These Are the 6 Coziest Small Towns in the U.S., New Data Shows
If you want to embrace that cozy feeling, check out one of these quaint destinations.
With fall in full swing and winter fast approaching, temperatures are cool and the air is crisp. There's no better time to feel cozy. But while curling up by the fire with a good book is a perfect way to achieve that feeling, there are a few destinations outside your home that you might want to check out. Data recently published by MyDatingAdviser.com ranked the 170 coziest small towns in the U.S., with evaluations based on weather, food, and activities. The survey also considered winter temperatures, snowfall, and other comfy qualities, giving each hub a comprehensive "Cozy Town Index Score." Read on to find out which spots data suggests are the most likely to give you the warm and fuzzies.
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Medora, North Dakota
Coming in at number six on the list of coziest small towns is Medora, North Dakota. Garnering an impressive index score of 80.13, Medora is a great choice for a winter getaway—especially if you like to feel like you're truly "getting away" from the hustle and bustle.
"Part of the reason it feels so cozy is because there is nothing else for miles," Alan Greenfield, editor of outdoor and travel website Gorp, explains. "It gives you a sense that you are in a nice little 'base camp' town with miles of wild country around you."
You shouldn't miss the expansive Teddy Roosevelt National Park, but you can also just enjoy the "small-town vibe," Courtney Newton, full-time travel blogger and owner of Disorderly Drifters, tells Best Life. "Travelers can't help but fall in love with the kindness and welcoming attitude shown by locals and other travelers coming through."
Medora ensures holiday cheer with its annual Old-Fashioned Cowboy Christmas, Newton adds, which runs this year from Dec. 1 to Dec. 18. You'll be awed by the decorations and lights, all set with the "snow-capped Badlands" in the background.
"The town makes you feel completely at home and is a great place to both solo travel through or to bring family and friends," Newton says. "The town may only have a population of around 100, but when you get together with a majority of these locals, you will understand why it is ranked as one of the top coziest towns in America."
Head to Breckenridge, Colorado in the winter, and you might never want to leave. If you're a skier or snowboarder, you'll find paradise in this snowy wonderland, which has a Cozy Town Index Score of 80.38—scoring slightly better than Medora in terms of activities and weather.
"One visit to Breckenridge and it is easy to understand why it is named one of the 'coziest small towns in the U.S.,'" Michelle Snell, owner and writer of the travel blogs That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel, says. "Nestled high in the mountains of Colorado, Breckenridge offers up the best of winter."
You can pop in and out of Main Street boutiques or stop in for hot chocolate to escape the chilly temperatures, which average 24.5 degrees Fahrenheit, per MyDatingAdviser data. But aside from shops and restaurants, Breckenridge's cozy ambiance is thanks to the beautiful scenery itself.
"The surrounding hillsides are covered with snow that you can see from anywhere in town, especially if you are curling up by a fire in your ski chalet (or hotel or condo)," Snell says. "The warm and inviting welcome from the locals gives Breck a small-town feel, and all of the fun activities mean that you can do as much or as little as you wish during your visit."
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Ellicottville, New York
With a score of 82.60, Ellicottville comes in at number four, besting Breck when it comes to both activities and food. The teeny tiny population is below 300, but that's part of Ellicottville's small-town charm—and coziness.
You can explore outdoors at Allegheny National Forest or try your hand at skiing. But if you're feeling festive, Amar Hussain, founder and editor-in-chief of the travel site OnlyWanderlust.com, suggests planning a holiday vacation to Ellicottville.
"I'd recommend heading out for the Christmas in Ellicottville event," Hussain says. "This event feels like you've stepped inside a Christmas movie; it's a real must-see."
For Hallmark movie lovers, Ellicottville should definitely be on your bucket list, as A Christmas in Vermont was filmed in the small New York town, Hussain adds.
Another snowy setting is in Stanley, Idaho, where you'll be enveloped by cozy vibes. Bundling up is necessary, as the town averages just 12.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, but an 86.23 index score on the coziness scale indicates it's well worth it. According to Jessica Schmit, of the travel blog Uprooted Traveler, Stanley isn't a surprising addition to this list.
"The downtown area is small and quaint, with historic log cabins dotting its streets," Schmit tells Best Life, adding that local restaurants are "incredible" and feature "heavy wood-paneling and cozy fireplaces."
But Schmit notes that Stanley is also well-known for one key, cozy feature—hot springs. According to the Stanley-Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce, the banks of the Salmon River or the "more primitive Sunbeam Hot Springs" are great spots to seek refuge from freezing temperatures. Alternately, you can make a reservation to visit the Mountain Village Resort hot springs.
"What could be more cozy than relaxing in a hot spring and taking in the jaw-dropping landscape of the surrounding craggy mountains and pine tree forests?" Schmit asks.
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The first runner-up for the coziest small town is Stowe, Vermont, with a Cozy Town Index Score of 86.1. You'll find no shortage of ski slopes or spas here, according to MyDatingAdviser.com, and historic spots like Shaw's General Store.
"Once you visit Stowe, it's guaranteed you'll come back because it feels like a town that's so charming, you have to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming," Samantha Hamilton, creator and writer of New England Wanderlust, says. "Between the covered bridges, one of the cutest Main Streets I've ever seen, and all the restaurants serving up farm-to-table comfort food, it all makes you want to snuggle in and never leave."
Both "comfort and community" are key draws to Stowe, and when temperatures get chilly, Stowe can help foster that feeling of warmth and cheer.
"In the winter, Stowe turns into a real-life snow globe where all the picturesque landscapes that make it beautiful year-round are accentuated by freshly fallen snow," Hamilton explains. "And not only do they have a Christmas celebration in December, they also do an amazing Winter Carnival in January that celebrates the beauty of the winter season."
Bravo viewers will also recognize Stowe as the location for the reality series Winter House.
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Only 76 people call Stockholm, Wisconsin home, but it's for good reason: This tiny town is the coziest of them all, scoring an 89.81 on the Cozy Town Index. Winter temperatures hover around 23 degrees Fahrenheit, so you'll want to snuggle up in snowy Stockholm, which boasts impressive views of Lake Pepin and great options for shopping and dining. The food and architecture celebrate Stockholm's "Swedish roots," according to MyDatingAdviser.com—the village was founded in 1854 by immigrants from Karlskoga, Sweden.
If you want to add some cozy décor to your home, Stockholm is also a great spot for antiquing. And during the holiday season, this hidden gem has that much more to offer. Stockholm hosts "God Jul" ("Merry Christmas" in Swedish) celebrations, harkening back to its traditional Scandinavian roots. For the first three Saturdays in December, you can embrace the cozy feeling of unique to the holiday season, with themed events like "A Swedish Christmas," "A Holiday Market," and "Fire of Stockholm."