10 Best Small Towns in America

March 19, 2013
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10 Best Small Towns in America

Posted by Sandra Ramani on March 19, 2013 at 11:59:05 AM EDT | Post a Comment

America's big cities may get all the splashy buzz, but for savvy travelers, our small towns are our best-kept secrets. In a time when "authentic" is a travel buzzword, these hamlets are attracting visitors with an often unexpected—and surprisingly sophisticated—array of independent and locally-minded cultural, outdoor, and culinary offerings, all minus the urban price tags.

The only downside to all this small town regeneration? Narrowing down this list to just 10 favorites. Our editors pored over the possibilities, ultimately picking the winners based on criteria like population (all are under 50,000 people), and draws like great local eats, interesting museums and cultural points, and noteworthy natural attractions or outdoor adventures. The result is a list that should inspire travelers of all walks to fill up the gas tank and hit the road.


What it's Like: Napa and Sonoma's quieter wine country sister mixes contemporary cool with plenty of Norman Rockwell charm—not to mention mouth-watering eats and drinks.

Set about 65 miles from San Francisco, Healdsburg is not exactly an unknown—it's garnered its fair share of glossy magazine features—but the town of 11,254 manages to balance the hype with a relaxed pace and diverse price points, meaning visitors don't have to break the bank to enjoy the bounties of wine country.

Those who want to splash out can do so among the Bulgari bath products at Hotel Les Mars or in the Italianate Victorian Honor Mansion, complete with bocce courts and spa pavilions, then dine on homemade meatballs and thin-crust pizza at Scopa. The budget conscious should check into the LEED-certified h2hotel, home to a popular bar, and enjoy the free concerts in the town square and the charming country stores tucked among the lush wineries.