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The narrow-gauge Durango & Silverton train steams through history above the Animas River. (Photo by Scott DW Smith.)

The 20 Best Small Towns in America of 2012

From the Berkshires to the Cascades, we've crunched the numbers and pulled a list some of the most interesting spots around the country

12. Princeton, NJ

Princeton, NJ
(Andre Jenny / Alamy)
The Ivy League presence is, of course, everyone’s first association with Princeton, and there’s no denying that Princeton University has had major cultural clout over the town since it moved there in 1756 (after stints in Elizabeth and Newark, New Jersey). But there’s much more to do than just take a campus tour. The university museum has one of the richest college art collections in the country—the Chinese art collection in particular is considered world-class. The McCarter Theatre Center isn’t just for undergrads; after opening in 1930, it became known as a pre-Broadway showcase, even hosting the world premiere of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Stars ranging from Katharine Hepburn to Herbie Hancock have graced its stage. In June, once the students have left for the summer and the town feels sleepier, the Princeton Festival pulls in top talents for performances in musical theater, opera, jazz and cabaret. -- AS

Read how these towns were selected.

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