There's always something to see in a big city, but sometimes, you want a slower pace. Thankfully, the United States boasts some incredible small towns. Whether you want to brush up on history or go where everyone will know your name, these charming towns offer residents plenty to love (and visitors plenty to enjoy).
Magnolia Springs is the definition of a small town named after mature magnolia trees that create a beautiful canopy along the Magnolia River. The Southern town has a rich history dating back to the 1800s, when it was a settlement for the Spanish.
It doesn't get any smaller than Mooresville, which has a population of about 50. As you can expect, everyone knows everyone here. You can grab a coffee and chat with the town's unofficial record keeper (who runs the town's cafe, JaVa.Mooresville) or visit Lyla's Little House, where owner Lyla Peebles offers up nostalgic candies and curiosities.
Sitka residents enjoy some of the most majestic scenery in our country. And guess who else does? Their pups, who are welcome in the Sitka National Historical Park.
The secluded small town of Unalaska is only accessible by plane or boat, but it offers activities for nature lovers and history buffs. Choose to explore the beautiful hiking trails and whale watch or learn World World II history at the Museum of the Aleutians.
You can't help but expand your horizons in Bisbee, a town that happily embraces the arts and a generally free-spirited vibe. Local artists display their works at the many galleries in town and can be found teaching open workshops at Bisbee Craft School.
The history of Greer dates back to 1879 when it was founded by Mormon settlers from Utah. Thanks to the nearby lakes, the small town has great weather ideal for nature lovers looking for a peaceful escape in the White Mountains.
To live in Eureka Springs is to be surrounded by natural beauty 24-7. Even the town's most famous place of worship, the Thorncrown Chapel, ensures that you can still take in the gorgeous Ozark mountains scenery via 6,000-square-feet of windows.
A walk down any street in Carmel-by-the-Sea gives the feeling you're in a movie, thanks to storybook architecture and one of the most scenic stretches of beach in the state. It also doesn't hurt that Clint Eastwood is the honorable mayor of the town.
Life's a little more relaxed in Ouray, which is perhaps due to the non-sulphur hot springs that are popular with locals and visitors alike. The beauty of the surrounding mountains might also inspire a new perspective on life, especially when viewed on a drive on the San Juan Skyway, one of the most scenic in the country.
This classic New England village is the less-crowded alternative to Mystic. Tree-lined streets and marina views give a quaint feel, especially as you do your weekend shopping in the many small shops. Don't feel like cooking? Head to the famous Abbott's Lobster for a great meal.
Though it's only 10 minutes to a city (Wilmington), New Castle seems like a world away. Originally settled in 1651, the town is filled with extraordinarily well-preserved architecture. Even the town's coffee shop, Traders Cove Coffee Shop, is in a building that dates back to 1682!
If you love the architecture of Miami but prefer a less-crowded atmosphere, head up to Surfside, known as the city's "uptown beach town." Residents enjoy such perks as yoga on the beach thanks to the Surfside community recreation center, and fun events like First Fridays (a monthly communal beach picnic).
Senoia is famous for being a filming location for The Walking Dead, with plenty of tours catering to fans. (There's also Nic & Norman's, a restaurant owned by The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus and director/producer Greg Nicotero.) But before that huge hit, residents have been attracted to this adorable town for its historic architecture and quaint shops. The town planned for "smart growth" without sacrificing character with the help of Historical Concepts.
Hanalei is another town on our list that has a famous pop culture connection: Its bridge was featured in South Pacific. The buildings and scenery are as gorgeous as you'd expect in Hawaii, too. It's also a town where you can fulfill your fantasy of opening a gallery, surf shop, or restaurant, with a steady stream of visitors looking to take in the picture-perfect landscape.
You can't help but be an outdoorsy type in McCall, with activities ranging from cross-country skiing to fishing filling the calendar depending on the time of year. The town also offers plenty in the way of indoor fitness activities too.
Another scenic town rich in history, the town of Galena boasts well-preserved buildings. On weekends, the town comes even more to life with weekend day trippers seeking excellent antiques shopping, but what you may not know is that the town is surrounded by a few notable vineyards.
Nope, not the one in Tennessee. This artist's colony is one of those places you visit on day trip and then make it your goal to live there. While the town is filled with galleries and fine restaurants, you don't have to spend a dime to enjoy a day here — just visit any park in the 170,000 acres of forested land nearby for a great afternoon.
You might already know about Winterset — it was the inspiration for the setting of The Bridges of Madison County. In the town square, you'll find a circa-1876 limestone courthouse and 83 commercial buildings that were designated historic. It all makes for a great backdrop for the town's wine walks and lawn chair nights.
You can't help but know a lot about history when you live in Abilene, the birthplace of Dwight Eisenhower and home to five museums ranging from The Greyhound Hall of Fame to the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad.
This teeny town of under 400 is a haven for leisure. Nicknamed the "village between the lakes," Grand Rivers offers unique shops, good restaurants and all the lakeside fun you want. Don't miss the yearly Festival of Lights, a magical Christmas celebration.
Flickr photo via Brenda
There's always a beautiful home around the corner in this small town of about 1,700. Residents have an action-packed social calendar, thanks to the unusual array of festivals, saluting everything from hummingbirds to the writer Walker Percy (which includes walking bourbon tastings). Out-of-towners will love staying at the gingerbread-trimmed St. Francisville Inn.
Camden is the quintessential Maine getaway but it's also a fantastic place to live. The seaport town doesn't shut down after the tourist season. Take in a performance at the Camden Opera House, or pick up a great book at the exquisite Camden Public Library (located right on the harbor).
Don't let the historic buildings make you think that Berlin is a sleepy little town: It was once named the "Coolest Small Town in America." The Main Street shopping district has over 50 retail shops, with plenty more bakeries, restaurants, and antique stores adding to that count. Plus, how could life ever be dull with Ocean City a mere 10 miles away?
This handsome western Massachusetts town inspired Norman Rockwell's artwork ... and perhaps hundreds more families to settle down here. The town is simply magical during the holiday season, with old-fashioned decor trimming the streets.
This charming beach town and famed art colony has been a favorite summer destination for decades. The main draw is the lovely Oval Beach of course, but there's plenty to do in town, like sampling local wines at Fenn Valley Tasting Room.
Another classic summer destination, Grand Marais is nestled close to the Sawtooth Mountains and Lake Superior. However, plenty call this lovely town "home" year-round, from artists to otters. Grand Marais has also been inspiring young creatives to settle down, resulting in a boom of interesting shops, restaurants and businesses.
Though the downtown has the kind of old buildings that give plenty of character, it's the area near New Albany that makes this town even more special. There's the recently-completed Rails to Trails conversion cycling trail, which runs 44 miles in length. Prefer to walk? The New Albany Arboretum "Park Along the River" weaves your way through and over the Tallahatchie river.
Flickr photo by Matthew Nichols
Weston is a classic weekend daytrip destination, a town where the main street is lined with restored historic buildings that once outfitted wagon trains. Today, it's all about antiques and artisan shops.
Flickr photo by Randy Lane
In the 19th century, Philipsburg was a thriving mining town. Today, it's a place where you can find treasures of the antique variety. (Okay, you can also pan for sapphires here, too.) If all that searching has you parched, there's no better way to quench your thirst than at the Philipsburg Brewing Company, housed in the historic Sayers building.
Set along the beautiful Missouri River, Nebraska City has a population of around 7,000 people), but it certainly feels like a small town. Interestingly, the town has one museum for every 800 people.
Flickr photo by Jan Tik