Travel Tips

The best small towns in America

Do you live in one of the best small towns in America?

Do you live in one of the best small towns in America?  (iStock)

While there’s nothing quite like the energy of the big city, the hectic pace isn’t for everyone, and urbanites themselves often need a respite.

But the U.S. is home to thousands of perfectly charming small towns that are great places for weekend escapes—or to settle down in. We’ve swept the country to find some of the best, whether you’re looking for a ski lover’s paradise, a historic spot that's still near a major metropolis, or a remote waterfront retreat.

Here are a few of our favorite small towns in America.

  • 1. Traverse City, Michigan

    Traverse City, Michigan

    Chad Thomas/Getty Images

    Though the biggest town in Northern Michigan, Traverse City has a population of only about 15,000. It's famous for being the largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S.—each July, it hosts a National Cherry Festival that brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors.

  • 2. Jacksonville, Oregon

    Jacksonville, Oregon

    John Elk/Getty Images

    Founded in the 1850s when gold deposits were discovered in the Jackson Creek, this town fell on hard times when the treasure ran out. But in the 1960s, Jacksonville was designated a National Historic District, and today it's the heart of the Southern Oregon wine region.

  • 3. Dahlonega, Georgia

    Dahlonega, Georgia

    Steve Grundy/Getty Images

    Though on the opposite side of the country, Dahlonega has a lot in common with Jacksonville, Oregon. It was the site of the first gold rush in the U.S. and is also known today for its many wineries.

  • 4. Taos, New Mexico

    Taos, New Mexico

    Chel Beeson/Getty Images

    Known for its pueblo houses, Taos has long drawn artistic types to its rugged setting, including influential abstract painter Agnes Martin. Today there are three art museums, more than 80 galleries, and several performing arts venues.

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  • 5. Stowe, Vermont

    Stowe, Vermont

    Alan Copson/Getty Images

    Skiing might be the most popular tourist pastime in Stowe, but the town has much more to offer. In addition to the myriad outdoor activities (like zip-lining and rock climbing), there are more than 70 shops and nearly 40 restaurants. It's also home to the Trapp Family Lodge, the resort owned by the Von Trapp family made famous in The Sound of Music.

  • 6. Clinton, New Jersey

    Clinton, New Jersey

    iStock

    An hour's drive from New York City will get you to the quaint town of Clinton, whose most famous landmark is the Red Mill Museum on the banks of the Raritan River. Stroll down Main Street to enjoy cafés, shops, and art galleries.

  • 7. Sitka, Alaska

    Sitka, Alaska

    iStock

    For a truly remote destination, head to Sitka, which is accessible only by plane or ferry. The town is a wildlife lover's dream, as sightings of bald eagles, brown bears, humpback whales, and sea otters are common.

  • 8. Camden, Maine

    Camden, Maine

    iStock

    Situated between Portland and Bar Harbor, this seaside town is surrounded by stunning landscapes perfect for adventure seekers, but it also has its fair share of cultural attractions, like the Camden Opera House. Its population surges each summer when the beach lovers arrive, but the off-season is still a prime time to visit.

    See more of the best small towns in the U.S.