TRAVERSE CITY — Call it the Mario effect.
The editors at Fodor’s Travel announced Wednesday that Traverse City has been named one of America’s 10 Best Small Towns, adding to a list of accolades that the city and region continue to garner. Fodor’s Travel blog editor Nicole Campoy said the recognition is directly related to renowned chef Mario Batali talking up the region, which he has been wont to do with increasing frequency since he and his family bought a home near Northport about 10 years ago.
“I have been there, but it was a long time ago,” Campoy said. “I remember loving it.
“But we actually did an interview with Mario Batali not so long ago and he sort of put it back on our radar as this unexpected sort of foodie haven. Our readers love to eat and our editors love to eat and we did some more digging and put it on our list.”
Fodor’s Travel said the 10 towns chosen “are attracting visitors with an often unexpected — and surprisingly sophisticated — array of independent and locally minded cultural, outdoor and culinary offerings, all minus the urban price tags.” Other cities on the list include Healdsburg, Calif., Bozeman, Mont., Sedona, Ariz.,St. Augustine, Fla., Provincetown on Cape Cod, Mass., Brattleboro, Vt., Door County, Wis., Galena, Ill. and Walla Walla, Wash.
“Dozens and dozens” of small towns were considered, Campoy said, but Traverse City was the only one in Michigan among the contenders. The editors cited it for its natural wonders, including beaches, ski areas, forests and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, also singling out the food scene, vineyards and breweries.
“We already had a reputation for somewhat of a foodie culture here, but when Mario came and started talking about Traverse City, that really helped bring it to another level — especially on the East Coast and New York where Mario spends most of his year,” said Brad Van Dommelen, president of the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau. “To have somebody like Mario talking about Traverse City being the antidote to Manhattan and talking about the great food culture we have here, the wonderful agriculture we have here, the wineries — he’s been a perfect ambassador for us.”
Find the complete listing at http://www.fodors.com/news/best-small-towns-in-usa-6591.html.