Though you’ll probably want to move to the one nicknamed “9,000 feet above stress level.” Here are 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2016!
1. Seward, Alaska
Perfect for: Those who love want to try new outdoor activities like heli-skiing (off-trail downhill skiing accessible by helicopter), dog sledding, and more.
Main attractions: Caines Head, Fox Island, or the Aialik Glacier — these outdoor areas are perfect for kayaking and other outdoor activities, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot wildlife, The Smithsonian says. Try your hand at dog sledding at the nearby Iditarod Trail.
2. Hot Springs, Arkansas
Perfect for: Those who want a good spa day.
Main attractions: The Buckstaff Bathhouse, which was opened in 1912, gives visitors the chance to soak in the mineral waters that Hot Springs is famous for. While you’re there, explore the Hot Springs National Park, which offers scenic hiking trails.
3. Town of Mammoth Lakes, California
Perfect for: Those wanting to bask in sunshine while hitting the slopes — the town has an estimated 300 days of sunshine each year and sits at the base of the Sierra mountain range.
Main attractions: The small town is located just 40 miles from Yosemite National Park and sits adjacent to mountains with some of the best powder in California. The Mammoth Creek and Convict Lake are also popular spots for visitors looking to fish or relax by the water.
4. Mancos, Colorado
Perfect for: Those who love Western movies, or dream of seeing the Wild West at its prime.
Main attractions: Most visitors check out the Columbine, which is one of Colorado’s oldest bars and resembles a traditional saloon, and the Mancos Opera House, built in 1899 and rebuilt in 1910 after a fire. And if you’re looking to take in the great outdoors, Mesa Verde National Park is located 10 minutes from town.
5. Dahlonega, Georgia
Perfect for: Those who love wine and want to see stunning vineyards.
Main attractions: Known as the heart of Georgia’s “wine country,” visitors can experience its best wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms during Dahlonega’s annual Wine Trail Weekend, held every August. You can also take in the town’s Gold Rush history by checking out the Crisson Gold Mine
6. Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona), Hawaii
Perfect for: Those who want to do more than just sunbathe when visiting Hawaii.
Main attractions: Pay a visit to the nearby Hulihee Palace, one of only three royal palaces in the United States and home to King Kamehameha I’s brother-in-law. If you’re planning a visit, try to schedule your stay during the renowned annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival in November — a coffee lovers paradise!
7. Bar Harbor, Maine
Perfect for: Those who love seafood, especially a delicious lobster roll.
Main attractions: If you’re trying to eat as much lobster as possible — think lobster rolls, lobster linguini, lobster enchiladas, and even lobster ice cream — check out Galyn’s Restaurant, Stewman’s Lobster Pound, and Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium (the inventor and home of lobster ice cream). And you can work off all that great food by visiting Acadia National Park, which has the best views of this picturesque small town.
8. Berlin, Maryland
Perfect for: Those looking for small-town pride and spirit — the destination was given the Maryland Municipal League Achievement Award for Town Spirit in 2015.
Main attractions: Explore the “Horses at the Beach” history trail that takes you to several locations in this small town, and make sure to check out the historic downtown area. If it looks familiar that’s because it was the setting for Julia Robert’s character’s hometown in the film Runaway Bride
9. Houghton, Michigan
Perfect for: Those who want a remote escape — the nearest city is four hours away and it’s known for being an off-the-beaten-path destination.
Main attractions: Hockey fans will love this small town, which is known as the birthplace of professional hockey. Fans should check out the town’s original rink, “The Dee,” built in 1902 (and rebuilt in the 1920s after a fire). And if you’re up for seeing more of the town’s history, you can get acquainted with the world’s largest deposit of native copper that the town sits on by visiting the A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum.
10. Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Perfect for: Those who want to explore the best the Gulf has to offer.
Main attractions: After spending the day boating, fishing, and birding at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, head to award-winning main street for your choice of seafood from a row of restaurants including Aunt Jenny’s Catfish Restaurant. This town has become renowned for its comeback after Hurricane Katrina, and for the Gulf Hills Hotel hotel manager who saved the lives of over 300 people stuck in flood waters.
11. Bryson City, North Carolina
Perfect for: Those who want an outdoor adventure.
Main attractions: Zipline through the forest on the Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour, go whitewater rafting, tubing down a creek, hiking, or take in the beautiful waterfall — all of these activities will let you experience the beauty of the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Basically, you’ll want to spend all your time outdoors in this scenic town.
12. Jacksonville, Oregon
Perfect for: Those who want to see perfectly preserved historic treasures.
Main attractions: You’ll find 19th-century historic buildings sprinkled all over this small town, which was named the first National Historic Landmark in America in 1966. Check out the famous Jacksonville Inn, which was built from sandstone containing specks of actual gold, and the Lost Creek Reservoir where you can see Oregon’s beautiful countryside and spectacular waterfall.
13. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Perfect for: Those who want to visit a charming country town that offers plenty of things to do.
Main attractions: Before visiting Dollywood — Dolly Parton’s theme park — in the next town over, visit Gatlinburg’s downtown distilleries, renowned for their local moonshine, and take in the views of this pretty small town and the nearby Great Smoky Mountains by riding the Sky Lift.
14. Alpine, Texas
Perfect for: Those who want to experience cowboy life and the beauty of sky country.
Main attractions: See how the town embraces its western heritage at the Museum of the Big Bend, take in some storytelling at the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering. See the best cowboys show off their ranch skills at the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo, and finish the day by chowing down on some authentic Mexican cuisine at La Casita.
15. Moab, Utah
Perfect for: Those who want to see out-of-this-world scenery. This striking destination has been the backdrop for several films like John Ford’s Stagecoach and Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours.
Main attractions: Soak up some natural beauty at two nearby national parks, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, and see why Moab is called “dinosaur country” at scenic spots like Dinosaur Diamond, Moab’s Giants Museum, and the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Trail.
16. Springdale, Utah
Perfect for: Those who love a clear view of the stars at night.
Main attractions: This gem, located outside of Zion National Park, is known for its daytime and nighttime beauty (it was name one of the prettiest towns in the United States by Forbes Traveler in 2008). After a panoramic hike, visitors can take in a spectacular view of the stars from the canyon or cliffs during one of the town’s Night Sky Events.
17. Port Angeles, Washington
Perfect for: Those who love incredible ocean views and marine life.
Main attractions: Spend your time taking in picturesque mountain and ocean views by hiking through the Olympic National Park and the Olympic Discovery Trail. And if you visit in the late spring to early fall, you’re likely to see orcas, gray whales, and humpback whales. Port Angeles is one of the country’s top whale-watching destinations.
18. Cody, Wyoming
Perfect for: Those who want to see the heart of America’s wilderness.
Main attractions: Check out Yellowstone National Park, which President Theodore Roosevelt called, “the 50 most beautiful miles in America.” While you’re there, you’re bound to see elk, bison, bighorn sheep, falcons, eagles, and even more wildlife in the park’s valleys. And if that doesn’t thrill you, the park is also home to Old Faithful, the most famous geyser in the world. After spending time outdoors, you can check out one of the five museums in town like the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
19. Coral Bay, Saint John
Perfect for: Those who want a taste of the Caribbean while experiencing the delights of a small town.
Main attractions: Immerse yourself in the beauty of the island by renting snorkel equipment to see yellowtail snappers, barracudas, and sea turtles beneath the water’s surface. Then head over to Virgin Islands National Park to go boating, hiking, or swimming in paradise. Really immerse yourself in island life and sleep among the trees by renting an eco-friendly tent at the Concordia resort.
20. Cloudcroft, New Mexico
Perfect for: Those who want to get away from it all — surrounded by trees and situated at a high altitude, the town is described as “9,000 feet above stress level.”
Main attractions: Go sledding or dune driving through the White Sands National Monument, and make sure to set aside time for a hike. Check out one of Cloudcroft’s many trails to see waterfalls and to catch a view of the clouds blanketing the ground. A spectacular and unique scene that inspired the small town’s name.
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