After several weeks of online voting and posting, Rand McNally asked the 30 finalist towns in our 2013 Best of the Road contest to demonstrate why they should be declared the winner in their respective category of Most Beautiful, Most Fun, Friendliest, Most Patriotic, Best for Food, or Best for Geocaching. The results? Thirty passionately constructed essays and video tours that made each town’s case and told each town’s unique tale.
All the stories were interesting and compelling—as well as humorous, heart-warming, or both. Collectively they showed, once again, why small town America is so wonderful. Individually they made it really, really hard for the judges to choose just one town in each category. Still, after several days of review, discussion, and (at times passionate) debate, we’re honored to announce the six winners.
We congratulate them and thank the 24 other finalists for their efforts and enthusiasm. Every single one of these 30 great American small towns—and our partners Geocaching.com and Good Sam Club—helped to make this year’s Best of the Road contest a huge success.
MOST BEAUTIFUL: JEFFERSON CITY, MO
Judge’s Take: “Jefferson City’s essay used colorful language to bring out the beauty and charm of the town, from its proud historical connections to its lovely capitol and other elegant buildings.”
MOST FUN: CORNING, NY
Judge’s Take: “Corning’s energetic video and essay submissions showcased a community that not only knows how to have a good time, but that also knows how to ensure visitors will enjoy themselves, too.”
FRIENDLIEST: KEWANEE, IL
Judge’s Take: “After reading Kewanee’s essay and watching its video, I wanted to get in my car and experience the friendliness of this town right away!”
MOST PATRIOTIC: GALLUP, NM
Judge’s Take: “Gallup’s poignant submissions showed us a place that acknowledges the heroic contributions of diverse cultures; that sees patriotism in small, everyday acts as well as in monumental, historic deeds; and that has an overall patriotic philosophy of its very own—Gallup Strong.”
BEST FOR FOOD: SAN MATEO, CA
Judge’s Take: “San Mateo won us over with the diversity of its culinary options and with all its online activity, which showed strong community support for the restaurateurs. The town clearly has ‘something for everyone’ and is dedicated to providing its patrons with the best.”
BEST FOR GEOCACHING: HELENA, MT
Judge’s Take: “I was convinced by the words taken directly from the geocaching community: Helena is an authentically engaging place to geocache. You can feel the historical connection to the gold treasure hunters of long ago while using today’s satellites and smartphone apps. The gorgeous scenery just adds to the adventure!”