Update: Wilmington is no longer in the running for the online poll, having lost in the first round to Ketchikan, Alaska.
Tack another accolade onto the Port City.
Wilmington was recently selected as a finalist for Outside Magazine’s Best Towns of 2016, a contest launched in partnership with apparel brand Toad&Co. The city is one of 16 U.S. beach towns and dozens of locales lumped into river, mountain and culture categories vying for the top spot.
Now, it’s up to readers of the active and adventure lifestyle publication to vote in the winner. According to Outside spokesman Thomas Giordonello, the ideal Best Town is “the kind of place with top-notch restaurants, vibrant farmers’ markets, friendly neighborhoods and unparalleled access to hiking and biking trails.”
“In short, the perfect jumping-off point for adventure,” Giordonello noted.
The initial bracket of 60 towns was selected by magazine editors but includes a “Wild Card” entry pushed through by readers via social media campaigns – Mammoth Lakes, California (Mountain); Imperial Beach, California (Culture); Billings, Montana (River); and Grand Marais, Minnesota (Beach).
Voters can cast their ballots once per five-day match-up over the next six weeks as the nominees face off until two contestants remain, but the top 16 will all be featured in Outside’s September issue.
In the beach category, Wilmington stands with spots along the east and west coasts, including major cities like Los Angeles and Miami and small towns such as Ketchikan, Alaska – with a population of just over 8,000 – and Oregon’s Yachats, a cozy village with less than 700 residents.
The Port City is the only NC town on the beach list, but Charlotte, Waynesville and Chapel Hill made it into the river, mountain and culture categories, respectively.
The bracket and weekly polls are posted on Outside Magazine’s website.
The Outside Magazine nod is the latest in a steady stream of superlatives Wilmington has earned in recent years. Among other honors, the Port City was pegged as the “Best American Riverfront” by USA Today’s 10 Best site and can boast the best outdoor dining in the country. Late last year, online publication Craftbeer.com added the Port City to its Top 5 list of “beeriest beach towns,” and Wilmington has similarly ranked among the best places to start a small business.