The 10 Cutest Small Towns in the Southwest
From the mountains of Colorado to the red rocks of Arizona.
Every year, tourists flock to small towns across America for their unique charm, quirky local businesses, and rich history. In the southwest, the small towns don't disappoint with their relaxing desert vibes and stunning landscapes. While these towns may not be big, they don't lack in activities and scenery. From touring old ghost towns in Bisbee, Arizona, to exploring adorable main street shops in Telluride, Colorado, there is something in these adorable towns for everybody. Read on to discover what our travel experts have to say about the top ten cutest small towns in the southwest.
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The Best Small Towns in the Southwest
1. Bisbee, Arizona
Head over to the desert, and you'll discover the dreamy hippie haven that is Bisbee, Arizona. What once was a mining town back in the early 1900s, is now a culturally rich town with an adorable main street. But beyond the shops and restaurants, Brisbee has some amazing tours around the area including cavern tours that are 1,500 feet underground and spooky historic hotel tours.
Ashley Flores, founder of the travel blog,tearfreetravel.com recently took her family there for a vacation and raved about the tours she experienced.
"I would highly recommend taking your family to see the Copper Queen Mine, one of the most popular Bisbee attractions," she tells Best Life. "You can also go on a tour of the Old Bisbee Ghost Town, visit the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, or take a scenic drive through the Mule Pass Caverns."
Bisbee is small but provides visitors with big attractions that will remind everyone what makes the southwest stand out from other areas in the United States.
2. Taos, New Mexico
Taos, New Mexico, known for its historic adobe buildings is located in northern New Mexico's high desert. Dave Sayce, the CEO of Compare my Move, tells Best Life, "I would recommend walking along Front Street. There is a dock to visit and the scenery is lovely and relaxing."
Taos celebrates the beauty unique to the southwest with stunning adobe homes, cathedrals, and other historic sites.
3. Telluride, Colorado
This enchanting town that was once a mining village turned ski resort, is nestled deep in the San Juan mountains, offering visitors stunning views no matter what they decide to do.
"This place is a perfect destination for active travelers who love to ski during winter and bikers and hikers, fishing, golfing, and river sports when winter ends," Owen Redford, founder of Things To Do tells Best Life.
Of course, there's more to do than just winter sports. "The center of the area is a National Historic Landmark District with Victorian-era buildings," he says. "There are plenty of boutique shops and galleries, and restaurants for dining enthusiasts."
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4. Ouray, Colorado
Tucked away in the mountains, Ouray, Colorado is considered the outdoor reaction capital of the state and offers tourists gorgeous views, a dreamy downtown area, and an abundance of recreational activities from hiking to skiing. Steve Morrow, travel blogger, and founder of Paddle About, tells Best Life that Ourary is so much more than just a pretty face.
"Ouray, Colorado, is one town that genuinely captures the region's spirit," he says. "Nestled among the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, Ouray has a quaint and relaxed feel. The colorful storefronts lining the main street give it a cozy, storybook-like quality that is hard to find elsewhere."
5. St. George, Utah
St. George is a beautiful small town in the southwest of Utah, bordering Arizona. It is incredibly popular for tourists all season long due to its stunning desert views and vast hiking options—another perfect showcase of just what the southwest has to offer.
"St. George was founded by members of the LDS Church in 1847 and is home to numerous galleries, restaurants, and shops, making it a charming destination for visitors," says Robin Salvador, who writes the travel blog, VinzIdeas. "Activities include hiking and biking trails in the nearby National Parks of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, horseback riding at the Ranches at Sevier Valley Stables, and exploring the city's historic district on foot."
Another popular excursions is to one of Utah's most impressive parks, Snow Canyon State Park. This gorgeous state park features sandstone cliffs and red and maroon rock formations that will take your breath away.
6. Big Bear Lake, California
Yearning for sunshine during the holidays? Big Bear Lake in Southern California, known for having family-friendly ski resorts and beautiful terrain is also popular with visitors due to the excellent temperatures in the wintertime.
"Unlike other tourist spots that are best visited in the warmer months, Big Bear Lake is great year-round," says N ick Mueller, Director of Operations at HawaiianIslands.com. "The quaint main street area turns into a winter wonderland in the winter months. There is a ski resort, and a lake full of fish, along with the picturesque downtown. You'll find something for everyone when visiting Big Bear Lake."
7. Sedona, Arizona
If you're looking for a small town that offers big adventures, look no further than Sedona, Arizona. Surrounded by rock formations and canyons, you'll be sure to find beauty everywhere you turn. But of course, Sedona offers more than just gorgeous things to look at.
"Known for its Red Rock formations, this beautiful desert town is located about two hours from the Grand Canyon National Park," say Redford. "A popular destination for those who love the outdoors and are looking for scenic hikes and wellness. The town also has plenty of galleries for local and artisanal products and restaurants."
With over 80 art galleries, an abundance of wine festivals, and scenery to astonish even the most worn out traveler, Sedona puts itself on the small-town map.
8. Gruene, Texas
While Texas is the second largest state in America, the town of Gruene offers tourists a more quaint and charming view of the southwest. The town of Gruene has everything from antique shops to iconic music halls and to charming riverside historic hotels.
Jennifer Darnell, a founder of the travel blog, Life On Lavender, tells Best Life what makes this tiny town so unique. "This charming little town just outside of San Antonio is home of the oldest dance hall in Texas, Gruene Hall," she says. "There are B&B cottages, the Gruene Mansion, wineries, and [the historic] General Store. All built by German immigrants (Gruene means green in German)."
If you're looking to head here over the summertime, there's plenty to do as well. Darnell adds, "during the summertime, Gruene is known for river tubing on the Guadalupe River with drinks, live music, and fun people."
9. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
While this unique town's name is odd, this town is nothing but! Truth or Consequences (which used to be called "Hot Springs") feels like you're stepping into another world. The downtown area is incredibly charming and walkable, sprawling with spas, restaurants, and bars.
If you're looking for a relaxing holiday, this town is the perfect place to enjoy the warm and healing hot springs that are scattered throughout the town.
"While the new name may not reflect this town's biggest attraction, hot springs remain a huge reason visitors enjoy this unique southwest location," say Alexandra Arcana, a travel writer with CarInsuranceComparison.com. "Flowing from a rift along the Rio Grande, thermal waters create the perfect hot springs for tourists and locals alike."
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10. Ruidoso, New Mexico
Ruidoso, New Mexico, is a tiny village located in the Sierra Blanca mountain range, most widely known for the great skiing opportunities at the southernmost ski resort in the United States, Ski Apache. It offers visitors and tourists a wide range of slopes and terrain, providing easy flat surfaces for beginners and challenging hills for the pros. You can also to bike on these ski trails in the summer and zip line across the stunning mountainsides.
But there are plenty of other fun and creative activities your whole family will enjoy besides outdoor recreational fun. Larry Snider, the VP of Operations of Casago Vacation Rentals tells Best Life, "Ruidoso, New Mexico is one of the best-kept secrets in the Southwest. It's a small mountain town with excellent scenery and some great wildlife. Deer will even wander up to homes year-round."
It also one of the best-preserved towns of the Old West and you can learn about this history and feel transported back in time in one of the tours of the town. Visitors will be able to talk to historians about the first residents of the area, how they lived, and see the many historic homes and sights.