The Most Beautiful Small Towns in the United States

Ouray, Colorado
Ouray, Colorado | © Richard Broadwell / Alamy Stock Photo
Marcelina Morfin

There is no doubt that the United States of America is brimming with beautiful, charming towns. Every region and every state has them; lovely communities brimming with historic charm and scenic beauty. With something for everyone, we’ve put together a list of some of the most beautiful small towns — each with a population under 15,000 — found throughout the USA.

1. Beaufort, South Carolina

Architectural Landmark

Cafe and shops on West Street, just off Bay Street, Beaufort, South Carolina, USA
© Eric James / Alamy Stock Photo
Located on Port Royal Island, Beaufort, South Carolina is brimming with beauty at every turn with its moss-draped oak trees and breathtaking historic homes lining the streets. Featuring a historic downtown, the area is perfect for leisurely strolls while discovering unique shops, incredible art and antiques, plus delicious cuisine. Beaufort is also a history buff’s dream with plenty of historical sites and museums, including the Beaufort History Museum. The more adventurous traveler is not left out in this town, as plenty of recreational activities are to be explored from biking to kayaking to golfing. To really appreciate all Beaufort has to offer, look into taking a professional tour before going off on your own.

2. Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California - typical whimsical architecture.
© David Kilpatrick / Alamy Stock Photo
A European-style village on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel-by-the-Sea, also known as Carmel, is a popular tourist destination, and it’s easy to see why. Whether visitors want to hike down to the white, soft sandy beach or meander to explore the town’s charming architecture, boutiques, or delicious food haunts, it’s all easily done on foot. Other wonderful must-visits include the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission, a compound which features a basilica church, several small museums, and stunning landscape, founded in 1771 by Father Junipero Serra. A town popular with creative individuals, the village also hosts many events and festivals throughout the year, including the Carmel Bach Festival.

3. Galena, Illinois

Shops in the historic downtown of Galena, Illinois a popular tourist town
© Don Smetzer / Alamy Stock Photo
Situated on the Mississippi River in Northwestern Illinois, Galena is a lovely community with a romantic feel, offering something for everyone from shoppers to foodies. Its Main Street is brimming with gorgeous, 19th-century buildings housing specialty shops, art galleries, antiques stores and eclectic dining choices, while the rest of the village features many historical sites, including the Ulysses S. Grant Home State Historical Site. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the area as well with adventures such as hiking, boating, plus winter activities. With so many exciting things to explore plus the town’s friendly vibe, people will want to return again and again to this enchanting gem.

4. Madison, Georgia

Cottages

Morgan County Courthouse, Main Square, Madison, Georgia, USA
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
People from all over the world visit Madison, Georgia for its breathtaking mix of Antebellum and Victorian homes, scenic outdoor spaces, and slower pace of life. A photographer’s dream, Madison has something worth capturing on film at every turn from the majestic oak trees to small cottages. If antique shopping is on the agenda, the downtown area is the place to go as it’s brimming with antique dealers. Other attractions to explore include the Morgan County African-American Museum and Heritage Hall, which is the most visited attraction in the town.

5. Nashville, Indiana

Nashville, Indiana shops, tourist attraction.
© Cathyrose Melloan / Alamy Stock Photo
Nashville, Indiana is a quaint community located in Brown County, an area located in the southern portion of the state. An artists’ colony, Nashville, along with the surrounding area, is a wonderful destination for any art lover as the county is full of unique studios where artists can showcase and sell their works. The charming village also features public art, which can be discovered by meandering through the streets. The area is also an outdoor lover’s paradise, with many activities waiting to explored, including mountain biking and zip lining.

6. Ouray, Colorado

Park

Motorcycles and cars line the main street flanked by historic buildings in Ouray, Colorado, with the San Juan Mountains in the background
© Richard Broadwell / Alamy Stock Photo
A feast for the eyes, Ouray — named after Chief Ouray — is a gem of a town nestled in the Rockies in Southwest Colorado. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, this mountain community is not only known for its panoramic vistas but also its sulfur-free hot springs — perfect for soaking and relaxing after a long day exploring. Ouray is also home to an incredible ice park as well as other outdoor adventures, including miles of hiking trails and for the adventurous driver, Jeeping. Around town, guests will find beautifully restored Queen Anne Victorian architecture housing galleries, shops, and dining establishments. Interested in exploring more of Colorado? Join our epic getaway to the Centennial State and nearby Utah for eight days of thrilling adventures like whitewater rafting and hiking in national parks.

7. Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend waterfront view from water with sailing boats at anchor.
© Eric Carr / Alamy Stock Photo
A vibrant community situated on the Olympic Peninsula, Port Townsend is a historical Victorian seaport. Indeed, there are only three in the country. With a thriving art scene plus numerous outdoor adventures, every visitor is sure to find something of interest in this picturesque town. For architecture buffs, the historic uptown district features colorful Victorian mansions while the historic downtown area is home to other century-old buildings. In addition to the unique dining establishments, galleries, and shops found in Port Townsend, the town also hosts many events throughout the year, such as the Victorian Festival and award-winning theatrical productions at Key City Public Theater.

8. Stowe, Vermont

View of Main Street, Stowe, Vermont USA
© Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy Stock Photo
An absolutely stunning destination no matter the time of year, Stowe is a historic gem located in Northern Vermont. The quintessential destination for adventure seekers, Stowe is brimming with outdoor activities from skiing and other winter sports to hiking, biking, canoeing and more in the summer. For the arts and culture lover, the town is home to a lively performing arts scene along with museums and art galleries featuring everything from photography to sculpture. The foodie crowd will also be impressed as this small town features many award-winning dining establishments creating mouthwatering delicacies.

9. Taos, New Mexico

Buildings and shops in the adobe style just off of the plaza in Taos New Mexico.
© Brian Hartshorn / Alamy Stock Photo
Another historical goldmine, Taos is a lovely town located in north-central New Mexico. An enchanting mountain community, Taos is a great place to explore the arts, nature, and history. Shoppers and art lovers will enjoy meandering through the different plazas and streets searching for the perfect gift for a loved one or piece of art to adorn their home. History and culture buffs can visit the Taos Pueblo to meet the local Native American community. Nature lovers will love the variety of activities from hiking, climbing, horseback riding, and, of course, skiing in the winter.

10. Whitefish, Montana

Park

Downtown Whitefish, Montana
© Frank Vetere / Alamy Stock Photo
Situated in the northwest portion of Montana, Whitefish is another year-round destination that outdoor adventurers will thoroughly love. A charming mountain town located near Glacier National Park, the townspeople are a friendly, laid-back group who enjoy welcoming visitors any time of the year. Spring and autumn are great times to go biking while the summer season is perfect for going horseback riding or partaking in water sports.

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