Must-See under the Radar Small Towns to Seek Out this Summer

Favorite lesser-known destinations from around America to consider for your summer adventure

The smaller towns in the United States feature many great locations to visit when looking for an underrated summer vacation. Each of the towns has its own standout attractions that will make for a good trip in your RV. These are ten small towns in America that should be on one’s travel bucket list.

Red Rock Canyon between Panguitch and Bryce Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Panguitch, Utah

Panguitch captures the enduring pioneer spirit of Utah with its welcoming rural charm and a strong sense of heritage. Much of the town’s main drag sits on the National Register of Historic Places and offers quaint, Western-themed local shopping and dining options. Panguitch is an important base camp for many of Southern Utah’s top natural attractions including Bryce Canyon and Zion national parks, two vast expanses of national forests (Fishlake and Dixie), two national monuments (Cedar Breaks and Grand Staircase-Escalante), and several state parks.

Medora © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Medora, North Dakota

Situated in the Badlands, Medora has established itself as a popular destination despite having fewer than 200 residents. Visitors flock to Medora to visit outdoor attractions including Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Bully Pulpit Golf Course to take in the sights and sounds of the American Frontier. Perhaps the town’s most notable and unique event is the annual Medora Musical. Every summer from June through early September, the town hosts a professionally produced musical celebrating President Theodore Roosevelt’s sojourn in the region.  

Wolfeboro © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

This town’s motto is “The Oldest Summer Resort in America” and its prime location on Lake Winnipesaukee proves why. People from all over New Hampshire and Boston vacation here during warm summer months. Incorporated in 1770, it stakes its claim based on an early mansion built by Governor John Wentworth on what eventually became Lake Wentworth, just east of Winnipesaukee.

Shipshewana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shipshewana, Indiana

Many of the towns in Amish Country date back 150 years or more. Among these is tiny Shipshewana known for an enormous flea market where 1,000 vendors peddle their wares twice a week from May through October. Due to the Amish lifestyle, you can almost believe you’ve stepped back in time a century or more. To learn about Amish history, tour Menno-Hof. Through multi-image presentations and historical displays, you’ll travel back 500 years to the origins of the Amish-Mennonite story.

Midway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Midway, Kentucky

Some of our most pleasant moments always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else. So it was when we unexpectedly came upon the historic town of Midway. Located midway between Frankfort and Lexington, Historic Midway was the first town in Kentucky founded by a railroad (1832). During the railroad’s heyday, the 1930s, and 40s, up to 30 trains, a day rumbled through the middle of town. The passenger trains dwindled until the old depot was closed in 1963. Now, Historic Midway once again thrives and enjoys its present reputation as one of Kentucky’s favorite spots for antiques, crafts, gifts, restaurants, and clothing.

Keystone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keystone, South Dakota

You may not have heard of this little town of less than 350, but if you’re planning a road trip to one of America’s most iconic monuments, chances are you’ll drive through its winding streets or rent a room in one of its many lodges and resorts. Located a short drive from Mount Rushmore, this former mining town has successfully pivoted to become a desirable destination for tourists, while maintaining its small-town charm.

Folly Beach © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Folly Beach is one of America’s last true beach towns. Just minutes from historic downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is a 12 square mile barrier island that is packed with things to do, see, and eat. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Folly River, visitors enjoy six miles of wide beaches, surfing, fishing, biking, kayaking, boating, and eco-tours. Folly Island was named after its coastline which was once densely packed with trees and undergrowth: the Old English name for such an area was “Folly.”

Williams © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Williams, Arizona

West of Flagstaff in the Coconino County, Williams is on the historic Route 66 and at the southern terminus of the Grand Canyon Railway. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, Williams is named after a mountain man called William “Old Bill” Williams. A popular destination for tourists, there are many fun activities to keep you entertained here in Williams.

Tour historic Route 66—Williams was the last town to have its section bypassed. Check out the Williams Depot and see a steam locomotive before wandering the historic Business District.

Woods Hole © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

This tiny, bustling Cape Cod town was once a pass-through destination for Martha’s Vineyard ferry travelers. Now it holds its own thanks to a charming waterfront filled with restaurants and shopping. Woods Hole is the epicenter of marine and biological science in the US with more than five major science institutions headquartered here (WHOI, MBL, NOAA, SEA, and Woods Hole Research Center).

Jacksonville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jacksonville, Oregon

Jacksonville is nestled in the Siskyou Mountain foothills along the Rogue River Valley and is easy to fall in love with. The little town is the Heart of Rogue Valley wine country which includes the Applegate Valley Wine Trail. Though sometimes busy the small-town ambiance (population 2,860), gorgeous setting, and beautifully preserved late 1800s architecture combines to make a very attractive town. The little gem of a town is highly walkable and has at least one of everything—except chain stores. Everything from wine to cheese to chocolate, art, and fine dining.

Worth Pondering…

Here and there…not quite everywhere yet!

Fascinating Small Towns You Should Visit on Your Next Road Trip

From coast to coast and north to south, RVers can get a taste of what it’s like to live somewhere completely different or perhaps even startlingly similar to what they’re used to

Big cities are great to visit if you’re looking for lots of stuff to see and do in a short period of time. No shame in the big city game. But maybe you have time available, you’re retired, between jobs, or you’re self-employed—and you’re able to set a few weeks or more aside for an all-American road trip (there’s truly nothing in the world like it—especially in an RV). First, congratulations! You’re about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. But now, where to go? We’ve explored America by RV and found these 10 cool small-town gems you’re sure to enjoy.

Walterboro © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walterboro, South Carolina

For those reminiscing about the warmth and familiarity of an authentic small town, Walterboro provides the perfect opportunity to step back through time. Nature lovers can take advantage of South Carolina’s year-round balmy weather and enjoy the quiet solitude of the ACE Basin and Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary (formerly Great Swamp Sanctuary) which is accessible from downtown. Visitors are reminded of the town’s early days as a summer retreat—tree-lined streets where quaint homes with broad porches and beautiful churches date to the 18th century. Treasure-hunters love scouring the village’s dozen antique shops, finding everything from high-end antiques to fun vintage souvenirs or shopping the Colleton Farmers Market for farm-fresh produce and delicious homemade food products.

Wild Turkey Distillery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

History, food, golf, shopping and―did we mention? – bourbon are all part of the mix in Lawrenceburg. Its quaint downtown is graced with an impressive courthouse building, shopping, dining, and more. Lawrenceburg is home to the Wild Turkey Distillery. The tour reveals an intriguing combination of tradition and modern mass production. Your visit began and ended in the new visitor center with a gift shop and tasting room. Inspired by the silhouette of Kentucky tobacco barns, the visitor center has an unbeatable view of the Kentucky River and its bridge and unique railroad trestle (the turnaround point for the Bluegrass Scenic Railroad).

Sutter Creek © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sutter Creek, California

Sutter Creek is the very essence of a California Gold Country town. Peter Fish, of Sunset Magazine, wrote that “Sutter Creek is the best town in the Gold Country … a Main Street lined with balconied 19th-century buildings. The prettiest Main Street you’ve ever seen!” A wonderful balance of old and new, today’s Sutter Creek maintains its Gold Rush facade. Shop, dine, stroll, wine taste, and enjoy the quaint atmosphere of Sutter Creek. Sutter Creek, the jewel of the Mother Lode, is steeped in history being born of the California Gold Rush and nurtured by the deep rock gold mines of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is also the perfect hub to explore the Sierra Foothill Wine regions including Amador’s own Shenandoah Valley

Moab © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moab, Utah

Moab’s easy access to Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Dead Horse Point State Park, the Colorado River, three scenic byways, and thousands of square miles of amazing red rock landscapes has made it one of the most sought-after destinations in the American Southwest.

Moab is fun, has some good restaurants, a variety of camping options, and is close to countless natural wonders and fun activities. Once you arrive in Moab, your first stop should be the Moab Information Center located at the corner of Main and Center Street.

Adairsville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Adairsville, Georgia

A visit to this Norman Rockwell kind of town is a must for anyone who loves history, antiquing, and good food. Adairsville, nestled in the Oothcalooga Valley, was the first Georgia town to be listed in its entirety on the National Register of Historic Places. More than 130 homes and businesses are designated as historic properties. Adairsville’s location—65 miles north of Atlanta and 65 miles south of Chattanooga—makes for a convenient overnight stay—or longer. Harvest Moon RV Park at I-75 Exit 306 offers comfortable full-service camping for RVers including long pull-through sites (85-90 foot length).

Woodstock © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Woodstock, New York

Woodstock is much more than a small town at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. While the concert that put this town on the map wasn’t actually held here, it did bring international recognition to the town. Long before the 1969 music festival, Woodstock had been a utopian art colony. Its artsy roots can be traced back to the early 1900s. It started with The Byrdcliffe colony which was founded in 1903 (and still exists today) and was a woodsy retreat where artists were invited to come and simply create. Today, there is no shortage of art throughout the community, whether it’s the museums and galleries along Tinker Street (the main drag), the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, and the the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild.

Lancaster County © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

The heart of Pennsylvania’s Dutch community can be found in Lancaster which famously acted as the state capital from 1799 to 1812. The local farms mean lots of amazing food and fresh produce which can be found at Lancaster Central Market (the U.S.’s oldest public market). The town is also the starting point for the Lancaster County Art Gallery Trail which travels through several nearby towns and showcases the area’s most interesting (and affordable) art.

Woods Hole © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

This tiny, bustling Cape Cod town was once a pass-through destination for Martha’s Vineyard ferry travelers. Now it holds its own thanks to a charming waterfront filled with restaurants and shopping. Woods Hole is the epicenter of marine and biological science in the US with more than five major science institutions headquartered here (WHOI, MBL, NOAA, SEA, and Woods Hole Research Center).

Crowley © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Crowley, Louisiana

Rice is the bedrock of Cajun cuisine and no other Louisiana community is as intimately tied to the crop as Crowley. The swallow ponds and level prairies surrounding the city produce lots of crawfish too, but it was the turn-of-the-century rice mills that gave Crowley its identity and made possible today’s impressive collection of historic structures including ornate Victorian homes. Many historic buildings still play prominent roles in the city’s life including Miller Stadium, a 1940s-era ballpark and the Grand Opera House of the South that first opened in 1901. Visitors can relive regional music history at the J.D. Miller Recording Studio Museum downtown or get a taste of prairie life at the Crystal Rice Heritage Farm.

Corning © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Corning, New York

Corning is part of the Finger Lakes region of New York. Wineries and breweries: check. Panoramic views of a gorgeous lake: check. Restaurants filled with top-notch food: check. The Corning Museum of Art is celebrating 50 years and welcoming visitors in a unique way. This southern Finger Lakes community offers something for everyone. Spend time at the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum.

Worth Pondering…

This is not another place.

It is THE place.

—Charles Bowden