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Best Small Town Arts Scene (2021)

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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 lacks in size, it makes up for with a big art scene – 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Eureka Springs

    Eureka Springs
    Arkansas

    The entire town of Eureka Springs is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and South Main Street running through downtown is lined with beautiful Victorian architecture. While curative hot springs were once the main draw, modern-day visitors come for the live music, art scene and romantic Queen Anne-style B&Bs scattered throughout the town. The town is home to hundreds of working artists and galleries.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / JTGrafix

  • 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 CodyYellowstone.org

  • 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

  • West Rutland

    West Rutland
    Vermont

    This small town in a marble-rich area of Vermont is best known for its magnificent works of sculptural art, particularly at the West Rutland Art Park. Head to the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center to create your own work of art, or see artists at work at Campbell Plaster and Iron.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / PointImages

  • 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 Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce

  • 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

The top 10 winners in the Best Small Town Arts Scene are as follows:

  1. Tubac - Arizona
  2. Rahway - New Jersey
  3. Gatlinburg - Tennessee
  4. Lucas - Kansas
  5. Eureka Springs - Arkansas
  6. Cody - Wyoming
  7. Taos - New Mexico
  8. West Rutland - Vermont
  9. Manitou Springs - Colorado
  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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