Grand Marais Is America’s Coolest Small Town

Budget Travel is a popular multi-platform travel resource that has been in business for over 18 years, catering to millions of customers worldwide. Their website,, recently finished their 10th annual “America’s Coolest Small Town” contest for 2015. The winner? None other than Grand Marais, Minnesota.

America’s Coolest Small Town is an annual contest that raises awareness about travel locales other than big cities and fancy overseas destinations. Generally, the towns that are usually focused on are representative of the things that characterize America: baseball and good ol’ apple pie, for example. Besides possessing naturally beautiful scenery, the town should also have a certain feel to it: one that shows progression, without losing the most important part of its roots. In addition, the location should also have an atmosphere that caters to both young and old alike.

Over 385 small towns were voted on, many of which have populations under 10,000. To get an idea of the scale, some towns have populations as small as 1,351 people, yet managed to collect almost half the population’s online votes.

Of the 385, the list was clipped to 15, and then 10 for the public to vote on. A whopping 103,961 votes were made over the course of 5 weeks. Of the top 10, Grand Marais had the lowest population with 1,351 people; on the bottom of the list, but still popular, was Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

Here are the top 10 towns with the highest amount of votes to the lowest: Grand Marais, Minnesota; Chincoteague, Virginia; Hillsborough, North Carolina; Allegan, Wisconsin; Washington, North Carolina; Delhi, New York; Fort Myers Beach, Florida; Huron, Ohio; Snohomish, Washington, and as mentioned before, Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

Out of the top 10, it is easy to notice that most are located in “traditional” states, with New York, Florida and Washington, being the outliers. Grand Marais (French phrase meaning “Great Marsh”), specifically, is home to the Dragon boat festival and Fisherman’s Picnic. The small town is part of Cook County and even has popular lodges and resorts by the name of Naniboujou Lodge and Lutsen Resort. Both are considered historical landmarks and are popular among tourists and residents alike.