A few months ago, Budget Travel declared a tie between Hammondsport, New York, and Beaufort, North Carolina, in its America’s Coolest Small Town Contest (populations under 10,000).
From Budget Travel’s announcement:
Hammondsport and Beaufort had been locked in fierce battle for much of the month-long vote, seesawing back and forth for the top spot. In the final hours of online voting, toward midnight of Jan. 31, the traffic was so intense that it crashed the Budget Travel website. The site had been programmed to cut off voting at the stroke of midnight and declare a winner, and at precisely 12 a.m. it did—picking Beaufort, which was technically ahead by a few votes at that time. However, since voters in several parts of the country had been locked out due to the site crash, Budget Travel editors decided it was impossible to determine which town would have won had all things been equal for all voters.
Bummer – ties are rather anticlimactic, but to be honest I don’t really care about who had more votes. While it would certainly remove the clouds from above the contest, declaring a winner is merely a formality. The real victory belongs to all of the towns involved – the contest explored the concept of these towns as travel destinations, some for the very first time. Whether it would have been Beaufort or Hammondsport or one of the other eight is, in my opinion, sort of irrelevant (I’d be willing to bet that 99% of the people who voted had not been to all ten towns, anyway).
Announcement: Four of the towns that finished in the aforementioned top ten are located on the East Coast, and I’ve been asked to check out what makes them so “cool”: Hammondsport (NY), Beaufort (NC), Damascus (VA), and Cape May (NJ). It will be my goal to find and experience the coolest things in town – from food to fun – but I promise I won’t play favorites. Each town will be on display for the things they do best. That said, I will advise at the end of the trip via some “cool awards” on which town you should visit for what.
The journey begins next Monday (6/18) with a day trip up to Hammondsport for media interviews and to pick up the “Coolest Car,” which will be decked out with photos of the four towns. The road trip will begin on Wednesday, June 20th in Cape May and conclude in Hammondsport on Monday, July 2nd.
Until then, I’ll continue Colorado coverage and take a closer look at the vessel that fueled my recent Alaskan adventure, Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas.
Here’s the press release put out by Hammondsport, who is organizing the trip:
Coolest Road Trip sends journalist to explore America’s Coolest Small Towns
Wake and Wander to visit the four “cool” East Coast Towns in Budget Travel’s Top Ten List
HAMMONDSPORT, NY – The “Coolest Road Trip” kicks off Wednesday, June 20, when blogger Will McGough, of Wake and Wander, hits the road, his atlas guiding him toward his first cool small town. His 13-day, four-town road trip includes visits to Cape May, NJ; Beaufort, NC; Damascus, VA; and Hammondsport, NY.
“We wanted to ensure that the buzz surrounding the ‘America’s Coolest Small Towns’ contest continued throughout the year,” said Peggy Coleman, President of the Steuben County Conference & Visitors Bureau. “Budget Travel will feature the Coolest Small Towns in an issue, but it won’t release until the fall. We needed something in early summer – the beginning of tourism season – to get people thinking about planning their trips to these cool small towns.”
In January, Budget Travel pitted ten cool small towns against each other and let voters determine which one was the “coolest.” On January 31, after nearly a month of close competition, Budget Travel’s website crashed, due to intense voting on the final day. After much deliberation, Budget Travel did the only fair thing, and declared a tie between the top two contenders: Hammondsport, NY, and Beaufort, NC.
Now, the Coolest Road Trip will take McGough in search of the “coolests” in each town. From “Coolest Place to Stay” to “Coolest Outdoor Activity” to “Coolest Keepsake,” McGough will experience it all, and give his readers an inside look at the cool factor of each small town. Make sure to follow along on http://www.WakeandWander.com.
“I feel lucky to be chosen for such a pleasant task,” said McGough. “Who wouldn’t want to explore the best small towns in America? This trip nicely represents everything that Wake andWander stands for: Wake up every morning and find something interesting to do. I look forward to taking in all each town has to offer.”
“McGough is the perfect journalist for this trip,” said Kim Price, Communications Manager for the Steuben County CVB. “Much like these small towns, he has a cool factor all his own. He’s young, fun, and carefree – not to mention, a great writer. I can’t think of anyone better capable of making this road trip a success.”
Price has been coordinating the road trip with McGough and with the other towns since shortly after the Budget Travel competition ended in January. Budget Travel has agreed to write a blog about the Coolest Road Trip before it kicks off, and will then continue to promote it through social media.
“Like” Wake and Wander, as well as Corning and the Finger Lakes, on Facebook to follow along.
McGough will be in Hammondsport from June 28 – July 2, just in time for the Hammondsport Coolest Small Town Celebration on June 30, when he’ll drive the Coolest Car in a parade. He will also be attending the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, New York State’s most award-winning winery since 1962. McGough will also visit the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, taste wine at several wineries, and enjoy a scenic flight over Keuka Lake – all things visitors can do every day!