Often, vacations aren’t quite as relaxing as we’d hoped. Between fitting in tons of activities to fighting the traffic and crowds that come along with big cities, sometimes it feels as though you need a vacation from your vacation! That’s why it’s nice to escape from the city life, instead visiting a quaint and quiet small town. These picture perfect towns offer fun activities, great places to stay and eat, friendly people, and a relaxing atmosphere. Here are 8 of the best small town getaways in the U.S.
1. Berlin, Maryland
With a population of 4,563, this picturesque small town is a refreshing reprieve from the everyday hustle and bustle of city life. If the town sounds familiar, it may be because the films Tuck Everlasting and The Runaway Bride were both shot here, according to Budget Travel.
So, what can this pristine town offer you? It’s downtown is a National Register Historic District and is host to fun events year-round, including your everyday run-of-the-mill farmers markets to the Berlin Fiddlers Convention to a Victorian Christmas, which even has horse-drawn carriages! Whether you’re a beach lover, hiker, kayaker, or history fiend, there’s plenty here to keep you busy. The Merry Sherwood Plantation and Taylor House Museum are both great places to visit.
2. Boca Grande, Florida
From the beautiful lighthouse that overlooks Gasparilla Island State Park to the tree-lined, traffic light-free streets, to the peaceful beaches nearby, Boca Grande is a small town slice of heaven. Looking for a place to stay? Travel + Leisure suggests visiting the Gasparilla Inn, which is a proud member of the Historic Hotels of America, as well as the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It’s a beautiful resort that even has a golf course. However, the resort is closed during the hottest months, so if you’re going in the middle of summer, try its sister property The Innlet, which provides guests with a laid-back, waterside vibe.
When you’re not enjoying your resort, stop by the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum, Paradise Island Gallery, and take a hike through the Cayo Costa State Park. You’ll be surrounded by stunning beaches, pine forests, and beautiful water. It really is picture perfect!
3. Highlands, North Carolina
You can find this beautiful mountainous town about three hours away from Atlanta and four hours from Charlotte. It’ll feel more like a lifetime away from any big city, though. Everywhere you look you’ll find art galleries, quaint restaurants, and beautiful scenery.
Southern Living recommends checking out the Main Street Inn nestled in the middle of the downtown historic district. It has been in business for over 125 years, and includes 20 charming and cozy guest rooms. For dinner, check out Wolfgang’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro, which has nearly 700 wines and tons of delicious specialties, such as grilled venison tenderloin and mouthwatering Cajun barbecued shrimp.
4. Bozeman, Montana
This small town has a college vibe and country charm. You’ll find it’s oozing with art and culture, including great activities such as Bozeman Symphony and Shakespeare in the Park, according to Fodor’s Travel. One piece of advice? Come ready to chow down. John Bozeman’s Bistro, located in the historic downtown, is filled with delicious choices, including Jamaican jerk chicken. There’s also Montana Ale Works, which in addition to great food also offers over 40 beers on tap, per Fodor’s Travel.
The Lehrkind Mansion, a former brewery turned bed-and-breakfast, is a great place to stay. There you’ll find a beautiful guest parlor and library to enjoy, and the dining room is sure to be filled with delicious dishes any time of the day.
5. Cazenovia, New York
With a population of only 2,756, you wouldn’t expect to find much here. But it’s just the opposite. Cazenovia, found on the shores of Cazenovia Lake, truly epitomizes the charm of small town life. Budget Travel suggests strolling down Albany Street, which will provide you with a sense of the community’s history as you take in its colonial architecture.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the Owera Vineyards, Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, and Nelson Farms, per Travel Advisor. The Stone Quarry Hill Art Park is truly a unique experience. It’s set among 104 acres of conserved land and kept-up trails, providing explorers with exhibitions, collections, and interpretations.
6. Chincoteague, Virginia
Found just off the coast of Virginia, consider Chincoteague the gateway to “Assateague Island National Seashore — a nature refuge that’s home to wild ponies, herons, woodpeckers, and foxes. It’s accessible to boaters and via car over the Route 175 bridge,” writes Travel + Leisure.
Miss Molly’s Inn, a seven-room bed and breakfast in a Victorian era home, is sure to add to your small town experience. The B&B has five porches that include rocking chairs and loungers. Enjoy the beautiful garden, or spend your day indulging in the tea, coffee, cookies, and home-baked goods available 24 hours a day. If you get tired of munching on cookies, stop by the Chincoteague Diner, where you’ll feel as though you’re swimming in fried seafood and baby back ribs.
7. Natchitoches, Louisiana
Natchitoches was founded in 1714 by the French, making it the state’s oldest town. Natchitoches, which resides by the Cane River Lake, is described by Southern Living as both elegant and energetic. Front Street is a must-see while you’re there. It’s decorated with wrought iron railings, and the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile, Louisiana’s oldest hardware store, will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. Even if you don’t need anything, you’ll purchase something just to see it wrung up on a cash register that’s over 100 years old.
Stop by Mama’s and enjoy great regional dishes, including fried frog legs, per Southern Living. Once you’ve filled up, visit Mama’s Blues Room to sit back, relax, and hear great blues and Cajun music.
8. Traverse City, Michigan
Filled with vineyards, craft breweries, and cherry harvests, this town is a foodie’s oasis, brimming with gourmet shops and delicious eateries. There’s also plenty of natural beauty here, including beaches, skiing areas, stunning forests, and the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore, according to Fodor’s Travel.
This is guaranteed to be a vacation that will tantalize your taste buds. The Cooks’ House restaurant offers delectable dishes such as white Wyandotte chicken breast and roast garlic stuffed leg — yum! If you’re more in the mood for dessert, the Grand Traverse Pie Company will be right up your alley. Aside from mouthwatering pies, there are also dessert bars, cheesecakes, cookies, muffins, and turnovers to choose from.