25 Amazing Small Towns In America You Need To Visit This Year (2024)

The best small towns in America are welcoming, charming and chock-full of things for visitors to experience and enjoy. I’ve had the pleasure of exploring small towns in the U.S. for years and decided to put together a list of my favorites. These wonderful destinations have fun things to do for the entire family, unique local attractions, or outdoor recreation for a peaceful or relaxing road trip.

1. Brevard, NC

Known as North Carolina’s “land of waterfalls”, Brevard and the region surrounding this small town is an absolute treasure. There are 250 waterfalls accessible from Brevard and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. It’s also a great place to try something new! I learned all about fly fishing during one of my visits here and actually caught a fish!

Rock climbing, hiking, biking, boating, fishing – it’s all here! Brevard also has lots of unique lodging options like Pilot Cove which sits almost directly in front of the Pisgah National Forest. Oh and don’t forget to look for the famous white squirrels!

2. Stillwater, OK

Stillwater is a lively and bustling place that’s often called America’s friendliest college town! Here you’ll find lots of kind, welcoming locals and so many cool things to experience! Check out the National Wrestling Hall of Fame; art museums, the Kicker Audio Visitors Center; or one of the many sporting events or attractions on the campus of Oklahoma State University.

You haven’t experienced Stillwater until you’ve eaten at Original Hideaway Pizza or gobbled up some yummy cheese fries at the world famous, Eskimo Joes. I absolutely loved Stillwater – definitely one of the best small towns in America!

3. Cascade Lockes, OR

Located within the incredible Columbia River Gorge, you’ll find another one of the best small towns in America! Cascade Lockes is the ideal home base for an unforgettable outdoor adventure in Oregon. You’ll be stunned by the number of waterfalls within a short drive from downtown, many of which are easily found right along the roadside! One of them is the world famous Multnomah Falls, supposedly the most photographed waterfall in the U.S. The area is also blessed with an abundance of wonderful hiking trails and other outdoor activities.

Downtown you’ll find some great breweries, the iconic Bridge Of The Gods, and an ice cream shop that’s not to be missed! Don’t be surprised to see long lines of people craving soft serve goodness at the Eastwind Drive-In.

4. Moab, UT

With two incredible National Parks at its doorstep and recreation opportunities abound, Moab is one of the luckiest small towns in America! It’s also a wonderful home base for lovers of adventure and a great spot to begin your quest of exploring all of Utah’s “Mighty Five”. But, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park is just the beginning. Visitors can also enjoy rock climbing, mountain biking, river rafting, as well as paddle boarding.

Downtown Moab is full of terrific locally owned restaurants like Cactus Jacks and Canyon Pizza Company. You’ll also find a wide range of lodging options to suit your budget. I loved my stay at the Bowen Motel – located about five minutes from the front gates of Arches National Park!

5. Bay St Louis, MS

I found Old Town Bay St. Louis by accident many years ago and have always considered it one of the best small towns in America! Located along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, just east of New Orleans, Old Town Bay St. Louis is a perfect home base to explore the entire coast. You can stay in a relaxing Bed & Breakfast; spend the day fishing (and then have your catches cooked up fresh in town); take a ghost tour; or catch a play at the historic Bay St. Louis Little Theater.

Be sure to pop in to the beautifully restored train depot downtown! Oh, and did I mention there’s a beautiful beach?

6. Winterset, IA

A friend of mine once described Winterset’s historic town square like this: “it’s as though you’re walking on a Hollywood movie set”. The square has gems like the Iowa, an historic movie theater, as well as the Iowa Quilt Museum. Around the corner is the John Wayne Birthplace Museum. Wayne was born in a small house within walking distance from the square.

Winterset is located in Madison County which is most famous for its covered bridges. You can spend a fun weekend locating the beautiful covered bridges and enjoying other local attractions like wineries and outdoor recreation. It’s definitely one of the best small towns in America!

7. Sister Bay, WI

One of Door County’s favorite villages, Sister Bay is a great spot for sunset boat rides, sailing, biking, and swimming. Stop by Seaquist Orchards Farm Market for fresh pies and jams or grab a beer at the Peach Barn Farmhouse & Brewery. There are plenty of relaxing places to stay for a weekend or extended vacation. A perfect home-base for exploring all that Door County has to offer.

A highlight of Sister Bay is Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant. Open since 1949, they’re known for having goats on the roof and their amazingly delicious Swedish pancakes! Don’t forget to try the lingonberries!

8. Leavenworth, WA

best small towns in America

Nestled among the beautiful Cascade Mountains of Washington State is one of the best small towns in America, the adorable Bavarian Village of Leavenworth. The walkable downtown boasts plenty of dining and shopping options along with unique German flare around town. For example, each morning at breakfast, a local musician plays the alphorn at the Enzian Inn.

Leavenworth is a great spot for hiking, birding, camping and rafting. But, my favorite part of visiting Leavenworth was spending time at the local reindeer farm a few miles outside of town. The Leavenworth Reindeer Farm is family owned and one of the few places left where you can freely interact with and feed reindeer.

9. Old Town Temecula, CA

The Sugar Spot in Old Town Temecula, CA

Who needs Napa Valley? Temecula is overflowing with incredible wineries (more than 50!) in Southern California and Old Town Temecula is a great home base to explore it all. Old Town’s Main Street retains much of the historic western vibe that it had back in the late 1800s when commerce first started flowing here thanks to the Southern California Railroad.

Grab breakfast at The Swing Inn (owned by Breaking Bad star, Dean Norris); buy anything from lavender to cheese at the many locally owned boutique shops; and of course – don’t forget to cap off your visit with ice cream!

10. Abingdon, VA

best small towns in the US

Abingdon is one of the most wonderful small towns in America that I’ve ever visited! If you love good food and being outside, this is the place for you! I couldn’t believe the number of locally owned restaurants in Abingdon and every one that I tried was incredible! Abingdon may be best known for its historic Barter Theater, but it’s so much more than that.

Take an unforgettable bike ride on the Abingdon Creeper Trail; stroll through the Abingdon Arts Depot or the William King Museum of Art; play a game of pickleball after resting at the Martha Washington Inn & Spa; or explore the historic Main Street downtown.

11. Seaside, FL

For years I’ve been visiting Seaside and while the town isn’t much of a secret anymore, it’s still impossible to be in a bad mood while you’re there. Located along Florida’s gorgeous gulf coast, it’s one of the many unique spots in Walton County that are worthy of a southern road trip. Seaside is the birthplace of the New Urbanism design movement and was the filming location of “The Truman Show”.

Grab lunch at Great Southern or from a retro “food truck” Airstream trailer (see photo above); take a bike ride along scenic Highway 30A; or explore the 18-mile Timpoochee Trail; or relax and play in the sand and water at beautiful Grayton Beach.

12. Walhalla, SC

Located in Oconee County in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Walhalla is one of the best small towns in America for nature lovers. Stay in a treehouse at Bolt Farm or a cozy Airbnb loft in Walhalla’s historic downtown. Get up early to hike to numerous waterfalls or spend the day whitewater rafting the Chattooga River.

If you’re lucky enough to be in town for a show at the Walhalla Performing Arts Center, you’re in for a treat! The former school building is now a first class concert venue offering intimate seating for great concerts and shows.

13. Stockbridge, MA

Norman Rockwell’s final studio in Stockbridge, MA

Located in The Berkshires region of Massachusetts, Stockbridge is exactly the kind of small town Norman Rockwell would paint. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Rockwell’s final studio is located here and open to tours. Other must-see local attractions include Chesterwood – the home and studio of Daniel Chester French who famously designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

From the beautiful Berkshire Botanical Garden to the various live theater venues, Stockbridge is one of the quintessential small towns in America. You’ll easily find more than enough here to experience a memorable weekend or extended getaway. Shoutout to The Inn at Stockbridge where I stayed during my first visit to The Berkshires. Amazing spot!

14. Covington, Georgia

Covington GA

If you’ve seen shows like Dukes of Hazard, The Vampire DiariesIn The Heat of the Night, or The Walking Dead – you’ve seen Covington. That’s a small sampling of the more than 100 different productions that have used the town square, local neighborhoods, and of course the iconic courthouse downtown as backdrops for the small, and big screen.

Best of all, the Twelve Oaks Bed & Breakfast in Covington was the inspiration for the iconic mansion from Gone With The Wind. In 1939, Mitchell spotted the gorgeous property in the Atlanta Journal and sent a clipping to the film’s set designers in Hollywood. The note attached from Mitchell said “I like this for Ashley’s home.” I’ve actually spent a weekend in this house and it’s spectacular!

15. Brownsville, TN

Only an hour from Memphis, Brownsville is the hometown of music legend, Tina Turner. (Turner, who was known back then as Anna Mae Bullock, technically grew up down the road in Nutbush.) Brownsville has the Tina Turner Museum which is housed in an old school house she studied in as a child. The museum includes some of her personal artifacts like clothing, awards, and even a high school yearbook. The Delta Heritage Center houses other museums and regularly hosts events as well.

Downtown Brownsville has a sweet Courthouse Square with great restaurants like Livingston’s Soda Fountain & Grill. Helen’s BBQ is a local favorite, too. Enjoy the outdoors with a mountain bike ride on nearby trails or a peaceful walk at Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge.

16. Cambridge, OH

best small towns in America

Cambridge is a lovely small town in southeast Ohio located between Columbus and Pittsburgh near I-70. It’s home to one of my favorite small town bakeries! Kennedy’s has been around since 1925 and has the most delicious donuts and cookies in the midwest! So good in fact, I included them in my first book, 100 Things To Do in America Before You Die.

Cambridge is a great place to start exploring Guernsey County and its abundance of outdoor recreation. Salt Fork State Park, the largest in the state, has a terrific lodge along with a golf course, hiking trails, disc golf, archery, fishing, and kayaking. And rumor has it – Bigfoot has been spotted here!

17. Rhinebeck, New York

best small towns in the US

The Village of Rhinebeck has a great variety of shops and lodging for travelers. If you want a great slice of New York Style pizza, Pizzeria Posto is absolutely delicious and offers pizza by the slice. Down the street, Samuel’s Sweet Shop is co-owned by several famous people including Jeffery Dean Morgan (Walking Dead) and Paul Rudd (Anchorman).

Be sure to pop in to Beekman Arms and take a look around. It’s known as the longest running inn in America and has hosted several U.S. presidents and dozens of famous people over the years. Rhinebeck is one of my favorite small towns in America and a great home base to explore the Hudson Valley.

18. Fort Smith, AR

best small towns in America

Talk about a town that completely exceeds expectations! Fort Smith has preserved its historic downtown and retains its old west vibe. You’ll find quality restaurants and interesting local attractions like the newly updated U.S. Marshals Museum and Fort Smith Historic Site. Spend some free time in the town’s Bakery District for fresh cup of coffee or a bite to eat from one of the food trucks parked outside.

Fort Smith is one of the best small towns in America for impressive public art. You won’t be able to miss the abundance of very cool murals located all over town!

19. Aiken, SC

Located in South Carolina’s beautiful Thoroughbred Country, Aiken remains a secret to most travelers residing outside of the southeast. In addition to a lovely, walkable downtown with locally owned shops and restaurants, Aiken has some great unique attractions to keep you busy. It certainly qualifies as one of the best small towns in America!

During my visit, I enjoyed my very first polo match – horses are big in this part of the country and you’ll learn that in short order. Aiken is home to the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame & Museum. Be sure to take a one-of-a-kind driving tour around town when you visit! It was so much fun!

20. Las Vegas, NM

I’m so glad I took a detour while exploring New Mexico and ventured up to one of the most adorable small towns in America – Las Vegas. As a fan of the television show Longmire, it was fun to see where they regularly filmed some of the scenes! You can still see the Sheriff’s Department door on the main plaza. Other attractions include antique shops; cafes; museums; and some cool hotels that look like they’re straight out of an old western film.

Las Vegas is only an hour east of Santa Fe and a great day trip if you’re visiting New Mexico’s capital city.

21. Casey, Illinois

small towns in america
World’s Largest Golf Tee in Casey, Illinois

Travelers headed between Indianapolis and St. Louis along Interstate 70 are in for a real treat when they stop in Casey, Illinois. Known as the small town with “big” things, Casey is home to at least a dozen world-record setting giant attractions.

Stand inside the world’s largest mailbox; see the largest rocking chair; or play a round of golf under the world’s largest golf tee. World’s largest Chevy truck key? Yep. They’ve got that, too! All of these fun roadside attractions in downtown Casey make for great photos and the entire family will get a BIG kick out of stopping here along your road trip!

22. Blowing Rock, NC

Beautiful mountain views aren’t the only thing to love about the small town of Blowing Rock! In addition to one of the best small-town downtowns in the Carolinas, you’re close to the incredible Grandfather Mountain State Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

And yes, there really is a blowing rock! The rock itself can be seen as part of North Carolina’s oldest tourist attraction. The Blowing Rock is an immense cliff 4,000 feet above sea level, overhanging Johns River Gorge 3,000 feet below. The legend behind the state’s most famous rock can be read on their official website.

23. Custer, SD

Sylvan Lake – Photo Courtesy Travel South Dakota

Custer is an ideal home base for exploring the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota and seeing popular attractions like Mount Rushmore or Crazy House Memorial. Don’t miss out on Wind Cave National Park or mingling with bison at Custer State Park.

Downtown Custer has some great restaurants and hosts many fun events throughout the year. Each January, the locals march through town holding torches for the annual Burning of the Beetle festival. It’s one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen in any of the small towns in America I’ve visited!

24. Marceline, MO

Located along Missouri’s “Genius Highway”, Marceline is best known as the hometown of Walt Disney. Disney’s family moved here from Chicago and it’s where he came up with his early ideas for some of his most iconic characters. You’ll even notice a resemblance of Disneyland’s Main Street as you walk around the town.

You can still see the house where Disney lived and visit the train depot where Walt and his brother would often play. The depot has been transformed into a wonderful Disney museum. Be sure to check out the other hometowns of American geniuses located along Highway 36.

25. Camden, ME

best small towns in the US

Step back in time to one of the most delightful downtowns on the east coast and soak up some incredible ocean views as well! Downtown Camden can get a little busy, but once you find a parking spot — stroll along the streets and visit cool shops like Uncle Willy’s Candy Store. You’ll find retro candy and fresh baked goods.

A harbor tour or boat ride may be in order, and don’t miss Camden Hills State Park for some great hiking and wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean. And though you can’t visit anymore, be sure to look for the iconic Curtis Island Lighthouse. It’s beautiful!

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