Pets are being Welcomed (Almost) Everywhere in this Tennessee City

Pets are being Welcomed (Almost) Everywhere in this Tennessee City

This historic downtown district outside of Nashville is testing a pilot program designed to create pet-friendly communities.

By Becky Henson on Tue, 06/20/2017 - 12:04

Man’s best friends finally get to join their owners on trips to local businesses and restaurants where they weren’t welcome before thanks to a new program being piloted in Franklin, TN. 

Furry Franklin

Fido and Sprinkles, and all other pets with catchy names were welcomed to the Better Cities for Pets – Pets Welcome event, hosted by Mars Petcare in downtown Franklin. More than 90 businesses opened their doors to pets in a weekend-long launch party that brought residents, visitors and community members out to shop, eat and participate in festivities with their furry pals. Local businesses now have 'Pets Welcome' decals on shop windows and offer pets fresh water outside doors to show their support and participation in the program.

"Pets have always been a passion of mine, and I'm thrilled that Franklin was selected to pilot test the 'Pets Welcome' program with our local businesses," said Mayor Ken Moore of Franklin. "As a growing, community-driven city, Franklin is the perfect setting to test out the positive impact of pets in more places and offers the ideal foundation to explore the impact of trends we are seeing across the country."

The program is helping cities assess how pets fit in and become a part of businesses and communities – hoping that the pilot community will help create policies and sustainable programs that spread across the U.S. Downtown Franklin is home to the historic Franklin Theater, restaurants and businesses that locals, visitors and celebrities frequent. Furry friends experienced shops and patios with owners and joined the fun at the pop-up urban dog park and photo station.

Mars Petcare calls Franklin home to its headquarters and innovation center. But the Better Cities for Pets programs have spread farther – helping strengthen the animal-human bond in communities. Here's where the programs have made an impact outside of Franklin.

Learn More About Franklin, TN and Why It's a Best Great Place to Live

Volunteers in Tucson

Nearly 400 Mars Petcare volunteers turned up in Tucson, AZ for a national sales meeting, but the real progress was made when they spent a collective 1,200 volunteer hours to help out a local animal care center: Pima Animal Care Center.

The volunteers spent their time painting, adding astro turf, constructing play areas for both cats and dogs, and helping the center become a more enriching space for animals. 

Discover the Best Cities for Pets

Pop-Ups in Austin

A pop-up urban dog park surfaced in Austin, TX for pets and owners to enjoy. The park, affectionately dubbed Dogstin, offers a green space for pets to play right in the city. The event for the park featured pet treats and eats, DNA doggie kits, and showcased the latest technology in pet tracking.

Mars also helped support local shelters through the event by offering $100 to Austin animal shelters for every 10 minutes a dog was walked. 


For more information on Better Cities for Pets and when to find it in your city, visit Better Cities for Pets


Everyone Must Visit These 5 Sugary Shops on the Kentucky Doughnut Trail

Everyone Must Visit These 5 Sugary Shops on the Kentucky Doughnut Trail

Much like the bourbon trail, Kentucky's cities and towns offer up delectable sugar confections on a different kind of trail.

By Becky Henson on Wed, 06/14/2017 - 14:13

The old days of bakeries on every corner have largely been squashed by big retailers and national chains. But in communities across the country, local tastes still prevail at that mainstay of Americana - the doughnut shop. New shops are opening and “Best Doughnuts” lists keep popping up all over the internet. 

Kentucky's best known export is bourbon, but the Bluegrass State takes a back seat to no one with its opportunity to sample high-quality doughnuts. Much like with bourbon, Kentucky has a conveniently pathed and traveled Doughnut Trail. Kentucky Monthly magazine recently reported on one writer’s road trip through the state to try its delectable doughnuts – all on a bike.  

From the big city of Louisville to small farm towns to Amish country to Richmond to Lexington and then back again, writer Kirk Alliman cycled 344 miles over six days to experience 23 Kentucky doughnut shops – with names like Doughdaddy's and Hi-Five Doughnuts – and try 49 varieties of doughnuts.

Delectable treats are scattered throughout the trail. You wouldn’t expect to find a gourmand-satisfying doughnut tucked in a small bakery gas station or off a country road in Amish country, but a raspberry roll in a shop without electricity is so delicious, you might eat two more confections to round it off.

Here are a few more places on the trail that may get you salivating for a doughy treat.


The vast majority of shops on this trail are in Louisville. For some man chocolate, stop at the popular Nord’s Bakery for a Maple Bacon Long John, or if you’re really in the mood, the writer recommends a crème-filled “Bill Clinton.” If you’re more of a DIY’er, the food truck Hi-Five Doughnuts lets you dip and cover your glazed doughnut in whatever sugary glazes and toppings your heart desires.

Other stops in Louisville included Plehn’s Bakery, Sugar & Spice Donuts,  Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Experience the Insider's Guide to the Tennessee Whiskey and Kentucky Bourbon Distilleries


South of Louisville, Bardstown is home to Hadorn’s Bakery, family-owned and operated since 1935 and set in a historic residence-turned shop. Something out of a Nicholas Sparks book if you ask us. The owner, Greg Hadorn, wakes up at 1 or 2 a.m. to start baking the day’s doughnuts at the corner bakery. Alliman recommends the yum-yum doughnut and a custard-filled Long John. 


About 43 miles southeast-ish of Bardstown, Danville, KY is home to some really good bourbon – we wrote about that here – and some really good doughnuts. Burke’s Bakery, a local icon (Alliman writes), has been also family-owned and operated since the 1930s. This old-fashioned bakery’s art-deco lettering and small-town atmosphere may feel like you’ve been sent back in time, but try the recommended apple crisp with caramel icing and your tastebuds will awaken back to the present – or so we hope from reading Alliman’s account.

Discover More Treats and Eats with the 10 Best Foodie Cities


This may be our favorite stop of the journey at The Ottenheim Country Store. Located in Kentucky Amish country, this country store has no electricity, but manages to sell many goods and foods, including baked goods. Husband and wife owners, Alan and Sadie Byler run the store, with Sadie being the baker. How she does it without electricity? We don’t know, but Alliman recommends trying all three confections that he did: raspberry roll, pumpkin roll and pumpkin whoopie pie plus returning for the one he missed, the hand-formed glazed doughnut.


Who would have thought? A gas station in the middle of almost nowhere housing delectable treats? About 6 miles outside of Versaille, a BP station is home to Doughdaddy’s – where you can get a doughnut as a big as a dozen for $7.99. Here, they claim the best doughnuts in Kentucky. They’re so confident, in fact, that with every fuel-up, they’ll give you a free one, because they know customers will be back for more.

While we feel overly stuffed just reading about this tasty adventure, we still want to pack our bags and head to Kentucky for some of its sugary confections. You can read the full account of the Doughnut Trail cycling trip and a complete list of the 23 bakeries and 49 doughnuts at Kentucky Monthly magazine.



7 Things Everyone Should Do in a New Neighborhood

7 Things Everyone Should Do in a New Neighborhood

You have to get yourself out there to become part of your new community – here are the steps you should take.

By Kevin Litwin on Fri, 06/09/2017 - 09:50

Surveys say the average American moves 11 times during their lifetime, so 11 new neighborhood situations will pop up. If you’re a social butterfly or simply someone who wants to be aware of the people in your surroundings, here are some tips for getting to know a few people in your newest setting:

Get a City Brochure

Prior to moving day, check your city’s website and download or request a visitor’s brochure. That’ll help you find the places you want to know about – shopping centers, church, movie theater, farmer’s market, parks, home improvement store, etc. All those places are great for meeting people.

Join Something

If your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association, consider joining it. If you have school-age kids, join the PTA. And here’s a good tip: You’re new in town, so don’t be one of those people who compares where you live now to where you formerly lived. (“Hey, they don’t do things that way in the North where I’m from.” Oh, really…then why don’t you move back to the North.)

Find Your New Place with the Top 100 Best Places to Live

Have a Yard Sale

A good plan for meeting your new neighbors is by holding a yard sale, and be smart and reasonable by pricing things to really sell. Conversations are bound to start up, and once the talking has begun and things are getting more comfortable, ask your neighbor about any quirks in the neighborhood. (Mr. Flynn doesn’t like anyone parking in front of his house, and old Mrs. Donaldson gets angry and yells whenever kids run on her lawn.)

Take After-Dinner Walks

Not only is it good exercise, but taking a walk after dinner will undoubtedly have you meeting some of the neighbors, and most will stop what they’re doing for a quick chat. It was Barney Fife who said, “Even the busiest person has five minutes to shoot the breeze,” so compliment a neighbor on their house, car, garden, etc. Everyone likes a compliment.

Plant a Garden

If that’s what you’re into, plant a garden. If a fellow neighbor also has a green thumb, there’s your conversation starter. Even if nobody else has a garden, offer your immediate neighbors some fresh-picked tomatoes or cucumbers once the harvest arrives. Especially tomatoes – you get tons of them every summer, even from one plant. I know.

Here's How to be a Good Neighbor in Your new Community

Hang Around Your Front Yard

Even if it’s just pulling weeds from the front garden or pulling dandelions from the lawn, spend some time in your front yard so neighbors can see you and can stop over for a quick gabfest. Or just sit on your front porch in the morning and enjoy a cup of coffee. The neighborhood walkers are sure to wave, yelling something like, “Nice weather, huh” or “How ‘bout them Cowboys.”

Be an Explorer

Get out and discover not only your own neighborhood, but also the subdivisions and streets that surround you. You might stumble upon an interesting antique shop, a great hardware store, a unique restaurant, a popular coffee café or a secluded nature spot. Happy hunting.


Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for 10 years, and is now...

10 Music Festivals That Will Make Your Summer Truly Epic

10 Music Festivals That Will Make Your Summer Truly Epic

Summer music festivals can be found all over the U.S., and these smaller cities have ones that can rival the biggest

By Raven Petty on Thu, 06/08/2017 - 08:00

Summer music festivals have entertained crowds of all sizes for decades. Sure, you've got your massive festivals like Lollapalooza, Coachellas and Bumbershoots, but there are dozens of alternatives in your neck of the woods. Don't miss out on the fun at these festivals:

1. Bonnaroo, Manchester, Tenn., June 8-11, 2017

Headliners: U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Weeknd

With 10 stages, 150 performances, more than 80,000 people spread out on 700 acres for music, fun and culture. Be sure to check out the Silent Disco, comedy theater, or watch a movie at the 24-hour Bonnaroo Cinema tent.

2. Taste of Country Music Festival, Lanesville, N.Y., June 9-11, 2017

Headliners: Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean and Sam Hunt

In its fifth year, this is the only multi-day country music festival in the northeast U.S. Take the SkyRide over the crowd, stop by the petting zoo, or try your luck with a bull ride.

3. What the Festival, Dufur, Ore., June 16-19, 2017

Headliners: Cut Copy, Gramatik and Zhu

The signature stage is the Splash Stage, where party-goers splash and dance to live acts, creating the northwest's largest pool party. Other must-try activities include the Oasis Spa and Sauna and the Illuminated Forest.

4. Telluride Blugrass, Telluride, Colo., June 15-18, 2017

Headliners: Jason Mraz, Norah Jones and Dierks Bentley with The Travelin' McCourys

This festival has showcased the best of Telluride Bluegrass for more than 40 years. Attendees can gaze into San Juan Mountain views, and be sure to check out the signature workshops and band contests.

5. Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Boonville, Calif., June 16-18, 2017

Headliners: Gentlemen, Chronixx and Mellow Mood

For more than 20 years, this fest has brought the best in reggae and world music to two stages. The Festival Village features food and craft vendors, and night owls can groove in the Jamacian-style dancehall.

6. Electric Forest, Rothbury, Mich., June 22-25, 2017 and June 29-July 2, 2017

Headliners: The String Cheese Incident, BASSNECTAR and My Morning Jacket

Music and colorful lights set the energetic vibe at this summer party. The stages, tents, booths and even forest glow as people dance, eat and play the weekend away.

7. Rock USA, Oshkosh, Wis., July 13-15, 2017

Headliners: Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer, Korn and Avenged Sevenfold

Party like a rock star with some of the biggest metal bands for four days of music, camping and food. Attendees can buy band memorabilia or browse vendor booths for accessories.

8. Summer Meltdown, Darrington, Wash., Aug. 10-13, 2017

Headliners: The String Cheese Incident, Nahko and Medicine for the People, and The Polish Ambassador

This 15-year-old festival blends atmospheres, music and relaxing on the river. Kids have their own meltdown zone, complete with derby car races and a create-your-own costume center.

9. Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth, Minn., Aug. 11-13, 2017

Headliners: Robert Randolph & The Family Band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, and Lucky Peterson & The Imperial Flames

This blues fest is one of the largest outdoor events in the upper Midwest. For 27 years, more than 500 blues and blues/rock performers have performed on the Bayfront Festival Park's two stages

10. Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI, July 28-30, 2017

Headliners: The Avett Brothers, Jim James and Ben Gibbard

Bob Dylan made this festival famous in the '60s when he showed up with an electric guitar instead of his usual acoustic. These days it's still bringing in big-name acts, as well as a slew of other easily recognizable smaller acts. It also may be one of the most picturesque festivals, taking place at the historic Fort Adams State Park, right on Narragansett Bay. Be ready for great music, beautiful sunsets, and the occasional pirate ship floating by.


Raven Petty – a native Nashvillian – enjoys as much variety in her work as she does her hobbies. She is a graduate of Tennessee State University with a B.A. in English, and her greatest passions are p...

4 Places With Niche Startup Incubators

4 Places With Niche Startup Incubators

You may know about tech startups and Silicon Valley's software scene, but these cities have specialized incubators that provide mentorship, workspace and in some cases, capital for entrepreneurs.

By Brett Smith on Thu, 05/25/2017 - 20:04

Typically manifested in a physical space, business incubators are organizations dedicated to nurturing fledgling startup enterprises in the hopes that they can go on to become successful, profitable companies.

Incubators have been associated mostly with tech startups, but the model has been adopted by other industries and disciplines. Now, incubators around the Midwest – from Telluride to Cleveland – are supporting everything from consumer goods to the arts.

In a world that seems increasingly dominated by massive multinational conglomerates, these incubators give people with passion and ideas a chance to succeed.

Catalyze (Chicago)

Founded in 2014, Catalyze is an incubator carrying Chicago’s proud manufacturing history into the 21st century. The engineering incubator supplies its members with  tools, mentorship opportunities, manufacturing guidance and connections to investors. With this help, members can design their products, create prototypes, launch a product and scale up their business.

Catalyze also aims to create a sense of camaraderie among its members through its various coworking spaces and community events.

Food Enterprise and Economic Development (FEED) Kitchens (Madison, Wisc.)

FEED is an incubator that supports food startups, offers a processing facility for small farmers and supplies processing services to guide public schools’ attempts to increase students’ nutrition. The goal is to boost the availability of regional, healthy and affordable food products and food-related jobs.

The incubator has five commercial kitchen spaces for hourly rental, on-site business development classes and financing assistance. Most entrepreneurs are encouraged to graduate from FEED into either a second-stage incubator or their own facility. Some FEED members are long-term renters operating part-time, or nano-businesses.

FEED has a diverse range of members, with many being low-to-moderate income individuals looking to either complement their incomes, become financially self-sufficient or to expand an already-existing small food business. A lot of the early community interest has been among immigrant women who wish to sell traditional foods. Other members are looking to explore the development of an explicit food product to see if it can become a new food business.

Cleveland Workspace (Cleveland)

With five studios, two public galleries and one community room, the Cleveland Workspace is an incubator with an emphasis on the visual arts. The incubator offers studios for rent, in much the same way that business incubators have coworking space available. Member artists have the chance to show off their work first Friday of every month.

Telluride Venture Accelerator (Telluride, Colo.)

Colorado is such a scenic, beautiful state – it may come as no surprise that the Telluride Venture Accelerator specializes in supporting outdoor-oriented startups. Through the backing of the nonprofit organization Telluride Foundation, the accelerator is about to offer select businesses $30,000 in capital and six months of mentoring. The incubator welcomes companies dealing in outdoor gear, organic food, healthy living, energy and education.


Brett Smith is a freelance journalist based in New York State. A graduate of the State University of New York - Buffalo journalism program, he also has more than seven years of experience working in a...

Best Cities to See the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Best Cities to See the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Ten top cities represent 10 U.S. states.

By Kevin Litwin on Wed, 05/17/2017 - 09:00

It won’t be cloudy. Hopefully.

If you’re planning on viewing the 2017 solar eclipse on Monday Aug. 21 (I definitely am), then here are some of the best cities for watching when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth. That phenomenon will continuously cast parts of America into darkness from the West Coast to the East Coast, with the whole spectacle taking about 2 1/2 hours to complete, starting at around 10:15 a.m. PT in Oregon and ending at about 2:45 ET in South Carolina.

Each city along the path will have about 2 minutes of solar eclipse time, so embrace the darkness, folks.

Casper, WY

For 2 minutes and 26 seconds beginning at 11:42 a.m. MT, all of Casper will plunge into darkness, and several events are scheduled as part of Wyoming Eclipse Festival 2017. That includes the Astronomical League holding their annual Astrocon Conference in Casper before and during Eclipse Day.

Nashville, TN

Music City is the largest city in the path of the total eclipse, with the event occurring for 1 minute, 57 seconds beginning at 1:27 CT. Activities include a Music City Eclipse Science & Technology Festival at the downtown Adventure Science Center.

Explore NASA's Interactive Eclipse Map

Columbia, SC

An appearance by Apollo 16 astronaut Charles Duke at the Capitol Building highlights the activities occurring on Eclipse Day in Columbia, with the phenomenon taking place starting at 2:43 ET and lasting for 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

St. Joseph, MO

This city north of Kansas City in The Show Me State has five planned viewing areas, including a party at Rosecrans Memorial Airport. The total eclipse in St. Joseph will occur for 2 minutes, 39 seconds beginning at 1:06 p.m. CT.

Salem, OR

The Oregon State Fairgrounds will be ideal for watching the total eclipse when it arrives in Salem at 10:19 a.m. PT for 2 minutes, 4 seconds. The Oregon Museum of Science & Industry will host several events at the fairgrounds.

Rexburg, ID

Brigham Young University Idaho will provide a perfect viewing area for the total eclipse that starts at 11:33 a.m. MT and will last for 2 minutes, 18 seconds. Another good spot in Idaho to watch the excitement is Craters of the Moon (how appropriate) National Monument & Preserve.

Grand Island, NE

The Stuhr Museum in Grand Island has scheduled many Eclipse Day festivities, including the launch of an official NASA observation balloon. The total eclipse will last for 2 minutes, 30 seconds and commence at 11:49 a.m. MT.

After the Eclipse, Find the 10 Best Cities for Viewing Meteor Showers

Carbondale, IL

Carbondale is home to Southern Illinois University, and a huge watch party is planned at Saluki Field. The total eclipse in Carbondale will begin at 1:20 p.m. CT and last for 2 minutes, 41 seconds.

Hopkinsville, KY

The Little Green Men Festival is part of the fun activities associated with Eclipse Day in Hopkinsville, and a great place to watch is from the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site. The total eclipse will last 2 minutes, 41 seconds beginning at 1:24 p.m. CT.

Bryson City, NC

The planetarium in Bryson City will provide an excellent viewing area, plus there will be rides aboard the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad to high-elevation Eclipse Day locations. The total eclipse will occur beginning at 2:34 p.m. and last for 1 minute, 57 seconds.



Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for 10 years, and is now...

Economic Growth On Tap: How Breweries Impact Local Economies

Economic Growth On Tap: How Breweries Impact Local Economies

It's official: America loves craft beer. Small-shop and large breweries alike are making an impact on local economies and businesses by creating jobs and getting involved in communities.

By CC Hutten on Mon, 05/15/2017 - 14:22

It’s a great day to be a beer lover.

There are over 4,200 breweries in the United States, and 99 percent of them are identified as craft breweries: small, independent and traditional. Craft breweries are unfolding all over the country, specifically in mid-sized cities. Not only is this delicious news for residents, it’s a robust revelation for tourism from an economic development point of view, too.  

Craft-Brewed Community

Brews can be completely distinct and unique to a town’s flavor. Just last year, 184 new breweries opened, and soon there will be a place for every palate in the United States.

Craft brewers have distinctive, individualistic approaches to connecting with their customers. Most are willing to move into areas in need of rehabilitation, are often generous to small businesses and charities, and have a passion for specific causes, such as sustainability.

The hallmark of craft beer is innovation and successful brewers possess a passion for authenticity. The beer is their brand; their brand reflects local culture.

Discover the 99 Best Beers in 99 Beer Cities

Different from bars that serve wine and spirits alongside beer, breweries feature varying experimental versions and brands. Classified as an “attraction,” breweries typically close early but still fit in with a town’s food and booze scene.

“You have to sell who you are as a community first and then you sell what you have,” says Ben Teague, executive director of economic development in Asheville, NC, a city that was ranked as one of our best beer cities. “Decision makers and owners of breweries are personally invested in these communities. They want to help build the community.”

More Hops, More Jobs

Not just a foamy and fermented local attraction, small brewers are increasingly creating job opportunities due to the fact that they need more people at the lower production level.

The beer industry provided more than 424,000 jobs –  with more than 115,000 jobs directly at breweries – and contributed $55.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014. And that’s not to mention that wages in the beer industry are among the highest of the 350 industries surveyed in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Furthermore, just one job at a craft brewery will create an additional 45 jobs in other industries on average, such as packaging, business services, distributing, transportation and agriculture.

Pair that Beer with some Bite – These are the Best Cities for Foodies

It goes beyond municipal economies – rural communities are forecasted to benefit from the surge of craft breweries as well. Craft-style beer uses between three and seven times as much malt per barrel as a mass market lager, and more U.S. farmers are planting hops, which create flavors that vary by region just as much as wine grapes.


Best (Maybe Unexpected) Places to Visit in Spring & Summer

Best (Maybe Unexpected) Places to Visit in Spring & Summer

Find adventure and beauty this spring and summer at one of these picturesque cities – without the tourist traps.

By Kevin Litwin on Thu, 05/11/2017 - 08:26

With spring in full bloom and summer just around the corner, the itch to get out and explore and find adventure is strong. These splendid seven cities are ideal springtime and summer destinations, with vivid attractions and activities to experience and reminisce about later – without all the tourists.

Portland, ME

It’s Maine, a state that gets its fair share of winter snow and harsh weather. But the springtime months highlight the beauty that Portland really has to offer, such as sailing along the Atlantic Ocean (pictured above), abundant lighthouses, an award-winning Arts District, microbreweries and more than 230 restaurants ranging from classic French cookery to authentic Vietnamese standards. Be sure to visit the historic Old Port neighborhood along Portland Harbor – what a view!

Discover Why Portland, ME is a Best Place to Live

Santa Barbara, CA

Nicknamed the “American Riviera” thanks to its beaches, the Santa Ynez Mountains, great weather and popular resort and tourist destinations, Santa Barbara is a springtime vacation hotspot along the Pacific Ocean. There are plenty of top independent restaurants, wineries, citywide festivals and walkability options, and being home to the University of California- Santa Barbara means there are numerous entertainment choices and nighttime venues.

Already Like Santa Barbara? Here are 8 Reasons to Move there

Colorado Springs, CO

One of the favorite springtime tourism activities in all of America is driving the 19-mile Pikes Peak Highway en route to the famous mountaintop in Colorado Springs. Also in this beautiful city is Garden of the Gods, known for its stunning red-rock formations and 15 miles of inspiring hiking trails. Tourists can also visit the circa 1903 Glen Eyrie Castle that offers 17 guest rooms for overnight stays.

Find Your Outdoor Adventure in Colorado Springs, CO

Bellevue, WA

French for “beautiful view,” Bellevue is across Lake Washington from Seattle and has the dazzling Cascade Mountains as part of its backdrop. Tourists have shopping choices like Bellevue Square and three major malls, and popular gathering spots include Downtown Park and the Bellevue Botanical Garden. This upscale city hosts several festivals, including Wintergrass that ranks among the best bluegrass festivals in the U.S.

Find Out Why Bellevue, WA is a Top 100 Best Place to Live

Sarasota, FL

Beaches and resorts on the Gulf of Mexico are what Sarasota is all about, a city with outdoor adventure activities like fishing, kayaking and sailing. Sarasota has white-sand beaches and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, and other attractions include fine dining cuisine choices along with cultural amenities like impressive art galleries and museums. A convenient travel luxury in-and-out of the city is Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Things to Do in Sarasota, FL

Franklin, TN

Ranked among the Top 10 Best Downtowns in America by, Franklin is an upscale city in Middle Tennessee just outside Nashville, and its historic downtown district hosts a popular Main Street Festival each April. Multiple shopping choices include a 1 million-square-foot CoolSprings Galleria, and you might see some celebrities at music venues like Whiskey Room Live, Puckett’s Boat House and Music City Live.

Discover the Best Adventures in the Franklin, TN area

Hatteras Island, NC

Serene beaches, deep-sea fishing and surfing are just some of the attractions on Hatteras Island, an Outer Banks/Atlantic Ocean vacation spot famous for great restaurants and gorgeous sunsets. Impressive lighthouses, long sandy beaches and oceanfront cottages provide the ideal setting for families looking for a relaxing holiday, and be sure to take a 45-minute ride aboard the Ocracoke-Hatteras Ferry to view incredible local sights of nature.

Find More Reasons to Visit and Move to North Carolina



Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years. He was previously an editor for a small-town newspaper for 10 years, and is now...

The 5 Most Affordable Cities in New Mexico

The 5 Most Affordable Cities in New Mexico

New Mexico offers cheap living among breathtaking views, hot air balloons

By Bonnie Burch on Mon, 05/08/2017 - 17:08

With beautiful high desert vistas, wonderful Southwestern cuisine and some of the friendliest people in the country, it’s no wonder folks are flocking to New Mexico.

And the 47th state offers highly affordable living for those who call themselves residents.

In order to find out what areas present the most bangs for the bucks, used specific data points in transportation, housing, food and utilities to find out not only the cheapest cities but also those that offered the best quality of life.

In order, here are the top five New Mexican cities for budget conscious residents.


5. Santa Fe

Founded by the Spanish in 1610, Santa Fe, which is also the state capital, has a lot of history. In fact, it’s not only the oldest state capital in the nation but also the highest as the city sits 7,000 feet above sea level.

The city’s rich cultural heritage has garnered attention previously. In 2012, Santa Fe made it to the number three spot on’s “10 Best Cities for Historic Preservation”  due to inhabitants’ efforts to save places such as the 1777-built Santuario de Guadalupe, San Miguel Mission (perhaps the oldest church in the country when it was built in the early 1600’s) and the adobe-covered Palace of the Governors, the oldest contiguously operating government building in the country.

Median home price is a little on the high side at $276,500 while median household income is $50,213. But look at all the amazing features the city boasts.

In addition to history, residents are proud of their art scene including the popular Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, shopping opportunities including a year-round farmers’ market and recreation for hikers, bikers and snow skiers in the Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Basin. A great place to eat is Tia Sophia’s, a diner opened in 1975 that features chiles, sopapiallas and breakfast burritos on the menu.


4. Alamogordo

The governmental seat of Otero County, Alamogordo  is famous as the Trinity test site when the first atomic bomb was detonated near this town in 1945. A stone obelisk marks the spot of this historic moment.

Initially, this area was chosen for its isolation. However, today Alamogordo is a thriving city filled with park conveniences, sporting events and family-friendly activities such visits to the Alameda Park Zoo, which has a breeding program to save the endangered Mexican wolf.

The economy is still centered on military installations at Holloman Air Force Base and the White Sands Missile Range. However, tourism is also prevalent with the White Sands National Monument and its rare and highly photogenic white gypsum sand dunes close by. Visitors also come to see the New Mexico Museum of Space and the White Sands Balloon Invitational, a hot air balloon festival held each September.

Median home price in Almogordo is $112,100 with median household income hovering at $43,460.


3. Rio Rancho

A part of Albuquerque Metro area, Rio Rancho is a great place to raise a family with a decent school system, libraries and dozens of parks, trails and sports facilities.

Seniors also find a lot to love in Rio Rancho with the 4,400-member Meadowlark Senior Center, which has partnered with the Sandoval County Senior Program to provide in-home meals and transportation and with the Mid-Region Council of Governments, which operates the Rio Transit system. The center also has an endeavor with PeopleWorks-NM to offer counseling for seniors.

Semiconductor manufacturer Intel Corporation has a large plant here.

The median home price is $172,400 but the median household income is also a nice steady $59,243.

Opened in 2006, the Santa Ana Star Center provides 7,000-seat event space in the heart of downtown Rio Rancho.


2. Carlsbad

The gateway to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the city of Carlsbad  

benefits from a large influx of tourists who come to wonder at the magnificent stalactites in this underground cave system.

But oil, natural gas and potash mining also bolster the economy.

Families are often seen boating, fishing or picnicking along Lake Carlsbad, dubbed “The Pearl on the Pecos.”

You can get a house for fairly cheap here. Median home price is $107,300 with median household income at $48,058. Historically, the crime rate is Carlsbad is very low and the school system is highly rated.


1. Hobbs

Our top affordable city in New Mexico has much that residents find attractive – an excellent school system, tons of recreational opportunities and great shopping and dining but with a highly affordable standard of living.

Median home price in Hobbs  is a great value at $104,900. But residents make good paychecks too with median household income at $53,750.

That’s because the economy here is strong with plenty of jobs in ranching and agriculture, oil and gas mining and nuclear, wind and solar energy production.

Zia Park Casino, Hotel & Racetrack  brings many visitors to Hobbs to try their luck on the slots and the thoroughbred horse races while staying in the 154-room hotel.

Hobbs is also home to the Soaring Society of America, a 12,000-member group dedicated to the sport of sailplane and glider flying.


Bonnie Burch is a writer who spent 20 years working in news media and print journalism. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing and camping. She lives in Franklin, Ten...

Here's What The Entrepreneurial Work Style Looks Like

Here's What The Entrepreneurial Work Style Looks Like

If you want to start working more like an entrepreneur, or simply need some uplifting motivational work tips, these are the tips you need.

By Brett Smith on Wed, 05/03/2017 - 16:07

You hear about it all the time … the entrepreneurial environment, the startup culture, the entrepreneurial work style. Other than a tech startup working in a garage or within an incubator and accelerator, what do these phrases mean in real business?

The passion and hard work to drive an idea or reach a goal can be translated to a work style in corporate environments. A person must simply embrace the core values and attitudes that famously drive entrepreneurs to reach massive success.

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Believe In Yourself

To work like a successful entrepreneur, you ought to be well grounded. There is an inherent loneliness in working hard on something you believe in and often the buck will stop with you. You are often all by yourself in the actions you take and if you want to create something great, there are times when you will feel isolated and alone. The faster you can embrace that and conform to that reality, the faster you’ll be capable of plowing through the tough times to reach your goals.

Be Passionate

Along with believing in yourself, it also helps to believe in a purpose, or something greater than you. The best entrepreneurs are driven by the passion to make a difference – in their field, their community or larger world.

Like believing in yourself, believing in a purpose can be your guiding light in the darkest of times.

Think Critically

In order to find opportunities, you need to look at things in a critical manner. Mentally break down a piece of equipment or process into its component parts and assess each one to see how it might be more effective, efficient or safe.

For instance, perhaps a process you do 10 or 20 times a day could be shortened by 20 seconds. If you could shave off those 20 seconds, you’d be saving yourself and others who also do this process 6 minutes a day, 30 minutes a week and almost 29 hours each year. That’s valuable time you could be doing something else.

Thinking critically means being open to different points of view and accepting new information. It might mean using unconventional methods or using a familiar tool in a completely new way.

Most importantly, it’s important to identify a problem first, not identify a solution and then start looking for a problem.

Learn From Others

While being an entrepreneur means working with new ideas, that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the process to getting those ideas accepted by others. Many people have come before you with brilliant new ideas; some of them were successful at marketing them and some weren’t.

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It’s important that you learn from both groups. If possible, avoid mistakes made by both people you know and more famous individuals. Embrace the successful tactics used by these people.

For instance, perhaps one of your co-workers was effectively able to change the way something in your office is done. In order to push your ideas more effectively, analyze what she or he did and apply those same core methods, but in your own distinct way.

Find A Mentor

If possible, find a person more senior than you that you can trust for feedback and direction. A mentor can help you avoid the same mistake she or he made and adopt practices they know to be effective.

If you can’t find a mentor, books and educational programs are great resources that can also help you avoid mistake and be more effective.

Focus On The Future

Entrepreneurs are willing to accept short-term pain for long-term gain. If you have an important goal that you are striving for, don’t be afraid to work long hours, cut back your spending, take classes or do whatever else it might take to get there.


Brett Smith is a freelance journalist based in New York State. A graduate of the State University of New York - Buffalo journalism program, he also has more than seven years of experience working in a...