Girls visiting a cool small town in America with Zipcar
July 14, 2021

Best Small Towns in America to Visit this Summer

Best Small Towns to Visit this Summer 

Full of character and packed with history, small towns in America are hidden gems. And they’re great mini vacation destinations that don’t cost much to stay in—so why not visit one this weekend?  

Let’s explore cool small towns near a few of the biggest cities in the USA.  

Coolest Small Towns Near Portland Oregon 

Astoria is less than two hours away from Portland by car, and it’s one of the prettiest small towns in America. Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River, Astoria is a clean, green haven — plus it’s loaded with antique stores and great restaurants. 

For a mountain view, head over to Hood River instead. You’ll get there in an hour, which makes the mini city a great hub for waterfall lovers.  

Cutest Small Towns to Visit Near San Diego 

For a small-town experience with big flavor, head to Idyllwild. Two hours from San Diego, this characterful place sits next to Mount San Jacinto State Park, which is brimming with gorgeous trails. A hub for artists, Idyllwild’s galleries are full of atmospheric paintings.  

Apple pie-lovers love Julian, which sits about an hour northwest of San Diego. Full of bakeries and near several apple orchards, Julian is the small-town version of haute cuisine. 

Best Small Towns to Visit Near Los Angeles 

If you’re looking for a cute small town in the LA area, don’t miss Ojai. Take in the tree-lined scenery and Mission Revival-style architecture or relax at a health resort. Hiking trails and horse paths wind around it, making Ojai a great choice for nature lovers. 

Another nearby option is Los Olivos. About 2.5 hours from Los Angeles, this charming town is the wine-tasting heart of Santa Ynez Valley and has some excellent restaurants. 

Prettiest Small Towns Near Pittsburgh 

If you love all things Amish, you’ll really enjoy Smicksburg. Roughly an hour’s drive from the city, this old world enclave is the place to buy baskets, preserves, quilts and other Amish handicrafts.  

For a state park experience near home — complete with waterfalls, trails and a great supper — head to Ohiopyle. This teeny town only has about 60 residents so it’s a great place to unwind. 

Cool Small Towns Near Sacramento 

Slow down and take in the scenery at Downieville. This former gold rush town is only two hours from Sacramento, and its year-round population is a whopping 325. While you’re there, visit the Downieville museum to soak up a little history. 

Don’t miss Nevada City if you enjoy old-world architecture. Artsy and loaded with great restaurants, this atmospheric place makes a lively destination. 

Cute Small Towns Near Minneapolis 

Head over to Henderson, located in the Minnesota River valley, and take a walk down Main Street. This little city is less than an hour from the state capital, and its center is a nationally registered historic district. Stroll into the drugstore and take a seat at the soda fountain before you head out.  

Fergus Falls is a three-hour drive away, but it’s worth the trip. Located near Otter Tail River, this border town is full of interesting shops and sights. 

Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to check out some of the cutest, coolest small towns in America next time you need a break. Have fun!