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These are the best small towns across the U.S.

  • July 11, 2020

Note from 10Best: Someday, we’ll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we’ll keep supporting the places that inspire us.

When you want to get away from it all, it’s hard to beat a small town. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, outdoor adventure, retail therapy, food or a lazy day on the water, there’s a small town for you.

We asked our network of contributors to nominate their favorites across six categories, and then you voted for your favorites. Click on each category below to see the full list of winners:

Best Coastal Small Town: Chincoteague, Virginia

Come to Chincoteague for uncrowded beaches and a walkable downtown — Photo courtesy of Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce

Just south of the Maryland-Virginia border, the resort island of Chincoteague maintains a sense of delightful seclusion while still offering visitors an array of shops, restaurants, motels and waterside bars, all within a walkable and affordable package.

Uncrowded beaches stretch for miles just outside of town, and wonderful Assateague Island, with its famous herd of wild ponies, lies just across the water.

Full list of winners: Best Coastal Small Town »

Best Historic Small Town: Granbury, Texas

This Texas small town is known for its historic town square — Photo courtesy of iStock / Skyhobo

The charming town of Granbury makes frequent appearances on “best small town” lists, and it’s easy to see why. The town’s central square, lined by historic landmarks, makes for excellent shopping, and there are plenty of mom and pop restaurants to choose from when it comes time to refuel.

The beach at Lake Granbury offers a way to cool off on those hot Texas afternoons, and there’s even a family-friendly boardwalk.

Full list of winners: Best Historic Small Town »

Best Small Town Cultural Scene: Chautauqua, New York

The Chautauqua Institution brings a range of arts programming to this small town — Photo courtesy of Chautauqua Institution

Chautauqua is a double threat – stunning scenery and a thriving cultural scene, thanks in large part to the celebrated Chautauqua Institution, a summer center for the arts, spiritual growth and recreation. The institution typically hosts more than 2,000 events during its annual summer season, including concerts, lectures and educational demos.

Full list of winners: Best Small Town Cultural Scene »

Best Small Town Food Scene: Abingdon, Virginia

A stellar food scene means you won’t go hungry in Abingdon — Photo courtesy of Abingdon Convention Visitors Bureau / Jason Barnett

While Abingdon is perhaps best known for its performing and visual arts, its culinary scene is equally creative. Local chefs draw inspiration from the area’s farming heritage as they craft an eclectic mix of cuisines.

Satisfy a sweet tooth at 149 Sweets, sample some smoky barbecue at Bone Fire Smokehouse, enjoy afternoon tea at Camella’s Remember When or taste locally sourced ingredients (some sourced from the kitchen garden) at Luke’s Cafe.

Full list of winners: Best Small Town Food Scene »

Best Small Town for Adventure: Beaufort, North Carolina

The waterways and marshes of the Inner Banks set the scene for adventure in Beaufort — Photo courtesy of Carteret County Tourism Development Authority

“From the wild horses on Shackleford Banks to boating, fishing and kayaking the many waterways and marshes of the Inner Banks, Beaufort, North Carolina is an outdoors [destination],” say 10Best contributors Cele and Lynn Seldon.

The Boathouse Marina offers easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean, and it’s also possible to drop a kayak into Taylor’s Creek for a paddle. Charter companies facilitate offshore fishing and diving, and the Rachel Carson Reserve sets the scene for wildlife watching.

Full list of winners: Best Small Town for Adventure »

Best Small Town for Shopping: Berlin, Maryland

This small town shopping scene has everything from antiques to boutiques — Photo courtesy of iStock / ilbusca

Berlin’s downtown, a National Register Historic District, has featured in films like “Tuck Everlasting” and “The Runaway Bride.” Situated a stone’s throw from Ocean City, Berlin’s Main Street is packed with retail shops — more than 50 — that run the gamut from antiques and art galleries to jewelry stores and clothing boutiques. It’s a diverse assortment for such a small town.

Full list of winners: Best Small Town for Shopping »

Congratulations to all of our small town winners. Remember to visit daily to vote in other Readers’ Choice categories.

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