Mission Complete! America's Winning Towns Announced in Rand McNally's Best of the Road®

From More Than 600 Nominations, The Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Most Fun, and Best for Food Towns are Named In the Inaugural Best of the Road® Search

Results Presented at Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Annual Convention in New Orleans

Jul 21, 2011, 13:30 ET from Rand McNally

SKOKIE, Ill., July 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Rand McNally, in collaboration with its exclusive media sponsor USA TODAY, crowned the first five winning towns the Best of the Road® in its inaugural search at the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) Annual Convention in New Orleans. The winning towns will be highlighted on www.bestoftheroad.com and in the 2013 Rand McNally Road Atlas, as well as on USA TODAY's Travel site.

Narrowed down from more than 600 submissions, 30 top towns in five categories --- Most Beautiful, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Most Fun, and Best for Food --- were selected for review during the inaugural Best of the Road Rally. Equipped with brand-new Saab vehicles and Rand McNally RVND navigation devices, five teams of amateur travelers completed a three-week cross-country road trip, for a combined 25,000 miles traveled, personally visiting the six top towns in their assigned category.

To showcase their journey and share town experiences, the teams posted photos, videos and blog posts on ontheroad.bestoftheroad.com, Facebook and Twitter. During a presentation of their "traveler's journals" on July 14 in Los Angeles, each team consulted with the judges panel to determine which town would be crowned the winner in their category. The winners are:

MOST BEAUTIFUL: Sandpoint, ID reviewed by The McNavigators, who said the unofficial motto is "enjoy the great outdoors, connect with friends and keep life simple."

MOST PATRIOTIC: Rapid City, SD reviewed by Captain and Clark, who described the town as "a place where people from across the world and country can learn about America's past, become inspired by its present, and find hope in its future."

FRIENDLIEST:  Walla Walla, WA – reviewed by Gone with the Wynns, who described it as "a town so nice they named it twice; a culturally diverse small town with happy faces everywhere you go."

MOST FUN: Glenwood Springs, CO – reviewed by TraveleingJules and TravelingJoan, who dubbed the town "a mountain of fun and an adventure capital, with endless ways to get your adrenaline pumping."

BEST FOR FOOD:  Lafayette, LA – reviewed by The Fun Finders who learned the true taste of Cajun food to be "flavorful, not hot or spicy" and that after a meal, the best dessert is "Cajun dancing."

"Each of the top 30 towns truly provided an unforgettable experience during the Best of the Road Rally and it was hard to narrow it down to just one winner in each category," said Dave Muscatel, CEO of Rand McNally. "We're grateful to the residents of the finalist towns and their fans for showing tremendous enthusiasm and support in our inaugural search."  

The winning towns were presented by Rand McNally and USA TODAY to an audience of attendees at the convention's "Industry Spotlight" seminar. Destination Marketing Association International served as a promotional sponsor for the inaugural Best of the Road Rally, along with Saab Cars North America, Country Inns & Suites By Carlson, Fleetwood RV and Shell.

The winning team from the Best of the Road Rally, Gone With the Wynns, was announced on Friday, July 15 during a finale ceremony at The Americana at Brand in Los Angeles. At the ceremony, the duo was awarded the title as well as a $10,000 check and a 2011 Saab 9-4X.

For more information on Best of the Road contest, visit www.bestoftheroad.com and http://travel.usatoday.com.

About the Best of the Road®Rand McNally has earned the reputation as a trusted source in maps, directions and travel content with its best-selling Road Atlas and annual Best of the Road online guide.  Its celebration of the Great American Road Trip has given way to an online guide of the Best of the Road and features top attractions in more than 20 categories --- from the Best Beach to the Best BBQ.   This year, Rand McNally is revving up, in collaboration with USA TODAY, for an all-new the Best of the Road search with content created by travelers online and published in the 2013 Rand McNally Road Atlas. For more information about the Best of the Road, visit www.bestoftheroad.com.  

About Rand McNallyRand McNally is the most trusted source for maps, directions, and travel content.  Rand McNally's products and services include: Interactive travel referral service, Tripology; IntelliRoute® truck routing software and GPS devices; and the leading geography-based educational resources for the classroom.  The 88th edition of America's #1 Road Atlas by Rand McNally will be available shortly and it includes digital TAGs which connect smartphone users to special mobile web pages. Consumers, businesses, truckers, and educators depend upon Rand McNally to help navigate today's world. www.randmcnally.com

About USA TODAY – USA TODAY is a multi-platform news and information media company. Founded in 1982, USA TODAY's mission is to serve as a forum for better understanding and unity to help make the USA truly one nation. Today, through its newspaper, website and mobile platforms, USA TODAY connects readers and engages the national conversation. USA TODAY, the nation's number one newspaper in print circulation with an average of more than 1.8 million daily, and USATODAY.com, an award-winning newspaper website  launched in 1995, reach a combined 5.9 million readers daily. USA TODAY is a leader in mobile applications with more than eight million downloads on mobile devices.  The USA TODAY brand also includes USA TODAY Education and USA TODAY Sports Weekly. USA TODAY is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI).

About Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) - Destination Marketing Association International represents nearly 600 official destination marketing organizations (DMOs) worldwide. DMOs, also called convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) or tourism boards, have the inside scoop on their destination and are the best source of local, free tips and information to maximize your visitor experience. Wherever you are traveling, be sure to connect with the official destination marketing organization via the web, Facebook or Twitter; and once you arrive at your destination, make a quick stop at the visitors' center.

Press Contacts:

Weber Shandwick for Rand McNally
Kristen Insalaco, kinsalaco@webershandwick.com, 212-445-8481
Lauren Lane, llane@webershandwick.com, 212-445-8303

Heidi Zimmerman, hzimmerman@usatoday.com, 703-854-5304

SOURCE Rand McNally