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Old 12-20-2012, 01:43 PM
Location: South Carolina
1,991 posts, read 3,706,570 times
Reputation: 902


Althouth I'm a GaTech grad and hate to rep Athens, it really does have one of the nicest downtowns in the part of the southeast I live in, for a small town. Other really nice southeastern small town downtowns include Franklin, TN, Aiken, SC, and Wilmington, NC.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:11 PM
Location: Land of Ill Noise
2,075 posts, read 2,242,420 times
Reputation: 1195
Originally Posted by tvdxer View Post
One of the small-city downtowns that most impressed me was in La Crosse, Wisconsin (pop. 51,719). Here are some pictures from 2009:

And even more downtown LC... by tvdxer, on Flickr

P1030555 by tvdxer, on Flickr

Downtown La Crosse by tvdxer, on Flickr

Downtown La Crosse by tvdxer, on Flickr

For even smaller cities, Moose Lake, Minnesota (pop. 2,753) is hard to beat:

Downtown Moose Lake by tvdxer, on Flickr

Jitters Cafe by tvdxer, on Flickr

Downtown Moose Lake by tvdxer, on Flickr
Downtown Theater by tvdxer, on Flickr

Responsible Older Sister by tvdxer, on Flickr
Those are awesome pics of La Crosse. I traveled there years ago, and always really liked that city a lot. Seeing those flickr pics reminds me of how much I hope to travel again back there, someday.

Also, those Moose Lake, MN pics aren't bad that you linked to. Reminds me, a few years ago I traveled to Starved Rock State Park west of Ottawa, IL, and really liked what I saw of nearby North Utica, IL's downtown. I agree with the earlier mention for Staunton, VA, as I briefly visited there on a vacation a few years ago, and really liked it a lot!

Others(apologies if a few have been repeated from other posters):


Knoxville(only have looked on Google street view, and not quite visited this one in person yet)

Richmond(one I've unfortunately never visited, but street viewed it)

Bardstown(wish I could've spent much more time here, while on a trip late last year)

Richmond(struggling, but it isn't bad)
Valparaiso(just street viewed it and haven't exactly visited here, but it looked nice from what I saw)
Crown Point(ditto here)
Bloomington(how could I come close to forgetting this one?)

Ann Arbor
Jackson(only saw it via traveling on Amtrak, but it looked nice from what I could see from the train. and I love their historic train depot, that's still used for train service)
Kalamazoo(another one I got a good impression of, from seeing it through my train window on an Ann Arbor trip)
Dowagiac(ditto here)

A lot of the various Chicagoland ones off of Metra train stations have really nice ones(i.e. Naperville, Downers Grove, La Grange, Geneva, Elmhurst, Oak Park, Woodstock, Barrington, Park Ridge, Evanston, Lake Forest, Waukegan(more in the struggling but has potential category, but yeah I liked this one), and I have to be forgetting more that are good. one of the several story tall buildings in its downtown(Karcher Hotel), was recently restored). Oh, and Skokie has one that isn't bad(off of CTA Yellow Line) but is somewhat struggling, and hopefully it'll improve over time, since the Oakton 'L stop opened in only 2012.

Kenosha(I liked it, despite that I wish it had more life and slightly more shops in the south part of downtown)
Lake Geneva

Iowa City

Saint Charles(just street viewed this one, not visited it)
Saint Joseph(ditto, and I'd say this one is underrated. there are a bunch more I've been meaning to look at on street view, and haven't yet...)
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:45 PM
Location: Oakland, CA
28,234 posts, read 33,589,525 times
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The city I workmen has a good functional downtown.
Population is about 100k: San Mateo, CA

I work at the edge of downtown. It doesn't have much shopping, but has all the important basics. Walgreens, post office, movie theater, train station, grocery story, ethnic grocers, hardware store, produce stand, park with green space and tennis courts. There are dozens of restaurants, dry cleaners, shoe repair, a couple of thrift stores, tailors, and lots of office space small and large. Only a fee residences in downtown, but many residences are downtown adjacent.

Another good small city downtown is Walnut Creek, CA, population 80k.

The built an open air mall at the edge of the original downtown. And then other open air malls (which would have typically been strip malls) followed. Not all blocks are great for pedestrian crossing, but you can walk to Safeway, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Nordstroms, Macys, and a CVS, waiting about 10 minutes of the original downtown. And still get the indie shops and restaurants and entertainment you need. They also added an art center recently.

They have those nice live info parking signs that tell you the number of spots per floor, and most parking is consolidated to garages instead of on the surface. There are still 60s era strip malls with surface parking, but anything from about 1990 on has a parking garage. It is pretty mixed use for shiny new suburbia.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:52 PM
Location: Oakville, ON
2,744 posts, read 4,192,224 times
Reputation: 1809
Among Canadian cities/towns I've been in relatively recently...


Port Hope

Needs work (some a bit, some a lot):

Sault Ste Marie
Thunder Bay
Medicine Hat
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Old 03-10-2014, 04:06 PM
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,652 posts, read 16,782,207 times
Reputation: 6835
Some other small town downtowns (I make it a point to visit them on my county-hunting road trips):

Worthington, MN
In the SW corner of Minnesota, one of the most diverse cities in MN.

Downtown Worthington by tvdxer, on Flickr

Street vendor in Worthington by tvdxer, on Flickr

Worthington window by tvdxer, on Flickr

Queen Sheba Restaurant, Worthington, MN by tvdxer, on Flickr

Walnut Grove, MN

Auto repair shop, Walnut Grove, MN by tvdxer, on Flickr

Spirit Lake, IA

Downtown, Spirit Lake, IA by tvdxer, on Flickr

Pine River, MN:

Building, Pine River, MN by tvdxer, on Flickr

Lamberton, MN

Downtown, Lamberton, MN by tvdxer, on Flickr

(not downtown, just for fun

Ball'n, Lamberton, MN by tvdxer, on Flickr

Hutchinson, MN

Downtown Hutchinson, MN by tvdxer, on Flickr

Downtown Hutchinson, MN by tvdxer, on Flickr

Popcorn Plaza by tvdxer, on Flickr

Pine Island, MN

Pine Island, Minnesota by tvdxer, on Flickr

Mantorville, MN

Mantorville, Minnesota by tvdxer, on Flickr

Claremont, MN

Claremont, Minnesota by tvdxer, on Flickr

Claremont, Minneosta by tvdxer, on Flickr
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Old 03-12-2014, 01:19 PM
17 posts, read 22,396 times
Reputation: 17
Portland, ME for sure. Bangor, ME has a decent downtown but could use a bit of work. It is the commercial center of Eastern and "Northern" Maine. (Everyone has differing opinions over whether Bangor is in Northern Maine. If it's not, that leaves Presque Isle, with a population of less than 10,000, as the largest city in Northern Maine.)
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Old 05-04-2014, 07:00 PM
250 posts, read 315,606 times
Reputation: 135
Palm Beach County FL is full of surprisingly nice downtowns IMO...West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Delray Beach, and Lake Worth are all quite nice.
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Old 05-05-2014, 06:52 AM
Location: Phoenix, AZ
1,070 posts, read 2,681,361 times
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I'm going to give a shout out to where I'm moving this summer:

Flagstaff, AZ.

Colorado has a bunch of great little mountain towns, but they all have "quaint little mountain town" pricing, meaning you can't afford to live there. I've got a friend in Aspen -- beautiful place, no idea how he can afford it. Flagstaff is like your typical "Colorado mountain town", just in Arizona.

It's got a population somewhere around 60,000. It's a university town, with Northern Arizona University just a half mile south of downtown. Flagstaff is about 2 hours north of Phoenix, so there's pretty easy access to a large international airport, big box retailers, and baseball spring training. Also within 2 hours, you've got the Grand Canyon, Sedona (via Oak Creek Canyon, a beautiful drive), Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell / Horseshoe Bend, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon (well, the southern most entrance at least), and more. It's got an Amtrak station, a greyhound station, and an airport (though, it only offers flights to Phoenix, so it's kind of useless). Just 15 minutes north of downtown is Arizona Snowbowl -- the local ski area.

Downtown is centered around Heritage Square. On any street, you'll find bars, restaurants, local shops, and much, much more. Seriously every time I go downtown, I find another hidden gem. Between the storefronts of just about every building downtown, you'll find a door that leads to a hallway, with even more stuff. It's incredible just how much you'll find around downtown.

The narrow streets and large sidewalks definitely slow traffic down, and make it a pedestrian-friendly area. From an urban planning perspective, the only "issue" is that downtown is disconnected from the southside and the university by Route 66 -- but there are several wide crosswalks, and signals don't take long. Traffic along Route 66 usually sticks to around 35-40mph, so it's not a huge barrier. Cost of living is more expensive than most other places in Arizona, but it's definitely affordable. There's not a very huge job market though, but there are a couple big employers in town (the university definitely being one of them).

Someone earlier mentioned Asheville, NC. A severely underrated town. Beautiful downtown, amazing scenery (right in the Appalachians). The Blue Ridge Parkway passes right outside of town... Definitely another small city with a great downtown.
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