20 of the most picturesque small towns in America
Start planning your next road trip now with our list of 20 of the most charming small towns and villages in the United States.
Port Townsend, Washington
An important seaport in the late 1800s, Port Townsend is known for its picturesque harbor and beautifully preserved Victorian buildings. Located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, about two hours north of Seattle, this town of just over 9,000 residents has a vibrant downtown shopping district and is surrounded by hiking and biking trails.
Galena is a lovely little town in northwest Illinois full of white-steepled churches, red-brick Italianate-style homes, and scenic trails along the Mississippi River. In addition to its charming Main Street, one of the town’s main attractions is the former home of Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War general and 18th president of the United States.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Beaufort sits about halfway between Charleston and Savannah, Georgia, on South Carolina’s Port Royal Island. The city has a distinctively Southern beauty, with many stately antebellum homes (including the Dr. Joseph Johnson House, pictured), live oak trees, and a gorgeous coastline.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth was settled in 1623 on the bank of the Piscataqua River, which runs between New Hampshire and Maine. This New England port is home to Prescott Park, a waterfront park with lovely flower gardens, fountains, and walkways, and many historic homes and churches.
Next to Vermont’s highest mountain, Mount Mansfield, and Smugglers’ Notch State Park, Stowe is full of natural beauty. The town itself is full of quaint bed-and-breakfasts and inns, and is home to the sprawling Trapp Family Lodge, an Austrian-inspired mountain resort owned and operated by the von Trapp family of The Sound of Music fame.
Seligman is on the famous Route 66 in northern Arizona, not far from the Grand Canyon. The town is an icon of old-fashioned Americana, with a historic district made up of kitschy roadside spots like the Seligman Sundries coffee shop (pictured) and Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In diner.
Rockport is on the Cape Ann peninsula, about 40 miles northeast of Boston. The natural landscape is the star attraction here, with sandy beaches, granite quarries in Halibut Point State Park, and footpaths with postcard-perfect coastal views. The town’s brightly colored buildings house many boutiques and art galleries.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Nestled in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, Eureka Springs has a vaguely European atmosphere, with hilly, winding streets and cliffside Victorian homes. Architectural standouts include the Flatiron Flats hotel (pictured) and the magnificent Thorncrown Chapel, a 48-foot-high wood and glass structure in the woods just outside of town.
The village of Carmel-by-the-Sea is only one square mile in size, but it has a lot going for it: a spectacular coastline thanks to its location on the Monterey Peninsula, leafy courtyards and hidden passageways, and fairytale-inspired cottages. It’s also worth visiting the beautiful gardens of the Spanish Colonial Carmel Mission (pictured), which dates to the late 18th century.
It’s hard to beat Telluride’s majestic scenery; the town is nestled in a box canyon between 13,000 and 14,000-foot Rocky Mountain peaks. A mining town in the 19th century, Telluride now attracts scores of visitors with its fantastic alpine skiing, but many Victorian buildings remain.
Taos, New Mexico
One of the most fascinating sites here is Taos Pueblo (pictured), a Native American community at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, whose adobe buildings have been continuously inhabited for over a thousand years. Taos has also been an artists’ colony for many years, perhaps no surprise given the beautiful natural landscape, which includes the famous Rio Grande Gorge.
Bar Harbor, Maine
A gateway to the mountains and lakes of Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is one of Maine’s prettiest seaside towns, with miles of hiking and cycling trails, a rocky coastline, and towering granite cliffs.
Medina has a beautifully restored Victorian public square with a variety of quaint shops and cafés. The square’s most iconic landmark is the bright red Medina Town Hall and Engine House Museum (pictured), a former fire station and one-time home of the village government and police department, built in 1878.
Park City, Utah
This winter sports mecca is also a picturesque former mining town now filled with charming shops, restaurants, and galleries inside colorful Victorian buildings. Park City’s atmosphere is especially romantic on winter nights, when the ski slopes of the surrounding Wasatch mountains are lit up.
Livingston still retains some of its Old West character thanks to its restored 19th-century buildings, including the Livingston Depot, a Northern Pacific Railroad station turned museum. The town is surrounded by four rugged mountain ranges and sits on the Yellowstone River just north of Yellowstone National Park.
This village has a tiny population (under 300) and a picturesque location on the shores of Eagle Harbor in Wisconsin’s Door County. Ephraim was settled in 1853 by Norwegian Moravians, and retains much of this heritage in its distinctive white buildings such as the Moravian Church, the one-room Pioneer Schoolhouse Museum, and the Anderson Store Museum.
An hour east of Atlanta, Madison has one of Georgia’s oldest and largest national historic districts, over a hundred antebellum homes, and beautiful gardens. The leafy downtown streets are lined with cute boutiques, galleries, and cafés.
Oneonta, New York
This small town in upstate New York’s Susquehanna Valley is full of impressive historic buildings, such as the Beaux Arts-style Oneonta Hotel and the Queen Anne-style Masonic lodge. Oneonta has a lively atmosphere thanks to the presence of SUNY Oneonta, Hartwick College, and four concert venues.
Amana Colonies, Iowa
The Amana Colonies are actually seven separate villages that have been collectively designated a National Historic Landmark. Founded by German immigrants in 1855, the Colonies today attract many tourists with their craft and antique shops, locally made beer and wine, and picturesque barns and brick houses.
One of Frankfort’s biggest attractions is the Point Betsie Lighthouse (pictured), built in 1858 next to an idyllic sandy beach on the West Michigan shoreline. In addition to the natural landscape, the town is known for its Victorian homes and unique shops.
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