Monday, October 24, 2011

Top 10; The Prettiest, Coolest, Most Charming Main Streets In the US (On US Route 6)

From Cape Cod, MA to Long Beach, CA, US Route 6 passes through hundreds of communities large and small.  I crossed the country as the economic tide rolled out yet again for the average American homeowner and worker. Shuttling from one Main Street to the next, I noticed that despite the Great Recession, some communities were pulling together to revitalize former flagging downtowns - turning them into places where locals, and even tourists would want to flock.

These, then, are Best Ten Main Streets on US Route 6:

Commercial St. - Quiet in Offseason
Provincetown, MA
1.  Provincetown, MA; If you're into tie-dye, pirates, glitter eye-shadow (on men), steamed lobsters, sand dunes and a frenzied Main St. - come to the edge-of-the-world town of Provincetown, MA to spend a squeezy, pleasy, teasy few hours on Commercial St.  Fun Factor:  Off the Charts.

Center Flagpole
Newtown, CT
2. Newtown, CT; An All-American Town even before this WAS America. Newtown is known for having more pre-1825 homes than any town in state, and at least one - on Main St. -  from which the owner watched Revolutionary War troops walk by while sitting on his front porch. Patriotic Rating: Five (Out of Five) Stars.

Main St. Wellsboro, PA
3. Wellsboro, PA: Best known for the iconic Wellsboro Diner, Wellsboro, PA takes its charming “stuck-in 40’s” identity very seriously.  Street lamps set within a grassy median, tree-shaded sidewalks; this Main Street hasn't changed much in decades and that's the draw.  Charm Factor: Way Up There.

Canals of Vermilion, OH
4. Vermillion, OH; The most picturesque "Yachting Center" in the middle of the country, Vermilion has carved out a series of canals from Great Lake Erie giving its downtown the feel of a crowd-pleasing full-service marina. Views are as sweet as the Ice Cream Sundaes at Big Ed's. Nautical Rating: Unexpectedly High.

Pedestrian Mall, Iowa City, IA
5. Iowa City, IA: Though U of Iowa students love to assemble on the brick, pedestrian-only streets in the center of Iowa City, a broad range of non-students do, too. There's no better place for senior citizens to meander or young parents to push a stroller - where you don't have to worry about moving cars.  Excellent restaurants, a new terrific library, lots of comfy bench seating and playground equipment make Iowa City's downtown a model for other like-sized cities.  Sophistication Rating: Brilliant But Unpretentious.

Downtown Ashland, NE
6. Ashland, NE: This is the smallest Main Street on the list, nestled between the larger cities of Omaha and Lincoln.  But Ashland's got plenty of heart, several art galleries, buildings on the Historic Register, and a winery tasting room. In addition, near the incongruous Licoma Beach Lighthouse on the outskirts of town right on Route 6, a Culinary Institute of America (CIA) trained chef has just opened a Bar and Grill. Nifty things are happening in pretty and unassuming Ashland, Nebraska.  Tourist Magnet Rating: High and Growing.

Main St. Golden, CO
7. Golden, CO: The Welcome to Golden sign that arcs over Main Street says it all.  Brick-lined, historic, laid-back - Golden's downtown is everything you'd want in Western Hospitality. There's plenty to eat and buy, and more to see and do including of course, taking one of the most popular brewery tours in the country.  Coors of Golden Colorado is right here.  Howdy Y'all Factor: Ten (out of Ten) Gallon Hats.

Sculptures on Main St.
Grand Junction, CO
8. Grand Junction, CO; An outdoor enthusiast's utopia with world-class restaurants, Grand Junction draws fit folks who love the good things in life.  That apparently extends to public art: Main Street has become something of an outdoor sculpture garden.  Flourishes like filigreed drainage grates, a sidewalk water-playground for kids, and funky shops and eateries prove that Grand Junction puts an emphasis on design as attraction. Main Street Aesthetic: Very Fine.

Newest Downtown Ceramic Mural
Bishop, CA
9. Bishop, CA: Bishop's history is literally written on its walls, or drawn as the case may be. It's all about the murals in this small, adorable Eastern Sierra Mountain town. Tourists come to hire mules and back-country guides and grab a bite to eat, then stay to admire the paintings.  Appearing like a mirage in the middle of the desert, Bishop is that longed-for, charming oasis after a long and dusty drive.  Artistic Factor: Impressive.

Revitalized Main St.
Lancaster, CA
10. Lancaster, CA: Feathery foliage, parking nooks, cool restaurants, playground, shops and (soon-to-be-opened) art/history museum has rendered Lancaster's newly renovated Main St. a pedestrian-friendly hangout.  If you haven't been to this LA commuter town in awhile, you'll be shocked for sure. Formerly down-at-heals, Lancaster is transforming its "broken-windows" reputation into a desirable destination.  Reinvention Factor: Lofty.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for including Bishop, CA on your top 10 list! We're proud of our great City and honored to have made the list. If anyone is interested in visiting Bishop, please feel free to contact the Bishop Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau. We're happy to help you make the most of your trip! or 760-873-8405.


Please leave your comment here: