Your friends who put together Gildshire Magazines need no urging when it comes to travel. Have car keys will travel to the big cities and the bright lights where exciting and newsworthy things are taking place. That said, our favorite trips may have nothing to do with bright lights. They may be memory-making day trips to small towns in the heartland, the deep south, or an ocean beach. Combine a trip through a historic Main Street with a bite at a local favorite and we’re happy. Today, we seek America’s best Main Streets, and the bite to eat that makes those memories come alive. Is your town included, or at least nearby? We hope so!
Main Street, McCarthy, Alaska: Bright lights, or big city? None of that going on in McCarthy, where the year-round population is 28 (30 if Tammy and John’s twins are here yet.) Nevertheless, our smallest Main Street may just turn out to be your favorite one of the lot. The Mom-and-Pop shops provide allure for collectors and the nearby (and by “nearby” we mean you can see it from Main Street) Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve provide the wilderness we came to Alaska to find. Favored Bite: Thai Spicy Soup and a basket of garlic fries at The Potato.
Main Street, Rockland, Maine: The wild and untamed beauty of the Maine coastline calls us again and again. The barely more than 7,000 people who call Rockland home know just what we’re talking about. The Strand Theater is a big draw here, with concerts and performing arts mixed into the movie offerings. Wander in and out of the local pubs and you just might find a cribbage tourney underway. “15-2, 15-4, 15-6, and a pair make eight?” (And you thought we didn’t remember when Grandma taught us to play cribbage.) Favored Bite: Lobster Rolls at Claws.
Main Street, Greenville, South Carolina: When is the last time you had penny candy straight out of the barrel? Too long ago to remember? Never? Well, get on down to Greenville for all of that and more at one of the country’s best Saturday Markets on one of America’s best Main Streets. The tree-lined street begs nature photographers to snap a few, and the locals offer small-town hospitality that belies Greenville’s 67,453 population. Favored Bite: Bacon Cheddar Popcorn at Poppington’s.
Main Street Carmel, Indiana: The largest city on our list boasts about 90,000 folks, but Main Street speaks to the downtown lover we know you to be. Horse-drawn carriages ply the narrow streets, adding to the area’s charm from an earlier time. Seventeen life-size statues depict hometown life. Have your picture taken with one of them, on the way to the car show. Favored Bite: Cheeseburger at Woody’s.
Main Street, Dahlonega, Georgia: We’re back in small town country (About 6,000 call Dahlonega home.) and the southern Appalachian charm is coming from the local’s smiling faces. Are you here for the big Six Gap/Three Gap bicycle event? The challenging Six Gap route takes you up and down six of the steepest climbs in the North Georgia Mountains. The Three Gap ride is challenge enough for us. If your competitive biking days behind you, then enjoy a show at the beautifully-restored Holly Theater. Favored Bite: Crab Cakes at Bourbon Street Grill.
Main Street, West Lafayette, Indiana: The home to Purdue University (Go Boilermakers!) West Lafayette is also home to one of the real Main Street charmers on our list. Just under 50,000 folks call West Lafayette home, and they get to enjoy the John T. Myers Pedestrian & Riehle Plaza, a riverfront walkway, pedestrian bridge, and plaza that borders the Wabash River. Art shows are a big deal here, and none are better than June’s Taste of Tippecanoe. Speaking of taste…Favorite Bite: Burgers and house made root beer at Triple XXX.
Main Street, Eastsound on Orcas Island, Washington: Other travel writers have called this place “Mayberry, indeed” and we like that! Surrounded by the waters of the Salish Sea, Orcas Island is a most special place in Washington State. Boutiques, galleries, and eateries perch over Fishing Bay, if you’re into that sort of thing. If not, the views and cool breezes lure you outside anyway. You won’t be bothered by crowds, because less than 4,000 people make up the town. That almost seems a pity. Favorite Bite: Smoked salmon pasta at New Leaf Cafe.
Do these places sound like a vacation destination, or at least a day trip? We thought so, too. Happy travels to one of America’s best Main Streets.