12 Small Towns That Are About to Become More Popular
Be inspired to travel or make the move to these 12 charming small towns around the country. Each offers unique amenities and attractions and in different parts of the country—and they are all up-and-coming.
Rapid City, South Dakota
Located in western South Dakota, Rapid City is known as the Gateway to Mount Rushmore. With a quaint small town feel, the historic downtown is the perfect place to begin exploring a slice of Americana including the Black Hills, Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Tourism is a leading industry with new restaurants, breweries, and museums opening every year, but the city is also growing with permanent residents. According to the Black Hills Community Economic Development, from 2013 to 2018, there was a 4.5 percent growth in population (increasing by 4,274), and 20 percent of the population is Millennials. Before you pack up and move, you’ll want to find out the 15 things no one ever tells you about what living in a small town is really like.
Goshen, New York
Courtesy Orange County Tourism
The quiet Hudson Valley village of Goshen is in for a wild ride in 2020 with the opening of LEGOLAND. This amusement park and resort complex is the largest LEGO project to date with a total of 150 acres, eight different adventure lands, and 250 LEGO-themed rooms. For a town with less than 5,500 residents that still refers to itself as a “village,” this will be a significant change, as according to LEGOLAND officials, they’re expecting between 1.5 and 2.5 million visitors in the first year. The $350 million project is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs in the area as well.
New Albany, Ohio
Courtesy City of New Albany
This master-planned community, located 21 minutes from Columbus, was named the Best Suburb in 2015 by Business Insider. New Albany‘s business park is home to major corporations, including Abercrombie & Fitch and Discover Financial Services, while Facebook and Google are in the process of building new data centers here. Scott McAfee, the spokesperson for the City of New Albany, says that even with its continued growth, the town offers a high quality of life, is affordable, and that 20 percent of the land remains green space. The quaint Village Center, with its beautiful Georgian and Early American architecture, is the core of the community. New Albany is also known as the last stop on Pelotonia’s cycling route, a major fund-raising event for cancer.
Courtesy Ivy Wells
Berlin is located just minutes from Ocean City (one of our favorite beaches in the United States) and Assateague Island National Seashore on the Delmarva Peninsula. The town was named one of the 10 Best Readers’ Choices for shopping by USA Today and has been called “The Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel. The historic downtown is charming and 47 of the buildings are listed on the National Historic Register. Main Street’s burgeoning businesses include boutiques, restaurants, and art and antique galleries. Ivy Wells, Director of Economic and Community Development, says that home values have increased 25 percent in the last five years and there have been 20 new businesses and an additional six new restaurants. People come for a visit as a change of pace from the busy resort area and then decide to stay.
Located in the heart of Missouri’s wine country, Hermann is a quaint historic village situated along the Missouri River. Its small population of 2,600 is growing as more visitors come to experience this part of the state. According to Tammy Bruckerhoff, Tourism and Economic Development Director for the City of Hermann, the past five years have seen small, entrepreneurial businesses, including new restaurants, shops, and galleries, fill the storefronts of historic downtown. Nearby Katy Trail State Park brings tourists to hike and cycle on the longest rail-trail in the country. The area is also home to ten wineries, distilleries, and breweries. There are festivals and events throughout the year, including the German-inspired Maifest, Oktoberfest, and Wurstfest.
Winter Park, Florida
Winter Park’s proximity to Orlando makes it an attractive place to live or visit. The upscale enclave is close to its big-city sister but seems worlds away. Park Avenue is canopied with trees and lined with boutiques and restaurants. Museums, parks, lakes, and cultural activities abound. The appeal of the town has caused recent growth and expansion and ultimately, the need for the Winter Park Land Trust, whose goal is to work with the city and developers to preserve Winter Park’s beautiful green spaces.
Located just 25 from Glacier National Park, Whitefish is a picturesque and vibrant western town. The surrounding region is also an outdoor lover’s paradise. When asked about how this small town is handling the tourism boom, Lisa Jones, Public Relations Manager for Whitefish, says, “Conservation is economic development. People won’t come if we don’t have these natural resources.” Jones suggests visiting in spring, fall, or winter when it’s less busy and you can fully appreciate the natural beauty, cultural and culinary assets of the area. For skiers, Whitefish offers one of the closest air services (11 miles) to a mountain ski town in the United States. No matter when you visit, additional direct flights from several major cities have made getting there easier. Whitefish is particularly enchanting in winter.
Courtesy Pure Michigan
Marquette is located on Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This small town is home to Northern Michigan University and was named the Top Small Town for Adventure in 2018 by USA Today‘s 10Best Reader’s Choice. Outdoor activities range from fat tire biking on the city’s many trails to fly-fishing or extreme skiing at the Upper Peninsula’s Mt. Bohemia. Marquette also has a burgeoning craft brewery and local restaurant scene. Recent growth in private investment, includes the UP Health System-Marquette, mixed-use developments, affordable housing, and hotels. With an average home price at $180,000, moderate winters, and individuals wanting to get back to a simpler life, watch out for Marquette.
Mooresville, North Carolina
Mooresville sits 30 miles north of Charlotte and is adjacent to beautiful Lake Norman State Park. NASCAR fans will know Mooresville as Race City USA, and there are many activities and museums to explore related to the sport. The area is also ideal for outdoor adventure with kayaking, boating, and hiking. Mooresville was founded in the 1850s as a railroad town and retains its historic charm in the downtown area. New industries creating jobs and bringing growth to the area are the engineering firm of Corvid Technologies, German-based Tristone Flowtech USA Inc., and healthcare manufacturer BestCo.
Auburn’s population of approximately 13,000 is growing. This picturesque town situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains is known for its “Gold Crush,” the fast-growing winemaking industry in Placer County. The town has a vibrant historic, arts, music, culinary, and brewery scene and a multitude of outdoor adventures. Local tech company, Riskalyze, has attracted young creative professionals. In addition, the City of Auburn’s Economic Development Department states that Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) increased by 51.2 percent between 2015 to 2018. Home prices also increased 5.5 percent over the past year, and Zillow predicts that home prices will continue to rise with the trending growth of the town.
Park City, Utah
Park City is known as one of the most iconic ski resorts in the United States, but it’s also quickly becoming a hot destination for summer tourism as well. As the seasons change, the town becomes more accessible and affordable. There’s a myriad of outdoor adventure activities, local culture, top-notch art festivals and one of the country’s best small town July 4th parades. According to the Park City Chamber of Commerce and DestiMetrics, summer occupancy (from May to October) has grown 8 percent annually during the eight years between 2011 and 2019. That translates to an almost doubled (70 percent) occupancy rate over the last eight years that’s expected to continue.
Ashland is located near the California border at the base of Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges in the lower half of Oregon. The town is home to approximately 20,000 residents but hosts almost 300,000 tourists each year. You may be familiar with Ashland for its world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival and it was recognized in the top ten of “The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America” for its vibrant arts and cultural scene. The town is also home to Southern Oregon University. Visit to experience Oregon’s natural beauty, top-notch skiing at Mt. Ashland Ski Area, great dining, excellent wines, and more. Want more? Read on to find out the most gorgeous small town in your state.