Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nationwide Competition Begins for "Best of the Road"

Have you heard about the Best of the Road Contest sponsored by USA TODAY and Rand McNally? Here's the scoop: Over 600 cities were submitted to compete for the nationwide "Best of the Road" competition in categories including "Most Beautiful" "Friendliest", "Most Patriotic" "Most Fun" and "Best for Food".  They have now whittled it down to 30 locales, and on June 23rd, Five teams of travelers will set to the road from NYC, landing in LA on July 15th. Along the way, each team will visit six towns in an assigned category as well as points of interest along their route. At the end, each team will decide on which town ranked number one in their respective categories and the winners will be announced on July 22nd.

The towns will be highlighted on the Rand McNally website and also in the 2013 Rand McNally Road Atlas, as well as on the USA TODAY travel site. The winning team will take home $10,000 in prize money! If you want to follow the teams' three week adventure, you can catch videos, photos, and updates at

Here are the top cities in each category:

Most Beautiful
Pacifica, Calif. "…a great combination of surf and hills."
Coral Gables, Fla. "…One of the best places in South Florida. World class restaurants, shopping, historic sites, and homes."
Baker City, Ore. "We have a great historic district and a setting that is nestled in the Blue Mountains."
Marco Island, Fla. "…enjoy warm breezes, spectacular sunsets and white sand beaches, all set in a location that is easily accessible."
Franklin, Tenn. "…parks with walking trails and good biking access, rolling hills, historic homes and architecture, Civil War sites, free festivals, great restaurants and friendly locals."
Sandpoint, Idaho "…surrounded by natural beauty no matter which direction you look … breathtaking."

Most Patriotic 
Clarksville, Tenn. "Everywhere you look, there are flags flying and signs posted welcoming our soldiers home (to Fort Campbell) and thanking them for their service."
Emporia, Kansas "…the city that started Veterans Day, (has) many parades and veterans' activities."
Peachtree City, Ga. "Great schools, numerous lakes, tons of green space, excellent facilities for every sport, miles of golf cart paths, and the best Fourth of July celebration around."
Williamsburg, Va. "… the most beautiful, historical and patriotic town that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Fife and drums, fireworks, reenactments…"
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. "…with one of the country's largest military training posts nearby, it's hard not to see patriotism. Many local business use patriotic colors and symbols…"
Rapid City, S. Dak. "There's a lot to see in the Rapid City area, from Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial to Harney Peak and tourist attractions."

Walla Walla, Wash. "You'll have a pleasant conversation with everyone you encounter… People are just nice in Walla Walla and the quality of life is wonderful."
Valdosta, Ga. "Whether you've met them or not, if you're in Valdosta you have friends! People here do not hesitate to jump in and help if you have a need."
Mount Airy, N.C. "People here don't seem to be in a big hurry…(they) talk to you like you're part of their family."
Lake Havasu City, Ariz. "… has a small town feel and with that comes very friendly people!"
Woodward, Okla. "… folks still extend small courtesies toward each other whether they know each other or not."
Nacogdoches, Texas "… a wonderful place to visit and to live."

Most Fun

Vacaville, Calif. "From Merriment On Main in December, Fiesta Days over Memorial Day weekend, the Summer Creekwalk Concert Series ... and this is only the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot of fun in Vacaville!"
Myrtle Beach, S.C. "Plenty of family-friendly places to go and eat. Great seafood restaurants, museums, shopping. Never a dull moment."
Santa Claus, Ind. "For small-town atmosphere with a ton of things to see and do this town has it all!"
Yellow Springs, Ohio "No chain stores and (many) independent restaurants. Always something going on, on a sunny day you find street musicians or artists."
Glenwood Springs, Colo. "So much natural beauty, so many activities (to) enjoy year-round, plenty of restaurants with great food, and the friendliest locals around."
Sioux City, Iowa "Summer months are filled with lots of outdoor music venues, the Farmer's Market, time on the river and great community festivals …"

Best for Food 
Gulfport, Fla. "Fantastic eating establishments … great atmosphere (with) very friendly people!"
Visalia, Calif. "If you are traveling in this area be sure to stop in for a casual or fine-dining experience. You won't be disappointed!"
Burnsville, Minn. "The food is absolutely to die for! So many options to choose from."
Costa Mesa, Calif. "… one of the easiest towns to use as a base to entertain clients and guests, or just to have foodie fun!"
Addison, W.Va. "From the scenery to the businesses to the people, this is the best small town…"
Lafayette, La. "… the degree of culinary talent mixed with down-home deliciousness is second to none."

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