The Top Charming Small Towns to Visit in Each State

Trista - October 1, 2019
Beaufort is South Carolina’s second-oldest city. Shutterstock

11. Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort is like a miniature version of the bigger city of Charleston. Furthermore, the historic town is set along the Atlantic Ocean on one of the state’s coastal sea islands, and it has its own Waterfront Park. Founded in 1711, it is the second oldest city in South Carolina. Beaufort offers visitors picturesque views and a welcoming environment. It is the perfect escape to disconnect from the chaos. It’s calming views, and waters offer some serene and relaxing moments.


Beaufort is home to several Civil War-era homes and plantations. The John Mark Verdier House Museum is an early 1800s federal-style mansion with period furniture and several local history exhibits. You can stay in the award-winning Beaufort Historic Inn that offers a part boutique hotel, part bed, and breakfast atmosphere. For more than 100 years, guests have been welcomed inside the inn. The Victorian mansion sits among lush gardens and has double front porches.

Hill City has an eclectic blend of attractions and activities. Shutterstock

10. Hill City, South Dakota

Hill City is described as “the heart of the Black Hills,” and its downtown area depicts the best of small-town life. There are flower-filled baskets along Main Street as well as picturesque views of the various landscapes. It is the oldest existing city in Pennington County, South Dakota. Moreover, there are endless recreational possibilities. You will find seven lakes nearby, plenty of campgrounds, marinas, hiking, and horseback riding. Hill City offers adventures for both young and the young-at-heart to enjoy.


A former mining town, Hill City is now home to the only place in South Dakota where visitors can ride on an 1880 train or walk under real dinosaurs at The Museum at Black Hills Institute. Other attractions include Sculpture in the Hills and Hill City Wine, Brew & BBQ. There are also several arts and music festivals throughout the year. Hill City offers visitors incredible scenic beauty, a bit of culture, and a fascinating history. Downtown holds many art galleries, jewelry, clothing, and gift shops.

Paris is full of shopping and outdoor adventures. Shutterstock

9. Paris, Tennessee

Paris, Tennessee, is home to a 70-foot replica of the famous French structure — the Eiffel Tower. It also has a unique shopping area in its gorgeous downtown square. In the mid-1990s, significant renovations were conducted to bring the court back to its original 1920s style. There are now more than 40 merchants located there, with various shops and boutiques to choose from. You can choose from a feast of restaurants that range from country cooking to Asian and Italian.


However, Paris also has the World’s Biggest Fish Fry each April, with more than five tons of catfish served each year. There is also the Paris Landing State Park, where tourists can golf, go for a swim, camp overnight or find other ways to enjoy the great outdoors. You can soak up the western shore of the Kentucky Lake while boating, swimming, or skiing. You may run into the abundant wildlife in the park, including deer, turkey, as well as eagles in the winter months.

Gruene is a historic district that is located one hour from Austin, Texas. Shutterstock

8. Gruene, Texas

Many of the original buildings in Gruene, Texas, were built in the 19th century, and it was once a cotton-producing community. After World War II and the highway construction, Gruene dwindled in population and became a ghost town by 1950. Today, Gruene is known for its rustic Texas feel that attracts many visitors from around the state and national and international tourists. Gruene is a perfect place to plan your next day trip adventure.


The whole town almost fell victim to developers until a college student saved the day and helped land the city on the National Register of Historic Places. Some local boutiques and shops have become a mecca for the local economy. Furthermore, the Texas travel industry now considers Gruene to be a premier attraction for tourists and retail shopping. Gruene offers an antique store with over 6,500 square feet of antiques and collectibles for visitors to explore.

The little town of Kanab sits right in the southernmost part of Utah. Shutterstock

7. Kanab, Utah

Nicknamed “Little Hollywood,” Kanab has been the shooting location for dozens of western films throughout the years. This town is close to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, the south entrance to the Zion National Park and Kodachrome Basin State Parks. The sandstone landscape is rich in fascinating and adventurous things to do—these range from long or short hikes, scenic roads, and even a museum in a cave. Visiting Kanab will be an unforgettable adventure.


One visit, and you will see why Kanab, Utah, is the fastest-growing tourism destination in the state. It is also home to the largest animal sanctuary in the country. The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has an adorable array of rescue dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, goats, and pigs. The animals come from shelters throughout the country that don’t have the resources to socialize, train, and heal them until they are ready for adoption. If you’re an animal lover, this is the perfect stop for you.

Shelburne is home to many popular tourist attractions and special events every year. Shutterstock

6. Shelburne, Vermont

Shelburne is located along the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont. It was established in 1763, and it is home to several tourist attractions, including the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory and the Shelburne Museum. The museum is a vibrant resource for learning about American history, industry, culture, and art. There are authentic, decades-old buildings that experts relocated to the museum and filled with historical artifacts and art. The museum also exhibits famous Impressionist pieces by European artists.


Although it is a suburb of Burlington, the largest city in the state, the town is most famous for Shelburne Farms. Nevertheless, this destination features a series of barns where visitors can milk cows and watch cheesemakers create various cheddar. Shelburne Farms is well worth your time. The grounds feature miles of walking trails that offer incredible views of forests, fields, and mountains. The hands-on Children’s Farmyard, historic breeding barn, and the elegant Inn are all points of interest.

Downtown Bristol is nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Shutterstock

5. Bristol, Virginia

The town of Bristol, Virginia, technically straddles two states. One side of the downtown main street lies in Virginia, while the other is located in Tennessee. Naturally, this Appalachian Mountains municipality has something for history buffs, music lovers, and artists. The Smithsonian-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum celebrates the musical roots with the 1927 Bristol Sessions. If you’re a first time visitor, you should start downtown at the state line on State Street. As a gateway to the region’s outdoors, Bristol is home to world-class fly fishing waters.


Bristol has several art galleries and has a designated Arts & Entertainment District. You can also visit the Bristol Train Station, which was built in 1902; the Paramount Center for the Arts (opened in 1931; and the historic Bristol Sign, which has been a part of State Street since 1915. The annual Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion are one of the premier music festivals in the southeastern US. Bristol is home to many locally owned and chain restaurants and has some of the best BBQ and burgers you can find.

La Conner is a small town that is half a square mile and has fewer than 1,000 occupants. Shutterstock

4. La Conner, Washington

La Conner, Washington, frequently gets listed as a top weekend getaway in the state, and it is no surprise why. It is a small town located on the waterfront, with several galleries, needlecraft and quilt stores, wine bars, and gift shops along the way. Shoppers can take the ferry to the nearby San Juan Islands. The Pacific Northwest Quilt and Fiber Arts Museum is a Victorian home that provides 4,500 square feet of display area and exhibits. The museum focuses on traditional and contemporary pieces.


This town produces more tulips, iris, and daffodil bulbs than any other county in the US, so it is no surprise that it hosts its famous Daffodil Festival each spring when thousands of flowers are open against the backdrop of Mt. Baker. Other attractions are the La Conner Rainbow Bridge & Textile Museum and the Museum of Northwest Art. The museum holds quarterly exhibitions and eight permanent collections that focus on artists from the northwest Pacific region.

This small town is a thriving cultural pocket on the outskirts of the Monongahela National Forest. Shutterstock

3. Thomas, West Virginia

Thomas is a beautiful place for walkers, as there is a self-guided walking tour around the West Virginia town that allows them to see more than 50 homes and sites on the National Historic Register. This charming small town is located on the state park’s edge and has taken up the torch for being the stop for hikers and skiers. Furthermore, in this tiny town, you can wake up, grab a coffee, spend a full day hiking, and then return to town in time to grab some grub at a local brewery.


Once a coal town that dwindled after the industry left the area, Thomas is tiny. It may only have less than 600 people in its population, but its downtown remains busy. Take another gander at the bustling downtown business district with art galleries and antique shops. The town overlooks the North Fork on the Blackwater River. You can stay at The Purple Fiddle. The downstairs is a restaurant, bar, and music venue and is the most popular spot in town to hang out. Upstairs is a tiny hotel with a kitchen, pool table, and a giant patio.

Kohler is a picture-perfect destination and is located on the banks of the River Sheboygan. Shutterstock

2. Kohler, Wisconsin

The village of Kohler, Wisconsin, is named after the Kohler Company that developed there in 2012. It is located approximately 56 miles north of Milwaukee. It is also home to the American Club resort, a 100-year-old building that once served as the residence for immigrants who worked for the manufacturer of kitchen and bath appliances. There are two world-class golf courses in the small town of Kohler that you can enjoy during your visit. These include Whistling Straits Golf Course and Blackwolf Run.


Kohler has become a popular tourist hotspot with two major shopping areas — the Shops at Woodlake Kohler, north of the downtown, and Deer Trace on the village’s southeast side. If you’re looking to relax, spend some time at Kohler Waters Spa. It is an elegant sanctuary that offers a range of nourishing treatments, all-day immersion therapeutic water treatments, and facial and body services. The spa has water-based treatment rooms, inviting rest spaces, and a relaxation pool. There is also a covered rooftop deck with a lounge, whirlpool, and fireplace.

Cody offers visitors a plethora of outdoor adventures, including rock climbing, mountain biking, and kayaking. Shutterstock

1. Cody, Wyoming

The quirky town of Cody, Wyoming, was founded by Buffalo Bill Cody, one of the most well-known American Old West figures. There are rock formations throughout the city with fun descriptive names like “Laughing Pig Rock.” A group of authentic frontier buildings is also available to visit, including a cabin used by Butch Cassidy’s Hole-in-the-Wall gang. You can experience a variety of attractions, including nightly rodeos, gunfight reenactments, and cowboy music. The experience is sure to be one-of-a-kind.


Luckily, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has five museums, with several wildlife exhibits. There is a recreated frontier town called Old Trail Town that has 1800s log cabins and a saloon. Thrill-seekers may want to board the Cody Trolley Tour, which will take passengers throughout the town and describe stories of unsolved murders. Three scenic byways offer opportunities to view wildlife and see some of the most beautiful landscapes anywhere. Downtown has fine restaurants, art galleries, and unique shopping.