With the new edition of 16 Lighthouse Road —the first of the Cedar Cove books— I’ve been thinking a lot about the appeal of small towns. The sense of community, of belonging, is an important part of that enduring appeal, in fiction and in real life. I like to read and write about small towns, and I also enjoy visiting them. Here are my five favorite real towns.
1. Santa Rosa, California
My husband, Wayne, and I love wine, especially wines from the Sonoma Valley and in particular those from Kendall-Jackson and UpTick wineries. No visit to California is complete without at least a short wine tour and a stay in Santa Rosa, one of the most picturesque, welcoming towns in the region. Great restaurants, great galleries, great scenery and, best of all, fabulous wines. (Not to mention the wonderful people!)
2. Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth reinvented itself as a Bavarian-style town. Nestled in the foothills of the Cascades, it’s bursting with character and charm. It offers attractions for every member of the family, including river rafting, hiking, skiing (close by), plus all the amenities of small-town life. It’s certainly unique among small towns in Washington, and no place does Oktoberfest or celebrates Christmas like Leavenworth!
3. Vero Beach, Florida
When Wayne and I made the decision to winter in Florida, we toured the entire state and chose Vero Beach. This is sunny Florida at its best, with sugar-sand beaches, manatees that swim right up to our dock, a floral fantasy of orchids, palm and banyan trees, and best of all, the Atlantic coast that has mostly gone undiscovered.
4. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Because my husband is a huge Civil War buff, we’ve visited Gettysburg a number of times through the years. We’ve walked the battlefields, toured the new Visitors’ Center and stayed in historic hotels. No one can spend time on the battlefields where so many died or walk through the cemetery where President Lincoln gave his famous address and not be moved. Gettysburg is an important part of America's history; it shouldn't be missed.
5. Aberdeen, South Dakota
My father was born on a farm just a few miles outside Aberdeen. When I was a kid, our family drove to Aberdeen nearly every summer to connect with relatives and friends. As it happens, L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz, lived here and there's a fabulous park named in his honor. This is small-town America at its best, the heartland of our country, and part of my heart, too.
So these are my five favorite small towns in America. I imagine many of you are surprised that I didn't mention Port Orchard, Washington, aka Cedar Cove. That would’ve been far too obvious a choice! I know many of my readers have enjoyed the books and are looking forward to the Hallmark television series based on them. As I mentioned, 16 Lighthouse Road, the story that started it all, is being released in a beautiful new edition featuring Andie MacDowell (who plays Olivia) on the cover. Watch for 204 Rosewood Laneand 311 Pelican Court as well. And if you can't get enough of Cedar Cove, the Rose Harbor Inn series also takes place there and includes visits from all your old friends. So come and meet Jo Marie Rose and her guests in Rose Harbor in Bloom available August 2013.
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