We've toured the biggest cities and seen all the tallest skyscrapers, but where do we go to find all the hidden local gems and tourist treasures scattered across America. From fresh farmer's markets and familiar friendly faces to cherished local traditions and rich culture, the undeniable draw of small town living appeals to the young and old alike, bringing visitors from all over the country to catch a glimpse of the good ol' days. So, if you're looking for a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of the city where you can slow down and enjoy the view, here is a list of the best small towns to visit in every U.S. state.
Gulf Shores, Alabama – Population 10,963
Home to one of the best zoos in the U.S., Gulf Shores is a quaint beach town nestled beside the Gulf of Mexico. This small Alabama beach community has plenty of playful tourist activities like nature cycling, brewery tasting, beach bumming and major munching.
Healy, Alaska – Population 1,021
Known as the site where the popular "Into the Wild" book and movie took place, Healy is a gorgeous remote community where you can explore the mountainous depths of Alaska. Popular tourist attractions in Healy – other than the creepy abandoned bus from "Into the Wild" - include safari excursions, wildlife viewing, hunting & fishing and delicious Alaskan cuisine.
Jerome, Arizona – Population 451
Overlooking the sprawling Verde Valley in the Black Hills of Arizona, Jerome is a small revitalized mining town with oodles of history, folklore and tourist attractions. There's a plethora of wineries, coffeehouses, folk art, museums and even a few spooky mining ghost stories here.
Heber Springs, Arkansas – Population 7,174
Right in the heart of the Natural State, Heber Springs is a lovely water-adjacent town with an active community and natural beauty in every direction. Here you can kayak, swim, fish and hike along Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River or check out one of their fun local community festivals like the lighted boat parade.
Healdsburg, California – Population 11,656
Consistently named one of the top 10 small towns in America, Healdsburg is a spectacular tourist town in Sonoma County known for their critically acclaimed restaurants and sprawling natural views that go on for miles. With a collection of beautiful wineries and a friendly local community, Healdsburg is a great town to go wine tasting and explore the delicious flavors of northern California.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado – Population 12,088
The cosmopolitan town of Steamboat Springs is great for thrill seekers and luxury lovers alike. With fun summer festivals, amazing ski resorts, therapeutic hot springs, a bevy of restaurants and over 80 natural trails, you'll never want to leave this crazy Colorado town!
Essex, Connecticut - Population 6,586
Located in Middlesex County, the sleepy town of Essex is steeped in American history and 19th-century charm. Known as the only American town to be attacked by the British during the War of 1812, you can still see the old running steam train and even stay at one of the oldest inns still in existence: the Griswold Inn.
Milton, Delaware – Population 2,759
Comfortably rested on the banks of the Broadkill River, Milton is a little slice of heaven in Delaware. History buffs will love the 200 town attractions and sites listed on the Federal Historic Register and wildlife explorers will enjoy the bountiful natural beauty and proximity to the beautiful Delaware Bay.
Cedar Key, Florida – Population 698
Known to the locals as "Old Florida", the beachside town of Cedar Key is a welcome escape from the chaos of city life. Here you can enjoy miles of uncrowded beaches, unexplored dirt roads, ancient oak trees and a smattering of coastal restaurants and knick-knack shacks in their tiny downtown.
Senoia, Georgia – Population 3,959
Located just outside bustling Atlanta, the quiet town of Senoia is full of old world charm and historic preservation. Spend the day visiting Senoia's many small antique shops, museums, and cafes or take a selfie at one of the famous filming locations of AMC's The Walking Dead.
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii – Population 11,975
Referred to by locals as "Kona", Kailua-Kona is a small tropical treasure located on the big island of Hawaii. This gorgeous beach town has plenty of shopping, art, local cuisine and views to keep you busy for hours!
Sandpoint, Idaho – Population 7,760
Settled on the serene shores of Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint is a stunning small town packed with culture, outdoor activities and natural landscapes. The list of things to do in this tiny town is endless, with skiing, fishing, boating, swimming and art gallery hopping in their walkable downtown.
La Salle, Illinois – Population 9,328
Home to part of the famous Starved Rock Park, La Salle is a pint-sized midwestern town known for their breathtaking bluffs, massive canyons, cascading waterfalls and unmatched drinking scene, with the highest concentration of bars per capita in the whole nation!
New Harmony, Indiana – Population 915
The former site of two 19th century Utopian societies, New Harmony is an idyllic town along the Wabash River known for its slower pace and emphasis on easy living. Here you can still see remnants of the old Utopian society known as Harmonie in revitalized structures, restored buildings, and incredible galleries.
Dyersville, Iowa – Population 4,058
With just over 4,000 inhabitants, Dyersville is a tiny town in eastern Iowa whose biggest claim to fame comes from the movie "Field of Dreams". Every year tourists visit Dyersville to see the field that captivated millions as well as visit the National Farm Toy Museum and beautiful St. Francis Basilica.
Abilene, Kansas – Population 6,558
Home to five world class museums and former President Eisenhower, Abilene is an American historian's dream come true. Not only do they have amazing attractions and sites, you can also see actual can-can dances and gun fight reenactments at one of their old-timey saloons!
Somerset, Kentucky – Population 11,422
A popular houseboat hub for residents and vacationers, Somerset is a super fun little town in Kentucky with loads of outdoor and indoor activities to explore. Go kayaking or lounging on Lake Cumberland, venture into Daniel Boone National Forest, or check out the town's unique music and dining scene.
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana – Population 8,000
Hailed as the "Crawfish Capital of the World", Breaux Bridge is a tiny French Colonial city located in the Cajun country of Louisiana. This crustacean crazy community hosts the annual Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival and a whopping 30 percent of its residents speak French, thanks to the town's deep Acadian roots.
Rockport, Maine – Population 3,330
Ideal for boating enthusiasts and water lovers, the tranquil harbor town of Rockport is a true taste of coastal living. Go sailing to nearby Thatcher Island and swimming at Rockport Marine Park, then finish the day with a perfect Maine lobster dinner on the water.
Crisfield, Maryland – Population 2,671
Known as the "Crab Capital of the World", Crisfield is a small marine-centric town in the Chesapeake Bay. Along with the freshest blue crab you've ever tasted, Crisfield also offers plenty of boating, fishing, marine wildlife sanctuaries and stunning sunsets on Wellington Beach.
Provincetown, Massachusetts – Population 2,994
Located at the tip of magnificent Cape Cod, Provincetown is a quaint coastal stop in Massachusetts known for being the historic site where the pilgrims harbored and signed the Mayflower Compact in 1620. Along with rich history and a plethora of tourist attractions, Provincetown also has a spectacular art and culture scene and gorgeous white sand beaches.
Petoskey, Michigan – Population 25, 738
Founded by the Odawa tribes in the 1800s as the city "where light shines through the clouds", Petoskey is a perfect getaway for both outdoor lovers and historians. Explore the town's unique history along its main streets or head out to Petoskey State Park for some much-needed oneness with nature.
Nisswa, Minnesota – Population 2,014
Built on the shores of the crystalline Gulf Lake, Nisswa is an offbeat little Minnesota town full of friends, neighbors, and artisans of all kinds. Peruse the city center's many oddball shops or check out one of Nisswa's wacky local events like the Turtle Races or the drunken Destiny Booze Cruise.
Holly Springs, Mississippi – Population 7,574
Known as "Mississippi's Best Kept Secret", the historic town of Holly Springs is full of Civil War history and breathtaking natural views. Home to the annual Kudzu Festival, Holly Springs National Forest and what is rumored to be the country's best burger at Phillips Grocery, there's no shortage of things to do and see in this small southern town.
Rocheport, Missouri – Population 248
A famous Thruway for legendary explorers Lewis and Clark, tiny Rocheport is a gorgeous Missouri town perfect for outdoor lovers, history buffs and fans of easy living. Relax in a cozy B&B, take a leisurely bike ride on the scenic Katy Trail, go window shopping in town and wine tasting at fancy wineries.
Columbia Falls, Montana – Population 13, 962
Widely recognized as the "Gateway to Glacier Park", Columbia Falls is a gorgeous little town in Montana that offers an abundance of adventures for the outdoor enthusiast. Along with exploring in Glacier Park, Columbia Hills also has a host of fun recreational activities at their golf resorts, water park, and winery.
Virginia City, Nevada – Population 855
As the site of the first major silver deposit discovery in America, Virginia City is an old-western community in Nevada full of charm, history and American pride. This silver-mining city still has plenty of saloons, museums, restaurants, and shops to visit – oh, and did we mention you can ride in stage coaches, horse drawn carriages and trolleys?
Brownville, Nebraska – Population 130
Founded in 1854, the adorable tiny town of Brownville is full of beautiful views, natural attractions, and local charm. Check out the towns many friendly folk art galleries, boutiques, and museums, explore the unspoiled outdoors and even stay in a floating bed and breakfast on the water!
Hanover, New Hampshire – Population 11,260
Home to the uber prestigious Dartmouth College, Hanover is a delightful east coast town full of hours of fun for art collectors, history buffs, leisure lovers and outdoor adventurers. While in Hanover, you can visit the town's many esteemed science, history, and culture museums, go skiing at the Suicide 6 Ski Area, catch a Dartmouth sports game or spend the day shopping in their main square.
Chester, New Jersey – Population 1,674
A far cry from the crowds of the Jersey Shore, Chester is a quiet town in northern New Jersey with an abundance of character, charm and natural beauty. Peruse the local craft fairs and farmer's market, catch a free concert in town, go hiking on one of Chester's secluded trails or enjoy the local flora and fauna at Willowood Arboretum.
Ruidoso, New Mexico – Population 8,000
Perched high in the Sacramento Mountains, the snowy town of Ruidoso is the perfect escape from both the crowded city and the dry desert. The town is packed with natural beauty, 360-degree mountain views, quaint little shops and restaurants on their main street and hours of skiing at Ski Apache.
Skaneateles, New York – Population 7,209
Pronounced as "Skinny Lakes", Skaneateles is a small east-coast town in the peaceful Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Known for producing some of the best wine in the world, this historic village is full of wine tasting rooms, restaurants, art galleries and historic buildings that were once part of the Underground Railroad.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina – Population 1,233
Settled high in the arid Blue Ridge Mountains, the blissful town of Blowing Rock is a wide open breath of fresh air for those looking for an escape from the city. Relax in canoes on the lake, go shopping and antiquing downtown and hike along the scenic stretch of nature known as Blue Ridge Parkway.
Jamestown, North Dakota – Population 16,000
Lovingly nicknamed "The Pride of the Prairie", Jamestown is a quaint community in North Dakota that's an absolute delight to visit. Catch a historical re-enactment at the Jamestown Frontier Village or check out the National Buffalo Museum and see the world's only certified albino bison – weird but interesting.
Yellow Springs, Ohio - Population 3,529
A cultural and artistic melting pot, the teensy town of Yellow Springs is packed with amazing food, interesting people, uncommon shopping and all-around good vibes. Venture through thousands of acres of woodlands surrounding the town or browse the many antique, thrift and souvenir shops.
Guthrie, Oklahoma – Population 10, 191
Once the original state capital of Oklahoma, Guthrie is a lovely little taste of small town living. Take a laid-back trolley tour through the nation's largest historic preservation district in downtown Guthrie and enjoy the grand Victorian architecture, diverse museums and eclectic array of boutiques scattered around town.
Carlton, Oregon – Population 2,043
Perfect for wine drinkers and leisure seekers, the elysian town of Carlton has more wine tasting rooms per capita than anywhere else in the US! Tour the sprawling vineyards and greenery while you sip perfectly-aged wine, then check out the spectacular artisanal dining scene and, at the end of the day, put your feet up at an adorable silo-turned-B&B.
Newtown, Pennsylvania – Population 2,227
Just a short drive outside Trenton, New Jersey is the small but beautiful borough of Newtown, Pennsylvania. Along with spooky ghost tours, a fantastic state park and all year round local festivals, you can also try their award winning Italian fare and catch a flick at the oldest operating movie house in the U.S., The Newtown Theatre.
Newport, Rhode Island – Population 24,089
Built on the lush shores of Aquidneck Island, Newport is an ultra-fancy small city in Rhode Island known for hosting the renowned annual sailing regatta: The America's Cup. Along with mega yachts and magnificent blue harbors, Newport is also home to the opulent Bellevue Ave., where you can find immaculate Gilded Age mansions including the famous Breakers Mansion.
Daufuskie Island, South Carolina – Population 648
Located on the southernmost island of South Carolina, the mini community of Daufuskie Island has the perfect blend of resort-style amenities and warm southern comfort. Only accessible by ferry, you can play all day by the water, golf, lounge by the pool and enjoy the slower pace of southern island life.
Keystone, South Dakota – Population 334
Don't be fooled by the tiny population, because Keystone is one historic town with a whole lot to offer! From the majestic Mount Rushmore National Memorial to the collection of tasty restaurants and cute shops, this small town is perfect for American history buffs, tourists, and locals alike!
Jonesborough, Tennessee – Population 5,238
Founded in 1779, Jonesborough is known as the oldest town in Tennessee. Here, you can explore a city perfectly preserved in time and tour their renowned Tennesse Hills distillery and historic Old Towne.
Gruene, Texas – Population 20
Home to the oldest dance hall in Texas, Gruene is a historic, honky-tonk town that's full of Texas pride, rich history, and southern hospitality. Known as "Texas's Most Successful Ghost Town", Gruene draws visitors and famous performers from all around the country (like Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett), making it one of the most popular tourist towns in Texas!
Heber, Utah – Population 13,599
For all the nature lovers and explorers at heart, the wild west town of Heber is a great place to take a break and a step back in time. This small town in Utah has plenty to do and see with an old steam locomotive, resplendent snow-capped mountain views, lakeside relaxing and a quirky town center full of country music lovers.
Brattleboro, Vermont – Population 11,679
Bursting at the seams with food, art, and culture, the offbeat town of Brattleboro is both breathtakingly beautiful and lovably eccentric. With a cornucopia of restaurants, bars, outdoor activities, independent shops, street performers and local art, you'll never run out of things to do in this small town.
Williamsburg, Virginia – Population 14, 691
Located on the Virginia Peninsula is a piece of true American history known as Williamsburg. The original capital of the Virginia Colony and a key player in the American Revolution, there's plenty to do in this colonial town like kayaking around Jamestown, cycling on scenic Colonial Parkway and interacting with the living historical exhibits in Colonial Williamsburg.
Friday Harbor, Washington – Population 2,306
Perfectly perched on San Juan Island, Friday Harbor is an endearing little town with picturesque landscapes, friendly locals and an abundance of aquatic wildlife. Here, you can visit the world famous marine laboratory: the Friday Harbor Laboratories, whale watch on the water and hike through the fecund Washington forests.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia – Population 293
When it comes to history and natural beauty, historic Harpers Ferry can't be beaten! Known for its key role in the Civil War, you can visit John Brown's famous fort, see several Civil War museums, hike in the mountains, white water raft in the river and eat and shop to your heart's content in town.
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin – Population 13, 965
Right next to lovely Lake Wissota, the welcoming town of Chippewa Falls has it all: kitschy shops, lake views galore, historic tours, mouthwatering restaurants and all the nature you could ask for in 450 lakes and a bike trail.
Jackson, Wyoming – Population 9,800
Located at the southern end of Jackson Hole, the western town of Jackson is an adorable little tourist gem in Wyoming where you can find tons of shops, folk art galleries, historic attractions and old-fashioned saloons for tasty libations.
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