View of the Western town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock.

13 Prettiest Towns in the United States

Sorting through 19,000+ incorporated cities, towns, and villages in the third-largest country by total area is no easy task. Fortunately, we have skimmed through them to find the cream of the crop for your next potential getaway. The United States stands as one of the most unique countries on the planet — as previously mentioned, it ranks third globally in total area, spanning an enormous 9,826,675 km², and depending on which state you explore, you will encounter a variety of breathtaking landscapes — think majestic mountains on the West Coast, the Great Plains that occupy much of the prairie ecoregion, and even white sand dunes in New Mexico. Within these landscapes are countless small towns scattered far and wide across the country. Regardless of what kind of travel experience you yearn for, the U.S. promises an adventure for every taste.

Sitka, Alaska

View of small town Sitka.
View of small town Sitka. Image credit Marc Cappelletti via Shutterstock.

Starting off the list is a tiny settlement in Alaska nicknamed "The Paris of the Pacific.” Unlike Paris, though, reaching this little town can only be done by air and sea since it’s located on Baranof Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Sitka’s grandiose mountains can be visibly seen throughout the city, draped with luscious clouds and fog infused around them. In the heart of its downtown district lies art galleries, bookshops, and restaurants that serve fresh local seafood. And since Alaska is known for its vast wilderness, the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka features year-round programs for animal lovers. The establishment's story began more than 40 years ago when it initially opened its doors to heal injured bald eagles — while it still does that, the 17-acre campus has since expanded its operations to offer educational adventures for curious learners. Another prominent feature of Sitka is the Castle Hill, a designated National Historic Landmark and once a strategic fort where the Tlingit indigenous people lived.

Mount Dora, Florida

The colorful downtown area of Mount Dora, Florida.
The colorful downtown area of Mount Dora, Florida. Editorial credit: Jillian Cain Photography /

Few towns offer the serene vibe Mount Dora does. With numerous tranquil lakes around, you can pamper yourself by taking a dip in the water or basking in the sun. In addition, this town is well known for its leisurely strolls and bike trails, allowing visitors to enjoy the great outdoors all year long in nature preserves such as Palm Island Park, an 8-acre park filled with picnic benches, trails and even Florida's beloved (and dangerous) alligator. Since the Sunshine State is known for its glamorous waters, visitors have the luxury to rent boats and jet skis with the convenience of being able to rent them for the whole day or just a few hours. Not too far away from Mount Dora lies the Lake Norris Conservation Area, a suitable spot for hiking, spectating Florida’s diverse wildlife, and canoeing. To see all this and more, consider a relaxing stay at the Mt. Dora Historic Inn; built in 1910, it serves as a testament to the town’s storied past while providing a classic feel with modern amenities to maximize comfort.

Carmel, California

Carmel, California: shopping on main street with luxurious boutiques all around
Carmel, California: shopping on main street with luxurious boutiques all around, via oliverdelahaye /

Also known as Carmel-by-the-Sea and confused with caramel, local politicians might as well have gone with the latter when deciding the name since visiting here is extra sweet. Seriously, it’s no wonder millions of tourists flock here every year to see its outstanding views and gorgeous sandy beaches. What makes this town unique is its emphasis on being different. Consider the fact there are no chain restaurants here, meaning each eatery you explore will be authentically yummy! As for addresses and streetlights? Forget about it — the city’s founding fathers refused Carmel to be “citified” like other towns did. To truly appreciate and take in Carmel’s beauty, take a hike in Jacks Peak County Park to see panoramic views of the town and its coastline.

Sag Harbor, New York

Civil war monument in Sag Harbor, New York,
Civil war monument in Sag Harbor, New York, via Jaclyn Vernace /

To trace the history of Sag Harbor, you’ll need to crank up the time machine and teleport back 293 years ago, when this town marked its inception as a settlement. From there, its economy exploded on the scene as it ranked second only to New York City in importance for having one of the highest trading volumes. Furthermore, Sag Harbor is home to a myriad number of museums, including the esteemed Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum which features artifacts, exhibitions and other items to promote Sag Harbor’s rich history, with a strong focus on the whaling industry. And since it's winter, consider a visit to the Southampton Ice Rink; it offers a fun seasonal-themed getaway, providing the public with affordable skating lessons along with soothing hot chocolate drinks to stay cozy.

Canyon, Texas

Downtown Canyon, Texas
Downtown Canyon, Texas, By Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Canyon embodies the sprawling and diverse landscape of Texas in a way only a few towns do. Not only is it surrounded by several nature preserves, but it’s also home to Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest museum in all of Texas; the 200,000 square foot complex, located in the West Texas A&M University campus, delivers a world-class historical venue and contains everything from thousands of years old artifacts, exhibits, monthly events, photographs and more. There are multiple natural spaces in the surrounding vicinity for outdoor lovers and campers, including the Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, and the Ceta Canyon Retreat Center — with each site being less than 25 minutes or less away. If you're set on visiting Canyon, the Old West Stables is a family-owned business that offers one-hour horseback rides, taking riders to witness the most picturesque and idyllic spots in town and around.

Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

Directional Route Signs on the Main Street of Wellsboro in Tioga County, Pennsylvania
Directional Route Signs on the Main Street of Wellsboro in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, via George Sheldon /

Standing as the gateway to Pennsylvania’s invigorating and unbridled wilderness, Wellsboro started its journey as a trading post. But today, it has flourished into a tourist destination for its cozy small-town vibe and access to the stunning outdoors. Among many notable features in Wellsboro are the 19th-century themed Victorian architecture and historic-looking gas lamps, which can be visibly seen throughout the town. During the colder seasons, Wellsboro grants ample venues for winter sports like skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing. And during summers, hiking and sightseeing take the crown. As previously stated, the surrounding fields around Wellsboro are laden with wilderness, but among all that stands out is the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, also known as the “Crown Jewel of Pennsylvania." The 47-mile chasm supplies some of the most breathtaking views, with luscious trees covering the land as far as the eye can see. In 1968, sections of the park were designated as a National Natural Landmark, and today, it serves as one of the most popular getaways for hikers, cyclists, and birdwatchers.

Brunswick, Georgia

Riverside view of Brunswick, Georgia
Riverside view of Brunswick, Georgia

This coastal town earned the nickname “The Shrimp Capital of the World” for its thriving fishing and shrimp industry, being Georgia’s main production center for the delicious little seafood. But there’s plenty more to do than just stuffing your face with good food in Brunswick as this town is packed with diverse sights and attractions — for example, the ancient Lover’s Oak is a 900-year-old tree with a diameter of 13 feet (that's more than the height of a basketball net), with mysterious folklore surrounding its history. In addition, step back in the time machine and traverse the Brunswick Old Town Historic District, where you can explore various historical monuments including the town’s century-old city hall, and the 124 year-old Ritz Theatre, which still operates to this day.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The picturesque town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The picturesque town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Editorial credit: littlenySTOCK /

Gatlinburg is bound to leave you mesmerized by its natural beauty. It’s positioned on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is an outdoor lover’s paradise! Embark on a fun trip to Anakeesta, an award-winning park where you can witness 360-degree views of the locality or break a sweat on the exhilarating zipline tour. The 70-acre park brings over a million visitors a year and celebrated a record-setting number of visitors during the spring season of 2021. What’s more, Gatlinburg is also home to the longest pedestrian suspension bridge — in the entire continent of North America — the Gatlinburg SkyBridge is 680 feet long and is open throughout the year, excluding Christmas. If you're planning to visit the bridge, it's best to go early in the morning when crowds are smaller.

Gloucester, Massachusetts

Historic commercial buildings on Main Street in downtown Gloucester, Massachusetts
Historic commercial buildings on Main Street in downtown Gloucester, Massachusetts, via Wangkun Jia /

Gloucester normally comes alive during the summer months when the synergy between its shopping, dining, and tourism industries comes together. But fortunately, you can still opt to visit its pulsating arts and entertainment scene that remains open in perpetuity. In addition, Gloucester hosts a myriad number of museums, such as the Hammond Castle Museum, Cape Ann Museum, and the Sleeper-McCann House, with each museum narrating and showcasing the history of Gloucester in their own way. Among other touristy things to do here and is a clandestine pastime where locals watch whales at the shore during September. Although the best time to do this is during September, whales can also be occasionally spotted from April to August.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge Town in Summit County in Colorado, United States
Breckenridge Town in Summit County in Colorado, United States

Breckenridge is esteemed for its majestic beauty — it was awarded USAToday’s top 10 best small towns for adventure as well as holding the distinction of being the 15th best small town to visit by U.S. News and World Report. When winter hits, Breckenridge offers world-class ski resorts since it's cradled by towering mountains. During other seasons, it offers a spirited atmosphere that includes a vibrant nightlife scene, diverse culinary restaurants, and thrilling biking paths to work up a sweat. And be sure to visit the historic Main Street — it serves as the town’s main epicenter, filled with bustling events and festivities all year long. Another added bonus of visiting Breckenridge is free transportation to the most popular regions in town! Yes, you read that right.

Beaufort, South Carolina

Downtown street in Beaufort, South Carolina.
Downtown street in Beaufort, South Carolina. Image credit Stephen B. Goodwin via Shutterstock

Dubbed the “Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands,” Beaufort holds the distinction of being South Carolina’s second oldest town and is renowned for its historical and cultural significance, making the Beaufort History Museum an appropriate first stop to embark on your adventure — the establishment unveils 450 years of the town’s history, displaying permanent and temporary artifacts, documents, and photos that are pertinent to the local history. Another well-known attraction in the area is the Coastal Expeditions Beaufort, a boat tour agency that takes riders on unique cruises, including the Dolphin and History Cruise, Beaufort Sunset Cruise, and the Beaufort Oyster Ecotour. For food lovers, the Port Royal Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 9 am to 12 pm, providing delicious local and seasonal seafood, BBQ, and breakfast options to satisfy your taste buds.

Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson, Wyoming, at the local Playhouse.
Jackson, Wyoming, at the local Playhouse. Image credit Randy Andy via Shutterstock.

No matter what side of town you happen to be in Jackson, be prepared to see unparalleled top-tier views of grand mountains that will leave you in absolute awe. This tight-knit community serves as the main gateway to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, both of which bring in millions of visitors every year. No attraction exhibits Wyoming's towering mountains better than the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram, a 12-minute passenger cabin that climbs to a summit of 4,000 feet in elevation, offering 360 views of Wyoming’s untamed natural landscape. In addition, Jackson has a spirited arts and culture scene, with year-round festivities including the Fall Arts Festival, Town Square Shootout, and “The Rodeo” — a tradition that has continued for over a century.

Laie, Hawaii

Laie, Hawaii: Entrance archway to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore of O'ahu island
Laie, Hawaii: Entrance archway to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore of O'ahu island, via Alexandre.ROSA /

Leaving out a town from the state known as the “Paradise of the Pacific” would not just be dishonest but borderline sacrilege in the travel community. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world, so it should come as no surprise it would be home to one of the prettiest towns in the U.S. For this state, the beautiful coastal town of Laie represents the best of Hawaii as it hosts everything from cultural centers, hiking trails, and premier beaches. To get a sense of what Laie is about, consider visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center; it's a family-oriented tourist attraction that attracts 700,000 visitors annually, offering 42 acres of fun activities, including dances, staple Hawaiian food, and traditional arts and crafts. Since Hawaii is an island, stop by the scenic Laie Point State Wayside to witness the massive waves pound against the rugged cliffs while you overlook the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

From the magnificent mountains in Gatlinburg to the fresh maritime breeze in Gloucester, each town has its own rich history, folklore, and unique features that make it remarkable and worth visiting — a testament to the diverse landscapes of the United States and why it stands as one of the most captivating countries in the world to explore.

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