Mystic, Westerly, Essex among nominees for Best Coastal Small Town in U.S.

Downtown Westerly, is seen in the bottom half of this aerial photo. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Downtown Westerly, is seen in the bottom half of this aerial photo. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

A panel of travel experts for 10Best, a USA Today site, has named Mystic, Westerly and Essex among the 20 nominees for Best Coastal Small Town in the United States.

Readers can vote online once per day for their favorite until noon on May 14, and the 10 winning small towns will be announced on May 18. A "small town" is defined as one with a population under 25,000, as of the last Census.

As of Friday afternoon, Mystic was ranked ninth, Westerly 16th and Essex 20th.

The site describes Mystic by saying, "The town of Mystic, Connecticut, once a major whaling center and shipbuilding port on the East Coast, holds tight to its seafaring history with attractions like the Mystic Seaport Museum. The excellent Mystic Aquarium caters to families, while the town itself has ample boutiques, galleries and restaurants to help pass the time."

The description for Westerly reads: "Located on the southwestern tip of Rhode Island, the charming town of Westerly attracts visitors with its Victorian architecture, lovely beaches, outdoor dining and excellent antiquing. More than 55 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places."

It characterizes Essex by saying, "One of the town's most popular attractions is the Connecticut River Museum, housed within a 19th century warehouse. Shops, restaurants and colonial and federal-style homes line the Main Street, where visitors can stay at an inn that has been welcoming travelers since 1776."

Th panel of experts nominating the 20 finalists comprised travel writers Marla Cimini, Beth D'Addono, Deborah Fallows, Eric Grossman, Anna Hider, Geneva Ives, Gerrish Lopez, Sherel Purcell and Chelle Koster Walton.

The other towns nominated are Bayfield, Wis.; Cape May, N.J.; Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.; Eastport, Maine; Georgetown, S.C.; Gulf Shores, Ala.; Hanalei Town, Hawaii; Kennebunkport, Maine; Mackinac Island, Mich.; Mexico Beach, Fla.; Ocean Springs, Miss.; Pismo Beach, Calif.; Port Townsend, Wash.; Sausalito, Calif.; Southport, N.C.; St. Simons Island, Ga.; and Vermilion, Ohio.

In March, Fox Farm Brewery in Salem was named one of the 20 finalists for best new brewery on 10Best but did not make the top 10.

Last year, Mohegan Sun won the title of Best U.S. Casino, while Foxwoods came in seventh. Mystic Seaport came in second as the Best Connecticut Attraction, after Lavender Pond Farm in Killingworth, while The Book Barn in Niantic came in fifth.

e.moser@theday.com

Tourists walk past shops along West Main Street on June 3, 2017, in downtown Mystic.  (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Tourists walk past shops along West Main Street on June 3, 2017, in downtown Mystic. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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