• Small-town charm: traveling in your own backyard

    2014-01-13

    While visiting large and well-known destinations can make for an exciting vacation, there are several small towns and villages all throughout the U.S. that are ideal for the romantic or simplistic traveler looking to relax. Small towns are often ripe with charm, unique activities, and undiscovered local and delicious restaurants. Oftentimes these locales are located next to much larger sister cities that attract more tourist attention, making them a perfect destination for honeymoon or family travel. Here are a few examples of seldom traveled gems hiding, yet waiting for discovery:

    Berea, Kentucky
    Located right in the heart of Kentucky lies the art capitol of the south, Berea, Kentucky. This small town is a haven for artists from all around the globe, housing weavers, musicians, painters, glass makers, jewelry designers and sculptors. Many of the artists who either live or work in Berea come from the town's only higher educational institute, Berea College. With less than 1,700 students, this small college perfectly encapsulates the charm of the city.

    Berea is most famous for its annual Berea Craft Festival, which attracts more than 7,000 visitors each year. Items featured in the outdoor festival must be handmade, original works, which isn't hard for Berea residents, as they make their living selling crafts in the city. In addition to displaying and selling pieces at the festival, artists may also put on educational seminars in which tourists can observe firsthand the process by which items are made.

    Pasa Robles, California
    Recently named Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Pasa Robles, California, has experienced a boom in growth the past two years, receiving an influx of chefs and winemakers from other parts of the state. With more than 200 wineries in the region alone, the city is known for its adventurous red wines, as opposed to the more traditional blends one might find in Napa Valley.

    The wine country can be found between two of California's most heavily trafficked cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles. While Pasa Robles may not have the same tourist draw, its beautiful country and historic downtown are as quaint and tranquil as any small-town enthusiast can imagine.

    Franklin, Tennessee
    Just 20 miles south of country music capital Nashville, Tennessee, Franklin is rich with history and boutiques perfect for the knowledge-seeking traveler. Site of the historic Battle of Franklin, the Civil War battle in which Tennessee troops attempted a failed last stand, Franklin visitors can retrace battle steps, visit antebellum homes and view historic landmarks, including cemeteries and plantations.

    Franklin will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Franklin this year. Throughout the next few months, residents will participate in several events to mark the sesquicentennial, including a reenactment of the battle and a special exhibit for war artifacts.

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