"10 Coolest Small Towns in America 2012" | Budget Travel Magazine

"7th Annual Coolest 'Small Towns' in America 2012"| Municipal Bulletin | Fall 2012 

In the final hours of online voting, the traffic was so intense that it crashed the Budget Travel website. In the end, with more than 360,000 votes cast, and Beaufort, NC and Hammondsport, NY receiving 36.2 and 36.0 percent of the vote respectively -- both were declared the first place winners. 

The rising influence of social media networking as a virtual get–out–the–vote tool led to readers and fans from all over the country banning together, proclaiming their love and support for their favorite 'small towns', sharing videos, and even dedicating their Facebook profile pictures to the cause. Officials in several of the nominated municipalities campaigned tirelessly for their home bases.

"We're pretty darn proud of what we've built here," says Mayor Emery Cummings, who has lived in Hammondsport for every one of his 54 years, "and we're hoping to keep it the way it's always been."

Hammondsport is a small village with a big reputation: The slopes surrounding the Finger Lakes hamlet are home to some of the most renowned wineries in the country. For a true taste of American history, visitors can tour the Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which, under the name Great Western Winery, became the first bonded vintner in the United States in 1860. Over 150 years later, the company still sells reds, whites, and a particularly long list of sherries and other sweet dessert wines.

Other options, including the famous Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars, features picturesque views above Keuka Lake along with its Rieslings. Those more interested in relaxation can enjoy the town's placid atmosphere, as well as its two public beaches on Keuka Lake, artsy shops perfect for treasure hunting (and tasting!) local products, and kicking back for outdoor summer concerts.