The Most Charming Small Town in Every State
You’ll find the heart of America in these small-town gems lost in time. Add them to your must-visit list now.
Alabama: Orange Beach
Courtesy Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism
A small beach community on the Gulf of Mexico, Orange Beach offers plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities from seabirds and songbirds on their migratory route to dolphins in the Gulf and sea turtles hatching in the fall. While in town, make time for a meal at Fisher’s, whose chef is a James Beard Award semi-finalist. Beach bums will want to check out the 10 best beaches in the United States.
Located in Alaska’s Inside Passage region, Skagway dates back to the late 1800s’ Klondike gold rush and is known for its wooden sidewalks with false-front shops and restaurants, many of which are historic structures. It also has an extensive trail system that begins just a few minutes from downtown that takers hikers to alpine lakes and waterfalls. For a great view, take the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad to the top of the mountain pass just north of town. Find out the best train rides to take across America.
Arkansas: Eureka Springs
Courtesy Lyn Mettler
Eureka Springs is one-of-a-kind with Victorian homes hugging cliff sides and an entire downtown on the National Register of Historic Places, and its host to all sorts of festivals and events ranging from blues, jazz, and opera to UFOs, antiques, and the arts. Stroll through block after block of unique shops, boutiques, fine art galleries, craft emporiums, spas, museums, parks, and restaurants. Don’t miss the famed Crescent Hotel and Spa that dates back to 1886. Don’t miss the most historic hotel in every state.
You’ll find the small town of Bisbee, Arizona right in the middle of the Mule Mountains about 90 miles southeast of Tucson. Built in 1888 for miners of copper and precious metals in the area, Bisbee’s preserved downtown with 19th-century architecture set against the backdrop of Arizona’s red mountains makes for a scene right out of a painting.
It doesn’t get much more charming than the seaside village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, just more than 100 miles south of San Francisco. Filled with homes straight out of a fairy tale, the community is ideal for biking. When visiting, lay your head at the former 1905 mansion now La Playa Carmel or the former motel now the hip Hotel Carmel—both just blocks from the ocean. A top stop is Tor House, the former home of poet Robinson Jeffers, which features a hand built stone tower with 360-degree ocean and village views.
Courtesy Visit Telluride
Located in the midst of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, Telluride is an Old West town built during Colorado’s Gold Rush. It’s set in a canyon surrounded nearly 360 degrees by mountains with the state’s largest free-falling waterfall in view. This popular ski resort offers a variety of outdoor activity in the warmer months, as well, with many hiking trails leading right from town. Hotel Telluride is a convenient spot close to town for an overnight stay and offers a free shuttle through Telluride.
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES/Shutterstock
A quintessential New England town, Woodbury is located at the base of the Litchfield Hills and features mature trees and 18th- and 19th-century buildings lining its Main Street. Right in the heart of the Connecticut Antiques Trail and known as the Antiques Capital of Connecticut, antiquers will surely find plenty of treasures at the more than two dozen shops. Local favorite restaurants include Good News Cafe and Dottie’s Diner. Want to know more about how to antique? Here are secrets from the experts.
Delaware: New Castle
Filled with history, this riverside Delaware town established in 1651 boasts a self-described “Colonial chic” vibe with cobblestone streets, shops, restaurants, and historic homes and gardens. The site where William Penn landed in the New World, it’s also the city where Delaware voted to be independent from Pennsylvania. Top eats include shepherd’s pie at Jessop’s Tavern, Andouille meatloaf at Nora Lee’s French Quarter Bistro, and grown-up PB&Js at Penn’s Place. Visiting a new state? Try out its most iconic food.
Named the “Happiest, Healthiest City” for the third year in a row by a Gallup poll, it seems there’s more to Naples than just its charm. Known as a stylish Florida getaway with an upscale downtown filled with sidewalk cafes and tropical landscaping, white sand beaches, and miles of grand homes, this city along the Gulf of Mexico is also a vibrant arts community with multiple art galleries, a symphony, and cultural attractions.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a European Alpine village when you set foot in Helen, located in north Georgia’s Blue Ridge mountains. Wander through its cobblestone streets, taking in the Bavarian architecture with colorful buildings outlined in gingerbread trim, while enjoying German-inspired cuisine and plentiful shops and boutiques. The town celebrates Oktoberfest in grand style each year and also has an annual Christkindlmarkt each holiday season. Helen is one of the small towns in the United States that will have you feeling like you hopped the pond. Find out the other American towns with a European vibe.