The Best Small Town in Every State

two rowboats, a kayak, and two canoes on a short pier with a mountain in the distance

Wendy Altschuler 

The heart of many states exists in the small towns, where you’ll find industrious locals, unique experiences, and a slower pace that makes breathing a little easier. Yes, it’s true. Conversation—and sometimes the service—is dawdling and the boutiques and businesses are repeatedly strung along a Main Street, U.S.A., picture-perfect for exploring on foot. Often the doorway to nature and outdoor adventures, these villages are ideal for the great American road trip or for delving deeper into a weekend getaway with friends or family. Even the most scholarly wordsmiths will find it difficult not to rhapsodize any of the following small towns—one in every state—as "quaint" or “charming.”

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Fairhope, Alabama

Downtown Fairhope

Courtesy of Alabama Tourism Department

Fairhope, AL 36532, USA

Located on Alabama’s Golf Coast, Fairhope has beautiful views of Mobile Bay. With a population of 22,600 people, this town is a great respite from the hustle and bustle of city living. Shop, dine on seafood, and watch the sunset at Fairhope Pier. You may want to time your visit to one of the annual festivals or events like the Fairhope Arts and Crafts Festival, Outdoor Art Show, or the Fairhope Film Festival. Make sure you take a gander of the Fairhope French Quarter where you can relax and listen to great music.

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Talkeetna, Alaska

red wooden general store with a man sitting on a bench photographed from across the street
John Elk / Getty Images
Talkeetna, AK 99676, USA

Whether you’re on an ambitious train trip with the Alaska Railroad or en route to visit Denali National Park, Talkeetna is well worth a stopover. Wander through Village Park and Main Street, with a specialty fireweed ice cream cone in hand, and pop in the local art studios, The Talkeetna Historical Society, and a few of the Alaskan shopping boutiques. Mosey over to the Talkeetna River to toss a few stones and, before you leave, sip a brew from Denali Brewing Company.

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Sedona, Arizona

large red rock mountains at dusk with the city of Sedona at the base
Sean Pavone / Getty Images
Sedona, AZ 86336, USA

This desert town is one of the most beautiful destinations in America. With red rock buttes, craggy canyons, and copious amounts of hiking trails, you’ll find much to photograph here. Jeep, helicopter, and hot-air balloon tours are also popular in this area. Visit Red Rock State Park, peruse the handmade art and jewelry at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, and opt for a spa treatment at any one of the renowned wellness centers. Sedona, with a population of 10,300 people, is ideal for those who want to relax or be active in the outdoors.

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Hot Springs, Arkansas

woman walking on a wide sidewalk next to a row of white buildings in Hot Springs Ar.
ablokhin / Getty Images
Hot Springs, AR, USA

Hot Springs is one of the most unique small towns in America, with a population of 37,100. The historic Best Court Motel is one of the last remaining 1930’s-era motor courts, designed around automobile travel. Be sure to visit Hot Springs National Park, and soak in a thermal pool at Bathhouse Row. Hot Springs Mountain Tower is where you’ll get an overview of the National Park and the 47 mineral hot springs. For bikers, the Northwoods system includes single-track, multi-track, and flow trails for beginners and pros. Hikers will love the Sunset Trail, 7.1 miles-long and near the national park. Other fun activities include visits to Antique Row, The Gangster Museum of America, and the Fine Arts District.

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Cayucos, California

Cayucos Pier silhouetted by the sunset
jlgothard / Getty Images
Cayucos, CA 93430, USA

Situated along the Highway 1 Discovery Route on California’s Central Coast, sits a surfer’s town with lots to explore. With a population of 2,590 residents, this little beach-side town is peaceful and laid back. Watch the sunset on Cayucos Pier, visit Cayucos State Beach, nosh on delights from Brown Butter Cookie Company, and rent surfboards from Good Clean Fun. And, when you’re ready to sample diverse wines from the Central Coast, visit DAOU Family Estates in nearby Paso Robles.

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Snowmass, Colorado

two ski lifts on a green mountain in summer
krblokhin / Getty Images
Snowmass, CO 81654, USA

Whether you visit in the warmer months or when the snow is falling, there’s much to explore in Snowmass, Colorado. From hiking to mountain biking to hot-air ballooning in the summer to world-class skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, everyone will find something of interest to do here. Maroon Bells is a popular hike, even among the town's 2,770 residents, and you can start the adventure at the Maroon Bells Visitors Center. Stay at the Limelight Hotel Snowmass, where you’ll have easy access to seasonal adventures and any equipment and gear you may need.

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Mystic, Connecticut

houses and boats reflected on still water in Mystic, Conn.
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
Mystic, Stonington, CT, USA

Three historic districts make up the small town of Mystic: Mystic Bridge Historic District, Rossie Velvet Mill Historic District, and Mystic River Historic District. The history, while rich, isn’t the only reason people visit this town with a population of 4,240 people. Families love the Mystic Aquarium; history aficionados like the Mystic Seaport Museum, the largest maritime museum in America; and Julia Roberts fans love eating at Mystic Pizza, the inspiration for the movie of the same name. While in Mystic, you’ll also want to explore the downtown and experience a bit of the nightlife.

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New Castle, Delaware

Brick sidewalks with colorful foliage in the historic district of New Castle.
gsheldon / Getty Images
New Castle, DE 19720, USA

New Castle, with a population of 5,520 people, is home to First State National Historic Park and you’ll see plenty of brick buildings flanking cobblestone streets in this colonial town. Explore the Delaware History Trail, stroll the Farmers Market, and visit the New Castle Historical Society’s three buildings: The Amstel House, The Dutch House, and The Old Library Museum. Delaware is the second smallest state, after Rhode Island, yet there is much to explore.

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Seaside, Florida

high angle photo of a town square packed with people and fringed by palm trees. There is an ocean in the background that is reflecting the sun

 Courtesy of Seaside

Seaside, FL 32459, USA

Nearly every cottage in Seaside has a short white picket fence in the front yard, however no two fences are an exact side-by-side match. This small town, with a population of 11,500 people, is located on the shores of Florida’s panhandle. Best known as the filming location of "The Truman Show," starring Jim Carrey, Seaside is so picturesque, you’ll swear it’s not real and that set lighting will fall from the sky at some point. Part of South Walton, Seaside is peaceful, with a relaxed town center, and an uncrowded sugar-sand beach. Visit the Seaside Chapel, eat at Bud and Alley’s or the Great Southern Café, and make plenty of time for splashing in the water and soaking up vitamin sea.

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Dahlonega, Georgia

rows of grapevines on a hill with a large house in the background
Copyright © Steve Grundy (stgrundy) / Getty Images
Dahlonega, GA 30533, USA

The first major gold rush is said to have happened in Dahlonega, Georgia, a town with 7,000 residents, located one hour north of Atlanta in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The downtown is listed on the historic register and the wine here is definitely worth sampling. Visit the Holly Theater for live entertainment, get a history lesson at Dahlonega Gold Museum, and take a stroll outside through Madeleine K. Anthony Park. North Georgia is also home to over 120 waterfalls, including Cane Creek Falls, Amicalola Falls, and Anna Ruby Falls.

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Paia, Hawaii

Paia Town

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

Paia, HI 96779, USA

On Maui’s north shore sits one of the quirkiest small towns in the Hawaiian islands. Paia, with 2,550 residents, is known as the gateway to the Road to Hana. The town is a popular windsurfing destination with relatively affordable dining and shopping compared to touristy Kaanapali and Wailea. You’ll want to bring along a pair of field glasses to spot the big wave surfers at Jaws Beach. Walk along Baldwin Beach Park and tour Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center

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Ketchum, Idaho

old-west style buildings on an empty street in ketchum, idaho

Stephen Saks / Getty Images 

Ketchum, ID, USA

In the Rocky Mountains of central Idaho sits Ketchum, a historic mining town with a population of 2,760 residents. Outdoor adventures abound in town, including hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. The downtown is full of art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Visit during Wagon Days to see the largest non-motorized parade in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps the best reason to visit Ketchum, however, is to see the stars. The International Dark-Sky Association designated Ketchum a Dark Sky Community.

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Galena, Illinois

a small town main street with brick buildings, street lamps, and small american flags. The street is crowded with cars

Peter Ptschelinzew / Getty Images

Galena, IL 61036, USA

Galena is ideal for a couple’s vacation or a girl’s getaway trip. Numerous wineries, distilleries, and breweries call this midwestern town home, including Galena Brewing Company, Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery, and Blaum Bros Distilling Company. Visit Carl Johnson’s art gallery, learn about pottery at Artists’ Annex, and view regional art at Galena Center for the Arts. Finally, tour Ulysses S. Grant’s home (the 18th President) and stop in the Galena History Museum.

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Huntingburg, Indiana

Huntingburg, Indiana

Courtesy of Huntingburg

Huntingburg, IN 47542, USA

Located in southwestern Indiana, Huntingburg is home for 6,500 people. The town’s charm exists in its town square, with shops and dining flanking the cobblestone Main Street, and it’s easy to see why the League Stadium was the set location of the movie "A League of Their Own," starring Tom Hanks, Gina Davis, and Madonna. This town is as Americana as it gets.

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Quad Cities, Iowa

Davenport skyline at dusk along the banks of the Mississippi River
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
1601 River Dr #110, Moline, IL 61265, USA
Phone +1 800-747-7800

Situated at the confluence of the Rock and Mississippi Rivers, the Quad Cities include Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline in Illinois. Spend time at the Figge Art Museum, a modern glass building that houses artworks from around the world. The Putnam, a history, anthropology, natural sciences, and regional archival museum, is also popular and well worth a visit. Travel the Ale Trail; go biking, hiking, or kayaking in the outdoors; and dine on Midwestern fare.

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Emporia, Kansas

Emporia, KS 66801, USA

Disc golf, or frisbee golf, is a popular activity in the small town of Emporia, Kansas. In fact, the largest disc golf tournament in the world, Glass Blown Open, is held here annually. To learn how to play, or to find a field to practice, visit Dynamic Discs, Emporia Country Club Disc Golf Course, or Peter Pan Park. Beyond that, you can visit the Johnston Geology Museum, Lyon County History Center, Schmidt Museum of Natural History, and William Allen White House State Historic Site (Red Rocks).

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Red River Gorge, Kentucky

five tall tree trunks and smaller trees in autumn at red river gorge
Kirkikis / Getty Images
Red River Gorge, Kentucky 40387, USA

Kentucky’s Red River Gorge area is one of the most beautiful destinations in the state. Backpack or day hike in the Daniel Boone National Forest, kayak underground in the gorge, mountain climb, or go zip lining. Explore the sandstone Natural Bridge, rest under Gray’s Arch, and wander to the edge of several overlooks. The Red River shaped the gorge, much like the Colorado River carved out parts of the Grand Canyon. The surrounding towns of Slade, Pine Ridge, and Stanton are ideal for fueling up or purchasing supplies

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Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Breaux Bridge, LA 70517, USA

If you love crawfish, then you’ll definitely want to add Breaux Bridge, the Crawfish Capital of the World, to your must-visit list. Time your visit for the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, and see the small downtown come alive with tens of thousands of visitors. The roots of this town date back to 1771 with Acadian pioneer, and bridge builder, Firmin Breaux and you can talk a self-guided walking tour to see the old bridges, buildings, and houses. Patin’s Pharmacy, for example, was built in 1917 and the Fourgeaud House was built in 1905 and is listed on the National Historic Register.

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Kennebunkport, Maine

small white lighthouse in a lush green field in maine
Sura Ark / Getty Images
Kennebunkport, ME 04046, USA

While any time is a good time to visit Kennebunkport, fall is especially spectacular due to dips in temperature, changing leaf colors, and fewer tourists. Ride on a charter lobster boat or sailboat, kayak on the Kennebunk River, and explore the Eastern Trail on two wheels or by foot. Families will love apple picking and visits to the pumpkin patches, where hayrides and hot cider are available. Shopping and dining in Dock Square and Lower Village is also quite the treat.

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Berlin, Maryland

Exterior of shops in Berlin, Maryland

Phillip N Young / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Flickr

Berlin, MD 21811, USA

Explore 21 acres of the Stephen Decatur Park, where you can picnic, relax at the nature pond, and stroll down the trail. History buffs will love seeing the nearly 50 preserved structures, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, from the Federal, Victorian, and 20th Century periods. Visit the town center and shop in the brick buildings, featuring magnolia trees along the storefronts. Go on a ghost tour in Berlin to learn about spooky sightings in the area and visit one of the local beaches for some relaxation and family-friendly fun.

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Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

boats in a harbor with large greek revival-style houses in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA

Summer and fall are great seasons to visit this vacationer’s paradise, although the island is operational year-round. Martha’s Vineyard is perfect for beachgoers, hikers, horseback riders, and town explorers interested in art, jewelry, and plenty of dining options. Visiting the five lighthouses in Aquinnah, Cape Poge, East Chop, Edgartown, and West Chop is also a great way to experience the island. There are zero bridges or tunnels connecting Massachusetts to the Martha's Vineyard, so you’ll have to take a ferry, with or without your car, to reach the destination. There is also an airport that services Delta and American Airlines.

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Mackinac Island, Michigan

Downtown Mackinac Island street with a bunch of people riding bikes
Michael Deemer / Getty Images
Mackinac Island, MI 49757, USA

Michigan’s Mackinac Island is a wonderous place where cars aren’t allowed. To get from point A to point B, you’ll have to ride a horse carriage, bicycle, or use your feet. Explore the many fudge shops in the downtown, ride your bike entirely around the outer path to circle the island, and stay up late to see the stars. There are several places to stay, including small cottages and large resorts. Mission Point Resort and the Grand Hotel are popular choices for their full amenities and access to everything you’ll want to explore on the island. Make sure you visit the American Fur Company Store and Dr. Beaumont Museum, Benjamin Blacksmith Shop, Biddle House, and Fort Mackinac.

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Ely, Minnesota

Main Street with cars in Ely, Minnesota
John Elk III / Getty Images
Ely, MN 55731, USA

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the largest wilderness preserve east of the Rocky Mountains, allure visitors to Ely, Minnesota each year to hike, fish, camp, and hunt. The downtown area is worth seeing as well, including Front Porch Coffee and Tea Company, Ely Steak House, Gator’s Grilled Cheese Emporium, and Boathouse Brew Pub and Restaurant. If time allows, visit the Bois Forte Heritage Center and Cultural Museum, Dorothy Molter Museum, or Ely Arts and Heritage Center.

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Tupelo, Mississippi

red brick city hall in front of an empty field on a clear day
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
Tupelo, MS, USA

Elvis fans will want to put Tupelo, Mississippi—the birthplace of The King—on their must-visit list. For maximum fun, visit during the Tupelo Elvis Festival and walk around downtown to find all 25 of the Elvis-themed guitars on the Elvis Guitar Trail. Take photos of the Elvis Presley Homecoming Statue. Explore the Tupelo Hardware Store where Elvis' mother, Gladys, bought him his first guitar. For insider access to some Tupelo sites, consider joining the Tupelo Elvis Presley Fan Club.

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Ste. Geneviève, Missouri

A cluster of three colorful old buildings on photographed from across an empty street / Getty Images
Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670, USA

History, wine, food, access to nature—Ste. Genevieve, settled in the 1700’s, has it all. The town was first settled in the 1700s Visit the historic district for complimentary walking tours, bring the kids to the Linden House for immersive activities, wander through the Centre for French Colonial Life, and see the Louis Le Clere grave in the Memorial Cemetery from 1796. Listen to live music at Music Art Love, sample different flavors of honey at Harold’s Famous Bee Company, and wander through the many shops in the historic downtown. You may want to visit during one of the many festivals or events like the Jour de Fete Arts & Crafts Festival, French Heritage Festival, or the Chocolate Walk.

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Whitefish, Montana

large field of grass and treees with mountains behind it in Glacier National Park

Wendy Altschuler

Whitefish, MT 59937, USA

Whitefish, in the northern Rocky Mountains, is the gateway to Glacier National Park where travelers set out for adventures in the mountains or on the lakes and rivers. Downtown Whitefish is full of boutique shopping, restaurants, and lodging. Visit the Aerial Adventure Park and Alpine Slide at Whitefish Mountain Resort in the summer and downhill and cross country ski in the winter. The Whitefish Trail is great for bicycling and there are plenty of places to practice yoga or Pilates. Be sure to visit the Marina at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake for dinner with a stunning view.

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Grand Island, Nebraska


Wendy Altschuler  

Grand Island, NE, USA

One of the biggest migrations in the world happens along the Central Flyway in Nebraska’s Central Platte River Valley. Nearly 600,000 sandhill cranes funnel into town to feed on corn from the fields and roost along the Platte River. There’s something so magical about waking up when it's still dark out to hike through a Nebraska field toward a viewing blind, where you’ll silently wait until sunrise. Once the cranes wake up, you’ll hear a cacophony of sound as they take flight and make their way toward dry land. Make sure you visit the Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center and while you’re in town, visit Fred’s Flying Circus, Raising Nebraska, and Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer.

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Virginia City, Nevada

Virginia City Nevada

 Virginia City Tourism Commission

Virginia City, NV 89440, USA

Established in 1859, Nevada’s Virginia City is a blast from the past, the state's mining past to be precise. While there, you can learn about the gold and silver mining history through Chollar Mine Tours and the Comstock Gold Mill. Pan for crystals and shark teeth at Dancin Crystals Mining Company and bring the kids to pan for gold at Virginia City Mining Company. Walk along the historic boardwalk for shopping and dining and catch a Wild West-themed comedy show at Virginia City Outlaws.

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Meredith, New Hampshire

Autumn foliage and houses reflection along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith, New Hampshire
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
Meredith, NH, USA

Lakefront communities are going strong in Meredith, situated among the New Hampshire's biggest lakes: Lake Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Waukewan, Squam, Kanasatka, Wicwas, Pemigewasset, Winoa, and Newfound Lakes. The lakes region has much to offer in the way of kayaking, boating, and playing in the sand. Make your way to Meredith’s Waukewan Town Beach, a public swimming area with views of the surrounding hills. Two-hour train rides are available at Lake Winnipesaukee, which is a perfect way to enjoy a meal with a view during the fall months. Community theatre is also a fun way to experience the local area and The Winnipesaukee Playhouse fits the bill for nighttime entertainment.

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Cape May, New Jersey

rescue boat on a beach that reads "cape may" with Victorian Homes and hotels on the street behind the beach
Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images
Cape May, NJ 08204, USA

Cape May, which has been welcoming guests since the 18th century, is a lovely seaside village with accommodations in every color. From wide beaches to ocean front dining and outdoor shopping at the idyllic Washington Street Mall. Cape May is all about peaceful recreation. Rent a pontoon boat at Pier 47 marina, go on a salt marsh safari, and learn how to deep sea fish. Or bring your own folding Oru Kayak and explore the waterways at your leisure.

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Taos, New Mexico

Taos, New Mexico

TripSavvy / Kathleen Messmer

Taos, NM 87571, USA

Taos is a long-time artist colony and you’ll be hard-pressed to go home without a handmade work of local art, or something that you’ve made yourself in a pottery studio or during an art class. Much smaller than New Mexico’s Albuquerque or Santé Fe, Taos, with a population of 5,670 people, is the perfect alternative for a weekend getaway sans crowds. Visit during one of the fiestas to get a flavor for the culture, go whitewater rafting, practice your balance on a stand-up paddleboard. Be sure to see the San Francisco De Asis Church, the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and the Earthship Biotecture.

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Troy, New York

small cruise boat on the water infront of red brick buildings at dusk
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
Troy, NY, USA

Located on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, Troy, home of Uncle Sam, is a picturesque small town near Schenectady and the capital city of Albany, The downtown is home to many attractions and museums like The Experimental Media and Performance Arts Center, Burden Ironworks Museum, and Darkspace Art Collective. Events include Troy Night Out, Troy Makers Market, Waterfront Farmers Market, Troy River Fest, Rockin’ on the River, and Troy Chowderfest. Be sure to visit the Troy Public Library to see Tiffany stained glass windows.

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Lexington, North Carolina

Lexington, NC, USA

Lexington, North Carolina is known for its fast cars and great BBQ. NASCAR fans will love Richard Childress Racing Museum while history buffs should head to Davidson County Historical Museum, set in the town's old courthouse. Taste pimento cheese at the century-old Conrad and Hinkle Food Market, located in the Main Street district. Antique lovers should visit the Main Street Antique Emporium. Of course, you’ll want to fill your belly with all of the BBQ that you can handle, washed back with some sweet tea. And be sure to make a pit stop for sweets at the Candy Factory.

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Medora, North Dakota

old-fashioned post office and bank with wooden fronts in a north dakota town

 Stephen Saks / Getty Images

Medora, ND 58645, USA

The Badlands of North Dakota set the backdrop for Medora, a town of 112 people. Visitors pass through this town on their way to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. While in town, visit the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, hike on the Painted Canyon Nature Trail, and attend the Medora Musical for nighttime entertainment on a grand scale. Visit Cowboy Lyle’s Candy Barn, play a round at Bully Pulpit Golf Course, and memorialize your time in the Badlands with a visit to Todd’s Old-Time Photos and Gifts.

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Yellow Springs, Ohio

Yellow Springs, OH 45387, USA

The naturally derived Yellow Spring is what has been drawing visitors to the town of Yellow Springs since the 1800s. The town is surrounded by agriculture while downtown is where you’ll find shopping, dining, and art studios and galleries. Get out and explore Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve, Glen Helen Nature Preserve, and John Bryan State Park or rent bicycles and ride the Little Miami Scenic Trail—part of the country’s largest network of paved off-road trails. For some food and drink, drop in Black Barn Creamery, Brandeberry Winery, Caesar Creek Vineyards, or Flying Mouse Farms.

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El Reno, Oklahoma

Historic white wooden buildings with green lawns and a small, cracked sidewalk
John Elk / Getty Images
El Reno, OK, USA

El Reno began as a railroad town and developed as a stop along the historic Route 66. Try a fried onion burger in one of the three downtown diners and learn about the Fried Onion Burger Day Festival where the world’s largest burger is created each year, usually weighing in at 850 pounds. And, yes, you can help eat it when it’s done cooking. El Reno has seen its fair share of destructive tornados over the years, but the town keeps bouncing back, ready to serve up more burgers.  

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Hood River, Oregon

The road through Mt. Hood's Fruit Loop with Mt. Hood mountain looming in the background in Oregon
Melissa Kopka / Getty Images
Hood River, OR 97031, USA

The mountain town of Hood River—one of the largest fruit-producing regions in America—has something for everyone: big outdoor adventures, family-friendly fun, and art and culture. Explore the 35-mile Fruit Loop, where you’ll see cherry, apple, pear, and peach orchards, or better yet, cruise through a few of the you-pick farms via bicycle on a guided wine tasting tour with MountNBarrel. Numerous waterfall-laden hiking trails are available throughout the Columbia River Gorge area and you’ll find that water sports reign supreme: kiteboarding, windsurfing, whitewater rafting, sailing, fishing, and kayaking. Explore the Columbia Center for the Arts and The History Museum of Hood River County. For stylish accommodations in a converted schoolhouse, stay at The Society Hotel Bingen, where you’ll find a lovely cafe, an underground sanctuary, and a new spa.

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Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Civil war-era cannon at the Gettysburg National Military Park
drnadig / Getty Images
Gettysburg, PA 17325, USA

History lovers flock to Gettysburg each year to visit Pennsylvania’s national military park. The Battle of Gettysburg was the most brutal battle of the Civil War and served as inspiration for Abraham Lincoln’s famous “Gettysburg Address.” The town of Gettysburg hosts several annual events like World War II Weekend, Sweet Potato Festival, Gettysburg Festival of Races, Brewfest, Outdoor Antique Show, Civil War Relic Show, and more. Beyond a history lesson, the area has lots of outdoor activities, dynamic restaurants, and family-friendly entertainment. Go horseback riding, get startled on a nighttime ghost tour, shop along Main Street, and make your own pottery at Under the Horizon.

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Bristol, Rhode Island

boats in a small-town dock
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
Bristol, RI 02809, USA

Rhode Island is the smallest state in America, encompassing only 1,214 square miles. It was also the last of the thirteen colonies to become a state and is known for making silverware and fine jewelry. The coastal seaport of Bristol, located in the East Bay region, is where you’ll find miles of coastline; biking on the East Bay Bike Path; hiking trails; and plenty of museums like the Bristol Art Museum, Coggeshall Farm Museum, and Blithewold Mansion.

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Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort, SC, USA

Beaufort is all about shrimp and sea life. Seafood lovers should make sure to visit during the annual Beaufort Annual Shrimp Festival but that's not all the town has to offer. Learn about the area's history at Beaufort History Museum and the Beaufort National Cemetery, with graves from the late 1800s then watch for dolphins on a tour departing from the downtown marina. Enjoy natural and wild beauty on the 13.6-mile Spanish Moss Trail, which connects the towns of Port Royal, Beaufort, Burton, and Grays Hill to the Whale Branch Pier. Bring your family to The Kazoo Factory, where everyone can make their own instrument.

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Deadwood, South Dakota

steer in a field, with three laying down, on a partly cloudy day

Wendy Altschuler

Deadwood, SD 57732, USA

The wild west town of Deadwood, with a population of 1,300 people, has been welcoming gamblers and drinkers since 1876. Gold prospectors found gold in a creek near a gulch full of dead trees (hence the name), which allured the likes of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock. Play a hand of poker at one of the casinos and visit Buffalo Bodega Saloon where Buffalo Bill Cody once drank. Also, in the area is the Black Hills Mining Museum, Broken Boot Gold Mine, and Crazy Horse Memorial.

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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

green observationtower rising out of a small town surrounded by yellow trees
SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images
Gatlinburg, TN 37738, USA

If you’ve always wanted to explore the Smoky Mountains, then plan your trip to Gatlinburg, a gateway town to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Family-friendly adventures include the Rowdy Bear Mountain Adventure Park, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, Hollywood Stars Car Museum, Gatlinburg Skylift Park, Mysterious Mansion of Gatlinburg, and the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum. For incredible views of the area, ride the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway.

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Fredericksburg, Texas

cluster of historical buidlings at dusk with one parked car in front of them
dlewis33 / Getty Images
Fredericksburg, TX 78624, USA

Texas is a big state with heavily populated cities, however, the hill country, Fredericksburg in particular, is home to only 11,400 people. You’ll notice the German heritage along the Main Street right away, with its shops and restaurants. In 1846, German settlers arrived in this town and their imprint still exists today almost 175 years later. Explore over 100 wineries and vineyards, farm-to-table cuisine, and western art throughout the town’s boutiques and shops and be sure to stop in the Pioneer Museum to learn about the town's first residents.

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Greater Zion, Utah

Boy hiking alone in the wilderness through sage brush with a large sandstone rock in the background
Cavan Images / Getty Images
111 E Tabernacle St, St. George, UT 84770, USA
Phone +1 435-634-5747

The Greater Zion area has much more to explore than beautiful Zion National Park. Mountain bike on Gooseberry Mesa’s Big Loop Trail. Hike, bike, or ride in an ATV at Sand Hollow State Park, and go horseback riding at Snow Canyon State Park. Spend the day hiking around the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and check out the canyoneering experiences at Yankee Doodle, Lambs Knoll, or Snow Canyon State Park.

For a unique stay just 15 minutes from Zion National Park, book a Watchman Canvas Tent or a hand-crafted covered wagon at Zion Wildflower Resort. For more modern accommodations, check out The Dwellings, a new vacation rental featuring an open floor concept.

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Stowe, Vermont

white church with a steeple in a field of autumn trees
Tim Graham / Getty Images
Stowe, VT 05672, USA

Stowe, considered “Fall’s Color Capital”, is the destination most leaf peepers flock to when the summer weather fades (though the town is beautiful any time of year). Seeking outdoor adventures in this part of the country is easy—you’ll have access to great scenic drives, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and fishing.

Topnotch Resort is a popular place to rest your head given its location near Stowe Mountain. Opt for a private vacation experience in one of the 17 two- and three-bedroom Resort Homes. The resort can also arrange for quintessential Vermont adventures like carriage rides, hiking, kayaking, and dog-friendly activities. Window shop, visit art galleries, enjoy farm-to-table cuisine, and indulge in some retail therapy.

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Williamsburg, Virginia

A horse drawn carriage along the street in Williamsburg in the Fall.
Greg Meland / Getty Images
Williamsburg, VA, USA

Williamsburg, and the historic triangle that also includes Yorktown and Jamestown, has much to offer history devotees and nature seekers. Start your adventure with a bike ride on The Capital Trail, have breakfast and rent bikes at Spoke & Art Provisions, then visit the Jamestown Settlement where you’ll learn about 17th-century Virginia. Have a late healthy lunch at LOKAL Café in downtown Williamsburg followed by shopping at Merchant’s Square. Treat yourself to a horse carriage ride through the historic area and pop over to Blue Talon Bistro for dinner. For nighttime entertainment, choose between a walking ghost tour of colonial Williamsburg with Colonial Ghosts or a nightcap at Williamsburg Inn’s The Social Terrace. Finally, rest your head at the Kingsmill Resort, where you’ll be surrounded by lovely grounds, have access to a spa and an outdoor swimming pool, and fantastic dining at The James Landing Grille.

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Gig Harbor, Washington

A drone view of boats in Gig Harbor Washington at sunset with Mt Rainier in the far distance
Clinton Ward / Getty Images
Gig Harbor, WA, USA

The maritime town of Gig Harbor, discernable by the Gig Harbor Lighthouse, is all about boating adventures. The best way to experience this lovely town is from the water be it on an electric boat, gondola, rowboat, yacht, or sailboat. For some waterfront dining, head over to the popular Tide’s Tavern. Buy honey and visit the kid’s tent at the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market, and learn about the history of the area at the Harbor History Museum.

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Lewisburg, West Virginia

hanging planter of red flowers in front a field, sign and three-story brick building
sshepard / Getty Images
Lewisburg, WV 24901, USA

Flowers and American flags flank the streets in downtown Lewisburg, West Virginia, a town with 3,910 people. Begin your trip by learning about the local history at the North House Museum and Archives, built in 1820. Tour the house and then go on a walking tour to educate yourself on the Civil War Battle of Lewisburg. Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, Old Stone Cemetery, Lewis Theatre, Bell Tavern, Lewisburg School, and Old Barber Shop are just a few of the historic buildings you’ll find around town.

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Sheboygan, Wisconsin

pink and yellow sunsets on winter day in wisconsin

Wendy Altschuler

Sheboygan, WI, USA

Did you know that you can go surfing on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin? It’s true. Sheboygan is home to year-round surfing adventures and is considered by some to be the “Malibu of the Midwest.” Excellent dining options are available at Harry's Prohibition Bistro and Blind Horse Restaurant while espresso can be found at Paradigm Coffee Shop. Kids love Above & Beyond Children's Museum and GameOn and adults will enjoy a brew tour at 3 Sheeps Brewing Co. Taproom. The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is not to be missed. Make the Blue Harbor Resort your home base, especially if you have kids in tow. There’s a waterpark, arcade, mini-golf, and a spa.

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Cody, Wyoming

small log houses and broken down wooden wagons in an overgrown field
Hans Balsing / 500px / Getty Images
Cody, WY 82414, USA

Don your cowboy hat and visit Cody, a town incorporated in 1901 by Colonel William F. Cody, also known as “Buffalo Bill." While the “Rodeo Capital of the World” is only 50 miles from the east gate of Yellowstone National Park, you’ll find that slowing down and exploring this town is well worth your time. Time your visit for the Cody Nite Rodeo and the Cody Stampede (events that have taken place for more than 100 years) for small-town fun that you simply can’t experience in other cities and parts of America.

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The Best Small Town in Every State