like the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, the town square, Grand Teton Music Festival, and Jackson Center for the Arts, it is no surprise that Jackson made the list. Add in the National Elk Refuge and Jackson is a must-visit destination. How do you best enjoy Jackson and all of its Wild West appeal? By staying in a log lodge, of course. Bentwood Inn offers guests the chance to do just that. The more than 6000 square foot inn is constructed from 200 year old logs salvaged from Yellow Stone National Park after the great fire of 1988. The innkeepers will be more than happy to help you find the best guides in the area for wildlife safaris, horseback riding, hiking, or fly fishing. 16. Lexington, VA Located between the beautiful Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, Lexington's brick sidewalks, arts & crafts galleries, Theater of Lime Kiln, Clark's Ole Time Music Center, restored churches and homes, and Washington and Lee University all beckon to visitors. Combine the small town atmosphere and rich culture with the comforts of the Brierley Hill Bed & Breakfast for an unforgettable getaway. The bed and breakfast offers guests the perfect start to their days of exploring the small town: breakfast served next to the fireplace in the winter or on the verandah on warm days. Whether you choose to spend your days exploring the many attractions of the small town or simply enjoying the view of the Shenandoah Valley from the inn's gardens, you will best enjoy Lexington by staying at Brierley Hill.
19. Fredericksburg, TX
The Texas Hill Country's colorful culture culminates in Fredericksburg with the Pioneer Museum, Sauer-Beckmann Farm, the Texas Rangers Heritage Center, and the National Museum of Pacific War. For an abundance of natural beauty, take a drive down Rural Route 1623 along the Blanco River and Willow City Loop. Rose Hill Manor is Fredericksburg lodging at its finest. Choose from one of their suites or cottages with splendid views of the Texas hill country and the finest amenities. For extra relaxation, every stay at the inn includes a VIP pass for a tour of the Garrison Brothers Bourbon Distillery and a complimentary wine tasting at the winery next door.
For other wonderful inns that can be found in delightful small towns and uniquely urban locations, check out the Select Registry website.