Our world has changed so much this past year. None more than the travel industry, which has us travelers making big adjustments for upcoming excursions. 2020 was the return of the road trip and more people seeking outdoor adventure than ever before. But what will 2021 look like for travelers who continue to want social distance and the promise of safety? The answer is Small Town Travel.
Many small towns have come a long way in making accommodations for guests that are as up to date as any resort; with the advantage of living without the hustle and bustle of crowds of people.
The following list describes towns that have plenty to offer to keep you busy and entertained, with the advantage of being less populated. Giving you a signature slower pace of small town culture. Even with all the day-to-day drama of 2020, My Town was still able to research and personally visit several towns just for you. As a result, we are confident that you will love these adorable, safe, and easy to be socially distant towns, as much as we did.
Note: This list is not a ranking, we loved each of these towns equally! For our #1 Best Small Town to Visit- Check out articles in late 2021, where we will be crowning the inaugural winner.
1. Boulder City, NV
I had a hard time trying to put into words the awesome beauty and charm of Boulder City, NV. Being a Midwesterner, visiting the Southwest is a bit of an out of body experience. Especially, Boulder City, with its beautiful Sierras, the desert, and Lake Mead as its backdrop. This area just takes your breath away with its stunning beauty. And that’s just topography. Once you immerse yourself in its small town culture, you will be even more in love with this town.
Boulder City is the town that built the Hoover Dam, that is literally why the town exists. It was formed in 1931, specifically by the Bureau of Reclamation and Six Companies, Inc. as housing for Hoover Dam workers. The town was under strict guidelines with no alcohol or gambling as it was founded during prohibition. It wasn’t until 1959 that Boulder City officially was incorporated, and celebrated with a ceremony on January 4th, 1960. Since then, the town has been making a name for itself as a small town destination, and for good reason. Read more on Boulder City here.
2. Bellville, OH
Where do I even begin to try to define the small town of Bellville? Is it defined by its proximity to Mohican or Malabar Farm State Parks? Or maybe its great location set along the Clear Fork River? All of these are amazing assets for this small town. But Bellville’s true number one asset, as in many small towns, are its residents. In Bellville, you truly are taken back to the “Mayberry of old,” as it was described to me by many locals. Over several days my family and I visited locations and listened to stories; so I can wholeheartedly tell you this statement is true.
Bellville is a village of less than 2,000 residents. Located in Richland County, OH in the North Central part of the state. It’s near I-71 and many outdoor attractions including Snow Trails, making Bellville positioned for additional traffic to bring newcomers to their charming town. Read more about one of the friendliest towns My Town has visited by clicking here.
Located on the Northwestern shores of Lake Michigan nestled in-between Harbor Springs and Charlevoix on the Little Traverse Bay is the adorable town of Petoskey.
The small town of Petoskey, and surrounding area is known for its beautiful, crystal clear-water, its vacationer and second home communities, being home to Ernest Hemingway, and signature Petoskey Stones. But what My Town loved most about this resort town, is its local community and laid-back atmosphere.
Personally, I felt very at home in Petoskey. In fact, it did not feel like I was a guest on vacation, but more of being at home and having the perfect day. Don’t get me wrong, vacation is a wonderful feeling, but what I liked about Petoskey, was the much larger population of local residents. In comparison to its neighboring communities that also get an influx of summer visitors, Petoskey, has a great local vibe that My Town adores!
Petoskey, has residents from all over the country; some who came every summer and decided to stay, others who have lived in this beautiful area their entire lives. The generational homes, small businesses, and lakeside retreats are all over Petoskey, giving you a welcoming family feel you will love when visiting. Read more on Petoskey here.
4. Afton, WY
Why is Afton, Wyoming so special? Let me try to explain. It’s a hiking, horseback riding, and fly fishing paradise, but it’s also much more than that. I once heard someone speaking about Hawaii in reference to why it’s so special. They went on to explain that the experience stands out because you get a feeling that stays with you. Likewise, in Afton, the majestic mountain beauty surrounds you, there is no light pollution for your star gazing nights, and there is an overall friendly western culture combined with its recreation.
Afton, is more than just an experience, it’s an escape. Read More on Afton, WY Here.
5. Fayetteville, Hinton, and Beckley, WV
Sorry guys had to include an area’s worth of small towns on this one. When you can visit more than one great small town in a day, that’s worth talking about!
What does a typical day in Southern West Virginia look like? Walking over the New River Bridge, learning what it’s like to work in a coal mine, eating delicious comfort food, hiking to your heart’s desire, experiencing small town culture, and taking in the beauty by way of paddle boarding or white water rafting! And yes, that can all be in one day!
There is so much to see and do in the Wild and Wonderful landscape of Southern West Virginia. Experiencing this area through its small towns is a great way to explore and feel like you are immersed in the culture. Read more on Fayetteville, Hinton, and Beckley, WV Here.
6. New Philadelphia, Sugarcreek, and Dover, OH
Oops I did it again! There’s just too much small town goodness encompassed in Tuscarawas County!
Location, location, location. It’s a big deal in real estate, and that’s because it is directly related to travel. Located in the northeastern part of the state of Ohio, less than 30 minutes from Canton, and only 90 minutes from Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh PA; Tuscarawas County is drawing people to its beautiful landscape, and emerging arts and culinary culture from many neighboring cities.
Whether it’s for a day or a weekend trip, or you are looking for a small town atmosphere to call home; Tuscarawas County is becoming a small town destination. And it’s the perfect escape for Ohio and neighboring cities. Read more on New Philadelphia, Sugarcreek, and Dover, OH Here.
7. Georgetown, KY
Did you know that Georgetown, Kentucky is the home of Elijah Craig? The man credited with the invention of bourbon whiskey? Or that it sits next to the Kentucky Horse Park? Now I know what you’re thinking, bourbon and horses in Kentucky, what a cliché! But really, what’s more fun than bourbon and horses?
In all seriousness, there is way more to Kentucky, and specifically Georgetown, Kentucky than the obvious. You will find a charming downtown, surprising history, beautiful boutique shops in historical buildings, and delicious food. Plus, the beautiful thing about visiting a small town, is you can do all of this in a weekend! Read more on Georgetown, KY here.
8. Wabasha, MN
Wabasha, Minnesota is located in Wabasha County, and is the county seat. That usually for me means great history, and I was right! It’s located in the Southeastern part of the state, and is part of a National Scenic Byway (Minnesota’s Great River Road), boasting great small towns on both the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the river. Yes, if you have not been to this area, you just go over the bridge from downtown Wabasha, and into the land of Wisconsin you go! Wabasha, also markets the area with next door neighbor Kellogg, whose features are highlighted here too.
While Minnesota is known for its outdoor recreation, what really makes Wabasha-Kellogg special is its character given from its citizens. For example: the quirkiness of Hoppy Girl Brewing, hand-made items that look like they came from Santa’s workshop- courtesy of Lark Toys, and the fun flair everywhere promoting “Grumpy Old Men.”
Wabasha, is the location where the story takes place from the film Grumpy Old Men. It’s truly a place to make memories, because the interesting people and activities are simply memorable. Read more on the truly unique experiences you can have in Wabasha, MN Here.
9. Bozeman, MT
Bozeman, MT is an outdoor destination for small town enthusiasts. For many travelers, Bozeman, still fits into the mold as a small town, and it certainly is a beautiful one! If you’re a resident of Montana, you may not view Bozeman as a small town, but with a population around 45,000, compared to what’s considered a small town in other States; Bozeman, still fits as a fun, interesting, beautiful, and historical small town.
The beauty surrounding Bozeman, is unsurpassed for those seeking outdoor living. Additionally, from my perspective, I can see why this description is very true: Bozeman is called “the most livable place” for good reason. Here you can enjoy world-renowned fly fishing, majestic mountains for hiking, biking, rock climbing, skiing, hunting, and backcountry exploring. Plus, you have Yellowstone National Park, and impressive wildlife at your doorstep.
Bozeman, is a special place to experience, not only as an outdoor mecca, but also for its thriving arts and culture community. So when you’re ready, come visit their main street festivals, farmers markets, cultural centers, theaters, art galleries, and more! Read more on Bozeman, MT here.
10. Oak Ridge, TN
Of all the small town places My Town has visited, Oak Ridge, is a place that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Moreover, its entire existence is due to the implementation of the Manhattan Project and tells a story that no one else can. A story of a culture, created for a single purpose, but transitions to become a small town powerhouse of innovation and technology.
Oak Ridge, preserves the story of the dawn of the atomic age. My Town was impressed by the openness of museum workers and displays telling “the real” story. In addition, hands-on experiences, and town staples such as eateries all housed in buildings built for the Manhattan Project, gives each location a specific identity.
The aspect that sets this town apart is that it is tied to a single event, which makes this small town stand out from other historical destinations. Almost all the locations My Town visited throughout Oak Ridge, were also part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The Park was created to commemorate and preserve the Manhattan Project Story. But, the story’s most important asset, is the people who lived and worked in the place known as, “The Secret City.” Click Here to see Where To Visit in Oak Ridge.
11. Hico, TX
One reason to travel is to feel transformed. You want to visit a new place, and have an experience you could not have at home. In Hico, you get this experience right away. The minute you turn onto Pecan street, you know that you have come to a special place all its own.
The cowboy flair is everywhere when you stroll into town. Many landmarks stand out, such as: the Billy the Kid Museum, the Silver Spur Winery, and the Midland Hotel. These landmarks, as all buildings in Hico’s downtown, are preserved 19th century architecture. But that’s only a a sneak peak at what’s in Hico. Read More on Hico, TX here.
A Note From My Town
We hope you enjoyed this article on The Top 11 Small Towns to Visit in 2021! My Town visits are based on exploring and discovery as a first-time visitor, and promoting the unique assets small towns have to offer.
Are you a Small Town Tourism Organization, Business, or Traveler? Head over to our Facebook page and ask to join our Private Group- Small Town Places to Visit. We are very excited to be launching this new page where we are Connecting Small Towns and Visitors. In addition, we offer great opportunities to Join as a Promotional Member of My Town Today for less than $5 a month! And don’t forget you can always post your Small Town Events for Free on the National Calendar.
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