Best U.S. Towns With Fewer Than 10,000 Residents
From New York and L.A. to Chicago and Miami, the United States is home to some of the buzziest big cities in the world. But anyone who’s enjoyed a quiet afternoon swinging on a front porch or hiking up colorful mountains knows America’s small towns are, in their own way, just as appealing.
It’s here where you’ll find people who welcome you like family, in addition to some of the most astonishing landscapes in the U.S. While America's larger cities are definitely worth a visit (or multiple), this list focuses on lesser-known towns with 10,000 residents or fewer.
From a Colorado mountain resort to a bayside beauty in Maine, keep these small towns — ranked from most to least populated — in mind the next time you want to go somewhere new, unexpected and totally charming.
Below are the best small towns in America to live in or visit.
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100. Sedona, Arizona
Where to stay: Adobe Grand Villas
Why it’s a great small town: Big cities get all the credit for art events and alternative lifestyles, but Sedona proves small towns have just as much to offer. Surrounded by the arid Arizona desert, this town attracts nature lovers with the canyons and giant rock formations of Red Rock State Park. It is also a sort of congregation point for neo-hippies and the spiritually inclined. If you’re more into boho chic and comfort than desert camping, the town has plenty of that as well.
Fun fact: Sedona has been a filming site in over 90 films, with stars like Robert De Niro, Elvis Presley and Humphrey Bogart spending time shooting movies here.
99. Fairfield, Iowa
Where to stay: AmericInn by Wyndham Fairfield
Why it’s a great small town: Fairfield was built to honor and follow the teachings of Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. People arrive in town to practice the Transcendental Meditation technique he developed and find that much of the town was built following the architectural principles of the Maharishi.
All the feel-goodness in this town carries over. There are 150 nonprofits and 400 start-up companies here, and the town is attempting to become sustainable in support of the environment.
Fun fact: Transcendental Meditation is practiced at the Maharishi University of Management.
98. Sitka, Alaska
Where to stay:Aspen Suites Hotel Sitka
Why it's a great small town: Located 95 miles southwest of Juneau, remote Sitka is the place to go if you want to get far away from it all. Indeed, to follow you here, your worries will have to either take a ferry or a plane, both of which are subject to the mercy of the weather.
Like many Alaskan towns, Sitka is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and teeming with wildlife, including bears, whales and eagles. Compellingly, it also features monuments, like the formidable Orthodox Cathedral, that nod to its past life as part of Russia.
Fun fact: From 1733 to 1867, Sitka was the capital of Russian America.
97. Georgetown, South Carolina
Where to stay: Baymont by Wyndham Georgetown
Why it’s a great small town: This is such a small town to be filled with so much history! Georgetown has more than 50 different sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town, which was founded in 1729, played a part in history throughout the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Of course, modern shopping is available in a tree-lined downtown.
Fun facts: It is rumored the first Europeans settled here in 1526.
96. Hood River, Oregon
Where to stay: Hood River Hotel
Why it’s a great small town: Often overshadowed by nearby Portland, Hood River is a quiet gateway into some of the state’s best nature. Dominated by the Columbia River Gorge, you have free reign to engage in a number of outdoor activities that include hiking, paddle boarding, skiing and mountain biking. Need a break? Spend the day tasting wines.
Fun fact: The 1886 E.L. Smith Building is the oldest in the city.
95. Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Where to stay: Downtown Doylestown apartment
Why it’s a great small town: Located in Bucks County, outside of Philadelphia, Doylestown is a horse farm community with acres and acres of pastures just outside of its thriving town. But within the town, which serves as the county seat, Main and State Streets often fill with residents to enjoy the patio dining, old-time movie theater, shops and festivals.
The town also hosts the country's oldest Memorial Day parade, where the streets are lined with red-, white- and blue-wearing participants honoring the fallen.
Fun fact: Doylestown was home to anthropologist Margaret Mead and American lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II.
94. Whitefish, Montana
Where to stay: Grouse Mountain Lodge
Why it's a great small town: If you’ve ever seen pictures of Glacier National Park, then you won’t need anyone to convince you that a visit to Whitefish, one of its main gateway towns, is worthwhile. Surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains and blessed with the expansive Whitefish Lake, sometimes it’s hard to believe this town is actually real.
Though it’s mostly known for its world-class skiing, there are also plenty of other attractions, including microbreweries, lake paddling, fine-dining and hiking. Of course, spending a day at the shore of the lake with a picnic and a book is a must-do when the weather allows for it.
Fun fact: Whitefish used to have a far more unfortunate name — Stumptown, because of how many tree stumps were left behind when trees were felled to make way for the city.
93. Decorah, Iowa
Where to stay: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson
Why it’s a great small town: In the 1850s, a decade after the native Ho-Chunk settlers had been forced out of their land, Decorah received a large number of Norwegian immigrants. Mostly looking for jobs and opportunities in the “new world,” these settlers left a footprint that is still visible today. (Pro tip: Visit in July when the city hosts its spirited Nordic Fest.)
Besides its unique cultural roots, Decorah is surrounded by Dunning’s Springs Park. Its mountain location almost makes the city seem as if it rises out of the forest. The town is also home to Luther College, which ensures a large population of young students to enliven the cultural offerings.
Fun fact: Decorah’s Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum is the largest Norwegian immigrant museum in the U.S.
92. Dahlonega, Georgia
Where to stay: Days Inn by Wyndham Dahlonega
Why it's a great small town: Dahlonega’s slogan claims it’s “pure gold,” a nod to the fact that it was the site of the first major Gold Rush in the country. But there’s much more to this oft-overlooked town than its fascinating history. Today, the area touts several wineries and a collection of surrounding waterfalls that nature-enthusiasts love.
For those interested in its former life, the Dahlonega Gold Museum offers interesting exhibitions on the history of the town, and you can even visit the Consolidated Gold Mine, which is located underground. Just make sure you don’t schedule that visit for after a wine-tasting tour.
Fun fact: The town’s unusual name comes from the Cherokee name for the color of gold. (The area was once home to many Cherokee Native Americans.)
91. Lexington, Virginia
Where to stay: Howard Johnson by Wyndham Lexington
Why it’s a great small town: Lexington attracts history buffs who are interested in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars. In fact, it was named after the famed Battle of Lexington and Concord. After a day visiting museums, enjoy the town’s boutique shops and excellent dining scene.
Fun fact: Ronald Reagan's 1938 movie, "Brother Rat" was filmed here.
90. Skaneateles, New York
Where to stay: Deer Run Lodging House
Why it’s a great small town: Central New York's Finger Lakes provide numerous ways to enjoy the water, not to mention the dozens of wineries that spread across the landscape.
In Skaneateles, you'll find both, as well as a nice downtown with restaurants, places to stay and quaint shops.
Fun fact: There are 11 finger lakes that make up the Finger Lakes.
89. Aspen, Colorado
Where to stay: Aspen Meadows Resort
Why it’s a great small town: A small town with a giant reputation, Aspen’s ski slopes bring in the masses as soon as the snow starts falling. However, Aspen’s charm is seasonless, as its location in the Rocky Mountains guarantees year-round trails and hikes.
Although the town had an affair with counter-culture back in the day, it now draws in those seeking pampering in the form of sophisticated cuisine and luxe lodging.
Fun fact: Hunter S. Thompson, the famed author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” ran for county sheriff in 1970 as part of the “Freak Power” movement. Alas, he didn’t win.
88. Rockport, Massachusetts
Where to stay: Addison Choate
Why it’s a great small town: Located on Massachusetts' other cape, Cape Ann, Rockport is so quintessentially New England that film crews often set up shop here to capture the waterfront town's idyllic beaches, charming town center and lighthouses.
Located north of Boston, visitors can explore Cape Ann's maritime history and enjoy whale watching cruises off the coast.
Fun fact: The Sitka, Alaska-based movie "The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds was filmed here.
87. Holly Springs, Mississippi
Where to stay: OYO Hotel Holly Springs
Why it’s a great small town: With its location along the Mississippi Central Railroad, Holly Springs has historic homes, centuries-old churches and authentic southern food. Attractions include museums, nature centers and numerous festivals held throughout the year.
Fun facts: Holly Springs sits along the Mississippi Blue Trail.
86. Sanibel Island, Florida
Where to stay: Island Inn
Why it’s a great small town: Skip overcrowded Miami and head to this well-kept local secret. Sanibel Island is the definition of relaxed, but it still takes wildlife conservation seriously: There are several nature refuges in town, with the J.N. "Ding" Darling being the largest.
Fun fact: You can learn surprising facts about seashells at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum.
85. Essex, Connecticut
Where to stay: James Pharmacy Bed & Breakfast
Why it’s a great small town: The past has been kept alive and well in gorgeous Essex, with rows of historic houses that have been beautifully preserved. Visit the Connecticut River Museum, which is located on a 19th-century steamboat warehouse — a type of structure that is basically extinct.
Fun fact: The town's Griswold Inn opened in 1776, making it one of the country's oldest inns.
84. Meredith, New Hampshire
Where to stay: Ballard House Inn
Why it’s a great small town: Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire, draws attention to the towns that sit on its shores. But while other towns have succumbed to the cliche of catering to tourists, Meredith has maintained its quiet and unassuming charm. Here, you won’t have to deal with hoards of people as you stroll along the water, or fight for space when you take out a boat.
Fun fact: The illustrator of the popular Archie comics, Bob Montana, made Meredith his home until his untimely death in 1975.
83. Chatham, Massachusetts
Where to stay: Chatham Bars Inn
Why it’s a great small town: Cape Cod is made up of dozens of small towns with wood-shingled houses that turn gray with the salt air, but none are as popular as Chatham.
The high-end stores lining its "downtown" are mere steps from the ocean, where on any given day you will see the herd of seals that call this area home. (Unfortunately, they also bring Great White sharks!) Two beautiful resorts with water views and fine dining cater to the area.
Fun fact: Chatham was incorporated in 1712.
82. Littleton, New Hampshire
Where to stay: Hampton Inn Littleton
Why it’s a great small town: This 18th-century town has made a cozy home for itself at the foot of the majestic White Mountains. Its geographic location makes it the perfect spot for the oldest ski shop in the country. Come here for an unassuming yet superb ski getaway.
Fun fact: Local shop Chutters has the longest candy counter in the world.
81. New Castle, Delaware
Where to stay: Hyatt Place Wilmington Riverfront
Why it’s a great small town: New Castle’s colonial buildings are incredibly well preserved, making for a beautiful trip back in time. First State National Historic is a visitor and local favorite, but walking around the small town’s cobblestone streets is a close second.
Fun fact: New Castle’s original name, Tomakonck, means “Place of the Beaver” in Southern Unami.
80. Moab, Utah
Where to stay: Hyatt Place Moab
Why it's a great small town: Moab is charming, featuring laid-back shops, hotels and dining establishments in a desert setting. But what really makes it sing is its proximity to Arches National Park, marked by sandstone rocks shaped like arches (hence the name) scattered across a vast desert landscape. Moab also provides access to Canyonlands National Park, where you’ll find sedimentary rock formations, dinosaur tracks and rock art crafted by Native Americans.
As far as base camps go, this one can’t be beat.
Fun fact: The name Moab comes from an ancient Biblical kingdom.
79. Camden, Maine
Where to stay: Hampton Inn & Suites Rockland
Why it’s a great small town: Boats line the harbor and hills rise above 19th-century red brick houses in this perfect Maine town. The harbor commands attention, as people head out to enjoy days in the water or simply delight in the views from land. To nourish your mind and soul, catch a show at the Camden Opera House.
Fun fact: Camdem’s Village Green was designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead Jr.
78. Stowe, Vermont
Where to stay: Sun & Ski Inn And Suites
Why it's a great small town: Nature and hospitality are Vermont’s biggest draws, and you’ll certainly find them in Stowe.
This valley town is flanked by mountains including the largest in Vermont, Mount Mansfield. Not surprisingly, outdoorsy activities, from hiking and skiing to rock-climbing and even zip-lining, fill many tourist itineraries. Looking to explore the town instead? Stowe has a variety of local breweries and numerous family-owned shops to pop into.
Stowe is perhaps best known, though, for serving as refuge for the Von Trapp family. That’s right, this is where the clan made famous in “The Sound of Music” settled down after escaping the Nazis.
Fun fact: Randomly and delightfully, Stowe plays host each fall to the British Invasion, a British car show and culture fest.
77. Chadron, Nebraska
Where to stay: Chadron Inn & Suites
Why it’s a great small town: Once upon American history, fur trading on the Great Plains was a way of life. In this small town, which looks like it may have generations ago, locals celebrate its history with the Fur Trade Days festival held every year. The festival features a full fur traders' market where you may find some unusual trinkets.
Fun facts: The town is named for fur trapper Louis Charton, who opened the Bordeaux Creek trading post in 1841.
76. Bar Harbor, Maine
Where to stay: The Primrose
Why it's a great small town: Mountains, harbors and sheer seaside cliffs make Bar Harbor a place where bringing the camera is mandatory. Colorful houses line the shore and boats dot the pier to create the quintessential picture of seaside Americana. Even better, the town is an entry point to Acadia National Park, where hikers come to conquer rocky trails that lead to views of neighboring islands.
Bar Harbor is a town for any season, with mild summer for swimming and boating, spring and fall for hiking, and winter for skiing.
Fun fact: Until 1913, the town was named Eden, an apt moniker considering the idyllic setting.
75. Sainte Genevieve, Missouri
Where to stay: Silo Farm Haus
Why it's a great small town: As the name suggests, Sainte Genevieve was originally a French Canadian town, and history is its major draw. As the oldest town in all of Missouri, it touts an interesting historical museum and houses dating back 200 years. Some of these homes are beautifully preserved, while others are abandoned and ramshackle, providing an eerie atmosphere that’s equally compelling (and perfect for photo-ops).
Fun fact: The town was named after the patron saint of Paris.
74. Haleiwa, Hawaii
Where to stay: Ke Iki Beach Bungalows
Why it’s a great small town: For surfers, visiting Haleiwa on Oahu is almost like completing a pilgrimage. The surfing capital of the world offers giant waves and a culture of wave riding that is deeply rooted in native Hawaii.
Fun fact: Haleiwah is also home to a delicious Matsumoto Shave Ice competition.
73. Bisbee, Arizona
Where to stay: The Dragonview
Why it’s a great small town: If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting a hippie enclave in the mountains within a desert, pack your bags and head to Bisbee. Art galleries and homemade craft shops abound.
Fun fact: Bisbee’s past as a mining town is commemorated at the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.
72. Wamego, Kansas
Where to stay: Simmer Motel
Why it’s a great small town: The culturally rich downtown gives Wamego a metropolitan feeling. Catch a show at the Columbian Theater, learn about state history at the Wamego Historical Museum, or enjoy urban nature at the City Park.
Fun fact: The Oz Museum delights “Wizard of Oz” fans with its interesting memorabilia.
71. Luray, Virginia
Where to stay: Days Inn by Wyndham Luray Shenandoah
Why it’s a great small town: On any given day, you can see tangled-haired Appalachian hikers looking for supplies and respite in Luray. The town’s geographical position makes it a strategic point for those looking to explore the famous trail as well as the astonishing Shenandoah National Park.
Fun fact: The Luray Caverns are the largest cave system on the East Coast.
70. Dripping Springs, Texas
Where to stay: The Alexander at Creek Road
Why it’s a great small town: Dripping Springs is the rural Texas getaway you never knew you needed. Ranches dot the expansive prairies, intertwining with vineyards and creating a Texas that rarely gets publicity.
Fun fact: The gorgeous Hamilton Pool Preserve is a natural pool that’s perfect for cooling off.
69. Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
Where to stay: Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, Lehighton
Why it's a great small town: If someone were to tell you to visit a former coal-mining town, you might imagine a drab block of houses in the middle of nowhere. In Jim Thorpe, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The town is colorful and quaint, with locals who treat visitors like family. Its location in the Lehigh Gorge State Park guarantees unbelievable views of mountains that change colors throughout the seasons, and Victorian houses are complemented by old trains that still operate for tourists, a thoroughly charming throwback touch.
Fun fact: The town is where Jim Thorpe, the first Native American to win a gold medal for the U.S., is buried — hence its memorable name.
68. Beaufort, North Carolina
Where to stay: Beaufort Hotel
Why it’s a great small town: North Carolina's sleepy Low Country can be found north of South Carolina and south of the Outer Banks. Here, waterfront living is key, with boating and fishing being popular pastimes.
On land, moss-draped trees keep residents shaded from the heat until the sun sets and families enjoy waterfront dining along the town's boardwalk.
Fun fact: The famous pirate, Blackbeard, crashed here and was caught in nearby waters.
67. Buffalo, Wyoming
Where to stay: Hampton Inn & Suites Buffalo
Why it’s a great small town: This idyllic mountain town has managed to keep its historical beauty in the face of modernization. Walk downtown to see typical Midwestern architecture, or stop at a cafe to admire the majestic Bighorn Mountains that adorn the town.
Fun fact: The Occidental Hotel, one of the town’s most popular with tourists, is more than 130 years old!
66. Mystic, Connecticut
Where to stay: House of 1833 Bed & Breakfast & Gardens
Why it’s a great small town: Thousands fill the small town of Mystic every summer, as its waterfront location lends itself to its long maritime past. Home to an aquarium and charming living history village in Mystic Seaport, there are those who know of Mystic from the pre-"Pretty Woman" Julia Roberts' "Mystic Pizza."
Yes, there really is a pizza place that provided the backdrop to the New England story that blended its hardworking maritime workers with the preppy, upperclass, just like much of Connecticut's Long Island Sound communities.
Fun fact: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall honeymooned at the Inn at Mystic.
65. Isle of Palms, South Carolina
Where to stay: Wild Dunes Resort
Why it’s a great small town: If you’re looking for a peaceful beach vacation away from crowds and noise, this South Carolinian barrier island is just the place for you. Lined with waterfront houses, the town boasts miles of beaches, numerous scenic bike paths and wooden piers just waiting to be Instagrammed.
There are also abundant recreational activities, sports centers, and places to shop and dine. What more could you want?
Fun fact: According to legend, the island contains hidden pirate treasures.
64. Unalaska, Alaska
Where to stay: Grand Aleutian Hotel
Why it’s a great small town: Unalaska’s name spikes interest, but it’s beautiful nature sells the deal. Hiking, whale watching and visiting museums are favorite local pastimes — and you can do them all while being surrounded by the best of Alaskan nature.
Fun fact: You cannot reach Unalaska by land, only by plane or boat.
63. Lindsborg, Kansas
Where to stay: Viking Motel
Why it’s a great small town: A little bit of Sweden in the Midwest, Lindsborg was founded in the mid-1800s by Swedish immigrants. You'll find restaurants with Swedish food, shops selling Swedish kitsch and even a Swedish festival, Svensk Hyllningsfest.
Fun fact: The immigrants who set up shop here arrived from Varmland, Sweden.
62. Yellow Springs, Ohio
Where to stay: Hearthstone Inn & Suites
Why it’s a great small town: As the home of Antioch College, Yellow Springs was one of the area’s epicenters for the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war efforts. Unsurprisingly, it was one of the first small towns to pass anti-discrimination laws protecting the LGBTQIA community. Besides its activist past, the town is brimming with natural beauty, scenic trails and cultural events.
Fun fact: One of the town’s most famous residents, Wheeling Gaunt — a self-emancipated former slave — began a tradition of giving flour to poor widows in the community that continues to this day (though the flour has been replaced by sugar).
61. Provincetown, Massachusetts
Where to stay: Crowne Pointe Historic Inn
Why it’s a great small town: Charming beach towns are known for being low-key, tranquil and relatively remote. Provincetown, located on the northern tip of Cape Cod, is none of these things. Since the 1940s, P-Town has made a name for itself as a hub for artists, misfits and eccentrics. It is most famous for its glamorous drag shows, nightclubs and expansive LGBTQIA district.
Fun fact: Anthony Bourdain decided to dedicate his life to cooking while working in seafood restaurants in Provincetown.
60. Little Compton, Rhode Island
Where to stay: The Sea Breeze Inn
Why it’s a great small town: Sitting on the banks of the scenic Sakonnet River, Little Compton is marked by its historic homes with water views. Pro tip: Visit in the fall for amazing foliage without the crowds.
Fun fact: Rhode Island’s state bird, the Rhode Island Red, was first bred here.
59. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Where to stay: The Park Vista - a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel - Gatlinburg
Why it's a great small town: Most visitors come to Gatlinburg to head into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most-visited park in America. The town’s tourism scene revolves around this beloved stretch of wilderness, and there are plenty of hotels, shops and restaurants (serving Southern staples, naturally) to cater to the park-going throngs.
Not too into huffing your way through the mountains? Don’t sweat it. You can take the Space Needle to get great views without the physical strain, or ride the Sky Lift to Ober Gatlinburg, the town’s ski resort and amusement park.
Fun fact: The town is situated next door to Pigeon Forge, home to Dolly Parton’s legitimately amazing Dollywood theme park.
58. Ketchum, Idaho
Where to stay: Knob Hill Inn
Why it's a great small town: Ketchum is one of just a few places in the U.S. that can legitimately claim winter as the best season to visit. When the wind chills and mountains become cloaked in snow, the town shines. After skiing or hiking, soak in the natural hot springs and feel your worries melt away.
In the warmer months, fly fishing and rafting are popular activities. So is star-gazing, aided by the town’s renowned efforts to curb light pollution.
Fun fact: This is where the famously well-traveled Ernest Hemingway chose to spend the last years of his life.
57. Perham, Minnesota
Where to stay: The Otter Lodge
Why it’s a great small town: Nobody would expect a town as small as Perham to always be enlivened with cultural events, but that is exactly why travelers are pleasantly surprised when visiting. Antiques, coffee shops and craft brewers abound as well as art centers, public murals and as many small-town festivals as your heart could ever desire.
Fun fact: The ITOW (In Their Own Words) Veteran Museum is the only museum in the U.S. with an entire collection that centers around oral histories from veterans.
56. Crystal River, Florida
Where to stay: Plantation on Crystal River Ascend Hotel Collection
Why it's a great small town: Manatee lovers, rejoice! And come congregate in this Floridian town where these gentle animals abound. You can walk around boardwalks to see them from a distance or get in the water in a kayak or a boat to encounter them along your journey.
You’ll find that the name of this town is not a lie as you enjoy waters clear as crystal, teeming with wildlife. Several animal refuges and state parks surround the town, making it one of the top destinations for Miamians and Orlandeans who want to get away from the city and enjoy the natural beauty Florida offers.
Fun fact: This town has, hands-down, the best tagline in America: “Where Man and Manatee Play.”
55. Galena, Illinois
Where to stay: Goldmoor Inn & Resort
Why it’s a great small town: Founded as a lead-mining town, Galena was once responsible for producing as much as 85 percent of the country’s lead. History buffs love visiting to admire the town’s beautiful architecture and romantic views of the Mississippi River. But Galena is not just a blast from the past; it also has art galleries, local breweries and great skiing in the winter. From spring to fall, you can go up the funicular to get views of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa.
Fun fact: You can still visit the home that town residents gifted to Ulysses S. Grant, Union General and former President.
54. Lewes, Delaware
Where to stay: Home2 Suites By Hilton Lewes Rehoboth Beach
Why it’s a great small town: Found where the Atlantic Ocean joins the Delaware Bay is Lewes, which offers plenty of beaches, water activities and seafood in its charming restaurants. The town center has pedestrian streets and ample shopping locations as well.
Fun fact: Lewes was the state's first town in the country's first state.
53. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Where to stay: L'Auberge Carmel
Why it's a great small town: Almost impossibly charming, Carmel-by-the-Sea features cottages that look like they were plucked from a Brothers Grimm tale, tree-lined streets, urban wineries, seafood restaurants and art galleries, all set against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean.
Explore the town, then head to the sea for snorkeling, scuba-diving or whale-watching.
Fun fact: Clint Eastwood loves this town so much, he spent two years as its mayor.
52. Chester, Vermont
Where to stay: Stone Hearth Inn & Tavern
Why it’s a great small town: Beautiful historic homes adorn the foot of the Green Mountains. The great outdoors always beacons with its varying and exciting landscapes. If you can’t decide between culture and active traveling, Chester is the place to go.
Fun fact: Chester’s Rockingham Meeting House is the oldest in the country.
51. Woodstock, Vermont
Where to stay: The Lincoln Inn & Restaurant
Why it’s a great small town: Despite evoking images of hippies in mud fields, Woodstock, Vermont, is pretty traditional. Its streets are decorated with beautiful brick homes and well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century buildings, including a working farmhouse from the 1800s.
Fun fact: “Man and Nature,” written by Woodstock local George Perkins Marsh, contributed to the creation of the conservationist movement.
50. Clinton, New Jersey
Where to stay: Hampton Inn Clinton
Why it’s a great small town: Merely an hour away from New York, Clinton has nothing of the city’s traffic or noise. Instead, it offers the tranquility of the Raritan River, a Main Street full of boutiques and the striking Red Mill Museum Village.
Fun fact: The town has been featured in “My Giant,” “In and Out” and “One True Thing.”
49. Cape May, New Jersey
Where to stay: Wilbraham Mansion
Why it’s a great small town: Cape May isn’t shy about boasting its status as “America’s oldest seaside resort.” But this age doesn’t mean it’s rickety or stodgy. On the contrary, its Victorian houses are just as glamorous as when they were built, while its more modern offerings include pedestrian-friendly shops and restaurants, as well as annual jazz and film festivals.
Fun fact: Because of its impressive number of maintained Victorian buildings, the entire town is a National Historic Landmark.
48. Hanapepe, Hawaii
Why it's a great small town: Hanapepe preserves the spirit of Aloha, with no tall buildings or traffic congestion to be found.
One of the best things to do is to stuff yourself with the local food, which includes Native Hawaiian staples and dishes inspired by the numerous immigrant communities that call the area home.
Burn off those calories by exploring Kauai’s impossibly dramatic landscapes, which have been featured in several movies, including “Jurassic Park.” Then make your way to a local beach for some sun-kissed R&R (this is Hawaii, after all). Don’t leave your snorkeling gear behind, as this is your chance to see several endemic species.
Fun fact: Hanapepe was the inspiration for the Hawaiian town in the Disney animated flick, “Lilo & Stitch.”
47. Telluride, Colorado
Why it's a great small town: Aspen and Boulder usually get all the attention in Colorado, but Telluride — more quaint, less pricey — deserves love too.
The historic district is dotted with red brick buildings, set against the backdrop of the sweeping San Juan Mountains. In the summer, when the days are long and pleasant, tourists enjoy immersing themselves into the local culture at the Telluride Historical Museum and the Sheridan Opera House. In the winter, the town’s population significantly increases when visitors come to hit the ski slopes, then enjoy some fine wine while warming up beside the fireplace.
Fun fact: The town was the first in the world to boast electric streetlights.
46. Santa Claus, Indiana
Why it’s a great small town: No town is as excited about Christmas as Santa Claus (Indiana). This town has dedicated its entire existence to celebrating the holiday, with stores, candy shops and even the post office being Christmas-themed.
Fun fact: Celebrate a watery Christmas at Holiday World, a themed amusement park.
45. Mineral Point, Wisconsin
Why it’s a great small town: Considered "Where Wisconsin Began," Mineral Point was built with limestone the English settlers brought with them. A mining town, stone buildings still stand and provide a glimpse at the town's early 1800s beginning.
Preserved since the 1960s, you'll step back in time but experience all of today's modern comforts.
Fun fact: Settlers arrived in Mineral Point to mine its zinc and lead.
44. Apalachicola, Florida
Why it’s a great small town: Tucked away on the Florida Panhandle is one of the last remaining towns from the state's original Deep South days. Here, shrimp boats drag the brackish waters that meet with the Chattahoochee River.
Life is sleepy in town, which features romantic bed and breakfasts. Be sure to visit during the Florida Seafood Festival if you want to see the town come alive for its visitors.
Fun fact: Tupelo honey is created from the bees that feed where the river meets the sea.
43. Sewanee, Tennessee
Why it’s a great small town: Tennessee is blessed with natural beauty, a love of music and a sense of community. These characteristics congregate together in Sewanee as if they were ready for an impromptu bluegrass session on a hot summer night. This college town has frequent concerts, bountiful food and exciting nature excursions. You can hike along miles and miles of trails, chase waterfalls and even go mountain biking.
Fun fact: Sewanee is home to one of the region’s oldest running boarding schools, the St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School.
42. Big Sky, Montana
Why it’s a great small town: Big Sky is big in many ways. For starters, it literally has a big sky, as the relatively low light pollution makes for incredible star-gazing opportunities. It also boasts big opportunities for skiing, with four mountains of downhill and nordic trails.
When people aren’t hitting the slopes, they are heading to nearby Yellowstone National Park to take in its natural wonders, including its otherworldly geysers. You can also head to the Gallatin Canyon, visit waterfalls, hike, fish, and smell the wildflowers that bloom in the spring.
Fun fact: Big Sky is a celebrity hot spot, with the likes of Ben Affleck, Tom Brady and Justin Timberlake buying property here.
41. Hayward, Wisconsin
Why it’s a great small town: Hayward is extremely exciting for lovers of the outdoors who want equally thrilling summer and winter activities. There are plenty of opportunities to hike, camp, mountain bike or boat. You can also go to the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and see some seriously impressive catches.
Fun fact: The town hosts the American Birkebeiner cross country ski race, the World Lumberjack Championship and the Chequamegon Fat Tire bicycle race.
40. Lake Placid, New York
Why it's a great small town: This town in the Adirondacks was put on the world map when it hosted the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. Since then, snow-sports enthusiasts have flocked here in even greater numbers to enjoy cross-country skiing, hockey, ice skating and even dog-sledding. There are also numerous spas where you can relax and recover from the day’s activities and get away from the cold for a bit.
Not a fan of snow? Come in any other season and you won’t be disappointed. Fall, when the mountains are set ablaze in reds, yellows and oranges, is especially lovely.
Fun fact: In the 19th century, this is where New York City’s elite would spend their time each summer after “vacating” the city, giving rise to the term “vacationing.” So you could say this is where the vacation was invented!
39. Taos, New Mexico
Why it's a great small town: The greatest selling point here is a diverse heritage. Home to Native Americans and later Mexicans, Taos promises dynamic cultural offerings at every turn. One of the best places to visit is Taos Pueblo, which has been inhabited by Native Americans for more than 1,000 years.
The town is located near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, offering plenty of opportunities for an escapade into nature. This mix of heritage and scenery helps explain why so many free-spirited artists seem to settle down here, bringing many galleries and museums to town in turn.
Fun fact: Taos has appeared in movies including “Easy Rider” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
38. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Why it's a great small town: Eureka Springs is a slice of historic America that’s very much living in the present. Its historic downtown is at once part of the National Register of Historic Places and the site of progressive events like LGBTQ pride festivals, and it pairs beautifully preserved Victorian houses with innovative, modern street art.
As if its cool personality wasn’t enough, the town is also nestled into the Ozark Mountains, considered one of the best spots in the U.S. for fall leaf-peeping. From canoeing to hiking, wine-tasting to taking in live music, Eureka Springs has you covered.
Fun fact: The town is home to St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, which you enter through its bell tower — a feature so unique and bizarre, it’s been featured by Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
37. Leavenworth, Washington
Why it’s a great small town: This Bavarian town rises unexpectedly within Washington’s Cascade Mountains. With European architecture, numerous beer halls and German-American fusion cuisine, a visit here makes you feel like you’ve left the country. As you’d expect, the town holds one of the American West’s best Oktoberfests.
Outside this cultural allure, the city’s mountain location makes for beautiful foliage trips, great skiing in the winter and outdoor activities year-round.
Fun fact: Originally, Leavenworth was a formal frontier town on the verge of extinction. In the ‘60s, officials decided to rebuild it as a Bavarian town in order to increase tourism and save it from the brink. (It worked.)
36. Cooperstown, New York
Why it’s a great small town: Set between forested hills and the clear Otsego Lake, Cooperstown is an unassuming little town in upstate New York. Its biggest draw is the Baseball Hall of Fame, but there is also the Fenimore Art Museum, which proudly displays its American Indian art collection.
Fun fact: Cooperstown was a popular summer retreat for the 19th-century New England elite.
35. Cannon Beach, Oregon
Why it's a great small town: This Oregonian town may be tiny, but the nature it offers is anything but. A long shoreline provides color-soaked sunsets, tranquil picnic spots and countless opportunities for R&R. Adventurers can hike the trails in Ecola State Park and be rewarded with panoramic views of the sea, or better yet, go sea-cave exploring.
But the real highlight of any visit is a stop at Haystack Rock. Rising 235 feet out of the ocean, it’s topped with a colony of puffins from early spring to mid-summer.
Fun fact: Haystack Rock makes an appearance in the opening scene of “The Goonies.”
34. St. Francisville, Louisiana
Why it’s a great small town: Arching trees protectively hover over the roads of this gorgeous Louisiana town. As in much of the old South, St. Francisville is known for its numerous plantations, where visitors today can learn about a painful part of the nation’s history. There are also several Victorian-style homes, built by the various Jews who took refuge in the town during WWII.
Expect to find excellent cuisine — this is Louisiana after all! — as well as Southern hospitality and gorgeous walks along the Mississippi River.
Fun fact: St. Francisville was the capital of the Republic of West Florida, an independent nation that existed for about two months.
33. Garrison, North Dakota
Why it’s a great small town: Garrison’s central feature is its large man-made lake. Fishing is a way of life and a local pastime, so you can expect almost every restaurant in town to offer fresh and delicious seafood.
Fun fact: Every year, Garrison hosts a Dickens Village Festival that transports participants to late 19th-century England.
32. Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Why it’s a great small town: Rehoboth Beach is the perfect place to sit back, relax and feel time slow down. Visitors often feel disconnected from the “real” world, as they spend their days eating fresh seafood, bumming on the beach or doing excursions to the sand dunes of Cape Henlopen State Park.
Fun fact: Dogfish Head, now one of the country’s most popular craft brewers, was founded here.
31. Mancos, Colorado
Why it’s a great small town: Ranches, artist workshops and nature coexist in perfect balance in beautiful Mancos. Stay at a ranch, enjoy outdoor activities at Mesa Verde National Park or stroll through the town’s Creative District.
Fun fact: Mancos has several Ancient Puebloan archaeological sites.
30. Port Gibson, Mississippi
Why it’s a great small town: Originally part of Louisiana, this historic town was spared from the claws of the Civil War because General Grant thought it “too beautiful to burn.” The legendary blues group, the Rabbit’s Foot Company, was formed here.
Fun fact: The town appears in “Ghosts of Mississippi,” featuring Alec Baldwin and Whoopi Goldberg.
29. Grand Marais, Minnesota
Why it’s a great small town: Sitting on the shores of Lake Superior, you can expect to see incredible landscapes in beautiful Grand Marais. Water activities are popular, as is hiking, but the town also offers urban recreation.
Fun fact: During the third weekend of October, the town celebrates moose with a town festival.
28. Deadwood, South Dakota
Why it's a great small town: The spirit of the Old West is alive and well in the tiny town of Deadwood, which has taken great care to keep its historic houses and traditions preserved.
A major player in the Gold Rush, Deadwood showcases its history via a collection of museums and regular shootout reenactments. Those wanting to see the routes taken by fur traders can venture into the Black Hills National Forest.
Fun fact: One famous former resident of the town? Martha Jane Cannary Burke, the iconic American frontierswoman better known by her nickname, “Calamity Jane.”
27. Augusta, Kentucky
Why it’s a great small town: Overlooking the Ohio River, Augusta was named the "Most Picturesque City" in the state. There are restaurants, art galleries and shops found along the water as well as parks and recreational areas. It's considered one of Kentucky's most cultural towns.
Fun fact: George Clooney's aunt and popular singer Rosemary Clooney lived in the area, and you can visit her former house.
26. St. Michaels, Maryland
Why it’s a great small town: This coastal town offers exciting water sports and delicious seafood dishes. Visitors spend their days water skiing, kayaking and sailing, and then treat themselves to the fresh catch of the day.
Fun fact: Several historic Victorian homes have been turned into quaint B&Bs.
25. Saugatuck, Michigan
Why it’s a great small town: Every summer, people from all over come to Saugatuck to enjoy Oval Beach. Once you’ve had your time in the sand, try local wines at Fenn Valley Tasting Room.
Fun fact: Saugatuck was an art colony during the 19th century.
24. Harrisville, New Hampshire
Why it’s a great small town: New Hampshire's rural towns with white-steepled churches, general stores filled with maple syrup and farmers' markets selling the produce of the seasons are a dime a dozen. Still, Harrisville is one of the best-preserved and rests on 10 different lakes and ponds.
Visitors today can enjoy those water views while purchasing some penny candy at the store.
Fun fact: Harrisville is the only New England 19th-century industrial community that remains in its original form.
23. Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Why it's a great small town: With a population of fewer than 1,000 people, Ocracoke is the place to go when you want a quiet summer vacation. The town has several historic landmarks, including a postcard-ready lighthouse, a history museum and a British cemetery, as well as a nice assortment of restaurants and shops.
But the best thing to do here is to disconnect, spending your hours walking on the shore and finishing all those books that have been piling up on your bed stand.
Fun fact: One of the most popular ways to cruise around this sleepy town, where the speed limit never exceeds 25 mph, is via golf cart.
22. Mendocino, California
Why it’s a great small town: Mendocino has humble beginnings as a logging community, but is now thriving as a rustic-chic small town.
Close to two state parks and situated along the California coast, Mendocino’s natural beauty is second to none. The town center, meanwhile, is brimming with Victorian homes, high-end restaurants, luxury lodging and art galleries. November through April, visitors bring their binoculars to look for humpback whales as they migrate south.
Fun fact: The vast majority of the town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
21. Talkeetna, Alaska
Why it’s a great small town: With its location at the base of Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park, the residents of Talkeetna get to gaze upon the United States' tallest mountain. The little village is listed as a National Historic Site, filled with color to liven up the scenery when long winters cover the town in snow.
Fun fact: Nagley's General Store dates back to the early 1900s.
20. Magnolia Springs, Alabama
Why it’s a great small town: Before paved roads connected Magnolia Springs to the rest of Alabama, the river was the only way to get in and out of this tiny, gorgeous community. As its name suggests, the town is lined with majestic magnolia trees and is surrounded by natural springs. There may not be much in terms of events and nightlife, but the tranquil, friendly town doesn’t need such frills to impress.
Fun fact: Although roads now exist, Magnolia Springs is the only town in the U.S. that has year-round full mail service by boat.
19. New Harmony, Indiana
Why it’s a great small town: New Harmony is a real-life attempt to create a utopia. Well, technically, Harmony was the first, but they sold the town and relocated it as New Harmony. While it isn't a utopia per se, it is a colorful and quaint town found in the southern part of the state, not far from Evansville.
Fun fact: The town was named for the Harmony Society, which had separated from the Duchy of Wurttemberg (part of the Holy Roman Empire) and came to the U.S.
18. Wallace, Idaho
Why it’s a great small town: This 19th-century former mining town may be tiny but packs a punch. Besides historic buildings, the town is surrounded by nature, which you are encouraged to explore at the Route of the Hiawatha and the Pulaski Tunnel Trail.
Fun fact: The entire town of Wallace is on the National Historic Register.
17. Silverton, Colorado
Why it’s a great small town: When prospectors headed west in search of precious minerals in the mountains, Silverton was established in 1874. As its name implies, silver was plentiful in the San Juan Mountains, where the small town is found.
Although the mining camps are long gone and the last mines closed in the 1990s, 630 people remain in the town filled with its original architecture combination of saloons and churches.
Fun fact: Silverton is 9,318 feet above sea level.
16. Berkley Springs, West Virginia
Why it’s a great small town: Considered the first American spa, Berkley Springs has attracted people with its mineral springs since before the arrival of the Europeans, with Native Americans originally taking advantage of the area’s restorative benefits. Its numerous full-service spas are its main draw, but it also has art galleries, rustic accommodations, high-end dining and shopping. A late-19th century castle towers over the town, adding magic to this already unique place.
Fun fact: George Washington once brought his ill brother to Berkley Springs in the hopes that the mineral springs and fresh air would help cure him.
15. Helen, Georgia
Why it’s a great small town: Within the mountains of North Georgia, one town found it was shrinking as the lumber industry dwindled. Aiming to inject new life, the town reinvented itself as Little Bavaria and transformed its downtown into a German-themed town at the base of the Appalachians. It worked! People come from near and far to visit, especially during its annual Octoberfest celebrations.
Fun fact: Helen is the third most-visited town in the state.
14. Bell Buckle, Tennessee
Why it’s a great small town: Found between Nashville and Chattanooga, visit Bell Buckle, the home of RC Cola and Moon Pies. Every summer, the town celebrates both with an RC-Moon Pie Festival in June. But the town isn't just home to old-fashioned sweets; there are antique stores and Victorian homes aplenty lining the streets.
Fun fact: The Moon Pie, made with marshmallow, graham crackers and chocolate, was first made in 1917.
13. Medicine Park, Oklahoma
Why it’s a great small town: If you believe in the benefits of forest bathing, you’ll find Medicine Park’s name quite appropriate. Visit the Wichita Mountains and their wildlife refuge for incredible and expansive natural landscapes.
Fun fact: The town’s name comes from the healing properties the Kiowa and Comanche tribes ascribed to its creek.
12. Jasper, Arkansas
Why it’s a great small town: Set within the gorgeous Ozark Mountains, Jasper is famous for its fall foliage and outdoor activities. When you’re not hiking or camping, you can shop for antiques in the town’s quaint downtown area.
Fun fact: The town has an annual festival to honor its elk.
11. Ellicottville, New York
Why it’s a great small town: Its population may not even reach 500, but this is exactly what makes Ellicottville perfect for overstressed New Yorkers. Don’t expect days full of doing nothing, though, as the two state forests and mountains that surround this town invite outdoor adventure. You can visit Allegheny National Forest to catch vibrant fall colors, take up skiing in the winter, hike numerous paths in the spring, and play at the summer adventure park when the weather is hot.
Fun fact: To protect its uniqueness, the town has banned national franchises from opening branches within its limits.
10. Grand Rivers, Kentucky
Why it’s a great small town: Defined by the two rivers that surround it, Grand Rivers is all about water sports. Freshwater fishing, in particular, has a golden spot in all local hearts.
Fun fact: The town’s nickname is “The Village Between the Lakes” because it stands between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.
9. Trinidad, California
Why it’s a great small town: In Trinidad, you don’t have to choose between the forest and the sea, as the town is nestled within a junction of several natural features. Come here to enjoy nature without the usual California crowds.
Fun fact: The Trinidad coast is a California Coastal National Monument Gateway.
8. Keystone, South Dakota
Why it’s a great small town: For those descending upon South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore, take the extra trip to visit the nearby town of Keystone. Here, the former mining town has transformed into a tourist destination, with places to stay, eat and shop.
Fun fact: Keystone is less than 3 square miles in size.
7. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Why it’s a great small town: Where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers converge, you'll find Harpers Ferry. The town's location is also smack dab in middle of the Appalachian Mountains, with the trail running right through town. To capitalize on the hikers passing through, the National Park Service offers exhibits on the town's history and the Civil War events that took place in the hills.
Fun fact: "Harper Valley P.T.A." is a country song recorded in 1968 that topped the charts.
6. Rocheport, Missouri
Why it’s a great small town: Most people head to this tiny Missouri town to enjoy some hiking along the Katy Trail. Here, you’ll find some of the best natural landscapes that the state has to offer. Visitors also enjoy touring the town’s winery, shopping for hand-made goods and walking through historic homes.
Don’t expect adrenaline rushes and all-nighters. Here, it’s all about staying at a rustic bed and breakfast, forgetting to check the time and taking it slow.
Fun fact: “Rocheport” is French for “rocky port.”
5. Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Why it’s a great small town: Formerly a seaside destination for wealthy city dwellers, Watch Hill regained its popularity when Taylor Swift made a home purchase and put the secret vacation destination back on the map.
The peninsula town offers miles of beaches and oceanfront hotels, art galleries, restaurants, antique shops and boutiques, all just across the border from Connecticut.
Fun fact: The Watch Hill Inn is the only Five-Diamond hotel in Rhode Island and has hosted celebrities.
4. Medora, North Dakota
Why it’s a great small town: For those who head to the Badlands of North Dakota, the tiny town of Medora wants to welcome you. Every summer, when travelers are heading to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora puts on its musical about the former president. You'll catch the performance from June through September and learn why the town is the state's top vacation destination.
Fun fact: Medora is named for its founder, a Frenchman named Marquis de Mores.
3. Stockholm, Wisconsin
Why it’s a great small town: Stockholm was named so for a reason — the town has a deep Sweedish heritage that it still takes pride in. From its food to its architecture, this beautiful tiny town displays its roots with gusto.
Fun fact: Stockholm Pie and General Store’s pies are almost a local treasure.
2. Mooresville, Alabama
Why it’s a great small town: You’ve probably been to parties that have more people than Mooresville, which is exactly why this Alabama town is great. Here, a couple of hours are more than enough to start feeling like family.
Fun fact: Mooresville is considered an intact village and was the first Alabama town to be incorporated.
1. Monowi, Nebraska
Why it’s a great small town: As the smallest incorporated municipality in the entire United States, there is nowhere in the country quite like Monowi. This minuscule Nebraska town was slowly abandoned by all but two of its residents: Elsie and Rudy Eiler. When Rudy passed away in 2004, Elsie became Monowi’s sole resident, mayor, librarian and bartender. People love to stop by the Monowi Tavern to chat with Elsie (pictured here) and learn about the town’s history.
Fun fact: Elsie files and pays taxes to herself, and also grants her own license for the bar.