Small towns often get a bad reputation — they’re too far from anything to want to actually live there, and you end up having to drive hours just to see a movie or go shopping. In spite of the possible negatives, there are plenty of great reasons to choose to live in a small town. They’re often very tight-knit communities, filled with amazing people. The towns themselves are quiet and are often a great place to raise a family. If you’re looking for a small town to move to, you’re in luck — we’ve pulled together a list of the best small towns to move to in each of the five main areas of the country.
The northeastern part of the United States is home to some of the biggest cities in the country — New York, Philadelphia and Trenton, just to name a few. It’s also home to some of the best small towns in the country. Our top five small towns in the northeast include:
Lenox is the perfect town for music lovers. It’s a popular summer getaway and home to the Tanglewood Music Festival — where the Boston Symphony Orchestra performs every single summer. The town is 114 miles outside of Boston, but that doesn’t detract from its charm at all.
Sitting 31 miles outside of Philadelphia, New Hope rests on the banks of the Delaware River and is known for art galleries and antique dealers, among other attractions. It’s also right on the edge of the Pennsylvania/New Jersey boarder and is connected to a sister city of Lambertville in New Jersey by a footbridge that crosses the river.
Another beautiful riverside town, Clinton actually straddles the Raritan River. The two sides of the town are joined by an enormous bridge that has stood since the 19th century. This beautiful little town is a great place to live if you like art, history or cozy little cafes.
Not to be confused with the massive iconic music festival that was held in Bethel, New York, Woodstock, Vermont is a delightful cozy little town that sits on the banks of the Ottaquechee River and was settled back in 1765. Today, it’s a great place for anyone who enjoys history, waterfront living or classic American architecture.
If you like waterfront living, this is the town for you. Essex is surrounded on three sides by water, specifically the Connecticut River, as it juts out into the flowing water where it has stood since 1776. The town is full of old-world charm, and it’s the perfect place to settle down if you love a slow-paced life.
The southern part of the United States is full of warm weather, friendly hospitality and stunningly beautiful small towns. A few highlights from this cozy part of the country include:
If you want to get the best of Southern cities without actually living in them, Beaufort — which is pronounced Bew-fert — is the city for you. It’s smack dab in the middle between Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia, so you get the best of both worlds. The city is right on the water — seeing a trend here? — and provides some of the most beautiful vistas in South Carolina.
Texas might not seem like the best stop for small towns, but Fredericksburg is one of the best places to soak up that small town charm. This town has all the spirit of an old-west town, but its heart is German, making it the place to be for good beer, good wine and some amazing German food.
Small towns don’t have to be boring. Charlottesville is a college town, and it sits in the middle of one of the oldest wine regions in the United States — making it the perfect place for any wine lover. It’s also close to Monticello, the location of Thomas Jefferson’s plantation, making it a great stop for history lovers as well.
Don’t let the strange name turn you off — Dahlonega is the place to be if you enjoy tasty wine and beautiful views. Nestled in the Appalachian foothills, the little town also has a thriving wine community. It’s big enough to bring all the comforts of home but small enough to keep you away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
Not to be confused with the South Carolina city with the same name, Beaufort North Carolina — pronounced Bow-fert — is a waterfront small town heaven for anyone who loves fresh-caught seafood. It’s separated from the ocean, but you’re still within a stone’s throw of the Atlantic and all that it has to offer.
The Midwest is known as America’s breadbasket and is home to some of the quaintest small towns in the country. Check out our top five Midwestern small towns:
Moving to the Midwest doesn’t mean you can’t find beautiful waterfront living locations. This town, at the end of North Shore Scenic Drive in Minnesota, sits on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, making it ideal for anyone who enjoys outdoor adventures or art galleries — both of which can be found in this quaint little lakeside town.
Sitting on the coast of Lake Michigan, you will find Charlevoix, one of the hidden gems of this normally busy state. It’s not the same as being on the ocean, but you won’t miss the salty water once you visit the beautiful lake beaches or take a stroll through Castle Farms — it used to be a working dairy farm, but it’s been converted to a famous tourist spot.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, Lanesboro is the perfect place for you. This quaint little town is right on the Root River Bike Trail, and it’s perfect for people who want to bring a bit of the outdoors home with them. If you prefer to stay indoors, there are also plenty of art galleries and other cultural attractions to cater to just about everyone.
If you need to be closer to a big city, Chagrin Falls is a great choice. It’s located some 40 minutes outside Cleveland, so you’re well within range of all the city nightlife without having to worry about living in a big busy city. The town gets its name from the natural waterfalls in the center of the town — a unique feature that you won’t find in any other towns in the area.
If you want to get away or crave a simpler life, Shipshewana is the place for you. Nestled in the center of Indiana’s Amish country, you can take advantage of tons of locally crafted and grown items at local flea markets, furniture stores and even restaurants and bakeries. There’s even a museum to teach you more about the local Amish and Mennonite culture.
Dry deserts, party towns and busy cities all make up the Southwest area of the United States, but there are plenty of little towns that give you all the benefits of the southwest with none of the drawbacks. Here are some of our top five small towns in the Southwestern section of the country.
This picturesque little town started life as a mining town early in the 20th century, but when the copper dried up and the miners moved on, it changed into the perfect small town. Now it sits on the edge of the Sonoran Desert and is full of history and Spanish Colonial architecture, which will appeal to anyone who loves the history of this part of the country.
Another copper mining town, Bisbee still retains its Victorian roots in the architecture that lines the town’s main street. There isn’t any copper left to mine, but that hasn’t diminished the town’s rich history and beautiful desert views. There’s even a Smithsonian-affiliated museum within the town limits.
When you think of Nevada, you probably think of Reno or Las Vegas, but Virginia City is nothing like either of those big party towns. It started life as a silver mining town more than 150 years ago and is still rife with historical architecture. The town looks like something out of an old western movie, complete with the wooden buildings and the boardwalk that was built more than 150 years ago. You can even grab a drink at the aptly named Buckets of Blood Saloon.
Take in the spirit of the old west in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. This little town still showcases a lot of its original architecture, nestled in the Sacramento Range. If you enjoy the outdoors, this is also a great town for you — it’s a hub for a great number of foot and bike trails.
It may share a name with a bustling Spanish city, but this little artist colony isn’t anything like its Spanish counterpart. It sits between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, so you’ve got night life and busy cities on either side of you. If you have a taste for green chili food, this is the city for you — it’s home to the Mine Shaft Tavern that boasts one of the best green chili cheeseburgers in the entire state of New Mexico.
The Northwestern part of the country is known for art, music and amazing nightlife — but that’s not good for everyone. Luckily, there are plenty of small towns in the Northwest that are perfect for just about everyone. Check out our top five!
There isn’t much in Sequim, which makes it perfect for anyone who’s looking to get away for a while. Built around an old mill, the town is home to shops and cafes and even an old-school grain elevator. If you enjoy seafood, you’re in luck — the town is famous for its Dungeness crab.
This is the best small town for someone who wants to live right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. This town sits right where the Siuslaw River flows into the Pacific. The town is filled to the brim with fresh seafood, stunning lighthouses and even sea caves to explore. Wake up every morning to the Pacific sea breeze and enjoy the quiet.
Buffalo may be a bit of a tourist town, but that doesn’t take away any of its quaint appeal. For anyone who enjoys the outdoors, this is the ideal town. There’s plenty of adventure to be had between mountain climbing, hiking, bicycling and even fishing. If you prefer indoor adventures, the town is peppered with art galleries, museums and shops guaranteed to keep you entertained.
This port was originally supposed to be a harbor, but that only lasted until about 1890. Today, the bay is home to a munitions handling depot run by the U.S. Navy, and the town itself has become one of the best retirement destinations in the country. The bay itself is lined with historic buildings, and it’s the perfect place if you enjoy the ocean.
If you just have to get away, Sitka Alaska is a great choice. It’s been home to the Tlingit people for more than 500 years, and Russian immigrants started settling there in 1799, giving the town a rich and varied history — and just as rich and varied architecture. It might get cold, but it’s still a great place to live if you’re looking to retire.
You don’t have to live in a big city to take advantage of everything this country has to offer. Take a look at some of the best small towns in the country the next time you decide that it’s time to move. You may find something you never would have thought to look for anywhere else.