Cloverdale, often overlooked and sometimes maligned, is getting some respect in Budget Travel magazine's contest that named it one of America's "Coolest Small Towns."
Sonoma County's northernmost city is one of 21 communities in the country nominated for the distinction, along with two others in California — Ojai and Three Rivers.
The magazine singled out Cloverdale as a "quiet Sonoma wine town along the Russian River flanked to the north by an unspoiled wilderness of redwood forests and to the south by orderly rows of vineyards."
The contest is open to towns with populations under 10,000 and the editors say they're not just looking for something quaint, but towns with an edge.
"It's also got to be on the upswing, a place that's beginning to draw attention," according to the magazine.
Quality of life, an arts and restaurant scene and proximity to nature are considered winning criteria.
Cloverdale officials believe the description fits.
"There is a growing affection for Cloverdale, as I think there is an appreciation for our smaller cities," Mayor Carol Russell said Friday. "We have retained something that people want."
Budget Travel encourages people to vote on its Web site for their favorite town. The current list of 21 was whittled down from more than 160 communities originally nominated.
Publicists for the magazine said voting is open until the first week of May at budgettravel.com, under the 2010 Readers Choice Poll.