Cheboygan Crib Light is a light that marks the west pier head of the mouth of the Cheboygan River into Lake Huron in Cheboygan

The Best Small Towns in the Northern United States for a Weekend Retreat

When planning a trip, it’s easy to picture yourself lounging on a beach chair with a cold beverage in hand. But as everyone knows too well, there are only so many times you can do that before it gets a bit monotonous. Luckily, there is still a large portion of the country that has been in hiding for far too long, waiting for new explorers! The northern portion of the United States has some of the most exciting, historical, and underappreciated towns in the entire country. So whether you want to hike through the beautiful foliage of Vermont or explore small-town America in the Dakotas, there are attractions for everyone in these small towns throughout the North Country, making for excellent weekend retreats.

Montpelier, Vermont

Summer Farmers Market in Montpelier, Vermont. Editorial credit: Phill Truckle /
Summer Farmers Market in Montpelier, Vermont. Editorial credit: Phill Truckle /

The maple syrup state is an exciting town surrounded by lush green foliage that serves as the perfect destination for a weekend retreat. Check in to your welcoming room at the Montpelier Inn and head for the town’s exciting attractions that await. Visitors can satisfy their sweet tooth cravings with a visit to Morse Farm Maple Sugar Works. Choose from a freshly made maple toffee or douse your next pancake feast in the freshly made syrup—there is no wrong decision. Afterward, burn off some of that sugar with a walk through the well-manicured trails at Hubbard Park.

Marvel at the gold-capped roof of the Vermont state building which serves as the state’s official capital building, making Montpelier the smallest state capital in the country. For those who are keen, take some time to reflect on the local and state history at the Vermont Historical Society Museum.

Gouldsboro, Maine

West Gouldsboro Village Library
West Gouldsboro Village Library

Situated along Maine's rugged coastline, this historic fishing town has long enjoyed the bounty of the Atlantic Ocean’s coastal waters.

Get a feel for the town’s maritime ambiance by venturing to the Prospect Harbor Lighthouse and the Winter Harbor Lighthouse. Both attractions have been guiding weary sailors to the safety of shore since their creation 9n the early 1900s.

Visitors can even stroll the abundance of artifacts and exhibits at the Goldsboro Historical Society Museum which features a unique blend of nautical legacies and local tales. After, a day exploring the unique town, find some peace and relaxation at Elsa’s Inn on the Harbor. This quiet stay will provide a cozy retreat and allow you to wake up to scenic views across West Bay.

Port Clinton, Ohio

Port Clinton Lighthouse in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Port Clinton Lighthouse in Port Clinton, Ohio.

As the name suggests, Port Clinton has long been an essential stop for goods flowing in and out of America’s interior. The town’s location on the vast Lake Erie has made it a mainstay for those looking to explore the great lake. To enjoy the scenery of the Lake, book a room on its shoreline at the Island House Hotel.

If you’re an angler, launch your boat at the Fisherman’s Wharf, get out on the water, and see why the town has claimed the title of the “walleye capital of the world”. Find out all the local hotspots by booking a guided experience with Reef Robber Charters. If fishing isn’t your forte, enjoy the same beautiful waters from the safety of the shore. Take a hike along the trails at East Harbor State Park or even bring your beach attire and set up shop along the sandy shores.

You can even learn about the quest for flight at the Liberty Aviation Museum, which features exciting exhibits about the trials and tribulations of defying gravity.

Cheboygan, Michigan

Cheboygan Michigan Front Range Light lighthouse tower. Editorial credit: Dennis MacDonald /
Cheboygan Michigan Front Range Light lighthouse tower. Editorial credit: Dennis MacDonald /

Hiding in one of the Northernmost points of the United States, Cheboygan sits in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and along the shoreline of Lake Huron. The town is the perfect place to explore the untouched outdoor regions of America.

Learn about the unique history of Cheboygan by visiting the Cheboygan County Historical Center where local histories come to life through the various exhibitions. You can even catch a flick at the historic Kingston Theatre which has been a staple of the town’s entertainment district for many years.

Book a room at the Pine River Motel where exciting outdoor adventures like the Duncan Bay Preserve and the Cheboygan County Marina are only a short walk away. Additionally, Cheboygan State Park is a must-visit as it offers some scenic views of Lake Huron and well-manicured trails throughout the forests of Michigan.

Sister Bay, Wisconsin

Colorful street in Sister Bay, Wisconsin. Editorial credit: Nejdet Duzen /
Colorful street in Sister Bay, Wisconsin. Editorial credit: Nejdet Duzen /

Although Sister Bay has a small population of only 836, it punches well above its weight class in terms of exciting attractions. The town is a year-round hotspot for those longing for a relaxing trip regardless of the season.

Start your visit by getting your heart rate up by heading to the Door County Adventure Center for a variety of outdoor activities. Choose from zipline courses, kayak rentals, and even rock-climbing excursions to get your body up and moving.

The Country House resort is a popular stay among visitors. It provides beautiful views of the surrounding bay and is situated next to the sister Bay Beach, which is a popular attraction during the warmer months.

Wahpeton, North Dakota

Wahpeton, North Dakota.
Wahpeton, North Dakota.

Start your weekend by checking into one of Wahpeton's comfortable accommodations, such as the warming Baymont Inn or the much more quaint Fairview Bed and Breakfast. Both stays are the perfect place to close your eyes and recharge for your next adventure in Wahpeton.

Be sure to spend a calm morning wandering the trails at Chahinkapa Park which is snuggled along the Red River. If you’re searching for something a little more adventurous, The Kidder recreation area is in North Dakota’s tranquil outdoors and is the perfect place to spend a day amidst some natural beauty and away from society.

Learn about the local history of the region, Head to the Richland County Historical Museum to delve into the early Native American tribes that founded the region and the expanse of early settlers into the area. You can even explore some of nature’s greatest creatures at the Chahinkapa Zoo which proves to be a fun and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Belgrade, Montana

Clouds form over the Tobacco Roots Mountains during sunset in Montana
Clouds form over the Tobacco Roots Mountains during sunset in Montana

As the sun begins to rise over the nearby mountain ranges surrounding Belgrade, grab a coffee at a local roastery and walk the paved trails at Lewis and Clark Park as the town’s atmosphere begins to heat up.

If you plan to visit during the winter months, bring some warm attire because the skiing at Bridger Bowl is a can’t-miss. The resort is the perfect opportunity for skiers and snowboarders of all levels to enjoy the winter wonderland in Montana. The Bridger Bowl resort also has plenty of lodging options including chalets situated on the mountain itself.

To learn more about life on the ranch, visit the Sentinel Ranch, which offers tours and other unique experiences year-round. If you want to explore some of Montana’s pristine waterways, consider scheduling an excursion with a local outfitter. Sage Peak Outfitters comes highly recommended and offers everything from fishing excursions to hiking in the rugged outdoors.

Kellogg, Idaho

The Silver Mountain Resort ski lift gondola going up the mountain at summer in the city of Kellogg, Idaho, via  Kirk Fisher /
The Silver Mountain Resort ski lift gondola in the city of Kellogg, Idaho, via Kirk Fisher /

Protected by the Bitterroot Mountains, this small town has managed to preserve its historical routes and ambiance. Book a room at the Hercules Inn, or if you prefer a more isolated stay, check vacancies at Le Maison sur le Hill. Both accommodations are highly recommended among visitors.

If you enjoy racing down the mountainside through the powdery white snow of Idaho, schedule a day outing on the 73 named runs at Silver Mountain Resort. If a day of skiing has left you sore, put your muscles at ease at the Solitude Spa in downtown Kellog. A popular destination for families is the Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark, which hosts plenty of exciting waterslides and indoor swimming pools.

As the temperatures climb so does the excitement within the town. Experience Idaho’s natural beauty by hopping aboard America’s longest gondola ride. The boat will take you through the pristine waterways surrounding the town and is the perfect place to snap a picture of Idaho’s scenic beauty.

Bellingham, Washington

Aerial view of Bellingham, Washington, near Boulevard Park.
Aerial view of Bellingham, Washington, near Boulevard Park.

Take a visit to one of the sweet spots of the Pacific Northwest. Bellingham is surrounded by the towering trees that flourish in the coastal region, the forested area provides the perfect escape from reality. Visitors can even explore the abundant waters of Bellingham Bay.

The perfect start to a day in Bellingham is grabbing a caffeinated beverage from Woods Coffee and easing into your day by taking a stroll through Boulevard Park which is nestled along the open expanse of Bellingham Bay.

You can even journey into the town's creative past by visiting the exciting exhibits at the Whatcom Museum, which takes you through the town's artistic history through a variety of rotating exhibits. You can even learn about the fascinating maritime ecology of the region at the Marine Life Centre, which emphasizes the importance of coastal waters. If you wish to extend your visit to Bellingham, stay at local hotels such as the Hotel Bellwether, Guesthouse Bellingham, or the Coachman Inn.

Plenty of unique opportunities await discovery in the vast expanse of the Northern United States. These nine small towns offer more than stunning scenery; they provide an escape from the ordinary and take you to the lesser-seen side of America. So, if you’re looking to pack your bags and escape for a weekend, we highly recommend these small towns hiding in the North Country.

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