Best small towns in the US across 10 categories
Whether your idea of the perfect getaway is a history lesson, going to the theater, relaxing by the bay, indulging in good food or shopping ’till you drop, there’s a small town for you.
With so many amazing places out there, we went on the hunt for the best in each region and across multiple categories by teaming up with a panel of travel writers to help us select nominees. Then, readers voted for the 10 best in each category. Here are the best small towns in the United States in 2023.
Click on each category below to see the full winners list:
Best Coastal Small Town: Sandusky, Ohio
Sandusky takes the No. 1 spot for Best Coastal Small Town — Photo courtesy of City of Sandusky
This Ohio town on the coast of Lake Erie is home to Cedar Point – one of the top roller coaster-laden amusement parks in the country. As such, Sandusky regularly welcomes families from all over and is prepared to do so with other attractions like Great Wolf Lodge Water Park, Sandusky Children’s Museum, and the Merry-Go-Round Museum, plus plenty of spots for yummy treats like Soda Pop’s.
Full list of winners: Best Coastal Small Town »
Best Historic Small Town: San Elizario, Texas
History in San Elizario, Texas goes back hundreds of years — Photo courtesy of Adrian Marin
The roots of this small Texas community go back hundreds of years, beginning with a Spanish settlement and military base. San Elizario chose to maintain its historic integrity rather than move forward as the railroad became a more prominent means of transportation in the late 1800s. Today, the community features historically significant buildings with the adobe construction and architectural features recognized in the Territorial and Pueblo Revival styles. Los Portales Casa Garcia, formerly a residence in the mid-19th-century, now serves as a museum and highlights exhibits on the town’s history through its many governmental periods.
Full list of winners: Best Historic Small Town »
Best Midwestern Small Town: Vevay, Indiana
Vevay, Indiana wins Best Midwestern Small Town — Photo courtesy of Switzerland County Tourism
There’s a little slice of Switzerland in Indiana, right on the Ohio River, called Vevay. Settled by Swiss immigrants in 1802, the village became an enclave of wine producers, so it’s no surprise that the town holds a Swiss Wine Festival every year. Vevay still has a number of buildings from those early days, including the Benjamin Schenck Mansion, built in 1874.
Full list of winners: Best Midwestern Small Town »
Best Northeastern Small Town: Cape May, New Jersey
Readers vote Cape May, New Jersey as the No. 1 small town in the Northeast — Photo courtesy of Chamber of Commerce
Known as “America’s first seaside resort,” Cape May was already a beach vacation destination by the mid-1700s, serving the people of nearby Philadelphia. Over time, the enclave evolved into a gorgeous Victorian gingerbread home showcase, with only San Francisco having a larger collection of these structures. Touring the homes is a must-do, as is visiting the beach, wandering the old-fashioned boardwalk, eating some saltwater taffy and visiting the Harriet Tubman Museum.
Full list of winners: Best Northeastern Small Town »
Best Small Town Cultural Scene: Clayton, New York
The small town of Clayton, New York is big on culture — Photo courtesy of Horizon Aerial Media
This New York community was first settled in 1822 and became a significant port for shipbuilding and lumbering. Many unique museums detailing aspects of Clayton’s history are in this area, including the Antique Boat Museum, with the most extensive collection of freshwater recreational boats in North America and the host of the nation’s oldest antique boat show. Also visit the Thousand Islands Museum, a waterfront museum with a collection of antique watercraft and innovative exhibits, and the Thousand Islands Art Center, with an extensive 20th-century textile collection from North America, and pottery and weaving studios.
Full list of winners: Best Small Town Cultural Scene »
Best Small Town Food Scene: Lewisburg, West Virginia
Enjoy a serving of small town charm with the top-notch food in Lewisburg, West Virginia — Photo courtesy of Greenbrier County CVB
There’s a lot to eat in downtown Lewisburg at morning, noon and night. Grab a sweet treat from Amy’s Market, pick up some baked goods, soups or salads from Corn + Flour, tuck into a steak at Food & Friends or enjoy brick oven pizza in a relaxed atmosphere at Hill and Holler.
Full list of winners: Best Small Town Food Scene »
Best Small Town for Adventure: Savanna, Illinois
Explore the great outdoors in Savanna, Illinois — Photo courtesy of Explore Savanna
“Savanna, hugging the mighty Mississippi and along the bluffs of the Driftless area in Northwest Illinois, is the starting point for 60 miles of bike trails – the Great River Trail – but it is also a favorite stop for motorcyclists,” says 10Best contributor Jacky Runice. This small town is known for its outdoor activities, attracting visitors interested in biking, boating and fishing.
Full list of winners: Best Small Town for Adventure »
Best Small Town for Shopping: Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Take home unique finds when shopping in Ocean Springs, Mississippi — Photo courtesy of ArtistheJourney // Getty Images
Ocean Springs is a pretty coastal town on Biloxi Bay that devotes itself to the arts. That’s why the shopping is so interesting here, as the place is packed with over 200 galleries and artist’s studios where beautiful pieces are to be found. Plus, there are antique shops, kitschy mercantile stores and more – all with a local flavor and unique mementos to purchase.
Full list of winners: Best Small Town for Shopping »
Best Southern Small Town: Maysville, Kentucky
Maysville, Kentucky is the No. 1 small town in the South — Photo courtesy of City of Maysville
This charming riverside hamlet is home to plenty of small-town delights, from the Russell Theatre and Washington Opera House, to numerous art galleries, restaurants and the Old Pogue Distillery. A must-see for any visitor to Maysville is the KSB Miniatures Collection at the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, one of the largest collections of museum-quality miniatures in the world.
Full list of winners: Best Southern Small Town »
Best Western Small Town: Cody, Wyoming
Iconic Cody, Wyoming wins the No. 1 spot for Best Western Small Town — Photo courtesy of Cody Yellowstone
Named after Colonel William Frederick Cody (aka Buffalo Bill), this small northwestern Wyoming town is perfect for a Wild West-style getaway. Visitors can go on a wild mustang tour to learn about local wildlife, check out a recreation of an old frontier town or enjoy the outdoors at Buffalo Bill State Park. And for the history buffs, there are multiple museums in the area, including the Draper Natural History Museum, the Buffalo Bill Museum and the Plains Indian Museum.
Full list of winners: Best Western Small Town »
Congratulations to all these winners! Remember to visit 10Best.com daily to vote in our Readers’ Choice contests.