Many cities in the United States are hugely popular for being highly populated and very busy. Most of the time, their greatness translates into a large variety of entertainment, culture, gastronomy and much more. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that only large cities have amazing things to offer.
In this wonderful list of small cities across America, we will give you a tour through some of the most charming small cities that you just can’t miss. Whether it’s to spend a day outdoors, practice a fun sport, or just chill, you will be amazed by how much a small city, with under 10,000 people, has to offer. Let’s get started!
1. Meredith, New Hampshire
Meredith, New Hampshire is a haven by the lake shore. Even though it attracts many visitors, this small city by Lake Winnipesaukee is ideal for those looking for a quiet escape without being surrounded by large groups of tourists.
This city is quite small, with only 6,384 inhabitants, but it certainly has every thing a visitor may need: great shopping, amazing restaurants, unique art galleries and many other attractions!
You can go on an excursion along the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad; enjoy a wine tasting or a wine tour at Hermit Woods Winery; or explore any of New Hampshire’s 5 largest lakes! No matter what your plan is, Meredith has something for everybody.
2. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Don’t be fooled by the small size of this city! With a population of 4,163 people, Gatlinburg is a beloved traveling destination. Actually, thanks to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this city is one of America’s most visited places.
Stunning views await at the top of the mountain, so hike up there, go up the Space Needle, or ride the Scenic Chair lift to enjoy the best view in the Smokies.
Whether it’s skiing, zip lining, horseback riding or hiking outdoors, this place attracts tourists of all ages. So if you are looking for a city to enjoy nature at its best, Gatlinburg is the right place for you and your entire family.
3. Provincetown, Massachusetts
This beautiful spot in Massachusetts is truly magical. Its sandy shore and its bustling art scene have put this city in the spotlight, and it has newly become a major tourist destination. The fact that only 3,000 people live there is quite surprising.
Nevertheless, many visitors make a special trip to this Cape Cod favorite, mainly to see its eccentric art galleries, attend its one-of-a-kind events (many organized by the LGTB community, such as drag shows) or enjoy its delicious food (the great Anthony Bourdain used to cook here).
For that and much more, Provincetown is a fabulous destination that has to be on your list!
4. Lake Placid, New York
With a population of 2,269, Lake Placid is a nice escape from the noise of New York City. Plus, this small city has it all: the lake, the colors of nature, and the magnificent Adirondacks.
After all, this was once the favorite spot of many New Yorkers who would vacate the city to come here, coining the term “vacationing” when speaking of their time spent in Lake Placid.
Nowadays, cross-country skiing, hockey, ice skating and dog-sledding are the city’s main attractions in the winter, along with luxurious spas. During warmer seasons, people enjoy hiking, fishing, paddling, golfing and even rock-climbing. The list of options is endless!
5. Leavenworth, Washington
The Oktoberfest is undoubtedly one of the most expected events in Leavenworth. Wait, what? Isn’t that in Munich? Well, yes, there too, but it is also celebrated in this small city of Washington! Can you believe it?
This beautiful place, with only 1,995 inhabitants, is surrounded by the Stuart Range and the Wenatchee Mountains, which serve as a unique backdrop for this “Bavarian Town” located in the United States.
With people wearing authentic Lederhosen and Dirndls, beer festivals, and Bavarian-themed architecture, you don’t need to travel to Europe anymore to enjoy an authentic South German experience. Moreover, you can go skiing, hiking and enjoy all the activities from the Bavarian Alps without taking a plane! Isn’t it amazing?
6. Deadwood, South Dakota
Welcome to the wild, wild west! Kidding aside, the city of Deadwood was the real stage of many western tales. Calamity Jane, one of the most adventurous women in the Old West, was one of its fine residents.
The reason why this city became popular was its gold deposits. However, it was a lawless land. Thus, the gold rush ended in countless murders. Nowadays, its history is its major appeal.
Many people like to visit this town to see re-enactions of the most popular stories that are linked to this place. Although it is a small city, with no more than 1,300 inhabitants, it remains alive thanks to the tourists that visit it year after year.
7. Sedona, Arizona
Talk about stunning views! Sedona, Arizona has, hands down, one of the most jaw-dropping landscapes in the United States. With crimson rock formations, red dust that covers your boots, and awe-striking trails, this location is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Moreover, the city offers more than challenging treks at Red Rock State Park: this small city, with a population of 10,000, is also known for its holistic retreats, gourmet cuisine, beautiful state-of-the-art accommodations, and famous art galleries.
Also, many people think that the energy of this place creates a “vortex” with healing powers. Either way, Sedona is undoubtedly mystical.
8. Dahlonega, Georgia
Dahlonega is the Cherokee word for gold, and that is no coincidence. During the Gold Rush, this town had a gold mine, which can still be visited nowadays.
Nevertheless, the true treasure of this city is the Chattahoochee National Forest, with its beautiful waterfalls and creeks. A part of the famous Appalachian Trail, the footpath that goes from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Maine starts at Dahlonega.
However, this small city of 7,007 people is not only known for its outdoor activities: Dahlonega is also the heart of Georgia Wine Country. So book your wine tour and enjoy your trip to this amazing town!
9. Bar Harbor, Maine
The first thing that comes to mind when hearing the name of this exciting city is fresh seafood! Known for its excellent cuisine and the most exquisite lobster there is, it’s not hard to guess why Bar Harbor has made this list.
With a population of 5,434 people, Bar Harbor is best known for its extravagant estate homes, talented artists, amazing breweries, outstanding restaurants and the best blueberry pie in the world.
Its colorful harbor, lined up with beautiful houses, is the perfect place to go for a stroll. But if what you are looking for is to break a sweat, then head to the Acadia National Park for an unforgettable hike!
10. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Carmel-by-the-sea is nothing but enchanting. A lineup of charming little stores along the sidewalk makes it highly attractive for tourists and locals.
Pair that with handmade goodies, high-quality arts and crafts, colorful coffee shops and cottage-style architecture, and you’ve got yourself a real treat! Not bad for a city with only 3,897 people, right?
On one side you have a lot of stores and galleries to do some serious window-shopping, and on the other, you get stunning views of the sea. Taking a stroll while having some ice cream and a freshly baked cookie is not a bad idea, either!
11. Crystal River, Florida
Animal encounters are absolutely heartwarming: an unforgettable moment that brings two hearts together. In Crystal River, Florida, a small city of 3,118 inhabitants, you can swim with manatees, how cool is that?
This city’s slogan is: “Where Man and Manatee Play.” Thus, many service providers make sure that this experience is safe for both the visitor and the manatees. Set on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, the warm bays are safe havens for hundreds of manatees looking for shelter during the wintertime.
Besides swimming with manatees, there are many other attractions in Crystal River, such as scalloping, kayaking and paddle boarding, boating, scuba diving and just enjoying the beauty of its beaches.
12. Hanapepe, Hawaii
This enchanting city served as inspiration for the film Lilo & Stitch. Its natural beauty is absolutely mind-blowing. With only 2,638 people, the fact that the city is not crowded makes it even better.
Hanapepe means “crushed bay”, which may be because of the cliffs surrounding the deep bay area. Known as “Hawaii’s Biggest Little Town.”, Hanapepe remains very much like it was years ago, preserving its charm and a unique atmosphere.
Every Friday the town becomes alive, as more than 16 art galleries host small events with great food and live music, creating the perfect ambiance to meet the artists, shop and mingle with the locals. Don’t miss it!
13. Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky is truly beautiful, but it isn’t as big as its name says. With a population of 2,308 people, this city is small, but it gets visited a lot by people who love big mountain skiing. For this reason and much more, it is a beloved spot for celebrities, too.
In addition, this destination features a wide array of wildlife, waterfalls, geysers, and a breathtaking canyon named Gallatin, which is great for hikes along its scenic eponymous river.
Some visitors also like to go white water rafting or kayaking there. Thus, aside from being a great place for winter sports, Big Sky is the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. Pretty neat, right?
14. Sitka, Alaska
This town, surrounded by snow-covered mountains and lakes, is a hot spot for those looking for stunning natural landscapes and a calm space to let off some steam. While Sitka is the largest city-borough in North America, it is still a small city, with only 8,689 inhabitants.
But don’t let its size fool you: this place has a lot to offer. There is a myriad of outdoor activities available, including kayaking, taking a guided trip to a dormant volcano on Mount Edgecumbe, and hiking the Baranof Cross-Island trail.
For those who prefer a cultural experience, the past and history of this place is also fascinating, as Sitka was once the capital or Russian America. Visit the museums, including the Russian Bishop’s House, the Sheldon Jackson Museum, the Sitka Historical Society and Museum and the Sitka National Historical Park.
15. Sanibel Island, Florida
Fantastic weather, unbelievable beaches, and nice people all around. What more can you ask for? Sanibel Island is a great beach destination located in the Gulf of Mexico, and the warm waters and magical sunsets make its exclusive resorts even better.
To ensure a wonderful stay, visitors usually sign up for various activities, such as fishing, boating, visiting the shell museum, getting a massage at the spa or dining by the seashore. Others simply prefer to spend the day by the pool sipping piña coladas.
This town may have a population of only 7,402 people, but it is the perfect spot for a mini-vacation that you won’t forget!
16. New Castle, Delaware
To say this is a historical town is an understatement, as its 5,519 inhabitants truly pride themselves in respecting and remembering their city’s colonial past and history.
The cobblestone streets, magnificent buildings and historic sites make New Castle one of the best preserved colonial villages in North America.
As part of its cultural offer, the city hosts an event named A Day in Old New Castle, with tours of historical homes, gardens and public buildings that were part of the rebirth of America as the Civil War came to an end.
This event offers activities such as children’s period games, historical reenactments, music, delicious food and carriage rides. Culture and fun, what else do you need?
17. Hood River, Oregon
What’s not to love about Hood River? Known as the world’s capital of windsurfing, this small town is located along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge and it offers a great variety of outdoor activities.
Kitesurfing and hiking, as well as freeride mountain biking, will undoubtedly be part of your to-do list. In addition to the fun and the adrenaline rush you’ll get, the natural beauty of its surroundings is absolutely breathtaking.
Also, Oregon is known for its excellent breweries, and Hood River has four of them! If you are not a beer fan, the town also has great wineries, amazing restaurants and endless high-quality coffee houses, which seem suitable for a place that becomes a beloved ski destination during the wintertime.
18. Camden, Maine
When thinking about Camden, the first thing that comes to mind is its beautiful harbour. It is the town’s main attraction, as people love to go there to walk around, go shopping, have a lobster or simply enjoy the view.
A true sailor’s dream, this perfectly-kept seaport town comes to life every summer, when people like to go sailing along Maine’s beautiful coastline, passing ferries, fishing boats and even mega-yachts!
In the wintertime, Camden becomes a hot spot for winter sports such as snowboarding, skiing, ice-skating and cross-country. Add the many festivals throughout the year and you’ll understand why this small town of 4,850 people is so popular!
19. Woodstock, Vermont
This lively town with a population of 2,932 in New England may be small, but it surely offers endless picture-perfect spots for Instagrammers. This village has many hiking trails, idyllic farms and an iconic rural landscape which are unbeatable.
The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is also a must-see, as it has a stunning mansion of Queen Anne–style architecture with original Tiffany glass windows and fairy-tale gardens.
Moreover, the town has many cute shops with gorgeous displays that are definitely worth a visit: from home decor stores, bookstores and grocery stores, to a family-owned general store named F.H. Gillingham & Sons which opened in 1886 and is still open.
20. Aspen, Colorado
This small town in Colorado is a world-famous ski destination. Aspen, with just 7,354 inhabitants, receives thousands of visitors from all over the world every year who are looking for fresh snow on the slopes and the best ski resorts in North America.
Apart from skiing and snowboarding, the wilderness that surrounds Aspen allows for cross-country skiing, dog sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and snow tubing.
In the summer months, hiking in the Rocky Mountains is extremely popular! And for those who are more into luxurious experiences, Aspen also has exclusive spas, five-star hotels, amazing restaurants, art galleries and great shopping!
21. Essex, Connecticut
This river town with a population of 6,683 is a great destination for a family vacation or a romantic weekend getaway. Its history and charm have been perfectly kept throughout the years, and its townhouses are worthy of a tour.
However, its most beloved attraction is the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, which offers many fun activities such as riding a vintage train pulled by an antique diesel locomotive to a riverboat, or getting onboard a Murder Mystery Dinner Train.
Also, visiting the Connecticut River Museum is a cultural experience which focuses on the history of the people of the Connecticut River Valley and their maritime heritage. Don’t miss it!
22. Luray, Virginia
Luray is in the Shenandoah Valley region and it is strategically located between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Massanutten Mountains. With the George Washington National Forest and the Shenandoah National Park, this town is a favorite among outdoor lovers and families alike.
Nevertheless, Luray’s awe-inspiring caverns are the region’s best asset, and they are also the largest caverns in the eastern United States. With guided tours, you may experience a fascinating subterranean underworld, which is a great activity for kids and student trips.
In addition, there are many other activities to undertake around the area: hiking, running, biking and kayaking are extremely popular.
23. Clinton, New Jersey
Situated only two hours from vibrant New York City is the small town of Clinton, and it’s everything you could expect and then some. Its tranquility and the sound of the water make it a natural haven, ideal for a weekend getaway to clear your head and recharge your batteries.
It surely compensates its size with its beauty and its iconic historical buildings, such as the highly photographed Red Mill Museum Village and the Hunterdon Art Museum.
Downtown Clinton is also very charming, with easily walkable streets, modern art galleries and cute boutiques. Not bad for a tiny town of 2,683 people, right?
24. Taos, New Mexico
An interesting mix of cultures is what makes Taos so special. This town in New Mexico was home to Native Americans before Mexicans settled in. Nowadays, this town is a melting pot of Americans and everyone who came before them.
Its unique architecture is a signature feature, and many signs of the cultural heritage of its former inhabitants still lingers. If you are interested in finding out more about this town’s history, visit Taos Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
There are many reasons to visit Taos, but we have to mention one of the most popular ones: the food! The town’s many cultures and tradition have inspired many people in Taos to open amazing restaurants with fusion cuisine. Also, there are great galleries, as locals have a special talent for arts and crafts.
25. Whitefish, Montana
Ski lovers, pay close attention! This too-cool-to-miss town is a paradise for those looking desperately for fresh snow and wide, uncrowded slopes. Also, its après-ski scene is quite fun, which is why it is one of the top ski resorts in the country.
Also, you don’t have to wait for snow season to visit this year round destination, as it has a wide array of activities for you during warmer months, such as hiking, zip-lining, rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains, kayaking at Whitefish Lake and much more!
After a day full of adventures, relax while enjoying a great beer from a local brewery and enjoy Montana’s hospitality. Have fun!