Big cities seem to get all of the attention; but tinier towns have loads to offer too. Whether you’re looking for a holiday destination or just hoping to find a cool place to stop on your next road trip, here are 6 US locales that are guaranteed to charm the socks off of you.
With a name like Eureka, you know it’s gotta be good. Located midway between Portland and San Francisco, Eureka is one of California’s best-kept secrets. Whether you’re happiest on a hike, or feel better by the water, Eureka has what you need to really relax. You can spend time exploring the expansive forests, settle in with a book on the shores of Humbolt Bay or visit the Sequoia Park Zoo (California’s oldest zoo). Eureka is a great place for explorers and families alike. Just don’t expect to stay up until all hours of the night – it tends to get quiet pretty early around these parts.
Located on the tiptop of Cape Cod, Provincetown (P-Town if you want to get friendly) is a small spot with huge personality. The population of 3,000 swells every summer, often reaching 60,000 residents during the warmer months. It’s not hard to understand why—this beach-side paradise is home to amazing restaurants, fantastic art galleries, and enough parties and parades to keep you satisfied well into the winter months. Leave the car at home and rent a bike in order to truly take in all that P-Town has to offer—it’s hard to navigate anything with more than two wheels on Commercial Street, the town’s main drag.
Gallup, New Mexico
Looking for a slice of old-fashioned Americana? Welcome to Gallup, voted the Most Patriotic Small Town in America in 2013-2014. Cruise in via Route 66 and check in at the El Rancho Hotel & Motel—John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, and Katharine Hepburn all slept there, and now you can too! Spend some time taking in local culture, the town has deep First Nations roots and they are all reflected in the arts and food scene.
Once you’ve thoroughly explored the trading posts, be sure to take in the finest that Mother Nature has to offer in the form of breathtaking views at Red Rock State Park. Whether you’re a flea market fan (Gallup’s takes place every Saturday, rain or shine) or a hiking buff, you’re going to find something in Gallup that appeals to you, making this gem of a town a necessary detour on any cross-country adventure.
If you aren’t convinced enough yet, then maybe the fact that Gallup was recently named “Most Patriotic Small Town in America” by Rand McNally might do the trick.
Colorado may be best known for its incredible ski scene and high-altitude beauty, but to overlook a treasure like Durango would be a mistake. If you can’t imagine a trip to CO without hitting the slopes, Durango has you covered in the form of Durango Mountain Resort, a family vacation spot that will satisfy skiers and boarders alike.
Prefer your adventures served with a side of H20? Check out the white water rafting (guided tours range from tame to terrifying) or spend the day kayaking or paddle surfing, whatever floats your boat. Archaeological sites, golf, hiking, and hot springs are just some of the other treats that Durango has to offer, not to mention fabulous food and shopping spots. Whether you swing by en route to a big name resort or make Durango your holiday end goal, chances are you’ll find yourself planning your return trip before the day is done.
Red Bank, New Jersey
New Jersey has always had to live in New York City’s shadow, but now is its time to take the spotlight thanks to Red Bank, a hip little East Coast town. Situated on the Navesink River, Red Bank is home to a thriving arts scene including the Count Basie Theatre, a legendary spot that has played host to some of the biggest names since it opened in 1926.
Are you more of an outdoor type? Take advantage of Red Bank’s bustling waterfront and paddle, sail or fish the day away. Year-round activities like a summer jazz and blues festival, outdoor ice rinks and impressive fireworks displays make Red Bank the ideal spot to visit regardless of the season. This lovely little spot makes New Jersey a destination in and of itself.
Watkins Glen, NY
What do the Finger Lakes, race cars and Phish have in common? Watkins Glen, NY, that’s what! This pretty little village in Schuyler County is the kind of place that truly has something for just about everyone. Nature lovers will get their fix at Watkins Glen State Park; it boasts 200-foot cliffs, 19 waterfalls, beautiful trails, and lots of fishing spots. Those who feel the need for speed will get their fill at Watkins Glen International, home track of the Watkins Glen Grand Prix.
Even those who prefer jam bands to race cars will enjoy the track—it was where The Grateful Dead and The Band played Summer Jam in 1973, a concert that over 600,000 showed up for. Phish followed suit in 2011, drawing a slightly smaller crowd (30,000) but locals proclaimed the sequel just as wonderful as the first. With fun to offer of all colors, speeds and sounds, this upstate gem could easily become a favourite vacation memory.
Who is Kate Walker? She’s a freelance writer, yoga addict, and citizen of the concrete jungle. When not on the mat, Kate can be found at the dog park or on the dock in Muskoka. She is also pretty fond of running, skiing, and Settlers of Catan.