We all dream of escaping to a place where life just seems less complicated. A place that is filled with friendly people, clean air, and plenty of simple pleasures. If you’re looking for a town like that, check out this list of slow-paced small towns around the country where life is still uncomplicated and sweet.
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. Massachusetts: Hadley
Hadley is nestled in the Connecticut River Valley and is one of the few towns in Massachusetts where open-field farming still makes up the majority of the landscape. The "Cultural Landscape of Hadley, Massachusetts" is actually on the World Monuments Fund's watchlist for endangered sites. With a population of only 5,000 people, this place still moves at a pace more in tune with the yearly cycle of harvesting and sowing.
2. North Carolina: Saluda
Though this town is a mere 40 miles from Asheville, not many people outside the area know about Saluda. The town's unique charm and old-fashioned feel make it a great place to visit, or even settle down. The town's proximity to some truly lovely hiking and biking trails make it an easy place to stay active, and its main street is a lively hub of restaurants and galleries. Head to Saluda for its annual summer Coon Dog Day festival, featuring a 5k race and plenty of great food and street dancing.
3. Georgia: Blue Ridge
Blue Ridge is a popular vacation spot for those looking for a bit of peace and quiet. The town has about 1,300 permanent residents. Visitors and natives alike love to spend their days in Blue Ridge out among nature, and there are plenty of places to hike, fish and golf. Mercier Orchards provides the town with plenty of juicy apples and space to roam.
4. Vermont: Ripton
In the words of Jessica Ravitz of CNN, Ripton is "the kind of place where cell service fails more often than it works and the country store is really just that....Tibetan prayer flags wave outside a weather-worn home, and the fog lifts to reveal a white horse grazing in a field.” Ripton is home to 588 people and the annual Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.
5. Alaska: Talkeetna
Talkeetna's unofficial mayor is a cat named Stubbs. If that fact alone isn't enough to convince you that this is one town that still has a sense of humor, nothing will. Talkeetna acts as the base camp for expeditions to Mount Denali, and people flock to this quaint town of 876 residents in order to take advantage of the great salmon fishing nearby. The small downtown area features plenty of offerings by local artists and craftspeople.
6. Maryland: Smith Island
This island is actually home to one of the region's oldest English-speaking communities. The people of Smith Island use what is known as a "relic accent," which preserved the speech patterns of the original English settlers of the island. Only accessible by boat, the island is rapidly shrinking due to erosion and coastal storms.
7. California: Murphys
This town gets its name from the area's two original merchant settlers, John and Daniel Murphy. Today, the town is home to about 2,200 residents. The town once drew hundreds of prospective gold miners who hoped to make their fortunes in Murphys.
8. Montana: Stevensville
Stevensville was first settled by Jesuit missionaries in the early 1800s. It is the oldest permanent settlement in Montana. Today, the population stands at about 1,800 people, and life in town is definitely slow-paced. The nearby Bitterroot River provides plenty of opportunities for fishing and boating.
9. Virginia: Front Royal
Front Royal sees a lot of visitors coming to take a peek at the nearby Shenandoah Caverns. The town has been called the "Canoe Capital of the World" due to its proximity to the junction of the South Fork River and North Fork River of the Shenandoah. Front Royal is a great base camp for exploring the beautiful wilderness of the Shenandoah Valley.
10. Connecticut: Essex
Essex, and its village of Ivoryton, is the perfect haven for those seeking classic New England charm and plenty of quaint architecture. The roads aren't too busy, the neighbors are friendly, and the community is active and involved.
11. Texas: Pecos
Pecos was the site of the world's first American-style rodeo. The town itself is filled with ranchers, modern cowboys and those who like a slow-paced lifestyle.
12. New Jersey: Walpack
Walpack is definitely a quiet place. With less than 50 permanent residents and a town center that has been largely abandoned, life here moves at a snail's pace. Things may not be too lively, but Walpack's people are friendly and welcoming to visitors.
13. Mississippi: Ackerman
This little town was named after a railroad official in 1885, and is home to around 1,500 people. The town is by no means a tourist destination, but people do come from miles around to sample the tasty and cheap barbecue at Sonny's Smokehouse.
14. Michigan: Ionia
Every July, this town hosts the largest free admission fair in the world. When it's not flooded with visitors, Ionia is a peaceful little town with a picturesque downtown and many small, family-run businesses.
15. Kansas: Cottonwood Falls
With a bevy of historic structures, a bustling main street, a cozy population of less than 1,000 residents, and a beautiful Flint Hills location, Cottonwood Falls is a picture-perfect, slow-paced Kansas small town.
Do you appreciate the simple life? Have you been to any of these small towns around the U.S.? Let us know!