Vacations in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and any other big city in the United States will always be great. But to get a taste of what America is all about you have to hit the road for a trip through these incredible small towns.
1. Williamsburg, Virginia
If you were to look for the spot where the idea of an independent America, you’d be looking for Williamsburg. Situated just 2½ hours from Washington, D.C., Williamsburg shows brings our nation’s history to the forefront. Yes, there are the usual modern amenities – strip malls, fast food, luxury hotels, etc. – but the 300 acres that make up the historic district bring history to life like no place else in the United States. From workers crafting hats and dresses at the millinery to kids playing fifes in the streets, you’ll see it happen as it did centuries ago. And you can chat up the re-enactors to find out more.
2. Telluride, Colorado
For the people that only know Telluride as a major skiing destination are missing out on the small-town charm this Colorado spot exudes. This former mining town still shows its roots with its frontier-era facades to many of the buildings in downtown. We may know of the area for the celebs that come for outdoor fun or the annual film festival, but there’s also a very independent flavor to Telluride. Oh, don’t look for chain restaurants or shops because you won’t find ‘em. No reason to have a McDonald’s sullying the small-town vibe, right?
3. Stockbridge, Massachusetts
You may think you stepped right into a Norman Rockwell painting the moment you visit Stockbridge, Massachusetts. But there’s a good reason for that – the famed artist lived here from 1953 until his passing in 1978. You can find much of his work, and other talented artists, at his museum. But to find Rockwell’s inspiration all you’ll need to do is look around the town. Stockbridge has lovingly preserved its 18th and 19th century architecture. If you want to get the total treatment of the area, then think about staying at [The Red Lion Inn](http://www.skyscanner.com/hotels/hotels/The Red Lion Inn?id=46953438&sd=2015-02-13&ed=2015-02-16&tab=index&q=Stockbridge%2C+Massachusetts%2C+United+States&eid=o_36688537&mqd=1&hidx=1&did=121263&rid=0&meid=36688537&all_meid=%5B%2242.28759%22%2C%22-73.32039%22%5D&langid=en&usrplace=US&ccy=USD), which has been welcoming guests since 1773.
4. Beaufort, South Carolina
Travelers yearning for the quintessential small Southern town will find it in Beaufort, South Carolina. A drive two hours south of Columbia will put you in the town where the Ordinance of Secession was signed at the Milton Maxey House (it’s still around, too) for South Carolina to leave the union. Outside of the history you’ll still find what you want in a small town of the South: Spanish moss-covered trees, antebellum mansions and hotels that have been around for a couple of centuries.
5. Port Townsend, Washington
You may not know much about Port Townsend, Washington, but this is the place many Seattle residents come for a weekend getaway. It’s easy to understand why the moment you enter this town on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. Port Townsend is very proud of its maritime history, but you’ll find a lot of quirky chic fun in a town that’s home to many artists, musicians and writers. And it’s that eclectic collection that makes PT (as the locals call it) a place to find everything from Victorian antiques to delectable international cuisine. Of course, we’re just content just relaxing at the harbor.
6. Marietta, Ohio
Who’s ready to head to the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territories? Marietta first came into existence when New Englanders game to this spot in Southeast Ohio back in 1788. A walk through the tidy downtown area will capture your heart with its pretty, yet simple, storefronts and hanging flower baskets down both sides of the main drag. Visitors will want to take a look at the Castle of Marietta, a great Gothic Revival mansion that welcomes the public. History buffs will want to check out the Mound Cemetery to see the conical earthwork of Native Americans that dates somewhere between 100 B.C. and 400 A.D.
7. Sedona, Arizona
It’s awfully hard to think of a small town with a more gorgeous drive into town than the one you take into Sedona. Road trippers will see hoodoos and buttes reach toward a burnt sienna sky. Once you actually get into town you’ll be amazed amount of incredible artwork the area has inspired. You’ll see everything from a McDonald’s with teal-colored arches to the Chapel of the Holy Cross pictured above, which was built into the buttes of the area. This is a perfect spot to find some spirituality.
8. Nebraska City, Nebraska
Nebraska City came to be because Lewis and Clark felt it was a promising spot for a town right on the banks of the Missouri River. And while cities like Omaha and Lincoln get most of the attention, Nebraska City is the place to learn about the history of the state. You can learn about the wildlife of the area at the Lewis & Clark Missouri River Visitors Center, or see how a working farm thrives at the Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard. That’s just two of the seemingly endless number of museums and historic sites this gem of America’s Heartland has to offer.
9. Havre de Grace, Maryland
Time seemingly stands still in Havre de Grace, Maryland – a spot just 46 minutes down the road from Baltimore. This town at the head of Chesapeake Bay has some of the best sunrises (pretty good night views, too) you’ll ever get to see in person, especially if you take a walk along its boardwalk that runs from Tydings Park to the Concord Point Lighthouse. Folks looking for unique shopping will find it at places like the fair-trade store Doodads, or pick up a special book for someone at Courtyard Redux on Saint John Street.
10. Paia, Hawaii
Who said small towns couldn’t be in a tropical oasis? Take a trip down highway 36 on Maui’s north coast to find one of the last remnants of what many consider to be authentic Hawaii in Paia. You’ll find some of the area’s best windsurfing here, and because Hana is just down the road you’ll be able to spend time on some gorgeous (and quiet) beaches.