Across the United States, there are dozens of regions boasting stunning scenery, pristine coastlines, and rugged terrain, all beautiful in their own right. However, most of the small towns in these parts go unlooked, overshadowed by the bigger metropolises. For those planning their next getaway, step away from the norm and experience the charm that small towns have to offer. From serene desert lands to hidden coastal towns, read on to discover the nine most beautiful small towns in America.
Sedona is Arizona‘s desert gem: surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national pine forest, red-rock mountains and steep canyons, these sacred lands of ‘healing and spiritual renewal’ make for the perfect escape. Revel in the peaceful nature of this desert town, with its sunset views, glowing mountains, and mild climate, plus, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to take part in, like hiking, biking, and golfing, along with relaxing spa treatments, shops, art galleries, and wine tasting. Pro tip: don’t miss Bell Rock, Chapel of the Holy Cross, or the Honanki ruins.
Jackson commonly referred to as ‘Jackson Hole’, is a town in the Jackson Hole valley of Wyoming. Don’t be fooled by this remote location. This city is booming with life, complete with restaurants, galleries, shops, museums, and spa facilities. For the outdoorsy, there’s fishing, hiking, golfing, rafting, kayaking, and mountain biking; surrounded by the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park, Jackson undoubtedly boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the state.
St. Augustine, said to be the oldest city in the States, is a quaint, historic gem located on the northeast coast of Florida. Trapped in 17th-century America, St. Augustine transports visitors to another era with its Spanish colonial architecture, hidden courtyards, horse-drawn carriages, brick-lined streets, and European vibe. Be sure to head to St. Augustine Beach or Crescent Beach for a taste of the sandy coastline; get in touch with nature at the Anastasia State Park and, don’t miss the town’s centuries-old Spanish fortress, Castillo de San Marcos.
Nags Head, an area of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, is the state’s most prized beach, recognizable by the iconic Bodie Lighthouse. This summer destination was North Carolina‘s first tourist colony, established in the 1830s, and is rich in history. Snorkel famous shipwrecks, hang glide over the famous Jockey’s Ridge sand dunes or swim in the calm waters. For a true Nags Head experience, rent a waterside cottage and indulge in seaside eats like soft shell crab and oysters.
Gulf Shores has been Alabama‘s hidden treasure for many years. Known for its soft, white-sand beaches and clear waters, this coastal town is a quieter alternative to other overcrowded beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Here, get a taste of just-off-the-boat seafood, beachside relaxation, and the sunshine in a peaceful setting. There’s also plenty of water sports, golfing, deep-sea fishing, and zip lining to keep you busy, though, taking in the scenery should keep you busy enough.
Newport, an upscale beach town on Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island, is known for its cobblestone streets, 19th-century mansions, and yacht-filled harbor. This beachside town screams old-school charm with its brick-lined sidewalks, chic boutiques, and art galleries set along the scenic waterfront. Take part in its many hosted events, like the America’s Cup, Newport Folk Festival, and the Newport Jazz Festival. Discover the beautiful beaches and rocky cliffs, learn about this seaside town’s rich history at Fort Adams, or, take a drive down Bellevue Avenue for a trip to the ‘Gilded Age.’
Located amidst the wondrous Thousand Island Region in northern New York, Alexandria Bay is a tiny, mesmerizing village surrounded by serene waters and lush foliage. This magical spot along the St. Lawrence River is where fantasy meets reality. 1,864 islands dot the waters, along with historic mansions and castles. Hop aboard a helicopter or hot air balloon for a panoramic view, boat through the canals, discover the region’s most famous castle, Boldt Castle, or venture to the many islands and state parks, including Wellesley Island, Keewaydin State Park, and Wellesley Island State Park.
Stowe is an eclectic, culturally thriving village in Vermont. Distinguishable by its tall, white steeple, Stowe is more than just a winter attraction. It plays host to some of the most beautiful, vibrant fall colors in the state along with year-round events, like the balloon festival, arts and crafts shows, and theater productions. Head to this tree-laden valley wedged between Mt. Mansfield, the Worchester Range, and the Green Mountains for outdoor activities during the warmer months, or, opt for a winter wonderland, and discover this Vermont treasure via the Stowe Mountain Resort or popular Trapp Family Lodge.
Cape May is New Jersey’s oldest seaside resort and ‘crowned jewel’ of the state. Named as having some of the best beaches in America, this southern peninsula village isn’t just laden with pristine beaches. Its historic charm is vibrant and alive with 19th-century architecture, upscale restaurants, and a hip vibe. Leave the car, and explore the town, a National Historic Landmark, by foot or bike. Head to Higbee Wildlife Management Area for a secluded beach experience, or, venture into Cape May Point State Park for a view of the Cape May Lighthouse.