What makes a city beautiful? The answer is of course subjective. Maybe you have a liking forwindswept shores. Or maybe you love historical architecture. Do you prefer man-made elements ornatural landscape? To provide a glimpse of a variety of beautiful places in the US, we've considered travel destinations from coast to coast. Here are 20 of America's most beautiful small towns, all with populations under 20,000.
For epic views of Turnagain Arm - a narrow waterway in the northwestern part of the Gulf of Alaska - glaciers (seven, to be exact) and snow-capped peaks, look no further thanbelt wood, a resort town south of Anchorage. VisitAlyeska ResortSkiing in winter and hiking in summer. Whenever you visit, you can ride the cable car to the Bore Tide Deli and Bar and it's award winningSeven GlaciersRestaurant for majestic views.
This is aboutSedona: It is objectively stunning. And that's especially true for hisred rocks. The buildings that sit in the middle of these formations tend to blend in with their surroundings, letting the red sandstone crests and pinnacles do the job. Also in the Verde Valley, nearby Clarkdale is surrounded by greenery with red rocks lining the horizon, giving Sedona a fight for the buck, with the added bonus of a delightful downtown area.
Picture this: Colorful houses rise in the hills above a stunning blue bay lined with brilliant white boats. That isAvalon, the only incorporated city on the island of Santa Catalina, although you might think that it is a destination in the middle of the Mediterranean. Home to the Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens, Lovers Cove (a marine reserve), and the legendary Catalina Casino and Avalon Theater, this resort community will make you feel like you're on another continent while still being firmly attached to Los Angeles County stay.
The city ofPalisadein Colorado's Grand Valley is an agricultural paradise (think blooming orchards, fields of lavender and acres of vineyards). “One of the best ways to get a taste of the beautiful orchards and wineries is through theFruit and Wine Bywaysaid Timothy Wolfe, director of the Colorado Tourism OfficeTravel + Leisure. "The byway consists of three routes, each passing through some of the Centennial State's best wineries."
Little St. Simons Island, Georgia
The beauty of this island is that it's largely undeveloped — it's only accessible by boat and only 32 guests are allowed to stay at a time. “It's easy to agree with T+L Readers who have selected Little St. Simons Island [as one of].best islandsandResorts in the continental USsaid Mark Jaronski, deputy commissioner for Explore Georgia. Barrier Island is a naturalist's nirvana – fishing, hiking, kayaking, bird watching and other eco-adventures can be found here amidst the salt marshes and garlands of Spanish moss.
Lanai City, Hawaii
Lanai, the smallest inhabited island in the Hawaiian archipelago that travelers are allowed to visit, is often called "Pineapple Island" because of its past as a pineapple plantation. Today, the destination has traded pineapple production for luxury resorts and golf courses. Most of the island's restaurants and shops are inCity of Lanai, near Dole Park.
Wallace has great historical significance for a town of this size - it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a silver mining community due to its pedigree. The city's streets are lined with charming antique shops, museums, cozy restaurants, and craft breweries, and it's also the gateway to five nature trails: Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, Northern Pacific Trail, Route of the Hiawatha, Milwaukee Scenic Alternate Trail, and Centennial Trail.
One of the first cities in Kentucky,Bardstownis the epitome of Southeastern Americana aesthetics: Federal and Georgian architecture, a grid layout, and cobbled pathways. It also doesn't hurt that it's the official start of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. "Bardstown is arguably the most authentic Bourbon destination on earth, with beautiful rolling hills and rickhouses leading the way to a quaint downtown that resembles a Norman Rockwell painting," said Samantha Brady, Executive Director, Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist and Convention Commission.
"Counts as one ofMaine's most beautiful cities, Camden sits on Penobscot Bay, its working port full of fishing boats and tall ships," Jennifer Geiger, communications manager for the Maine Office of Tourism, told T+L. “Above the city is Camden Hills State Park which is ideal for day hikes to see mountains and islands in the bay in stunning views.” Add in a historic downtown and daily whale and puffin cruises and you'll see that this city is truly beautiful.
On the coast of Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula, between Lake Michigan and Lake Leelanau, you'll find Leland and Fishtown, a tourist's dream team made up of a working commercial fishing village and a community of people who love their summer homes. Leland is a special place, virtually untouched by time. For example, it has no traffic lights. And the much-photographed Leland Canal epitomizes Michigan's lakefront charm.
Taos, New Mexico
Did you know that in the spring inTaos, You can ski one day and mountain bike the next? That's the beauty of New Mexico's desert weather. Sheltered by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is perhaps best known for its adobe buildings, with the star of the landscape being Taos Pueblo, a cluster of dwellings that have been inhabited for more than 1,000 years. Taos Pueblo is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Medora, North Dakota
Here's a wild statistic: Medora has just under 150 year-round residents, but 200,000 visitors come through each year. They come for many reasons, an important one being the area, which is largely part of either Little Missouri National Grassland or Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Visitors can spot bison, hike the area, and explore sandstone knolls and hoodoos—the majesty of the Badlands is present in almost every activity. “The Badlands provide a stunning backdrop to the Bully Pulpit Golf Course and themusical anxiety“, sagte Kaelee Wallace, Marketingmanagerin der Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.
"Joseph—surrounded by snow-capped mountains, pastoral green fields, and beautiful Wallowa Lake—offers one of the most breathtaking views in Oregon," said Allison Keeney, manager at Travel Oregon. That's not to say man-made objects don't deserve their own moments too: Main Street, which runs through the center of town, features centuries-old buildings and epic bronze sculptures of historical figures, including members of the Nez Perce tribe.
Leavenworthis a beautiful Bavarian fantasy brought to life in the magnificent Cascade Range between Seattle and Spokane. In the 1960s, the citizens decided to boost tourism by mutually agreeing to shape the city as a Bavarian village. It's on the sunny side of the state, which means you can enjoy Bavarian traditions amidst remarkable river and mountain views any time of the year.
Bayfield on the shores of Lake Superior offers a combination of coastal charm and Victorian beauty. "Bayfield is also the gateway to the Apostle Islands, a cluster of 21 densely forested islands fringed by sandstone cliffs, fringed by miles of pristine sandy beaches and protected as a national lakefront," said Anne Sayers, secretary-elect of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. “Visitors enjoy unparalleled stargazing including the occasional glimpse of the Northern Lights, kayaking in the sea caves and visiting a collection of historic lighthouses.”
The rodeo capital of the world features wide open spaces, breathtaking canyons and the Shoshone River that flows along the northern outskirts. His cowboy history runs deep, too: “In the late 1800s, Colonel William F. 'Buffalo Bill' Cody roamed the region. He was so impressed with the scenery, farming and hunting opportunities, and proximity to Yellowstone that he founded the town we know today as Cody," said Piper Singer Cunningham, communications senior manager for the Wyoming Office of Tourism. "As you drive through modern downtown Cody, you can still see, feel and experience the western vibe that began so many years ago."
Edenton, North Carolina
where to start Perhaps the postcard perfect1886 Roanoke River Lighthouse? The Georgian architecture of the 1767 courthouse? Tree-lined streets and gardens all over the city? Harbor views with mossy bald cypresses? colonial eraEdentonis as steeped in history as it is breathtaking. "For all its breathtaking beauty, Edenton is far from primitive and decent," said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina. "The city has spirit...you'll find it reflected in vibrant shops and restaurants and the stories of the people that perpetuate Edenton's never-ending appeal."
Galena, about a three-hour drive from Chicago, looks like a town straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie. But it doesn't have to be snowing and adorned with white lights to be picturesque — Galena shines at any time of the year. HistoricalMain road, which dates back to the 18th century, has more than125 independently ownedShops, restaurants, inns and guesthouses. You won't find any chains or franchises here. Outside of town there are numerous cycling and walking routes with views of towering cliffs.
"When we talk about beautiful small towns in Missouri, there are many options to consider, and one that's always part of the conversation is Hermann," said Stephen Foutes, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. And with good reason: Hermann sits amid rolling hills along the Missouri River, surrounded by wineries. Because of its rich German heritage, it is often referred to as the Rhineland of Missouri.
Cape May, New Jersey
"When you get there, you're struck by the beauty of Victoriana," said Diane Wieland, director of Cape May County Tourism. “All the houses painted different colors… the gas lights. Then there's a beautiful expansive beach.” Cape May's pleasing aesthetic is obvious, but that's not the only thing that adds to its overall charm -- there are no hotels or chain restaurants, nothing artificial. Wieland added: "This is the experience you will have. And we live that every day.”