Leavenworth, Washington.

11 Prettiest American Mountain Towns To Visit This Summer

Many states are blessed with mountains, outdoor adventures, in-town attractions, and sights varying by locale to cater to various tastes. Each of these scenic towns in the United States guarantees an amazing outdoor escape and a memorable in-town experience.

Bend, Oregon

bend Oregon
Mirror Pond view in Bend, Oregon along the Deschutes River.

Nestled in the foothills, the gorgeous mountain town is an escape into the Cascade Mountains for some of the best scenic explorations of Oregon's great outdoors. With location complementing its name, the town is set picturesquely at the bend of the Bend River as a true mecca for nature lovers. The famous streams, rivers, and lakes comprise a real angler's paradise, while the balmy temperatures and frequent sunny skies call for a cooling dip following a summer day of hiking and biking in the region. Many local breweries in-town await the evening banter over the adventures, with the particularly legendary Deschutes Brewery featuring killer drinks to accompany its amazing food.

Dahlonega, Georgia

Tourists enjoy horseback riding in Dahlonega. Editorial credit: ARYEVA / Shutterstock.com

The site of the nation's first major Gold Rush in 1828, Dahlonega was also granted a Great American Main Street Award by the National Main Street Center in 2016. Featuring vibrant culture and history, one can absorb the town's patriotic pride while strolling the Historic Public Square or by visiting the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. For more culture, the town's Appalachian Jam music scene takes place each Saturday from April through October, with music lovers gathering to mingle, people-watch, and enjoy the live beats. Beloved by nature fans, the 18 different varieties of organically grown lavender at the Red Oak Lavender Farm are a real treat for the eyes with aromatherapeutic properties that can lull one to sleep. The Cedar House Inn & Yurts provide a heavenly stay, complete with a must-try Georgia French toast with peaches, cream sauce, and toasted pecans for breakfast before commencing a new day of adventures.

Estes Park, Colorado

estes park, colorado
The famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

Set in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain National Park, some 70 miles northwest of Denver, Estes Park is a perfect place to explore the great outdoors during summer. The town was named in 1864 by the owner and editor of the Rocky Mountain News after a successful gold miner who resided there from 1860 to 1866. Upon opening the famous Stanley Hotel in 1909, Estes Park was transformed into a luxury retreat town, catering to visitors like Pope St. John Paul II, Emperor Akihito of Japan, and President George W. Bush. Featuring warm weather and all the comforts of a big city, the town comprises happy residents and tourists who look forward to returning to the cozy atmosphere after a day full of adventures. Aside from hiking, biking, fly-fishing, and horseback riding, there is the aerial tram, adrenaline-pumping adventure sports, and simple unwinding through scenic strolls in the fresh mountain air.

Frisco, Colorado

Frisco Bay Marina in Frisco, Colorado.
Alpenglow hitting the peaks of Grays and Torreys beyond the Frisco Bay Marina in Frisco, Colorado.

Frisco is a special little mountain town for great adventures in the outdoors and things to do within, featuring a well-deserved nickname, "The Main Street of the Rockies". The vibrant and happening scene on the Main Street sees gatherings of people from all walks of life within the backdrop of the 10,000-foot Mount Royal. One will find over 50 locally-owned restaurants, B&Bs, coffee shops, bookstores, and other ways to soak up the pace of the town that drums to its own beat. The lively Frisco Bay Marina offers different scenery for atmospheric walks and endless water vistas. The well-known Rocky Mountain Roasters is great for lounging around with a brew before heading out. The must-hits include the wondrous Gatherhouse glass blowing studio and gallery in-town, followed the Lake Dillon for a cooling dip on a hot summer's day. The Frisco Inn on Galena offers a comfy stay with entertaining innkeepers' stories before bedtime.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg skyline in the Smoky Mountains.
Skyline of Gatlinburg in the Smoky Mountains.

Set in eastern Tennessee, Gatlinburg offers an ideal getaway into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where one can access the park straight from the heart of the downtown via three different entrances. The town's modest population of 4,000-some residents swells to ten-some with tourists during summer. Fleeing for the hiking trails, biking, and horseback riding, there's still enough space to explore the town's treasures within the mountain vistas. A destination in its own right, the top attractions include the Gatlinburg Space Needle, the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway, as well as historical exhibits, and cabins. The families love visiting the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and the Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre, while the local galleries include the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community, where one can watch the local artists and craftsmen create paintings, pottery, handmade brooms, and jewelry, right on the spot.

Helen, Georgia

Helen Georgia
The architectural theme of Helen is inspired by the Bavarian Alps. Editorial credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Helen is a tiny, picturesque mountain town brimful with classic Bavarian architecture and an authentic foods scene. Comprising only 600 residents, the town is an easy pleasure to get to know that makes one feel at home in the little heaven right away. One can find real German favorites like schnitzel, soft pretzels, and beer at the stands or in one of the many atmospheric restaurants. The famous pecan brittle from the Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen will give a boost to conquer the hiking and biking trails of the White County's Georgia Mountains, including the scenic Raven Cliffs Wilderness Area and the Smithgall Woods State Park. Top attractions include the mountain coaster, an aqua park, and riverfront beaches, perfect for a hot summer's day, while the Willows Pottery lets one paint and bring home a collectible. 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson hole
Panoramic aerial view of Jackson Hole homes and beautiful mountains on a summer morning.

Set in one of the most picturesque parts of the country, the town is surrounded by mountains as a perfect base for the great outdoors of north-western Wyoming, including an easy drive to the national parks of Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. One can explore the gorgeous natural landscapes via hiking and mountain biking or sub the outdoor adventures for some R&R with scenic strolls and hillside picnics in the freshest mountain air. Packing a punch of things to do in town, Jackson Hole's charming square is brimful with sights, restaurants, bars, shops, and other attractions to explore in the evening. To stay, there's the stunning Amangani, or the luxurious Residences Jackson Hole, complete with spas and mountain views. 

Lake Placid, New York

The Lake Placid Ski Lift
The Lake Placid Ski Lift.

Lake Placid offers a heavenly base to get away from the heat and humidity of the steel megalopolises. Nothing can beat a swim in the refreshing lake's waters following a summer's day full of outdoor adventures. There are many hiking trails, including the 46 High Peaks of the Adirondacks, the High Falls Gorge with beautiful cascading falls, as well as the lake for great paddle-boarding or white-water rafting. The entertainment-seekers can tune-in on the I Love BBQ and Music Festival, the beloved lakeside performances by the Lake Placid Sinfonietta, and watch the Lake Placid Horse Show. The Liquids and Solids restaurant is known to bring one's farm-fresh fantasies to life, while the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort is pet friendly, to come exploring with one's best friend.

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, Washington. Editorial credit: Oleg Mayorov / Shutterstock.com

Known for hosting one of the nation's best Oktoberfests and magical atmosphere during the holidays, the "Little Bavaria" gets transformed into a true alpine beauty during the summer months for great outdoor escapes. Back-dropped by picturesque mountains, there are myriads of scenic hiking and biking trails among the lush hills, while the Wenatchee River flows right through town for rafting, tubing, and fishing. For extremists, the craggy mountaintops offer great rock-climbing and bouldering opportunities in the vicinity. Following an eventful day-out, one can refuel on the plenty of popular Bavarian-inspired options like brats and beer from a street stand, or have an authentic meal of schnitzel, sauerkraut, potato salad, pastries, and more beer at a thematic restaurant. The classic Bavarian architecture completes the truly rustic, mountain-town vibe that transports one into the olden days, while the many cideries and wineries in the vicinity complement the Alpine appeal.

Taos, New Mexico

taos, New Mexico
Taos Pueblo in Taos.

The cool northern New Mexico mountain town with some-5,000 residents is an adventurer's paradise with big character, colorful sunsets, and a renowned foods scene. Sitting surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos packs a punch in the heat department as well as in things to do, including fly fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, hot-air ballooning, river rafting, hot springing, and even llama trekking, all within stunning mountain vistas. Comprising an artists' colony, the town's one-of-a-kind adobe huts emanate the charisma of Santa Fe's architecture. To really absorb the town's vibe, one can wander around the 80-some art galleries and people-watch on the streets while sipping on margaritas days-on. There's the lively Adobe Bar at Taos Inn, and the oldest house in town, Alley Cantina known for Tecate drinks over a game of shuffleboard. Inhabited since the pre-Columbian times, Taos Pueblo is a protected and preserved Pueblo Indians' village, filled with multi-story adobe homes, cultural sights, and local craft shops. 

Vail, Colorado

vail cororado
Vail, Colorado in summer. Editorial credit: Alex Cimbal / Shutterstock.com

Famous for the wintertime Ski Resort, many miss the fact that Vail's slopes turn into a real lush heaven for outdoor pursuits during summer. When the temperatures rise, Vail becomes a whole new travel destination, complete with picnicking in the scenic mountain vistas, beautiful golf courses, and countless hiking trails through the Rockies. The town also turns host to incredible cultural events, while the Four Seasons Resort is just as appealing through the heat wave, featuring refreshing spa treatments, pools, and lower rates than in winter. Moreover, one can engage in a yoga session at the park or visit the Vail Village at the base of Golden Peak, Ford Park, and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater to make all the Centennial State dreams come true. The Gore Creek runs through the heart of the town for some great fly-fishing right from one's doorstep. For families, there's the scenic Vail Summer Gondola, the Epic Discovery, summer tubing, and Moe's Original BBQ, beloved for the weather-suiting banana pudding.

These mountain towns receive thousands of visitors each year as the best summer escapes into the scenic great outdoors. Their mountainous environments come with lush hills for panoramic views over a picnic, the freshest air, and many water holes to take a cooling dip on a hot summer's day.

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