Coming in with 22,202 people, Chillicothe is the smallest city on this list, meaning if rubbing elbows with thousands of strangers isn’t your thing, this is a great place for you. Of course, just because it’s small doesn’t mean it’s not important—Chillicothe served as Ohio’s first capital, and Bill Clinton has stopped in the city several times to campaign, starting back in 1992 and continuing during this campaign cycle.
In terms of political ideology, voters of Chillicothe lean a bit more to the independent and moderate sides than average, which becomes apparent when looking at election results and elected officials. The 2012 election in Chillicothe was the closest of the 10 cities on this list, with a mere 2.4 percent separating Romney from Obama. Various parts of Chillicothe are represented by three Republicans in the House of Representatives. But at a more local level, Democrats have a slight edge. Four out of six of the City Council Ward representatives are Democrats, as are the mayor, council president and auditor. (The treasurer, however, is a Republican.)
The current mayor, Luke Feeney, was actually selected to speak at the Democratic National Convention this year, despite only holding his position for less than a year. He hoped that all Chillicothe residents, regardless of political orientation, saw this as happy news, as his selection was at least partially due to Chillicothe’s recent resurgence. Still, there is a local mix of political ideas, which—judging by Chillicothe’s renaissance—are embraced across the board.
One of the great highlights of Chillicothe is Hopewell Culture National Historic Park—which is a candidate to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some 2,000 years ago, the Hopewell built enormous earthworks (pictured above), ranging from walls to 30-foot-high cones to a road that stretched from Chillicothe to Newark. The biggest structures are more than 1,000 feet across.
Other items of cultural interest include the 158-year-old Majestic Theatre; the Feast of the Flowering Moon Festival (which draws in some 85,000 people yearly); and the Southern Ohio Storytelling Festival.