It’s going to be that time of year again soon… spring break! Since this feels…
5 of The Most Charming Small Towns in America
I may call New York City home, but when I’m on vacation, I like to slow it down. You know– unplug a bit, maybe take a stroll down Main Street, park my rental car in a quiet surface lot for FREE(!). It’s the little things. Here are a few small towns in America I’m eying for my next vacation.
Nestled in the Russian River Valley, this charming town is anything but podunk. The main square is flanked with incredible wine tasting rooms, gourmet cheese shops, stylish boutiques and more. Wine lovers will love sampling cabernets and zinfandels at Thumbprint Cellars (or Banshee Wines… or Portalupi Wines… really, there are a lot of tasting rooms to pick from). If all that pinot is making you hungry, check out the Parish Café for Cajun food, Mateo’s for upscale Latin fare, or Vallette for seasonal California cuisine. Though many places look fancy, locals will remind you this is a farming town. You can wear jeans and sneakers everywhere, kids are welcome in most places, and while the food and drink is incredible, no one takes themselves too seriously.
In the most northwestern corner of Illinois, you’ll find beautiful Galena. Founded in 1827, the historic downtown is filled with cute boutiques, perfect for a day spent bumming around. Not into shopping? Tour the former home of Ulysses S. Grant, the Dowling house (built in 1826, it’s the oldest home in town), or sign up for a historical walking tour. Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking Horseshoe Mound, soaking up views of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. And if you’re in the market for a little R&R, check out the Galena Day Spa. No matter how you spend your days, a dinner in town is a must. Try Fritz and Frites for a French bistro experience. Another favorite? The Log Cabin, which offers up that old school steakhouse vibe, complete with cozy lighting and live piano music.
Texas is known for its vastness. And this little town (population: 1,800) is a long way from a major city—nearly a three hour drive to El Paso! Still, plenty of travelers flock to Marfa, and for good reason. It’s one of the most creative communities in the country. Love art? Check out the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum with modern sculptures, installations, paintings and more. For an out of the ordinary stay, sleep in one of El Cosmico’s yurts or teepees. Outfitted with real, comfy beds, leather chair and couches, it’s about as far from roughing it as “camping” gets (though you will have to share a bathroom). Prefer accommodations with walls and an en suite? El Cosmico also rents out refurbished vintage trailers. Just take a look —they’re so cute! The hotel hosts many concerts, the biggest being the Trans-Pecos music festival. It’s perfect for music lovers who enjoy tunes under the big Texas sky.
Founded in 1711, this lowcountry harbor town is the perfect place for a long weekend. History buffs will have no shortage of places to explore, starting with the Old Sheldon Church ruins. This Greek Revival-style church, built in the 1740s, was burned down twice. What’s left is a stunning brick structure, surrounded old burial sites and oaks. Sounds weird, but it’s gorgeous. You can tour Penn Center, the first school for freed slaves, as well as numerous historic churches. Beaufort’s Visitor’s Center offers tons of information on how to best navigate the town’s historic landmarks. Water also plays a big role in the greatness of Beaufort. Personally, I love getting out on the water without getting in it. If you’re like me, you’ll love renting paddleboards or kayaks (and maybe even have a bottle nose dolphin sighting while you’re at it!). If you prefer less physical exertion, check out Captain Dick’s River Tour. You’ll learn a little bit about history, ecology and wildlife, all while getting out on the water.
Though it is one of my favorite fall destinations, Stowe is a fantastic locale any time of year. Home of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest point, this small town offers plenty of outdoor adventures. Rent bikes and meander down the Stowe Recreation Path trail, which crosses the West Branch River on 11 old-style wooden bridges. Come winter, there’s lots of fantastic skiing (hey, there’s a reason they call it the Ski Capital of the East!). Stay and ski at Stowe Mountain Resort, the northeast’s only ski-in, ski-out luxury lodge. If hitting the slopes isn’t your thing, there’s no shortage of other ways to enjoy the outdoors. Try cross country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding (yes, even in the snow!), dog sledding, ice climbing or sign up for a snowmobiling excursion. For those who prefer to stay inside, harness your inner Ron Swanson and enroll in a woodworking course. Really, does it get much more Vermont than that?
What are some of your favorite small towns in America? Share in the comments!
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Berlin, Maryland – America’s Coolest Small Town 2014!
My favorite small town is Fayetteville, West Virginia. On the edge of the New River Gorge National River with the best white water rafting in the world. The restaurants are all local creations, with my favorites being Cathedral Cafe and Pies and Pints.
Stillwater, MN! I almost thought it was the photo of Galena.
I love both Galena & Stillwater. I have visited both are close to My home of Green Bay, Wisconsin!
Greenville Maine, Rangely Maine, pretty much any place in Maine except the southern part of the state like Portland is over run by illegal migrants.
Favorite charming small towns
Blowing Rock, NC
Half Moon Bay, Ca
You saved me the trouble of listing Blowing Rock, NC. My favorite place on Earth.
You have to visit Milford, MI. It has the best variety of restaurants, cute shops, Kensington Park for golf, hiking, biking, canoeing on the Huron River, concerts in Central park (much smaller than the original in NY).
Mount Dora, FL and Fredricksburg TX
I love both of those as well!
Annapolis Md is my home and a beautiful town and home of the US Naval Academy
Silverton, OR. Full of charm and nice people.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is like going back in time. Charming little city full of artists and wonderful unique shops. Lots of things to see and even a trolly ride to take you around town. Also some country western shows to make your trip complete!
Eureka springs is one of my favorite places! I love staying at the Crescent hotel looking for ghosts, having drinks in the bar overlooking Christ of the Ozarks.
Black Mountain, NC is a great small town with some great shops, restaurants, and a thriving music scene.
Best small towns:
Oh and Bend, OR
My favorite small town is my hometown and I’m lucky enough to work in a little B&B right in the town of Cornwall, New York (Hudson Valley). Its only an hour from NYC so we get a lot of weekend tripers. Also many people come from all over the world to visit the Storm King Art Center (outside museum). I actually had the privilege of meeting Samantha Brown about 10 years ago she came to Goshen, NY and spoke at Travel and Tourism Class. It was an honor meeting her.
Are a few of my favorites.
Pittsburgh. Not really a small town. But we have so many different neighborhoods each with it’s own distinct personality. From the North Shore to Mount Washington to Squirrel Hill.
Galena, looks somewhat like Eureka Springs Arkansas.
Sturgeon Bay, WI
Eureka Springs, AR
Fulton, MO, I use to live there, great little town.
My favourite small towns are:
Traverse City, MI
Some of my favorite small towns:
Cold Spring Harbor, NY
My favorite small town is Glenwood, UT. Nestled right up by Cove mountain it is a true country town.
My favorite small town is Jackson, NH
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Poulsbo, Wa…Little Norway…..
Poulsbo, WA is a great little town with friendly people. 🙂 Great scenery too.
Check out Dunedin, FL and one of my all time favourites has to be Skaneateles, NY.
Ellicottville New York
South Lake Texas
Canandaigua New York
Whitefish, Montana. Just outside Glacier National Park.
Bryson City, North Carolina
I love Frenchtown, NJ. We drive through on our way to go tubing and it’s a really cool town.
New Hope, PA; Southport,NC; Bar Harbor, ME; Morgantown, WV
Love Natchitoches, Louisiana….Front street and several blocks of old buildings.
Riverfront is attractive and used a lot. Interesting oldest town in Louisiana.
New Canaan, Connecticut – small quaint New England town of 19,000 – just a 1 1/4 hour train ride to Grand Central Station in NYC!
Sun Valley/Ketchum, ID.
Cannon Beach, OR
I love Galina IL, but my favorite is my hometown Aledo IL… Home of the Rubarb Fest !
Love Paducah….the old downtown and the river. Quaint
Sam, I have watched you since “Girl Meets Hawaii” and I love all your shows. The BEST small town is Ashland, AL. Very quite but close to some amazing scenery! It’s also my hometown 🙂
Please visit Bethlehem, PA. It is a wonderful town, especially at Christmas.
Really Love Frenchtown, NJ. Great antiques and food, only an hour from Philly.
I always enjoyed the many small towns in Maryland. One of my favorites is Ellicott City.
Winterset, IA, home of the Bridges of Madison County (or at least those that the locals haven’t burned down). Also, it’s the birthplace of John Wayne, his first house is a museum. Lovely parks in and out of town, and don’t forget to stop by Ken’s Restaurant. You saw it in the movie, it’s still there.
Duluth and Grand Marais, MN.
Abingdon, VA and Asheville, NC
Hammondsport, NY in the Finger Lakes region. Its perfect for a cup of coffee and a walk. Also fantastic antique shopping and nearby to some great wineries.
Mystic, CT, home of Mystic Pizza!
Brevard, NC ????????
Watkins Glen, NY Lived there as a girl. Seneca Lake, the Glen, wineries and just a gentle, relaxing area overall.
Great music, great downtown and great food. Plus right across the river is Muscle Shoals. Watch the documentary on Netflix called muscle Shoals. You’ll be glad you did
Cardiff, Ca at end of Summer.
Canfield, Ohio in the fall.
Amish country always.
Rehoboth Beach, DE
Bayfield, La Crosse, Lake Geneva, Fish Creek, Minocqua, Cedarburg and Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
Blue Ridge, Georgia is my hometown and a favorite place in Georgia for tourists. We have a scenic railroad, lake, mountain trails, festivals, lovely downtown, and a drive-in movie!
Wolfeboro, NH The Oldest Summer Resort in America!
Meredith NH and Placerville CA!
Depoe Bay, OR
Litchfield CT and Wilmington VT
Chagrin Falls, OH
I like, Findlay, Ohio, Dunedin, Florida, Clearwater, Florida and New Port Richey, Florida
Thomasville, GA …way down South (almost Tallahassee, FL)… rumored to be where Gone With the Wind was first screened. It’s a charming town full of Spanish moss, brick streets, and old Victorian homes – but also with innovative restaurants, cool bars, and a locally-owned (nationally renowned) cheese shop.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas is my all time favorite small town!
Berea, Kentucky…..beautiful college. Home of the Churchill Weavers, Dulcimer making, much much more.
Lititz, Pa. Live less than an hour away and visited many years ago before the town made the best small town lists and is now ‘discovered.’ The old Wilber Chocolate factory is now a Hilton Hotel. Rock Lititz Studio is where bands practice before going on tour. Still a beautiful town and countryside for a visit.