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Charming small cities and towns can be found across the United States. But which ones are widely considered to be the best? I have put together a highly-opinionated list of what I believe to be the top 100 small cities & towns in the United States. It is not an easy task to pick 100 top small cities & towns out of a pool of thousands, so this web-page will forever be a work in progress as my wife and I travel to visit more small cities & towns across the country.

This top 100 small cities & towns list is sorted alphabetically by state (and not by rating or quality). I have also intentionally excluded all cities with a population over 100,000 (i.e. Ann Arbor, Michigan; West Palm Beach, Florida; Boulder, Colorado; Savannah, Georgia; Chattanooga, Tennessee). Remember, though, this is just my opinionated & subjective list. There are hundreds of other fascinating small cities & towns in the United States.

With all that being said, you probably won't want to miss these wonderful small towns & cities. For a complete listing of all of my favorite towns and cities in the US (not just the top 100), read my Favorite Places in the U.S. guide.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons



AS OF 2020

Alabama GULF SHORES sugar-white Gulf of Mexico beaches; boat tours; Gulf State Park; fishing pier; Waterville USA 15,736
Alabama ORANGE BEACH sugar-white Gulf of Mexico beaches; boat tours; golfing; more upscale than nearby Gulf Shores 8,347
Alaska GIRDWOOD mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; hiking; fishing; glaciers; Alaska's largest city; Chugach Mtns 1,742
Alaska HOMER mountain scenery; art galleries; boutique shops; boat tours; "halibut fishing capital of the world" 5,719
Alaska KETCHIKAN art galleries; boutique shops; sea-kayaking; totem poles; "salmon capital of the world"; cruise ship stop 8,037
Alaska SKAGWAY mountain scenery; gold-rush history; boutique shops; tourist railroad; cruise ship stop 1,240
Alaska TALKEETNA mountain scenery; scenic flights; snowmobiling; gateway to Denali National Park 1,055
Arizona FLAGSTAFF mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; hiking trails; gateway to Grand Canyon National Park 76,989
Arizona SEDONA red rock desert scenery; New Age centers; vortexes; 4WD-ing; spas; hiking trails 9,763
Arizona WILLIAMS Route 66 history & attractions; various family attractions; gateway to Grand Canyon National Park 3,267
Arkansas EUREKA SPRINGS historic buildings; 50+ boutique shops; religious attractions; access to nearby outdoor activities 2,171
California AVALON island culture/lifestyle; Mediterranean-style architecture; beaches; boutique shops; boat tours 3,377
California CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA beaches; art galleries; boutique shops; gateway to U.S. 1 / Big Sur Highway 3,196
California LAGUNA BEACH beaches; art galleries; SCUBA diving; snorkeling; boutique shops 22,795
California MALIBU beaches; 27 miles of beach front; surfing; fishing pier; hangout of the rich & famous; hiking trails 10,429
California NAPA winery/vineyard capital of the U.S. (> 400 wineries); beautiful countrysides 78,818
California PALM SPRINGS desert scenery; boutique shops; golfing; spas; hiking trails; gateway to Joshua Tree National Park 45,019
California SANTA BARBARA beaches; surfing; Mediterranean architecture; gateway to Channel Islands National Park; water sports 88,255
California SANTA CRUZ beaches; youthful/hippy spirit; seaside amusements 61,950
California SOLVANG Bavarian-themed attractions, stores, and restaurants; "Danish capital of America"; boutique shops 6,048
California SONOMA 100+ nearby wineries/vineyards; spas; historic downtown 10,644
Colorado ASPEN mountain scenery; world-class skiing/snowboarding skiing/snowboarding; art galleries; boutique shops 6,949
Colorado BRECKENRIDGE mountain scenery; historic/Victorian buildings; art galleries; boutique shops; skiing/snowboarding 5,024
Colorado DURANGO mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; hiking trails; rafting; mountain biking; scenic railroad 19,233
Colorado ESTES PARK mountain scenery; hiking trails; boutique shops; gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park 5,880
Colorado STEAMBOAT SPRINGS mountain scenery; world-class skiing/snowboarding; hot springs; hiking trails 13,390
Colorado TELLURIDE mountain scenery; world-class skiing/snowboarding; hiking trails; scenic driving 2,595
Connecticut MYSTIC waterfront reviews; maritime history/museums; boutique shops; Mystic Aquarium; Mystic Seaport 4,776
Delaware BETHANY BEACH beaches; beach boardwalk; family-friendly atmosphere 997
Delaware REHOBOTH BEACH beaches; beach boardwalk; nightlife; tourist shops 3,420
Florida DESTIN Gulf beaches; water sports, including para-sailing 13,956
Florida KEY WEST many boutique shops & art galleries; B&Bs; diving; sport-fishing; boating & other water sports; sunsets 26,527
Florida ST. AUGUSTINE Spanish colonial architecture; cobblestone streets; horse-drawn carriages; beaches; oldest city in US 15,065
Georgia TYBEE ISLAND beaches; barrier island; boating; water sports; lighthouse; fishing; civil war history; close to Savannah 3,091
Hawaii HALEIWA beaches; water sports; "social and artistic hub of the North Shore"; surfing culture 4,589
Hawaii HANALEI beaches; water sports; "hippest town in Kauai"; gateway to the Na Pali Coast; beautiful scenery 408
Hawaii LAHAINA art galleries; boutique shops; HI history museums; "West Maui’s most popping district"; whale watches 13,216
Idaho COEUR D'ALENE mountain scenery; golfing; boat tours; one of the best rail trails in the US (Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes) 51,491
Idaho KETCHUM mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; hot springs; outdoor activities; gateway to Sawtooth NRA 2,843
Illinois GALENA historic red-brick buildings; many boutique shops and art galleries; B&Bs; "best small town in IL" 3,168
Kentucky BARDSTOWN bourbon distilleries; "Bourbon Capital of the World"; historic downtown district 13,169
Kentucky BEREA art galleries; boutique shops; historic buildings; Berea Pinnacles; "folk arts and crafts capital of KY" 15,773
Maine BAR HARBOR many boutique shops; boat tours; family-friendly attractions; gateway to Acadia National Park 5,535
Maine OGUNQUIT beaches; boutique shops; playhouse; gay-friendly; artist colony; coastal walks (e.g. Marginal Way) 1,577
Maine PORTLAND historic buildings; innovative restaurants; many boutique shops; maritime history; TONS of breweries 68,313
Maryland ANNAPOLIS Colonial architecture; cobblestone streets; historic sites; "vibrant waterfront w/shops & restaurants" 39,321
Maryland FREDERICK historic buildings; Civil War history; many boutique shops and art galleries 71,843
Maryland OCEAN CITY beaches; beach boardwalk; family-fun attractions; seafood restaurants; fishing (e.g. marlin) 6,957
Massachusetts EDGARTOWN island culture/lifestyle on Martha's Vineyard (island); white-clapboard colonial homes; boutique shops 5,168
Massachusetts OAK BLUFFS upscale culture/lifestyle on Martha's Vineyard (island); boutique shops; "gingerbread" houses 5,341
Massachusetts PROVINCETOWN beaches; whale-watching; boutique shops; art galleries; drag shows; gay-friendly; nearby beaches 3,664
Massachusetts STOCKBRIDGE historic architecture; boutique shops; Norman Rockwell history; Red Lion Inn 2,018
Michigan MACKINAC ISLAND Victorian architecture; boutique shops; horse-drawn carriages; fudge shops; historic fort; bicycling 585
Michigan TRAVERSE CITY beaches; water sports; cherries; wineries/vineyards; golfing; gateway to Sleeping Bear Dunes NL 15,559
Minnesota ELY canoeing/kayaking; dog-sledding; gateway to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness 3,233
Missouri BRANSON theatre/live shows; amusement parks, mountain coasters & dozens of other tourist attractions 11,526
Montana BOZEMAN historic buildings; mountain scenery; hip culture; fly-fishing; skiing/snowboarding; hiking trails 48,330
Montana RED LODGE historic buildings; mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; hiking trails 2,134
Montana WEST YELLOWSTONE fly-fishing; horseback riding; gateway to Yellowstone National Park 1,090
Montana WHITEFISH historic buildings; mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; gateway to Glacier National Park 8,032
New Hampshire NORTH CONWAY mountain scenery; hiking trails; skiing/snowboarding; gateway to White Mountain National Forest 10,266
New Hampshire PORTSMOUTH colonial buildings; boutique shops in historic downtown area (tax-free); Strawberry Banke Museum 21,418
New Jersey CAPE MAY Victorian architecture; boutique shops; B&Bs; golfing; whale-watching; bird-watching 3,446
New Jersey OCEAN CITY beaches; beach boardwalk; mini-golfing; family-friendly amusement parks & attractions; a "dry" town 11,065
New Jersey WILDWOOD beaches; beach boardwalk; amusement parks; water parks 4,985
New Mexico SANTA FE adobe architecture; baroque churches; art galleries; one of U.S.'s oldest cities; Native American culture 84,418
New Mexico TAOS art galleries; boutique shops; skiing/snowboarding; Native American culture 5,950
New York LAKE GEORGE lake beaches; water sports; boat tours; family-fun attractions; Six Flags Great Escape 1,028
New York LAKE PLACID Olympic history; mountain scenery & hiking (Adirondack Park); skiing/snowboarding; boutique shops 2,229
New York SARATOGA SPRINGS premier horse-racing events & history; boutique shops; spas; mineral springs 28,056
North Carolina ASHEVILLE awesome BBQ; many, many breweries; ghost/haunted tours; Biltmore mansion; gateway to Pisgah NF 92,328
North Carolina BLOWING ROCK "crown of the Blue Ridge"; historic downtown; close to Grandfather Mountain SP; Tweetsie Railroad 1,149
North Carolina BOONE mountain scenery; Appalachian music heritage; access to Blue Ridge Parkway; attractive downtown 19,466
Ohio SANDUSKY amusement parks; water parks; other family-friendly attractions 24,651
Oregon ASHLAND Victorian architecture; B&Bs; Shakespearean theatre 21,607
Oregon BEND hiking & mountain biking trails; waterfalls; microbreweries; skiing/snowboarding 102,059
Oregon CANNON BEACH beaches; sea stacks (e.g. Haystack Rock); art galleries; boutique shops 1,547
Pennsylvania INTERCOURSE Amish culture; boutique shops; horse-carriage rides; "shoofly pies" and other Dutch treats 1,899
Rhode Island NEWPORT mansion tours; beaches; boutique shops; coastal walk (e.g. Cliff Walk); "sailing capital of the World" 24,697
South Carolina BEAUFORT antebellum architecture/mansions; boutique shops; B&Bs; historic district 13,417
South Carolina HILTON HEAD ISLAND beaches; golfing; water sports; boat tours; paved bicycling paths 37,661
South Carolina MYRTLE BEACH beaches; golfing; water sports; boat tours; arcades; amusement parks; mini-golfing 33,638
South Dakota DEADWOOD historic buildings; gambling parlors; wild-west history; one of best rail trails in the US (Mickelson) 1,584
South Dakota KEYSTONE gateway to Black Hills attractions, including Mt. Rushmore & Custer State Park; tourist shops 542
Tennessee GATLINBURG tourist attractions; mini-golf; moonshine distilleries; gateway to Great Smoky Mtns NP 3,944
Tennessee PIGEON FORGE tourist attractions; live theater; amusement parks; gateway to Great Smoky Mtns 6,247
Texas FREDERICKSBURG boutique shops; historical museums; "German heritage with Texan hospitality" 11,341
Texas GALVESTON beaches; boutique shops; cruise-ship destination; boardwalk entertainment 50,307
Utah MOAB desert scenery; hiking, mtn biking, & off-road trails; gateway to two national parks & BLM land 5,303
Utah PARK CITY mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; hiking and mountain biking trails; boutique shops 8,467
Utah SPRINGDALE desert scenery; boutique shops and art galleries; off-roading tours; gateway to Zion National Park 489
Vermont BURLINGTON hip/eclectic college-town atmosphere; skiing/snowboarding; breweries; bike paths; Lake Champlain 42,645
Vermont STOWE mountain scenery; hiking trails; skiing/snowboarding; waterfalls and swimming holes; Mt. Mansfield 5,223
Vermont WOODSTOCK Federal and Georgian-style homes; boutique shops; art galleries; close to Quechee Gorge 3,005
Virginia CHINCOTEAGUE beaches; wild horses; boat tours; bird-watching; oyster beds; clamming 2,885
Washington LEAVENWORTH Bavarian-themed attractions, stores & restaurants; gateway to Alpine Wilderness (e.g. hiking) 2,489
Washington PORT TOWNSEND Victorian architecture; art galleries; boutique stores; gateway to Olympic National Park 9,710
Wisconsin WISCONSIN DELLS "water park capital of the world"; family-fun attractions and museums; quirky roadside attractions 2,907
Wyoming CODY western themed attractions & museums; nightly rodeos; gateway to Yellowstone National Park 9,810
Wyoming JACKSON skiing/snowshoeing; whitewater rafting; boutique shops; gateway to Grand Teton National Park 17,938

For a complete listing of my favorite towns and cities in the US, read my Favorite Places in the U.S. guide.


Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg, Tennessee

downtown Park City, Utah
downtown Park City, Utah

Town Square in Jackson, Wyoming
Town Square in Jackson, Wyoming

beach boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
beach boardwalk at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

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