10 U.S. Small Towns So Cozy You'll Never Want to Leave

·7 min read

There's a lot to love about small towns. They often have walkable downtowns, many centered around town squares, where you can enjoy dining, shopping, and entertainment. Then there are the people: small towns are famous for their friendly residents who are always ready with a hearty hello and a recommendation on where to grab a meal, what to do, or where to stay. All this certainly adds up to a pretty cozy experience, indeed. Luckily, the United States is full of small towns. To start your explorations, check out these small towns around the country that are so cozy they'll have you making plans to relocate before your stay is over.

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1

Swansboro, North Carolina

Located in Onslow County along the Atlantic Ocean, Swansboro offers everything you love about being on the water without the hustle and bustle of a beach resort town. You'll find plenty of cute shops and boutiques where you can pick up souvenirs, not to mention many great restaurants where you can eat some of the best seafood. Of course, outdoor recreation is just steps away with outfitters right by the water ready to take you kayaking, fishing, shelling, and more. Plus, Hammock Beach State Park is minutes away with hiking trails and a ferry to Bear Island for swimming. While there are no hotels in downtown Swansboro, there are great vacation rentals right in the center of town.

2

Put-in-Bay, Ohio

What's not to love about a small town on its own island? Located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie, Put-in-Bay welcomes visitors to enjoy such attractions as the Battle of Lake Erie at Perry's Victory Monument, the cave and butterflies at Perry's Cave and Family Fun Center. You also can get a good look of the entire island on the Put-in-Bay Tour Train, or you can rent a golf cart or bike to explore the island at your own pace. Of course, there's no shortage of water sports and fishing charters for those who want to get out on the water. Put-in-Bay also has a selection of hotels, condo rentals, and vacation rentals so you get the perfect accommodations for your stay.

3

Corinth, Mississippi

Located in the northeast corner of Mississippi, Corinth features a wealth of history, mouthwatering food and Southern charm that will have you extending your stay in no time. One of the best starting points is the National Park Service Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, which documents the history of the Civil War in Corinth, including the Battle of Corinth and the Battle of Shiloh in nearby Tennessee. Also noteworthy is the Corinth Contraband Camp, which was established for enslaved people seeking Union protection. The community they created here laid the foundation for their journey to freedom. These sites barely scratch the surface of all there is to see and do in Corinth, so plan to stay for more than a weekend.

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4

Woodstock, Vermont

Chartered in 1761, Woodstock brings together history, outdoor recreation, artists, and more mixed with a healthy dose of Americana. You can start your visit at Vermont's first national park, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, with a tour of the mansion, gardens, and forest. You can follow that up with a visit to the birthplace and boyhood home of Calvin Coolidge, the 30th U.S. President. Don't forget to add the Middle Covered Bridge and the Taftsville Covered Bridge to your itinerary, because who doesn't love covered bridges? When it comes to shopping for souvenirs, F.H. Gillingham&Sons is your go-to spot. Since 1886, this general store has carried the best Vermont goods including maple syrup, cheddar, and other gourmet foods.

5

Ellijay, Georgia

The Apple Capital of Georgia offers plenty to do for visitors in the North Georgia Mountains. The downtown square is filled with locally owned shops and boutiques selling everything from home decor to antiques to homemade soap. There's also a wide variety of dining, including wood-fired pizza, Asian fusion, and elevated Southern cuisine. Just minutes from downtown, you can get your share of fresh-picked apples (or pick your own each fall!) and fried pies. Outdoor enthusiasts will have a hard time choosing from hiking, mountain biking, tubing, fishing, and boating throughout the county. And you can choose from any number of accommodations ranging from standard hotels to mountain cabins to downtown apartments.

6

Cayucos, California

For those looking for a small-town beach escape in California, Cayucos is waiting for you. Located between Morro Bay and Cambria, Cayucos overlooks the Estero Bay on the Pacific Coast. It's the perfect spot for outdoor recreation. Try your skills at surfing or sea kayaking, hit the nearby hiking trails, or cast your line to see what you can reel in. In fact, the Cayucos pier is the destination for fishing, with a bait and tackle shop plus fish cleaning stations. Of course, setting up your beach chair and soaking up the sun is always a good choice. When you're ready to eat, Cayucos delivers with several restaurants serving up everything from fresh seafood to pizza to deli sandwiches and more.

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7

Grapevine, Texas

Just minutes from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Grapevine awaits with a bustling downtown overflowing with shopping, restaurants and attractions. You can try your skills at an escape room, take a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, or simply stroll down Main Street in search of souvenirs (do not miss Dr. Sue's Chocolate!). Speaking of food, you can sample local wines at the different winery tasting rooms, try the Tex-Mex at Esparza's Restaurante Mexicano, or dig into a hearty steak at Dino's Steak&Claw House. When choosing a place to stay, you can opt for one of Grapevine's hotels, or go for the activities and attractions at either Great Wolf Lodge or Gaylord Texan Resort.

8

McMinnville, Oregon

Found in the heart of Oregon wine country, McMinnville sits on native Kalpuya land in the Willamette Valley. The historic downtown overflows with locally owned boutiques, award-winning restaurants, and a mix of craft breweries, and wine-tasting rooms. Beyond downtown, you can go hiking at Miller Woods, see Howard Hughes' "Spruce Goose"at the Evergreen Aviation&Space Museum, or check out the artworks of Cristi Mason-Rivera and Joe Rivera at the Mason-Rivera Sculpture Garden&Art Gallery. For your stay, you can choose from accommodations that are equally eclectic, ranging from boutique hotels to historic bed-and-breakfasts to private vacation rentals.

9

Rockport, Massachusetts

An hour north of Boston, Rockport is an idyllic fishing village on Cape Ann featuring everything from outdoor recreation to arts and culture to shopping and dining. For instance, you can spend the day swimming, sailing, kayaking, or fishing. Or you can try your hand at painting your take of Motif No. 1, the town's iconic fishing shack, though photography might be an easier way to document this notable attraction. Throughout downtown Rockport, you'll find unique shops filled with locally made crafts, handcrafted jewelry, and other specialty items that make perfect souvenirs or gifts—or both. And don't forget the dining. Fresh seafood reigns, but you'll also find craft beer, sweet treats, and more to satisfy your appetite.

10

Beaufort, S.C.

Imagine walking down quiet streets, shaded by moss-draped live oaks, with a salty breeze blowing through your air. Then imagine you turn a corner, where you find a mix of history, culture, and delicious dining. All this and more are found in the small town of Beaufort. Book a room at one of the many bed-and-breakfasts, boutique hotels, or vacation rentals, and then get ready to walk to many of the town's attractions. For example, take a tour of Beaufort Arsenal or the Beaufort Historic District. You also can take advantage of the area's natural setting by kayaking, hiking, fishing, birding, and running. Throughout your stay, you can indulge in a variety of cuisine, including seafood, Gullah, soul food, steak, and much more.