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Travel website lauds Healdsburg as one of top 10 small towns in U.S.

  • Cheyenne Henley, left, and Samantha Nickel, right, both of Santa Rosa, walk by Sponbar and the H2Hotel in downtown Healdsburg, Wednesday, March 20, 2013. (CRISTA JEREMIASON/ PD)

As if it needed more validation as a hip destination beloved by travel writers and foodies, Healdsburg has been named one of the "10 Best Small Towns in America."

The travel website Fodors.com this week singled out Healdsburg's small-town character, fine dining and Wine Country "bounties," as a perfect fit for the savvy traveler.

"Napa and Sonoma's quieter wine country sister mixes contemporary cool with plenty of Norman Rockwell charm -- not to mention mouth-watering eats and drinks," was how Fodor's describes Healdsburg.

The website noted that Healdsburg has garnered its fair share of glossy magazine features, but said the town of 11,245 population balances the hype with a relaxed pace and affordability.

"That's pretty nice," Mayor Susan Jones said Wednesday. "It might just mean we'll see the tourism increase."

She noted that the Zagat guide recently rated Healdsburg one of the "Twenty Awesome Winter Foodie Destinations" in the world.

Healdsburg and other surrounding towns also benefited when another travel site, Trip-Advisor, last fall ranked Sonoma County as the nation's premier wine destination, ahead of Napa, and second in the world only to Tuscany, Italy.

"Sonoma County is a shining star right now and Healdsburg being the heart of the Wine Country, with all the wonderful restaurants and charm, we're doing great," Jones said.

Fodor's Blog Editor Nicole Campoy said the list was winnowed down from dozens and dozens of nominations by the editorial staff for towns of 50,000 or fewer inhabitants.

Even though Healdsburg appears first on the inaugural list, she said the top 10 towns weren't ranked.

But it happens to be a personal favorite for several of the Fodor's editorial staffers.

"We love it, and I think it's a beautiful town," Campoy said.

City officials were thrilled.

"It's pretty cool," said City Manager Marjie Pettus, who believes it will help stimulate more revenue in the form of bed and sales taxes.

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