25 Most Stunning Mountain Towns in America
From Asheville to Whitesburg, these alpine escapes around the United States are utterly enchanting.
A dreamland set in the North Georgia Mountains, Dahlonega wows with its breathtaking scenery and rustic charm. The ambiance is authentic and welcoming—it’s not a place you have to put on airs. Sip regional wines at the tasting rooms surrounding the public square, get your fix of history at the Dahlonega Gold Museum, in the 1836 courthouse, or venture to Amicalola Falls State Park for cascades and zip lining at this mountain near you. Speaking of, check out these high-wire acts around the world.
Asheville, North Carolina
Between tours at Biltmore Estate (a château-style mansion constructed by George Washington Vanderbilt and the most famous house in the state) and The North Carolina Arboretum, you can pack a ton into a vacation to the “Land of the Sky.” A rejuvenating massage at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville, Autograph Collection is always a good idea, too. This alpine paradise also touts 17 farmers markets that sell seasonal produce, fresh-baked bread, and artisanal cheeses.
Planning a Tennessee road trip? Townsend definitely deserves a pitstop. First off, it’s one of three “gateways” to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of course, the attractions don’t end there. Tuckaleechee Caverns has underground caves, stalagmites, and stalactites while Cades Cove Cellars pours sippable vino like barrel-aged zinfandel and chardonnay. Before you go to this mountain near you, be sure to brush up on these essential wine terms.
Next time you’re in Alabama, journey beyond Montgomery or Mobile. Perched atop Lookout Mountain in DeKalb County, Mentone—which earns bragging rights as the highest elevation town in the state—is a quiet community with fresh air, chirping birds, and fragrant wildflowers. No doubt, you’ll want to get out and enjoy nature at this mountain near you—we suggest trekking to DeSoto Falls.
Bottineau, North Dakota
Nestled at the bottom of the Turtle Mountains, Bottineau is a bastion of natural beauty. Endless activities, warm hospitality, and tasty traditions (who could pass up the chance to sample the famous vanilla ice cream at Pride Dairy?) make this tight-knit community a wonderful place to visit year-round. Proximity to Lake Metigoshe is an extra perk.
Thompsonville is a tiny village with heaps of alpine action—and that’s thanks to Crystal Mountain. The year-round resort includes ski lifts, pickleball, a climbing wall, outdoor laser tag, golf, and classic digs. Don’t leave without exploring Michigan Legacy Art Park, a 30-acre preserve with sculptures, 1.6 miles of hiking routes, and an outdoor amphitheater.
Kentucky conjures images of horse races, bourbon, and baseball. Flipping the script? Whitesburg, a former coal-mining enclave with a thriving arts scene. Recently, the once downtrodden locale has seen a wave of new bars, studios, and live music venues. Travelers looking to commune with nature should head to Pine Mountain.
Custer, South Dakota
Poised on the edge of Custer State Park, the Crown Jewel of the Black Hills is akin to Disney World for outdoorsy types. At this mountain near you, there are climbs, treks, and wilderness walks galore. The town itself is full of character and history. Bonus: big-name attractions like Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, and Wind Cave National Park are just minutes away. And, yes, Mount Rushmore may be a tad overrated, but these other nearby attractions aren’t.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Whether you’re a novice or a pro skier, you’ll find slopes to suit all skill levels in Sun Valley. (Head to Bald Mountain for challenging runs and Dollar Mountain for bunny hills.) There’s also dog sledding and ice skating. Scenic strolls, golfing, and white-water rafting makes a strong case for visiting in the summer. We’d be remiss not to mention the marvelous restaurants and shops.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Originally a hub of the fur trade, Jackson Hole stays true to its Old West roots and provides an abundance of outdoor adventure. It’s the ultimate base camp for exploring the untrammeled beauty of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Ready to unpack your gear and catch some zzzs? Splurge on the Amangani or stay at Anvil Hotel, a revamped 1950s lodge in downtown. Did you know Teton County is one of the 10 places in America where people live the longest?
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Located three hours southeast of Portland, on the Deschutes River, Bend is the antidote to the dreariness often associated with this part of the nation. Mild weather and 300 days of sunshine each year mean the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors 24/7/365. Take a walk along the waterfront or march up to Pilot Butte. On the off chance that it does rain, you can always go to the High Desert Museum.
The Treasure State has tons of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Surrounded by the Bitterroot Mountains, Darby exudes a western spirit that’s emblematic of Big Sky Country. This enchanting town proffers landscaped parks, trails for all abilities, and authentic lodgings (ahem, Triple Creek Ranch).
Aspen draws a well-heeled crowd with its outdoor recreation and exclusive reputation (high-end restaurants, upscale boutiques, and five-star hotels). Winter brings snow-capped summits and a vibrant après-ski scene. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding result in a mountain playground that’s equally compelling once the snow melts. Don’t miss the Wheeler Opera House, built during the 19th-century mining boom.
So much more than a brilliant home base for exploring acclaimed attractions, such as the Grand Canyon and Route 66, Flagstaff is a noteworthy destination in its own right. For starters, it’s seated next to North America’s largest ponderosa pine forest. Access to Humphreys Peak (Arizona’s tallest mountain) is certainly another feather in its cap! Wondering where to stay? Pitch a tent at one of the many campgrounds. Not ready to rough it? Rent an RV or a cozy cabin.
Park City, Utah
Residing high in the Wasatch Mountains, Park City is renowned for its epic slopes and fluffy powder. No surprise, given that Utah lays claim to “the greatest snow on Earth” and even trademarked the phrase in 1975. The Holy Grail for winter sports enthusiasts boasts two world-class resorts and over 400 miles of trails—which are also lovely in the summer—plus posh dwellings and pampering spas. In case you were curious, these are the top spots to ski in the United States. (Park City made the cut, naturally!)
From trout fishing and hiking to cross-country skiing and snowboarding, this former gold rush burg promises activities for all seasons. On top of that, sensation seekers can ride the gondola up to 9,500 feet. There are plenty of other tamer ways to fill your days. Why not peruse the Telluride Historical Museum or see a show at the Sheridan Opera House?
Woodstock, New York
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Best known as the inspiration of the legendary music festival, Woodstock has a lot going for it besides concert name cred. Artists, dreamers, and freethinkers have long flocked to this hippie haven. No matter how many decades pass, its laid-back vibe never wavers. Upping the appeal? The idyllic landscape teems with hemlock trees, family-owned farms, and picturesque peaks including Overlook Mountain. Woodstock is also one of the hidden travel gems that are cheaper in the fall.
Carrabassett Valley, Maine
Carrabassett Valley, in western Maine, is worth visiting in the winter or the summer. Avid skiers and boarders flock to Sugarloaf during the former. When the temperature rises, it’s prime for rugged pursuits such as hiking and biking. (We’d recommend venturing to Bigelow Preserve and the Appalachian Trail.) Fewer crowds are another selling point for this time of year.
North Conway, New Hampshire
New Hampshire doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, but North Conway might soon change all that. Its rolling hills, glistening lakes, and sprawling forests are the stuff of postcards. Craving a little R&R? Fields of Ambrosia is dedicated to all-natural, therapeutic bath and body products—you can even craft a custom fragrance. For overnight accommodations, look no further than Stonehurst Manor.
Unless you’re a Pennsylvania native, Ligonier probably isn’t on your radar. And that’s a crying shame. First settled in the 1760s, this quintessential small town is teeming with historic sites and traditional architecture. Traveling with kids? There are also lots of green spaces and family-friendly activities. No summer vacation is complete without a visit to Idlewild & SoakZone, the top-rated amusement park in the area. On the flip side, the snowy period lasts from late November to early April.
Fish Camp, California
We’ll admit the most compelling thing about Fish Camp is that it’s a ten-minute drive from the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. That said, travelers shouldn’t be so quick to write it off as just a crash pad. Sitting at an elevation of 4,990 feet, this tiny settlement turns on the charm with high-altitude views and quaint inns. For a full-service resort, consider Tenaya Lodge.
Truckee, on the California-Nevada border, is advertised as a “real town with an unreal backyard.” It’s blessed with scenic splendor, from the sparkling water and sandy shores of Lake Tahoe to Donner Memorial State Park (named after the ill-fated emigrant party), which features campsites, multi-use trails, and sheer faces for rock climbing. Boca Reservoir offers excellent salmon fishing.
Need a break from the hustle and bustle? Idyllwild feels sort of nostalgic. Perhaps, it’s the easygoing atmosphere or the mix of locally-owned shops and cafés. The scent of cedar and pine wafting through the air encourages visitors to slow down. Though that’s not an excuse to sit idly by—especially when such fantastic hiking, fishing, camping, and picnicking exists.
South Lake Tahoe, California
It doesn’t get better than beaches, ski resorts, and forests. Those are just some of the reasons we love South Lake Tahoe. Spend your days soaking in the spellbinding views from the Heavenly Gondola, navigating an exhilarating off-road excursion, or roaming the wooded paths that cut through Van Sickle Bi-State Park. For more high-stakes fun, venture to the casinos in neighboring Stateline, Nevada.
Positioned near the mouth of the Copper River in Prince William Sound, Cordova brims with crystal-clear waters, dense forests, narrow ridges, jagged peaks, and wetlands. Summer invites folks to partake in fishing and kayaking, while winter centers around skiing and glacier tours. Wildlife photography remains a popular pastime throughout the year. Next, discover the most beautiful lakes in America for swimming.
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