Charming American Cities You Haven’t Heard Of But Should Visit

These fifteen crowd-free cities are hidden gems of their states, with plenty of modern comforts, a myriad of activities, and natural wonders awaiting eager tourists. With many establishments located near major cities, you can go to these new places, enjoying the varied landscapes along the way.

Ausable Chasm, New York

Ausable Chasm in New York.

Known as a one-of-a-kind town in the Adirondacks, Ausable Chasm awaits its visitors with some of the oldest natural attractions in the United States, embraced by pristine Adirondack forest. Shades of nature to encounter include Rainbow Falls, Elephant’s Head, Column Rock and Hyde’s Cave. Additionally, as you descend hundreds of feet into the mystical gorge, one will find yourself walking on natural stone pathways with eons of geologic history in the surrounding stone. The special atmosphere is sure to transport you to a whole other calm and mysterious world.

Bisbee, AZ

Panorama of Bisbee with the surrounding Mule Mountains in Arizona.
Panorama of Bisbee with the surrounding Mule Mountains in Arizona.

Located about 90 miles from Tucson in the embrace of the Mule Mountains, with colorful hillside homes, couples and artists go to Bisbee to relax in the scenic landscape and be inspired to start a new life or a project. The city also hosts Arizona’s top Pride festivals, while Café Roka is known as the city’s “first date.” Located in historic Cochise County, the town center with the giant Lavender Pit hole in the ground and the old Copper Queen mine will be adored by history buffs and families alike. The Bisbee 1000 is a 4.5 mile course that climbs nine of the city’s many stairways. Music lovers will delight in live jazz on the weekends, as well as the many festivals throughout the year.

Clinton, New Jersey

Clinton's new shirt
The historic Red Mill in Clinton, New Jersey.

Straight out of a fairy tale or a painting, the charming little town of Clinton is full of wonderful historical sites. Its antique iron bridge was built over the Raritan River in 1870 and comes with two classic flour mills perched on either side. The 10-acre Red Mill Museum Village with the Hunterdon Historical Museum on its grounds is a notable landmark for exploration, while the museum’s collection includes over 40,000 historical artifacts.

Corolla, North Carolina

View from the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, Outer Banks, North Carolina.

The Outer Banks beach area is a well-known tourist destination, making the oft-overlooked town of Corolla a perfect destination for those seeking solitude in scenery or some alone time with loved ones. Sitting in the northern part of the stretch, in the scenic surroundings of the area, some of the things to watch and Instagram include a lighthouse and strangling wild horses. Nearby Currituck Sound is popular for kayaking, while adjacent Church’s Island, a peninsula, makes an ideal getaway for couples.

Anna Maria, Florida

Anna Maria, Florida
A pier in Anna Maria Island.

To visit Anna Maria Island is to immerse yourself in a romance novel or a reality TV set on the beach. About 45 minutes east of Tampa or 30 minutes south of Sarasota will bring you to the island’s beaches that feel like they belong in the Caribbean. Although there are fine dining establishments, one can walk barefoot through the streets with the locals to one of the food shacks before heading to the white sands to surf. The turquoise green-blue ocean is home to manatees swimming so close you could get a bump from them in the water.

Frankenmuth, MI

The Bavarian style houses of the Bavarian Inn center on a perfect winter day in Frankenmuth. Editorial credit: TI /

A town with a European feel, Frankenmuth is a former Bavarian missionary colony that was established in 1845 by the Lutherans. Complete with classic German architecture, it is also known as “Little Bavaria”, steeped in the charm and atmosphere of old Germany. The city is so steeped in Bavarian culture that even the street signs are in German.

Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii

    Town of Hanapepe in Kauai, Hawaii
Aerial view of the coast, hills and town of Hanapepe in Kauai, Hawaii.

Some believe the remote town of Hanapepe in Hawaii is the inspiration for the classic Lilo & Stitch animated series. Whether that’s true or not, the city is one of the oldest in the entire country, with a ton of places listed on the National Historic Register. A visit to the city’s swing bridge is a must, while for a special treat try the giant acai bowl at Little Fish Coffee. The town’s small main street is also lined with vendors serving up local cuisine like malasadas fried on the spot. Other attractions include the Kauai Orchid and Art Festival and the city’s Art Night on Friday nights between 6 and 9 p.m.

Homer, Alaska

    Homer, Alaska
Halibut Cove in Katchemak Bay from Homer, Alaska.

Located rather remotely in the great state, overlooking Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains, the town of Homer makes a perfect non-traditional romantic getaway in a scenic setting with a myriad of outdoor activities. Commonly sighted wildlife includes moose, black bears and porpoises playing in the waves of the beautiful seascape. While fall is especially nice for the lush, ablaze foliage, winter brings glacier skiing and summer comes with kayaking excursions. The Halibut Cove cannot be missed, being an artists’ enclave with waterways.

Little Compton, Rhode Island

Little Compton Rhode Island
Sakonnet Lighthouse and Harbor in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

While some may call Little Compton a tight little town, others will see the charm of the shallow tidal creek, wildlife refuge, Goosewing Beach and pristine South Shore Beach where the locals surf. The town’s scenic location is so inspiring that artists gather here each summer to open their spaces, as part of annual studio tours in the surrounding area. The town is also a paradise for seafood lovers, who won’t find fresher scallops in the region than the local scallops, as well as all-you-can-eat fish and chips on Tuesdays at Crowther’s and the regional specialty Johnnycakes at the Commons.

Oracle, AZ

Snowy Mountains, Oracle, Arizona
Snowy Mountains, Oracle, Arizona.

Located just outside of Tucson, Oracle is a unique city and home to Biosphere 2, one of the best environmental research centers in the world, open for tours. There, we can see a fictional ocean that promotes the conservation and construction of coral reefs, and a space exploration habitat, used by NASA. Besides the unmistakable resemblance between Mars and the Moon, a nighttime stargazing spectacle is also offered.

Pella, Iowa

Pella, Iowa
Path lined with tulip beds in Sunken Gardens Park, Pella, Iowa.

Considered by many to be the prettiest town in the entire state, Pella is hard to miss for being a splash of bright color in the predominantly rural region. Discovered by Dutch immigrants in 1847, the town retains the look of their homeland, complete with Vermeer’s Hill, which is the tallest working grain mill in the United States. The Tulip Town Festival is another Dutch tradition that takes place in the spring with three days of Pella’s Dutch heritage blooms and flowers. The festivities are also complemented by costumes, music, food parades, tulip gardens and other things reminiscent of the old country.

Perdido Key, Florida

Aerial view of boats on Perdido Key beach
Aerial view of boats in Perdido Key Beach, Florida and Ono Island, Alabama.

The “lost key” in Spanish, the town of Perdido is aptly named for being a hidden gem in the state, located in Escambia County, near Pensacola. From every angle, the city looks almost too perfect to be true, with great year-round weather, pristine beaches, clear water, a wildlife sanctuary and unspoilt parks. If that wasn’t enough, the remote location is uncrowded, while everything is still a short drive away. Meeting the few people on the streets, one will notice how laid back and friendly the locals are.

Sebastopol, California

Welcome to Sevastopol road sign near Sevastopol.

Located close to the Russian River, with a Slavic vibe, the city of Sevastopol is wonderfully surrounded by charming apple orchards and vineyards that beg to be visited. The city’s Barlow is a 220,000 square foot culinary and arts hub that’s sure to appeal to foodies and creative souls among the few tourists the city receives. Just 24 km from the Pacific Ocean, Sevastopol is also a getaway for beach fun and relaxation. The nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa, made up of a beautiful mosaic of streams, open water, and riparian forests, is Northern California’s largest freshwater wetland.

Solvang, California

Solvang, California
Solvang, California.

Californians go to Solvang for a totally different atmosphere and unique town feel to escape the Disney theme and the crowds on the scorching beaches. Founded in 1911 by Danes, the city is imbued with a Danish vibe in the classic thatched roofs of the houses and horse-drawn carriages on the streets. Landmarks also include a replica of Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid statue and a miniature city’s round tower. There are also plenty of Danish shops, restaurants and bakeries for authentic dishes and to stock up on treats.

Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Ste.  Genevieve
The Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Creative souls are drawn to Ste. Genevieve to be an artists paradise, with inspiration emanating from the town’s picturesque location. Known as Missouri’s first European settlement, history buffs will love visiting the many historic sites, including the remarkable original upright log structures preserved. The city is also often chosen as a romantic getaway by couples who love nature and explore the wilderness.

As a convenient getaway from the state’s important cities, these 15 towns with character and ambiance will hold tourists back for at least a few days before continuing their journey. With charming town centers home to sculptural buildings that seem significant enough to represent the main city and natural landscapes unique to each destination, it’s a perfect way to experience something new and memorable.

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