The picturesque town of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

The Best small towns in the Appalachians To Chill Out

The Appalachian Mountains cover a third of the United States' eastern edge north of Florida. The rang, extending nearly 2,000 miles from south to north, traverses northward from Alabama through every coastal state like Georgia and states like North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Connecticut, and Maine, all the way into Appalachian Canada. The 100-300-mile-wide Appalachian Range also encompasses inland states like Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Visit any of these states and enjoy the chill vibes where local culture meets nature in the mountain air. Enjoy the vibrant mix of traditional southern hospitality and scenic Appalachia, or discover the unreplicable charm of rugged cliffs over the ocean in the maritime states where the mountains extend to the Atlantic. These small towns, each with a unique character, are full of natural wonders and exciting quirks of geological and geographical nature.

Blue Ridge, Georgia

A view of downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia
A view of downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Blue Ridge is a great town to chill out under bucolic charm just 90 minutes north of Atlanta. Access its blissful atmosphere, rich countryside nature, and mountain views within a day's drive from the five surrounding states. Get away to Blue Ridge for a real change in pace and scenery, and experience the Appalachian Mountains like never before. The immediate surroundings extend into 106,000 acres of national forest and over 100 miles of streams and rivers. Its very own 3,290-acre crystal-clear freshwater Blue Ridge Lake opens a world of endless summertime possibilities just to the east.

Escape the city and clear your lungs in the outdoors of Blue Ridge, shaking off the last of the worries by choosing a lakefront cabin stay and immersing wholly in nature. With a population of just 1,283, you can enjoy friendly banter at local bars and crowd-less attractions, like a great shopping scene. Enjoy family time along the 26-mile Blue Ridge Scenic Railway ride from the town's historic depot through the verdant landscape, or visit the nearby Mercier Orchards to pick your own crisp apples. The new Hampton Inn Blue Ridge has a rooftop bar with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains for after the trails. The Swan Drive-In is one of three remaining drive-in theaters in Georgia for a retro-entertaining evening.

Bryson City, North Carolina

 the Nantahala River at the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City, NC.
The Nantahala River at the Nantahala Outdoor Center near Bryson City, North Carolina. Editorial credit: elvisvaughn /

This town will induce such a chill feeling that you may never want to return to the real world after. Bryson City is a real outdoor oasis with 1,447 locals and a small, historic downtown encompassed by the Great Smokies. The bounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the playground for the active and nature fans, with endless opportunities for any style of pursuit or chill-out. Enjoy playboating right in Bryson City downtown at the Devil's Dip on the Tuckasegee, right in the heart. Stay put and chill out in the center with a yoga studio, a wine bar, or the new Nantahala Brewing Company brewery, which has a tasting room with craft beers.

The town is a hub for boaters, with the nearby Nantahala River, flat-water kayaking at Fontana Lake, and finger lakes paddling along the undeveloped shores of the park. Head outdoors in under 30 minutes for class III whitewater rafting, world-class biking, and trail running. Enjoy hiking at Deep Creek along uncrowded trails or biking along the scenic Indian Creek Trail deep into the park's backcountry. When hunger strikes, Anthony's Pizza has been welcoming visitors with warm service for decades and the best New York-style pizza in Western North Carolina.

Harper's Ferry, West Virginia

Springtime in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.
Springtime in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.

This "dress rehearsal" town for the Civil War was where Brown's raid attempted to orchestrate a slave revolt in 1859. Visit Brown's Fort and the Battle of Bolivar Heights site of 1861, the early days of face-off in the real-deal war, and the only surviving church, St. Peters Catholic Church. With only 267 inhabitants, you can greedily enjoy the natural beauty that Harper's Ferry is loaded with. Take a nature stroll through the restored 19th-century industrial village of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, with its Jefferson Rock, and picnic at the lookout where the powerful rivers of the Potomac and Shenandoah meet.

Sometimes letting go involves risky, adrenaline-pumping thrills that give you a high and a deep, relaxed state of mind. Take up adventures like whitewater rafting or tubing down the powerful Potomac River. Fly through the aerial adventure park or a 1,000-foot zip line over the river and settle those jitters at The Anvil Restaurant with jumbo crab cakes and sensational hot crab dip. Chill out mind, body, and soul in this tiny town amid vast rivers and scenic bridges. Head to The Rabbit Hole with a terrace for some classic American food fare and a picturesque atmosphere.

Lewisburg, West Virginia

Historic Lewisburg, WV along US Route 60
Historic Lewisburg, West Virginia, along US Route 60.

Lewisburg is a famously cool college town of under 4,000 with many quirks that set it apart from others, like the progressive downtown vibe. Stroll through the vibrant community of forward-thinkers with its large university and the youthful spirit that West Virginia is slowly losing. Immerse yourself in the hipster vibe of outdoor lovers' culture amid beautiful mountains, and really chill out at the ski resort in winter. Lewisburg inspires with its history as a mining town that persevered through the hardship period to become a flourishing art community of the day, accepting of all tastes and catering to them in its pursuit.

Enjoy gallery hopping, music venues, and an open-door scene on the first Friday of each month, when the downtown shops and galleries offer wine tastings, live music, and expanded gallery shows. You will love it as much as you enjoy Monongahela's newest wilderness area, just outside of town, with sweet mountain biking and the Greenbrier River for fly fishing. Big Draft Wilderness is just 10 miles from downtown, with the five-mile Blue Bend Trail looping through old growth, over a ridge, and to the views. The 5,000-acre Greenbrier State Forest to the east has camping and cabins.

Mount Airy, North Carolina

Downtown Mount Airy ("Mayberry") from Main Street in Mount Airy, North Carolina
Downtown Mount Airy ("Mayberry") from Main Street in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Mount Airy, aka "Mayberry," is a great little hideout within the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina, with a name that inspires a chillaxing atmosphere on a stroll amid all that fresh mountain air and scenic views. With the city out of sight and out of mind, you can chill out in any style you like through culture and nature. Enjoy this heavenly natural respite to the complementing tunes of acoustic music, which was born here and spawned the bluegrass scene of the region.

There are plenty of cool relics to discover, like the radio station WPAQ, which has been spinning records faithfully since 1948 and helped the folk music of the 1960s and 1970s make a comeback thanks to its show, Voice of the Blue Ridge. With a population of nearly 10,500, Mount Airy is a really cool small town with residents like Andy Griffith, who was born here. He inspired the fabled Mayberry town in his California-filmed show, which is based on his life in Mount Airy.

Pineville, West Virginia

Main Street (West Virginia Route 97) in Pineville.
Main Street (West Virginia Route 97) in Pineville. Image credit: Tim Kiser via Wikimedia Commons.

This county seat town in Wyoming County is a quintessential small mountain enclave with friendly residents amid the rugged Appalachian scenery. With a population of under 650, Pineville takes the meaning of chillaxing to a whole new level that not many can exceed amid plenty of things to see and do. The town perched along the Guyandotte River induces relaxation with recreation options and the outdoors, rich with nature and pursuits. Enjoy fishing, kayaking, ATV riding, or hiking, and return for the great downtown food and shopping scenes.

Trek along the Hatfield-McCoy Trails' from the town's own Pinnacle Creek Trailhead, with boundless nature, wildlife sightings, and myriad lookout points for picnics with vistas. Pineville is also a gateway to the Twin Falls, and the Twin Falls Resort State Park is spliced with more scenic hiking and biking trails. The town's first settlement in the mid-1800s was anchored around its sandstone Castle Rock formation. Check out this striking precipice that towers above the town and draws nationwide visitors for cool sights and pursuits in this beautiful mountain town.

Roan Mountain, Tennessee

Roan Mountain State Park, Tennessee
The spectacular Roan Mountain State Park, Tennessee.

Nestled beneath the magnificent heights of the mountain, the town of Roan Mountain was named after the towering peak that keeps close watch over this tiny village of 1,140. It is your ultimate summertime rendezvous spot with nature to chill out at the sight of the vibrant rhododendrons and mountain laurel blooms under the sun and camp overnight in Roan Mountain State Park, right on the Appalachian Trail. The State Park, fully developed in the 1970s, boasts a wonderful mix of nature and recreation areas throughout the valley and into the foothills, including one of the region's finest campgrounds as well as modern cabins for rent.

Enjoy fishing at the nearby Doe River for your own trout dinner, and enjoy it in a private picnic shelter. There is even a swimming pool, tennis courts, playgrounds, an amphitheater, and extensive hiking trails around. Visit in early fall for a golden ocean of reds and yellows that cover the town and its surroundings. The village, tucked within the towering hills, maintains a delightful climate protected from winds and overcast for endless days in the outdoors. Find locals just as friendly and celebrate the beautiful June time bloom alongside them at the annual festival at the Roan Mountain State Park with food, music, and lots of fun like clogging.

The Appalachia is sprinkled with countless towns, where the culture seamlessly blends with nature into an inebriating mix for all senses amid the fresh mountain air and local fun. This list offers the best places to chill out in the United States amid the Appalachian views and atmosphere in any style you like, including all-season pursuits from hiking to swimming and skiing to the fullest.

The Appalachian Mountains along the eastern edge of North America comprise an old mountain range, older than the Rockies in the West. Their roots dig deep into history, when they were even taller before the erosive tool of time gently rounded those steep peaks you see today. Visit the Mountain State of West Virginia, the only state completely within the Appalachian Region, to chillax within mountain views like nowhere else.

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