If you ask us, there's something very special about small towns. Both Kelly and I grew up in pretty small towns, and while we spent our childhoods on different continents (I'm from northern Sweden and Kelly is from Colorado) we still find that having grown up in smaller places means that we have a lot of similar memories from our early years. Maybe our common love for smaller places is why we absolutely love checking out small towns when we travel as well. Below we've listed 7 of the most charming small towns you can find in the U.S. - including a local favorite right here in Colorado! Take a look and let us know what we should add to the list - we always love discovering new places!
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Carmel-by-the-Sea might just be the closest you can get to experiencing that European small-town charm without actually leaving the country. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a charming and romantic seaside destination renowned for its scenic sandy beach, historic Spanish mission, and enchanting village ambiance. In a setting that feels far removed from the real world, tree-shaded streets are lined with lovely Victorian buildings and little storybook cottages. Hidden passageways and quiet courtyards add to the magical old-world atmosphere. The fact that the town doesn't use numbered street addresses only adds to the ambiance and encourages wandering. Check in to one of the local bed and breakfasts and spend the weekend exploring the cobblestone streets, one-of-a-kind boutiques and beautiful white sand beaches.
(Via jetsetter.com, planetware.com)
A small town with a big personality and an even bigger amount of historic charm: Galena is where the open, flat plains of northwest Illinois meet the hills. With its rolling hills and incredible charm, Galena is a unique town filled with 19th-century architecture, antique shops, wineries, and everything else necessary for a relaxing, fun getaway. Main Street has a quintessential small town feel while providing an abundance of boutiques, restaurants and antique stores to wander past and browse in, while the Galena River and surrounding lakes are perfect for water-sports. For those in the mood for something spooky there are plenty of ghost tours both in downtown and at the surrounding vineyards.
Telluride, ColoradoTelluride is tucked into a box canyon surrounded by 13,000 and 14,000-foot peaks. The town is just eight blocks wide and twelve blocks long, and used to be a silver mining camp in the 1800's. Because of its significant role in the history of the American West, the core area of Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964. The town's colorful Victorian-era homes, clapboard storefronts, art galleries, gourmet restaurants and endless hiking trails attracts lots of visitors in summer, while the world class ski resort makes it a true winter paradise for outdoor lovers.
The town of Joseph has a lot to offer anyone who enjoys scenic views and outdoor recreation. The town is located at the north end of Wallowa Lake, and is surrounded by wilderness areas including Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Eagle Cap Wilderness Area and the Hells Canyon National Scenic Area. With a population of a little over 1,000 people, tourism is the backbone of the economy in Joseph, thanks not only to the natural beauty, but also a burgeoning art scene and a remarkably well-preserved old town.
As far as art meccas go, Marfa is an unlikely one. Founded in 1883, this tiny Texas town (with a population of less than 2,000) served as a railway headquarters and military training base before becoming a cultural destination in the 1970's when artist Donald Judd made the town his home. Today you can view some of his most iconic concrete sculptures on a sunrise tour of the Chinati Foundation, along with many other now well-known art works in town (like the Prada Marfa sculptural art installation shown above).
Beaufort, South Carolina
Located on Port Royal Island, Beaufort is brimming with beauty at every turn with its moss-draped oak trees and breathtaking historic homes lining the streets. Featuring a historic downtown, the area is perfect for leisurely strolls while discovering unique shops, incredible art and antiques, and delicious cuisine. There's also plenty of water sport activities to keep you busy, including kayaking, sailing and water skiing.
There are few places on Earth with a landscape as dramatically colorful as Sedona. This artsy, new age town is renowned for its towering red rocks and jagged sandstone buttes that create a striking scene against the almost always clear blue skies. In Uptown you can find a vibrant main street packed with art galleries, gift shops, cafes and restaurant, while the outskirts of town is sprawling with hiking trails. Whether you're looking for a relaxing weekend trip filled with spa treatments and gallery visits, or an adventure filled getaway full of outdoors activities, Sedona has it all.