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Old 03-24-2009, 09:27 PM
 
84 posts, read 200,364 times
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In our never ending search to find nirvana (in a warmer climate) we just came back from a trip to a southern state and were saddened by what we felt was a lack of smaller "main street usa" towns that were able to thrive or even maintain an air of prosperity on their own. It seemed to us the suburbia was creeping into every corner of what was once quaint.

What we are looking for is a small town that has a square or downtown area with thriving shops, interesting restaurants or coffee shops, a bakery,ice cream shop, small local hardware store.....a place where they still have concerts in the park, where kids can ride their bikes, a place with sidewalks and homes of interest that are well kept within walking distance of the town. A place where community is important and where schools excel and a Home Depot or Target are four letter words.

What we found fell into three categories:

1) Places that were that way once and maintained a bit of the history and charm, but were built up all around them and swallowed by suburbia. A small area of historic charm with a Walmart and all kind of fast food just down the road from the cookie cutter subdivisions that had been built (This was by far the norm).

2) Places that were on the fringe and still had some vitality, but the store fronts had many for sale signs and instead of well maintained homes within walking distance of town there was a lot of neglect and an unfortunate feeling of the haves and the have-nots and an overall feeling that the town was declining.

3) And those that had completely given up.


I am hoping that these small wonderful towns can and do exist and we just have not found them yet. I would trade the convenience of having all the big box stores down the road for one of these towns anyday.

So any ideas of where we should look next??? (Of course the one caveat is a warmer climate )
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:59 PM
 
Location: North Central Indiana
954 posts, read 2,247,295 times
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Sorry I don't know much about your general criteria so I checked some of your old posts and I think I have a general Idea. Wow this is a bit weird but as I read this the "ads by google" right above this Quick reply has a link to a town called Elkin in North Carolina it looks pretty nice you might want to give that town a little look over. Also you might want to try Hazel, Kentucky I actually stopped there once about a year ago they have a pretty thriving downtown (at least a year ago) I was pretty supprised that the local stores were thriving like that. But I don't know how things are there school or climate wise.

Otherwise right now I can't really think of anything else there are probably some towns that meet this criteria around other historic cities but I can't think of any others.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:11 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
1,860 posts, read 2,747,423 times
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Places you describe are more common in the New England states and Pennsylvania, possibly upstate New York.

An alternative in a warmer climate might be found northern California or some old prospecting town in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Many small college towns in the Midwest would also fit the bill.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:15 PM
 
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New England are where small towns still thrive. But that's not exactly in a warm climate.
Some of the small towns in western Kentucky and southeastern Indiana are pretty cute.
And Iowa also has some very well kept (and pretty) small towns.

The Southern states though are generally Suburbia-land.

College towns in the Midwest would generally be disqualified as they fit the OP's number 1.

Last edited by Guineas; 03-24-2009 at 10:35 PM..
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:19 PM
Status: "60th anniversary of the polio vaccine! Hail to Pitt!" (set 8 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
70,015 posts, read 60,539,184 times
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I agree with the small, midwestern college towns. Northfield, MN comes to mind, but I always did wonder just where people in Northfield bought their clothes, besides Target! I think they go to Minneapolis if they really are serious about shopping. Then again, being a college town, maybe they order everything from Land's End!
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:32 PM
 
Location: West Seattle, WA
12,873 posts, read 19,552,830 times
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Athens, GA
Madison, GA
Dahlonega, GA
Newnan, GA
Fairhope, AL
Oxford, MS
Franklin, TN
Lincolnton, NC
Social Circle, GA
Murphreesboro, TN
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:32 PM
 
9,171 posts, read 13,662,902 times
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Wal Mart killed a lot, and the car. Growth has moved to the cities from the quaint small towns.

Of course there ARE places that are doing ok, but in general....

The only small towns I've found (of course there are more) that are thriving are places like Galena, Illinois that are based on a tourist economy.


Here's Galena, Illinois - with around 3,000 people. It's not really quaint though in the fact that a lot of the economy is based on thousands of people who do the quick drive west from Chicago. The town is right on the Illinois and Iowa border. It was fairly run down, until people realized the amazing stock of buildings and the natural setting was a huge draw. Especially with such a large urban center nearby.

















The key is tourism, good building stock and natural settings. If we're talking about THRIVING places. There are plenty of smaller towns in the Midwest that might not be growing, but they're certainly holding their own as far as quality of life and happiness.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:34 PM
 
10,141 posts, read 14,904,073 times
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South Pasadena, CA is technically in the LA metro region (it's between LA and Pasadena) but it definitely retains a very strong sense of its own smaller town identity. I think it meets all of your requirements except for the hardware store; perhaps making up for that is the fabulous weekly (year-round!) farmer's market held every Thursday evening. There's even a fourth of July parade. It's warm, beautiful (there are even flocks of wild parrots to liven things up), has plenty of beautiful craftsmen bungalows (and other styles, too), and has a community very intent on preserving its sense of identity and character.
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Old 03-25-2009, 03:33 AM
 
Location: Alabama
50 posts, read 178,107 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago60614 View Post
Wal Mart killed a lot, and the car. Growth has moved to the cities from the quaint small towns.

Of course there ARE places that are doing ok, but in general....

The only small towns I've found (of course there are more) that are thriving are places like Galena, Illinois that are based on a tourist economy.


Here's Galena, Illinois - with around 3,000 people. It's not really quaint though in the fact that a lot of the economy is based on thousands of people who do the quick drive west from Chicago. The town is right on the Illinois and Iowa border. It was fairly run down, until people realized the amazing stock of buildings and the natural setting was a huge draw. Especially with such a large urban center nearby.

















The key is tourism, good building stock and natural settings. If we're talking about THRIVING places. There are plenty of smaller towns in the Midwest that might not be growing, but they're certainly holding their own as far as quality of life and happiness.
Hey, that's a pretty cool looking little town. I love seeing photos of little known towns and cities like this. Thanks!
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Old 03-25-2009, 02:52 PM
 
Location: Teaneck, NJ
1,578 posts, read 3,740,686 times
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Poughkeepsie, NY
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