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The Best American Small Towns You Need to Visit

Big cities are great, with their non-stop excitement and fancy restaurants, but there's something about a small-town destination that is simply good for the soul. Every small town has something about it that makes it unique. There are little quirks, and hidden attractions travelers can't experience in a large metropolis.

Beaches, mountains, quaint downtowns, parks, museums, and historical architecture are just a few of the many things small towns provide. Whether you're looking for a fun, family-friendly trip or an exciting outdoor adventure, there's a small-town destination in the U.S. that you will enjoy.

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01Telluride, Colorado

Busy day on Main Street, Colorado Avenue, in downtown Telluride - Telluride, Colorado, USA - October, 2021 Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com

A former mining town in the Rocky Mountains, Telluride is a year-round destination for both history lovers and active travelers. Visitors can explore the National Historic Landmark District in the downtown area featuring Victorian-era buildings, boutiques, galleries, and local restaurants. Telluride is also quite famous for its incredible skiing for beginners and experts.

Outside of ski season, there are plenty of other things to do in Telluride, such as fly fishing, golfing, hiking, biking, and all types of water sports. Derived from the sound of its name, the phrase "to hell you ride" is often used to describe the reputation of this rowdy, good-time town.

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02Sedona, Arizona

tilt Shift shot of Sedona, Arizona during the morning light Rudy Malmquist / Getty Images

Located around two hours south of Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona is a stunning town often described as one of America's most beautiful places. This gorgeous area is surrounded by mesmerizing red rock formations and jagged sandstone buttes against a cerulean blue sky.

Sedona is a popular destination for outdoorsy travelers and wellness seekers looking for a unique experience. In addition to over 100 hiking trails, the town is filled with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants showcasing local, artisanal products.

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03St. Augustine, Florida

USA, Florida, St. Augustine, old wood school Westend61 / Getty Images

St. Augustine is a picturesque, historic town in northeastern Florida founded by the Spaniards in 1565 and remains the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the U.S. Among the many noteworthy landmarks and eclectic museums, the small city also has various eateries, live music venues, art galleries, and boutiques.

Take a break from the cobblestone streets and colonial architecture for a drink at the St. Augustine Distillery or a sandy stroll on St. Augustine Beach. Because of the extensive history of St. Augustine, the town has some intriguing paranormal tours and attractions.

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04Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, TN, USA Photo by Sean Foster on Unsplash

More than an appealing gateway to the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg in eastern Tennessee is also a smorgasbord of popular attractions. There are three separate entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in this family-oriented town. You will have ample opportunity to see wildlife like elk, deer, and black bears in their natural habitat.

Families can enjoy kid-friendly activities such as biking, horseback riding, hiking, zip lines, and theme parks. Gatlinburg's top attractions include the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway and the Gatlinburg Space Needle.

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05Hudson, New York

Just a little over two hours from New York City is the pleasant small town of Hudson. This quaint village is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Nicknamed "The Friendly City," Hudson was a whaling port in the 1700s and still has a range of historic architectural styles.

Hudson has an exquisite blend of small-town charm and chic boutique shopping. Along with bakeries and wine bars, the classy town nestled in the Hudson Valley hamlet has a top-notch farmers' market and excellent antiquing.

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06Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash Photo by mana5280 on Unsplash

From its breathtaking scenery to the charmingly unique architecture, there is no wonder why the beautiful coastal town of Carmel-by-the-Sea is such a popular tourist destination. This quaint European-style village located on the magnificent Monterey Peninsula is the ideal spot for a romantic getaway or a fun weekend trip.

The West Coast small town is loved by creatives who flock to the many exciting events and festivals throughout the year. Visitors can explore adorable fairytale cottages and secret gardens and passageways in this whimsical small town.

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07Vernal, Utah

Big pink dinosaur with long eyelashes holds sign saying "Vernal - Utah's Dinosaur Land" is an iconic landmark in the fracking/oil town in eastern Utah. Heidi Besen / Shutterstock.com

Often described as Jurassic Park meets the Wild West, Vernal proudly claims its title of Dinosaurland. A towering pink dinosaur greets you upon your arrival in this extraordinary small-town destination, which is the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument. The land around Vernal is rich with fossils, and the Carnegie Quarry contains around 1,500 dinosaur bones embedded in rock.

Other entertaining activities to try in Vernal are fly fishing, rafting, boating, cliff diving, horseback riding, and mountain biking. There are also a couple of state parks to hike and explore.

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08Taos, New Mexico

Photo Taken In Taos Pueblo, United States Jose Gerardo San Miguel / EyeEm / Getty Images

Taos is a lovely small town located in the north-central part of the state. Settled high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this enchanting mountain community is an absolute paradise for nature lovers, art lovers, and history buffs.

Home to Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO site that is among the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the U.S., the town is flush with culture. Visitors can meet with the local Native American community, shop for authentic art, and savor the region's famous chile-based cuisine.

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09Stowe, Vermont

Aerial view of charming small town Stowe in Vermont. Mountains with fall multicolor trees marchello74 / Getty Images

A historic gem in northern Vermont, the small town of Stowe is a wonderful destination all year long. From its plethora of outdoor activities to its lively art scene, there is something for everyone in this gorgeous mountain town. Skiing at the nearby Green Mountains or CC Putnam State Forest is a favorite activity.

Art galleries and museums in Stowe feature everything from sculptures to photography. Foodies love this fantastic small town due to its many award-winning dining establishments that serve mouth-watering delicacies.

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10Whitefish, Montana

Taken on a crisp fall day prior to ski season. Nathan Dugan / Getty Images

In northwest Montana, nestled near the Glacier National Park, sets the charming mountain town of Whitefish. This awesome year-round destination boasts outdoor adventures that will impress any thrill-seeking traveler. There are acres of skiable terrain and tons of activities such as biking, horseback riding, racing down the mountain on an alpine slide, and various water sports.

Whitefish is the optimal home base for visitors who want to explore Glacier National Park's lakes, glaciers, mountains, and meadows. The local townspeople have a reputation for being friendly, laid-back, and welcoming to visitors.

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