There are lists of the best places to get a job, retire, ski, golf and fall in love, best places lists for almost everything. We think any best place worth traveling to should have one quality above others: culture.
To help create our list, we asked the geographic information systems company Esri to search its data bases for high concentrations of museums, historic sites, botanic gardens, resident orchestras, art galleries and other cultural assets common to big cities. But we focused on towns with populations less than 25,000, so travelers could experience what might be called enlightened good times in an unhurried, charming setting. We also tried to select towns ranging across the lower 48.