Get a FREE Travel Guide

Event Calendar

What's New

Grinnell is "Prettiest Painted Places" finalist, only Iowa city to make list

Grinnell has been selected as a finalist in the “Prettiest Painted Places in America” competition. It is one of 10 finalists selected from the North Central U.S. and is the only finalist from Iowa.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be one of the finalists. Nearly 200 beautiful communities from across the country applied, and it’s exciting to know Grinnell stood out to the judges as a finalist,” said Emily Schmitt-Counts with the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sixty finalists were selected from across the U.S., with 10 finalists from each of the six regions of the country. The 10 finalists in the North Central U.S. region are  Aurora, Illinois;  Bay View Association, Michigan;  Evansville, Wisconsin;  Fargo-Moorhead, North Dakota/Minnesota;  Galena, Illinois;  Grinnell, Iowa;  Lowry Hill East, Minnesota;  Richmond, Indiana;  Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan;  and Stillwater, Minnesota.   

Grinnell was one of seven Iowa communities nominated for the award. The others were Adams County, Albia, Decorah, Greater Des Moines, Orange City and Pella.

The “Prettiest Painted Places in America” competition is sponsored by the Paint Quality Institute, an informational entity whose mission is to educate the public about quality paints and coatings.

The final round of judging will take place next week and two cities will be named the prettiest painted places in the North Central U.S., alongside winners from five other regions, to make up the 12 prettiest painted places in America.

According to Debbie Zimmer, pain and color expert for the Paint Quality Institute, a “prettiest painted place” is a special town or neighborhood with exceptional community-wide “curb appeal” due to optically pleasing or creative use of exterior paint color.

“One typically thinks of curb appeal defined by beautiful color schemes on homes or buildings, and that’s the case most of the time, but exquisite outdoor murals and creative use of paint color on statues, signage, traffic signals, water towers, and even streets and sidewalks have elevated the appearance of many of today’s prettiest communities,” she said.

The search for America’s prettiest painted places began this spring, when the Paint Quality Institute contacted state departments of tourism, local chambers of commerce, and convention and visitors bureaus in all 50 states.  Nearly 200 towns, historic districts, neighborhoods and Main Streets were nominated in the competition. 


Last week, a panel of judges with expertise in color selection, exterior painting, and home improvement reviewed the entries and narrowed the field to 60 finalists, 10 from each of six geographic regions.

This is the third time the Paint Quality Institute has conducted a search for the prettiest painted places in America.  It held the first competition in the 1990s, and another in year 2000.

According to Zimmer, the purpose of the competition is to give recognition to places that use paint to express pride in their communities, and highlight how an attractive exterior paint treatment can enhance the curb appeal of virtually any home, building or exterior structure.

To see a complete list of the 60 finalists involved in the search for the “Prettiest Painted Places in America”, visit