Do you wish Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls actually existed?
You can get pretty close!
Connecticut towns like Greenwich, Westport, and Mystic capture a similar magical feel.
New England is the ideal setting for charming small-town life. Even better, you can find even more scattered around the U.S., from revived desert ghost towns to communities nestled in the forest.
Are you looking for a more low-key adventure?
Visit any one of these hometown favorites on your next vacation.
1. Railroad-Inspired Hometown Magic
The first stop on our small town tour is Winslow, Arizona.
This charming desert town has always been a favorite “route 66” stop for bikers. Now, it’s a popular southwestern destination for tourists and history buffs, especially train fans!
The community is built around a famous railroad stop, so expect lots of memorabilia-clad hotel rooms, gift shops, and restaurants. The town is also home to Native American culture, including Hopi archaeological sites.
You’ll find plenty of easy hiking trails just north of the town in Homolovi State Park, too.
2. Carmel By the Sea
Just the name “Carmel By the Sea” inspires picturesque small-town life on the coast.
This popular California town features a unique mix of nautical, shabby chic, and fairytale. The town is known for super-quaint cottages with rustic shingle roofs. Visitors have their pick of charming bed and breakfasts, gift shops, galleries, and hotels.
Like Winslow, you only have to travel a little way out of the hometown to find fascinating historical sites. The Carmel Mission Basilica is just one example.
Don’t forget to catch some rays at beautiful Carmel Beach.
Plan accordingly, though. Carmel-by-the-sea is one of the most popular tourist spots in California. Summer attracts the most crowds, but you’ll find even sunnier days in fall. Plus, you can avoid the school vacation family crowds.
3. Explore Decorah in Iowa
Iowa may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning future itineraries. However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much there is to do in the Hawkeye state. Even better, traveling around the state is a lot cheaper than other destinations.
There are many small towns to enjoy, but one of the most unique and fun is the town of Decorah. This town is a haven for Norwegian-American culture.
Enjoy authentic nordic food, art, and music at the town’s yearly Nordic Fest. Learn all about the town’s roots and Norwegian-American history at the town’s Vesterheim museum.
It’s also a popular spot for trout fishing with family. There are plenty of trails to enjoy; plus, farmer’s markets filled with fresh produce.
4. Little Sweden
Why detour from your Scandinavian-American U.S. adventure?
Travel to Lindsborg, Kansas to enjoy one of the country’s largest Swedish-American communities. Learn more about the town’s unique history in one of Lindsborg’s museums, galleries, and gift shops.
You’ll find plenty of authentic Swedish cuisine, pastry shops, festivals, and spas in the popular tourist spot.
Don’t forget to learn traditional Swedish dancing before you leave!
5. A Town for Strawberry Lovers
Did someone say strawberries?
If there was a town dedicated to all things strawberry it’s definitely Ponchatoula, Louisiana. It’s even called “the strawberry capital of the world.” Unsurprisingly, the town is home to a yearly strawberry festival that pays tribute to its famous homegrown berries.
This small town is even dubbed “America’s Antique City.” It boasts one of the largest selection of antique stores in the country. Not just antiques, visitors also buy unique art, handcrafted items, textiles, decor, and more local-made work.
6. Classic Nantucket
If there’s any hometown on this list that instantly rings a bell it’s Nantucket.
This popular Massachusetts island town has inspired poems, songs, art, TV shows, and more. It remains one of the most popular seaside destinations on the East Coast.
Similar to Carmel-by-the-sea, Nantucket is known for its shabby chic, nautical vibe. Homes and establishments retain their signature salt air-beaten look. Likewise, it’s just as popular as Carmel-by-the-sea, so prepare accordingly if you want to avoid crowds.
There’s nothing short of things to do in this coastal town. Mainstreet is a great start. There, you can learn more about the town at gift shops, galleries, and museums. There are also plenty of concerts, comedy clubs, and more live entertainment to enjoy.
Don’t forget to check out one of the island’s top-rated restaurants before heading off to your next destination. Cape Cod is only a 26-mile drive away!
7. Relax in Maine
Maine has become one of the most popular seaside destinations for tourists. Retirees also call places like Kenneport home, with more buying vacation homes in the quaint nautical town.
Kenneport was originally a shipbuilding community before becoming a charming coastal retreat by the turn of the century. The town never lost its small-town vibe, as visitors enjoy small, winding streets packed with tiny shops, intimate restaurants, and galleries.
Dock Square is a great starting point for tourists. There, you’ll find maps, history, art, boutiques, and eateries. The beach is also a great place to enjoy a picnic.
8. Discover Something New in Minnesota
Why not put Minnesota on your summer itinerary?
You’ll love how much money you’ll save and surprise yourself with the number of affordable vacation experiences.
Park Rapids is a great place to start. This spot is a popular destination for residents and out-of-towners. Here, you’ll find a wider selection of restaurants, boutiques, tours, lake activities, and water sports.
It’s also home to beautiful lake resorts. There, you’ll find even more shops, cafes, and pools.
Don’t forget to stop by Aunt Belle’s Confectionary for yummy local-made caramels!
9. Enjoy the Power of the Sun
Are you planning to start your life in a small town?
Why not live in the first town powered directly by the sun?
Babcock Ranch is the first town in the U.S. to run entirely on solar power. This community is ideal for eco-conscious homeowners looking for a small-town vibe.
Most activities are held at or outside the Babcock Ranch Preserve. Get to know your new area with a cool eco-tour of the preserve. You can also visit the Octagon animal sanctuary.
Go camping with friends and family at the W.P. Franklin North Campground. There are also plenty of Florida water sports and activities to enjoy. Discover more info on how to start your life in this community.
10. Winter Adventures in Montana
Whether you’re looking for an extreme or relaxing experience, Montana offers both, especially the charming town of Whitefish.
Whitefish is actually one of the country’s top ski towns. It also happens to look like a picturesque North Pole village.
Snow-topped boutiques, resorts, hotels, restaurants, and galleries line the town’s quaint streets. There, you can also buy the latest ski gear, apparel, and lift tickets. There’s also a thriving theater community in Whitefish where visitors can enjoy live entertainment.
You don’t have to ski to enjoy whitefish. Enjoy plenty of easygoing hiking trails, boating activities, and bicycling. World-famous Glacier National Park is also close by.
11. Enjoy Even more Antiques in New Jersey
Ponchatoula has some competition for the “antique capital of the world” crown. The small town of Lambertville boasts one of the largest collections of antiques on the East Coast.
Like other popular New England destinations, Lambertville was founded in the early 1700s. Visitors enjoy historic Victorian homes, restored main streets, and quaint hotels. Train buffs will love the town’s historic railroad depot, as well.
12. Midwest Adventures in Oklahoma
Now, let’s take a detour to the midwest. Oklahoma, especially, is home to many charming towns. Medicine Park is especially popular with tourists and locals.
This town is located by a famous granite quarry. Expect to find charming cobblestone shops, lodging, and restaurants made from the town’s own granite.
Relax at warm bath lake in the summertime. This lake is the town’s official swimming hole; it’s also been restored from its original condition.
One of the best parts about this destination is how hidden it feels. This spot is perfect for people wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of most tourist attractions. You can find this lovely spot tucked away in the gorgeous Wichita mountains.
Most visitors rent cabins along the lake. You’ll also find plenty of walking paths, easy hiking, and mountain bike trails.
13. A Small Town Inspired by Mr. Rodgers
Do you want to find the nicest place on Earth?
Start with Mr. Rodger’s own hometown of Latrobe!
Located in Pennsylvania, this popular destination consistently ranks in top-20 lists for small towns. There’s even a hiking trail dedicated to Fred Rodgers.
Beer lovers also love this little town because it’s also home to the original Rolling Rock Beer. Visitors can still tour the still-working Latrobe brewery and enjoy a nice lunch with friends.
Don’t forget to enjoy a banana split before you leave. This fascinating town is also the birthplace of everyone’s favorite sundae.
Start Your Small Town Tour!
There are even more hometown gems to discover in the United States. These towns are just the beginning! Put them on your itinerary, along with more small-town favorites.
The blog is packed with even more ideas for your next big idea.