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(Illustrated maps by John S. Dykes)

The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013

From the blues to the big top, we’ve picked the most intriguing small towns to enjoy arts and smarts

14. Oberlin, OH

Oberlin, OH
(© Layne Kennedy / CORBIS)

“We will take special pains to educate all our children thoroughly, and train them up in body, intellect and heart.” That ninth tenet in a singular document known as the Oberlin Covenant forever tied the town of Oberlin to its college, both founded in 1833 by Presbyterian ministers not far from Cleveland and Lake Erie. The school, built to last of Ohio sandstone, went on to send missionaries to China who were killed during the Boxer Rebellion and commemorated with an arch in amiable Tappan Square, a stop on walking tours offered by the Oberlin Heritage Center. Oberlin was the first college in America to grant bachelor’s degrees to women and among the first to admit African-Americans, with the oldest continuously operated music conservatory in the United States. Now music is what Oberlin is known for: Friday night “Organ Pump” events in Romanesque Revival Finney Chapel, all-bassoon Christmas concerts, and the Artist Recital Series, attracting internationally acclaimed soloists and orchestras. The other liberal arts are showcased in Oberlin’s celebrated Convocation Lecture Series; at the recently renovated 1913 Apollo Theatre; and at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, an Italianate Cass Gilbert building with a later addition by the architectural firm of Robert Venturi. Feature this: Students and Oberlin townsfolk can rent works of art—including Toulouse-Lautrecs and Picassos—from the Allen for $5 a semester.


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