Small But Mighty: 20 Small Towns in America with Big Surprises and Unique Charm

The United States is home to countless small towns that are often overlooked in favor of larger cities. But these quaint, underrated gems have plenty to offer with their unique individual flair and offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of the country. Get ready to explore the lesser-known side of America, where big hearts and small-town values create an unforgettable experience in these small towns in America.

Medora, ND – Pop. 117

town of Medora
Image Credit: North Dakota Tourism

With a population of only 117 people, Medora is one of the smallest towns in North Dakota. But what Medora lacks in size, it makes up in personality. Recently ranked the 6th coziest small town in the U.S., Medora is filled with Western charm and historic architecture.

What to do:

Take a stroll down to Todd’s Old Time Photo Parlor and Gift Shop, where you can dress up in cowboy garb and take old-timey, black-and-white photos. To make more memories, go to Lily and Zella’s and get your very own pair of cowboy boots.

If you’re looking for a picturesque backdrop for Instagram-worthy pictures in your new Cowboy gear, the quaint, cowboy-esque town is also home to Painted Canyon, which gets its name from the naturally formed, red sedimentary rock stripes that line the canyon.

Want to see how real cowboys of the wild west lived? Visit the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, a museum that preserves and upholds the historic and modern Western lifestyle throughout the state as it pertains to Native Americans, rodeo, and ranching.

Where to eat:

Theodore’s Dining Room is a restaurant inspired by traditional Western favorites and nostalgic Western architecture.

Where to stay:

Guests can stay in a Conestoga-style wagon, popular for Wild West settlers, or live like old-time fur trappers and traders who were also influential in the American West at Trapper’s Kettle & Inn.

Augusta, MO – Pop. 267

woman walking into winery in augusta is one of the best things to do in missouri
Image Credit: Jillian Parks Photography.

The town of Augusta, population 293, may soon be the hottest tourist attraction in the Midwest. Plans are underway for a 150 million dollar project, including a hotel, exclusive golf course, yacht, and the resurrection of a 163-year-old winery.

Long before Napa Valley was synonymous with winemaking, the Missouri River Valley was the heart of the American wine industry. many aren’t aware that the charming town of Augusta, a scenic 35 miles from St. Louis, holds the title of being the very first American Viticultural Area. (AVA).

What to do:

This Midwestern gem has plenty to explore, with numerous wineries already in the area and marvelous historic accommodations – all now undergoing a major transformation and rejuvenation of everything from the vineyards to the gas station and everything in between.

When you arrive in Augusta, you may feel like you are in a movie set in small town USA. The signage, the color palette, and the impeccable lawns mowed to perfection all welcome visitors to enjoy its quaint Midwestern charm.

If you are feeling adventurous, head to Hoffmann Farm for a 30, 60, or 90-minute gator tour, where you will see goats and Clydesdale horses in addition to the acres of vineyards on the property. It’s a highly-recommended true midwestern experience for those visiting Augusta.

Trolleys carry visitors around Augusta’s charming downtown area and picturesque vineyards from April to October free of charge. The Katy Trail – America’s longest stretch of rails-to-trails – is located conveniently at the foot of downtown Augusta where visitors can rent e-bikes and have the choice to return them at one of the locations along the trail.

Where to eat:

Montelle Winery offers some of the most exquisite views of the region. The massive outdoor patio wraps around the winery and allows guests to take in the views with enjoying their wine. It is the ideal location to take in the fall foliage.

Where to Stay:

Part of Augusta’s charm is the plentiful options for accommodations. There are no big chain hotels here, only beautifully restored B&Bs and one hostel until the 60-room hotel is developed.

The Augusta Collection features four unique accommodations centrally located in Augusta and one within a stone’s throw of downtown. All have been beautifully designed in part by Jerri Hoffmann with sumptuous linens and all the accessories you will require during your stay. After a day of exploring, enjoy a tranquil sleep on the luxurious beds, which make for a dreamy weekend getaway.

Bramwell, WV – Pop. 270

little girl outside a store in Bramwell, WV
Image Credit: Visit Mercer County

Nestled in the Southern West Virginia mountains and surrounded by the Bluestone River, Historic Bramwell boasts a charming main street. However, what sets this small town apart is Millionaire’s Row.

During the late 19th and early 20th century, Bramwell was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country. Today, visitors can stroll along the brick street of Millionaire’s Row to admire the stunning Victorian homes built by coal barons.

Here you can witness the beauty and opulence that once defined the American Dream.

What to do:

For those wanting to get a look inside the historic homes, Bramwell hosts an official Tour of Homes twice a year, once in June and again in December when the homes are decorated for the holidays. Private tours throughout the year are also possible.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of the area, check out the Coal Heritage Interpretive Center at the Bramwell Train Depot. For those looking for adventure, Mercer County contains part of one of the longest systems of ATV trails in the world (Hatfield McCoy Trail System), and a trailhead is located right by Bramwell.

Also nearby is Pinnacle Rock State Park, which offers beautiful views from its overlook spot atop the 3,200-foot sandstone formation that gives the park its name.

Where to eat:

Dine at The Corner Shop along charming Main Street, a nostalgic dining experience complete with soda jerks, an original gooseneck soda fountain, and homemade ice cream and shakes.

Where to stay:

Just a short drive from Bramwell, you’ll find the Bluefield Inn, a beautiful, historic B&B that offers the comforts of home with an elegant flair.

Middleburg, VA – Pop. 669

city of Middleburg, VA is one of the small towns in america
Image Credit: Shutterstock

Known as America’s horse and hunt country capital, Middleburg is a charming Southern destination home to the Forbes 5-Star Salamander Resort & Spa and is a gorgeous settlement dating back to 1728 when a cousin of George Washington established a fieldstone tavern.

What to do:

Middleburg offers the best of small-town America, and its historic downtown is lined with chic boutiques, raffish men’s stores, and superb cafés and restaurants, while the surrounding countryside has roads lined with stacked stone walls and horses frolicking in the fields.

Scores of wineries and breweries have recently sprung up, as well as a craft distillery. During a visit, find out why Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor frequented this historic destination.

Where to eat:

An outpost of Leesburg’s King Street Oyster Bar occupies the cavernous old bank building downtown (try the oysters and tuna taco), while the Red Fox Inn across the street does modern southern dishes with fresh Piedmont ingredients (try the crab cakes and sweetcorn polenta).

Where to stay:

The Salamander Resort & Spa in the rolling countryside just outside town is a luxurious equine-themed resort with a state-of-the-art spa, cozy lounge and dining areas, and multiple sporting activities. The equally enchanting Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, on 265 acres, features 18 guest rooms, trails, spa services, and a superb tasting menu in its fine dining Conservatory restaurant.

Beech Mountain, NC – Pop. 675

chairlift on Beech Mountain
Image Credit: Beech Mountain TDA

Visitors looking for a summer getaway destination somewhere off the beaten path and with plenty of outdoor options will certainly hit the jackpot at Beech Mountain, NC.

As the highest town in Eastern America at 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain is great for all seasons – fall (off the Blue Ridge parkway), winter (it becomes a ski resort town), spring (perfect for outdoor getaways and summer (it never truly gets much hotter than 70 degrees).

What to Do:

As the highest resort in Eastern America, Beech Mountain Resort (Ski Beech) is home to some of the finest snowboarding and snow skiing in North Carolina. The summer season brings mile-high yoga, disc golf, scenic chair lift rides, and mountain biking.

Follow the yellow brick road to this the Land of Oz, which operated from 1970-1980 and was legendary to all who visited. Visitors can tour the restored Land of Oz with private tours and special events such as the annual Autumn at Oz Festival.

Where to Eat:

Fred’s General Merchantile is a MUST for any Beech-goer. The deli is the perfect place to pick up a sandwich and beverages such as a cappuccino, hot cocoa, or even a bottle of wine. Known for their desserts, local favorites include homemade cinnamon rolls and whole pies.

Where to stay:

Heck of a View delivers its name’s promise. This charming home offers majestic mountain views with a chef’s kitchen and large decks.

Greenville, Maine – Pop. 1646

Mount Kineo on Moosehead Lake
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Located in the heart of the Maine Highlands region, Greenville, Maine, is a vibrant, walkable small town set on the state’s largest body of water, Moosehead Lake. Known for active summer months with fishing, boating, and other aquatic activities, the town bustles with local shopping, restaurants, and museums.

What to do:

Go for a family-friendly hike to view Moxie Falls, a 90+ ft waterfall. Head to Mount Kineo, featuring a historic fire tower that provides a 360-degree view of the Moosehead Lake Region. Northern Maine Minerals offers a piece of history in the form of rocks, gems, or fossils to take home. Indian Hill Trading Post and Northwoods Outfitters can supply just about anything you need for your outdoor adventure.

Board the last remaining (and most adorable) steamboat in Maine, The Katahdin, and learn about the lake’s fascinating history at the Moosehead Marine Museum.

Two additional museums share space: The Center for Moosehead History, which focuses on regional Native American artifacts dating from 9,000 B.C. to the 1700s, and The Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum, presenting the history and impact of aviation on the Moosehead region.

Where to Eat:

Unwind at The Stress Free Moose with live music, pub fare, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Where to Stay:

Dockside Inn offers elegant suites and lofts, many with water views.

Roxbury, NY – Pop. 2247

building in Roxbury, NY
Image Credit: Great Western Catskills

With its distinctive blend of history and bucolic beauty, the Town of Roxbury in New York’s Catskill Mountains uniquely appeals to residents and visitors. In contrast to today’s fast-paced lifestyle, Roxbury encourages people to slow down. The township’s rural character is found in its picturesque valleys, farms, and mountaintops.

The Hamlet of Roxbury features idyllic postcard charm, with its mix of historic buildings, churches, businesses, the stunning Kirkside Park, and cultural venues. Roxbury is also the perfect place to indulge in the simple pleasure of relaxing on the porch and chatting with old friends and new.

What to do:

The charming town is the perfect destination to visit, especially for ski lovers. Roxbury shines for its unique offerings, like the ability for travelers to rent out an entire mountain for private skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing.

Travelers can get excited for the return of vintage Base Ball. Roxbury’s very own vintage “base ball” team, the Roxbury Nine, has revived America’s national pastime exactly as it was played in 1898. Today, visitors can catch a game during the spring where the team plays by the rules (no gloves!), in the uniforms, and with the philosophy (the umpire is always addressed as “Sir”) of the 1800s.

Where to Eat:

For an exceptional dining experience, The Fierce Grizzly is housed in a former tin shop on Main Street in the adorable town of Roxbury. The quaint 14-seat restaurant is a local and visitor favorite.

Where to Stay:

After a long day, visitors can return to the iconic Roxbury Motel, which is nestled amongst the picturesque Catskill Mountains. Accommodations offer the discerning traveler a thematic contemporary twist on the old country lodging experience with supercool rooms and spas.

Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ – Pop. 4,030

bench at lake in Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ
Image Credit: Arizona Office of Tourism

Sitting at an elevation of 7,000 ft in eastern Arizona, Pinetop-Lakeside offers clean, crisp air, a mesmerizing star-filled sky, miles of trails through the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine Forest, and over 200 streams and lakes.

What to do:

Pinetop-Lakeside is home to some of the greatest trails of beginner, intermediate, and advanced difficulty in the White Mountains Trail System. You will find great vistas and the shade of Ponderosa pines. Explore Pinetop by bike and experience the local shops, restaurants, and lakeside trails.

The White Mountains Trail System, centered in the Show Low/Pinetop-Lakeside area of Northeastern Arizona, consists of 200+ miles of trails with an average elevation of 7000 feet.

Where to Eat:

El Rancho Mexican Food Restaurant has been preparing unparalleled Mexican cuisine in Pinetop, AZ, since 1964, and the authentic cooking coupled with the family-friendly environment has been recognized by locals and visitors alike.

Where to Stay:

The ultimate “hidden gem” getaway in Arizona is The Kull, Pinetop-lakeside’s only bed and breakfast. Nestled within the world’s largest Ponderosa Pine Forrest and a stone’s throw away from the picturesque Woodland Lake, The Kull is housed within a historic stone cottage that artfully marries comfortable rustic charm and its rugged outdoor surroundings to deliver an enchanting woodland wonderland experience.

Oakhurst, CA – Pop. 5405

town of Oakhurst, CA
Image Credit: Visit Yosemite

In the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and just 17 miles from Yosemite National Park’s south gate sits the community of Oakhurst, CA. Founded in 1873, this small town is home to just over 5,000 residents and is theorized to have the highest number of artists per capita.

Beautiful vistas, towering pine forests, and majestic granite cliffs in the distance amplify the charming small-town atmosphere as you explore the local shops, boutiques, museums, art galleries, festivals, and live music events.

What to do:

Unleash your inner lumberjack at Yosemite Axe Throwing, soar over Yosemite Valley with Experience Yosemite V.R., or be the Toast of Oakhurst and sample local wine, beer, and spirits.

Where to Eat:

Grab a bite from the many restaurants in town, such as South Gate Brewing Company, the community’s flagship brewery serving up wood-fired pizzas, juicy burgers, and incredible soft pretzels.

Where to Stay:

At night, rest your head at the beautiful Queen’s Inn by the River, a boutique property with views of the Fresno River, a wine and beer garden steps away, and an onsite restaurant serving up delicious Sunday Brunch, lunch, and dinner. Oakhurst is the gateway to so much more.

Chestertown, Maryland – Pop. 5,603

town of Chestertown, Maryland
Image Credit: Historic Chestertown, Maryland’s High Street photographed by Jumping Rocks

Situated on the banks of the Chester River, Chestertown, Maryland, was founded in 1706 as the seat of Kent. By the Revolutionary War era, the town was one of Maryland’s six Royal Ports of Entry and the primary port for the Upper Eastern Shore.

Its leading citizens were busy shaping American freedom, enlisting in its navy, and even holding their own “tea party” in the harbor.

Wealthy merchants built Georgian and Federal homes topped with widow walks along its waterfront, and ladies of fashion walked Water Street under their parasols.

Today, Chestertown is one of the most historic and quaint colonial towns on the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Its gorgeous colonial-era and pioneer-era architecture is preserved in large part on the National Register of Historic Places, including landmarks like the Chestertown Railroad Station, Airy Hill, and the buildings of Washington College.

 What to do:

Drawing inspiration from the sense of history threaded both within the town and throughout the lush peninsula, the past decades have seen it grow into a burgeoning arts district and a culinary destination for locals and visitors alike.

Boutique shops and artist studios by local creatives line tree-lined brick streets. Varied organizations produce plays, concerts, and performances.

 Where to Eat:

Head to The Kitchen at the Imperial for some mouthwatering meals.

Where to Stay:

The Brampton Inn offers guests gorgeous accommodations during their stay on the eastern shore.

Prosser, WA – Pop. 6,062

balloons over lake in Prosser, WA
Image Credit: Yakima Valley Tourism

Nestled in wine country, Prosser is a small rural town situated among lush agricultural landscapes, and it’s become a premier destination for wine lovers. It is also home to several unique festivals and events throughout the year, from the Prosser Balloon Rally to the Beer & Whiskey Festival.

What to do:

The beautifully preserved, turn-of-the-century Historic Downtown Prosser offers a wide variety of antique stores, art galleries, and retail. Home to several working farms, Prosser is a great place to spend the day learning about farm life.

Where to eat:

For a formal dining experience, try The Prosser House, which utilizes the local ingredients of all seasons in the Yakima Valley.

Where to stay:

Stay At the Cozy Rose Inn Bed and Breakfast, and you’ll find warm sunshine in a country setting where you can take walks through the family vineyards and orchards or just relax and renew yourselves in this park-like setting.

Sebring, FL – Pop. 11,000

aerial view of Sebring, FL
Image Credit: Visit Sebring

When it comes to Florida, most people think of the major cities. But have you heard of Sebring? This charming destination, located just two hours from Orlando or Tampa, is waiting to be discovered.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the big cities and take a breath of fresh air in Sebring. With plenty of space to slow down and unwind, you can explore the city’s historic district filled with unique boutiques, delicious restaurants, lively entertainment, and nearly two dozen historic buildings.

What makes Sebring truly special is its unique circular design, earning it the nickname “the City on the Circle.” You won’t find anything quite like it anywhere else.

What to do:

The region is also home to a winery, breweries, and the Sebring International Raceway, North America’s oldest permanent road racing facility that opened in 1950 and was highlighted in the Matt Damon/Christian Bale movie Ford Vs. Ferrari.

It’s also home to Highlands Hammock State Park, the oldest state park in Florida. Greater Sebring also has many family and nature-based experiences for visitors to enjoy.

Beyond golf (Sebring is known as “America’s Value Golf Capital” and is home to the Citrus Golf Trail) and several lakes. There are also a number of hiking trails like the Cypress Swamp trail and popular lake beaches to soak up the Florida sunshine, chill on the sand and take a dip.

Where to eat:

Faded Bistro & Beer Garden. An open-air neighborhood spot built on seasonal ingredients and warm hospitality. Enjoy a leisurely al fresco meal in the garden or hang indoors.

Where to stay:

Inn on the Lakes is the city’s top-rated hotel, a privately owned boutique property. The lakeside setting of the 155 rooms and suites creates luxurious accommodations for anyone searching for tranquil, stylish, and comfortable Sebring lodging.

Waterville, ME – Pop. 15,828

bridge over water in Waterville, ME
Image Credit: Waterville

Take a turn from the coast of Maine to visit the inland city of Waterville, where a multimillion-dollar town revitalization initiative is completely transforming the city’s Main Street into a vibrant arts and culture destination.

This dynamic activity is bringing new economic vitality to downtown, meaningfully contributing to the quality of life for residents and continuing to grow the city’s stature as an arts and culture destination.

What to do:

Waterville is home to a robust arts and culture scene. The Colby College Museum of Art is a revered destination for American art, with its permanent collection featuring works from Alex Katz, Maya Lin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Richard Serra, and James McNeill Whistler, among many others.

The Paul J. Schupf Art Center. The center is also home to community arts organization Waterville Creates, the state’s only Sundance Art House Project cinema, the Maine Film Center, and the Maine International Film Festival, a 10-day celebration in July that attracts filmmakers and film lovers from around the world.

For those who love the great outdoors, Waterville offers seamless access to hiking and biking trails and fly fishing, which can even be done in the Kennebec River just across the street from Lockwood Hotel.

Where to eat:

Front & Main, central Maine’s premier downtown restaurant, is transforming the local food scene. Helmed by Executive Chef and New England native Jesse Souza, Front & Main emphasizes the importance of sourcing ingredients from the farms and waters throughout Maine.

Where to stay:

A key part of the city’s revitalization initiative is the recent opening of its first downtown boutique hotel offering in decades: Lockwood Hotel. The new boutique hotel, centrally located among Waterville’s Main Street, offers an idyllic home base for exploring Waterville.

Heber Valley, UT – Pop. 18,036

train going through Heber Valley, UT
Image Credit: Heber Valley

Heber Valley, Utah, is just off Salt Lake City’s and Park City’s well-known path but is more rural and preserved than the surrounding areas. Being only 45 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport with zero stop lights from the international airport to small-town Heber, guests can easily get to our mountain destination and feel worlds away from the metro area.

What to do:

Head to Utah Crater, a geothermal hot spring, to swim, soak, snorkel, scuba dive, or do guided SUP yoga inside a 10,000-year-old hot spring. Experience year-round biathlon experiences at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center or try out the longest continuous zipline and longest zipline over an open body of water.

Enjoy preserved dark sky viewing, 15+ miles of Blue-Ribbon fly fishing river and stream access, and a historic tourist railroad ride through the valley and into the scenic canyon.

Where to eat:

Enjoy a lakeside deck dining experience at the esteemed The Lakehouse at Deer Creek, overlooking the pristine Deer Creek Reservoir and sitting beneath the majestic peaks of Mount Timpanogos.

Where to stay:

Visitors can stay in the newly renovated Homestead Resort. All guest rooms have just been upgraded, and the property is seeing some major investments to provide a more mountain-modern farm aesthetic and enhanced amenities. The location is perfect for easy access to the hub of town for dining, shopping, and nightlife.

Ashland, KY – Pop. 21,625

people dining in Ashland, KY
Image Credit: Shane Day

Ashland is a lively town nestled on the southern banks of the Ohio River in the Kentucky Wildlands, a destination spanning southern and eastern Kentucky known for its pristine wilderness.

Ashland marks the start of the Country Music Highway, a beautiful 150-mile National Scenic Byway along U.S. 23 that has produced more million-selling singers than any other region per capita in the world.

What to do:

Walk around the District, the four-block vicinity located in the heart of downtown. Explore the town’s art scene by visiting the galleries in the District, and check out the murals in Art Alley and at the Port of Ashland.

Music enthusiasts looking to explore the Country Music Highway should check out the birthplaces of the Judds and Billy Ray Cyrus, who grew up in the Ashland area, and catch a concert or see a show at the historic Paramount Arts Center, a historic theater and concert venue that first opened in 1931.

Where to eat:

The Mill, located in the historic GC Murphy building in the District, is the locals’ favorite spot in Ashland, and for good reason. The bakery, bar, and eatery serve scratch-made and locally-sourced food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Where to stay:

The Delta, which is located in The District and offers easy access to everything downtown, or the Governor’s Inn Bed & Breakfast, which is a beautiful property located in the historic district and also within walking distance of downtown.

San Luis Obispo, CA – Pop. 47,545

Cayucos, California/USA-January 11, 2020 Cayucos is a charming beach town in San Luis Obispo County, CA. Antique stores, restaurants, galleries, historic buildings - all just steps from the beach
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Located along California’s Central Coast halfway between L.A. and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo is oozing with small-town charm and a collegiate vibe (it’s home to Cal Poly SLO – one of the state’s most prestigious public universities).

San Luis Obispo features a collection of boutique hotels, SIP-certified wineries (wineries that use sustainable practices), individual shops and restaurants, hiking, and more. It’s a popular town for biking and cycling, too.

What to do:

Higuera Street, which runs through the center of town, is home to a collection of independent shops, tasting rooms, and restaurants. Every Thursday night, the street closes to vehicular traffic as the town turns out for the weekly Farmers’ Market featuring live entertainment, fruit, and vegetable stalls manned by local farmers, arts and crafts, and much more. The Farmers’ Market will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2023.

Nearby is the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, founded in 1772 – the fifth in the 21 California mission chain – where live concerts and pop-up events take place throughout the year.

Where to eat:

Nate’s on Marsh is located in a cozy historic downtown bungalow with indoor and outdoor seating. Michelin-star recommended; the chef-driven restaurant features a menu of American cuisine with Italian soul.

Where to stay:

The Granada Hotel and Bistro is a charming historic boutique hotel in the heart of downtown with just 17 rooms.

Leesburg, VA – Pop. 48,908

town of Leesburg, VA
Image Credit: Visit Loudoun

Loudoun’s county seat is a picturesque little burg with a historic downtown bustling with restaurants, cafes, bars, breweries, boutiques, and chic home décor stores. Dine on oysters, tacos, and farm-to-table fare on King Street.

Soak up the storied ambiance of a town that’s been home to icons such as General George C. Marshall and is now residence to artists, designers, tech entrepreneurs, and more.

Founded in 1758, Leesburg is rich in history. Walk the grounds of historic Morven Park and the terraced gardens of the 1798-established Oatlands; pay tribute to George C. Marshall at his home Dodona Manor and visit the hallowed ground of Ball’s Bluff Battlefield National Park on cliffs above the Potomac River.

What to do:

Head out on a beer crawl where there are no less than six breweries downtown, all within walking distance of each other. Loudoun Brewing CoBlack Hoof, and cozy nook Crooked Run make crisp lagers and malty IPAs, and you will love the summery backyard at Black Walnut and the front yard at Dynasty Brewing Co. The downtown district is also home to America’s first Delirium Belgian Beer Café.

Where to eat:

King Street is teeming with lively bars and eateries. Try the lobster roll and spicy Kentucky Mule cocktail at King Street Oyster Bar, the locavore cheese plate and wine flights at farm-to-table Wine Kitchen, spicy tacos at modish New-Mexican Señor Ramon, or fine dining (and piano music) at the iconic Lightfoot Restaurant.

Where to stay:

Set on 500 scenic acres overlooking the Potomac River, Lansdowne Resort & Spa is a state-of-the-art golf and lifestyle resort with a slate of restaurants and specialty wellness programs.

Coeur d’Alene, ID – Pop. 58,242

aerial view of Coeur d'Alene, ID
Image Credit: Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene lies along the northern shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Northwest Idaho, just 40 minutes from the Spokane International Airport. Carved by glacial waters, this valley has long been a year-round outdoor wonderland for a wide variety of travelers.

The lake is 25 miles of pure blue water lined with pine-studded hills, and downtown Coeur d’Alene is a charming area near the waterfront with restored brick buildings and over 100 shops within a six-block area.

What to do:

Spring means long, sunny days and trees and flowers bursting with new colors, as well as downtown food and wine events. In summer, visitors can enjoy abundant outdoor activities and festivals, including a classic car show, an IRONMAN race, arts and crafts festivals, farmers markets, outdoor concerts, camping, biking, and lake activities.

Fall is a particularly beautiful time of year as the leaves change color, where visitors can enjoy Oktoberfest, and winter brings skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, and the Holiday Light Show that lights up the town with 1.5 million lights.

Where to eat:

Dockside at Coeur d’Alene Resort is a newly renovated restaurant that gives dramatic lake views paired with a refined approach to the distinctive flavors native to North Idaho. Views of Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Boardwalk Marina are from virtually every seat, so the ambiance can’t be beat.

Where to stay:

For the past 30 years, Coeur d’Alene Resort has been a luxury lakeside destination in the Pacific Northwest. With 338 luxuriously appointed guest rooms, including the exclusive 2,500-square-foot Hagadone and Jaeger penthouse suites, the 200-acre property is home to a world-renowned golf course and an award-winning spa.

Corvallis, OR – Pop. 59,864

aerial view of Corvallis, OR
Image Credit: Visit Corvallis

While primarily known as being the home to Oregon State University, Corvallis is a picturesque small town in its own right. Located in the southern part of the famed wine region of the Willamette Valley, Corvallis is home to wineries, breweries, and restaurants that draw heavily from local farms and vendors.

What to do:

Downtown Corvallis is home to art galleries, dining spots, a farmers market, and a collection of cute boutiques for shopping. Visitors can pick up a wine passport to explore the region’s wineries or tour the campus, which is famous for its contributions to farming, brewing, and other agricultural sciences.

Where to eat:

As Oregon is a state famous for its local brews, a can’t-miss spot in downtown Corvallis is Block 15. This brewpub features a stellar collection of ales and lagers, as well as a menu of elevated pub staples, much of which is made with locally sourced ingredients.

Where to stay:

For accommodations, it’s hard to beat Hotel Corvallis. This hip, retro motel boasts a cute bodega as its main amenity, encouraging travelers to get out of their rooms, as comfortable as they are, and explore the town itself.

Alexandria, VA – Pop. 159,467

people walking in the small town of Alexandria, VA
Image Credit: Chris Cruz for Visit Alexandria

Recently recognized as one of the best places to travel in 2023 by Travel + Leisure, Alexandria, Virginia, is a small, evolving waterfront town located just 30 minutes away from the nation’s capital, offering plenty of new and exciting things for travelers to do.

What to do:

There’s a plethora of activities to choose from, as Alexandria is home to rich history, including the African American Heritage Trail, plenty of museums and galleries, independent boutiques, and flavorful cuisine.

Where to eat:

Café 44, which is being renamed to Jula’s on the Potomac (in honor of the owner’s great-grandmother), located on the Old Town North waterfront, was recently renovated and includes a customer-facing raw bar and charcuterie bar, a central bar with a view of the Capitol and the Potomac.

Where to stay:

Opened in April 2023, Hotel AKA Alexandria is the newest and most anticipated hotel opening in Alexandria. Designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, this hotel brings a new level of sophistication to Old Town with a zen garden, zen rooms, fitness center, cinema, and so much more.



Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and the co-owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more.

You can follow her travel adventures on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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