I realize that anytime you put together a "best of" story about anything, from pizza to brewpubs, cars to clothing, dog breeds to movies, people are going to disagree with the choices. That is simply a given, as almost any category is determined by subjective reasoning and the desires and personality of the person making the list.

Therefore, I'll let you know that this "Best Small Towns" compilation was not chosen by me. I freely admit that I sorely lack objectivity about such things. When I truly love something, whether that "thing" is a person or just an idea, I have no capacity for impartiality.

I think we've all been in small towns we loved. There are so many extraordinary ones in this country that would fit the bill in any "best of" comparison. What makes a great small town?

When The Discoverer Blog went looking for them, the elements they seemed to lean toward included authenticity, a faithfulness to history, and variety lacking big city influence.

So let's all agree to disagree on the three small towns which The Discoverer Blog found to be the best in our state and two neighboring states.

  • South Dakota - Deadwood was the small town considered tops in our state. The last census numbered citizens around 1,270 and there is no doubt that the rich history of the place put it at the top of the list in the state. Designated a National Historic Landmark District with highly lauded architecture from the Gold Rush era, the town received legislative approval for legalized gambling in 1989 to help with the preservation of said buildings. Hiking and horseback riding trails, nearby lakes offering fishing and swimming, and proximity to two ski resorts, didn't hurt either.
  • Iowa - Pella hit the jackpot in the "best small town" lottery this time. Home to the "Tulip Time Festival" every May (with the exception of this year, of course), Pella's historical roots were founded deep in the Netherlands. When Dutch settlers came there in the 1800s, they wanted their new community to have reminders of home. The town slogan is "A Touch of Holland" and during the "Tulip Time Festival" amidst windmills, the manmade canal through the downtown, the Dutch connection is on full display in the clothing, food, and activities which accompany it.
  • Minnesota - Lanesboro is tops with The Discoverer Blog. I'll be honest, I had to look at a map to find this historic town. About 2 hours south of Minneapolis, with a population of 754 people in the 2010 census, this town in southeastern Minnesota has been designated the "Bed & Breakfast Capital" of the state. Go ahead and check- - there are about a gazillion BnBs there! Amish tours draw visitors from all over the area to see and shop for furniture, baked goods, handmade quilts, and more. Lanesboro also is crossed by the Root River State Trail System. A 60-mile long stretch of paved trails that are used year-round by hikers, bikers, walkers, cross-country skiers, and more.

Here are some views of the top small towns in the tri-state area.

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