These Are the Best Small Towns to Visit in the U.S. for a Charming Escape

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
December 15, 2021

While big cities may have bucket-list name recognition with travelers, the enticing charm of a small town is uniquely hard to resist.

The best small towns in America give you the chance to slow down and appreciate the simple things — like listening to the leaves rustling in the wind, watching the ocean’s waves crashing against the shore, or feeling the warm sunlight on your face while strolling quaint streets.

Now that you’re daydreaming of the best small towns to visit in the U.S., check out some of the sweetest spots across the country and start planning your next vacation.

In This Article:

Taos, NM

Breckenridge, CO

Hilton Head, SC

Sedona, AZ

St. Augustine, FL

Traverse City, MI

Hot Springs, AR

Lake Tahoe, CA

Gatlinburg, TN

1. Taos, New Mexico

View of the mountains boarding the town of Taos, New Mexico

Known as the “Land of Enchantment,” Taos is a vibrant community with rich history, a thriving art scene, and sweeping views of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. An escape to this quaint corner of New Mexico gives travelers eclectic desert ambiance and the chance at lazy days while never being short on places to explore.

:house: Where to stay: This quaint Taos studio comes equipped with a hot tub, lots of natural light, and is perfect for guests traveling on a budget.

2. Breckenridge, Colorado

Downtown Breckenridge with snow topped mountains in the background

Breckenridge is a fun, year-round destination with endless things to do. Yes, travelers from all over the world come to hit the slopes at the three nearby resorts for skiing and snowboarding. But this picturesque mountain town is also perfect for more chill activities like hiking, wildlife spotting, and best of all — relaxing.

:house: Where to stay: This modern condo provides the best of both worlds: stunning mountain views and easy access to shops, restaurants, and the slopes.

3. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Lighthouse and harbor in Hilton Head South Carolina

Famous for its incredible beaches and world-class golf courses, Hilton Head Island is regularly considered one of the best small towns to visit in the U.S. Whether you’re interested in exploring nature, swinging clubs, or posting up on one of many beaches with a good book, there really are countless activities for all types of vacationers.

:house: Where to stay: This beachy villa offers a light, refreshing interior and is just a short walk from the ocean. If saltwater isn’t your thing, you can also enjoy a relaxing float in the large swimming pool surrounded by palm trees.

4. Sedona, Arizona

View of Sedona, Arizona downtown

Home to unbelievable red rock formations and unique native vegetation, Sedona is internationally considered a rejuvenating and uplifting travel destination. Head outdoors to explore the unique, natural beauties around you, or spend your afternoon sipping award-winning wines. Whatever experience you’re seeking, there’s no shortage of discovery and adventure at your fingertips — there are literally 100 things to do in Sedona. 

:house: Where to stay: Surround yourself with the Earth’s wonders at this cozy hideaway. Perfect for small groups, this home offers ample opportunities to connect with nature and achieve the ultimate relaxation.

5. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida, USA Skyline at Bridge of Lions

The oldest city in the United States also happens to be one of the best small towns to visit. St. Augustine is the perfect destination for history buffs and beach dwellers alike — you can fill your days with museums, decadent food, and drinks, or squeeze in tranquil afternoons along the shores of the Atlantic. Regardless of your route, St. Augustine is one of those quaint towns that provides uninterrupted ocean views and a relaxed way of living to quiet your mind.

:house: Where to stay: This tropical paradise is perfect for two, with hammocks galore and a private garden where you can sit back, sip your iced tea, and get lost in a good book while the palm leaves rustle in the breeze.

6. Traverse City, Michigan

View of the river and homes in Traverse City, Michigan

Traverse City is the cherry capital of the world, and with it comes all the charm you might expect of a small town. Summer brings long days on the shores of Lake Michigan and refreshing local microbrews. When winter sets in, you’ll feel like you’re the main character in a holiday movie while living a cozy, hygge lifestyle. No matter the season, you’ll make unforgettable memories with those you love most in one of the best small towns in the Midwest.

:house: Where to stay: There’s no oasis quite like this lakefront cabin, where you can leave your worries at the dock and kayak around the Grand Traverse Bay before ending your day cozied up by the fire pit. (Did someone say s’mores?)

7. Hot Springs, Arkansas

View of downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas with mountains in the distance at sunset

Plan a trip to another one of America’s best small towns and you just might feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. Filled with historic hangouts and architectural marvels, Hot Springs boasts natural beauty and welcoming locals around every corner. One must-see spot: Hot Springs National Park, which excels at increasing your relaxation level thanks to warm geothermal waters and surrounding lush greenery. (P.S. It’s also one of our top national parks worth visiting in the U.S.)

:house: Where to stay: Fall in love with this charming cottage, located in a quiet neighborhood just minutes from Hot Springs National Park. You can enjoy the warmth of your private hot tub after a busy day exploring one of the most beautiful small towns in America.

8. Lake Tahoe, California

Distant view of Lake Tahoe skyline near lake with snowtopped mountains in the distance and cloudy blue sky

With towering mountaintops, crystal-clear waters, and steep granite cliffsides, it’s no wonder Lake Tahoe is a magnet for visitors. Equipped for year-round entertainment and awe-inspiring views, Lake Tahoe offers so many ways to create deeper connections with your loved ones. Hike the Sierra Nevada mountains, glide down snowy slopes, or kayak in Emerald Bay while enjoying the quaintness of the area. Voted the “Best Lake in America” by USA Today, Lake Tahoe’s slower pace of living certainly makes it one of the best small towns to visit when you want to unwind.

:house: Where to stay: This spacious and modern A-frame cabin offers breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Whether you’re in need of a peaceful retreat or an adventure-packed itinerary, this cozy cabin is begging to be yours.

9. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg and a valley in The Smoky Mountains in autumn

Fall under the spell of Gatlinburg, a quaint town that’s snuggled up to the picturesque Smoky Mountains. Whether you want a wildlife- and waterfall-filled day spent in Great Smoky Mountains National Park or the opportunity to explore a bustling downtown with delicious eats, there’s an abundance of outdoor activities, eclectic attractions, and southern charm here to make it a destination worth visiting with the whole fam.

:house: Where to stay: This rustic, cozy cabin is surrounded by spectacular Smoky Mountain views, making it the perfect place to soak in the hot tub, lounge on the covered porch, or snuggle up on the couch with a warm cup of tea.

Rest Easy in America’s Best Small Towns

Vacation is all about letting stress wash away. So when you’re taking a break from emails, errands, and never-ending ‘To Do’ lists, the last thing you need is an unpleasant travel experience. That’s why every stay in our homes is backed by our Rest Easy Promise that your vacation rental will always be safe, clean, and ready for you and your loved ones.

Keep fueling your wanderlust with dazzling stargazing spots, top places to travel this year, and stateside locations with international flair. You can also find a new favorite stay inside these tremendous tiny homes or a mix of unique vacation rentals across the U.S.

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