There is a community theatre boss in the Puget Sound-area who says the following in his curtain speech. “Whether this is your fifth visit or fiftieth, we want to say, ‘Welcome home.’ If this is your first time here, we want to say, ‘Welcome to the family.” Home and family. Two words that are more important than status and wealth, or prestige, and power. Today, Gildshire wants to introduce to you some small towns with a home and family feel. You won’t find enormous shopping malls or much in the way of chain restaurants in these towns. They don’t need them because of John and DeeDee’s Sportswear’s popularity, and Jeff and Vicki’s loyal clientele at the Choklit’ Shoppe. You also won’t find dirty air, bad water, or urban sprawl. These are small towns without the ambition to become big towns. They are small towns that will welcome you home. Part One of Three…or more.
Eight families the size of the Brady Bunch (Alice included) would have to move in before Stockholm’s population reached one hundred. Too small for a chain store of any kind, Stockholm is the right home for the five dozen or so folks who live there. Located seventy miles from Minneapolis and just across the Mississippi from Frontenac, Minnesota, Stockholm’s claim to fame are the pies that come out of the ovens at Stockholm Pie and General Store.
A village made of stone. No, the whole town wasn’t built of granite rock, but part of Chester was built and is maintained that way. Walk around the Stone Village, but don’t miss your train! The Green Mountain Flyer is a leisurely (“Flyer” is meant in a Vermont-ironic way) two-hour trip through dense foliage and verdant fields of green and gold. Chester is a long way from anywhere big, and the folks who live here relish that fact. Boston is 123 miles away.
Nestled beneath the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg doesn’t need much besides geography to be one of the featured towns on our list. But, it’s four-season recreational opportunities and quinella of wineries and distilleries for your sipping perusal seal the deal for Gildshire. For non-drinkers (or those willing to take a break from drinking, for cryin’ out loud), the Gatlinburg Scenic Overlook is a can’t miss chance to view the town from on high. Gatlinburg is 36 miles from Knoxville and just eight miles southeast of Dollywood Theme Park.
Custer, South Dakota:
If the only thing you know about the Black Hills of South Dakota is Mt. Rushmore, you don’t know one-third of the story. The idyllic little town of Custer sits beneath the trees that gave the Black Hills that name. Would you like to learn some of the histories of the west? All of downtown Custer is a historical tableau sharing the stories for all who care to know them. Hard-up against the downtown streets finds the entrance to Custer State Park. (Pictured on top.) Visitors compare its vistas to those of Yellowstone. A bonus suggestion for those who’s favorite vacations include the question, “Will there be bats?” would be Jewel Cave National Monument, home to one of the world’s longest caves. It is only eight miles into the State Park. Custer is 41 miles from Rapid City and about 350 miles from the nearest large city, Denver, Colorado.
Did the list get your heart pumping and your reservation muscle twitching? We’re not surprised. But, before you make your decision, wait for the rest of the series. There is much more to come. Gildshire knows lots of small towns waiting to welcome you home.