The Northern United States has the benefit of shifting seasons. It includes the various areas that span the border with Canada, making it an ideal place for a road trip or quick excursion. Because it covers so much ground, there are endless ways to appreciate the journey. Whether traveling eastward or westward, there are opportunities to enjoy the north country. While cities have many benefits, small towns provide insight into each area's culture and lifestyle. Replete with museums, eateries, and parks, there are endless ways to spend a day in the Northern United States.
Cooperstown, New York
Home to approximately 1,900 residents, Cooperstown is a small town positioned in Otsego County. This New York town leaves behind any of the hustle of the city and replaces it with a calm pleasantry. The Doubleday Cafe marks a great start to the day, leading to a series of baseball-themed attractions. Sports fans can enjoy the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, a global landmark. With everything from a wax museum dedicated to heroes of baseball to Doubleday Field, there is no shortage of America’s favorite sport. Art lovers can take in the sights at the Fenimore Museum. For those seeking a more nature-forward perspective, Cooperstown provides impressive views of Otsego Lake and features a quaint main street. Replete with historic architecture, Cooperstown is a cradle for American culture.
Traverse City, Michigan
Travers City is a popular spot for visitors thanks to its range of attractions. Clinch Park, has a water feature to help visitors cool down while the Dennos Museum Center provides a calm atmosphere to take in the sights. Left Foot Charley and Chateau Grand Traverse are two popular wineries, and The Village at Grand Traverse Commons is a shopping mall with something for everyone. Right in the middle of Grand Traverse County, this Michigan location is home to approximately 16,500 people. Positioned alongside the Lake Michigan shore, it's a popular place to chill and relax. The plentiful beachside and gorgeous waters provide picturesque sunrises and sets. As the world's cherry capital, Traverse City features an impressive series of orchards and wineries. This, along with the family-friendly recreation in the town like the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, makes it an ideal place for tourists to find serenity while staying active.
A town with strong historical significance, Stillwater is in Washington County and hosts approximately 20,400 residents. It's right along St. Croix River, providing a charming panoramic view of the waterscape. Visitors can enjoy the Historic Courthouse and Warden’s House Museums, while youngsters can play at Teddy Bear Park. Stillwater developed in the 1800s, and most of the architecture remains, giving the area an impressive cultural background. The town features Leo’s Grill & Malt shop and the Stillwater Art Guild Gallery. The area inspires many artists, perhaps due to the Gateway and Brown's Creek State trails. It's also home to many features like the Aamodt’s Apple Farm, an orchard that allows visitors to relax while enjoying nature. Its modern amenities include Stillwater River Boats and the WWater Street Inn.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Quaint and coastal, Bar Harbor is a town in Main that supports approximately 5,400 residents. Visitors can enjoy the Abbe Museum, an ethnographic site, and the George B. Door Museum of Natural History. In a capture of class, the 1932 Criterion Theatre is a great way to catch a show. Bar Harbor’s position on Mount Desert Island makes it a unique place to chill during any season. Falling under Hancock County jurisdiction, the area is right near Acadia National Park. The rugged cliffside and vast array of wildlife make it a popular place for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a calm ocean view. Egg Rock Lighthouse and whale watching opportunities engage tourists every year. Visits to Mount Desert Island and treks along The Shore Path only add to this popularity. Thanks to its position, the area is replete with seafood options like Stewman’s Lobster Pound and comfortable accommodations such as the Atlantic Oceanside Hotel & Event Center.
A beautiful spot in the heart of Lamoiuulle County, Stowe is a Vermont town with around 4,400 people. It is entirely surrounded by the Green Mountains, making it a sought-after tourist destination throughout the year. The Stowe Mountain Resort is ideal for those hitting the slopes while those looking to chill can enjoy the sights like Mount Mansfield, the Stowe Recreation Path, and Bingham Falls. For restaurants and eateries, there are options that range from Piecasso to the Idletyme Brewing Company. Plenty of boutiques like the Little River Hot Glass Studio, cafes like Green Goddess, and historical structures like the Gold Brook Covered Bridge, add to the awe of the mountains. Stowe is a small town that's definitely worth a long trip.
Port Townsend, Washington
Positioned in the center of Jefferson County, Port Townsend is the home of roughly 10,000 residents. The town features impressive Victorian buildings, providing a breathtaking insight into the area's history. In the summertime, the Port Townsend Farmers Market and the historical park with the town’s namesake work together to make an ideal day trip. With options from the Jefferson Museum of Art & History and Port Townsend Vineyards, there is something for everyone in this Washington gem. Right along the Olympic Peninsula, it offers gorgeous views of the Olympic Mountains. The town itself includes galleries, museums, and shops like the Port Townsend Antique Mall. The vast majority cater to the maritime theme. With access to the national park, this town is idyllic for those looking to embrace nature and history.
Saugatuck is a quaint town with a vibrant culture. It features Dune Rides, and the Saugatuck Chain Ferry, along with art galleries like Good Goods. A quaint and small town of fewer than 1,000 residents, Saugatuck falls under the purview of Allegan County. It is right along the eastern side of Lake Michigan and features prominent dunes that add to the beauty of its beaches. Known for its colorful art scene, it's a town that celebrates community and puts an emphasis on diversity. From Pink Patio to the Santa Fe Trading Co, it’s easy to find memorabilia. Because the weather matches the season in Michigan, making it an ideal summer spot to chill.
Decorah is a beautiful area that features a host of interesting features to pique any visitor’s interest. The Vesterheim National Landmark is a museum that highlights Norwegian-American history in the area. For a calm picnic, Phelps Park or the Trout Run Trail make ideal spots. As for food indoors, it’s home to Mabe’s Pizza. Occult enthusiasts can find hidden gems at Magic Morpho, the rock shop. Winneshiek County's own, Decorah is home to about 7,600 people. Nestled in the Driftless Area, it's unique for its hidden beauty. The river valley stands out against the pleasant hillside. Opening up to an array of hiking trails, the town embraces its prominent Norwegian heritage. This is clear throughout the area, with its culture and architecture. Visitors can enjoy the awe-inspiring 200-foot waterfall for a breathtaking breath of fresh air, then wander to the museum to celebrate the history of Decorah.
Positioned in Bonner County, Sandpoint hosts roughly 10,000 residents that promote active energy. Visitors enjoy features like the Panida Theatre for performing arts, Cedar Street Bridge Public Market, and the Bonner County Historical Society & Museum. Sandpoint cuddles within the folds of the mountains that run through the state. Right along the shoreside of Lake Pend Oreille, there is a plentiful opportunity for outdoor chilling. During the summer, the Festival at Sandpoint is a major tourist attraction, with plenty of attractions to keep visitors busy between acts. Action Water Sports and accessible trails like Mickinnick Trail Head 13 make it easy to hike or bike. Boating and fishing are other common ways that tourists embrace the area before working up an appetite for spots like Pend d’Oreille Winery Tasting Room. The downtown offers all the amenities of a city while still keeping visitors wholly immersed in nature.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
Scenic and pleasant to visit, Grand Marais is a town that has around 1,400 residents. Once a spot for major commerce, visitors can attend the gift shop at the Lake Superior Trading Post. Quiet days can include visits to Drury Lane Books or a sit-down through the Fisherman’s Daughter at Dockside Fish Market. It highlights the best parts of Minnesota through its proximity to Lake Superior. Capturing the icy shores in the winter and the beautiful waterscapes in the summer, Grand Marais is a serene town to chill. It is a functional gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe wilderness area, valued for its unmatched forests and preserved lakes. Replete with arts, culture, and some of nature's best, it offers a quaint view of Northern America. The local museums celebrate this, with the Betsy Bowen Gallery and the Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery lending the perfect backdrop to a calm day.
Breckenridge is a popular ski resort town in Summit County, providing residence for roughly 5,200 residents. Its position within the Rocky Mountains means it has a rich mining history. Visitors can enjoy the BreckConnect Gondola, the High Line Railroad Park, and the AVA Rafting & Zipline to sate an adventurous spirit. The town operates on tourism mainly, featuring impressive ski resorts for those of all levels, even the most advanced. Other popular activities usually embrace the winter, with ice skating and snowmobiling being popular. The Mountain Top Explorium is a children’s museum for family-friendly fun, while the Aurum Food & Wine Breckenridge provides classic Americana, focused on fine taste. Large enough to have all the amenities of a city, but small enough to truly appreciate the surroundings, Breckenridge an idyllic winter getaway.
Hood River, Oregon
This Oregon gem features a range of activities that suit all ages. Mount Hood Railroad is a classic tourist draw, alongside the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum. To capture a beautiful piece of history, visitors enjoy the Vista House at Crown Point and can take a pleasant stroll through the area. In the middle of the county of its own hame, Hood River houses around 7,800 people. Much of the town's summer appeal focuses on its access to water with Hood River Waterfront Park and the nearby trails making an ideal example. Alongside the Columbia River Gorge, it provides impressive opportunities for everything from windsurfing to kiteboarding. The area's climate is prone to wind, supporting much of the activity in the area. During the winter, its economy focuses on the skiing industry. Access to Mount Hood makes it ideal for adventurous travels.
The Northern United States is a beautiful way to see the country and experience its total seasonal changes. Because these high-latitude positions feature impressively diverse weather systems, planning ahead is key. In the summer, you can view the sights in gondolas, see live shows, and have picnics near the water. In the winter, there are options for skiing and hiking, along with indoor activities. Spanning the border with Canada, attractions from the Rocky Mountains draw tourists. These small towns feature opportunities to embrace the slow moments, whether as a part of or the whole of an adventure. If you want to chill and enjoy a trip, during any season, these spots are definitely worth consideration.