California's Central Valley is a distinctive place - a farm belt with many small towns featuring classic downtowns. California Planning & Development Report rates the best of these downtowns.
"The Central Valley is a land of small towns, many dating to the 19th century and laid out on a grid that straddles the railroad. The classic valley town has a business district along a primary thoroughfare, handsome public buildings that often front on a public square or park, and leafy residential neighborhoods just off downtown. Frequently, there's a sign or arch stretching across the Main Street at the entrance to the downtown – often with a corny saying. The high school might be right downtown. There is always a strong connection to agriculture.
Many Central Valley cities are struggling, and plenty of the downtowns are badly neglected, even abandoned. But there are some downtowns that are gems - centers of community and commerce that reflect a true sense of the valley's distinctive place. Central Valley sprawl has not yet obliterated the great downtowns that were created more than a hundred years ago, and in many cases they are coming back."
California Planning & Development Report rates the top three Central Valley downtowns, and lists five more of note.