Reflection in the water of buildings along the Village at Venetian Bay in Naples, Florida.

11 Best Small Towns In America For A Family Vacation

From the West to the East Coast, from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, the diverse geography and culture of the United States are indeed evident to anyone who travels across the nation. Whether it is discovering the desert areas of the Southwest or the colonial roots of America in the former Thirteen Colonies region, there is something exciting for every family in the towns across the USA. This article looks at the 11 Best Small Towns in America for a Family Vacation. 

Asheville, North Carolina

Aerial view of the skyline of downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Aerial view of the skyline of downtown Asheville, North Carolina. 

The seat of Buncombe County, Asheville, is a great place for both a weekend trip and to escape from the big cities. One must enjoy walking tours with the majestic scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, tasty local restaurants, and a bustling artists scene, including numerous galleries and theatres to visit. Amongst the key highlights, families can appreciate the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Western North Carolina Nature Center, or just head down to the French Broad River for some fun tubing, canoeing, and rafting in the sun.

Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida, town skyline and city plaza at twilight
Naples, Florida, town skyline and city plaza at twilight. 

Sharing a name with the famed southern Italian city, Naples describes itself as the “Golf Capital of the World.” With its celebrated world-class golf resorts, this coastal town is indeed well known for its hot sun, luxurious neighborhoods, and laid-back climate. Tourists can find plenty of luxury hotels, fine dining establishments, loads of shops, and of course, beautiful white sandy beaches in this town overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, which is one of Florida’s prettiest. For families, why not treat the kids to a visit to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge or spend an afternoon at the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples.

Carbondale, Colorado

Mount Sopris view from Mushroom Rock, Carbondale, Colorado
Mount Sopris view from Mushroom Rock, Carbondale, Colorado. 

Situated in Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley, the town of Carbondale is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, making it a truly picturesque getaway. In addition to its stunning surroundings, families can enjoy great local food and an abundance of outdoor activities sure to never leave a moment dull. Enjoy hiking, biking, rock climbing, and horseback riding, or take a leisurely stroll through Main Street for a charming slice of small-town USA. And of course, every Thursday, the Wild West Rodeo sets up shop giving the whole family the opportunity to enjoy some authentic calf roping, bull riding, and old-fashioned cowboy fun!

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Aerial view of the shoreline of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Aerial view of the shoreline of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Felix Mizioznikov /

Situated right in the center of a 97-kilometer-long stretch of beach known as “The Grand Strand,” the town of Myrtle Beach is a truly vibrant seaside hotspot perfect for a family sojourn. With beautiful white sanded beaches, stunning natural scenery, great golf courses, and an abundance of high-quality dining, millions of tourists descend on this town every year. Enjoy walks on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, take a ride on the SkyWheel Ferris Wheel, relish a relaxing boat cruise under the warming sun, or stroll through the Brookgreen Gardens; when in Myrtle Beach, there is never a scarcity of activities and things to try.

Cambridge, Maryland

Cambridge, Maryland Lighthouse and marina
Cambridge, Maryland Lighthouse and marina. 

With a population of 13,000 residents, the town of Cambridge is situated on Maryland’s Eastern Shore on the Choptank River. Full of rich maritime history, this is a friendly town great for a stopover while on a road trip. Take a walking tour and explore various attractions such as the Richardson Maritime Museum and the Ruark Boatworks. In the latter, visitors can know more about the history of boat building and sailing in the region and even see how the seafood industry has grown in the area with new techniques in crab and oyster collection. For an afternoon excursion, why not take the family out to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge? At day’s end, a stop at the Long Wharf Park and the Choptank Lighthouse are great ways to finish one’s holiday. 

Oxford, Mississippi

The University Of Mississippi campus building in Oxford, Mississippi
The University Of Mississippi campus building in Oxford, Mississippi. Editorial credit: Feng Cheng /

The town of Oxford was founded in 1837 and today continues to offer plenty of Southern charm. Home to the University of Mississippi, the town is also known as the “Little Easy” for its architecture resembling that of New Orleans. Explore a dynamic community with loads of year-round festivals, outdoor exhibits, art displays, and great Southern dining restaurants. For some fun outside, the whole family can enjoy camping, picnicking, or even fishing at the nearby Sardis Lake in a hot climate, sure to create vivid memories.

Quincy, Illinois 

Aerial view of the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois
Aerial view of the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois. 

Situated on the shores of the Mississippi River, the town of Quincy is filled to the brim with unique architecture, history, a vibrant arts scene, and of course, stunning natural landscapes. Visit the Downtown Quincy Historic District for firsthand views of many 19th-century edifices (many built by the large German immigrant population) and the Southside German Historic District. Home to a wide array of parks, tourists and their families can enjoy quaint picnic areas, lakes, hiking and biking trails, and barbecue stations perfect for an outdoor meal. At the Indian Mounds Park, visitors are able to explore the history of Native Americans in the region and spend some time at heated swimming pools.

Old Saybrook, Connecticut 

Saybrook Breakwater Light in Old Saybrook, Connecticut
Saybrook Breakwater Light in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. 

On the mouth of the Connecticut River, the town of Old Saybrook and its 10,000 residents is a postcard-perfect Atlantic coastal settlement. Founded back in 1635 as the Saybrook Plantation, this town is rich in history and a great place to find some tranquility in the summertime. Explore the Saybrook Breakwater Lighthouse (constructed in 1886), visit Harvey’s Beach, or rent a kayak and venture out onto the waves for warm breezes unique to the area. Looking for great ocean views? Try a game of mini golf at the Saybrook Point course, where putting and gazing at the sea have never seen a better tandem.

Alexandria, Minnesota

Aerial view of downtown Alexandria, Minnesota
Aerial view of downtown Alexandria, Minnesota. 

The seat of Douglas County, the town of Alexandria, was founded in 1859 and named after the Egyptian port city. A great place for families, one can explore the charming and abundant boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and parks all around, never leaving a moment dull. For great hiking trails, the popular Lake Carlos State Park is always a good choice, while the Central Lakes Trail offers some of the best biking paths in the State. And for those looking for some fast-paced adrenaline action, a stopover at the Viking Speedway will be sure to entertain the young and old in any family.

Pismo Beach, California

Sun setting on the Pismo Beach pier, California
Sun setting on the Pismo Beach pier, California. 

A beautiful beach town right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, the town of Pismo Beach boasts great weather, stunning sandy beaches, and excellent wineries. Right on California’s Central Coast, Pismo Beach is a beautiful place for a family excursion. Try swimming, surfing, and even snorkeling, or perhaps try your luck at fishing as the tide rolls in. Back in town, a variety of park spaces dot the town, great for walking and taking in the scenery, while for the kids, a visit to the Children’s Museum is a fun way to learn about California.

Oak Harbor, Washington

Beautiful evening at Joseph Whidbey State Park in Oak Harbor, Washington
Beautiful evening at Joseph Whidbey State Park in Oak Harbor, Washington. Editorial credit: T.Schofield /

Located on Whidbey Island and named for the mighty Oak tree, the waterside town of Oak Harbor is a charming locale ready to welcome tourists and their families year-round. Take a leisurely stroll on the waterfront for some calm and breathtaking scenery, enjoy hiking and biking trails, or visit a local market for some arts and crafts; Oak Harbor is an ideal place to visit for a change of pace from hectic holidays. Stop by the Maylor Point Trail or get in touch with some American history at the Fort Casey and Fort Ebey State Parks, where weaponry and military defense forts from the Second World War can be discovered firsthand. There’s never a dearth of activities in this beautiful little town, which is great for a quiet summer family trip.

Taking a family trip in the United States is full of options, and indeed with a nation as diverse as America, it can be challenging to decide where to spend one's time. Although the major cities are always high on many people's To-Do Lists, the small towns across the country offer plenty of great alternatives; from local history, beautiful nature, and charming hospitality often found only in small locales, these small towns are a sampling of the great options available for families looking to take a vacation in the United States. 

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