What’s your idea of cool? How about a place where the local dump doubles as an art gallery. Or a town that’s helped spawn a major foodie movement. A Gold Rush outpost with an unsung history of ethnic tolerance would certainly qualify, right? So, too, would a New York village where they make wine served at the White House — yet tastings at the winery are still free. 

How about two towns that wanted to win Budget Travel’s seventh annual Coolest Small Towns contest so badly, they launched a last-minute voting frenzy that crashed its website. That wasn’t so cool at the time, but now Budget Travel loves it — so much so that it declared those two towns co-coolest. You know what else we love? All those places out there that are already clamoring to enter next year’s contest.

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