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Voters’ Choice: The 4 Best Towns in America

After 20 days and more than one million votes since the start of our 2014 Best Towns Tournament, we’re finally down to the final four. With less than two weeks left, we take a minute to weigh in on what makes each of the finalists so special.
Here at Outside, we’ve been watching the Best Towns 2014 bracket with bated breath—not only because there have been some big surprises (we’re looking at you, Duluth) but also because we’ve been rooting for our favorite towns, too. Now, our editors share some of what make the four finalists so special.

If you haven’t voted yet, what are you waiting for?

Duluth, Minnesota

“Minnesota’s Duluth is the perfect mixture of Midwest small town friendliness and big (enough) city life, with the largest lake in the world (by surface area) on its front porch. Positioned at the westernmost tip of Lake Superior, the country’s farthest inland port city is home to two colleges (three, if you count the one in neighboring Superior, WI, across the river), and 23 parks, including Leif Erikson Park, which hosts movies on the lakeshore every Friday night throughout the summer, and Lester Park, which contains both the Lester River and Amity Creek drainages—short but sweet Class IV-V whitewater runs.

“Travel across the lift bridge in downtown and cruise 7-mile Park Point, the world’s largest freshwater sandbar (also a surfable beach break), or head north up historic Highway 61 (made famous by Bob Dylan) three hours toward the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Some of the best micro-brewed beer in the Midwest can be found at Fitger’s Brewhouse (go on a Wednesday night for a wild rice burger, sweet potato fries, and live bluegrass).

“Sea kayaking in the Apostles Islands is only an hour and a half away. And, sure, it gets cold in the winter, but there’s snow—lots of it. Ski or snowboard at either Spirit Mountain or Lutsen Resort, or go ice and mixed climbing at Casket Quarry on the east side of town.” —Dave Costello, senior editor at Alaska magazine

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