Town squares across the U.S. were built to inspire goodwill and be the hearts of their communities, often with stately landmarks and surrounding colorful shops and cafés. Travel + Leisure magazine went in search of the squares keeping that spirit alive, emphasizing smaller towns, with populations of 50,000 or less. Among the top ten nationwide was Parade Plaza in New London.
Travel + Leisure reported that “Parade Plaza reopened in 2011 with a 100-seat amphitheater and the Whale Tail Fountain, where kids like to splash around. The improvements complement longtime attractions at the square like the schoolhouse where Nathan Hale once taught. “
Other top selections included the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza in Prescott, AZ, which has been honored by the American Planning Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. At the nation’s top squares, the article pointed out, farmers’ markets, free concerts, and holiday celebrations keep locals and visitors entertained year-round.
The Travel + Leisure website recommended that people “Set your sights on a road trip or weekend getaway to one of these small towns, and make the square your first stop.”
The description of Parade Plaza was enthusiastic: “Reopened in 2011, this triangular plaza is new and improved, with an open amphitheater that seats 100 and the 10-foot-tall Whale Tail Fountain, popular with kids who play in the water falling from the tail. The schoolhouse where Nathan Hale once taught and the 50-foot-high granite-obelisk Soldiers and Sailors Monument are two traditional attractions. In winter, the upper section is turned into an ice-skating rink.”
More information about Parade Plaza, and New London’s downtown revitalization efforts, is available at newlondonmainstreet.org. The other New England squares included on the list are in Portsmouth, NH and Bar Harbor, ME.
Joining New London on the list of top town squares selected by Travel + Leisure (in no particular order):
- The Dover Green, Dover, DE
- Court Square, Bardstown, KY
- Market Square, Portsmouth, NH
- Healdsburg Plaza, Healdsburg, CA
- Historic Canton Square, Canton, MS
- Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza, Prescott, AZ
- Centerway Square, Corning, NY
- Jackson Town Square, Jackson, WY
- City Square Park, Oskaloosa, IA
- Decatur Square, Decatur, GA
- Village Green, Bar Harbor, ME
- The Square, San Marcos, TX