Americans pick their favorite destinations

Estimated reading time: 18 minutes

Revealing the results of a recent travel survey

Oh, smaller towns and cities, how we love you. You offer us an escape from the buzz of traffic, buildings that block out the sunset, and hectic, high-speed attitudes. And don’t even get us started on your killer charm and good looks.

We know you’re out there, and we want to celebrate you. That’s why we polled 1,000 Americans to determine their favorite medium and small towns to visit in the U.S. We reviewed all the nominations and pinpointed the most frequently mentioned cities, towns, and villages to provide you with America’s favorite places to visit. Some you may know, and some just may surprise you, but what makes them so spectacular? Scroll down and find out!

One glimpse of Cape Cod‘s coastline, and it’s no wonder countless Americans have fallen for its dreamy landscape. Boasting New England charm and maritime culture, this coastal escape is known for carving a special place in everyone’s heart and becoming an annual family vacation spot.

The perks:

  • Forty miles of beaches, need we say more? Cape Cod National Seashore is dotted with sandy shorelines, lighthouses, hiking trails, and even cranberry bogs!
  • After your sand and sea fix, set your sights on the vibrant purple blooms at the Cape Cod Lavender Farm. Still feeling adventurous? Join a Hopper House Tour to see where Edward Hopper gathered artistic inspiration for his masterpieces.

Top Via Flickr/Dan Gaken
Bottom Left Via Yelp/Scott L.
Bottom Right Via Flickr/Nicolas Henderson

Cooperstown sits on the southern rim of Otsego Lake, and it’s a grand slam for visitors and locals alike. Though it’s fondly referred to as Baseball’s Home, you don’t need to know anything about America’s favorite pastime to enjoy this quiet lakeside village, where you’ll only find one stoplight in all of town.

The perks:

  • Sports nut or not, a jaunt to the Baseball Hall of Fame is a rite of passage for any Cooperstown visitor. Go down memory lane with a look at Babe Ruth’s accomplishments on the diamond and discover what role women have played in the history of the game.
  • Come to town thirsty, because the Cooperstown Beverage Trail is here to quench. Be it spirits or brews, you’ll find it all here, from Cooperstown Distillery to Brewery Ommegang. There are even wineries in nearby Fly Creek, Oneonta, and beyond—cheers to that!

Top Shutterstock
Bottom Left Via Yelp/Wild Society
Bottom Right Yelp/Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe

Whether you arrive in Lake Tahoe in the summer or winter, you’re in for a treat. The country’s largest alpine lake and its surrounding community is a delight no matter the season. Grab your snow skis (or water skis!) and get ready for some adventure.

The perks:

  • Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice is how breathtakingly blue and clear the lake is, and you’ll soon realize the best way to admire the glassy water is from the seat of a Wild Society Crystal Kayak. Paddle above the surface in your transparent vessel and admire the incredible wonders below.

Top Left Via Flickr/ted
Top Right Via Yelp/Selina J.
Bottom Via Shutterstock

Hugging the western shore of Lake Erie, Toledo has won the hearts of Americans with its lakeside views, vibrant art scene, and Hungarian Hot Dogs. While it comes as no surprise why this Ohio city was nominated, it’s time for you to find out for yourself.

The perks:

  • Who says you have to be an art connoisseur to appreciate the good stuff? At Toledo Museum of Art, everyone will enjoy the more than 30,000 masterpieces on display. Across the street, the Glass Pavilion is especially impressive, too, as it showcases some of the world’s most precious glass pieces.
  • Once you’ve indulged in Toledo’s finer side, it’s time to play ball! Hunker down at Fifth Third Field and root for the Mud Hens, the city’s minor league team. After a big win, nothing says victory like chowing down on Tony Packo’s famous hot dogs.

Left Via Flickr/Ken Lund
Right Top Via Yelp/Stephen A.
Right Bottom Via Yelp/Patsy M.

Sunshine makes everything better and brighter, and you can expect nothing less in Yuma, the world’s sunniest city. With more than 4,000 hours of sunlight each year, and warm temperatures to boot, this desert city feels like the eternal summer spot you’ve been longing for.

The perks:

  • On a hot summer’s day, you’ll be pressed to find anything more satisfying than floating down the Colorado River—refreshing and relaxing, just what the doctor ordered. Yuma River Tubing brings the inner tubes, coolers, and fun; you bring the snacks!
  • Part of appreciating Yuma is understanding its past, and the best way to do so is by visiting the eerie Castle Dome City, Ghost Town, and Museum. The Wild West is perfectly preserved in this abandoned town, where gun-toting miners once roamed.

Left Via Yelp/Justin W.
Right Top Via Shutterstock
Right Bottom Via Flickr/mark byzewski

When it comes to Aspen in the wintertime, we sure hope you packed your ski boots! Home to the highest concentration of ski resorts in the state, Aspen is a mecca for those chasing fresh powder. But even when the snow melts, there’s no doubt about it, this rugged mountain getaway is a year-round playground.

The perks:

  • If there’s only one thing you do in Aspen, make it a visit to majestic Maroon Bells. Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe the sight of the twin peaks’ reflection in Maroon Lake—it’s absolutely mesmerizing.
  • The slope game is real here, so hop around the ski resorts to experience them all for yourself. Begin your adventures with a Snowmass Ski Rental Package and get ready to shred. After a day on the trails, join the apres-ski scene at Aspen Brewing Company for a pint of Brown Bearale and swap some slope stories.

Left Top Via Flickr/lawepw
Left Bottom Via Shutterstock
Right Via Yelp/Melissa S.

Bar Harbor isn’t exactly coy when it comes to concealing its allure. Situated along Frenchman Bay, the seaside destination is enchanting as ever, where lobster boats circle the harbor and bed and breakfasts invite you to unwind on their wraparound porches. It’s gems like this that give New England its charm.

The perks:

  • Just southwest of Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park stands in all its glory, where you can scan the coastline for whales and search the skies for peregrine falcons. Follow the carriage paths from 1915, or climb aboard Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater to experience a live underwater excursion, without even getting your feet wet!
  • The serenity of nature is meant to be admired in Bar Harbor, and the College of the Atlantic Gardens is the place to find your Zen. Feel the sea breeze as you stroll around the Turrets Seaside Garden, and forget about your to-do list while you mosey through the Sunken Garden.

Top Via Flickr/Henry Zbyszynski
Bottom Left Via Yelp/Amber T.
Bottom Right Via Shutterstock

One look at Hampton, and it’s no surprise it was voted one of America’s favorite towns. In winter, a fresh coat of snow decorates rooftops and tree branches, while the hum of crashing waves entices visitors to the shoreline in the summer months. It doesn’t matter the season; you’re always in for a treat when you venture to this spot in the New Hampshire Coastal watershed.

The perks:

  • You may not fully understand Hampton’s love of lobsters until you experience the excitement of pulling a lobster trap straight from the depths of the sea with your own two hands. Join Captain Bob’s Lobster Tours to learn about the crustaceans, the local industry, and life on a lobster boat—you can even purchase your catch after the tour.
  • You won’t feel like you’ve officially arrived at the seaside until you play a round of mini golf. Challenge your family to some friendly competition at pirate-themed Buc’s Lagoon Mini Golf—losers have to buy a round of Blink’s Fry Doe! Fried dough for everyone? Sounds like a win-win to us.

Left Via Yelp/Tommy C.
Right Top Via Yelp/Blue Heron Bistro
Right Bottom Via Shutterstock

The Oregon Coast is undeniably magnetic, and Coos Bay has a pull of its own that attracts visitors from near and far. You, too, will feel the attraction as you fly fish along the coastal river, stand before the forest trees at Mingus Park, and sample the local Dungeness crabs.

The perks:

  • You’ll do yourself a disservice if you don’t spend your days in Coos Bay eating your weight in clams at Blue Heron Bistro, but you know what they say about teaching a man to fish. Don some waders, grab a clamming shovel, and join the locals at Strawberry Island—they’ll be happy to share the art of clamming with you!
  • If you have a different kind of art in mind, make your way to Coos Art Museum. The post office-turned-art museum houses six galleries with rotating exhibits and an emphasis on Northwestern artwork. After all that eye guzzling, head to 7 Devils Brewing Co. for a different way to indulge. The Arago amber is a great place to start.

Top Via Shutterstock
Bottom Left Via Yelp/Yan C.
Bottom Right Via Yelp/Dylan S.

Not many think of sandy stretches and rolling waves when they picture Texas, but that’s just what comes to the mind of those who have had the pleasure of visiting Galveston. A bit different from its more northern Texas neighbors, Galveston invites you to change your clocks to island time.

The perks:

  • Put your bravery to the test, and march right up to the world’s tallest water coaster, MASSIV, at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston. Guinness World Record-approved, the goliath coaster measures more than 81 feet tall, ensuring you’re in for a wild ride. After your thrills, treat your sweet tooth to the peanut brittle and pecan pralines at La King’s Confectionery, a vintage candy shop reminiscent of yesteryear. They’ll even spin taffy in front of you!
  • Galveston Island State Park welcomes you to unplug and embrace nature on the Texas shoreline—kayak along the paddle trails or geocache for treasures. Better yet, cast a line from the shore; no fishing license is needed here.

Left Top Via Shutterstock
Left Bottom Via Yelp/Dennis W.
Right Via Yelp/Michelle H.

When you close your eyes and imagine a rustic getaway tucked in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke is the kind of destination you may picture. Surrounded by the hazy blue rolling mountains on the horizon, this Virginia city is steeped in history, natural attractions, and allure galore.

The perks:

  • Thomas Jefferson was onto something when he began harvesting grapes in the Blue Ridge Valley, and the Roanoke region has continued the tradition. Sample some fine Virginia wine at Valhalla Vineyards, sip on sweet mead at The HIVE, or treat your taste buds on a guided tour.
  • Just like the North Star, the Roanoke Star will lead you home. Originally displayed as a Christmas decoration in 1949, the famous star has continued to shine over Roanoke ever since. Look up and you’ll see the 2,000 feet of neon tube that illuminates the iconic star over the mountain valley—feels like Christmas every day!

Left Via Yelp/Amandalin R.
Right Top Via Shutterstock
Right Bottom Via YelpBrad G.

Danville’s attractive downtown scene may be the first thing that lures in visitors, but it’s not long until you realize there’s so much to keep you lingering around. Between its thriving cultural initiatives and historical moments, Danville so easily steals the hearts of visitors and residents alike.

The perks:

  • It’s not a true trip to Kentucky until you’ve had a sip of whiskey. Discover just how strong the bourbon roots are in this part of town with a tour of the Wilderness Trail Distillery, where you’ll learn about their sweet mash fermentation process. They’re not releasing their first bourbon until April 28, but before then you can knock back some at Jane Barleycorn’s Market & Bar or on the nearby Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
  • History and the arts come together at the Pioneer Playhouse. As the state’s oldest outdoor theater, this stage has showcased some of the finest acts around. The upcoming summer schedule is filled with comedic flair, from the wine-drinking nuns in “Drinking Habits 2” to the ultra-funny rom-com, “Living on Love.”

Left Top Via Shutterstock
Left Bottom Via Via Yelp/trey E.
Right Via Via Yelp/Kelly F.

Sitting along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga offers double the charm when it comes to its enchanting landscape. It’s not all superficial here though, as you’ll find plenty of depth to this mountain city, from the creativity in the Bluff View Art District to the history along the Tennessee Valley Railroad.

The perks:

  • There’s no denying Chattanooga’s good looks. Admire the region’s beauty aboard the Tennessee Valley Railroad as you wind through the Missionary Ridge Tunnel and soak up the eye candy!
  • The Hunter Museum of American Art is grand and regal on the outside, and its architecture only adds to the fascinating art collections inside. And if the art museum wasn’t visually appealing enough, it sits on the bluffs of the Tennessee River. After indulging in the manmade art, stroll around the grounds to see what nature is serving up.

Left Via Yelp/Diana N.
Right Top Via Shutterstock
Right Bottom Via Yelp/Kim F.

When you hear the seaside beckoning, follow the sound to the shores of Cape May. Coining itself as America’s First Seaside Resort, this coastal destination has been accommodating vacationers as early as 1766, so it certainly has had the advantage of absolutely perfecting its charm and allure.

The perks:

  • It’s not an easy job to make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, but Historic Cold Spring Village does just that and more. Here you’ll think you’ve stepped into the 19th-century, as you visit the Village Print Shop and Finley Blacksmith Shop. Afterward, sample the Dennisville Inn Porter at the barn-turned-brewery, Cold Spring Brewery.
  • Cape May is about the simplicities, so don’t worry about complicating your itinerary. Some of the best days in town are spent sprawled out on Higbee Beach, splashing in the waves, followed by a Jersey Devil ice cream sandwich at Peace Pie.

Top Via Flickr/woodleywondereworks
Bottom Left Via Shutterstock
Bottom Right Via Yelp/Victoria H.

Sometimes you stumble across a town where the air is so fresh and the landscape so pure that you feel rejuvenated simply breathing in and soaking in the sights. Bryson City, a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is just that kind of place. Go on, fill your lungs and feast your eyes on trout-filled waters of the Tuckasegee River—doesn’t it feel good?

The perks:

  • Everyone deserves to delight in Bryson City’s mountainous landscape, from its sugar maple trees to dogwood blooms, and a journey on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad provides you with front-row seats to the show. Chug along the Tuckasegee River or ride the rails to the Nantahala Gorge—the views won’t disappoint.
  • See a different side to the local scenery with a visit to Darnell Farms, an 80-acre property with a farmers market and sunset music sets. Family-run and family friendly, this farm is a gem year-round, where you can join the annual Plow Day, stock up on the freshest harvests, and challenge yourself to the corn maze.

Left Via Shutterstock
Right Top Via Yelp/Sky Valley Zip Tours
Right Bottom Via Yelp/Angela M.

The village of Blowing Rock, tucked along the Blue Ridge Parkway, is devastatingly gorgeous with its spring wildflowers and rust-colored leaves in autumn—but don’t just stand there, get out and enjoy it! Between hiking trails and adventure courses, this area was made to explore.

The perks:

  • Carving up the slopes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of North Carolina, but surprise! Blowing Rock is home to Appalachian Ski Mountain, where you’ll find groomed trails and freestyle terrain. How much air can you get on the ramps? Time to find out!
  • Further turn up the notch on your adrenaline rush with zip lining and cliff jumping in the Blue Ridge Mountains. At Sky Valley Zip Tours, you can test your limits with swinging bridge challenges and extreme ATV rides. But if sipping vino is more your vacation pace, follow the nearby High Country Wine Trail, where you can taste your way through each vineyard.

Left Top Via Yelp/Nicole B.
Left Bottom Via Yelp/Leila R.
Right Via Shutterstock

St. Augustine is a tried and true destination. Dating back to 1565, this coastal getaway is considered one of the nation’s oldest continuously settled cities. Come step into the past (the Castillo de San Marcos is a great place to start), and take a look around; chances are, you’ll find yourself wanting to linger for a while.

The perks:

  • What’s a trip to St. Augustine without some beach time? A waste, we tell ya! St. Augustine delights with more than 2 miles of white sandy coastline, where you’ll want to stake out a spot and splash in the iridescent waves. Better yet, enjoy the seaside setting on a sailing excursion with Augustine Eco Tours—the excitement of feeling your sails catch wind is something you’ll treasure forever.
  • It’s easy to feel youthful in St. Augustine. Step one: Slurp down some popsicles at The Hyppo. With juicy flavors like papaya pineapple and honey dew blueberry, you might find yourself double fisting. Step two: Further turn back the hands of time (or at least try!) with a sip of the springs at Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. We feel younger already!

Top Via Shutterstock
Bottom Left Via Yelp/Mochi S.
Bottom Right Via Yelp/Andy G.

For those dreaming of a vacation filled with palm trees, conch-style homes, and coveted snorkeling spots, Key West is your ideal match. Treasured as a tropical getaway in the U.S., this island retreat has a little something for everyone: history, culture, nature, and nightly sunset celebrations—what more could you want?

The perks:

  • When in Key West, go at it the Ernest Hemingway way: order a cocktail at Pepe’s Café, watch the six-toed cats sun themselves on the porch of his home, and sip Papa’s Pillar Rum at the new Hemingway Rum Company Distillery & Experience Center.
  • Of all the amazing things to see and do in Key West, feeling a butterfly land on the tip of your nose just might be the most magical of all. At the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, more than 50 kinds of butterfly species flutter around, and if you’re lucky, one just may give you a kiss.

Left Via Flickr/Thomas & Dianne Jones
Right Top Via Shutterstock
Right Bottom Via Yelp/Steve R.

You might initially come to Branson for the amusement park rides, but you’ll stay for the live shows at 76 Country Boulevard and the amazing Ozark hiking trails. You’re sure to find something captivating around every corner, only further proving why Branson is a favorite among travelers.

The perks:

  • We all deserve a little excitement in our lives. Maybe that means barreling down the PowderKeg coaster or riding the swing carousel five times in a row, but whatever your style, you’ll find it at Silver Dollar City. This theme park is modeled on the 1880s, but you’ll find plenty of modern day thrills here.
  • Exploring Table Rock Lake is certainly divine, but you know what makes it even more luxurious? Gliding across the surface on a private yacht. TableRock Luxury Cruises bring the glam to any day on the water, as you’re spoiled to your own private ship, complete with a captain and first mate to accommodate all your needs.

Left Via Shutterstock
Right Top Via Shutterstock
Right Bottom Via Flickr/Jenna Fuller

Another Missouri destination gracing our list, Camdenton is dubbed the Hub City of Lake of the Ozarks for good reason. You’ll quickly become enthralled with the masterpieces Mother Nature whipped up in this region, but the manmade creations at the Ozarks Amphitheater are equally compelling.

The perks:

  • Step below the surface of Camdenton and enter a whole new world, complete with stalagmites, stalactites, and even an underground lake. A tour of Bridal Cave uncovers nature’s mysterious ways, where onyx formations include massive columns, unique clusters, and dramatic draperies.
  • Above ground, you’ll witness even more wonders at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, from a natural bridge to sinkholes. It’s here where you can gaze over the Ha Ha Tonka Spring and eye the Lake of the Ozarks. Nature sure knows how to put on a show here.

Left Top Via Shutterstock
Left Bottom Via Yelp/Tia R.
Right Via Yelp/Tia R.

In 1964, everyone seemed to be humming about Saginaw, thanks to country music singer Lefty Frizzell. The song may have put the city on the map all those years ago, but these days, this Michigan city has no trouble getting attention, and no doubt, it will leave a lasting impression on you, too.

The perks:

  • Saginaw’s magnificent 1898 French Renaissance Revival Castle Museum will certainly catch your eye, but many are surprised at its unique history. Far from housing royalty, this grandiose structure was actually built as a post office, and was later converted into a museum showcasing Saginaw County heritage. Revere the French chateau-inspired architecture and uncover treasures from the past.
  • If it’s peace and quiet you have in mind, mosey over to the Japanese Cultural Center, where you’ll be greeted by the Tea House and serene Gardens of Saginaw. Attend a tea ceremony to discover the art of the ritual tradition dating back 400 years, and linger around the cherry trees and bamboo gates in the 3-acre garden. For more Zen vibes, roam over to neighboring park on Ojibway Island.

Meet us in Baldwin, where you can leave behind the buzz of the city and reconnect with nature. Set along the Baldwin River, just a few miles from Pere Marquette River, Baldwin summons you to quieten your mind and unwind in a place so peaceful, you’ll regret returning home.

The perks:

  • All you need is a watercraft and paddle to enjoy Western Michigan’s river playground, and Baldwin Canoe Rental has you covered. Choose from their selection of canoes, rafts, and kayaks, and then get ready to ride the Pere Marquette National Scenic River.
  • Viewing furniture probably isn’t at the top of your vacation itinerary, that is, until you discover Shrine of the Pines. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before, this log cabin gallery reveals Raymond W. Overholzer’s love of the local white pine. With his own two hands, he fashioned intricate, hand-carved pieces out of gnarled pine stumps.

Left Top Via Yelp/David H.
Left Bottom Via Yelp/Cassel Vineyards Of Hershey
Right Via Yelp/Jae V.

Located in Derry Township, Hershey is a deliciously tempting destination, no matter which way you slice it. Catering to fun-seeking visitors with a craving for the sweet stuff, Hershey has something on its plate for everyone to enjoy.

The perks:

  • Chocolate fiends, unite! In Hershey, it’s OK to let your sweet tooth get the best of you, because this chocolate-crazed city is where Hershey chocolate was born. Tour Hershey’s Chocolate World, eat up the past at the Hershey Story, and ride the coasters at Hersheypark, which was originally built for the Hershey factory workers to enjoy. And whatever you do, don’t forget to stock up on plenty of the famous chocolate bars.
  • Prefer indulging on more adult-friendly treats? You’re in luck, because the local wineries are calling your name. Crosswinds Winery at Hershey, Cassel Vineyards of Hershey, and Cullari Vineyards and Winery are just a few of the many local spots where you can sip by the glass.

Left Top Via Yelp/Marcus C.
Left Bottom Via Yelp/Brenda C.
Right Via Shutterstock

A college town with a school as prestigious as Penn State naturally has a lot going on, whether you find yourself cheering on the Nittany Lions, lounging on Old Main Lawn, or unwinding at the local watering holes. However, visitors quickly realize there’s far more to State College than school pride in Happy Valley.

The perks:

  • Beyond the books, discover serenity along the peaceful pathways at the Arboretum at Penn State. No matter the season, the floral arrangements are deliriously beautiful, from the Marsh Meadow Boardwalk to the Hosler Oak, the Arboretum’s first planted tree. Not everyone knows about this natural nook on campus, so enjoy the coveted experience in solitude.
  • Even if you’re not attending the university, you’ll find yourself wanting to hit the books as soon as you lock eyes with Webster’s Bookstore Cafe. With a collection of more than 80,000 used books and vinyl, it’s easy to lose yourself in this wonderful world of music, art, and fantasy. Cozy up with a cup of Three-Eyed Buddha coffee and some vegan grub, and check the community calendar for Poetry Open Mic, Argentine Tango, and literary events.

Left Via Yelp/Sue S.
Right Top Via Shutterstock
Right Bottom Via Yelp/Erika D.

Pennsylvania has certainly made an impression on travelers, as New Hope was one of three Quaker State destinations chosen by Americans—showing up more times than any other state on our list. A quaint, walkable town with its own Main Street and a steam train that rolls through the region, it’s easy to see why New Hope falls within the favorite category.

The perks:

  • Shh, do you hear that? It’s silence. Finding some quiet away from the hustle and bustle isn’t easy these days, but you’ll find just that in Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, where you can explore 2.5 miles of trails filled with more than 700 native flora. During the springtime, sunshine-toned wood poppies burst to life, and come winter, American Holly brings a pop of color to the snow-covered leaves.
  • There are few things as satisfying as plucking an apple straight from the tree or popping blueberries off the bush. Not to mention, the fruit tastes especially juicy when you go through the labor of harvesting it yourself. At Solebury Orchards, you can do just that, as summer months yield cherries, cherry tomatoes, blackberries, and blueberries, while fall is the season for apple picking.

In your opinion, what are the best small towns in America? Comment below!

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Chloe Mulliner

As a staff writer for Expedia, Chloe Mulliner is dedicated to providing top travel tips for your jaunts around the world. She believes there are adventures to be had on every inch of the globe from surf spots on the Peruvian coast to the charming villages of the English countryside. Chloe specializes in showcasing all the must-see attractions on your travel wish list. She lives by the belief that every adventure is a story worth sharing.

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6 thoughts on “Americans pick their favorite destinations”

  1. St. Augustine is “the oldest city” in the country (not just one of) and has over 42 miles of beautiful beaches, not just 2 miles!

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