21 Small Towns You Should Visit on Your Next American Road Trip
Big cities are great to visit if you're looking for an efficient vacation with strict planning and lots of stuff to do. You can fly in for under a week and hit up all the well-known spots with your friends. Ain't no shame in the big city game!
But maybe you're fresh out of college, you have a lot of time off, or you're self-employed — and you're capable of setting a few weeks aside for an all-American road trip (there's truly nothing in the world like it!). First, congratulations! You're about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. But now, where to go?
If you're looking for interesting, photogenic small towns, you've come to the right place! Here are 21 spots you should stop in, snap lots of pics of, and brag to all your loved ones about. Because these are downright awesome.
Marble Falls, TX
If you're driving through the Lone Star State, you have to make a stop at Marble Falls, which is "in the middle of everywhere." Shop for colorful cowboy boots at Blair's Western Wear, indulge yourself at Choccolatte's, or visit the four parks and outdoor amphitheater.
If you're an outdoors enthusiast, Jamestown, ND, is perfect. Home to the world's largest buffalo monument, the town also boasts disc golf courses, hiking trails, fishing holes, go-kart racing, 300 species of birds (really!), and the rare white buffalo of the herd owned by the National Buffalo Museum.
This tiny jewel located in Northern Louisiana is "Bonnie and Clyde crazy" — in May 1934, a car was towed to Arcadia with the bodies of the young criminals, where they were then taken to the former Conger Funeral Home for embalming. Bonnie and Clyde Trade Days provides a stage for concerts, 130 acres of outdoor bargain shopping, fishing ponds, and an RV park.
Galena, IL, calls itself the Midwest's premier destination getaway, and we'd have to agree. Art and culture enthusiasts will feel right at home here, with lush vineyards and wineries, fine local food, scenic bed and breakfasts, art galleries with pottery demonstrations, and picture-perfect golf courses.
Prairie City, OR
The small settlement of Prairie City occupies the North side of a wide prairie that connects to the base of the Strawberry Mountain Range in Oregon. It's home to gold mining, stock raising, railroading, and lumbering, and you'll appreciate the fruitful history of the prairie town.
New Albany, MS
This Southern gem is fabulous for history/archaeology buffs. During the Middle Woodland period, which was 100 BC to 400 AD, inhabitants of the area around New Albany, MS, constructed mounds using simple tools and baskets. Extensively documented by the Smithsonian Institute in the 1800s, the Ingomar Mounds is a ceremonial and burial complex and a definite must-see. And if you like biking, the mounds are just a short trip from the 44-mile Tanglefoot Trail, the longest bike trail in the state.
Settled by Mormons, the town of Fruita in Southern Utah is fronted by tens of thousands of square miles of desert — paved roads didn't even come along until the 1960s, and the town was occupied by no more than 10 families for most of its existence. Fremont Indians were regulars in the area beginning in the 700s, and they left behind rock art, pit houses, and extensive irrigation canals. You'll take so many pics here.
The small town of Boonville, MO, is nestled high upon wooded bluffs that overlook the Missouri River. Located in the heart of the state, you can stay at a Victorian bed and breakfast, take a historic Boonville walking tour, gamble at the local casino, or practice archery at the range.
Looking for a charming, old-timey Southern town with rich historical roots? Abbeville, SC, was founded in 1758 by French Huguenots and played an essential role during the Civil War. Visit the Sumter National Forest and the Abbeville Opera House for a show!
Lava Hot Springs, ID
Big on hot tubs? You need to take a dip in the world-famous Idaho mineral pools in Lava Hot Springs, ID. These bodies of water are sulfurless and were formed by natural underground springs. More than two and a half million gallons a day course through the pools and are diverted into a nearby river to keep the springs clean. The temperatures range from about 102 to 112 degrees!
The scenic Cascade, MT, is a mandatory stop for nature-lovers. This town describes itself as a small farming and ranching community located at the mouth of the Missouri River Canyon. The views of the wildlife here are absolutely gorgeous.
You'll get to see the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains when you make a visit to Floyd, VA. The tiny town has world-famous live music, wineries, crafts, and an old-fashioned country store. Take a trip to Mabry Mill — rumored to be the most photographed and recognizable rustic scene in the US!
Tellico Plains, TN
Nicknamed "the Little Town With the Big Backyard," Tellico Plains, TN, is a small mountain town in East Tennessee, near the Cherohala Skyway and the Cherokee National Forest. The Smoky Mountains are absolutely picturesque, and the beautiful surrounding rolling farmlands will make your nature-loving heart leap. Something else to note: the Tellico Plains region provides a natural habitat for more than 20,000 species of plants and animals.
Love sinking your feet in hot sand? Sawyer, MI, has plenty of it, with several hundred acres of dunelands, campgrounds, and beaches (it's located on Lake Michigan!). The town's got country vineyards, countless antique stores, and fruit stands. Plus, visit Captain Mike's Fun Park, the community art center, and the Jones Berry Farm in the surrounding area.
Sand City, CA
The environmentally conscious town of Sand City, CA, is an interesting combination of New York's SoHo atmosphere and California's Pacific vibe. It's home to gentle sand dunes, local shopping centers, an art community, and dance and street performances.
New Castle, DE
You'll feel like you stepped into a time machine upon visiting the colonial town of New Castle, DE. With cobblestone streets and historical sites, New Castle was established in 1651 (!) and the flags of Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Sweden have all flown over this riverfront community. Be sure to check out both the New Castle Court House Museum and the Read House and Gardens Museum.
If Florida's on your roster, you must check out Brooksville, located 15 miles east of the Gulf of Mexico. Tour the quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods, see the hand-painted town murals, have a picnic among the rolling hills, and walk the trails of the Brooksville parks.
Located 12 miles from the Atlantic and near the head of the Damariscotta River, Damariscotta, ME, is the artsy little East Coast town you never knew you needed to visit. Check out the oyster shell middens along the river, which are historical evidence of Indian gatherings from more than 2,500 years ago.
Eureka Springs, AR
The quaint town of Eureka Springs, AR, is boasting with activities: zipline down Ozark Mountain; paddleboard on Beaver Lake; take a hotel ghost tour; taste local wine at Keel's Creek Winery; cross the Pivot Rock Natural Bridge. Amazing!
Granite Gap, NM
If your interest lies in ghost towns, you've come to the right place! Visit the ghost mining camp of Granite Gap in Southwestern New Mexico. More than a hundred years ago, this town was home to 2,000 miners and their families. In 1902, Granite Gap died when the silver standard dropped. The saloons, church, jail, school, livery stable, and bordellos are just rubble now, but Granite Gap's currently home to cougar, rattlesnakes, coyote, bighorn sheep, javelina, lizards, mule deer, and the Gila monster. Gear up and explore the Granite Gap Mountain, carved with 15 miles of hard rock tunnels (be careful!).