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Best Small Towns in America – 2011 Best of the Road Rally

And, the winners are…

It’s official. Just a few hours ago the winning towns for the 2011 Best of the Road® Rally were announced. Jeff DeKorte, Rand McNally’s SVP, Travel & Digital Media and John Peters, VP/GM Digital Strategy along with Victoria Borton, General Manager of USA TODAY Travel, announced the five winning teams to a packed house at the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Annual Convention in New Orleans.

Narrowed down from more than 600 submissions, 30 top towns in five categories — Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Most Fun, and Best for Food — were selected for review during the inaugural Best of the Road Rally. Equipped with brand-new Saab vehicles and Rand McNally RVND navigation devices, our five teams of amateur travelers completed a three-week cross-country road trip, for a combined 25,000 miles traveled, personally visiting the six top towns in their assigned category.

After last week’s presentations of their “traveler’s journals” in Los Angeles, each team consulted with the judges panel to determine which town would be crowned the winner in their category. The winners are:

MOST BEAUTIFUL: Sandpoint, ID – reviewed by The McNavigators, who said the unofficial motto is “enjoy the great outdoors, connect with friends and keep life simple.”
MOST PATRIOTIC: Rapid City, SD – reviewed by Captain and Clark, who described the town as “a place where people from across the world and country can learn about America’s past, become inspired by its present, and find hope in its future.”
FRIENDLIEST: Walla Walla, WA – reviewed by Gone with the Wynns, who described it as “a town so nice they named it twice; a culturally diverse small town with happy faces everywhere you go.”
MOST FUN: Glenwood Springs, CO – reviewed by TraveleingJules and TravelingJoan, who dubbed the town “a mountain of fun and an adventure capital, with endless ways to get your adrenaline pumping.”
BEST FOR FOOD: Lafayette, LA – reviewed by The Fun Finders who learned the true taste of Cajun food to be “flavorful, not hot or spicy” and that after a meal, the best dessert is “Cajun dancing.”

Congratulations to our winners and all 30 of the finalist towns. We’re so very grateful for the warm welcomes you provided to the rally teams and hope to see you all again in next year’s program. Check www.bestoftheroad.com soon for the announcement of Best of the Road 2012!