Some trips are meant to leave us dizzy, while others wrap us up in the warm embrace of a small town hug. This is a bucket list for those kinds of vacations—the ones that feel like coming home. Read our top picks for charming small-town destinations across the United States below!
The perfect balance between a beach escape and a creative, art-filled getaway. If visitors are looking to spend the entire trip by the beach without stepping onto a sidewalk—they can. But in a town saturated with this much charm, who would want that? After walking along the sandy, 3.5 miles long Ogunquit beach, travellers can indulge their senses by exploring the village. Here, one is treated to fresh, locally caught seafood, homemade fudge, and an endless number of artisanal shops.
For those looking to refine their experience, Ogunquit art galleries are highly recommended. Home to a rich artistic community, this town is a wonderful place for visitors to get in touch with their creativity and learn from locals. Two must-visit spots would be the Ogunquit Museum of Art and the Ogunquit Playhouse.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is home to an abundance of local colour and community spirit! Nestled in a breathtaking landscape, this town has the soothing spirit of a coastal town and the energizing flare of a bustling metropolis.
While visiting Cannon Beach, travellers are encouraged to get a feel for the surrounding wildlife by visiting Ecola State Park. This park is perched on the edge of Tillamook Head and allows tourists to experience rainforests and coastal views. While travelling through this park, stopping at Indian Beach is also a must. After some outdoor exploration, head into the heart of the town for some beer tasting at local distilleries.
Lastly, visitors can also plan their trips according to the town’s festival schedule. For example, art lovers can visit during the first weekend of November for the Stormy Weather Arts Festival, while foodies are encouraged to come for the North Coast Culinary Fest during the first weekend of March.
This historic surf town is recognized as the social and artistic hub of the North Shore. With much of its historical heritage intact, this area offers more than its laid-back surf town appearance. A day’s itinerary in Haleiwa can range from diving with sharks, exploring a macadamia nut farm, browsing through quaint surf boutiques and visiting a variety of art galleries. Visitors can immerse themselves in the surf town culture by taking a few surf lessons! After a long day spent on the ocean, taking a food truck tour and enjoying local delicacies is non-negotiable. Ending the tour with some famous shaved ice is the only way to properly wrap up the culinary experience.
New Bedford, Massachusetts
This is a dream destination for history and literary buffs. Home to the inspiration of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, this small town capitalizes on its charm. In the 19th century, New Bedford gained its worldwide reputation as the greatest whaling port in the world. It was from this port that Melville embarked on the whaling boat that prompted the plot of his famous book.
Today, this town is full of historical landmarks and tours, as well as eclectic modern shops and cozy restaurants. Visitors can stay in whale-themed hotels, take long strolls along the famous harbour and spend hours walking through the New Bedford Whaling Museum. For dedicated Melville fans, the annual Moby-Dick Marathon is held in this museum, where the live reading marathon begins in the world’s largest whaleship model—the Lagoda.
Magnolia Springs, Alabama
This incredibly small town curves along the Magnolia River in southern Alabama. With less than 1,000 residents, this destination is filled with character and southern charm. The town’s most unique feature is its year-round river route for mail delivery. During the warmer months, a perfect day in Magnolia Springs consists of an early dip in the river and a morning bike ride to see the colourful homes along the riverside. Afterwards, tourists are encouraged to dine at the town’s famous, award-winning restaurant, Jesse’s. End the day with a hot air balloon ride and a cozy evening tucked in at Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast.
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By: Briahna McTigue