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The 10 Best Small Towns in America

The 10 Best Small Towns in America
Written by Oana Schneider

Not everybody likes to live in a big city and the reasons are many- financial situation, chaotic traffic, stress, pollution and the list continues. If that’s your case, we came up with a list of 10 US small towns that take our breath away.

If you’re looking to re-locate, you may want to keep our suggestions in mind. Without further ado, these are the 10 best small towns in America:

1. Beaufort, South Carolina

Population: 12, 788
Attractions: Antebellum mansions, moss-covered trees, Gullah culture, water sports, Saltus River Grill
Life: Life in Beaufort, SC, is very sweet: amazing houses, good prices, a great southern charm that is present in everything, from the local craftwork to the famous Rhett House Inn (where every tourist needs to spend at least one night). What else to do? Check out the historical buildings, the local cuisine, some water sports and the scenery. The people are kind and generous, so if that’s what you’re looking for and also happen to be looking for a new hometown, you should definitely give Beaufort a try!

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

2. Marfa, Texas

Population: 1, 899
Attractions: The local art galleries, the indie-quirky art installations, the historic downtown
Life: Who would’ve guessed that such a small town in Texas could be full of art and minimalistic comfort? It is true, folks: life in Marfa is very intellectual and artistic: checkout the Chinati Foundation, a reputable art gallery, the Marfa Lights (attributed to car lights, but they became popular because of their somewhat spookiness over the years), Maiya’s restaurant or Food Shark- a Mediterranean food truck that roams the Texas soil. If you happen to pass through Marfa, book a room at El Cosmico, a hotel comprising RVs, yurts, teepees and so on. If that’s too odd for you, try the Thunderbird Hotel, built during the 50’s.

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

3. Paia, Hawaii

Population: 2, 668
Attractions: Hookipa Beach – a heaven for surf lovers, Café des Amis, Café Mambo, Paia Inn, The Old Sugar Mill
Life: It’s so hard to find an authentic Hawaiian place to live nowadays, and for those of you wanting to move into the area, Paia is the way to go. Although it was originally founded as a small place to live for sugar mill workers, it quickly became popular and trendy. Here you can find anything, from high end fashion to old decorative items. Plus, the weather is beautiful and you can take up surfing if you want because the waves are perfect for it!

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

4. Cooperstown, New York

Population: 1, 833
Attractions: The National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown Chamber Music Festival, The Glimmerglass Opera, The Fenimore Art Museum, The Brewery Ommegang, the Alex & Ika Restaurant and The Lake Front Restaurant
Life: This historical town founded in 1786 is the home of baseball, but there are many other things you can visit around here, not just the National Baseball Hall of Fame. If you are a very artistic individual, checkout the music festivals, the Opera, the art museum and at the end of the day get a nice dinner at one of the two major restaurants in town.

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

5. Ashland, Oregon

Population: 20, 366
Attractions: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Schneider Museum of Art, The Amuse Restaurant, The Chanticleer Inn and The Chanticleer Mountains
Life: Although it may not look like a small town if you look at the population number, Ashland is a charming town that doesn’t lack in rustic touches. First of all, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival brings over 100, 000 visitors each year, which is definitely something to take into account. Plus, if you are a foodie always trying to explore the world cuisine, Ashland will surprise you with a bunch of delicious dishes- taste them at Amuse or at any small restaurant in town. The food is mainly French-inspired, so prepare yourself for a twist on pastry, seasonal ingredients and desserts.

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

6. Bardstown, Kentucky

Population: 12, 848
Attractions: My Old Kentucky Home State Park, Old Talbott Tavern, Bourbon Manor, Springhill Winery and Plantation
Life: Voted the Most Beautiful Small Town in America in 2012, Bardstown is a Georgian architecture jewelry: everywhere you turn there’s an enchanting building with a lot of history behind it. Let’s not forget about the Main Street whose view will take you back in time, an old soda-fountain, a local Civil War Museum and the famous Whiskey Museum! If you’re just passing, book a room at the Old Talbott Tavern, open for business since 1779 and have a nice meal at the Sprinhill Winery and Plantation!

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

7. Hood River, Oregon

Population: 7, 115
Attractions: Hiking, fishing, mountain biking, Mount Hood, the Columbia River, Hood River, Yakima Valley, Double Mountain Brewery
Life: Life is great of Hood River citizens: 60% of the population is under 44, they enjoy outdoor activities, are interested in environmental policies, enjoy the fresh air and the minimal traffic. The town offers a wide range of breweries, b&b establishments, more than 10 great restaurants, which is impressive for a small town, festivals, concerts, windsurfing competitions, open-air markets and the list goes on.

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

8. Los Alamos, New Mexico

Population: 11, 909
Attractions: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Aquatic Center, Don Quixote Distillery and Winery, Jemez Mountains, Pajarito Plateau, Valles Caldera National Preserve
Life: Most of you probably know it as the birthplace of the atomic bomb, but the truth is that there are so many great things about it that you have to consider it: Los Alamos scores high in diversity, education, population growth, health and civic engagement, local cuisine and so on. The town offers a great variety of art shows, concerts, parades and festivals. Plus, here is a great community of doctors that work at the National Laboratory trying to develop treatments for the entire population. This is probably why the people of Los Alamos are so healthy!

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

9. Hailey, Idaho

Population: 7,905
Attractions: Power House, Wood River Valley, Northern Rockies Music Festival, Rodeo Grounds, the Liberty Theatre
Life: If you happen to be in Hailey, Idaho, anytime soon, check out this place called the Power House located on the Main Street. More precisely, this is a restaurant/ bike shop were people come to fix their bikes and/or get something to eat. The food is mainly organic and revolves around a few very specific ingredients: eggs, oat burgers and tuna. The schools are among the best in the country, the crime is low, and the cultural background is impressive. The first people that lived here were Native Americans and this fact had a huge influence on the local art. There are many parks to visit, like the Hop Porter Park, where the Northern Rockies Music Festival is held every year.

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

10. Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Population: 9, 677
Attractions: Sunlight Mountain Resort, the White National Forrest, the Glenwood Caverns. Glenwood’s Downtown Market, the Centennial Park
Life: Once part of the Wild West, Glenwood Spring is now an American sensation and a great place to live. Fancy swimming? Great, because you can do it in the world’s largest hot springs resort located, you guessed it, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. There’s plenty to see and shop, too. Plus, the schools are great, the medical care is over the national average and the wildlife is probably one of the key-interests in the area. To put it in a few words, this town is like Christmas coming to life, with abundant snow, wild animals and rustic homes.

The 10 Best Small Towns in America

 

What do you think? Which of these small towns would you visit and which ones would you move to yesterday if you could? Do you live in a small town now? If yes, what would you say is the best thing about it and what is the worst?

About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois, who currently works for DontPayFull.com as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget, has a degree in Communications and advocates for women’s rights. Her future plans include getting a Labrador and losing a few pounds.

8 Comments

  • Wow, I live in Hawaii and I’ve never been to Paia. Shame on me. I should at least hop on a plane and visit. It’d definitely be a change of pace from my own small town, haha. Which is a lot better since I’ve been able to get out more, but there’s still not a lot to do around here. Though we do have a pretty sweet DVD rental store. Generally I have to drive at least 20 minutes for anything else, though.

    Marfa sounds the most appealing to me. Intellectual and artistic? Sign me up for that! Both of the Oregon towns sound pretty sweet as well, plus I’ve been wanting to move to Oregon for a while anyway.

  • Wow that’s amazing. I like them all, especially the one on the beach. I’ve always dreamt of living on a place like an Island to be isolated, just me and my wife alone! I would really love to be in such a place, it’s like my dream. I also love where nature is and organized and clean places, because it gives you a sense of comfort being surrounded by such places.

  • I really like the small town environment. Its what I prefer over big city living. I have always wondered what the deal is behind the Prada facade in Marfa, TX. I saw a reality show once where a girl and her friends went on a road trip just to go see the Marfa Prada. Now I will have to google that some more.
    Great post. Small towns, USA are what life is about.

    • I completely agree with you, I also LOVE small town environments and it is what I prefer. I can’t stand big cities and too much crowded.

  • I’ve been to Paia, Hawaii on Maui. I’m actually from Hawaii, the island of Oahu to be exact. Here on Oahu we have a place just like that on our north shore called “Haleiwa.” Just like Paia, Haleiwa is full of tourist all the time flocking to the beautiful beaches, and food. The only problems are that, everything there is ridiculously expensive. In Hawaii our main economy is based on tourism; that places that are heavily populated by tourist, are usually the most expensive.

    Some pretty places of Oahu that are less expensive is Waianae, Ewa Beach, Waipahu, Waikele, and Pearl City. Paia is way too expensive. Wouldn’t mind visiting some of those other places in the mainland though.

  • My husband and I we be leaving our current area in a few years. I’m happy that I can now put Hood River, Oregon on the list of potential places to relocate. The pictures really sell that location and the list of outdoor activities available make it to the top of my list of places to relocate. However, I may have to make a trip to check out Glenwood Springs, Colorado too. I enjoy hiking, skiing and mountain biking in the mountains. These two locations are not ones I would have placed on the list without your details.

    If you enjoy adventure you should check out Missoula or Bozeman, Montana. Great little towns tucked away in mountain ranges with many outdoor activities. There are several ski areas, hiking, and colleges in both these areas for every age group to enjoy.

  • This is a great article, thanks! I love the idea of getting off the normal tourist trail and exploring off piste. And I am a total Americanophile so all these towns look and sound amazing to me. I haven’t seen nearly enough of the USA as I would like to and I am planning a trip back there very soon.

  • Great list! I love delving into the history of small towns, and it’s so interesting to see the way they evolve with the times. I’d definitely love to visit the towns in Colorado and Oregon! Thanks for sharing!

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