No one is arguing that cities aren’t great. There’s something to be said for the convenience and culture of a large metropolis. However, small town America offers its own host of charms. Whether its natural beauty, a close-knit community, or just the pleasure of knowing your neighbors, there’s no place like home when you live in an adorable small town. Check out our list of great small towns across America. Some are classics and some are lesser-known gems, but all deliver on the promise of hospitality and true charm.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Idaho Springs, Colorado
This picturesque town of 1,685 is home to oodles of boutiques, breweries, and historic sites. As you can see, Idaho Springs has a downtown that looks like something out of a TV special, and the little town is also home to the famed Beau Jo’s pizza. For the uninitiated, this place serves up some of the tastiest pies around. If you wanted to move here for the pizza alone, we wouldn’t judge you.
2. Stowe, Vermont
Stowe is a postcard-perfect slice of classic Vermont natural beauty. From rolling hills of fiery autumn foliage, to stark white steeples, this place is one of the most popular New England towns for destination weddings. The natural landscape affords plenty of opportunities for skiing and hiking, and Stowe is host to multiple arts and crafts shows, as well as an incredible annual balloon festival. Stowe’s residents are definitely not hurting financially: the median family income is $64,700 and the median home value hovers around $412,000.
3. Spearfish, South Dakota
This is another small town that caters to lovers of the outdoors. Spearfish is nestled in the midst of three dramatic mountains and commands an impressive view of the surrounding landscape. The charming shopping districts and active arts community keep residents busy and happy, while the top-ranked Spearfish School District keeps parents pleased as well.
4. Cottonwood Falls, Kansas
Located the scenic Flint Hills, this tranquil town is only home to 874 permanent residents. The sleepy town is full of beautiful places to walk by the river, hiking trails, and wildlife spotting opportunities. The community has a vibrant arts and music scene, and is definitely one of those towns where people smile and greet each other by name.
5. Northfield, Minnesota
Known as the town of “cows, colleges, and contentment,” Northfield is full of beautiful college campuses and quaint historic buildings. The scenic downtown features lots of places to grab a delicious bite to eat or poke around in specialty shops. If you decide to pay Northfield a visit (and you should), make time for a picnic lunch by the lovely Cannon River, which runs through the little town.
6. Ouray, Colorado
Nicknamed the Switzerland of America, Ouray is tucked into an impossibly stunning valley and offers loads of outdoor sporting opportunities. Its other attractions include natural hot springs, a gorgeous opera house, and tours of the old Bachelor-Syracuse mine. Its cozy population of 1,000 appreciates the low crime rate (with a view like that, who could be bothered with crime) and close-knit community feel.
7. Middletown, Rhode Island
This quaint coastal settlement boasts miles of beaches, acres upon acres of pristine nature preserve, a robust historic district, plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun, and lots of tasty places to grab a bite. This is a great basecamp if you’re looking to do some surfing, and the town’s Paradise Park is a scenic grassy refuge that lives up to its name. Middletown has a low crime rate and the area hosts many interesting events throughout the year, such as Daffodil Days at Blithewold Mansion. Throughout the month of April, tens of thousands of brilliant yellow daffodils signal the arrival of spring.
8. Sitka, Alaska
Only accessible by air or sea, this is one small town destination that really makes visitors work for its charms. Sitka was actually once the capital of Russian America, and today the town is a sleepy fishing village on the edge of the Sitka National Historic Park, which helps preserve the culture of the native Tlingit people. This is the perfect small town for getting away from it all and spending some time communing with your wild side. If you’re in town, check out top-rated Ludvig’s Bistro, which serves up the freshest local seafood (you can practically see your soon-to-be dinner swimming outside) and is a local favorite. The American Raptor Center is also nearby, in case you want to meet and greet with some bald eagles.
9. Mystic, Connecticut
This colonial-era village is home to the country’s largest maritime museum, a fabulous aquarium, and of course – there’s Mystic Pizza. The famous pizzeria from the eponymous Julia Roberts film is right in the the picturesque downtown area, and is the perfect starting point for a town tour that includes homemade soft-serve ice cream parlors, a gorgeous waterfront, and the sight of bobbing flocks of striking white sailboats. Be sure to check out Mystic Seaport, a popular recreated 19th-century seafaring village, and you definitely can’t pass up the opportunity to hang out with beluga whales and dolphins at Mystic Aquarium.
10. Stuart, Florida
The town of Stuart is home to the most biodiverse lagoon in the Northern hemisphere and the Florida Oceanographic Coastal center. Not surprisingly, it’s a pretty beautiful little town. Between the elegant banyan trees, the beachy pastel architecture, and its title as the sailfish capital of the world, Stuart has a lot to offer residents as well as visitors. Check out the gorgeous Sailfish Fountain located in Stuart’s historic waterfront district, and be sure to grab a nibble of fresh jumbo shrimp at the Sailor’s Return restaurant. If you’re traveling with a furry friend, don’t miss the Pelican Cafe, where pets are always welcome.
11. Bar Harbor, Maine
This town isn’t exactly a hidden gem, but the hype is well deserved. Between the rock-bound coast and soaring granite cliffs, there is a special beauty to Bar Harbor. The coastal town is surrounded by Acadia National Park, which offers over 50 miles of mountains, lakes, hiking, biking, and dramatic ocean views. Take a tour through Bar Harbor’s charming downtown on a trolley or stroll through one of their epic summer farmers markets. This is the perfect vacation spot (or new home sweet home) for anyone who loves classic and coastal New England beauty.
12. Newburyport, Massachusetts
Newburyport is a seaside community that positively reeks of charming, classic New England vibes. The cobblestone streets, uber-scenic downtown, historic buildings and stunning harbor make this a small town for the record books. Check out Oldie’s Marketplace to get your antiquing groove on in a massive retro barn filled with treasures, or just stroll by the with a bagful of penny candy.
13. Hailey, Idaho
Hailey is the perfect mix of old-fashioned small town charm and a fresh, youthful atmosphere. With a low crime rate, great schools, low pollution and a great community vibe, Hailey is the perfect place to stop for a quaint holiday weekend or put down real roots. While you’re strolling down Main Street, pop into Powerhouse, a curious blend of bike shop and restaurant. They offer health-conscious organic eggs, oatcakes and ahi tuna sandwiches to fuel the rest of your exploration.
14. Traverse City, Michigan
This place is the quintessential “up-and-coming” small town. The population has swelled in recent years, but the locals still take pride in their community events and festivals, the low crime rate, gorgeous natural assents and coastal resources, and stellar music venues. Tourists fall in love with Traverse’s emerging foodie scene, amazing beaches, and gorgeous apple and cherry orchards. Check out their annual summer Cherry Festival for a showcase of all this little town has to offer.
15. Paia, Hawaii
A former plantation village, Paia is now a Maui hotspot for charming boutiques, specialty shops, and easy island living. Though more developed than some parts of the Hawaiian islands, Paia combines the convenience of bustling small town with the kind of tropical beauty usually found only in the remotest of places. Paia has number of incredible street markets that spring up during the tourist season where locals and visitors flock to buy handmade trinkets, fresh tropical fruits, and island-style clothing.
16. Lake Wobegon, Minnesota
Out on the edge of a prairie in rural Minnesota, there is a little town that time forgot and the decades cannot improve. Visitors frequently report that all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average. The town is known across the country for its delectable Powdermilk Biscuits, which are made from whole wheat raised in the rich bottomlands of the Lake Wobegon river valley by Norwegian bachelor farmers. This charming small American town is almost too quaint to be true.
Which town gets your vote for most charming in America? Do you prefer small town living or the bustle of the big city? Let us know!