Small Towns in America always seem to have people with amazing stories, where they got lost on their way to their destination, and ended up arriving in some of the most incredible places. The small towns in America always have the most interesting people, the best coffee, the most awesome little gift shops, the most outrageous sights, and some of the most fantastic experiences ever to be had. Nobody ever comes home from a trip to a big, tourist area and raves about the excellent service, the friendly faces or the glorious food. No, they complain about the endless queues, the pricey, bland food and the horrendous service. Trailing off the beaten track will most definitely bring you to some of the most memorable places; here are 10 Really Cool Small Towns in America.
1. Lexington, Virginia
With a huge sense of family and community, the proud people of Lexington, Virginia reside in this safe valley-haven, away from the prying eyes of modern high rise buildings and strips of highways. The gorgeous historic setting could almost entirely convince you that you have walked straight into a Norman Rockwell painting, as evidence of its 19th century past can be found in the majestic buildings and architecture all over the town. Make sure you stop in at Hulls Drive-In Theatre, which has been around since the 50’s and eat at the Palms Restaurant, locally owned and going strong since 1975.
2. Cayucos, California
This small town oasis is a haven for surfers and beach bums who want a little time out from the stresses and strains of city life. Nestled smack – bang inbetween the huge metropolitan areas of San Francisco and Los Angeles, the gorgeous small American town by the sea of Cayucos is a sanctuary for the folks that live there. With a population of 3000 people, you can be sure that it will be easy to just live like the locals. With a serious dedication towards surfing and socializing, be prepared to chill. Trot along to the Rogue Wave Café and grab their excellent coffee, hook up to the complimentary wi-fi and inhale the vibe.
3. Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
Spicy Cajun food, Cajun music and good old Louisiana hospitality have made the folks of Breaux Bridge skyrocket to the top of the most amazing people on the planet list, when after Hurricane Katrina wiped out a good many people’s homes, residents took in all and sundry, not knowing them from jam, and put them up in their own homes. Crawfish, zydeco music beats and the heat are familiar friends in this small American town. Swing by Café Des Amis for their delicious crawfish etouffee and dance in the dining room when the wine kicks in.
4. Tubac, Arizona
25 miles north of the Mexican Border, will bring you to this small American town of Tubac. Be assured that every single one of the 1900 residents will know by lunch time that you have arrived in their town, and will know what you look like and where you are staying. This sleepy desert town used to be inhabited by the Spanish and rebel cowboys who roamed the region, sunk in a valley surrounded by majestic mountain views. These days much has not really changed, except artists and locals have replaced the cowboys and the taverns have been replaced by many an art gallery. And even though there is no traffic, nor traffic lights, do not mistake that for a lack of sophistication. Check in at the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa for a little 5* hospitality, before taking in the unbelievable sights at sunset, as the night rolls in.
5. Wallace, Idaho
Seemingly poised in time, you could be forgiven for believing that you have walked straight onto a movie set. Every single building in this town is on the National Register of Historic Places and you are able to get a rare glimpse of what life might have looked like all those years ago. Previously a mining town, the 1000 strong residential community have worked hard in preserving the incredible history of this small American town. Time truly stands still here, especially when you are frequenting the Wallace Brewing Company, where owner Chase Sanborn, will serve you a Red Light or Dirty Blond draft out of his very own keg.
6. Jacksonville, Oregon
The quaint little hideaway from the bustle and buzz of the surrounding Napa Valley, this small American town has become a haven for the soul. What was once a busy gold-rush area, Jacksonville has grown into a booming wine destination, albeit, with a slightly slower pace. Organic Oregon life has brought some of the finest purveyors of wine and food to this gorgeous destination, where they have settled in its splendor and continue to make their divine cheeses and wines for those who can find them. Must absolutely get to Jacksonville Mercantile and taste their black-truffle-roasted almonds.
7. Rockland, Maine
Sun, sea and miles of unspoiled beachfront, this quaint seaside town has a distinctively laid back vibe that invites visitors to just take a load off and take in the sights and the sounds. Many of the current residents arrived to Rockland on vacation and never left, with the lifestyle and resplendent scenery completely taking them in, and they have never looked back. Enjoy fresh lobster straight from the sea, and Japanese crab and shrimp from Suzuki’s Sushi bar, the owner of which came to visit her cousin in Rockland. She ended up falling in love and getting married to her now husband, and stayed in Rockland to open her sushi bar.
8. Whitefish, Montana
Nestled majestically at the foot of the Big Mountain, Whitefish had humble beginnings way back in the late 1800’s where it began life as a fur trading centre. If you were around in the early 1900’s you could have been a patron of The Bulldog Saloon, a pastime bar, where the local attraction was boxing matches that were held on the floor. If you were a child, a siren would go off at exactly 9pm and all children needed to go home, stop playing in the streets and go to bed. Made a law in 1919, the bell still goes off today, although they get until 10pm these days. Check out the Great Northern microbrewery, where Black Star beer is still brewed today.
9. Greensburg, Kansas
Once a town known for its rolling landscapes of cornfields and barns, the huge tornado in 2007 turned this small American town literally upside down. With 95% of their livelihoods and homes gone after the tornado, the remaining residents pulled together to create one of the most eco-friendly towns ever built. Now home to a completely different landscape of wind turbines, solar panels and LED streetlights, the community stands proud as they rebuild the Green Town as it continually develops. Visit the Green Bean Coffee Co, where they will serve you a milkshake, as a tribute to the exact site where the old soda fountain used to be.
10. Saugerties, New York
Hidden away 100 miles upriver from NYC, this small American town will make you feel as if you are an old friend they have known for years, invite you into their home, as you tread on the well worn welcome mat, into their lives as locals know it. Friendly and warm, the ambience is intoxicating, and weekenders often never end up going home, as they settle in to the small, welcoming community. Visitors must check out the Love Bites Café, and order their special coconut-carrot French toast with vanilla-citrus butter!
There are so many fantastic, quaint, charming, mysterious, and altogether interesting small towns in America. Surprising twists and turns will engage the senses and the soul, as purely by accident you stumble into tranquility base, in the midst of the arid desert sun or small coastal oasis’s right under your nose, just waiting to be explored. Maybe it is time you made up your own 10 Really Cool Small Towns in America list? We're very interested to know about any other must-see small towns in America!
Top Photo Credit: m@percy