Summer Road Trip? Add These 24 Charming American Small Towns to Your List

If you've already backpacked across Europe, jetted to Tokyo, or lounged on a tropical beach somewhere, you're probably looking for a bit of a different vacation to take next. Or, if you haven't done any of those things and just prefer staying a bit closer to home, exploring America's backyard is such a great option! We have National Parks, rich history and culture, and views that are too beautiful to capture in a single photo.

Small towns in America are like living time capsules. Visitors get a taste of what once was, from the old mom-and-pop shops and the architecture to the food and the surrounding scenery, and the locals take pride in to keeping it alive. If you're looking for a weekend getaway or planning a cross-country road trip with your friends, be sure to add these small towns to your list to experience these hidden gems of America.


Los Alamos, CA

What many call "Little LA," Los Alamos is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Located in the Santa Ynez wine country, its seven-block-wide town center is home to some award-winning restaurants. Many visitors come to the Skyview Motel, which is a 1959 building that reopened last April with heavy renovations and has become a perfect oasis for a chill and relaxed vibe.


Burlington, VT

Burlington is a tri-state escape up north for a relaxing yet adventurous getaway. From snow- and ski-filled Winters to foliage in the Fall to beautiful Summer weather that calls for chasing waterfalls on hikes, each season brings new experiences. Be sure to try the extremely rare Heady Topper beer by local brewery The Alchemist.


Woodinville, WA

If you find yourself in Seattle, escape to Woodinville. It's home to arguably one of the best wineries in the country, Chateau Ste. Michelle, which offers classes to blend your own wine with expert winemakers (you can also reorder bottles of your blend anytime). It also offers a Summer Winery Concert Series, which usually sells out within hours.


Sedona, AZ

From small shops full of beautiful arts and crafts to hikes with stunning views, there's something for everyone in Sedona. If you're feeling adventurous, check out Devil's Bridge or the well-known Pink Jeep Tour, whuch gives you off-roading thrills without all of the walking. Sedona is also home to the only McDonald's with turquoise arches in the world.


Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ

Visitors can enjoy a good book and the ocean in this Victorian historic seaside community. Quite opposite of the chaos of Seaside Heights, there's a strong sense of community with nice restaurants and places to visit to have a perfect day trip.


Boulder City, NV

This is a short 40-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, so visitors can sightsee the Hoover Dam, explore Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and kayak down the Black Canyon to Emerald Cove. It's a great getaway for some much-needed time with Mother Nature.


Ithaca, NY

With a college-town vibe — thanks to Cornell University and Ithaca College — mixed with an arts and crafts flair that includes glass-blowing studios, Ithaca is the epitome of small town. You can't visit without experiencing the Ithaca Gorges, because, as they say, "Ithaca is Gorges!"


Lexington, VA

For the adventurers and history buffs, Lexington has it all. Surrounded by the Shenandoah Valley, its downtown offers an array of restaurants, shops, and galleries. Visitors can drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and history buffs can visit sites from the Civil War.


Carlisle, PA

Carlisle is a small town filled with nature and historic treasures, including a church once attended by George Washington. It's also known as Pennsylvania's "Automotive Capital," hosting numerous annual car, truck, and motorcycle shows that bring in half a million people each year.


Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Just south of iconic Pebble Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea has various one-of-a-kind experiences in its one-square-mile village along California's Central Coast. Besides the beautiful beaches, visitors can explore restaurants, shopping, wine tastings, and art experiences.


McAdenville, NC

McAdenville, also known as Christmas Town USA, has that small-town feel in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina. Visitors come from all over to see the spectacular Christmas lights during the holiday season.


Oceanside, CA

Known for its palm-dotted Harbor Beach and nearby Oceanside Harbor with its marina and shops, Oceanside has a laid-back vibe with surfing at the forefront, including at the California Surf Museum. It's centrally located between Los Angeles and San Diego, making day trips north or south a must.


Mystic, CT

Mystic is a small harbor town with a grand personality. It's filled with history, including the Mystic Seaport Museum, and visitors can also enjoy accommodations at the newly renovated Spicer Mansion, which was originally built in 1853.


Jackson, WY

Jackson is a skier's dream getaway with three ski areas to explore. When visitors are off the slopes, they can enjoy bustling restaurants, live music, and local shops. Be sure to make time for Yellowstone National Park — the first and oldest national park in the world. Yellowstone's south entrance is approximately 90 miles north of the town of Jackson.


Hanapepe, HI

"Ohana" means "family," and family means no one gets left behind. The Disney movie Lilo and Stitch, which included that famous line, was modeled after this small town, which is known for its charming shops, local eateries, and love for the arts. Adventurers can cross the "Hanapepe Swinging Bridge," and the Hanapepe Town hosts a farmers market every Thursday.


Eureka Springs, AK

This Victorian village has over 100 shops and galleries — aka it's a shopper's paradise. Visitors can relax at one of the spas, visit a 500-acre wildlife refuge, or even take a two-hour zip-line tour through an Ozark Mountain forest.

Los Alamos, NM
James Barrett

Los Alamos, NM

Los Alamos is home to the Bandelier National Monument, which is one of the most underrated national sites to visit in the country. Visitors can hike and visit over 3,000 dwelling sites of the ancestral Pueblo people from over 11,000 years ago. With the national monument spanning 70 miles of trails, adventure and history are calling.

Moab, UT
Unsplash | Josh Soriano

Moab, UT

Visiting Moab is unlike anywhere else in the United States. Visitors can stop by the Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park on this adventurous getaway. Camping under the stars here is unlike anywhere else, as glamping is very popular.


Gatlinburg, TN

Known as a gateway to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, it's a sight worth more than any photograph. Visitors can see the 407-foot Space Needle observation tower and a 2.1-mile aerial cable car that journeys between downtown and the Ober Gatlinburg attraction. Downtown has a true small-town, retro vibe with unique restaurants.

Sitka, AK
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Sitka, AK

This small town was part of Russia until 1867, but its roots and culture are highly celebrated today. Visitors can take in the surreal mountain scenery, whale watch, hike, fish, kayak, and continue to celebrate the vibrant culture.


Wallace, ID

This monumental mining town of Wallace is located between ski and recreation areas in Idaho's Silver Valley. It's known as the "Silver Capital of the World," with 1.2 billion ounces of silver produced since 1884. It's the perfect escape to simpler times and being at one with nature with alpine lakes and bike trails to explore.


Buena Vista, CO

Buena Vista means "beautiful view" in Spanish, which is a perfect way to describe this small town that sits at 8,000 feet elevation. With beautiful bespoke shops, restaurants, hikes, and the Arkansas River running through town, there's something for everyone.


Apalachicola, FL

While this fishing town is in Florida, it has more of a Cape Cod vibe than a deep south one, offering fresh seafood, waterfront parks, and a rich history of the Panhandle's oysters, timber, and fishing. The location is very close to miles of pristine beaches on St. George Island and numerous protected shallow bays.


Ojai, CA

A perfect day trip to escape the noise of Los Angeles, Ojai is just north in Ventura County. It is in the Topatopa Mountains and has a village center that includes art galleries and great lunch spots. Trails are near the Los Padres National Forest, or if visitors don't want to hike, there are beautiful wineries within reach.