There’s something incredibly charming about small towns in the US, from the close-knit communities to the local hangouts. Growing up in these scenic locations, which have fewer than 5,000 residents according to the US Census Bureau, is a unique experience, and visiting a place can even give you that warm and fluffy feeling. These tiny towns almost always offer something unique, but some in the US have particularly stunning settings. We all have different ideas about what defines “beauty”, whether you prefer to tour historic buildings or feel the breeze in a seaside town. With that in mind, our travel experts have suggested a range of small towns that offer different amenities, views and experiences that might catch your eye. Read on to discover America’s 10 Most Beautiful Small Towns
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Head over to the west coast and you will find a true hidden gem, Sherry ArkfeldTravel blogger and author of Digital Nomad and a Dog, narrated Best life.
“Mt. Shasta City is a town of about 3,500 people that sits at the base of Mount Shasta itself,” explains Arkfeld, who grew up in Northern California. “The view of the mountains is a big reason why this town is so beautiful, but [the city of] Mt. Shasta is pretty on its own too.”
Visitors are given a warm welcome here, she adds, and will take you back to the early 20th century, “when the town became popular with timber workers.”
“In the summer, visitors can enjoy nearby Lake Siskiyou,” says Arkfeld. “Adventurers can climb to the top of the mountain where on a clear day you can see as far as the Pacific Ocean.”
Winter is also a scenic time to explore the city, as Arkfeld describes Mt. Shasta as a “ski mecca” and a “snow-capped wonderland.”
Don’t overlook this cozy little beach town tucked as far south as you can get on the Jersey Shore.
“Cape May is known for its Victorian architecture and charming downtown,” Joshua HaleyFounder of Moving Astute, tells Best life. “There are also several beaches and parks in the city, making it a popular destination for visitors looking to enjoy the great outdoors.”
In the summer months you can enjoy the sun in Cape May, but there is also plenty to do in the “off-season”. These include the famous Cape May County Park & Zoo, which is open year-round and free to visit.
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Are you longing for warm weather and relaxation on beautiful beaches? The small town of Rosemary, Florida is waiting for you. According to the city’s website, it combines New Urbanism architectural style with West Indian style, which you can enjoy while strolling the cobblestone streets.
Corresponding Ashley Ythe travel blogger behind Yumeology, Rosemary Beach “is a feast for the eyes.”
“From the mansions on the beach to the charming, fairytale cottages in the heart of town, every building here makes it one of the ‘loveliest’ cities in America,” she says.
You can explore rooftop restaurants or explore the art scene as the city is home to sculptures by international artists. “The beach here is absolutely stunning,” adds Ashley Y. “No matter what time of year you come here, you will find something fun!”
An ideal outdoor adventure should be planned in the alpine village of Helen, Georgia. Here, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and drive through cobblestone streets similar to those in Bamberg or Lindau, Germany, according to the city’s websites.
“The architecture in downtown Helen will make you feel like you’re in a Bavarian alpine village,” says Ashley Y. “Visitors can also enjoy numerous outdoor activities in the surrounding mountains, including hikes along the Dukes Creek Falls Trail or the Watching the beautiful waterfalls at Anna Ruby Falls.”
Book a trip from May to September and you’ll be able to explore the city in warmer weather, but you can also check out the city’s annual Oktoberfest in the fall, or in winter when this scenic spot is lit up for the holidays.
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With just over 1,500 residents, Cannon Beach is not only a beautiful coastal settlement, but also has the flair of a small town.
“[The town] is full of clapboard beach huts, a charming main street and a spectacular beach”, Jessica Smiththe blogger behind Uprooted Traveler best life. “While the coastal architecture in the city is undeniably charming, the main attraction here is the eponymous beach with iconic Haystack Rock jutting 235 feet out of the Pacific Ocean.”
If you decide to take a walk on the beach, you’ll also experience something special, as wildlife like puffins and gray whales might show up, says Schmit.
Foodies, artists, and history buffs will revel in the beauty of New Hope, Pennsylvania.
“Located on the Delaware River, this small town is known for its charming Victorian architecture and vibrant arts scene.” Fred Baker, senior travel editor of Travelness, explains. “Visitors can enjoy strolling through the historic district, browsing the shops and galleries, or catching a show at one of the many live music venues.”
You can catch a performance at the Bucks County Playhouse that dates back to the early 1900s. And if you decide to stay the night, there are plenty of charming bed and breakfasts to rest your head in. Late spring and early summer are ideal times to travel, and if you’re planning a trip in May you can attend the annual Pride Week and Parade, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community with a slew of events.
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Head to upstate New York and you might come across Cazenovia, which has a small population but lots of charm, Samantha LinnettTrip planner and blogger from Discover with Sam, narrated best life.
“It’s right on Lake Cazenovia and has several lakefront parks and beaches,” says Linnett. “Downtown consists of a few blocks of 2-3 story historic brick buildings full of small shops, cafes and restaurants [all] decorated with flower boxes. Colonial houses from the 1700s and 1800s are marked with posters all over the city and show off some really fine historical architecture.”
According to Linnett, the best time to visit Cazenovia is in the summer or fall, when you can best explore the beauty of this town. There’s no shortage of fall foliage, as well as breweries and wineries to relax in, she adds.
“There are all kinds of walking and hiking trails in the city, including some that lead through secret parks and sculpture gardens within the city limits,” says Linnett. “Chittenango Falls State Park is a short drive away and Delphi Falls County Park is right next to town, both with stunning waterfalls.”
If you want a snowy vacation, this small town also offers snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and horse-drawn sleigh rides during the winter months.
Head south to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and you’ll find one of the prettiest villages in the country. Downtown Eureka Springs is filled with Victorian-style architects, boutiques, and restaurants. Caitlin DismoreTravel bloggers from Twin Family Travels, explained.
Visitors can “enjoy the seclusion of the beautiful Thorncrown Chapel nestled in the trees” or “hop on a Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway train for a special dinner ride.” Beaver Lake is also a sight to behold, where you can take a scenic cruise, kayak, or go fishing in warmer weather.
With scary season fast approaching, you might also want to “explore the paranormal” with a visit to the 1886 Crescent Hotel, known for both its architecture and the title of “The Most Haunted Hotel in America.”
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Vermont is definitely a place to visit, and Stowe is one of the prettiest (and cosiest!) places in the state. “Having traveled extensively throughout the Northeast for many years and writing about New England in recent years, Stowe impresses me every time I visit.” Samantha Hamilton, creator and author of New England Wanderlust, says. “One of the best things about it is that it’s magical in all four seasons.”
According to Hamilton, Stowe is beautiful when it’s covered in snow and when spring comes. “While it’s known as a big ski resort in the winter, the town’s scenic landscapes and white church make it feel like a New England postcard year-round,” she says best life. “But if I had to suggest a season to visit, it would be autumn. The foliage surrounding the covered bridges is special.”
If you’re planning another stopover in Vermont, you should also visit the lovely town of Woodstock, just over an hour’s drive south of Stowe.
Another city that will make you feel like you’ve ventured across the pond is Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. “Located on the Monterey Peninsula, this town is known for its charming European-style architecture and beautiful floral displays,” says Baker best life. “Visitors can enjoy strolling through the city, visiting the shops and art galleries, and taking in the stunning coastal views.”
The village is only a square mile in size, according to the city’s website, but there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Admire this enchanting city on a historical walking tour or discover hidden passageways and courtyards from the 1920s. You can also set up your beach chair on legendary Carmel Beach, where the blue waters will really take your breath away.