Most lists of the country's cutest, prettiest, drunkest, most livable/affordable/promiscuous places and/or people are, well, about as stupid as they sound. Standard response: "Sez who?"
But there's reason to believe that Glenwood Springs earned being singled out as the "Most Fun Town in America" last week in a cross-country contest put together by USA Today and Rand McNally -- once you learn the critera involved.
First of all, we're talking small towns. Not toddling towns like Chicago. Not Vegas or San Francisco, either, and certainly not the Big Apple. Rand McNally sent teams of "amateur travelers" to six towns each (finalists pre-selected from 600 submissions) with some specific guidelines to determine the "best" towns in five highly subjective categories: Most Fun, Most Patriotic, Most Beautiful, Friendliest and (egad) Best for Food.
No clue how the wiseacres at Rand McNally winnowed the list from 600 to thirty, but consider the other finalists competing against Glenwood in the Most Fun category: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Park City, Utah; Santa Claus, Indiana; Vacaville, California; Yellow Springs, Ohio. The first two are certainly legitimate contenders, but how anything in Ohio or Indiana could be more fun than a trip to the dentist escapes me; I once spent a decade in Columbus one year. And Vacaville? Home to one of the nation's most overcrowded prisons, which has got to be barrels of fun.
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Considering that lineup, you can see how Glenwood might fare well. But give the local tourism interests some credit, too. Park City has scenery galore and high-end shopping, but it doesn't have a 400-foot-long hot springs pool. Myrtle Beach has a nice aquarium and all that... beach... but no Soaring Eagle Zip Ride, Giant Canyon Swing and mysterious caves to explore. And none of those other places have the Colorado River, complete with bike paths and whitewater rafting and the hike to Hanging Lake.
For years Glenwood has thrived as a kind of homey, cornball, family friendly tourist magnet -- not too far from Aspen if you feel like gawking at rich people, but still affordable. The "affordable" part is up for debate these days: Hotels, the pool and everything else seem to have jacked up their rates considerably. But you can still find bargains in the shoulder seasons, and Rand McNally's judges didn't seem to have much trouble having fun there. Lots of fun.
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