The Most Beautiful Small Town in Every State
Fishing villages, oak-lined hamlets, colonial enclaves, and more!
There's no shortage of charming small towns across America. But in every state, you're guaranteed to find at least one that manages to stand apart for its truly awe-inspiring beauty and unique authenticity. From a fishing village in Alaska to an oak-covered hamlet in Louisiana to one colonial enclave in Connecticut you'll never forget, these are the most adorable small towns in each state that everyone should visit. So read on, and add them to your bucket list ASAP!
Magnolia Springs, Alabama
A tranquil river cuts through the heart of this Gulf Coast town, and each day, the mail is delivered by motorboat (seriously!). Book one of the five cozy rooms at Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast, located on Oak Street, which lives up to its reputation as one of the most scenic avenues in the South thanks to its canopy of leafy trees. And make sure to have a meal at Jesse's Restaurant, a cozy yet upscale spot for southern classics like fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and crab toast.
The former capital of Russian Alaska, Sitka looks like it's straight out of a postcard. The downtown waterfront is dotted with colorful seafood restaurants, bait and tackle shacks, and gift shops below a backdrop of snow-capped mountains. For a dose of the great outdoors, go whale watching or rent a kayak and explore the islands that surround Sitka Sound. And for a taste of the day's fresh catch, grab a harbor-view table at Ludvig's Bistro.
In its heyday, Bisbee was a large mining town, but today it's known as a free-spirited artists' enclave with eccentric studios and vibrant street murals. You'll feel the town's rich history as you wander along Brewery Gulch, a street that was once lined with brothels and pubs. There are still plenty of places to grab a drink like Old Bisbee Brewing Company and St. Elmo dive bar. For something totally unique, check into The Shady Dell, an RV park where the vintage trailers have been restored as trendy guest rooms.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Tucked between two lakes, Eureka Springs is an artistic Ozark town that gets its name from the many natural springs that surround it. You won't find any chain stores here, just Victorian homes, mom-and-pop shops, and galleries (like Quicksilver). Fresh Harvest is an excellent olive oil tasting room as well. Up the road, you'll find Thorncrown Chapel, a stunning wood and glass church hidden in a hillside grove, as well as a cluster of magical treehouse cottages for rent.
Set in a valley just north of L.A. and Santa Barbara, Ojai is a laid-back, hippie town encircled by the Topatopa Mountains that seduce Los Angelinos looking for an escape from city life. With its strong spiritual aura, vegan cafés, spas, and art galleries, it's a popular destination for wellness and yoga. For a splurge, stay at the luxurious Ojai Valley Inn and make sure to carve out some time at the on-site spa. For a bite to eat, head to The Farmer and the Cook for fresh smoothies and raw veggie tacos or Nocciola for seasonal Italian plates.
Breckenridge combines the great outdoors with a historic mining town now filled with boutiques, antique shops, après ski bars, and great restaurants. During the winter months, it's a world-class skiing and snowboarding locale, and during the warmer months, it offers hiking, biking, and fishing. If you go, consider renting a house; Breckenridge has some amazing Airbnb options ranging from quaint cabins to huge chalets. After a day on the slopes, fuel up on decadent baked goods from Mary's Mountain Cookies or head to Après Handcrafted Libations for cocktails and brews in an inviting space.
Essex Village, Connecticut
Think of a quintessential New England Town with pastel hydrangeas poking out from white picket fences, sailboats bobbing in the harbor, and a manicured village green. You're imagining Essex, a town in Middlesex County. For pub-style seafood like stuffed clams and fish and chips, head to the Black Seal on Main Street. Then hop on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat, which takes you on a scenic ride through the Connecticut River Valley. If you're planning to stay overnight, check out the Griswold Inn, one of the oldest inns in America.
Georgetown is just a 30-minute drive from the beaches of Rehoboth and an hour and a half from Wilmington, the state capital. This friendly town hosts a handful of annual festivals like a vintage aircraft exposition, car show, art crawl, and a street fair every September to celebrate Georgetown's cultural diversity. Spend an afternoon chowing down on pulled pork and beef brisket at Fat Daddy's BBQ and browsing through the inventory at Georgetown Antiques.
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Set on the northernmost end of Amelia Island—one of the barrier islands that extends from South Carolina to Florida—Fernandina Beach offers velvet sand, a historic downtown, and southern charm. This town is known for its fresh seafood, and there's no better place to sample shrimp tacos, poke bowls, and lobster rolls than Timoti's Seafood Shak. Fort Clinch is popular among locals for its hiking trails, fishing, and bird watching. March through October marks turtle nesting season, so plan your trip accordingly.
This picture-perfect town in the North Georgia Mountains offers the best of both worlds. Quiet and slow paced, Dahlonega is the heart of Georgia's wine country, but it's also just an hour from Atlanta, close to all the comforts of urban life. Daholenga is full of vineyards and tasting rooms like Three Sisters and Wolf Mountain. Just beyond town you can go lazy river rafting, picnic near Amicalola Falls, or even hike the Appalachian Trail. Don't leave without trying some great barbecue at Hickory Prime or Farmhouse Produce.
This small town on Oahu's rugged north shore is known for its sandy stretches, wild sea turtles, great waves, and bohemian vibes. The Main Street, flanked by Kamehameha Highway, is a vibrant area made up of colorful surf shops, cafés, and art galleries. At Bali Moon, you'll find breezy sarongs and wood-carved furniture inspired by Indonesia, and Wyland Galleries sells eclectic paintings and sculptures. After a day at Ali`i Beach Park, cool down with dessert from Matsumoto's Shave Ice.
Sun Valley, Idaho
This mountain town is well known as one of the best ski resorts in the country, but there's far more to see and do than just hit the slopes. Rent a cozy yurt at Galena Lodge and pop by Warfield Brewery and Distillery for upscale pub fare and brews. For the best meal in town, head to Rickshaw, a southeast Asian-inspired eatery serving everything from Korean fried chicken to Thai coconut curry noodles. Sun Valley has always attracted artists (after all, Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor), and Friesen Gallery is a great place to see contemporary art.
Just a stone's throw from the Wisconsin border, this tiny midwestern town boasts nature trails and a downtown area of preserved 19th-century buildings, distilleries, and wineries (Galena Cellars is a favorite). History buffs will love to visit Dowling House and Old Market House, both still in tact from the early 1800s. Stop by Galena Brewing Company to taste a dozen beers on tap and stock up on unusual popcorn flavors like cheesy garlic and cookies and cream at Great American Popcorn Company.
Not to be confused with Tennessee's Music City—this charming town in southern Indiana is beloved for its quaint downtown filled with tasting rooms and family-run boutiques. It's also in close proximity to the hiking trails and natural scenery of Brown County State Park. Grab a room at the Allison Inn, a homey bed and breakfast just steps from the shops and restaurants along Main Street. Fuel up on a breakfast spread of French toast or biscuits and gravy at Hobnob Corner, sip local vintages at Cedar Creek Winery, and finish the day with pizza and beer at Big Woods. If you can, visit during October or November for incredible fall colors.
Nestled in a valley along the Turkey River in the northeast corner of the state, Elkader is one of six towns that comprise Iowa's "Little Switzerland." With its tiny population of 1,600, Elkader is known for its friendly way of life and its picturesque views of farmland and forested hills. The town offers plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors: There is fishing, boating, and tubing down the Turkey River, hiking and biking paths open all year long, and sledding, skating, and snowshoeing at Osborne Park. If you're looking for a place to eat, locals will point to Schera's, an Algerian-American restaurant where you can try dishes like tajine and couscous.
Just off I-70 about three hours from Kansas City, the town of Lindsborg is an unexpected gem. Nicknamed "Little Sweden," Lindsborg is known for its Scandinavian heritage. Each year, the town hosts multiple festivals featuring Swedish food, music, art, and dancing, the most famous of which is the biannual Svensk Hyllningsfest. Carve out some time for meatballs and gravy at The Swedish Crown, and make sure to visit Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, home to hundreds of buffalo and elk.
This Kentucky river town has a rich history: Right next to the Ohio border, it was an important stop along the Underground Railroad. Walk around the museums and admire the buildings in Historic Washington. Any perfect day in Maysville includes a famous custard-filled tart from Magee's Bakery (George Clooney apparently adores them) and a platter of country ham from local landmark, Hutchinson's. If you're looking for a sit-down meal, Caproni's on the River is a great white tablecloth restaurant serving Italian fare.
St. Francisville, Louisiana
Just 30 minutes from the state capital of Baton Rouge, St. Francisville oozes southern charm. One of the town's main attractions is The Myrtles Plantation, which dates back to the turn of the 18th century. This gorgeous oak tree estate is known today as one of America's most haunted houses. As you explore town you'll find antique shops, historic Grace Episcopal Church with its beautiful brick façade, and the lush, daffodil-studded hedges of Afton Villa Gardens.
Maine has no shortage of gorgeous coastal towns, and Ogunquit is one to seek out. An hour from Portland on Maine's southern coast, Ogunquit features sandy beaches, wind-swept, grassy dunes, and no-frills seafood shacks. Get settled at the Cliff House, a nautical hotel with ocean views just 10 minutes from the center of downtown. For the best lobster roll around, head to Foot Bridge Lobster, and for something more high end, M.C. Perkin's Cove serves fresh New England seafood on the scenic waterfront.
St. Michaels, Maryland
Nicknamed the heart and soul of Chesapeake Bay, St. Michaels was a historic shipbuilding and oystering hub. Today, the mid-Atlantic town is a popular summer vacation spot. Make your home base the idyllic Inn at Perry Cabin, a 200-year-old waterfront resort. Meander down Talbot Street, and you'll pass by Colonial-style houses, independent boutiques, and seafood restaurants. For a great meal, seek out Awful Arthur's for oysters and po' boys, or St. Michael's Crab and Steak House for famous Maryland blue crabs.
Edgartown is a tiny old whaling port on the island of Martha's Vineyard, a short ferry ride from Cape Cod. Wooden sailboats bob in the glassy harbor of this quintessential New England hamlet, which has shingled cottages that sit behind white picket fences overgrown with periwinkle and lavender hydrangeas. The Christopher is a nautical-chic boutique hotel located steps from Edgartown's Main Street. For delicious oysters on the half shell, look no further than 19 Raw or The Port Hunter, and for fine dining beneath the stars, the outdoor patio at Atria never disappoints.
This summer spot on Lake Michigan is known for its artistic spirit, local wineries, quaint bed and breakfasts like the Belvedere Inn, and beautiful beaches surrounded by dunes. On a sunny afternoon, Oval Beach is the place to be, or on cloudy days, you can gallery hop through J. Petter Galleries and Good Goods. When you need to refuel, stop by Farmhouse Deli and Pantry for salads and incredible sandwiches like hot pressed turkey clubs and Reubens.
Home to WSU, this endearing college town is set on the bluffs of the Mississippi River, in the shadow of Sugar Loaf mountain. Throughout the year, Winona hosts a handful of events from film to jazz festivals. Ask a local where to grab a bite, and they'll point you toward Lakeview Drive Inn, a landmark shack where you can eat burgers on picnic benches overlooking over the river. There's also Island City Brewing, a taproom that hosts events from beer bingo to karaoke.
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
This gem on the Gulf of Mexico is a friendly community with a vibrant art and culinary scene. The downtown area is full of historic cottages and small, family-run shops and galleries like Shearwater Pottery, Pink Rooster, and Hillyear House. On Government Street, the town's center of life, you'll find live music just about every night of the week. Plus, Ocean Springs is minutes from Davis Bayou Campground, a marshland campsite known for birdwatching, fishing, and hiking trails. Head to Aunt Jenny's Catfish Restaurant for comfort food like battered catfish with Creole sauce and fried shrimp with hushpuppies.
Just 25 miles from the capital city of St. Louis, Kimmswick, a town founded in the 1850s by German immigrants, feels stuck in time. Despite its tiny population, the town has a big spirit and hosts two popular festivals each year: A strawberry festival in June and an apple butter fest in October, which draw in tourists from around the state. Downtown you'll find specialty shops, restaurants serving Midwestern fare, and bakeries. The Blue Owl serves hearty lunch specials and apple pie for dessert.
Big Timber, Montana
Big Timber sits before a backdrop of the soaring Crazy Mountain Range right on the border of Montana and Wyoming. Downtown is made up of kitschy souvenir shops and old timey bars like Neptune's Brewery and Holly's Road Kill Saloon. Thanks to its location near the Yellowstone and Boulder River, there's no shortage of great trout fishing in Big Timber. There's also Halfmoon Park, a local favorite for hiking, picnicking, and passing summer days.
Take a trip back in time to the Wild West when you visit the historic railroad and cattling town of Ogallala. Nature enthusiasts will love spending time on Lake Ogallala, one of the state's best birdwatching spots, and Clear Creek, a nesting site for Canada Geese. For the best meal in town, look no further than Ole's Big Game Steakhouse & Lounge, a roadside steakhouse where the walls are lined with taxidermy from around the world.
Virginia City, Nevada
Once a major mining town, Virginia City is known today as one of the most haunted spots in the U.S. The Washoe Club, Silver Terrace Cemetery, and Silver Queen Hotel are three stops along Virginia City's ever-popular ghost tours. The town also hosts a handful of quirky events like ostrich races, the Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry festival, and more. No matter what, a bar crawl is a must, especially to Red Dog Saloon and Bucket of Blood Saloon.
Hanover, New Hampshire
One of the largest draws to Hanover is the Ivy League Dartmouth College, with its main lawn lined with Georgian-style buildings. Hanover is surrounded by nature, and there are plenty of ways to take advantage of the great outdoors: Hike the four-mile Moose Mountain Loop, go fishing on Mascoma Lake, canoe on the Connecticut River, or hit the slopes along New Hampshire's Appalachian Mountains. When hunger strikes, head to Lou's for savory breakfast staples served all day.
Cape May, New Jersey
At the very southern tip of the Jersey Shore, Cape May is one of the state's top summer vacation spots. The Victorian-style colorful gingerbread houses and quaint trolley busses are steeped in nostalgia. With its ocean shorelines and freshwater ponds, Cape May Point State Park is always popular on sunny days, and there's also Cape May's iconic lighthouse, one of the oldest in the country. There's no shortage of great restaurants, but al fresco Beach Plum Farm and the Washington Inn are two of the best dining options around.
Chimayo, New Mexico
At the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this New Mexican town is known for its healing powers. The small but legendary church, El Santuario de Chimayó, is believed to house holy dirt in its sacristy. As such, hundreds of thousands of visitors travel there each year from near and far in search of blessings. The town is also known for traditional weaving, which you can see at Centinela Traditional Arts, a workshop-meets-gallery. For a taste of New Mexican cuisine, Rancho De Chimayo cooks up specialties like green chile stew, steak flautas, and rainbow grilled trout.
Woodstock, New York
This Catskills town, known for the legendary 1969 Woodstock Festival, still boasts a crunchy granola vibe. Book a room at the Hotel Dylan, a funky, upscale roadside motel where the rooms are decorated with 1960s posters and vinyl records. Outdoor activities surround the town, whether it's a waterfall trek to Kaaterskill Falls or a steep climb up Blackhead Mountain. You'll also find cute coffee shops like Bread Alone, farm-to-table restaurants such as Cucina, and old-school breakfast spots like the beloved Phoenicia Diner.
Highlands, North Carolina
Two hours outside Atlanta, this mountain resort town is surrounded by the lush Nantahala National Forest. It comes alive during the summer when the weather is perfect for hiking and golfing, and in the fall, when the leaves begin to change color. The Old Edwards Inn is an elegant resort with a beautiful setting overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. And for such a small town, Highlands is blessed with a serious food and wine scene. Check out Ristorante Paoletti for Northern Italian fare or Madison's for delicious farm-to-table plates.
Medora, North Dakota
The gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora offers history, impressive scenery, and outdoor adventure. One of the biggest attractions is Painted Canyon, a colorful overlook 10 minutes from town. History buffs and fans of the Wild West will enjoy Medora's very own North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, and art lovers will appreciate Burning Hills Amphitheater. For a great meal, head to Pitchfork Steak Fondue, a giant steakhouse with picnic tables overlooking the scenic Badlands.
For a slice of New England in the Midwest, look no further than Granville. In fact, the historic town was founded by a group of people moved from Massachusetts to Ohio to work the land. Home to the liberal arts school, Denison University, Granville is a college town with lots to explore. Downtown is lined with small shops like Goumas Confections, a mom-and-pop run candy shop, and Reader's Garden Bookstore. If you're looking for a place to eat, River Road Coffeehouse is perfect for freshly baked muffins and pastries, while the Broadway Pub serves great comfort food and Mai Chau on Prospect has awesome Vietnamese fare.
The original capital of the state, Guthrie is an easy day or weekend trip from Oklahoma City. There are B&Bs galore throughout town, like Pollard Bed and Breakfast, located steps from the area's best antique shops. Guthrie has a handful of casual diners and cafés like Katie's Diner, Missy's Donuts, and Stacy's Place.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
The Oregon coast is home to one of the most stunning shorelines in the country: Ecola State Park, with its crescent-shaped beach and iconic haystack rock formations jutting from the Pacific. You'll find the center of town along Hemlock Street, which is lined with fine art galleries like Modern Villa Gallery and Imprint Gallery, glassblowing studios like Icefire Glassworks, and Coaster Theater, where you'll find a rotating list of plays and musicals throughout the year. There are plenty of great places to eat like Castaways, a restaurant and tiki bar serving amazing Creole-inspired plates like mac 'n' cheese with andouille sausage and curry shrimp.
Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
This charming town in eastern Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains has just about everything you could want in a weekend getaway. It's particularly special in October when it's full of festive Halloween decorations, and the trees are glowing underneath a thick blanket of changing leaves. The Parsonage Bed and Breakfast feels like it could have been transplanted from the English countryside. Downtown, the buildings are all examples of diverse 19th century architecture—from Queen Anne to Greek Revival—and they're begging to be photographed. Outdoor adventure surrounds this mountain town, so take advantage of the local hiking, white water rafting, and skiing.
New Shoreham, Rhode Island
New Shoreham, also known as Block Island, sits just off mainland Rhode Island, somewhere between Montauk and Martha's Vineyard. The smallest town in the smallest state, New Shoreham's population swells in the summer months, and it's easy to see why: It offers 17 miles of public beaches, hundreds of freshwater ponds for exploring, and a downtown speckled with cute shops and laid-back bars. Head to Spring Street Gallery to check out local art or North Light Fibers for knitted clothing made from alpaca, camel, and yak wool.
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina
Just 20 minutes from Charleston, Sullivan's Island is an easy and popular day trip for people trying to escape the city. It's best known for its wide, compact-sand beaches perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or watching an epic sunset. Rent a kayak and boat around Shem Creek tidal marsh past live oak trees, great blue herons, and even manatees. Or bring your bike and explore the island's main streets. When you're ready to refuel, grab a table at The Obstinate Daughter for wood-fired pizzas and decadent pastas.
Deadwood, South Dakota
In the late 1800s, settlers moved to this town searching for gold and established Deadwood's slogan: "No rules. No regrets." When you visit today, you can walk in the footsteps of the folk heroes of the American Wild West. A big gambling town, take your chances playing the slots at Buffalo Bodega or roulette at Cadillac Jack's. For dinner, head to Saloon No. 10, a restaurant-meets-museum that hosts historical reenactments, live music, and black jack tables.
Home to Sewanee: The University of the South, this blink-and-you'll-miss-it college town is an easy trip from both Nashville and Atlanta. With an unlikely dining scene, there are a handful of great restaurants in the area like Shenanigans, a casual pub serving deli-style melts and pizzas and High Point for juicy steaks. Hiking is a popular activity around Sewanee, thanks to the 20-mile hiking and biking Perimeter Trail and Mountain Goat Trail, an old railway-turned-paved-pathway linking Sewanee to the nearby town of Monteagle.
Fredericksburg is smack dab in the heart of Texas wine country, outside of Austin. As you follow the 30-mile road from Fredericksburg to Johnson City, you'll pass 40 wineries with tasting rooms like Grape Creek Winery and Becker Vineyards. If you visit in March or April, you'll see this Hill Country town blooming with periwinkle and magenta wildflowers. Of course, no time spent in Texas is complete without barbecue, and Backwoods BBQ is the perfect place to satisfy your craving for pork ribs and brisket.
Panguitch is nestled in a valley bordered by national parks and mountains. It gets its name from a Native American word meaning abundant fish, which makes sense given that the surrounding lakes and rivers are full of rainbow trout. Smokin' Hot Antiques and Collectibles is a cute place to shop for tchotchkes and gifts, while Red Canyon Indian Store sells everything from Navajo rugs to pottery. June is a great time to visit when Panguitch hosts a hot air balloon festival that paint the sky.
When you think of a quintessential New England town that oozes with charm, it probably looks a lot like Stowe. Set in a valley between Mount Mansfield and the Green Mountains, the landscape is gorgeous no matter what the season. In the winter, there is great skiing, spring and summer offer perfect weather for hiking and exploring, and in autumn, Stowe is one of the most incredible spots in the country to see fall foliage. Stay at Topnotch Resort, a luxurious hotel set right between downtown Stowe and Mount Mansfield's ski resort. The dining scene is all about local ingredients. Cork Wine Bar is a cozy spot for shareable plates and natural wines, and Plate serves excellent California-inspired cuisine.
Set in Hunt County 45 minutes outside Washington, D.C., Middleburg is known for its wineries and excellent restaurants. If you're looking for an off-the-beaten path wine getaway, spend your days vineyard-hopping from Stone Tower Winery, Cana Vineyards, and 50 West, some of Virginia's best producers. There's no shortage of great dining options, too: The Red Fox Inn and Tavern, open since 1728, serves upscale food with a southern flare, Goodstone Inn is a must-try for fine dining, and there's King Street Oyster Bar for Hog Island oysters and cocktails.
Friday Harbor, Washington
The gateway to the beautiful San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor is only accessible by boat or seaplane. The main draw to this outdoorsy island is the chance to kayak with orcas, but there's so much more to see and do. Independent shops like Pelindaba Lavender and Deer Hazel sell chic clothing and jewelry. San Juan Bistro is a must-try for artisan sandwiches and cheese boards, and there's Westcott Bay Shellfish for locally farmed oysters. From Friday Harbor you can take the ferry to Lopez, Orcas, and Shaw Islands.
Fayetteville, West Virginia
The tiny town of Fayetteville, set on the New River Gorge, is four hours from four major cities: Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, and Columbus. It's a must-visit spot for any outdoor enthusiast. You can go white water rafting along the New River, soar through the sky on a zip-line canopy tour, hike Bridge Buttress Trail, or walk the New River Gorge Bridge, suspended 876 feet over the water. For the best bite in town, order one of the pizzas topped with shrimp and Sriracha or pulled pork at Pies & Pints.
At the heart of Door Country, Ephraim is a quiet village set on the northern shores of Lake Michigan. It's the perfect starting point from which to explore the hundreds of miles of sandy beaches, lighthouses, state parks, and islands that make up the Door Peninsula. Potawatomi, Whitefish Dunes, and Peninsula State Parks—all easily accessible from town—are home to great hiking, boating, and beaches. As for dining options, The Summer Kitchen makes heaping plates of pancakes and eggs, and for a traditional Wisconsin fish boil dinner, look no further than The Old Post Office Restaurant.
This old ranching town off Interstate 90 has a long history that dates back to the Wild West. Buffalo is also surrounded by sprawling, wide-open spaces and impressive landscapes like Lake DeSmet and Hole-In-The-Wall, a red rock canyon pass in the Big Horn Mountains, where outlaws like Jesse James, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid liked to hide out. From Buffalo, you can drive the scenic U.S. Highway 16, which runs all the way to Yellowstone National Park. If you want to eat like the locals, head to the historic Occidental Saloon for burgers, beers, and live bluegrass music.
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