Just as there are small
towns all over the US that you must visit, you should also
explore some of the most beautiful historic towns and
neighborhoods the country has to offer.
Insider went state by state to find the most beautiful places
that date back to early America. We searched for communities that
have expertly preserved their history and culture.
Keep reading to find the most beautiful historic district in your
The Cottage Hill neighborhood in Alabama is the oldest community in Montgomery.
Historic Cottage Hill overlooks the Alabama River and much of the
city of Montgomery. It was created in the 1830s, when
land speculator Edward Hanrick designed it, and is now home
to over 100 houses in the Queen Anne architecture style. These
homes became hot commodities until the ’50s and ’60s, when people
started leaving the city for the suburbs. In the 1970s, however,
the neighborhood experienced a revival in popularity.
Today, Cottage Hill is
known as a historic district, and on the National Register of
Historic Places. In fact, it’s Montgomery’s first and oldest
local historic district.
Government Hill in Alaska was Anchorage’s first neighborhood.
Hill was built for the government employees who were working
on the railroad in Anchorage. The buildings that were constructed
for them in 1915 are considered the blueprint for what became the
city’s first neighborhood.
Government Hill is now a historic site in the city of Anchorage,
and it’s only accessible by bridge. From this neighborhood, you
get sweeping views of the Alaskan landscape and the historic
community of Brown’s Point.
Arizona’s Garfield Historic District in Phoenix was once a rundown community, but is now considered one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city.
Formerly farmland, Garfield was developed between
1883 and 1955. The homes are a mixture of styles, including
bungalow, Craftsman, Tudor, and English Cottage. While
the neighborhood fell into disrepair for a while, leaving
many of the buildings abandoned and dilapidated, it has undergone
an immense revitalization, and is now seeing an influx of
restaurants and boutiques, and even a thriving art scene.
MacArthur Park Historic District in Little Rock, Arkansas, is centered around a 39-acre park.
Little Rock, within The MacArthur Park
Historic District, is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods,
containing approximately 50 blocks.
First settled in the 1830s, it’s now home to many famous
properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places,
like the Holtzman-Vinsonhaler House, the Chisum House, and
William L. Terry House – all of which are Queen Anne style. Other
styles seen in the neighborhood include Greek Revival, Colonial
Revival, Craftsman, and Gothic Revival.
The neighborhood surrounds scenic MacArthur Park, and also
features the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History and
the Arkansas Arts Center.
Old Town Temecula in Southern California is reminiscent of the Old West.
Old Town Temecula was established in 1859 after the California
Gold Rush. At first, it was nothing
but a stop on a stagecoach route, but it soon featured a
thriving community and small businesses.
Today, Old Town Temecula has held on to most of its Wild West
charm, with historic buildings, wooden boardwalks, and old
pathways. The neighborhood now also features antique shops,
boutiques, breweries, restaurants, and bars.
Capitol Hill in Colorado is home to some of Denver’s oldest buildings.
In 1886, construction of the State Capitol building began just
east of Denver’s city center. Eventually,
homes began to pop up around the building, creating a
community. In the beginning, the neighborhood was dubbed
Millionaire’s Row, as Denver’s wealthiest moved away from
downtown and into Capitol Hill.
Today, the Queen Anne mansions on Capitol Hill still stand, but
many have been turned into smaller apartments. Restaurants, bars,
museums, and cafes also fill the streets of this historic
Old Wethersfield Historic District has been called the “Most Ancient Town” in Connecticut.
The town of Wethersfield is over 375 years old, and is considered
one of the oldest in Connecticut. Back in the 17th century,
held one of the country’s first witch trials – decades before
the famous Salem Witch Trials. Three people were executed.
Today, Wethersfield is
known as a scenic neighborhood that is home to museums like
the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum or the Chester Bulkley House. The
neighborhood is also chock-full of cafes, restaurants, and bars.
Lewes in Delaware is known as the first town in the first state.
Sitting where the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean meet, the
established Lewes in 1631. Today, most of the homes and
buildings in Lewes are considered architectural
treasures, like the Fisher-Martin House, the Colonel David
Hall House, the Burton-Ingram House, and the Old Fire House.
Now, tourists flock to Lewes for its rich history, as well as its
beaches. Additionally, Lewes is home to over 40 shops, art
galleries, restaurants, and inns.
Ybor City in Tampa, Florida, was once a hub for immigrants. Now, it’s home to a lively club scene.
Ybor City was
established in 1886 by Vicente Martinez Ybor, a Spanish
entrepreneur who became a successful cigar manufacturer in Cuba.
Filled with cigar factories, it
quickly became the “cigar capital of the world,” its cobble
stone streets home to Cuban, Italian, and Spanish immigrants.
However, the cigar factories closed in the ’50s, and the
neighborhood fell into disrepair.
Today, Ybor City has changed dramatically. Although much of its
original architecture still stands, the neighborhood has turned
into a lively party scene, as bars, restaurants, and clubs have
opened for business. The small neighborhood is also a National
Historic Landmark District.
Inman Park in Georgia was Atlanta’s first planned suburb.
Inman Park was established
in the late 1800s, a planned suburban community for Atlanta
residents, and the first of its kind. A park, part of Atlanta’s
first electric streetcar line, and picturesque landscaping made
this neighborhood attractive, and wealthy locals soon moved in,
like Asa G. Candler, founder of the Coca-Cola Company.
Today, many of the historic homes in Inman Park still stand. The
Springvale Park, Krog Street Market, and the Inman Park Festival
all popular destinations in the neighborhood today.
The town of Paia in Hawaii was once home to a sugar factory, but is now known as the “Windsurf Capital of the World.”
On the north shore of Maui, the small town of Paia made a name
for itself in the late 1800s when it opened the
Paia Sugar Mill, which attracted workers from all over the
world. Eventually, a town was built to accommodate the influx of
Today, the town’s emphasis on sugar has been overshadowed by a
new industry: windsurfing. Many people have moved to the small
town again to enjoy the “Windsurf Capital of the World” first
The entire mining town of Wallace, Idaho, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Colonel William R. Wallace built
himself a cabin on 80 acres in 1884, but this soon grew to
become the mining town of Wallace, luring workers into the
mountains with the promise of silver and gold. By the end of the
decade, Wallace featured a railroad stop, which brought even more
residents and workers.
Today, Wallace has maintained its Old West charm, and the many
tourists who flock to this town every year can get a feel for how
original settlers lived.
At its peak in the 19th century, the mining town of Galena, Illinois, had 14,000 residents.
After Galena was
established in 1826, it quickly grew to become one of the
largest mining towns in the area. In the 1850s, the town’s docks
would often see 15 steamboats at a time. The town also shipped
over 50 million pounds of lead. As business boomed, so did the
population, which reached 14,000.
Today, the population is just over 3,000, but Galena does see a
lot of tourism because much of the original mining town remains
intact. In fact, 85% of its buildings are in a National Register
The Old Northside in Indianapolis, Indiana, was once a neighborhood for the wealthy.
Indianapolis’ Northside has always been a desirable neighborhood:
that’s because wealthy residents
decided to build their mansions above the city. Apparently,
this happened as early as the 1840s, but really boomed after the
The community was put on the National Register of Historic Places
in the ’70s, and since then steps have been taken to preserve its
The Village of East Davenport in Iowa was once a logging town, but has since become a historic destination.
The Village of East Davenport was established
in 1851 as a logging town, and the local sawmill lured
workers, quickly forming a community. The neighborhood is famous
for housing the first home built west of the Mississippi River,
Colonel George L. Davenport’s “Claim House.”
Today, the beautiful Village of East Davenport is on the National
Registry of Historic Places and filled with shops, restaurants,
Potwin Place Historic District in Kansas is one of Topeka’s oldest residential neighborhoods.
Potwin Place Historic District
was established in 1880. Today, the neighborhood is known for
its brick streets and wide stone sidewalks, as well as its
beautiful Queen Anne and Victorian mansions.
Old Louisville in Kentucky has the highest concentration of restored Victorian homes in the US.
Originally called the Southern Extension, Old Louisville was
in the 1870s as a suburb, which was 48 city blocks long and
filled with Victorian mansions. These mansions have been almost
entirely preserved, and Old Louisville now boasts the
largest collection of restored Victorian homes in the US.
Once home to the city’s wealthy, Old Louisville is considered one
of the largest historic districts in the US. It also features the
concentration of residential stained glass windows.
Tourists and residents now fill the streets to try the bars,
restaurants, and shops that are located in the neighborhood.
Louisiana’s Faubourg Marigny Historic District was one of New Orleans’ first suburbs.
In 1806, nobleman Bernard
de Marigny realized that subdividing his plantation, which
was not far from the French Quarter, may be more lucrative than
farming it. By creating individual subplots, he created one of
the first suburbs in New Orleans, as Creole cottages sprung up in
their place, later making way to larger homes, shops, and
The neighborhood was restored and officially protected as a
historic district in the ’70s, and today it’s one of the most
recognizable parts of New Orleans, and a bustling tourist
Portland, Maine’s, Stroudwater Historic District is considered the best-preserved early village in the state.
The village of Stroudwater was settled in 1727, as a small
village. At the time, its residents were
focused on shipping timber back to England, but soon sawmills
and a tannery were established.
The historic area is home to around 30 original residences from
the Colonial, Federal, and Greek Revival periods, and a burial
ground that dates back to 1739.
Roland Park in Baltimore, Maryland, claims to be the first planned suburb community in the US.
Roland Park claims to be
the first planned suburb community in the United
States, having been designed
in 1891, in part by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., son of the
landscape architect behind New York City’s Central Park. The
neighborhood was designed to be green, lush, and aesthetic, and
at the time was famous for its electricity and indoor
Beacon Hill in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the US.
When the Massachusetts State House was built on Beacon
Hill in 1795, it sparked the development of buildings and
homes in the surrounding area. The homes were built in the Greek,
Federal, and Victorian architecture style, and are beautifully
The cobbled streets of the picturesque neighborhood, as well as
historical landmarks, antique shops, boutiques, and
restaurants attract droves of tourists today.
Woodbridge in Detroit, Michigan, is famous for its restored Victorian homes from the 19th century.
In 1870, wealthy residents of Detroit started building homes just
north of the city. The
homes started as small cottages, but were soon replaced by
large Victorian mansions.
Woodbridge’s police station, built in 1901, is notable for being
designed to resemble the massive Victorian homes that were
popping up in the neighborhood.
Today, Woodbridge is still largely a residential
community, and most of the Victorian homes still stand.
Marcy-Holmes is a neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that dates back to the 1600s.
In 1680, near what would later be Minneapolis, Father Louis
Hennepin discovered waterfalls, naming them the St.
Anthony Falls. By 1847 the water power was harnessed for
factories and mills, and thanks to the easy river transportation
people started settling there and building homes. By 1850, St.
Anthony Falls was home to around 600 people.
Today, St. Anthony Falls is known as the Marcy-Holmes
neighborhood of Minneapolis.
Mississippi’s Ocean Springs was the first permanent European settlement in the lower Mississippi River valley.
In 1699, Pierre Le Moyne
d’Iberville, a French explorer, founded Fort Maurepas under
the authority of King Louis XIV. It was the first
permanent European settlement in the lower Mississippi River
It underwent a few name changes, but was called Ocean Springs by
a man named George W. Austin, who founded a sanatorium there to
use its spring waters. It is now a thriving seaside community
popular with tourists.
Lafayette Square in St. Louis, Missouri, is known for its colorful Victorian mansions.
In 1851, Lafayette Park – 30 acres of greenery – was incorporated
into St. Louis, and
homes were promptly built around it. Many of the original
houses are now known as “painted ladies,” because they sport
bright colors like yellow, purple, and green.
People now flock to the neighborhood to see the colorful homes
and other historic landmarks, like the George Washington statue
that was built in 1869, or the music pavilion that was built in
The Lower Rattlesnake neighborhood in Missoula, Montana, is surrounded by wilderness.
Rattlesnake Valley is
located just outside of Missoula.
The Missoulian describes it as “A 32,000-acre wilderness and
22,000-acre national recreation area on a city bus route.”
The small community now features around 20 blocks of cottages
that used to house mill workers and craftsman-style homes, which
is why it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bemis Park Landmark Heritage District in Omaha, Nebraska, was designed around the geography of the community.
In the late 1800s, George Bemis, a real estate agent who later
served as mayor of Omaha, wanted to design a neighborhood that
would be laid out in
adherence to the geography of the land instead of using a
grid system like most cities at the time. He chose a place just
north of Omaha to create this community. During construction,
many different style homes were built, including Queen Anne and
Neo-Classical, many of which still stand.
Additionally, Bemis donated a park to the neighborhood, which
still serves the community today. As mayor, he is said to have
done much to promote parks throughout the city.
Nevada’s Virginia City was once a booming mining town with 25,000 residents.
In the mid-1800s, miners flocked to Virginia City in Nevada in
hopes of finding gold. The miners dug shafts and tunnels
into the surrounding mountains, and the mining town boomed.
Today, Virginia City is a popular tourist destination, as most of
the original architecture of the mining town still stands. You
can now take several walking tours of the neighborhood and learn
more about miners’ lives during the Old West.
Berlin in New Hampshire has had sweeping views of the White Mountains since the 1800s.
In 1821, a town
called Maynesborough was settled near New Hampshire’s White
Mountains. A few years later, the town was renamed Berlin, and it
quickly became a thriving community. At the time, most residents
worked in the lumber and pulp industries.
Today, Berlin is a small-knit community, and it’s known for
its outdoor activities, which include skiing and rafting.
New Jersey’s Burlington Historic District features the state’s oldest home, pharmacy, library, and Episcopal church.
Burlington was established in 1677
near the Delaware River. It was later an important
stop on the Underground Railroad.
Its quaint Colonial roots are mostly intact – visitors can check
out the 1675
Revell House, the state’s oldest home, as well as New Jersey’s
oldest pharmacy, library, and Episcopal church.
New Mexico’s Historic Eastside in Santa Fe is now considered one of the trendiest and most sought-after neighborhoods in the city.
In the early 1600s, the Spanish
settled into the New Mexico region and built homes along the
Santa Fe River. The people who lived in these homes worked on
farms, growing corn and wheat. Eventually, the American
government took over the settlement and Santa Fe was
Today, some of the original homes that date back to the 1700s
still stand and are considered the
most sought-after real estate in the city. The neighborhood,
now known as Santa Fe’s Historic Eastside, is famous for its
proximity to the famous Canyon Road, which houses art galleries,
shops, and restaurants.
New York City’s Greenwich Village is a highly sought-after neighborhood to live in.
Greenwich Village has been a
landmark in lower Manhattan for decades. Dutch settlers
planted crops in this area, though it later became a country
hamlet. It was named after the Dutch word for “Green District,
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the neighborhood was a
hotspot for famous artists like Walt Whitman, Jackson Pollock,
and Andy Warhol. By the ’50s, the Beat Generation moved into the
Village, bringing the likes of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Bob
Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. In the late ’60s, the neighborhood
became the birthplace of the LGBTQ rights movement.
Today, Greenwich Village is one of the most sought-after real
estate markets in Manhattan. The unique architecture, winding
streets, and cobbled roads are what make this neighborhood so
Oakwood is the first area in Raleigh, North Carolina, to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The neighborhood of Oakwood in Raleigh was built just
after the Civil War, when the local Mordecai
family sold off parcels of land to individuals and
developers. Most of the homes – which include Queen Anne,
Classical Revival, and Second Empire style buildings – were built
between 1890 and 1930.
Many of these still stand today, and Oakwood, which also features
a Confederate cemetery, has become a popular tourist attraction.
North Dakota’s Eastwood Park Historic District is the only historic neighborhood in the city of Minot.
Minot’s Eastwood Park Historic District
was built in 1906, but it wasn’t until the mid-1920s that the
neighborhood really reached its peak. At the time, the community
was home to the wealthy families that founded the city. The homes
in the area were built in the English Tudor, Craftsman, and
Princess Anne styles.
Today, many of these homes still stand in the residential
community, allowing the neighborhood to be placed on
the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Ohio’s Columbia-Tusculum is Cincinnati’s oldest neighborhood.
In 1788, the Columbia settlement was founded by
Benjamin Stites, a Revolutionary War veteran who stumbled
upon the area by the Ohio River more or less by accident. He
brought 26 settlers from New Jersey to live in Columbia with him,
and together, they started a community.
While flooding washed much of the original settlement away, in
1815 the community moved to higher ground, and famous homes like
the Kellogg House and the Stites House still stand in what is now
known as the Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood. The scenic
residential community is also famous for its “painted ladies” houses
that overlook the Ohio River.
Brady Heights in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a historic district known for its large mansions.
Brady Heights was developed north of Tulsa,
Oklahoma, in the early 1900s. The neighborhood was popular
among businessmen and their families, who built large mansions
with glass windows, servant quarters, and large porches.
Brady Heights is still a popular residential neighborhood, known
for the preservation of its historic homes. The community was
put on the National Register of Historic Places list in 1980,
becoming the first district in Tulsa to do so.
Oregon’s Irvington is one of the largest historic neighborhoods in the country.
Irvington was created thanks to the
William and Elizabeth Irving Donation Land Claim (DLC) of
1851, which gave unmarried men and married couples arriving
in the Oregon Territory free plots of land. Towards the late
1800s, the Irving’s descendants sold off more land to create a
Most of the homes in the community were built in Queen Anne and
Victorian architecture styles, with stained-glass windows and
large porches. When a streetcar was built, the neighborhood of
Irvington quickly became a popular suburb.
Irvington was placed on the National Register of Historic Places
in 2010. With over 2,800 historic
structures, it became one of the largest historic
neighborhoods in the country.
Powelton Village in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is known for its Victorian architecture.
In 1854, Powelton
Village was created after the Powel estate and Bingham-Baring
estate were sold to the city of Philadelphia, which was
consolidating. The village was turned into a residential
neighborhood when the trolley-car became accessible. At that
time, most of the homes in the neighborhood were built in the
Victorian style between 1860 and 1910.
Today, Powelton is considered one of
Philly’s “best-kept secrets,” even though several homes in
the neighborhood are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rhode Island’s Wickford Village has the most colonial homes in the country.
was established in 1709 along the New England coastline. Over
the years, Wickford turned into a prosperous seaside community,
creating the largest population of colonial homes in the US.
Today, you can visit the neighborhood and experience the colonial
homes firsthand, along with tree-lined streets, boutiques, and
restaurants. The town is now known for its famous Festival of
Lights every July, and for having the oldest wooden lighthouse in
Beaufort in South Carolina is the second-oldest city in the state, making it one of the most historic cities in the South.
The area now known as Beaufort was discovered by
the Spanish in 1514, but it wasn’t until 1711, once the
British arrived, that the town was officially established.
Beaufort is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, after
Charleston, and was a popular summer getaway for the wealthy,
resulting in stunning mansions that still stand today.
Beaufort has become a popular tourist destination, and thanks to
its beautiful homes it has been a backdrop in famous movies like
“The Prince of Tides” and “Forrest Gump.”
The City of Sioux Falls in South Dakota calls the Cathedral Historic District “the best residential historic district in the state.”
The Cathedral Historic District
is situated atop a hill that overlooks downtown Sioux Falls:
46% of the homes in this residential neighborhood were built
before the 20th century, and 85% before the 1920s. Almost all of
the homes have Victorian-era design elements. The community got
its name from St. Joseph’s Cathedral, whose two spires are part
of the city’s skyline.
The neighborhood was placed on the National Register of Historic
Places in 1974.
Germantown in Nashville, Tennessee, was the city’s first suburb.
established by European immigrants in the 1850s, becoming
Nashville’s first suburb. The community has become known for its
brick town homes that line the streets, and its 100 species of
Today, Germantown is a popular destination for locals and
tourists thanks to an abundance of live music venues,
restaurants, and bars.
Swede Hill in Austin, Texas, is considered the smallest neighborhood in the city.
Swedish immigrants started building
homes east of Austin in the 1870s so that they could be close
to their businesses, which they had founded in the area. The
neighborhood, then known as Svenska Kullen (Swedish Hill) is only
40 acres, and has remained the smallest community in the city.
Today, Swede Hill is on the National Register of Historic places
because most of those original homes still stand.
Smithfield in Utah is often called “A City on A Hill.”
In 1859, Mormons from England, Scandinavia, and Canada moved into the Cache
Valley and established Smithfield. Tapping into the land’s
rich soil, the community was known for farming sugar beets and
Today, Smithfield is a popular destination for winter sports, and
most of the town’s original architecture still stands.
The historic town of Montgomery, Vermont, has more covered bridges than any other town in the US.
Montgomery was established in 1789 and named
after Revolutionary War hero General Richard Montgomery. The
small neighborhood grew to become a farming town and a player in
the timber industry. But Montgomery’s main claim to fame these
days is its covered bridges: in the 1940s there were 13 of them
in town, and today Montgomery still boasts six – more than any
other town in the US.
Today, Montgomery is a vacation hotspot, as many people summer
Culpeper in Virginia is known for its historic downtown and its involvement in American wars.
Culpeper was charted in 1749, before the Revolutionary War.
During the 1700s and 1800s, the town
was known for the Culpeper Minute Men Battalion, a militia
group that fought battles in the Revolutionary War, the Civil
War, and the Spanish-American War.
Today, the group is no longer active, but Culpeper has remained
on the map for its preservation of historic buildings, many of
Washington’s Pioneer Square in Seattle was the city’s original downtown. Now, it’s a preserved historic district.
Pioneer Square was
first established in 1852, but it wasn’t until a sawmill
opened the following year that the settlement really took off. As
a result of the new industry, stores and homes popped up around
town, though most of them burned down in the Great Fire of 1889.
The townspeople rebuilt their homes with fireproof bricks and
Romanesque design elements, and eventually, the city of Seattle
grew around Pioneer Square.
Today, the neighborhood is known as a preservation district.
Locals and tourist now enjoy Pioneer
Square’s shops, bars, and restaurants.
Harpers Ferry in West Virginia is famous for its role during the Civil War and its well-preserved buildings.
The settlement of Harpers Ferry was established in 1732, but the
town became notable during the Civil War. In
1859, abolitionist John Brown raided Harpers Ferry and
attempted to start a slave uprising. His revolt failed and
ultimately led to his hanging. The town’s role in the Civil War
doesn’t end there, however. In 1862, the Union forces surrendered
at the Battle of Harpers Ferry.
Today, Harpers Ferry is a picturesque, historic town that offers
tours that delve deep into its history.
Shullsburg is the third-oldest neighborhood in Wisconsin, dating back to the early 1800s.
After Shullsburg was founded in
1818, the town quickly became a booming lead mining town,
though it later expanded into farming and cheese making.
Today, the Shullsburg community has kept its history alive by
restoring historic buildings and reenacting mining life. Tourists
can explore Bader
Mine and Museum to get a first-hand look at what life was
like in Shullsburg.
Buffalo is considered one of the most beautiful historic communities in the state of Wyoming.
Buffalo, Wyoming, was
established in 1879 just east of the Bighorn Mountains and
Bighorn National Forest. Within the first few years of founding,
Buffalo was known for its livestock and its lumber. Today, those
industries are still central to Buffalo’s economy, but it has now
turned into a tourist destination for travelers heading to the Bighorn
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