From city slickers to outdoor enthusiasts, the love for small towns escapes no one. The idyllic atmosphere, welcoming community, and mom-and-pop shops make any small community hard to resist. While many cities and towns offer a charming main street with plenty to see and do, they do not all have the je ne sais quois that makes them a quintessential hub for a small community. From old brick buildings to hand-painted signs and carefully crafted art installations, these United States towns offer some of the best, most exciting, and most beautiful main streets.
Livingston is one of the most beautiful small towns in Montana, a historic train town that sits along the banks of the Montana River and is often thought of as the gateway to Yellowstone National Park. The main street sits in a historic downtown, home to local shops such as Catherine Lane Interiors, Livingston Home Outfitters, and Wheatgrass Gifts and Green Door Gallery. Art galleries and museums line the main street, including Avery's Art Worx, Livingston Center for Art, and 10 Gallery. Aside from its gorgeous main street, travelers may enjoy the beautiful outdoors surrounding Livingston, hiking through the mountains of Yellowstone National Park, partaking in winter sports at Bridger Bowl ski resort, or a scenic drive through the legendary Paradise Valley. The Murray Block Hotel sits in the heart of downtown, offering visitors a chance to experience the town's history, as it dates back to 1904.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor is a coastal town located on the northeastern side of Mount Desert Island, and it is also one of the most unforgettable small towns in Maine. It is a popular destination for lobster fishing, so it is no surprise that the town also offers plenty for foodies, with the best spots to eat including Galyn's Restaurant, Geddy's, and Leary's Landing Irish Pub. Travelers may experience the town's culture and history with a visit to spots such as the Bar Harbor Historical Society or by partaking in events such as the American Ghost Walks.
Acadia National Park is just steps from town, offering the perfect mixture of the charm of downtown with the brightness and excitement of the great outdoors. Ocean Drive is one of the best spots to enjoy the park's beauty, whether visitors choose to bike, hike, or drive along the rocky shoreline.
Annapolis is one of the most adorable small towns in Maryland, located in the Chesapeake Bay area. The town features a main street that feels as though it is straight from a fairy tale, with quaint red brick streets and artfully crafted historic buildings. Popular landmarks include the Maritime and Douglass Museums, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, and the United States Naval Academy. Travelers may also walk throughout the downtown to discover the homes of Maryland’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence, or take a historical tour of the oldest State House. For those looking to experience the great outdoors, visit Beverly Triton Nature Park, Downs Park, or The Chase Home Garden.
Solvang is one of the California towns ranked among US favorites, boasting distinctive Danish-style architecture and a community that is just as unique. There are plenty of wineries and wine cellars, such as Cordon of Santa Barbara and Dascomb Cellars, alongside a variety of European bakeries, including Birkholm’s Bakery & Cafe and Danish Mill Bakery. Travelers cannot miss a tour through the town on the Solvang Trolley, which is both romantic and charming. Motorcycle enthusiasts may enjoy a visit to the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, which displays classic American, Japanese, and European motorbikes. For outdoor lovers, be sure to visit Sunny Fields Park or take a biking tour of the Santa Barbara wine country.
Paducah is one of the best small towns to visit in Kentucky. It is one of nine UNESCO Creative Cities in the USA and is home to the National Quilt Museum. Historic buildings from the 19th-century line the downtown streets, which visitors may learn all about on the self-guided Historic Paducah Audio Tour, featuring spots such as the 1927 Columbia Theatre. It is no secret that the town boasts a storied past, housing historical destinations such as the Lloyd Tilghman House and the Civil War Museum. Foodies may find their new favorite meal at destinations like Freight House, Flamingo Row, or Doe's Eat Place.
Stowe is one of the most scenic towns in Vermont, situated in the foothills of Mt. Mansfield, but it also boasts one of the most beautiful main streets, both in the state and the nation. The Historic Village houses plenty of local shops such as Shaw's General Store, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and also the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.
Plus, tourists will find annual events like the Stowe Music Festival, the Historic Fall Harvest Festival, and the Stowe Wine Festival. Aside from its beautiful main street, visitors may revel in the beauty of the surrounding mountains with a stay at a cozy lodge or inn such as Fiddler's Green Inn or Trapp Family Lodge.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The town of Portsmouth is one of the coolest small towns in New Hampshire for a summer vacation, overflowing with a unique history. Buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries line the town's streets, including the Strawbery Banke Museum and the 1855 North Church, located in the downtown Market Square. Like Bar Harbor, the town is a popular destination amongst seafood lovers and anglers alike, with restaurants including The Wilder, The Goat Portsmouth, and Sol Southern Kitchen and Lounge. Visitors may enjoy the downtown's nightlife, checking out locations such as Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club. Other attractions include the Piscataqua River and its three bridges, the Black Heritage Trail, and the Portsmouth Harbour Trail & Guided Tours.
Sheridan is one of the most unforgettable small towns in Wyoming, known for its Old West atmosphere and towering mountain vistas. The Bighorn Mountains serve as an awe-inducing backdrop to the main street, which houses historic buildings from the early 1900s, all of which are visible when taking a self-guided walking tour through the area. The WYO Theater celebrates local culture, while restaurants such as the Mint Bar share a taste of Western hospitality, stores and boutiques like Best Out West Antiques offer a glimpse into the town's locals and businesses. There are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had as well, such as a trip to Tongue River, a leisurely hike in the Cloud Peak Wilderness, or a race on the Scenic Trail Run.
Staunton is one of the best small towns to visit in Virginia, with a well-preserved historic downtown featuring red brick sidewalks and breathtaking architecture. As one of the oldest towns in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Staunton hosts many historic sites and museums, including the Frontier Culture Museum and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Museum, as well as its downtown area. Travelers may delve into the town's culture with a trip to local festivals and centers like the American Shakespeare Center, Heifetz International Music Institute, or Staunton Music Festival. With its stories running deep into the past, visitors may also find themselves intrigued by ghost stories, with hot spots including Mary Baldwin University, Blackburn Inn, and the Train Station. In terms of outdoor recreation, travelers and locals alike find adventure in Betsy Bell Wilderness Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and of course the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Enjoy These Beautiful Main Streets
The United States overflows with exciting towns, unique shops, and local businesses. It is not just the stores that make these main streets some of the best, but rather the welcoming atmosphere, the endless array of things to do, and the thoughtfully designed and decorated streets that truly transport visitors to another world. Whether the historic sights of Staunton draw you in or the heritage shops of Sheridan pique your interest, there is something for everyone to enjoy in these beautiful main streets.