While summer travel might look a little different this year, it can still be a possibility. Most are avoiding a trip abroad and are instead finding small towns across America that will fulfill their biggest travel desires.
A small town can best be described as having a population of fewer than 50,000 residents. These are the greatest small towns that America has to offer with tons of attractions, personality, tasty food, and much more. Stay away from crowds while still getting a memorable summer vacation in one of these locations.
Explore Multiple National Parks In Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Wyoming has the lowest population out of every state in America and their mountain city, Jackson Hole, only has a population of 10,429 residents. It’s right next to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, so anyone wanting to explore the outdoors will have plenty of space.
During the summer the rivers run full, the mountain trails are open, and the lake temperatures rise. Other fun activities include their summer theater productions and a bustling downtown scene.
Eat Some Juicy Lobster In Rockland, Maine
Not only does the coastal town of Rockland, Maine have beautiful waterfront views, but it’s also one of the largest lobster shipping centers in the world. Downtown Rockland is known for its historic architecture, educational museums, and tasty restaurants.
Visitors have the opportunity to experience Maine on various boat tours. Some even come equipped with a private captain and chef who will cook a delicious lobster bake out at sea. There are also several festivals during the summer including the North Atlantic Blues Festival and the Maine Lobster Festival.
You May See Some Bear Cubs In Gatlinburg, Tennessee
In eastern Tennessee, there’s a town called Gatlinburg that’s snuggled right up against the 52,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On their many miles of hiking trails, people can usually spot some bear cubs.
A Gatlinburg sunset is something that should be seen in person and the city has many vantage points including the SkyLift Park, Space Needle, and Ober Gatlinburg’s Aerial Tramway. Since it’s in the South, there are plenty of mouth-watering food options including restaurants for barbecue, cider, and cookie dough.
Cape May, New Jersey Is The Hidden Gem On The Jersey Shore
Although Cape May, New Jersey is located on the Jersey Shore, it is nothing like Atlantic City. Cape May boasts gorgeous Victorian mansions, charming bed and breakfasts, and the downtown area doesn’t even allow motor vehicles.
The summer is a perfect time to visit this beach-side town. While relaxing on the beach is the most popular activity, there are numerous other attractions such as the Cape May Lighthouse, Jersey Shore Alpacas, Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, and the Washington Street Mall.
Mountains Meet A Chic City In Telluride, Colorado
Telluride, Colorado is usually thought of as a top skiing spot, but it’s also a picturesque summer getaway. This small town was once a popular place during the Gold Rush but has been turned into a contemporary city of artisan shops and unique restaurants.
It’s hard to ignore the majestic mountains that fully drape the outskirts of the city. Visitors can hike to the top and some may even get the chance to view Colorado’s longest free-falling waterfall, Bridal Veil Falls.
Unleash Your Spiritual Side In Sedona, Arizona
A trip to Sedona, Arizona means a backdrop full of towering red rocks (pictured) and jagged sandstone buttes in contrast with a clear blue sky. In addition to its natural beauty, Sedona has become a very spiritual city.
They have spas, “New Age vortexes,” meditation centers, and relaxing trails deep in the wilderness for people to find peace. If you’re on a time crunch and want to see as much of the town as possible, you may want to do one of their famous helicopter tours.
The Population In Wellfleet, Massachusetts Grows Tremendously In Summer
The entire city of Wellfleet, Massachusetts is only two-miles wide with a population of 2,729 people. It’s located between the “tip” and “elbow” of Cape Cod and experiences a growth six times its population during the summer.
The locals recommend having some of their famous oysters with a chilled drink by the beach. Other nearby attractions include the freshwater ponds, art galleries, shops, restaurants, and even a drive-in. The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary has six trails that offer different outdoor activities such as birdwatching.
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana Is The Crawfish Capital Of The World
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana has been nicknamed the “Crawfish Captial of the World” and many of their events are themed around this. They have a festival and plenty of crawfish-inspired dishes, but also have many other Louisiana favorites including po’boys, seafood boils, and boudin sausage.
The town is also really close to Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, which is a great spot for kayaking and canoeing. There’s also a nearby swampland called Lake Martin where people go for birding and alligator watching.
Vernal, Utah Is Fun For Anyone Who Loves Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs are very special in Vernal, Utah. The town is the entrance to the Dinosaur National Monument and has a Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo. There’s also a statue called Dinah the Pink Dinosaur that welcomes visitors to the town.
If dinosaurs aren’t really your thing, there are still a bunch of other attractions. Guests can go mountain biking at the Red Canyon Lodge, cliff dive at Red Fleet State Park, or fly fish at Green River.
Why You Should Pay Close Attention To The Architecture In Spring Green, Wisconsin
Those familiar with Spring Green, Wisconsin would know that it’s the birthplace of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His first studio called Taliesin was built there in 1911 and it has become a local landmark. Wright is buried in the nearby cemetery.
Theatre is something sacred in Spring Green and visitors can get a taste of both classical and modern theatre at the American Players Theatre. Outdoor enthusiasts can go to Cave of the Mounds to look for buried treasure and fossils, take part in a gemstone mine, go to the interactive butterfly gardens, or visit the architecturally-stunning House on the Rock.
Watch The Sea Life In Monterey, California
It isn’t too hard to spot some mesmerizing marine life in Monterey, California. Monterey Bay Aquarium is rated as one of the top aquariums in the world with thousands of different species of sea life to observe.
Kayaking through the waterways is a fun way to see the sea creatures up close. Monterey also has a 17-mile coastal trail that runs from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach. To top it all off, there are several restaurants with waterfront views where you can order fresh catches of the day.
Try Some Clam Chowder In Cedar Key, Florida
One of Florida’s most remote cities is Cedar Key. It’s located on the Gulf of Mexico and is at least 60 miles away from the other cities. When people visit they usually go to one of their quiet beaches, natural preserves, and the quaint shops.
There are no traffic lights and all of the buildings are placed on stilts that go into the gulf. The locals are said to be friendly and recommend trying the clam chowder because Cedar Key is the “clam chowder capital”.
Brevard, North Carolina Was A Filming Location For The Hunger Games
Tourists are most likely going to break out their cameras in Brevard, North Carolina. This charming small town is surrounded by a mountain region with 250 waterfalls. The view was so spectacular that it was used as a filming location for The Hunger Games.
They are famous for their abundance of white squirrels who like to run around town. They even hold a three-day summer festival in celebration of them. Brevard also hosts several other summer festivals for cycling, music, and more.
Cannon Beach, Oregon Is An Internationally-Ranked Beautiful City
Anyone who comes to Cannon Beach, Oregon will notice how vast the actual beach is. It stretches a total of four-miles long and has several towering rock formations along the way.
National Geographic called Cannon Beach “One of the World’s 100 Most Beautiful Places.” One of the best viewpoints of the landscape is Ecola State Park, which also makes for a fun recreation area. The town is quintessentially picturesque with long sidewalks, pretty courtyards, public art, specialty shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
What Makes Bozeman, Montana A Charming Summer Paradise
Bozeman, Montana has the perfect small-town feel. Their summers are filled with clear skies, surrounding mountains, and peaceful wildlife. People love to get outdoors in Bozeman for hiking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, and more.
Their historic main street has tons of shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants that attract people of all ages. Something that can be fun for the young ones is a visit to the Museum of the Rockies with a gigantic collection of dinosaur fossils.
Oprah Loves This Place In Traverse City, Michigan
One stop that Oprah Winfrey encourages tourists visiting Traverse City, Michigan to make is the Traverse Pie Company. They are ranked as one of the best pie shops in the country with at least a dozen different cherry pies.
The town is full of art deco architecture, which can specifically be found at a mechanic’s garage called Randy’s Olde Town Services and a bookstore called Landmark Books. Traverse City is also close to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore with miles of sandy beaches and bluffs that tower 450 feet over Lake Michigan.
Gaze At The Bluebonnets In Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg, Texas was established in 1846 by German immigrants. The town is famous for its bluebonnet-covered flower fields (pictured). History buffs visiting this charming city may want to visit either the National Museum of the Pacific War or the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park.
Visitors have been coming to Frederickburg’s Enchanted Rock State Natural Area for centuries to camp, picnic, hike, rock climb, and examine the wildlife. Summer is peach season, so make sure to grab some delicious peaches at their roadside markets and orchards.
Tour Homes Of Historical Figures In Charlottesville, Virginia
A trip to Charlottesville, Virginia wouldn’t be complete without visiting Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home. Once used as a plantation during the early days of America, it is now a National Historic Landmark.
Jefferson wasn’t the only famous historical figure who lived in Charlottesville. Both James Monroe and Edgar Allen Poe’s homes are available to tour as well. The city has plenty of other attractions including horse racing, the only poled ferry in the United States, an early printing of the Declaration of Independence, and more.
What Stowe, Vermont Has To Do With The Sound Of Music
Stowe, Vermont is usually visited during the winter for skiing, but it’s actually a fun place to stay during the summer. They have waterfalls, hiking trails, bike paths, spas, and even gondola rides.
The town truly has a New England backdrop with white-steepled churches, trees that change into all colors of the rainbow, and a bustling main street. Something that people might not know about Stowe was that the Von Trapp family of The Sound of Music fame escaped Austria and settled there.
There’s Plenty To See On The Seashore In Newport, Rhode Island
Adventures by the sea await in Newport, Rhode Island. People will likely see yachts and sailboats in the harbor with plenty of opportunities for a boat tour. If you want to stretch your sea legs, you can walk the Newport Cliff Walk, a winding 3.5-mile path along the coast.
Newport is known for its Gilded Age mansions on Bellevue Avenue and many have been turned into incredible museums. The most famous Gilded Age mansion is called The Breakers, which was designed to look like a Renaissance palace.
There’s Something For Everyone In Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Summer visitors come to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia for the water activities. The town is between the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, so visitors can go whitewater rafting, canoeing, tubing, kayaking, and more.
Hikers will be thrilled that the Appalachian Trail runs through the city where they can cross beautiful ravines through the woods. Harpers Ferry also has a Civil War Museum and a site called John Brown’s Fort, which was part of the 1859 abolitionist raid.
Get Up Close To A Real Civil War Site In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Those who go to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania are most likely looking to take in some history. The city is best known as a pinnacle site from the Civil War and there are many tour areas including the Gettysburg Military Park.
The town itself is packed with mom and pop shops, cozy inns, farm-to-table restaurants, and museums. It’s often thought to be a place with a slower pace, but plenty of charm with guests easily able to recharge and unwind.
Bellingham, Washington Has Volcanoes, Orcas, And More
Bellingham, Washington is just outside Alaska and Vancouver, Canada, and is a hub for outdoor recreation. People can go orca whale watching, hiking, kayaking, sailing, golfing, river rafting, or just take in the backdrop from a scenic viewpoint.
On the east side of the city, visitors can find Mount Baker, a snow-capped volcano that faces the coast. If the outdoors aren’t really your thing, Bellingham also offers fine dining, tons of shops, and the historic Fairhaven district.
Driggs, Idaho Has A Peculiar Roadside Attraction
Right on the border between Wyoming and Idaho is Driggs, Idaho. It is a great starting point for exploring Grand Teton National Park and has an old-fashioned downtown area with special items such as huckleberry milkshakes, moose paintings, and a vintage soda fountain.
On the outskirts of Driggs, there’s a famous drive-in called The Spud where you can spot a gigantic potato on top of a bright red flatbed truck. If you’re a bit adventurous and want to get a spectacular view of the city, try the Teton Balloon Flights.
Visit The Ancient Adobe Buildings In Taos, New Mexico
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains surround Taos, New Mexico to create a peaceful atmosphere at every corner. The town is known for its ancient adobe buildings, including the Taos Pueblo that’s been inhabited by Native Americans for centuries.
Taos has also been an artist colony for a while and has many galleries and museums that show off some of the best artwork in the world. The city’s name comes from the Taos language and means “place of red willows”.
Ocean City, Maryland Is A Family-Friendly Beach Resort Town
If summer means a sun-filled beach getaway, then Ocean City, Maryland might be the perfect place to go. It was one of the first seaside resort towns in the United States and has attractions for people of all ages.
There’s a three-mile boardwalk with bicycle rentals, music, games, saltwater taffy, and souvenir shops. Kids will love Trimper’s Rides and Amusement Park and families can check out Frontier Town. Most of the hotel rooms are right next to the beach, so you’ll get an ocean view at all hours.
It’s Easy To Miss Talkeetna, Alaska
Talkeetna, Alaska was a former railroad town and has gained popularity because of its close proximity to Denali National Park. In the summer, tourists visit the town on their way to one of the country’s most iconic national parks.
Some common activities in Talkeetna are fishing, rafting, hiking, and airplane tours. The locals recommend taking one of the thrilling ziplining tours as well. Their population is less than 900 residents, so there’s plenty of room to take in the outdoors.
Blue Ridge, Georgia Is A Mountain Town Full Of Art
One of the most picturesque mountain towns in America is Blue Ridge, Georgia. They have a large artistic community with many exhibitions, galleries, and theaters throughout the city. Downtown Blue Ridge is booming with delicious restaurants, specialty shops, and more.
They are known for their antique trains where people can climb aboard and visit the mountain villages along the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. If camping is your thing, go to the trails at the Chattahoochee National Forest and Long Creek to see the Fall Branch waterfalls.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Is Sunny All The Time
Beaches are one of the top summer vacation spots and one that usually gets a lot of visitors is Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. It’s considered to be a family-friendly destination with a boardwalk, Ferris wheel, golf courses, and boat rides.
The beaches stretch for over 60 miles, so it hopefully won’t be too overcrowded. Not only is the weather great during the summer, but the city experiences sunny days almost every day of the year.
Milton, Delaware Is A Secluded Beach Getaway
If you’re looking for more of a secluded beach stay, then look no further than Milton, Delaware. It’s a little ways away from the bigger Delaware cities and has plenty of rental options that are right on the beach.
Some nearby recreational activities include birdwatching at Primehook Federal Wildlife Preserve, golfing at The Rookery Golf Club, and touring the Dogfish Head Brewery. Anyone who loves to shop can find some trendy boutique and antique shops nearby as well.