The 5 Best Small Vacation Towns in America

best small vacation towns

Skip the cities and paint the (small) town red!

Bustling crowds, trendy restaurants, swanky art openings… There’s no denying the appeal of a glam big-city getaway. But then there’s the flip side: the friendly locals, artisan shops, and walkable downtowns of America’s best small vacation towns.

Ready for your next vacay? Check out our five fave spots for when we’re craving that small town charm!

  • Bar Harbor, ME

    One of America’s best small vacation towns, Bar Harbor is the perfect (chilly!) seaside retreat. Forget about chain restaurants and business travel hotels. The focus here is on personal attention: cozy B&Bs, unique shops filled with handcrafted items, and locally roasted coffee.

    And did we mention the food? Bar Harbor is a lobstering hot spot, so get ready to indulge in fresh lobster (and other seafood, too).

    Bar Harbor’s also the gateway to one of our favorite national parks: Acadia. You can combine small town charm and the Great Outdoors in one unforgettable vacay!

  • Beaufort, SC

    Salty breezes and sweet teas – what more do you want on your vacay? Unspoiled beaches and stunning sunsets? Mmmkay, Beaufort’s got those, too. Plus hiking, paddle boarding, crabbing, and fishing. All the outdoor activities you’d expect from a small town on a Carolina island.

    At over 500 years old, Beaufort also has its share of history. The best way to see it? Sign up for a walking tour with one of their local storytellers. You’ll hear about Indian wars, pirates, the Civil War, a catastrophic hurricane, and more. If you’re not up for walking, try a horse-drawn carriage instead.

    Foodie Tip: Shrimp and grits originated right here in the Lowcountry. Don’t miss out on this Southern Staple while you’re in town!

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

    A small town on the California coast? Count us in! Quaint Carmel transports you into a fairy tale, with its enchanting cottages, secret passageways, and hidden gardens. (Pssst: it’s perfect for a girls-only trip or a romantic getaway!)

    One of the best small vacation towns on the West Coast, Carmel has plenty for you to see and do in its one square mile. Historic sites, art galleries, swanky shops… and wine tasting – this is California, after all!

    When you think your day is done, head down to Carmel Beach for one of their spectacular sunsets. Because West Coast, best coast, you guys!

  • Sedona, AZ

    Sedona is so well-known for the nearby red rock formations that most people don’t realize it’s also one of the best small vacation towns in America. Sure, nature lovers have over 100 scenic hiking trails.

    But there’s also a strong holistic healing community in this desert town. While you’re there, treat yourself at one of the lux spas or New Age wellness centers. Sedona is a spiritual mecca, with everything from yoga to hypnotherapy and soul-nourishing retreats.

    Up for a road trip? Rent a car and head to Flagstaff (one hour) or the Grand Canyon (two hours). Make the most of your southwestern adventure!

  • Telluride, CO

    If you’re looking for an active vacay, Telluride’s an easy choice to make! It’s known for the excellent skiing during their season. And off-season, this former mining town offers a broad range of activities: biking, hiking, fly-fishing, golfing, and water sports. Whew!

    More of a history buff? Telluride’s got you covered, too. The Victorian-era heart of Telluride is a designated National Historic Landmark District. Check out the Sheridan Opera House (built in 1913) or the Telluride Historical Museum, housed in what once served as the local hospital (built in 1896).

    Bonus Outing: Hop on the free gondola and in just 13 minutes you’ll be in Mountain Village. Trendy boutiques, outdoor dining and cocktails, and live music, all with an incomparable view.

Ready to hit up a small town for your vacay? Make your getaway even more enjoyable by traveling hands-free! Let LugLess ship your luggage to your hotel or Airbnb. No lugging suitcases through the airport and no having to drop them off before you can begin your sightseeing. Just hop off the plane and feel that small-town welcome!