Travel Summer
060617_AsburyParkmain Mel Evans/AP

A man cheers on a large crowd as they wait for the Sons of Ireland's annual New Year's Day Polar Bear Plunge Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, in Asbury Park, N.J.

June 06, 2017

Jersey Shore spot dubbed America's 'coolest' small town

Bruce Springsteen's adopted musical hometown completes bounce-back

When it comes to rating cities and towns, how do you — how can you — genuinely define "cool?" How do you go about differentiating degrees of coolness? The question is totally rhetorical. The answer's obvious.

You put together a subjective list using crowdsourced responses, publish it online in the summer, and watch it get republished elsewhere as people, far and wide, either take great pride in it or mock it relentlessly.

Remember when RoadSnacks went the opposite route and ranked Philadelphia's worst suburbs? Sure, they used census data and crime statistics, but the underlying motive was the same: get people riled up and talking. 

Thanks to Budget Travel, an online resource for savvy explorers, we now know America's coolest small towns in 2017. Their very coolest one? 

"Asbury Park, New Jersey, exemplifies the cultural and ethnic diversity, creative energy, and unparalleled natural beauty that have defined America for more than two centuries," said Budget Travel's editors, who curated the list after evaluating photos and reader suggestions submitted the past few weeks. 

Recommended as an easy road trip from Philadelphia or New York, Asbury Park receives bonus points for its revival from the low point Bruce Springsteen described in his belated homage, "My City of Ruins."

"This beach town that helped launch Bruce Springsteen is, not surprisingly, a music mecca - check out shows at the legendary Stone Pony, the Paramount Theater and Convention Hall, and other venues," Budget Travel continued. "We love Asbury Park’s cultural diversity, welcoming vibe, and year-round calendar of events: Fourth of July fireworks, Oysterfest, Zombie Walk, and so much more."

In case you're already planning a trip in your mind, Asbury Park is also home to America's best new hotel, according to the editors of USA Today's 10 Best series. 

Here is the complete list of Budget Travel's 10 coolest small towns in the United States.

1. Asbury Park, New Jersey
2. Bisbee, Arizona
3. Nevada City, California
4. Chatham, Massachusetts
5. Mountain View, Arkansas
6. Cannon Beach, Oregon
7. Philipsburg, Montana
8. Milford, Pennsylvania
9. Glen Falls, New York
10. Indianola, Mississippi