10 Small Towns That Are Going to Be Big in 2018

Add these to your travel bucket list for 2018.

By Jill Gleeson, CountryLiving

There's nothing quite as American as small towns, except maybe apple pies and baseball. We've compiled a list of ten of our favorites that we think are going to be extra popular in the year ahead—places where neighbors still know each other by name, the pace is slow, and the charms are many. A couple you might have heard of, most you probably haven't, but all deserve a visit in 2018. 

Abingdon, Virginia

[post_ads]On race days at the nearby Bristol Motor Speedway, Abingdon can turn bustling, but mostly this town a stone's throw from the Tennessee and North Carolina borders stays sleepy. That doesn't mean boring—arguably the country's most beautiful rails-to-trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, starts here. Riders can rent bikes and arrange shuttles at the Virginia Creeper Trail Bike Shop. Meanwhile, the two-century-old downtown boasts the Barter Theater, the nation's longest-running professional theater, where Gregory Peck got his start. Foodies will want to sample dishes at the innovative and friendly eatery The Peppermill or the reportedly haunted The Tavern.

Livingston, Montana

It's a testament to Livingston's over-the-top beauty that its scenery beats even Yellowstone National Park, 50 miles south. Fly-fishing on the Yellowstone River is legendary, but the downtown holds plenty of pleasures, including galleries, an ever-growing assortment of unique shops including Conley's Books and Music, a crackerjack independent bookstore. Wet your whistle at The Murray, a favorite stop for visiting celebs located inside the historic Murray Hotel. 

Sackets Harbor, New York

Sackets Harbor, which sits pretty in the Thousand Islands region of upstate New York, may be tiny but it's mighty. During the War of 1812 the village hosted the American Navy, enduring two of that conflict's critical battles. History buffs can will enjoy a guided tour of the Sackets Harbor Battlefield, which features a restored shipyard. Just outside of town, Westcott Beach State Park is resplendent with white sand and Lake Ontario waters, but simply strolling the downtown streets, lined with quaint shops, is a treat. Don't miss brunching on the patio of Tin Pan Galley.

Fredericksburg, Texas

Nestled in Texas Hill Country, Fredericksburg is spectacular in the spring, when the area's wildflowers are in bloom. There are plenty of diversions in other seasons, too, like exploring the region's famous wineries, including Becker Vineyards, producers of award-winning vino for two decades. Founded in the 19th-century by German settlers—whose descendants still make Old World-style goodies at the Old German Bakery—Fredericksburg is also home to the exhaustive National Museum of the Pacific War, dedicated to detailing WWII battles in the Pacific. For extra fun, stay at The Hangar Hotel, decorated with a 1940s aviation theme.


Madrid, New Mexico

Located along the Land of Enchantment's Turquoise Trail about 30 miles south of Santa Fe, wee little Madrid, once a ghost town, has evolved into a full-blown artist colony. Some 40 shops and galleries, many selling unique goods from local makers, fill the town. The Mine Shaft Tavern, a rambling structure that extends into the Old Town Coal Museum and Engine House Theatre, serves up both live music and the award-winning Santa Fe Green Chili Cheeseburger. There's even a little bunkhouse out back, or book a stay at The Lotus, a spa and inn providing services that include aromatherapy, yoga, and art therapy instruction.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

Perhaps still known best for its famous ex-mayor (Clint Eastwood), gorgeous Carmel-by-the-Sea, located south of San Francisco, offers loads to do in its one-mile-square radius. The dining is world-renowned, with around 50 top-rated restaurants to choose from, including Doris Day's Cypress Inn. Art lovers can stroll some of the town's 80-odd galleries with Carmel Art Tours, or take a painting lesson at Titus Contemporary Gallery. For a romantic retreat, reserve a room with a fireplace and whirlpool tub at the Carmel Country Inn and take in a performance at the Sunset Center, where legends like Rosanne Cash play.

Muscle Shoals, Alabama

One quarter of four little municipalities in northern Alabama dubbed collectively "The Shoals," Muscle Shoals should be on every music lover's must-visit list. The town's Fame Studios has hosted everyone from Aretha Franklin to the Osmonds. Tour Fame and then head over to tiny Sheffield and do the same at the recently reopened Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, and Bob Dylan recorded. Meanwhile, nearby Florence boasts the flagship store of the South's hottest clothing designer, Billy Reid, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Rosenbaum House, while Tuscumbia is home to the iconic Ivy Green, the Helen Keller Birthplace and Home.


St. Michael's, Maryland

Tucked away on Maryland's Eastern Shore, St. Michael's history stretches back to the mid-1600s, when it served as a trading post. Nowadays it's dotted with graceful colonial, federal, and Victorian structures turned into hotels, restaurants, and shops, like the luxurious Inn at Perry Cabin. Sample the justifiably famous local crab at the inn's restaurant and then head out on the water—kayaking, sunset cruises and paddleboards are all available in St. Michael's. You can even help build a boat at the Chesapeake Maritime Museum.

Durango, Colorado

Colorado is rich with adorable mountain burgs, but it's tough to beat Durango, especially if you're a fan of locomotives. Founded in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Durango still offers steam-powered train journeys along the historic Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. To explore more ancient times, visit nearby Mesa Verde National Park, home to Ancestral Puebloan people1,500 years ago. Of course, everything from fine fishing to incredible skiing is available in the surrounding San Juan Mountains, and with more restaurants per capita than San Francisco, Durango offers plenty of options when you're ready to eat.


Ephraim, Wisconsin

Ephraim, situated on Wisconsin's Door County Peninsula, was settled by Norwegian Moravians in 1853. It features 11 sites on the National Register of Historic places and a wealth of great shopping, including the Anderson House Shop and Gallery, where you can browse for treasures inside an 1864 homestead. Outdoor lovers can take to the waters of Eagle Harbor by jetski, kayak, paddle board, or Bella Sailing Cruises sailboat. Fine flavors abound in Ephraim, too, from the locally-sourced cuisine at Trixie's to the sweets at Wilson's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor, a favorite since 1906.


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Travel Magazine: 10 Small Towns That Are Going to Be Big in 2018
10 Small Towns That Are Going to Be Big in 2018
Add these to your travel bucket list for 2018.
Travel Magazine
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