Best small towns to visit in the US

WASHINGTON — Small doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to do in these towns.

From skiing to hitting the local brewery, there’s plenty to see and do in small towns across the country that are becoming popular vacation spots.

U.S. News & World Report released its list of the best small towns in the U.S. for 2018.

Check out the list in the gallery below.

FILE-In this Oct. 18, 2010, file photo, sunlight falls on remaining bright foliage as the snow capped ski trails of Stowe ski resort are seen on the side of Mt. Mansfield in Stowe , Vt. Mountain and lake views along with fall foliage can be had for free in Vermont's largest city of Burlington, which feels more like a big town than a city. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
20. Stowe, Vermont Stowe makes for a great winter getaway (thanks to its ski slopes), a fun fall trip (thanks to its kaleidoscopic foliage) and an enjoyable spring or summer vacation (thanks to its various outdoor offerings). This quaint Vermont town is set in a valley and backed by mountains, which means exploring Mother Nature is top priority for most travelers. Wind down with a visit to one of the area’s breweries. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot) (AP/Toby Talbot)
Cape May, New Jersey (Thinkstock)
19. Cape May, New Jersey A seaside retreat in New Jersey, Cape May invites travelers to take it easy. You’ll want to spend time meandering through the historic district to admire the Victorian homes and enjoying fresh seafood at the oceanfront restaurants. The beaches here are welcoming, too, with opportunities for volleyball, fishing, surfing and swimming. (Thinkstock) (Thinkstock)
Hilton Head, South Carolina
18. Hilton Head, South Carolina Hilton Head offers 12 miles of wide beaches for kids to play on and for parents to relax on. Golf and tennis are popular pursuits in this South Carolina vacation spot, but so are biking around town, kayaking and paddleboarding in the calm creek waters. What’s more, accommodation options abound, with top-notch hotels, vacation rentals and smaller bed-and-breakfasts to choose from. (iStock /Getty Images Plus) (iStock / Getty Images Plus)
8. Naples, Florida
Colorful Spanish influenced buildings overlooking the water are some of the scenes in Naples, Florida. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Meinzahn)
17. Naples, Florida Golfing and relaxing draw travelers to Naples. Excellent warm weather year-round means perfect conditions for golfers looking to hit the links at one (or more) of the dozens of courses in the area. Naples is also home to luxury resorts with pools and spas, plus a long stretch of beach overlooking the turquoise Gulf of Mexico — all ideal for visitors who need to decompress. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Meinzahn) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Meinzahn)
16. Laguna Beach, California The main draw of this Southern California town is, of course, its 7 miles of pristine coastline. Laguna Beach comprises several beaches: Main Beach, Thousand Steps Beach and Aliso Beach are a few that are popular with everyone from surfers and volleyball players to families. Laguna is a great jumping-off point for exploring other Orange County beach towns or venturing to Los Angeles as well. (iStock /Getty Images Plus) (iStock /Getty Images Plus)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 photo, the Lightner Museum, housed in a building constructed in 1887, is seen the in St. Augustine, Fla. St. Augustine is one of many chronically flooded Florida communities afraid their buildings and economies will be inundated by rising seas in just a couple of decades. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
15. St. Augustine, Florida Full of history and unspoiled beaches, this Florida town draws visitors with its links to Spanish colonial landmarks. After strolling along St. George Street and through the Colonial Quarter, check out the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. Then, head to the shore to relax and wade in the calm ocean waters. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP)
FILE - In this July 25, 2017, file photo, rafters float down the Colorado River near Moab, Utah. Rivers are drying up, popular mountain recreation spots are closing and water restrictions are in full swing as a persistent drought intensifies its grip on pockets of the American Southwest. Climatologists and other experts are scheduled Wednesday, May 23, 2018, to provide an update on the situation in the Four Corners region - where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet. (AP photo/Dan Elliott, File).
14. Moab, Utah This eastern Utah town serves as a gateway to the otherworldly rock formations found in Arches National Park and the numerous canyons and buttes in Canyonlands National Park. The town itself hosts countless festivals, including the Moab Folk Festival, the Moab Art walk and the Moab Trashion Show, where participants create fashionable clothes from recycled materials. Plus, travelers rave about the area’s ATV tours. (AP photo/Dan Elliott, File). (AP/Dan Elliott)
In this Dec. 11, 2014 photo, skiers and snowboarders eat lunch in the sun at the base of Breckenridge, in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Business is booming in Colorado's mountain resorts, and the addition of recreational marijuana stores this year has attracted droves of customers curious about legalized pot. But in some quarters, there's anxiety that ski towns have embraced marijuana a little too much. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
13. Breckenridge, Colorado Sure, you’ll find plenty of fellow powder hounds on the slopes of nearby ski resorts along with stunning mountain vistas year-round, but this Colorado town also packs a historic punch thanks to its 19th-century gold rush roots. Other outdoor pursuits like hiking and biking are popular when the weather warms up and plenty of breweries around town occupy travelers off the trails. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) (AP)
12. Destin, Florida Beautiful beaches, fun water parks and fishing characterize Destin, which is set on the Emerald Coast of Florida. Perched along the Gulf of Mexico, Destin is all about the water. Families can set sail on a boat tour or fishing charter, splash about at Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park or pack a picnic and enjoy a day on the beach swimming and sunbathing. (iStock/Getty Images Plus) (iStock/Getty Images Plus)
This May 11, 2009 file photo shows a tractor as it makes its way through a vineyard with Highway 121 and other vineyards in the background in Sonoma, Calif.  Sonoma, in the heart of California wine country, is famous for award-winning wine and food and scenic country roads.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, FILE)
11. Sonoma, California At the heart of one of America’s best winemaking regions, this Northern California town boasts all the charms of a rustic yet refined locale without the crowds and high price tags of its larger neighbor, Napa. Before heading to the wineries, spend the day exploring the shops and restaurants along the 8-acre Sonoma Plaza. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, FILE) (ASSOCIATED PRESS/Eric Risberg)
In this photo provided by James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey, the Mendenhall glacier outside of Juneau, Alaska in 2007. Over the past decade or so scientists and photographers keep returning to the world’s glaciers, watching them shrink with each visit. Now they want other people to see what haunts them in a series of before and after photos.  (James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey via AP)
10. Juneau, Alaska Although it’s the capital city of Alaska, with a population of about 32,000, Juneau can still be considered America’s “Last Frontier.” Nowhere else in the country can you spot whales and glaciers — including the incredible Mendenhall Glacier — in the same trip. Once you get your fill of the great outdoors, head to the Alaskan Brewing Company for a tour and tasting of local beers. (James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey via AP)
A surfer rides a wave along Indian Beach Friday, July 30, 2010, at Ecola State Park, near Cannon Beach, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
9. Cannon Beach, Oregon This town’s main draw is its nearly 4-mile-long scenic stretch of sand along the Oregon coastline that’s interrupted by towering rock formations. A vacation here should include relaxing on the beach, exploring the area’s parks and enjoying the local cultural activities, such as glassblowing and live theater. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) (AP/Rick Bowmer)
55972678.jpg
8. Sanibel Island, Florida With a population of fewer than 8,000 year-round residents, Sanibel Island is still one of Florida’s best kept secrets. Sanibel Island exudes a laid-back vibe, perfect for travelers looking to chill on the beach and stroll through town to check out the surf shops, boutiques and casual restaurants. Plus, this Florida vacation spot offers ample lodging options, ranging from hotels to small inns to vacation rentals. (Carlo Allegri/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
Beautiful coastline scenery on Pacific Coast Highway #1 at the US West Coast traveling south to Los Angeles, Big Sur Area, California. Picture made during a motorbike road trip.
7. Monterey, California A popular California vacation destination, Monterey offers something for everyone. Golfers can hit the links at Pebble Beach, Epicureans can dine at gourmet restaurants and culture hounds can wander through the art galleries clustered around Cannery Row. Pencil in some time to relax on the beach, too: Monterey is known for its stunning shoreline. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/emyu) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/emyu)
In this Oct. 26, 2013 photo provided by Terry Kole, Bar Harbor, Maine is seen through a rusting boat cleat attached to a dock. The nearby Jordan Pond Shore Trail at the base of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park offers fall colors and a way to get your steps in while enjoying the foliage. (Terry Kole via AP)
6. Bar Harbor, Maine  Small-town Maine at its finest, Bar Harbor is a relaxing East Coast retreat filled with bed-and-breakfasts and plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. Boat tours, history tours and culinary tours are just a few ways travelers can get better acquainted with Bar Harbor. What’s more, the town is a gateway to Acadia National Park, where visitors can hike and kayak. (Terry Kole via AP) (AP/Terry Kole)
A family of ducks swims along the shore of South Lake Tahoe near the site of the 21st Annual Lake Tahoe Summit, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The summit is a gathering of federal, state and local leaders to discuss the restoration and to sustain Lake Tahoe.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
5. Lake Tahoe This lake that straddles the California-Nevada state line lets visitors pick their adventure. Ski at the intimate, cozy Homewood Mountain Resort in the winter or soak up the sun and swim at Kings Beach State Recreation Area in the summer. And you can tempt Lady Luck at various local casinos year-round. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)
Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona, USA at sunset.
4. Sedona, Arizona You’ll find the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation in this Arizona small town. The 100-plus hiking trails are great for nature lovers, while the vortexes draw holistic enthusiasts and the luxe spas cater to visitors looking to unwind. Plan a winter trip to get a break from harsh temperatures elsewhere in the country. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/LaserLens) (Getty Images/iStockphoto/LaserLens)
In this Jan. 1, 2015 photo, a skier enjoys the trails at the Nordic Center at the Haymaker Golf Course in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., which also runs the famed downhill resort seen in the background expanded into cross country skiing last season as a new offering for guests. (AP Photo/Karen Schwartz)
3. Steamboat Springs, Colorado Along the banks of Yampa River, this northern Colorado town offers excellent ski conditions, a community of friendly locals and geothermal hot springs that are perfect after a long day spent on the slopes. Travel to Steamboat in the spring or summer to enjoy the Yampa River Botanic Park’s flora and free concerts. Or, take the kids on a mountain coaster ride or kayaking and swimming in the Colorado River. (AP Photo/Karen Schwartz) (AP)
The morning sun illuminates the Grand Tetons at Grand Teton National Park, north of Jackson Hole, Wyo., Friday, Aug 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
2. Jackson Hole, Wyoming Jackson Hole has made a name for itself thanks to its 400-some inches of annual snowfall and 2,500 acres of skiable terrain. But it’s more than a top ski spot. Visitors return to this Wyoming town year after year for its picturesque scenery and proximity to Grand Teton National Park, as well as its collection of local breweries, concert venues and access to outdoor activities like biking, paragliding and white water rafting. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley) (AP/Brennan Linsley)
This undated photo provided by Telluride Ski Resort shows a skier heading down a mountain at the resort in Telluride, Colo.  Fans cite the area's wide open slopes, stunning views, lack of crowds and the history of Telluride itself, a remote former mining town tucked in a majestic box canyon in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. (Telluride Ski Resort/Brett Schreckengost  via AP)
1. Telluride, Colorado This Colorado town woos visitors with its captivating scenery and delightful Mountain Village. Skiers flock to Telluride’s slopes for more than 2,000 acres of terrain, plus ample après-ski spots and an impressive 300 inches of snow and 300 days of sun annually. Year-round, the town hosts numerous festivals and cultural events, and travelers can hike, bike and golf when the weather warms. (Telluride Ski Resort/Brett Schreckengost via AP) (AP)
(1/20)
FILE-In this Oct. 18, 2010, file photo, sunlight falls on remaining bright foliage as the snow capped ski trails of Stowe ski resort are seen on the side of Mt. Mansfield in Stowe , Vt. Mountain and lake views along with fall foliage can be had for free in Vermont's largest city of Burlington, which feels more like a big town than a city. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Cape May, New Jersey (Thinkstock)
Hilton Head, South Carolina
8. Naples, Florida
Colorful Spanish influenced buildings overlooking the water are some of the scenes in Naples, Florida. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/Meinzahn)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 photo, the Lightner Museum, housed in a building constructed in 1887, is seen the in St. Augustine, Fla. St. Augustine is one of many chronically flooded Florida communities afraid their buildings and economies will be inundated by rising seas in just a couple of decades. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
FILE - In this July 25, 2017, file photo, rafters float down the Colorado River near Moab, Utah. Rivers are drying up, popular mountain recreation spots are closing and water restrictions are in full swing as a persistent drought intensifies its grip on pockets of the American Southwest. Climatologists and other experts are scheduled Wednesday, May 23, 2018, to provide an update on the situation in the Four Corners region - where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet. (AP photo/Dan Elliott, File).
In this Dec. 11, 2014 photo, skiers and snowboarders eat lunch in the sun at the base of Breckenridge, in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Business is booming in Colorado's mountain resorts, and the addition of recreational marijuana stores this year has attracted droves of customers curious about legalized pot. But in some quarters, there's anxiety that ski towns have embraced marijuana a little too much. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
This May 11, 2009 file photo shows a tractor as it makes its way through a vineyard with Highway 121 and other vineyards in the background in Sonoma, Calif.  Sonoma, in the heart of California wine country, is famous for award-winning wine and food and scenic country roads.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, FILE)
In this photo provided by James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey, the Mendenhall glacier outside of Juneau, Alaska in 2007. Over the past decade or so scientists and photographers keep returning to the world’s glaciers, watching them shrink with each visit. Now they want other people to see what haunts them in a series of before and after photos.  (James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey via AP)
A surfer rides a wave along Indian Beach Friday, July 30, 2010, at Ecola State Park, near Cannon Beach, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
55972678.jpg
Beautiful coastline scenery on Pacific Coast Highway #1 at the US West Coast traveling south to Los Angeles, Big Sur Area, California. Picture made during a motorbike road trip.
In this Oct. 26, 2013 photo provided by Terry Kole, Bar Harbor, Maine is seen through a rusting boat cleat attached to a dock. The nearby Jordan Pond Shore Trail at the base of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park offers fall colors and a way to get your steps in while enjoying the foliage. (Terry Kole via AP)
A family of ducks swims along the shore of South Lake Tahoe near the site of the 21st Annual Lake Tahoe Summit, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The summit is a gathering of federal, state and local leaders to discuss the restoration and to sustain Lake Tahoe.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona, USA at sunset.
In this Jan. 1, 2015 photo, a skier enjoys the trails at the Nordic Center at the Haymaker Golf Course in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., which also runs the famed downhill resort seen in the background expanded into cross country skiing last season as a new offering for guests. (AP Photo/Karen Schwartz)
The morning sun illuminates the Grand Tetons at Grand Teton National Park, north of Jackson Hole, Wyo., Friday, Aug 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
This undated photo provided by Telluride Ski Resort shows a skier heading down a mountain at the resort in Telluride, Colo.  Fans cite the area's wide open slopes, stunning views, lack of crowds and the history of Telluride itself, a remote former mining town tucked in a majestic box canyon in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. (Telluride Ski Resort/Brett Schreckengost  via AP)

For its list, U.S. News & World Report considered populations with less than 50,000 residents.

“A lot of them kind of have a lot to do like outdoor adventures, museums and really good dining scenes,” said Erin Shields, assistant managing editor of travel at U.S. News & World Report.

Gaining in popularity is a spot to try a pint.

“Some of the towns on the list have a really nice brewing scene since that’s been really popular with travelers recently,” Shields said. “This list gives people an idea of somewhere to go that’s close for maybe not a huge trip but instead a longer weekend getaway or a five or six day trip.”

The best small towns in the U.S. include:

1. Telluride, Colorado
2. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
3. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
4. Sedona, Arizona
5. Lake Tahoe
6. Bar Harbor, Maine
7. Monterey, California
8. Sanibel Island, Florida
9. Cannon Beach, Oregon
10. Juneau, Alaska
11. Sonoma, California
12. Destin, Florida
13. Breckenridge, Colorado
14. Moab, Utah
15. St. Augustine, Florida
16. Laguna Beach, California
17. Naples, Florida
18. Hilton Head, South Carolina
19. Cape May, New Jersey
20. Stowe, Vermont


Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2018 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up