Where to Find the Best Small Towns in America
7 Places that Ooze Americana
Red, white, and blue. Colonial buildings. Baseball. The Wild, Wild West. In a country rich with culture and history, everyone has a unique perspective on what constitutes Americana. And there’s no denying the friendly charm of a small town with a vintage appeal.
Some of the best small towns are so small (looking at you, Harpers Ferry!) that you may have never heard of them. But that’s okay, because we have! Check out our favorite places to go for that Americana feel.
Okay, you’ve heard about the Gold Rush, but have you heard about the Copper Rush? Welcome to Bisbee, the “Queen of the Copper Camps” where both silver and copper were mined for over 100 years.
Today, the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum gives you a look into the lives of its miners and settlers, including an underground cavern tour. You can even visit the thousands of series of concrete stairs that once led to the miners’ homes.
Best Small Town: if you’re a metal head
One of the best examples of Americana comes from a town that’s been here longer than America! Bristol was founded in 1681, and its charming streets are lined with homes built in the 1700s and 1800s.
Bristol is a deepwater seaport, with a tradition steeped in shipbuilding, including several yachts built for the America’s Cup. You can see them on display at the local “Hall of Boats.”
And if you enjoy your 4th of July fireworks, you can thank Bristol. It was the first town to celebrate the holiday, back in 1785; they also began the fireworks tradition.
Best Small Town: with an ocean view
If baseball is the American sport, then Cooperstown is the ultimate American small town. The location of the first baseball game ever played (1839) is also the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. A bucket list stop for any MLB fan!
But Cooperstown isn’t just about baseball; the town is steeped in Americana and tradition.
Check out the Farmer’s Museum, a farmstead dating back to 1819 that brings traditional farming practices to life. Or visit at the Fly Creek Cider Mill, which has been producing fresh cider for over 160 years.
Best Small Town: for baseball die-hards
If you’re fascinated by 19th-century America, place Galena squarely on your list of small towns to visit.
The small town is rich in historic sites and treasures, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Don’t miss Dowling House, an 1820s trading post; the Blacksmith House with its working forges; and the Grant House, once home to President Ulysses S. Grant.
After your history tour, browse through downtown, with its quaint shops and restaurants.
Best Small Town: to explore on foot
Harpers Ferry, WV
This 19th-century town is tiny but mighty: only 300 residents, but home to eight national parks and heritage sites. In fact, the entire town is designated a National Historical District, with the architecture of the local shops and houses recalling its prime years in the 1800s.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park offers workshops on traditional occupations, from blacksmithing to butter making. On-site archeologists are happy to teach you about their historic finds and artifacts, as well as talk about local history.
And there are plenty of places to get fresh air in Harpers Ferry, but one trail stands out: the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, where you can walk the same path as the famed explorers.
Best Small Town: that combines history and nature
Also known as “Where the West Begins,” Mandan is one of the best small towns for anyone interested in the nation’s Wild West past.
The town was named after its original inhabitants, the Mandan tribe. Later on, the town housed a cavalry fort and an important railroad stop. Mandan’s historical sites reflect its rich heritage, with tours of the fort and a museum dedicated to its Native American history.
But you’re still in the Wild West. Every year, Mandan hosts a 3-day rodeo with professional and amateur bull and bronco riders.
Best Small Town: for experiencing the Wild West
Once the capital of the Virginia colony, Williamsburg remains one of the best small towns for anyone interested in Americana and the nation’s history.
The heart of the town is Colonial Williamsburg, a 300-acre historic district and the world’s largest living history museum. Actors in period costumes reenact colonial life amongst original and meticulously reconstructed 18th-century buildings.
While you’re there, spend some time in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. Exhibits include paintings and sculptures by some of the country’s top artists and craftspeople.
Best Small Town: for colonial history buffs
The Revolutionary War or the Wild West? Regardless of what your idea of Americana is, there’s a small town on our list for you.
And to spend extra time exploring, ship your stuff to your hotel or Airbnb with LugLess. Instead of wasting your vacation time at baggage claim, you’ll be able to walk off the plane and go right to colonial America… or a mining town… or wherever you choose for your vintage America tour!