There’s nothing quite as refreshing as getting out of the busy city and exploring a quiet, welcoming small town. Fortunately, there are hundreds of nostalgic little communities scattered across the U.S. that offer the quintessential Americana experience. If you’re due for a much-needed escape, these are the four American small towns you should visit.
1. North Conway, New Hampshire
North Conway, NH is nestled next to the majestic White Mountain National Forest. With fewer than 2,500 residents, the quaint village’s scenic views are only enhanced by its impressive selection of charming shops, eateries, and inns — all of which are only a short walk from one another. Local Grocer is one of the community’s most iconic spaces. Serving as both a grocery store and eatery, you can grab snacks to go, meet the locals, or enjoy a full meal from their in-house deli and bakery. Or, head next door to the Table + Tonic for some handcrafted cocktails and farm-to-table grub.
When it comes to retail therapy, Downtown North Conway is the place to be. Stop by White Birch Books for an afternoon read, or hit up the Toy Chest for a unique selection of toys and games. Craving some outdoor time? Finish off your day with a hike out to Echo Lake State Park for a swim and a water-side picnic — just don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the spectacular views.
2. Eureka Springs, Arkansas
When it comes to charm, it’s hard to beat the streets of Eureka Springs, AR. Dating back to 1880, the quirky little town is only home to 1,200 permanent residents but attracts thousands of visitors each year — and for good reason. The community preserved the majority of the historic buildings in the area, creating a sense that you’re stepping back in time to a simpler way of life.
From conventional to eccentric, the city’s winding streets are lined with small, local businesses. To truly take it all in, explore on foot, popping in and out of shops as you go. While the artsy traveler won’t want to miss out on the J.A. Nelson Gallery or Wilson and Wilson Folk Art, collectors and shopping hobbyists will want to hit up Town Shop, Sonya’s, and Packrats Paradise. If your trip is so full that you can’t hit the streets, be sure to at least stop by the Eureka Market for a throwback mom and pop shopping experience.
As with all idyllic small American towns, Eureka Springs offers plenty of spooky ghost stories and folklore. If you’re up for a scare, head to the historic — and allegedly haunted — Crescent Hotel for a tour, followed by a walking tour through Downtown from Haunted Eureka Springs.
3. Seligman, Arizona
Located on historic Route 66, it’s hard to find a more nostalgic Americana location than Seligman, AZ. In fact, the community even served as the inspiration for Cars the movie. For that reason alone, it’s an American small town you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
In the mood to fill up your suitcase with memorabilia? Stop by the Route 66 Motorporium for some souvenirs, unique T-shirts, and custom artwork. Or, grab some memorable gifts for friends and family at the Rusty Bolt Gift Shop. For food, hit one of the many retro eateries in town for burgers, fries, and a shake, such as J&R Mini Mart and Cafe or the Snow Cap Drive-In. If you visit in spring, be sure to schedule your trip around the Route 66 Fun Run. The three-day event features a parade of hundreds of classic vehicles cruising from Seligman to Kingman.
4. Lindsborg, Kansas
While Lindsborg, KS may have a strong Swedish heritage, it’s a quintessential small American town dedicated to hard work, tradition, and community. One of the biggest draws of the town is its biennial Svensk Hyllningsfest, which is held in October. The event celebrates the city’s original Swedish settlers with food, exhibits, live music, vendors, and traditional dances.
If you can’t make the festival, there’s still plenty to see and do. The Birger Sandzén Memorial Art Gallery features works by the famed artist of its namesake as well as contemporary creators, while the Red Barn Studio Museum focuses on pieces from beloved local artist Lester Raymer. Up for a trek? Head outside of town to the Coronado Heights Castle.
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