Ausable Chasm, New York

Charming American Towns You Haven’t Heard Of But Should Visit

These fifteen, crowd-less towns are hidden gems of their states, with many modern comforts, myriad of activities, and natural wonders awaiting avid tourists. With many set near the big cities, one can journey to these never-before-been places, enjoying the varying scenery along the drive. 

Ausable Chasm, New York

Ausable chasm
Ausable Chasm in New York.

Known as a one-of-a-kind town in the Adirondacks, Ausable Chasm awaits its visitors with some of the oldest natural attractions in the United States, embraced by the primeval Adirondack forest. The nature's nuances to be encountered include the Rainbow Falls, the Elephant's Head, the Column Rock, and the Hyde's Cave. Also, upon descending hundreds of feet into the Mystic Gorge, one will find themselves walking on natural stone pathways with eons of geologic history in the surrounding stone. The special atmosphere is sure to transport one into a whole other quiet and eerie world.

Bisbee, Arizona

Panorama of Bisbee with surrounding Mule Mountains in Arizona.
Panorama of Bisbee with surrounding Mule Mountains in Arizona. 

Set some 90 miles from Tucson in the embrace of the Mule Mountains, with colorful hillside homes, couples and artists go to Bisbee to relax in the picturesque scenery and get inspired for a start to a new life or a project. The town is also home to Arizona's best Pride festivals, while The Café Roka is known as the town's "first date" joint. Set in the historic Cochise County, the downtown with Lavender Pit giant hole in the ground and the old Copper Queen Mine will be adored by history buffs and families. The Bisbee 1000 is a 4.5-mile course ascending nine of the town's numerous staircases. The music fans will revel in the live jazz on weekends, as well as the numerous festivals throughout the year. 

Clinton, New Jersey

Clinton new jersey
The historic Red Mill in Clinton, New Jersey.

Coming straight out of a fairy-tale or a painting, the charming small town of Clinton brims with gorgeous historical sights. Its antique iron bridge was built over the Raritan River in 1870 and comes complete with two classic grist mills perched on each side. The 10-acre Red Mill Museum Village with the Hunterdon Historical Museum on its grounds is a notable landmark for exploration, while the museum's collection includes more than 40,000 historical artifacts.

Corolla, North Carolina

View from Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, Outer Banks, North Carolina.

The Outer Banks beach region is a widely-known tourist destination, making the often omitted town of Corolla a perfect destination for those seeking solitude within a scenery or some alone time with their loved ones. Sitting in the northern portion of the stretch, in the area's picturesque surroundings, some of the things to look out for and Instagram include a lighthouse and wild horses throttling around. The nearby Currituck Sound is popular for kayaking, while the adjacent Church's Island, a peninsula, makes for a great couples hideaway. 

Anna Maria, Florida

Anna Maria, Florida
A pier in the Anna Maria Island.

To visit Anna Maria Island is to jump into a romance novel or on a reality TV set on the beach. Some 45 minutes east of Tampa or 30 minutes south of Sarasota will bring one to the island's beaches that look like they belong in the Caribbean. Although there are fine dining establishments, one can walk barefoot in the streets with the locals to one of the food shacks before heading to the white sands at the surf. The turquoise green-blue ocean is home to manatees swimming so close that one might receive a bump from them in the water.  

Frankenmuth, Michigan

 Bavarian-style houses of the Bavarian Inn center on a perfect winter day in Frankenmuth. Editorial credit: T-I /

A European-feel town, Frankenmuth is a former Bavarian mission colony that was established as a settlement in 1845 by Lutherans. Complete with the classic German architecture, it is also known as the "Little Bavaria," drenching with old German charm and atmosphere. The town is so infused with the Bavarian culture that even the signage on the streets are in German. 

Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii

 Hanapepe town in Kauai, Hawaii
Aerial view of the coast, hills and Hanapepe town in Kauai, Hawaii.

Some believe that the remote town of Hanapepe in Hawaii is the inspiration for the classic Lilo & Stitch animation series. Whether or not it is true, the town is one of the oldest in the entire country, with a ton of locations on the National Historic Register. One cannot miss visiting the town's swinging bridge, while for a special treat, one must try the giant acai bowl at the Little Fish Coffee. The town's small main street is also lined with vendors serving local cuisine like fried-on-the-spot malasadas. Some other attractions include the Kauai Orchid and Art Festival and the town's Art Night on Friday evenings between 6 and 9 pm.

Homer, Alaska

 Homer, Alaska
Halibut Cove across Katchemak Bay from Homer, Alaska.

Set rather remotely in the grand state, overlooking the Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains, the town of Homer makes for a perfect non-traditional romantic getaway into the scenic surroundings with a myriad of outdoor pursuits. The fauna to be commonly sighted includes moose, black bears, and porpoises playing in the surf of the stunning seascape. While the fall time is especially lovely for the lush foliage a-fire, the wintertime brings about glacier skiing, and the summer comes around with kayaking tours. The Halibut Cove cannot be missed, being an artists' enclave with waterways. 

Little Compton, Rhode Island

Little Compton Rhode Island
Sakonnet Lighthouse and Harbor in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

While some may call Little Compton an uptight little town, others will see the charm in the shallow tidal creek, the wildlife refuge, the Goosewing Beach, and the pristine South Shore Beach where the locals surf. The town's scenic location is so inspiring that artists gather there each summer to open up their spaces, as part of the surrounding area's annual Studio Tours. The town is also a heaven for seafood lovers, who will not find fresher scallops in the region than the local ones, along with the all-you-can-eat fish and chips Tuesdays at Crowther's and the Johnnycakes regional specialty at the Commons. 

Oracle, Arizona

Snow-capped Mountains, Oracle, Arizona
Snow-capped Mountains, Oracle, Arizona.

Set right outside Tucson, Oracle is a unique town and a home to Biosphere 2, one of the best environment conservatory research centers in the world, open for visiting. There, one can see a mock ocean that promotes coral reef conservation and building, and a space exploration habitat, used by NASA. Along with the undeniable resemblance of what Mars and the moon may be like, a night stargazing show is also offered.

Pella, Iowa

Pella, Iowa
Pathway lined with beds of Tulips in Sunken Gardens Park, Pella, Iowa.

Considered by many as the prettiest town in the whole state, Pella is hard to miss for being a bright pop of color in the predominantly rural region. Discovered by Dutch immigrants in 1847, the town retains the look of their homeland, coming complete with the Vermeer Hill, which is the tallest working grain mill in the United States. The Tulip Town Festival is another Dutch tradition happening in spring with three days of Pella's Dutch heritage blooming, along with the flowers. The festivities also come complete with costumes, music, food parades, tulip gardens, and other things reminiscent of the old country.  

Perdido Key, Florida

Aerial view of boats in Perdido Key beach
Aerial view of boats in Perdido Key beach, Florida and Ono Island, Alabama.

The "Lost" Key in Spanish, the town of Perdido is aptly named for being a hidden gem of the state, set in the Escambia County, near Pensacola. From any angle, the town appears almost too perfect to be true, with nice weather year-round, pristine beaches, clear water, a wildlife preserve, and unspoiled parks. If that wasn't good enough, the remote location comes with little traffic, while everything is still a short drive. Upon encountering the few people on the streets, one will notice how laid-back and friendly the locals are. 

Sebastopol, California

Welcome to Sebastopol’ road sign near Sebastopol.

Sitting in the vicinity of the Russian River, with a Slavic vibe, the town of Sebastopol is wonderfully surrounded by charming apple orchards and vineyards calling in for a visit. The town's Barlow is a 220,000-square-foot culinary and arts center that is sure to interest the food-lovers and creative souls among the few tourists the town receives. Only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Sebastopol is also a getaway into some beach fun and relaxation. The nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa, comprised of a gorgeous mosaic of creeks, open water, and riparian forests, is the largest freshwater wetlands in Northern California.

Solvang, California

Solvang, California
Solvang, California.

Californians go to Solvang for an entirely different atmosphere and a unique town-feel to escape the Disney theme and the crowds at the scorching beaches. Founded in 1911 by Danes, the town is infused with a Danish vibe in the classic thatched roofs of the houses and horse-drawn carriages in the streets. The landmarks also include a replica of Copenhagen's famous Little Mermaid statue and a miniature city's Round Tower. There are also many Danish stores, restaurants, and bakeries for some authentic grub and to stock up on goodies. 

Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Ste. Genevieve
The County Clerk building in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Creative souls are drawn to Ste. Genevieve for being a true artists' paradise, with the inspiration emanating from the town's scenic location. Known as Missouri's first European settlement, the history buffs will love visiting the many historic sites, including the remarkable preserved original vertical log structures. The town is also often chosen as a romantic getaway by couples who love nature and explore the wilderness.  

As a convenient getaway into the prominent cities of the state, these 15 towns with a character and an atmospheric vibe will retain tourists for at least a few days before making the onward journey. With charming downtowns holding statuesque buildings that look important enough to represent the head city and unique natural scenery at each destination, it is a perfect way to discover something new and memorable. 

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