We know America’s biggest cities have their charms, such as great restaurants, vibrant culture, and even low taxes (sometimes). But let’s not forget about all the delightful small towns you can find coast to coast. Big American cities have their perks, but these beautiful small towns are a world all their own.
Every state has at least one diamond in the rough that ranks among the most beautiful small towns in the U.S., but we’re basing our list off the responses to a Country Living poll. We’ll go in alphabetical order, but Oktoberfest (No. 10) and people who want to stay overnight at a hotel older than the United States (No. 15) will like what they see.
1. Abingdon, Va.
There’s a lot to love about the small town of Abingdon, Va. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images
You’re truly a world away in Abingdon, which is located in southwest Virginia. Roanoke, Va., Charlotte, N.C., and Knoxville, Tenn., are the nearest sizable cities, but they’re not all that close. We’re guessing you won’t care when you’re surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains’ natural splendor. Plus, Abingdon is hardly sleepy. The town has an art museum, a brewery, a vineyard and winery, and a theater for live performances.
Next: The first few letters of the name give you a hint.
2. Beaufort, S.C.
Beaufort, S.C., has a national cemetery. | Stephen Morton/Getty Images
The first few letters in Beaufort’s name give you an idea of what to expect since it’s one of America’s most beautiful small towns. Old Sheldon Church dates to the 1700s, and it’s just one of the historic buildings in a town founded in 1711. Since there’s water everywhere, fishing, boating, and paddle boarding are just some of the outdoor things to do.
Next: The best of both worlds.
3. Breckenridge, Colo.
Skiing is a great way to pass the time in Breckenridge. | Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport
Aspen, Eagle, and Telluride, Colo., bust your home buying budget. Breckenridge isn’t cheap, as some Zillow listings illustrate, but it’s a lot more affordable than those other Colorado cities. You’re close to nature and the breathtaking mountain vistas, but you’re close enough to Denver to enjoy city life if you want.
Next: There’s more to it than world-class golf courses.
4. Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif.
You can play world-class golf courses and visit breathtaking beaches in Carmel-by-the-Sea. | Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
You might know the Monterey peninsula for its amazing golf courses, and you have easy access to those at Carmel-by-the-Sea. But this small town also houses some breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean from some of the best beaches anywhere in North America.
Next: You learn something every day.
5. Dahlonega, Ga.
Believe it or not, Georgia has a thriving wine scene. | Plateresca/iStock/Getty Images
Did you know northern Georgia has a thriving wine scene? Well, it does, and Dahlonega is at the heart of it. If wine isn’t your thing, the town sits on the doorstep of the Chattahoochee National Forest, and Atlanta’s nightlife is only about 65 miles away.
Next: Can we call you Ishmael?
6. Edgartown, Mass.
You might cover some of the same ground as Barack Obama in Edgartown. | Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images
We know the Pequod in Moby Dick sailed from New Bedford, Mass., but if you want to get a taste of what Ishmael’s harbor was like, then head to Edgartown. Located on the eastern edge of Martha’s Vineyard, it’s a former whaling village and one of the most beautiful small towns in the U.S. Aside from the historic downtown, the city has several museums and galleries, plus a golf course overlooking the Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
Next: A small town with a big claim to fame.
7. Frankenmuth, Mich.
Frankenmuth has a huge Christmas market and a massive year-round Christmas store. | Frankenmuth via Facebook
This tiny town about 95 miles northwest of Detroit has one major claim to fame. It’s home to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, a year-round holiday superstore with more than 180,000 square feet under its roof.
Next: Calling all national park lovers.
8. Jackson, Wyo.
There’s a lot to do outside in Jackson, Wyo.| Town of Jackson via Facebook
Some people say visiting Yellowstone National Park is a waste of time. If you’re not one of them, then Jackson is the place for you. Yellowstone is about two hours north, but the entrance to Grand Teton National Park is just a few miles outside of town. Soaring mountains in every direction make it one of the most beautiful small towns you can visit.
Next: This town appeals to one kind of adventure seeker.
9. Ketchum, Idaho
The beautiful small town of Ketchum offers skiing and the Sun Valley Film Festival. | Mark Davis/Getty Images
Ketchum offers hiking, climbing, and a yearly film festival, but we’re guessing one kind of adventure seeker would love it here. Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain located nearby are little-known but world-class destinations for a great ski vacation.
Next: A small city that goes crazy for Oktoberfest.
10. Leavenworth, Wash.
Oktoberfest and the Christmas market beckon you to Leavenworth, Wash. | Visit Leavenworth WA via Facebook
Leavenworth goes crazy for Oktoberfest, and the three-week celebration of all things German from late September to early October is great for a fall vacation. The downtown area looks like a transplanted Bavarian Village, and when the leaves start changing color, it makes one of the most beautiful small towns anywhere in the U.S.
Next: You might see a movie star.
11. Ligonier, Penn.
Welcome to Pennsylvania sign at the Pennsylvania/New York border. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images
Ligonier’s charming downtown, complete with a bandstand in the heart of the city square, seems like something out of a movie. As it turns out, it is something out of a movie. The Paul Newman hockey movie Slap Shot and the Steve Carrell-Channing Tatum flick Foxcatcher filmed in and around the small town southeast of Pittsburgh.
Next: Changing the way we think about the desert.
12. Marfa, Texas
Visiting El Cosmico campground is one of the fun things to do in Marfa. | El Cosmico via Facebook
Visiting a city with less than 2,000 people in the west Texas desert might not be on your bucket list, but Marfa is changing the way we think about the desert. Museums such as the Ayn Foundation and Chinati Foundation feature works by well-known artists, and El Cosmico is one of the most unique campgrounds in the United States.
Next: Small-town charm and big-city access.
13. Maysville, Ky.
Maysville proves there’s more the Kentucky than basketball and horse racing. | Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Maysville is one of the largest cities in Kentucky, but with less than 10,000 people, we say it’s a small town. The National Underground Railroad Museum celebrates the town’s history in that regard, and the parkland on the banks of the Ohio River beckons nature-lovers. If the big city is more your thing, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Lexington aren’t too far away.
Next: Another Moby Dick reference?
14. Mystic, Conn.
The historic Mystic Seaport is a must-see in the small Connecticut town. | iStock.com/MonaMakela
Since it’s just a stone’s throw from Block Island Sound on Connecticut’s coast, Mystic offers some beautiful small-town charms. But it’s not all looking at the view and going to the beach. The Mystic Seaport Museum lets you stay overnight during a marathon two-day reading of Moby Dick, which is one of the weirdest museum experiences in the United States.
Next: You can stay at a hotel older than the United States.
15. Rhinebeck, N.Y.
Rhinebeck, N.Y., is where Chelsea Clinton tied the knot. | Genevieve de Manio via Getty Images
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise hearing that a tiny village along the banks of the Hudson River in upstate New York makes the list of most beautiful small towns. The quaint downtown includes an independent movie theater and Beekman Arms-Delamater Inn, which dates to before the Revolutionary War and is one of the oldest hotels in the United States.
Next: Natural beauty goes without saying.
16. Sitka, Alaska
You’re surrounded by Alaska’s natural beauty in Sitka. | Z-lex/iStock/Getty Images
Spread out among a collection of islands on the Pacific Ocean in southeast Alaska, Sitka’s natural beauty goes without saying. But what makes it one of the most beautiful small towns anywhere in the U.S. is its mix of Native American and Russian influences. A totem pole close to downtown, a Russian Orthodox church, and Bear Fort zoo provide a taste of Alaska’s richly diverse heritage.
Next: You can hit the slopes, or not.
17. Stowe, Vt.
You can get Heady Topper, one of the world’s best beers, in Stowe. | The Alchemist via Facebook
Aside from state capital Montpelier, the closest big city to Stowe is Montreal. But this small town boasts two ski resorts – Stowe Mountain in town and Bolton Valley just outside the city limits. If skiing isn’t your thing, you’re in luck. The entire state of Vermont is a craft beer hotspot, and The Alchemist brewery in Stowe boasts Heady Topper, one of the world’s best beers.
All population figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.
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