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Best Small Town Art Scene (2022)

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Bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to these 10 small towns, each with a population of fewer than 30,000 people (as of the last census). What each of these towns lack in size, they make up for with big art scenes – museums, art galleries, performing arts, and busy event calendars. 

  • Tubac

    Tubac
    Arizona

    Tubac was founded in 1726 as Arizona's first European settlement. Today, this sleepy town and artists colony just outside of Tucson is a popular destination for shoppers, who come for the 80-some shops and galleries specializing in colorful arts and crafts. The Tubac Golf Resort was featured in the Kevin Costner film Tin Cup.
    Photo courtesy of Arizona Office of Tourism

  • Taos

    Taos
    New Mexico

    Taos started as a pueblo tucked within the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico. Today, the vibrant community encompasses a thriving artists colony, trendy boutiques, art museums, galleries and a calendar packed with cultural events.
    Photo courtesy of Taos.org

  • Gatlinburg

    Gatlinburg
    Tennessee

    You’ll find imaginative works of art at many of the galleries and shops in Gatlinburg. But the main draw for art lovers to this mountain mountain town is the Great Smoky Mountains Arts and Crafts Community, where more than 100 artists and craftspeople demonstrate their talents. The community is part of the eight-mile Tennessee Heritage Arts and Crafts Trail.
    Photo courtesy of Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau

  • Rahway

    Rahway
    New Jersey

    Rahway, a former industrial town of just under 30,000 residents, has reinvented itself as an artist community with a walkable downtown area. The Rahway Arts District features the Hamilton Stage theater and Union County Performing Arts Center. Each year, the town hosts the Cultural Crawl, bringing together musicians, visual artists, craft artisans and performing artists.
    Photo courtesy of Darren Levine

  • Manitou Springs

    Manitou Springs
    Colorado

    Sitting at the base of Pikes Peak is the tiny town of Manitou Springs, a resort town ever since the area's mineral-rich waters were discovered in the 1870s. The small downtown area is filled with art galleries and eclectic boutiques. The Manitou Art Center features a maker space for digital artists and hosts courses in both traditional and non-conventional visual arts.
    Photo courtesy of David Thomason

  • Lucas

    Lucas
    Kansas

    Lucas, the Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas, showcases the ingenuity of largely self-taught artists. Start at the Lucas Grassroots Arts Center for an introduction before wandering through the funky sculpture garden known as the Garden of Eden. Other points of interest include the Fork Art Park, Bowl Plaza and Miller’s Park.
    Photo courtesy of Lucas

  • Cody

    Cody
    Wyoming

    The former home of Buffalo Bill now hosts a vibrant arts community, thanks to the Cody Country Art League, Big Horn Galleries, Simpson Gallagher Gallery and Mountain Valley Artistry. Visit during the annual Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale to find pieces celebrating the American West.
    Photo courtesy of Cody Yellowstone

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea

    Carmel-by-the-Sea
    California

    Well-manicured and cute as a button, Carmel-by-the-Sea got its start as an artist commune where the likes of Sinclair Lewis and Ansel Adams found inspiration. While tiny Carmel is much less Bohemian than it once was, it still charms with its numerous boutiques and galleries (none of which have numbered addresses).
    Photo courtesy of Carmel-by-the-Sea

  • Yellow Springs

    Yellow Springs
    Ohio

    Yellow Springs, a hippie enclave within day trip distance of Cincinnati, is an eclectic small town known for its diverse visual and performing arts scene. You’re likely to see street art (including knitted graffiti) around town as you hop between galleries and quirky boutiques.
    Photo courtesy of Yellow Springs

  • Stockbridge

    Stockbridge
    Massachusetts

    This small New England town is big on artistic opportunities. Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum to see works from the iconic American artist who lived in Stockbridge for many years, or visit the former summer home of sculptor Daniel Chester French. Other arts highlights include Schantz Galleries Contemporary Glass, the Berkshire Theatre Group and Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra).
    Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

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  1. Tubac - Arizona
  2. Taos - New Mexico
  3. Gatlinburg - Tennessee
  4. Rahway - New Jersey
  5. Manitou Springs - Colorado
  6. Lucas - Kansas
  7. Cody - Wyoming
  8. Carmel-by-the-Sea - California
  9. Yellow Springs - Ohio
  10. Stockbridge - Massachusetts

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning towns!

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