Are These Small Minnesota + Wisconsin Towns The Most Picturesque?
A travel website called North Carolina Travel Guides recently published a list of their list of the most picturesque small towns in the United States, looking to identify photogenic hamlets across America.
The team with the publication says they filtered through 500 small towns across the country to narrow their list down to the 120 best. Using criteria like search trends, popularity with photographers, and popularity for photography with the general public, also working into their study other factors like the number of posts on image-sharing platforms like Flickr and Instagram tagged with the town.
They narrowed their list down to 120 locations, largely concentrated along the east coast and through the southern part of the country. While the Upper Midwest only saw a total of five towns make the cut (two in Michigan, two in Wisconsin, and one in Minnesota), one of them landed near the top of the list.
Cedarburg, Wisconsin: #2
Of the Minnesota and Wisconsin small towns that made the list, the town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin came in at #2 overall across the country, only being beaten out by Fredricksburg, Texas.
With a population of about 12,000 people, Cedarburg is located about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, not far from the shores of Lake Michigan.
North Carolina Travel Guides highlighted their historic downtown, wineries, natural and historical sites, and the town's famous covered bridge as highlights. While they didn't mention it in the NC Travel Guides description, the Cedarburg Mill is another popular photographic subject, with a number of photos on Instagram of the structure.
Stillwater, Minnesota: #41
The only town in Minnesota to make the list comes in at #41 overall, noted for its location on the St. Croix River, beautiful parks, and historic buildings and sites. Located just to the east of the Twin Cities area, this Minnesota border town with a population of just over 19,000 people was also recently named one of the best "alternative romantic destinations" in a different poll published earlier this year.
Stillwater is also home to an iconic lift bridge, a quaint downtown area, and a number of fun events throughout the year.
View this post on Instagram
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: #87
Rounding out the NC Travel Guides list among towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin is Lake Geneva, a popular destination in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Situated between Chicago and Madison, the town of Lake Geneva is on the eastern part of Geneva Lake in a resort area offering boating and other water-oriented fun with a reported population of just over 8,000 people.
Along with outdoor activities and beauty, Lake Geneva also has some stunning architecture, with mansions and historical structures more than worthy of a photo. Lake Geneva is also traditionally home to one of the famous Ice Castles attractions each winter - with the Twin Cities area also hosting a location during the cold weather season.
While I can't necessarily argue with these selections, I do feel like there are a couple of other towns that could make the cut in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Here are some suggestions I'd offer:
Grand Marais, Minnesota
I feel like Grand Marais gets a lot of love on various lists, but it didn't make the cut for this one for some reason. I'd argue it should! While it doesn't have a ton of super-historic architecture, it is an incredibly photogenic town, whether looking outward from shore at the piers and lake, or looking in from the piers/lake toward the town.
View this post on Instagram
Looking like a New England town with sailboats and beautiful homes and other buildings along the hillside, this just seems like a total miss on behalf of the NC Travel Guides list. While fall is absolutely stunning, it is great any time of year. Whether touring around town, ferrying to Madeline Island, or kayaking along the shoreline, there is a lot of beauty to take in.