1. Beaufort, SC
Beaufort has consistently been rated among America’s most beautiful small towns, and it doesn’t take much effort to see why. Whether it’s the sunset over the pier or the mossy willows that surround some of the ancient, preserved plantation houses, this town is full of everything that makes South Carolina one of the best states to travel through.
Apparently the residents have taken notice to their status as a beautiful small town, too. All of the local parks are pristine, and preservation of the older, historical homes has taken the front seat. While we recommend watching the sun rise while fishing on the pier, there are too many ways to enjoy this hidden gem of the south. The historical value of a city like this goes far beyond its beauty, though, and makes it even more alluring for that fact alone. You can keep up with everything going on in Beaufort here.
2. Holland, MI
Have you ever witnessed a field of tulips in bloom? Well, if you haven’t, you should probably get on that, and there’s no place better to do that in America than in Holland, Michigan. Although you may just come to check out the flowers, there’s much more to this town than that. The windmills are a sight that are rarely seen anymore, but there’s something awe-inspiring about the windmills swinging behind all of the tulips in spring.
Even long after the tulips are gone, though, there’s plenty to love about a Michigan summer. The beaches are clean, and the air is much fresher, and less humid, than the beaches down south. A stroll down the beach, taking in the lake and Holland’s historic lighthouse is sheer bliss, and they even have their own craft brewery. It’s no wonder why Holland is also one of Michigan’s most-visited tourists locations, too.
3. Breckenridge, CO
Sure, you may know Breckenridge Brewing Company, but we bet you would have never guessed that there’s a town in Colorado that’s even more perfect than the beers of the same name. If you’ve ever closed your eyes and imagined a town that’s the true definition of winter, it probably looks something that’s pretty much spot on this town. Bolstering a high number of local ski trails and some of the most pure, white snow you’ll ever see, Breckenridge looks like a place you could only imagine.
The best thing is that its beauty doesn’t just end when the snow melts. Once it’s all gone, the mountains become the ideal place for hiking for everyone from beginners to expert climbers. Mountain biking and whitewater rafting keeps both locals and tourists alike amused until winter comes again. Is there ever a bad time to be in Breckenridge? Nope.
4. Asheville, NC
Resting on the outskirts of the Great Smokey Mountains, Asheville is a mecca for both art and culture. Aside from the gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains, the downtown area is filled with interesting architecture and sculptures that you won’t find anywhere else. It all probably has something to do with the fact that it’s a college town that houses an impressive art program, but you still can’t help but feel like you’re entering the Twilight Zone at times.
You’ll see everything from hippy-dippy drum circles to people riding giant bicycles down the street, but it’s all part of the charm. Even if all that action isn’t for you, there’s still one hell of a view from cabins that overlook the entire city. The city at sunset is easily one of the most peaceful, romantic views we’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something.
5. Camden, ME
What’s that? You don’t think there’s a reason to go visit Maine? That’s cute. The truth is that you couldn’t be more wrong. Bay towns like Camden provide plenty of entertainment for any traveler looking to explore a region of the country that they never thought they’d visit. Sure, the winters can be pretty brutal at times, but that just makes the winters all the better. Instead of frying in the summer heat in August, you can take a peaceful, temperate stroll down one of the main streets.
While it might get a little nippy at times, early to mid fall is the best time to enjoy this spot. The fall colors form the perfect backdrop to the small town canopy that’s already flourishing with tiny, local shops and plenty of little restaurants that are filled with local fare of all types. There’s something truly special about watching the fog roll off of the bay, surrounded by ships.
6. Chautauqua, NY
Chautaq-what?! Yeah, the name is a little different, but don’t let that distract you from the natural beauty of this spot. Sure, it might be under quite a few feet of snow right now, but Chautauqua has been a summer travel destination for many along the east coast for over a century. What it all comes down to is the fact that there are a plethora of fantastic, old mansions in the area that are still in use today. Pair that with the view of the lake and you’ll see why this made our list.
It’s wild to see what the height of architecture was back in the day, and you certainly won’t catch many of these types of mansions left in the U.S.. If you get the chance, stay in one of the local inns, which were built off of the foundation of the original houses from the early 1900’s. Chautauqua is one of those places that provides world-class options for both boating and fishing, all while having plenty of history to read into while you’re at it.
7. Woods Hole, MA
Woods Hole stands out among the rest of the towns in the area for a variety of reasons. Sure, like many other places around Cape Cod, it’s a haven for many looking to escape the heat of summer, and it even has its own bay, but it’s much more than that. Resting alongside the town lies the Shining Sea Bikeway, which provides bikers with mile after mile of shining oceans to take in as they ride along.
Aside from that, the Cape Cod heritage has been well-preserved, and the buildings look as if they are painted anew every year. If you really want to see Woods Hole’s true beauty, you have to go out on a boat and look at it from a distance. The shining, blue water on a sunny day mixed with the vibrant colors of the buildings will leave you in awe.
8. Jefferson City, MO
Sure, it’s the capital city of Missouri, but it’s definitely a small capital city, which earned it a spot on our list. Nowadays it’s not too uncommon to see smaller cities falling apart, but Jefferson City is a prime example of small town Midwestern architecture that has been well-preserved as time has elapsed. Even the little diners remain in the same spot that they have for decades, and don’t even get us started about how amazing the capitol building looks.
Whether you’re just stopping by as you cross the Missouri River to check out the Lewis & Clark Monument, or you’re staying awhile to learn the history of the area, there’s something special about the place, which may be small, but still has plenty of character. While there, make sure to tour the old Missouri State Penitentiary. It’s pretty creepy, but in the best way possible.
9. Key West, FL
Ah, the Conch Republic. Key West has a time-honored tradition of doing things on its own terms, and with the true beauty of a place like this, they can go ahead and keep doing their own thing. Whether it’s taking in the beautiful colors of the houses along the streets or admiring the art deco styling around the town, there’s plenty of man-made beauty to enjoy, but that’s not even the best part…
Being the southernmost city in the Continental U.S., Key West is pretty far detached from the closest major city, and the natural beauty of the local islands and beaches is unmatched. There are so many local islands to explore that you could spend days on days exploring, and still find new things every day. Not only that, but the fishing and diving is perfect for any time of the year, because it literally never gets cold down there, making it the perfect spot for a scenic wedding as well…
10. Sedona, AZ
Good grief, now that’s a view! The general geological formations can only be found in the American Southwest, and it’s kind of amazing to see a town nestled up alongside it. The area’s climate is summarized by hot, dry days and cool nights that are perfect for warming up by the fire. Also, the light pollution is few and far between; giving you one of the best views that you’re likely to find in the comfort of the town.
Fortunately, you can almost guarantee that the weather will be decent year-round, making it the perfect escape for any time of the year. Plenty of biking and hiking trails will lead you to some of the most impressive views in the southwest. You should definitely also spend some time away from people while you’re there. It’s the perfect place for some alone time to find yourself.
11. Berlin, MD
Berlin is not only one of the coolest small towns in America, but it’s also one of the most beautiful. Well, beautiful in the different kind of way. Architecture isn’t consistent, as it’s one of the oldest on this list, but you have to appreciate the various styles from all the eras that influenced the area. Everything from Federal to Early 20th Century style buildings can be found within its confines.
Not only have they worked to preserve the buildings, but you can even find shops that are remnants f the not-so-distant past. Everything from an old school toy store to a leather shop can be found on the main strip, and there’s even an amazing historic inn that you have to stay at when you stop by the town (Hotel Atlantic). Gotta love a town that cares about its history.
12. Fish Creek, WI
We love Wisconsin! Well, Fish Creek in particular, but the whole state never ceases to amaze. The sunset over Lake Michigan on the bay can’t be beat, and the whole town just has this old school, colonial air to it, which is kind of odd for a city in the Midwest, but we dig it. Even the most recognizable buildings in town have more of a Cape Cod style to them, and they’ve all been kept in pristine condition.
There is, without a doubt, no better time to be in Fish Creek than in the summer. The local lakes and waterways make for great fishing and canoeing. Once the winter comes around, though, you can do things in this community that you can’t do in many other places. Whether you choose to go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride or going snowshoeing through the backwoods, you’re sure to find an experience that you won’t soon forget.
13. Nevada City, CA
Wait, is this a town out of the old west that they just happened to restore and modernize? Well, pretty much. Nevada City has been around since 1849, when it was first settled by miners during the gold rush. In fact, it’s in the National Registry of Historic Places, and most of the buildings were built in the 19th century.
Old gaslights still light the streets, and the whole place just has a very rustic vibe to it, but you literally feel like you’re stepping into the scenes of a modern-day John Wayne set when you first drive through town. Afterwards, you can go through the surrounding nature preserves and catch a show at the historic Nevada Theater in town. It’s one of the few old-style theaters still left in the area.
14. Leavenworth, WA
Surely this place can’t be real, can it? Well, it is. German-style buildings make this place more like a gingerbread village in the snow than something that a town that actually exists. Even long after Christmas is over, the twinkling lights shine throughout the night, and it gives the town a cheery glow to it, despite the chilly weather.
Once the snow melts away, it’s still the perfect area to find hiking and nature trails. There are very few places that you can’t find so many German-style buildings in the same place, and it almost seems out of place among the mountains of Washington, but that only adds to how special it is, and it’s an enduring trait that keeps many coming back.
15. Galena, IL
Many memories of small town America are being left to waste away in the countryside, but that’s far from the case in Galena, where history is being preserved, and it’s as beautiful as ever. Regardless of the season, the small town charm of this town just seems to have an allure to it that can’t be seen in many places. The rustic, red brick buildings stand out in every season, and the streets themselves still hold the same family-operated stores that have been there for decades.
Not only is there a local ski resort for winter fun, but they have a booming scene for anyone who appreciates contemporary arts and local drinks. Whether it’s beer, wine, or spirits; you’re sure to find something excellent. The rolling hills of the area also provide romantic experiences for anyone looking for an a weekend escape in a cabin. Actually, you might as well just go ahead and buy one, because you’re never going to want to leave.
16. Ketchum, ID
Although it’s hard to believe, winter is the lifeblood for some cities located throughout the Rockies. Ketchum is one of those cities that just kind of remind you of the North Pole in a way. Well, if the North Pole were a real city, that is. Something about this place just makes you want to shop for gifts and get ready for Christmas, regardless of the time of the year.
The Sun Valley Ski Resort in the background only makes this experience all the better. As impressive as the slopes look from the city, the town looks even more amazing when you’re at the top of one of the local peaks at night. Ultimately winter is best enjoyed in towns like Ketchum, where the snowy mountains and festive lights make the holidays seem all the more beautiful.
17. The Dalles, OR
That view, though… On a clear, late spring day you’ll get to view not only field after field of beautiful wildflowers, but also the towering peak of Mount Hood. The rolling hills and natural beauty of the area provide one of the most picturesque backdrops for any city in the entire country.
The whole town is also surrounded by an extensive amount of nature preserves and wineries as well; giving you the perfect opportunity to take in a romantic view. There are also a number of cabin rentals in the area, which will allow you to immerse yourself in the nature even more. Sure, sometimes the view isn’t everything, but when you want to talk about a city that’s made more beautiful by its backdrop, there’s no better example than that of The Dalles.
18. Edgartown, MA
Nestled along the mighty Atlantic, Edgartown is a summer haven for anyone looking to enjoy a nice, breezy day in the bay. Featuring classic Eastern Atlantic architecture throughout, this area of Martha’s Vineyard has gained its reputation as one of the most beautiful small towns in America due to a continued tradition of keeping the place both clean and full of tradition.
The best time to visit is definitely in the summer, where the cool breeze off the ocean whips in throughout the town. There’s no better way to enjoy a day in town than loading up a picnic basket and drinking some lemonade on the beach. The town also has an extensive number of bed & breakfasts that are converts from the houses of some of the old whaling captains that originally inhabited the area. If you’re looking for a place to escape from the humid summer heat, there’s no better respite than that along the shores of Edgartown.
19. Marietta, OH
The Ohio River has been a haven for sternwheels of all kinds for well over a century, and every year they come to gather on the banks of Marietta. Some are big, some are small, but every one of them has a unique identity within themselves, and what better place to hold such a festival than in a town with the historic beauty of Marietta?
Iconic for its clock tower, the red brick of Marietta stands out among the green hills surrounding it. In an age when it’s commonplace to see small river towns being left to waste away, it’s impressive to see Marietta maintaining its natural beauty as time progresses. You really do need to stop by for the Sternwheel Festival if you’re in the area, and don’t forget to explore the town while you’re at it!
Have any other small towns that you felt should have been on the list? Let everyone know in the comment box below!