Sometimes a small town getaway is just what you need to slow down and hit refresh. These 17 beautiful small towns deliver relaxation and recreation with a heavy dose of charm, proving that bigger isn’t always better. From the beaches of Florida to the mountains of Alaska, this roundup has a place for everyone.
For an extra helping of small-town charm, consider choosing a vacation rental as your accommodation. Whether you want to stay in peace and seclusion in a rural cabin, or closer to a lively town center in a downtown condo, you can find what you’re looking for with a vacation rental. Plus, you’ll get homey amenities like a full kitchen, laundry, and perhaps even a porch or a private pool. Once you’ve settled on one of these beautiful small towns, you can book your rental property, tours, activities, and other travel experiences right on TripAdvisor!
Known as “the little town that rocks,” Black Mountain is the place to go to pull up a rocking chair and relax the day away while admiring gorgeous mountain scenery. Stretch your legs on a stroll through the historic downtown or enjoy a food tour featuring authentic Southern eats.
“The host of the food [tour], Sam, is so knowledgeable and funny throughout the tour, and [its] well-planned to experience the best local eateries in the area with good food, beer, and desserts to enjoy.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
Camden is the quintessential New England town, so picturesque that it has literally been the poster child for the region in movies such as “Carousel” and “Peyton Place.” Stroll through the historic downtown to see why—with its tall church steeples and 19th-century architecture, Camden oozes historical charm. Plus, it offers plenty to do. Take a classic sail around the harbor, fish off the coast, or spend time sightseeing at the town’s classic lighthouse or signature seal statue.
Fernandina Beach is a beautiful small town located on Amelia Island off Florida’s Atlantic Coast. The beach itself is an obvious attraction—Fort Clinch State Park and Main Beach Park are local favorites that can be explored on a groovy electric skateboard. The town is also known for its vibrant arts scene and wonderfully fresh Southern-style seafood.
Whether you prefer to hit the links or reel in big fish, you’ll feel like you’re in a small town paradise when visiting St. Simons Island in Georgia’s Golden Isles. In addition to its miles of luxury golf courses, St. Simons is a great place to swim and sightsee. Visiting the historic Christ Church is a must for history buffs, and kids will love running wild on the Fishing Pier and East Beach.
Rumor has it Ponce de Leon came to St. Augustine in search of the Fountain of Youth—sip the waters at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park to see for yourself. Learn the long history of the oldest European settlement in the United States on a downtown ghost tour, or see over 100 points of interest in just an hour on a hop-on, hop-off tour. Between sightseeing, you can’t miss fun activities like dolphin tours or a sunset cruise.
Sitka might be one of the most beautiful small towns in the United States, but the surrounding landscape is unabashedly big. Hike or drive up to the top of the Harbor Mountain Trail to take in larger-than-life views of surrounding Baranof Island along the Alaska Panhandle. You can take a quick drive to nearby hiking trails, but you don’t even need to leave town to see wildlife at the Alaska Raptor Center. At the right time of year, you might catch sight of migrating whales on a whale-watching cruise.
Skiing is the name of the game in Stowe, a beautiful small town located in the mountains of Vermont. If you’re not the skiing type, you’ll find it’s still a great town to relax at the spa or hit up some breweries. In the summertime, enjoy the gorgeous scenery of the area by exploring the Stowe Recreation Path or Moss Glen Falls.
Get a taste of Danish culture in Southern California on a visit to Solvang, a beautiful small town set apart by its old-world architecture and renowned bakeries and wineries (a winning combination for a day on the town). You can’t miss a photo op at Solvang windmill, the town’s signature architectural feature.
Given its name, you’ll find the town of Deadwood surprisingly lively. Walk through the historic downtown for a taste of authentic cowboy culture, visiting at night to try your luck at a handful of hopping casinos like Mineral Place. You can also get a taste of local history at the Adams House, which has remained unchanged since 1936.
If the mountains are calling, Big Sky’s the place to go. Located at the edge of Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky is a beautiful small town nestled high in the Gallatin National Forest. Use the town as your basecamp for the wealth of outdoor adventures that Montana provides, from hiking to rafting to hitting the slopes.
Hanalei is a beautiful small town in Hawaii known for its picture-perfect beaches and paradisiacal botanical gardens. Make the most of your visit by riding some waves (try a surf lesson if you’re not sure where to start), or aim for romance on a sunset dinner cruise. The town also boasts the historic Wai`oli Hui`ia Church and gorgeous pier that’s perfect for catching the majestic Hawaiian sunset.
This beautiful small town in Colorado is known for its annual bluegrass festival and world-class slopes, but it’s also full of small-town charm that you can find while strolling down Main Street. Telluride is a great base for hiking trails that show off the gorgeous scenery of the San Juan Mountains.
Healdsburg is definitely a spot for wine enthusiasts, with plenty of wine tours to prove it, but the quaint downtown is a refreshing change of pace from larger wine country locales. If you’re not into wine, Healdsburg also has access to the Russian River and Lake Sonoma for outdoor adventures everyone can enjoy.
Part historic village, part national park, Harpers Ferry has something for everyone. A number of historic landmarks make you feel like you’re walking through a 19th-century Appalachian village, while scenic viewpoints and easy access to hiking trails (including the Appalachian Trail) ensure you never get bored. Make sure to check out the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters and the Point, where you can see the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers converge.
Galena is one of the most beautiful small towns you’ll find in the Midwest. It’s well-stocked with historical homes including the Ulysses S. Grant Home, gifted to the country’s president after the Civil War. After a day of touring sites and monuments, wind down with a taste of craft spirits at Blaum Bros. Distilling Co., the most popular watering hole in town.
While Oregon may not be your first thought for a beach getaway, the beautiful small town of Cannon Beach certainly deserves to be. Even if it’s not swimming season, you’ll still enjoy the expansive sandy shores of Cannon Beach where you can snap photos of Haystack Rock, a large boulder that protrudes out of the water. You can even visit on a day trip from Portland!
Full of quintessential Southern charm, Beaufort is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful small towns in the United States. Even Hollywood agrees—see where more than two dozen movies were filmed throughout the town on a movie and history tour, then relax with a bowl of the town’s signature frogmore stew or a stroll along the Waterfront Park.