Five Offbeat Towns in the United States You Will Love recently released its list of the top five “underknown” places to visit in 2008. I was pleased to see I’ve been to four of the five “most interesting and quirky towns in the country.” Here they are in alphabetical order:

Dahlonega, Georgia: I traveled to Dahlonega (that’s “Duh-LAWN-eh-gah,” not “DA-low-NAY-gah”), an hour’s north of Atlanta, last spring on a research trip. What a darling town! It was where America’s gold rush began and has a great museum dedicated to that period in time (1828). The historic square has some nice little boutiques, art galleries and restaurants (I really enjoyed the Crimson Moon Cafe). If you visit, you’ll fly into Atlanta, so don’t miss all the FREE things there are to do there.

Other amazing towns near Dahlonega:

Blue Ridge

Athens, Ga (and here’s where to eat with you visit)

kayaking in ColoradoFort Collins, Colorado: In 2007, Money magazine named this town north of Denver the “Best Place to Live” in America, so I’m not sure how little known it is. I will give Fort Collins props for its five local breweries, pretty Old Town and access to a crazy amount of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking and kayaking.

Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii: I disagree this little “hippie town” on the North Shore of Kauai is off the beaten path. I think it’s heavily trafficked by tourists to the Emerald Isle — you need to be patient to allow cars to cross the one-lane bridges that lead in and out of town. That said, it is a beautiful part of the island, with scenic Hanalei Bay, many art galleries and the ubiquitous shave ice stands.

Moline, Illinois: This is one part of the country I’ve never traveled to, but according to the folks, it’s “John Deere Central,” with opportunities for kids of all ages to climb up humongous pieces of farm equipment around town.

Taos, New Mexico: I was last in Taos about 12 years ago. Browsing the galleries, admiring the scenery, visiting the ancient Taos Pueblo and eating lots of yummy Southwestern food are all great memories of my visit to this high-altitude town. I hope to go back sometime soon!