Sandpoint named one of the top 21 coolest small towns

The newest issue of Budget Travel has named Sandpoint, Idaho, among the 21 coolest small towns in the nation. The magazine, which also gave props to Sisters, Ore., and Red Lodge, Mont., specified its criteria as such:

The town must have a population under 10,000 — we're talking smalltowns, not big cities. It's also got to be on the upswing, a placethat's beginning to draw attention — and new residents — because of thequality of life, arts and restaurant scene, or proximity to nature. Andcool doesn't mean quaint. We want towns with an edge, so thinkavant-garde galleries, not country stores.

Sandpoint City Council President John Reuter — a 26-year-old who also publishes the weekly Sandpoint Reader — says he's not surprised at the nod.

"Sandpoint is cool and people like to write about us," he said in an email, citing — just for example — a recent New York Times piece in which columnist Frank Rich lumped the town in with the Patriot movement, the Tea Party movement, the Oklahoma City bombing and other touchstones of right-wing hysteria.

"Hopefully Frank Rich from the New York Times will read [the Budget story] and realize that maybe he ought to come check out our thriving arts and music scene, growing local food movement, historic downtown ...excellent local events and incredible parks system," he writes, "before he libels us again in his column."