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Southern Minnesota town ranked among nation's best

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A small town about 45 minutes due south of the Twin Cities has been named one of the Top 10 Small Towns in the United States by

Northfield, Minnesota, ranked No. 2 on a this year's list of best "micropolitan" areas (populations around 20,000), which "provide beautiful locales that inspire both creativity and activity."

Los Alamos, New Mexico, topped the list. Behind Northfield, were Lebanon, New Hampshire; Hood River, Oregon; and Port Angeles, Washington. Click here for the complete list.

The rankings looked at cost of living, health care, diversity, crime, pollution and natural amenities, among others.

Livability says Northfield – which has a population of just over 20,000 – has "charming – perhaps even quirky – events," which include the annual Defeat of Jesse James Days festival, organ recitals in the summer, and the winter walk.

The website also mentions the town's community involvement, its proximity to Rochester's Mayo Clinic, its number of schools – including St. Olaf and Carleton Colleges – and its abundance of parks and amenities, such as the Cannon River, Mill Towns Trail and nearby River Bend Nature Center.

Northfield has also been recognized in other publications. According to the town's website, True West Magazine named the town's Defeat of Jesse James Days reenactment as the "Best reenactment of the West" for multiple years. The reenactment was also named the top event for group travel in the U.S. by the American Bus Association.

Cowling Arboretum was ranked by Runner's Magazine as the top place to run in Minnesota, and one of the top 10 in the U.S., the town says. The Willingers Golf Club has been rated one of the top 20 course in Minnesota by Golf Digest.

Northfield isn't the first Minnesota town to make it on Livability's best small towns list. Last year, Alexandria, Minnesota, ranked No. 7.

Minneapolis ranked No. 5 on Livability's top cities for job hunting 20-somethings earlier this year.

Lanesboro, Minnesota, ranked No. 10 on Smithsonian Magazine's 20 best small towns to visit in 2014.

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