Best Small Town Cultural Scene (2019)


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 cultural punch – museums, art galleries, performing arts and busy event calendars. 

  • Doylestown


    This Pennsylvania town is home to the Doylestown Cultural District, where visitors will find both the Mercer Museum and James A. Michener Art Museum – home to a collection of Pennsylvania impressionist works – within steps of Main Street. The art deco County Theater, built in the 1930s, still screens movies.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / aimintang

  • Point Pleasant

    Point Pleasant
    West Virginia

    Located where the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers meet, the town of Point Pleasant is home of the Mothman – an urban legend – as well as a host of excellent festivals, including Bikes, BBQ & Bluegrass; the Country Fall Festival; Battle Days and of course, the world's only Mothman Festival. This quaint small town also has a vibrant arts community that is the cornerstone of showcasing the area's history – Fort Randolph, the Mansion House Museum and the West Virginia State Farm Museum. 
    Photo courtesy of Mason County Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Tarpon Springs

    Tarpon Springs

    Visit the small town of Tarpon Springs, and you might feel like you’ve been transported to the shores of the Greek Islands. The city’s Tarpon Arts Program features four cultural venues, the Cultural Center, Performing Arts Center, Safford House and Heritage Museum. Other cultural attractions include the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, Historic Train Depot Museum and the Sponge Docks Fishing Village.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / benedek

  • Staunton


    Located in the stunning Shenandoah Valley of Virgina, the town of Staunton is the hometown of President Woodrow Wilson and the location of Beverly Street. This main street, lined by red brick buildings, encompasses one of the highest concentrations of late-19th-century architecture of any town in the country. A highlight is the Blackfriar’s Playhouse, a recreation of Shakespeare's theater in London.
    Photo courtesy of Staunton Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Media


    Media, Pennsylvania calls itself “Everybody’s Hometown,” as it’s easy to make yourself comfortable and stay awhile in this historic corner of Delaware County. Cultural events shine here, including America’s Music Festival Series and summer Dining Under the Stars. The Media Theatre puts on musical productions, concerts and performances just for kids.
    Photo courtesy of R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

  • Paducah


    Paducah, a designated UNESCO Creative City, is best known for its National Quilt Museum which anchors a thriving fiber arts community. The Lower Town Arts District, the town’s oldest neighborhood, is home to numerous working artists and artists-in-residence whose work can be seen at many galleries and collectives around the city.
    Photo courtesy of Paducah Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Easton


    While Easton has a small population of under 20,000 people, it’s cultural offerings rival that of a much larger city. The Talbot Historical Society operates a museum showcasing more than 1,000 historic photographs, in addition to many priceless artifacts, while the Academy Art Museum has been nationally recognized for its collection spanning two centuries of art. The art deco Avalon Theatre maintains a busy calendar of performing arts events.
    Photo courtesy of Mellowcream / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

  • Traverse City

    Traverse City

    The thriving arts community in Traverse City makes this small Michigan town feel way bigger than it is. The Traverse Symphony Orchestra performs regularly in the City Opera House, while the Interlochen Center for the Arts brings in talent from around the globe. The Dennos Museum Center maintains a permanent collection of art from the Canadian arctic – one of the largest in the world.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / RiverNorthPhotography

  • Guthrie


    Oklahoma’s territorial capital is home to the largest Historic Preservation District in the country, accessed by a trolley passing through the Victorian-era downtown. Visitors can catch a movie at one of the oldest drive-in theaters in the state, watch a historic gunfight reenactment, catch a rodeo or dive into history at the Oklahoma Territorial Museum.
    Photo courtesy of Ken Kinder / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

  • York

    South Carolina

    York, located in the western part of the county of the same name, was first settled by Catawba Indians before Scotch-Irish settlers arrived in the mid 18th century. Today, York boasts one of South Carolina’s largest Historic Districts filled with shops, theaters and restaurants, including the 560-seat McCelvey Center and the Sylvia Theater.
    Photo courtesy of CITY OF YORK


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

  1. Doylestown, Pennsylvania
  2. Point Pleasant, West Virginia
  3. Tarpon Springs, Florida
  4. Staunton, Virginia
  5. Media, Pennsylvania
  6. Paducah, Kentucky
  7. Easton, Maryland
  8. Traverse City, Michigan
  9. Guthrie, Oklahoma
  10. York, South Carolina

A panel of experts (listed below) partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning small towns!

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