Greatest Small Towns for Partying in the U.S.
The U.S. likes to party. Scratch that — loves to party. You can find that party vibe all across the nation, from the clubs of New York to the streets of New Orleans, the beaches of Miami and the rooftops of Los Angeles. But beyond the major metropolitan areas in the United States, the small towns like to have their fair share of fun, too.
In fact, it’s often the smaller towns that throw the biggest parties. From apres-ski to boardwalk bashes, the small towns in America love to get in on the action. And because these towns are so small, the party spots never seem to change or go out of style.
So, whether you’re hitting the streets of Telluride, Colorado, or the sandy shores of Clearwater Beach, Florida, rest assured that when it comes to partying, size does not matter. We’ve rounded up a list of the best small towns for partying in the U.S. and ranked them from fun to absolutely epic. How many have you visited?
Why Destin Is Great for a Party
When the sun goes down in Destin, the volume goes way up. Night owls flock to the harbor to hear local bands and DJs while sipping cocktails and dancing up a storm.
You won't want to miss AJ's or the Red Door Saloon, both of which have gorgeous views of the harbor and the marina. Another option is to head to Fort Walton Beach, which has even more bars and entertainment, like shuffleboard at The Salty Duck or live music at The Green Door Music Hall.
Why Ocean Springs Is Great for a Party
Ocean Springs is a vibrant, energetic and (most importantly) affordable beach town on the Gulf of Mexico. The town offers more than 200 storefronts, including restaurants and nightlife that keep the energy going well after the sun goes down.
Live music fills the air most nights of the week, and visitors love popping in and out of the various bars and restaurants to have a listen. Other activities include art shows, karaoke and festivals all throughout the warm months.
Why Breckenridge Is Great for a Party
No matter the season, Breckenridge nightlife is legendary. Whether it's apres-ski or drinking rose al fresco after a long hike, the residents and visitors of Breckenridge love to get after it when the sun goes down.
Discover live music, pool bars, craft cocktails, a brewery and even a bar that has been in existence for nearly 150 years. You'll also find bars for dancing and others where you can huddle around a fire pit and warm up under the stars.
22. Stillwater, Minnesota
Where to stay: Hotel Crosby
Why Stillwater Is Great for a Party
Perched on the banks of the St. Croix River, Stillwater is one of the most picturesque small towns in Minnesota. But just because it looks charming does not mean it doesn't pack a punch in the evening hours.
Nightlife in Stillwater is electric, from swanky speakeasies to cozy Irish pubs. You'll even find a tiki bar here. If day parties are more your speed, head to the waterfront in the summer where loads of bars and restaurants offer outdoor seating with views.
21. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Where to stay: Kiva Dunes
Why Gulf Shores Is Great for a Party
Did you know Alabama has beaches? Not only does it have beaches — it has 32 miles of Gulf of Mexico beaches. That means powdery sand and turquoise-colored water, similar to the waters of Western Florida but for a much lower price tag.
With beautiful beaches come fantastic restaurants, bars and nightlife. In the warm months, live music spills into the streets, from karaoke to jazz. The Wharf on Portage Creek has all kinds of entertainment as well. If you want to hear DJs or hit the dance floor, The Club at Live Bait has what you're looking for.
Why Provincetown Is Great for a Party
Affectionately dubbed "P-town" by locals and visitors, this vibrant seaside city on the tip of Cape Cod has become the LGBTQ+ capital of New England. While it's welcoming to anyone and everyone, you'll find a high density of gay and lesbian bars and rainbow flags fluttering from every porch. It's a magical, welcoming, beautiful place to be!
It may be a small town, but it packs a punch for partying. It has shows, bars, clubs and fabulous restaurants. Start at the famous Tea Party at 4 p.m. every day, and then head over to one of the town's many drag shows. The night only gets wilder from there.
Why Clearwater Beach Is Great for a Party
Clearwater Beach is great for a party because, quite literally, the party never stops here. The skinny barrier island in the Gulf Coast, near Tampa Bay, is known for its seemingly endless stretch of bars and restaurants.
Whether beachfront or not, there is never a quiet night at the watering holes of Clearwater Beach. And if you're a wrestling fan, even better! Hulk Hogan is the unofficial mayor of Clearwater Beach, and you'll find many shops and restaurants that celebrate the WWE superhero.
Why Bardstown Is Great for a Party
It can't help but be a party if bourbon is involved. And what better place to add a little bourbon than its birthplace? Bardstown, one of the most beautiful small towns in America, also happens to be the bourbon capital of the world. They take their spirits seriously around here.
The first bourbon barrel came about in the 18th century, and Bardstown has been mastering it ever since. You'll find 11 local and regional distilleries here, from Four Roses and Jim Beam to Maker's Mark, Willett and more.
Why Telluride Is Great for a Party
Don't let its tiny population size fool you — Telluride knows how to party. Being one of the top outdoor adventure destinations in the world (skiing in winter, hiking in summer), residents and visitors know how to work hard but play harder.
The miniature-sized downtown makes it easy to bar-and-restaurant hop from the top of Colorado Avenue all the way down. And with dramatic peaks every which way you turn, it's probably one of the prettiest cities in America to party.
Why Put-in-Bay Is Great for a Party
Lake Erie is known for its smattering of islands, but perhaps its most popular is South Bass Island, thanks to its party-hardy village of Put-in-Bay.
Known for its wide selection of hotels as well as its top-notch restaurants and, most importantly, energetic bars and clubs, Put-in-Bay is one of the very best places to party in the Midwest, if not the entire country.
Why Jackson Hole Is Great for a Party
Like many of America's fantastic adventure cities, Jackson Hole does not disappoint when it comes to nightlife. During the day, locals and residents are often found up in the mountains, deep in the national parks or careening down its rivers.
But at night, you'll find them all getting into the action, whether it's with an elegant cocktail, live music or dancing until the wee hours.
Why Helen Is Great for a Party
Did you know there is a slice of Bavaria up in the mountains of Georgia? The town is called Helen, and it was modeled after the alpine villages of Germany. But more than visually pleasing, Helen is also a place to go if you're looking to party.
Downtown Helen's Main Street is lined with popular spots for eating and drinking. In particular, Bigg Daddys and Cowboys & Angels are among the most popular spots to get in on the action.
Why Lake Tahoe Is Great for a Party
Massive mountains and a crystal-clear lake are what make Lake Tahoe famous. But when the sun goes down, the streets of this world-renowned outdoor paradise heat up.
South Lake Tahoe is where most of the party places are, particularly South Lake. Near the border of Nevada, the town is packed with bars, nightclubs and restaurants. The Nevada side of town (called Stateline) sells alcohol 24 hours a day.
Why Asbury Park Is Great for a Party
The Jersey Shore has its fair share of party destinations, but Asbury Park is one of the best — it’s the hometown of Bruce Springsteen, after all. The town fell on hard times for decades but has gone through a renaissance in recent years to revamp the boardwalk and bring in a slew of bars and restaurants.
It’s a big LGBTQ+ destination, too, with plenty of hotels and nightclubs. But everyone is welcome to this heavenly slice of party-hardy shoreline.
Why St. Augustine Is Great for a Party
One of Florida's most historic towns is also one of its liveliest. St. Augustine is so much more than an old Spanish fort city. It's vibrant, energetic and perched right on a beautiful stretch of beach.
The party options here are endless, whether you're taking a nighttime ghost tour, kicking back at a wine bar or bar hopping between the many live music venues in town.
Why Rehoboth Beach Is Great for a Party
Where's the party on the coast of Delaware? It's at Rehoboth Beach, of course. The preeminent beach party town in Delaware, Rehoboth pulls in young and old for its long list of bars and restaurants.
From live music and beachfront clubs to DJ performances, state fairs, NASCAR races and more, Rehoboth Beach is one of the biggest beach party destinations for one of the smallest states in America.
Why Moab Is Great for a Party
Utah may not be known as the nation's party destination, but Moab is one town that makes the exception. From microbreweries and sports bars to live western shows, Moab is definitely a destination for the young and energetic.
It's surrounded by desert and red rock, too, which makes for a pretty neat backdrop.
Why Ocean City Is Great for a Party
Another one of the Atlantic Coast's great boardwalk beach towns, Ocean City's nightlife is a 24-hour extravaganza. Stroll the iconic wooden boardwalk to dip in and out of the raucous dive bars.
Undoubtedly, you'll end up at Seacrets, which is a waterfront nightclub with dance floors, tiki-style cocktails and Caribbean cuisine.
Why Steamboat Springs Is Great for a Party
When nighttime falls in Steamboat Springs, visitors and residents all make moves toward the many pubs, bars and restaurants that fill the main drag. The bar scene in this small Colorado mountain town is particularly lively, especially in the winter.
The Tap House is perfect for a sports game, while live music can be heard at Tugboat Grill & Pub. Levelz Nightclub is where you're going to go for a game of pool, beer and live entertainment.
Why Mystic Is Great for a Party
This small seaside Connecticut town is steeped in nautical history. It's also renowned for its restaurants and nightlife. Between live music, beer, dancing and delicious seafood, Mystic has everything.
Suck back succulent oysters at the Oyster Club before heading to the Engine Room for one of its many beers on tap. End the night at Chapter One with dancing to DJ beats.
Why Sonoma Is Great for a Party
Sonoma is one of the big names in California wine country. Where there's good wine, there is destined to be great food and nightlife, and the town of Sonoma does not disappoint.
From wineries to breweries, taverns to food trucks and fine dining, Sonoma is so much more than the wine culture that put it on the map.
Why Ojai Is Great for a Party
Ojai is a wellness capital in California, but that doesn't mean it's against partying. This bohemian and eclectic community in Southern California has a lot to offer in terms of restaurants and bars.
Small-town dive bars are big here, like the Deer Lodge, which has been open since 1932. The Ojai Beverage Company has delicious craft beers on tap as well as a decadent beer-tasting experience. And for live music, don't miss out on The Village Jester.
Why Taos Is Great for a Party
Taos may be a small town in New Mexico, but it packs a punch for nightlife. This top ski destination in the Sangre de Cristo mountains is known for its artistic community, live entertainment, bars and restaurants.
You can hear live music at KTAOS Solar Restaurant and Bar as well as at The Adobe Bar. Another top spot to hit would be Anaconda Bar at the El Monte Sagrado hotel.
2. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Where to stay: Edelweiss Inn
Why Eureka Springs Is Great for a Party
Eureka Springs was once known as the "Magic City" because it was believed to be sacred ground among local Native Americans. Its magic continues in the form of beautiful hot springs and antique shops.
Unique parades and events attract tourists from all over on any given weekend who are looking to explore this picturesque village and the eclectic restaurants and bars such as Missy's White Rabbit Lounge for some live music.
Why Sun Valley Is Great for a Party
Sun Valley has been a major tourist destination for more than seven decades. It is one of the top ski resorts in the country and, as we've seen from this list, ski destinations know how to party.
Dive bars, live music, refined glasses of wine, strong whiskey, arcade games and more can be found on the streets of Sun Valley any time of year. Spots to hit are certainly The Pioneer Saloon, Grumpy's, Whiskey Jacques and the Duncan Lounge at the Sun Valley Lodge.