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Midwest Magazine's Best Small-town Getaways

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The Midwest Living Magazine just released its top ten best getaway towns of under 20,000 population. They were:

 

Ephraim/Fish Creek, Wi.

Petroskey/Charlevoix, Mi

Galena, Il

Madison, Wi

Saugatuck/Douglas, Mi

Nashville, In.

Bayfield, Wi.

Put-In-Bay, Oh.

Stillwater, Mn

Mackinac Island Area, Mi.

 

I've been to Ephraim, Galena, Madison, Saugatuck, Put-In-Bay, and Stillwater.

 

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

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The Midwest Living Magazine just released its top ten best getaway towns of under 20,000 population. They were:

 

Ephraim/Fish Creek, Wi.

Petroskey/Charlevoix, Mi

Galena, Il

Madison, Wi

Saugatuck/Douglas, Mi

Nashville, In.

Bayfield, Wi.

Put-In-Bay, Oh.

Stillwater, Mn

Mackinac Island Area, Mi.

 

I've been to Ephraim, Galena, Madison, Saugatuck, Put-In-Bay, and Stillwater.

 

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

 

 

 

OK, the magazine likes them. What about you? Of those you have visited, which are worth a trip. Or in other words, lets have your opinion. In fact, why not give us your Midwest Llst of small towns worth a visit. I'll do the same for the Northwest.

 

Keep the Show on the Road

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OK, the magazine likes them. What about you? Of those you have visited, which are worth a trip. Or in other words, lets have your opinion. In fact, why not give us your Midwest Llst of small towns worth a visit. I'll do the same for the Northwest.

 

Keep the Show on the Road

 

 

 

"Of those you have visited, which are worth a trip."

 

That's like "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" but if you make numerous trips to the same place, they're worth a visit. A few of the areas in the Midwest we revisit the most and always enjoy are:

 

Eureka (Times Beach), MO - Route 66 State Park and Tyson County Park

Stanton, MO - Meramec Caverns park and beach

Rolla, MO - Zenos Motel, Alex Pizza Palace, old theater bar, Tater Patch

Devils Elbow, MO - 1923 route 66 truss bridge, Sheldons' Market, Judy's, and Elbow Inn

Lebanon, MO - Munger Moss Motel, Route 66 Museum, Starlight Bowling Place

Carthage, MO - Jim's Old-Time Saloon and awesome courthouse

Greenup, IL - Historical setting and buildings, shoe factory flea market

Marshall, IL - Great downtown area

Pontiac, IL - Route 66 Hall of Fame in old firehouse, awesome courthouse, river park

Springfield, IL - Cozy Dog, excellent old downtown area

 

Just some of the places we cruise to from our STL location. Missouri is especially blessed...Bliss

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Just to add my :twocents::

 

In no particular order:

 

-Nashville, Indiana (can't argue there)

-Mackinaw City, MI (never been disappointed)

-Metamora, Indiana (a lot like Nashville, but with a nice mill, canal boat)

-Madison, Indiana (GREAT old river town)

-Park Rapids, Minnesota (great place to relax in a little cabin on a lake)

-Wisconsin Dells, WI

-Cave City, KY (more to do than just Wigwams!)

-Speedway, IN (gotta see the motor speedway just once in your life!)

 

OK, I've hit a roadblock at 8. Guess I need to get out more! :driving:

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RoadDog, looks like you started a thing here! Great! Now I can mark my map in advance of a trip to the Midwest. This really helps trip planning!

 

I'll post this here, because I said I would but since it is Northwest, not Midwest, I'll post future Northwest lists under a seperate thread.

 

This is just a quick Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho) list. I’ll add more as time permits.

 

Joseph Oregon

 

One of the best, it combines an historic main street with an art community focused on brass sculptures. This is the ancestral home of Chief Joseph of the Nez Pierce and his Wallow band. There are several good places to eat and down a brew, which will be evident when you are there. We have stayed in the Indian Lodge motel and been pleased. The Gem of the area is the Wallowa Lake Lodge at the head of Wallow Lake. It is hands down the finest old time lodge in the west outside a national park. It overlooks the lake, has the big lodge fireplace and all the lodge ambiance you want. The Wallowa Mountains are at Joseph’s doorstep and dominate the skyline like the Alps. Perhaps a little touristy on a mid summer visit, but quite charming all year round.

 

Enterprise ,Oregon

 

Enterprise is Joseph’s less touristy neighbor. It has the feel of a western farm town. A visit at county fair time will take you back 75 years. Accommodations are a little more plentiful than in Joseph, but it has fewer eateries. To reach either town you will first take the Oregon Trail to La Grande then follow the Wallow Highway along the Minam River through several small and charming villages to Enterprise then Joseph.

,

Union Oregon

 

Union is on the old Oregon Trail Highway east of La Grande. It has a renovated 1920’s hotel, and some nice places to eat. It isn’t a big tourist destination, but it is getting more attention because of its charm and the location of a Brass Foundry and Art facility at ** just out of town.

 

Waterville, Washington

 

The old and renovated Waterville Hotel alone is worth the trip. The village is not a tourist destination, and in fact pretty much rolls up the sidewalks at dusk, or before. The one Steak house closed before I got hungry, so I had pizza at the tavern. Highly recommended! Right on the 1925 Yellowstone Trail, and as original and unchanged as it comes. Stay at the Hotel. It’s a charmer.

 

Dayton, Washington

 

I like Dayton. It definitely has the Norman Rockwell feeling, but I feel it might be a little self conscious (which isn’t a bad thing). We have never stayed in Dayton, but the renovated Hotel gets high marks in guide books. In my many trips through Dayton in the past 35 years I have watched it change from a town built around a Jolly Green Giant packing plant into a tourist attracting community that delights in showing off its assets. As a consequence it has a vitality sadly missing in some neighboring towns.

 

Wallace, Idaho

 

Wallace ranks high among my favorite small towns. It has the flavor of a late 19th century, early 20th century town, complete with its original brick buildings in amazingly good shape. It is on the Yellowstone Trail which adds to its virtues. You definitely feel like you are visiting a working small town, not a tourist trap. The railroad station is restored and lovely, but my favorite sight is the huge Polar Bear in the taxidermists shop. It is right out of the 1940’s. Silver mining made the town, and a drive through the residential streets reveals many tiny charming mining era houses, restored and carefully tended.

 

Hood River, Oregon

 

Hood River is right on the Columbia River, and is home to some of the best wind surfing around. It is an old town with a young crowd. At apple and pear harvest time it is worth a trip to stock up on every imaginable variety of fruit. Plenty of nice places to stay, and to eat. A big bonus of visiting Hood River is the opportunity to drive the old Columbia River Highway.

 

I had to erase Yachats on the Oregon Coast because I just learned my favorite restaurant there, complete with 1960 - 70 music provided by a great singer and guitar player closed two weeks ago after 30 years. I am still in shock. But even without music, Yachats is worth a visit.

 

I’ll add more as time permits. I have just scratched the surface.

 

Keep the Show on the Road

Edited by Keep the Show on the Road!

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I'll post this here, because I said I would but since it is Northwest, not Midwest, I'll post future Northwest lists under a seperate thread.

 

Remember that at one time the Midwest was the Northwest, the Old Northwest that is.

 

 

Ephraim/Fish Creek, Wi.

 

A major bigtime destination for Chicagoans. Gets quite busy during the summer and fall (especially tree viewing), but hardly anyone there in the winter when most places close.

 

You've got to try a Door County Fish Boil for some mighty good eating. I love the flames that come up when the boil itself occurs.

 

Spent a night at the Trollhagen Inn in Ephraim and weren't too happy to find that the town was dry. Had to go to a nearby town to slake our thirst.

 

One great group that used to play in that area was the Happy Schnapps Combo. Their music could best be described as polka on acid. Had some great tunes like Pull My Finger, PMS Polka, You Can't Teach a Woman How to Drink, and The Bears Still Suck (as a Bears fan, I didn't much care for that one, but it was funny). PC they weren't.

 

Anyone else have any comments on Door County?

 

Boiling My Fish. --RoadDog

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I started out being embarrassed by realizing that I've been to only one of the original list and it wasn't either of the closest two (Madison, yes. Nashville & Put In Bay, no.) Then I struggled to come up with some additions and stayed embarrassed. Several candidates wouldn't make the 20,000 cutoff so I'm going to settle for two "me toos", three additions, and a couple of "maybes".

 

The "me toos" are Kent's Greenup, IL, and Pat's Madison, IN. The additions are Ripley, OH, Augusta, KY, and Bardstown, KY. Ripley is an Ohio River town with a lot of tobacco and underground railroad history. Augusta is on the south banks of the river with a lot of old buildings, a very good restaurant, and a cool ferry. Bardstown has a lot of history and a lot of bourbon. All three have some real nice country around them. The "maybes" are Corydon, IN, and Crawfordsville, IN. Both towns that I've only been through once so can't make an endorsement that I'd stand behind but I enjoyed my one visit to each and they LOOKED like places worth going back to.

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Nashville, Indiana- I drove past the outskirts of it returning from the Dixie cruise. I sure wish I'd stopped to see it.

 

Madison, Indiana- I had a picnic lunch in the park overlooking the Ohio and that beautiful bridge. Did I hear correctly that it is slated for demolition?

 

Drove around the town, but didn't stop. I'll be back to both places, as someone says.

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Madison, Indiana- I had a picnic lunch in the park overlooking the Ohio and that beautiful bridge. Did I hear correctly that it is slated for demolition?

 

Well, not in the near term: Troubled Bridge Over Waters

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Well, not in the near term: Troubled Bridge Over Waters

 

Like the Bridge Over Troubled Water. I'm glad it is in no present danger.

 

I really don't care if they build another bridge, but they should leave the first one. Too often today, you don't even know when you're driving over a bridge. They just DON'T look like a bridge with all those girders.

 

They could always turn it into a walking bridge with picnic tables like they have at the old Chain of Rocks Bridge by St. Louis.

 

Keep on Down that Two Lane Highway. --RoadDog

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I've stopped for dinner in Bardstown and enjoyed my visit there. Another day I'll stop and see more.

 

Corydon is a nice little town with lots of history since it was the first Indiana capitol. The original statehouse and governor's residence are still there, as is an early school just for black children (that there was a school at all for them was a big deal at the time), and the stump of a great elm tree under which most of the Indiana Constitution was written. Just south of town on old State Road 135 is a park commemorating the site of Indiana's one and only Civil War battle, and one of two north of the Mason-Dixon line (the other being at Gettysburg, PA). Also in Corydon is what's supposed to be a very cool glassblowing company. I haven't been, but a friend of mine who has family there has been dozens of times and says it's well worth the visit.

 

I like Nashville a lot, but forget going there when the fall colors are at or near peak. It's wall to wall cars.

 

A couple places worth stopping if briefly along US 36 are Danville, IN, home of the Mayberry Cafe, which usually has a 1963 Ford sedan painted to look like a police cruiser out front; and Rockville, IN, which has a few antique stores and places to eat along its square, three sides of which are still in brick. In Rockville, if you head east out High St. and bear right at the first (I think) turn, that road winds all the way to the covered bridge at Bridgeton.

 

jim

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It was just too nice a day to not go somewhere so I headed for the nearest top ten town - Nashville, Indiana. It's a nice place and it's in the middle of some beautiful country. I had some great "made right here" ice cream, got a glimpse of local history at the town museum, and enjoyed just walking through the downtown area but I'm not much of a shopper and I think shopping is a big part of the Nashville attraction.

 

But there is that beautiful country and I got a pretty good peek on the way home. I noticed a sign to the town of Story and recalled someone in an online group (possibly this one) once commenting on a good restaurant there. It turns out the restaurant actually IS the town. The Story Inn is the only thing going in this little town on the edge of the Hoosier National Forest. I didn't try the restaurant but did test the bar and listened to some musical entertainment outside. Story was the highlight of my day.

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