After Sunday’s downpour, a beautiful rainbow graced the skies late in the afternoon. Photo by Jenny Kirchner
After a September downpour, a beautiful rainbow graced the skies late in the afternoon. Photo by Jenny Kirchner

The secret is out. Idyllwild is a major travel destination, second in a top-10 list of “must see” small cities “that should absolutely be on your travel bucket list” (

Bustle, a visually flashy daily online news, entertainment and fashion community with a nod toward women readers, selected Idyllwild and the other nine destinations because of their charm and history, according to contributor Chelsey Grasso. Said Grasso, “A weekend getaway to a tiny town can be refreshing, and with so many cool points of interest on the U.S. map, there’s really no excuse not to go exploring.”

What may not be surprising to residents is that Idyllwild is on a list of beautiful and unique small villages and cities. What is surprising is that it is ranked second out of 10 travel destinations on a national, not regional or California list. Granted this is only one survey compiled by one writer based in New York, but publication of the list made a big splash on Facebook after the article was published on

Idyllwild is famous worldwide as a climbing destination, but climbers are a rarified tourist niche. Even though many residents of communities and cities at the base of the mountain have never been to or don’t know of Idyllwild, Grasso nevertheless ranks it second behind only Telluride, Colorado (ranked number one — world renown film festival, world class skiing and 19th century mining town architecture) and ahead of much better known travel destinations: Williamsburg, Virginia (number three — historic, colonial), Sedona, Arizona (four — world-famous red-rock formations, photographers’ paradise and new-age “energy” vortex); Newport, Rhode Island (five — world-famous jazz festival and New England historic seaport charm); and St. Augustine, Florida (eight — oldest continuously occupied city in the U.S.).

Idyllwild was cited for its proximity to better-known desert resort Palm Springs and for possessing a back-in-time historic mountain village charm. “It is a perfect getaway for those in need of a little fresh air and a break from the hustle and bustle of city life,” said Grasso. “Spend a day hiking up Suicide Rock, catching a flick in the town’s one movie theater, or listening to some live, local jazz music.”

Idyllwild joins other lesser-known destinations on the list: Beaufort, South Carolina (number six — antebellum mansions and southern mystique); Ketchum, Idaho (number seven — skiing and its October trailing of the sheep festival); Gatlinburg, Tennessee (nine — Great Smoky Mountain location and aerial tramway, lush forests and whitewater rafting); and Langley, Washington (10 — Puget Sound Whidbey Island location, typifying the Pacific Northwest.)

Grasso summed up her reason for the list and fascination with the towns chosen. “America is truly a melting pot — not only of people, but of places. And while this beautiful country is made up of some of the most beloved citied in the world — San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and the list goes on — you might be surprised to find out that there’s a whole lot going on outside of these giant metropolises.”

Although categorized as small cities by Grasso, populations ranged from 1,000 for Telluride and Langley, to 15,000 for Williamsburg and 25,000 for Newport. The common denominators for those making the list were qualities of beauty and ways of life that made them stand out from the unfortunately growing U.S. norm of similarly uninteresting strip malls, national fast food restaurants and box stores.

In an email Grasso said, “I spent a weekend in Idyllwild about a year ago, which actually inspired me to pitch the article a couple weeks ago to my editor. When writing it, I was looking for small cities across America that have that independent spirit/small town feel. I also tried to balance the towns evenly around America so that more readers would have the chance to visit them.”

So while the secret may be out, the secret we who live here know – why Idyllwild is a special place of blue skies, peaceful days and star-filled nights, neighbors who actually know each other, an art haven of fine art, theatre and music – it does feel good to know that others appreciate our way of life.