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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Comments
by Princess25 on ‎07-24-2013 05:25 PM

Debbie,

 

You have some very good choices but the one I really like is Santa Rosa, Ca.  My mom lived there until she passed away a few years ago but my sister is still there and enjoying it very much.  I did love the area when I went to see my mom, stepfather and sister.   I'll have to check out the other places some day. 

 

Thanks for your input on your favorite times. 

 

Sally Kemme

Princess25

by LoriCL on ‎07-24-2013 08:23 PM

Debbie -

 

Good choices!  I grew up in Maryland, and we visited Gettysburg often. It was a hallowed place, and I hate the thought that it may not be preserved for the richness and history it represents. Also, I lived in Florida until just recently and Vero Beach was one of our favorite beaches to visit. Mostly because it was somewhat undiscovered by the tourist as compared to other Atlantic beaches. Now that I am living in Pullman, WA, I will have to check out Leavenworth, as I love the holidays and with my German heritage, Oktoberfest sounds like a lot of fun. 

 

I don't know if you drive or fly to Florida, but if you drive you should check out Natchitoches, Louisiana (pronounced Nack-a-tish). It's a favorite small town for my family, located on the Cane River. It is the oldest town in Louisiana and home of the signing of the Louisiana Purchase. Great food, great inns, and beautiful scenery, we always stop when passing by Natchitoches.

 

Lori C Lewis 

by gammie2jk on ‎07-25-2013 07:55 AM

I grew up in the small town of Fairmount, Indiana (the home of James Dean, actor and Jim Davis creator of Garfield the cat comics).  There really is nothing like a small town to grow up in.  We did not have spectacular scenery like in Washington, just lots of corn and soybean fields around but we loved it.  We played "go sheepie go", tag and other games with the neighbors across backyards in the summertime and were not afraid to go anywhere in town.   Evenings we caught lightening bugs.  We had a parade for July 4th which included the American Legion and the high school band and all the kids decorated their bikes and rode at the back.  I loved small town living so much that when our daughters were young, we again moved to a small town of Grabill, Indiana but have since moved.  My sister said "you can take the girl out of the small town but not the small town out of the girl." I hope my daughers someday appreciate growing up in a small town as much as I did.