50 Charming Small Towns to Visit Across Every State

Plan a short getaway to one of these off-the-beaten-path destinations.

By Rachel Center, Staff WriterMay 17, 2017
By Rachel Center, Staff WriterMay 17, 2017, at 9:23 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

50 Charming Small Towns to Visit Across Every State

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Charming Towns in the USA
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Add one of these picturesque small towns to your travel itinerary this year.

When it comes to vacation destinations, most travelers tend to be more familiar with popular big cities than small towns. Everyone knows that you can't leave New York City without visiting Central Park. And walking Hollywood Boulevard is essential for understanding Los Angeles' star power. Small towns, on the other hand, often don't get as much attention as metropolises. But that doesn't mean they don't deserve a spot on your bucket list. Many small towns offer a more laid-back experience than what you'd expect in a bustling city, plus fascinating historical attractions and one-of-a-kind sites. From tiny hamlets to waterfront villages, here are 50 charming small towns across the country.
Side of an old garage Mooresville, Alabama
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Alabama: Mooresville

If you want to visit a really small town, head to Mooresville, which has fewer than 60 residents to its name. Located about 20 miles southwest of Huntsville, Alabama, Mooresville is 0.1-mile-long and contains six streets. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. Here, clapboard cottages and stately brick buildings are flanked by picket fences and covered by lush oaks and magnolias. Its quiet streets are home to the oldest operational post office in Alabama and the bright white Church of Christ, where President James A. Garfield preached during the Civil War. As such, the entire town is listed under the National Register of Historic Places.
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Add one of these picturesque small towns to your travel itinerary this year.

When it comes to vacation destinations, most travelers tend to be more familiar with popular big cities than small towns. Everyone knows that you can't leave New York City without visiting Central Park. And walking Hollywood Boulevard is essential for understanding Los Angeles' star power. Small towns, on the other hand, often don't get as much attention as metropolises. But that doesn't mean they don't deserve a spot on your bucket list. Many small towns offer a more laid-back experience than what you'd expect in a bustling city, plus fascinating historical attractions and one-of-a-kind sites. From tiny hamlets to waterfront villages, here are 50 charming small towns across the country.

Alabama: Mooresville

If you want to visit a really small town, head to Mooresville, which has fewer than 60 residents to its name. Located about 20 miles southwest of Huntsville, Alabama, Mooresville is 0.1-mile-long and contains six streets. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. Here, clapboard cottages and stately brick buildings are flanked by picket fences and covered by lush oaks and magnolias. Its quiet streets are home to the oldest operational post office in Alabama and the bright white Church of Christ, where President James A. Garfield preached during the Civil War. As such, the entire town is listed under the National Register of Historic Places.

Alaska: Homer

This rugged Alaska town's tourism board encourages travelers to unleash their wild side. And with all of Homer's outdoor activities, it's easier than ever to enjoy heart-pumping adventures in the great outdoors. Homer is located on the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, about 220 miles south of Anchorage. Though the Chugach National Forest, Kenai Fjords National Park and Kachemak Bay State Park are within easy reach, travelers may prefer to stay close to town to admire the Homer Spit, the 4.5-mile-long stretch of land that juts out into the Kachemak Bay. The spit offers recreational activities for visitors, including fishing charters and kayaking tours, as well as miles of beaches.

Arizona: Sedona

Few small towns compare to Sedona. Travelers could easily spend weeks trying to get through all the incredible nooks and crannies this desert paradise has to offer. But did you also know that between all the red rocks, vortexes and spas, Sedona is home to a vibrant arts community? You can find galleries all along both the Arizona State Highway 179 and Highway 89A, but for a one-stop shop, head to the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. The village features numerous art galleries and is a great stop for travelers looking to score unique Southwestern souvenirs.

Arkansas: Eureka Springs

Eureka Springs is not your typical mountain town. Situated in the heart of the Ozarks, its scenic backdrop is complemented by Victorian architecture rather than rows of log cabins. And while outdoor activities are undisputed must-dos (including a stroll through the gardens of the Blue Spring Heritage Center), unconventional spots tend to get more attention from tourists. Don't miss a visit to the Christ of the Ozarks (modeled after Rio de Janeiro's Christ the Redeemer) or the Thorncrown Chapel, which is especially popular with newlyweds. Though if you do want to stick with outdoor pursuits, visit the Lake Leatherwood City Park, which features more than 25 miles of trails.

California: Carmel-by-the-Sea

Nestled between Big Sur and Monterey Bay, Carmel sits atop the bluffs of Carmel Beach, considered one of the best beaches in California. The neighborhood's streets – most of which lead directly to the shore – are worth exploration as well. As a rule, Carmel does not allow chain restaurants or stores within its borders, so treat yourself to one of the many independent shops, restaurants and art galleries that line its idyllic avenues. But what really helps give Carmel its whimsical feel is its collection of English-style cottages that dot the neighborhood, left by architect and former resident Hugh Comstock.

Colorado: Telluride

Consistently considered one of the best places to ski in the country, Telluride boasts nearly 2,000 acres of skiable terrain. Even if you don't want to schuss the slopes, you should still make the trek to Telluride for its magnificent scenery. As you drive into Town Park, you'll immediately be greeted by the stately San Juan Mountains, which tower high above the main street. Another great way to take in Telluride is to drive along the San Juan Parkway, or if you're short on time, visit Bridal Veil Falls, the longest natural free-falling waterfall in Colorado.

Connecticut: Mystic

If you were a fan of "Mystic Pizza," the 1988 movie inspired by the town's restaurant of the same name, you may already be familiar with Mystic, Connecticut. But this southern Connecticut hamlet is so much more than its popular pizza parlor, or the movie that it inspired. Mystic's soothing waterfront setting draws in visitors looking for a low-key vacation. Visitors enjoy strolling through the 18th-century style Olde Mistick Village and admiring the majestic ships docked at the Mystic Seaport, which houses four National Historic Landmark ships, including the last wooden whaleship in the world, the Charles W. Morgan.

Delaware: Rehoboth Beach

This small beach town of 1,500 year-round residents swells to a whopping 25,000 during the summer months thanks to the number of East Coast travelers who flock here to kick back along the town's calm shores. In fact, during the 1920s, the influx of elite travelers from the District of Columbia earned Rehoboth Beach the nickname, the "Nation's Summer Capital." It's also a great spot for families. The water park and mini-golf course at Jungle Jim's will appeal to little ones in need of a beach break, while the boardwalk's Funland amuses all ages with its oceanfront arcade games and rides.

Florida: St. Augustine

St. Augustine is America's oldest city. The city was discovered in 1565 by the Spanish, making it the nation's oldest permanently occupied European settlement. Here, history can be found in at nearly every turn. The bulk of the town is considered to be haunted. Visit the Old Jail on a ghost tour if you're into the paranormal, or head to the Colonial Quarter for a more robust history lesson. Kids will particularly delight in the St. Augustine Wildlife Reserve, the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum and St. Augustine Beach.

Georgia: St. Simons Island

St. Simons Island is the largest barrier island in Georgia's Golden Isles, catering to travelers seeking southern charm by the sea. St. Simons Island's beaches are considered some of the least spoiled of the barrier islands, while its moss-draped oak trees and charming bed-and-breakfasts have helped the island earn a romantic reputation among couples. Visitors tend to park themselves on East Beach, the island's main shoreline, though kayaking through the marshes, inlets and rivers or cycling along the 30 miles of bike paths where you'll run into the famed oaks may be the best way to take in the island's beautiful landscape.

Hawaii: Paia

If you're seeking a bit of local flavor in Hawaii, away from the tourist crowds, visiting one of its small towns is a must. Conveniently situated along Maui's popular Road to Hana, Paia is a surf town with a palpable bohemian vibe. Here, you'll find colorful storefronts, coffee shops, yoga studios, striking street art and delectable restaurants, including Paia Fish Market, a hit with visiting foodies. Once you've gotten your fill of North Shore surf culture, head to Hookipa Beach, which is considered a windsurfing hot spot, to watch surfers and windsurfers tackle the waves.

Idaho: Wallace

Surrounded by forests on each side of town, Wallace frequently leaves visitors in awe of its natural attractions. Hiking, biking and zip lining are popular ways to pass the time here and the best way to soak up Wallace's surroundings. The Blossom Lakes Trail, the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes and Route of the Hiawatha are highly recommended by the town's tourism board. But mining is what initially put Wallace on the map. Wallace is the world's largest producer of silver and offers tours to those interested in the local business. What's more, Wallace's entire downtown area holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Illinois: Galena

This leafy Midwestern town shines particularly bright during the fall. Its vibrant seasonal foliage perfectly complements the Federal buildings that line Main Street Galena, as well as the idyllic white spires that top the town's churches. What's more, the nearby Horseshoe Mound Preserve offers a lookout point that allows travelers to not only view Galena, but also Bellevue, Illinois, and Dubuque, Iowa, the Mississippi River and a handful of other geological structures in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Indiana: Madison

During the 1800s, Madison was part of Indiana's wealthiest county, and instead of investing in farming, businessmen invested in architecture. This left behind beautiful examples of Federal and Greek Revival styles, which can be seen downtown on Main Street. In fact, 133 of the blocks in downtown Madison are listed under the National Register of Historic Places, making it one of the largest National Historic Landmark districts in the country. The town is also known for its many antique stores and is connected to the Indiana Wine Trail.

Iowa: Pella

Iowa may conjure images of rural landscapes dotted with tiny farms, but Pella looks more like the Netherlands. Located 43 miles southeast of Des Moines, Iowa, Pella touts itself as "America's Dutch Treasure." The town was founded by expats looking to create a "city of refuge" for themselves, and they did a good job of making America feel like Holland. Pella Historical Village features more than 100 buildings designed in a Dutch architectural style, and it's also home to the Vermeer Mill and Molengracht Plaza, a shopping and entertainment plaza equipped with its own canal. Visit in May during the Tulip Time Festival to see the town's 36,000 tulips.

Kansas: Cottonwood Falls

Despite it Midwest location, Cottonwood Falls radiates Southern charm along its main street. The brick-lined Broadway Street leads up to the town's stunning French Renaissance courthouse, which not only holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, but is also the state's oldest operating courthouse. What's more, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, one of the only landscapes of its kind left in the U.S., is just 5 miles north of Cottonwood Falls. Meanwhile, Chase State Fishing Lake, a traveler favorite, can be found 3 miles west.

Kentucky: Bardstown

If bourbon is your drink of choice, you should add Bardstown – the bourbon capital of the world – to your bucket list. About 80 percent of the world's bourbon is produced here, and as such the city has a number of attractions inspired by the town's signature spirit. Distillery tours abound, with Willett Distillery and Barton 1792 Distillery being the most popular. There's also Bourbon Manor, a bourbon-themed bed-and-breakfast. But whiskey isn't all Bardstown has to offer: A stroll or horse-drawn carriage ride along the town's downtown area is bound to charm you. Plus, America's fourth-largest Civil War museum can be found on Museum Row.

Louisiana: Natchitoches

Those wanting to experience the charm of New Orleans without the debauchery-filled atmosphere should venture about 250 miles north to Natchitoches. Natchitoches is the oldest town in Louisiana and has held on tightly to its roots as a former French colony. The area's past can be felt most at the National Historic Landmark District, where the buildings on the main thoroughfare, Front Street, are decorated with wrought-iron balconies and lined with brick and stone. Take a horse-drawn carriage through the 33-block district or go on a walk along the serene Cane River Lake.

Maine: Bar Harbor

To acquaint yourself with Maine's stunning topography, head to Bar Harbor. Located next to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is a choice resting place for those traveling to Maine's only national park. But Bar Harbor isn't just a park entry point. Aside from its breathtaking scenery, Bar Harbor offers antique shops, independent bookstores and specialty stores selling everything from hemp attire to artisanal olive oils. And don't forget about the lobster. Every year, more than 5 million lobsters are consumed in Bar Harbor. Grab a traditional roll, or if you're feeling adventurous, get a scoop of lobster ice cream at Ben & Bill's Chocolate Emporium.

Maryland: Annapolis

Depending on who you ask, Annapolis may not qualify as a traditional small town thanks to its sizable population. But with its lovely waterfront location, postcard-worthy, old-fashioned thoroughfares and friendly residents, it has a small-town feel city slickers cling to when they need a quick break. Plus, the crab here is pretty amazing, too. Meander through Historic Annapolis and Ego Alley, where the Maryland capital becomes its most picturesque. You'll also want to visit the United States Naval Academy, the alma mater of notable politicians, such as former President Jimmy Carter and Sen. John McCain.

Massachusetts: Nantucket

Located about 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Nantucket is best known for its relaxing shorelines (it ranks No. 3 on our list of the Most Relaxing Beaches) and pricey lodging and dining rates. But if you're willing to pay a pretty penny, this posh East Coast vacation destination will win you over with its seaside charm (think: little lighthouses, quaint harbors and cobblestone streets). What's more, most of the island's popular attractions are free. Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, the Brant Point Light grounds, Surfside Beach and Jetties Beach are all beautiful points of interest that can be explored at no cost.

Michigan: Traverse City

With its proximity to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Traverse City may seem like the kind of destination that primarily caters to active travelers, but it's actually an up-and-coming foodie hot spot. Not only is Traverse City a choice summer vacation getaway for Mario Batali, it's also home to HGTV star Carter Oosterhouse's Bonobo Winery. Wineries and craft breweries reign supreme here, but the city's biggest claim to foodie fame is its cherries. About 75 percent of the country's tart cherries are produced here, so expect incredible cherry pie in the summertime.

Minnesota: Lanesboro

Lanesboro garners a lot of attention for its location along the Root River State Trail. The scenic trail covers 60 miles in southern Minnesota, snaking along the Root River in Lanesboro. You can walk, bike or skate the paved trail, or rent kayaks, canoes or tubes for a leisurely float down the river. The quaint Historic Lanesboro, which is devoid of chain stores, fast food franchises and stop lights, also warrants a wander. While here, you can also take a tour of the nearby Amish country.

Mississippi: Oxford

You'd think that after the Revolutionary War, Americans would want to stay far away from British influence, but that wasn't the case for Oxford. The little town was named after Oxford University in England in 1841 to convince legislators to move the state's first university to the town. Since then, the town has turned into a source of literary inspiration for authors such as William Faulkner, Willie Morris and John Grisham, who have all called Oxford home. The best time to visit is in April when the town puts on its annual Double Decker Arts Festival, a two-day celebration featuring live music, plenty of food and art demonstrations.

Missouri: Branson

With its abundance of kid-approved things to do, Branson could easily be one of the most family-friendly small towns in the U.S. Silver Dollar City is an 1880s-themed amusement park that offers thrilling rides, theatrical performances and craft pottery and wood carving demonstrations. The town also boasts the White Water Branson water park and the Sight & Sound Theatres, dubbed by some as the "Christian Broadway." Another major draw for visitors is Branson's close proximity to the Ozark Mountains. If you don't have time for a hike, hop on the Branson Scenic Railway, which takes riders through the Ozark foothills from March to December.

Montana: Whitefish

If you're visiting Glacier National Park, Whitefish is a great starting point thanks to its convenient location about 30 miles west of the park. But even if one of the country's most popular national parks wasn't a short drive away, Whitefish could still stand out as a quality destination and a great ski town. Whitefish Mountain Resort features 3,000 acres of terrain just waiting to be shredded. And during the warmer months, City Beach at the glacial Whitefish Lake transforms into a scenic swim spot. Don't miss out on Whitefish's main street either, especially during Christmas. The snowcapped Christmas decorations make the town look like a winter wonderland.

Nebraska: Nebraska City

Nebraska City should be on the top of every history buff's bucket list. One of the town's biggest attractions is the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, which chronicles the findings Lewis & Clark made during their stop in Nebraska. Nebraska City is also home to Mayhew Cabin with John Brown's Cave, the only officially recognized Underground Railroad station in Nebraska. You'll also find the Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, which houses the original estate of J. Sterling Morton, the man who created Arbor Day.

Nevada: Virginia City

If you want to get a taste of the Old West, consider planning a trip to this hamlet less than 30 miles southeast of Reno, Nevada. Virginia City's old-school main street will make you feel as if you've stepped into a John Wayne movie thanks to its numerous saloons and kitschy Western-style restaurants and retailers. But there's much more beneath the surface of this town – literally: Virginia City struck silver in the late 19th century, drawing in thousands of newcomers wanting to make a mining fortune, including Mark Twain. Today, fewer than 1,000 people call this town home, but relics of Virginia City's mining heyday can be found all over.

New Hampshire: Exeter

Exeter is perhaps best known for its namesake prep school, but this town in southeastern New Hampshire is also home to some incredible historical documents. At the American Independence Museum, visitors can view one of the original printings of the Declaration of Independence alongside drafts of the Constitution. After your history lesson, head to Front Street, the town's main thoroughfare, home to a stately gazebo and old-school town hall that oozes New England charm. According to travelers, the Swasey Parkway, located right on the Squamscott River, is quite the picturesque pathway, especially during fall.

New Jersey: Cape May

This small town of nearly 5,000 residents balloons to a population of more than 40,000 during the summer months. Less than a three-hour drive from New York City, this popular vacation spot along the East Coast features large stretches of pristine sand, as well as plenty of charming Victorian buildings, which can be found across town. It's the preservation of these eye-catching structures that helped earn the city its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. In between admiring the shore and the architecture, make time to visit one of the area's vineyards, such as the popular Willow Creek Winery.

New Mexico: Taos

For such a small town, Taos offers diverse points of interest. Located about 70 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Taos is conveniently situated along the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range, affording plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, especially skiers thanks to the Taos Ski Valley Resort. Culture hounds will also enjoy a visit to Taos thanks to the traditional adobe structures that house restaurants, shops and art museums. The Taos Pueblo – an active Native American community that's also a UNESCO World Heritage site – is by far the most striking. Before you leave, don't miss checking out the Rio Grande from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.

New York: Woodstock

Audiophiles may trek to this town in Ulster County, New York, for its connection to the famous Woodstock Festival, but contrary to popular belief, the historic event wasn't actually held here. It took place 60 miles southwest in Bethel, New York. However, the town – and its thriving arts community – did inspire the festival's name. Today, the arts remain a central component of Woodstock’s character. It features art galleries, studios, stages and learning centers, including the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, the same artist colony that helped serve as inspiration for the festival.

North Carolina: Beaufort

Enchanted by the filming locations of Nicholas Sparks movies? Then you'll want to visit Beaufort, which served as the backdrop of the film adaptation "The Choice." Located along North Carolina's Crystal Coast, the town is the epitome of seaside charm, especially at its downtown marina. To fully experience Beaufort's picturesque landscape, take a boat tour across Taylor's Creek and the Bogue Sound or visit Rachel Carson Reserve, where wild horses run free among the marshes. And if you've got little ones in tow, educate them on Beaufort's pirate history by setting sail with one of the town's many pirate re-enactment troupes.

North Dakota: Medora

Situated within the Badlands of North Dakota, Medora is the perfect jumping-off point for starting your exploration of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which is located in Medora's backyard. To better understand America's 26th president, consider purchasing tickets to "A Teddy Roosevelt Salute to Medora," where a Roosevelt re-enactor educates travelers on Roosevelt's life in North Dakota.

Ohio: Oberlin

In Oberlin, the university is the main attraction. Oberlin College is a highly regarded liberal arts college that has made some serious strides throughout its history. It was the first higher education university to grant women bachelor's degrees and later, one of the first colleges to admit African American students. The town carries an interesting history: During the late 1800s, Oberlin was given the title "the town that started the Civil War" for a slave rescue that helped raise awareness about the abolitionist movement nationwide.

Oklahoma: Guthrie

Located about 33 miles north of Oklahoma City, Guthrie serves as a sweet respite if you're looking to get away from the city for a day or two. The 19th-century stone facades that permeate Guthrie's historic downtown area beckon to be admired. With Guthrie's old-fashioned architecture, it probably comes as no surprise that the town once served as Oklahoma's spooky state capital. Those interested in learning about its haunted history can take part in a ghost hunting tour. Another popular activity is visiting the Scottish Rite Temple, one of the country's largest Masonic centers. And if you're an antique collector, make sure to stop at Recollections Antique Mall.

Oregon: Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is the perfect playground for those who want to get acquainted with the stunning geography of the Pacific Northwest. The town is surrounded by multiple state parks and of course, its namesake stretch of sand. Cannon Beach is regularly regarded as one of the most beautiful shorelines in not only Oregon, but the whole of the West Coast. And while it's easy to spend your days hiking through the rainforest of Ecola State Park or snapping photos of Haystack Rock, you should make time to peruse the offerings of the village-style downtown Cannon.

Pennsylvania: Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe's picturesque location in the middle of the Poconos has helped it earn its nickname as the "Switzerland of America." Take a walk around town and you'll quickly see why. With the right amount of snow, Jim Thorpe's winding streets and Victorian architecture could definitely leave some feeling as if they're strolling through an alpine European village. But your main focus here should be the outdoors. Hike the nearly 8-mile-long Glen Onoko Falls Trail or hop on the scenic Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. And if you're feeling adventurous, consider whitewater rafting down the Lehigh River.

Rhode Island: Newport

Situated at the southern tip of Rhode Island's Aquidneck Island, Newport features lovely lighthouses, blue bays filled with swaying sailboats and charming main streets awash with specialty shops. Though Newport's ritzy reputation (as evidenced by the island's many mega mansions) may not appeal to every traveler, its attractions are unique for a beach town. The National Museum of American Illustration can be found here, as well as the Touro Synagogue, the country's oldest synagogue.

South Carolina: Beaufort

Beaufort is the epitome of Southern charm. Antebellum architecture and moss-laden oak trees can be found throughout this part of the coastal low country. Aside from its great aesthetics, what makes Beaufort stand out is its storied history. Beaufort is home to Civil War-era homes, and it also once played host to notorious pirate Blackbeard, who came ashore to the scenic Hunting Island State Park during the 18th century. But one of the most attractive elements of Beaufort is its convenience: It's about an hour's drive from Savannah, Georgia, and less than two hours from Charleston, South Carolina.

South Dakota: Deadwood

Deadwood's lively country spirit can be attributed to its Wild West roots. Thanks to the Black Hills gold rush that took place in the late 1800s, this was a true rough-and-tumble town full of outlaws like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. People came here in search of a fortune, and would kill to get it. Some of the most notorious gunslingers can be found at the Mount Moriah Cemetery, but most visitors choose to relive Deadwood's past with a walking tour through the town's main street, home to saloons and shootout re-enactments.

Tennessee: Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is a choice destination for those looking to explore the Great Smoky Mountains. The town boasts three entrances to one of America's most visited national parks, and during peak tourist seasons (fall and summer), the population swells from less than 4,000 to 40,000 people. But this mountain town is not just a gateway to the Smokies, boasting several must-see attractions in its own right. Admire the leafy scenery from atop the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway or the Gatlinburg Space Needle before sampling local moonshine or watching Appalachian craft demonstrations along the 8-mile Arts & Crafts loop.

Texas: Marfa

It's hard to believe this desert town of 1,700 residents is a nationally renowned arts hub. But with the arrival of artist Donald Judd in the 1970s, Marfa underwent a transformation. Since then, creative types have migrated here to set up shop, giving the town a quirky edge that has drawn the likes of Beyonce. Expect galleries galore, including the Chinati Foundation, which curates some of Judd's work, as well as some interesting eateries. Stop by the weekend-only Grilled Cheese Parlour or Marfa’s Burritos, where a Marfa resident cooks you a burrito in her own kitchen. There's also the roadside Prada installation, where onlookers can view the brand's latest accessories.

Utah: Park City

With all the attention Park City receives, you might be surprised to learn that fewer than 8,100 people call this place home. Not only did Park City lend its terrain to the 2002 Winter Olympics, but the town also plays host to the annual Sundance Film Festival. And it's easy to see why the city was selected for such important events. Park City's surrounding lush mountains are stunning and the Historic Main Street, which has been preserved from its days as a mining town, offers plenty of charm. What's more, the city is sandwiched between two top-notch ski resorts, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort.

Vermont: Stowe

Stowe is one giant playground for outdoor enthusiasts. And if you count ice cream among one of your favorite desserts, you'll likely delight in this mountain town as well. That's because among the surplus of picturesque wilderness pathways, state parks and mountain resorts sits Ben & Jerry's Waterbury Factory. The best time to visit this Vermont gem is during the fall, when the season's vibrant foliage is ideal for leaf peeping.

Virginia: Chincoteague Island

Chincoteague garnered lots of attention thanks to the novel-turned-movie, "Misty of Chincoteague," but the island retains an authentic charm. This petite Virginia town is 7 miles long and 3 miles wide and maintains a nostalgic, carefree atmosphere with quaint cottages, relaxing shores and an absence of high-rises and boardwalks. Another unique attribute: the wild horses on neighboring Assateague Island. No one knows how the animals initially got to the island, but it's estimated that they have inhabited the area for more than 400 years. You can observe the horses from several different viewing points within the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge.

Washington: Leavenworth

Leavenworth is proof that you don't have to leave the U.S. to get a taste of Europe. Situated a little more than two hours east of Seattle, Leavenworth is modeled after a Bavarian village. In the 1960s, town leaders tried to figure out a way to draw more tourism to Leavenworth and looked to the surrounding mountains for inspiration. To them, the mountain's glory was comparable to that found in Bavaria. To acquaint yourself with Leavenworth's Bavarian flair, meander along Front Street, which features shops selling products actually imported from Germany. Or, time your visit for the fall during the town's annual Oktoberfest celebration.

West Virginia: Lewisburg

This small town of nearly 4,000 residents prides itself on having the kind of artistic flair you'd typically find in a big city. Lewisburg houses one of four remaining Carnegie Halls in the entire world. Here, live music is known to make an appearance in local eateries and it's not uncommon to find a busker or two downtown. Plus, 50 art galleries call Lewisburg home. It's easy to get swept up in Lewisburg's local culture, but if you can peel yourself away, venture to the leafy Greenbrier River or explore the trails of George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

Wisconsin: Bayfield

Situated on the northern tip of western Wisconsin, Bayfield is a beautiful home base for those looking to explore Lake Superior. While Bayfield's leafy rolling hills, Victorian homes and orchard and berry farms are certainly worth a visit, consider staying closer to the water. In Bayfield, Lake Superior's 21 Apostle Islands are within easy reach thanks to Apostle Islands Cruises, which offers transportation and tours to the islands daily. While here, you'll also want to kayak around the striking Meyers Sea Caves, located about 18 miles west of Bayfield.

Wyoming: Jackson Hole

The magic of Jackson Hole is no longer kept under wraps, but its small-town charm hasn't changed one bit. Jackson Hole's downtown pays homage to its country spirit, with traditional log and stone-based buildings as well as saloon-style entertainment, including the hard-to-miss Million Dollar Cowboy Bar and the Jackson Hole Playhouse. While its main thoroughfares warrant exploration, visitors tend to travel to Jackson Hole to ski at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. What's more, Grand Teton National Park is just 5 miles north of the town square.
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Rachel Center, Staff Writer

Rachel Center is an Editor for the Travel section at U.S. News, where she writes and edits ...  Read more

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