A Bite-Sized Look at Some of the Best Storybook Towns in the U.S.

If you’re looking to get out of town, you don’t have to settle for one of the major tourist hubs like New York or Los Angeles to have fun. Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or a road trip across America, make your next vacation one for the books. Some of the most memorable places you can experience are the overlooked small towns that you’ll only find between the lines.

While planning a trip to a lesser known area can be more work than simply winging it in a metropolis, the following communities are just as deserving of your time. Explore natural beauty, see rich American history, browse local shops and dine with the locals at a lower cost than a traditional vacation destination at the following places:

Perdido Key, Florida

Perdido Key, Florida beach

Located in northwest Florida, this beach area is a lovely, almost hidden, community near Pensacola. Perdido Key hits on all the reasons why many people want to settle down in the Sunshine State. These features include warm weather, pristine beaches, miles of wildlife reserves, fascinating parks and so on. Instead of visiting the bustling areas down south, visit Perdido Key for the same famous Florida-style beaches, preserved wildlife and relaxing vacation experience.

Bisbee, Arizona

When most people think of southern Arizona, they’re probably familiar with the city of Tucson, or the former gun-slinging town of Tombstone. But located even further south is Bisbee, an old mining town that now thrives on dancing to the beat of a different drummer. Artists, musicians, craftsmen and even some celebrities make up the fabric of this close-knit community. People flock to Bisbee for an increasingly rare small-town experience complete with beautiful surroundings, old architecture, good people and great art.

Sitka, Alaska

A look at Sitka's harbor

The city-borough of Sitka is located inside the world’s largest temperate rainforest, right off the southern coast of Alaska. While the indigenous inhabitants were that of the Tlingit, America purchased the land from the Russians in 1867. Currently, less than 10,000 people live in this picturesque city-borough, which can only be accessed by water or air. Sitka is the perfect Alaskan spot to explore the nearly untouched nature, go hiking, take a bike tour, golf or watch whales.

Sebastopol, California

Sign in Sebastopol

Sebastopol is a charming town in western Sonoma County, off the SR-12 and SR-116 highways. Arts, food and culture thrive here, where the relaxed atmosphere permeates into nearly every facet of each resident’s lives. Find over 800 types of flowers, fruits and vegetables at Luther Burbank’s Experimental Farm or shop for vintage treasures on Antique Row. This offbeat but sophisticated town is perfect for nature lovers with a creative streak.

Damascus, Virginia

Hiker in Damascus, VA resting outside

If you enjoy hiking, you wouldn’t want to pass up a trip to Damascus, especially if you’re looking for that storybook town experience. Seven national trails converge here where you can take in breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding areas. The town also features a microbrewery, a network of artisans, eateries and an ideal setting for true relaxation. They say Virginia is for lovers, and if that’s true, you’ll definitely be head over heels for Damascus.

Durango, Colorado

Steam Train in Durango

This small city in Colorado is hardly a secret, due to a growing fanbase of travelers who adore the location and the number of things to do inside it. Durango offers fun-filled activities year-round, such as biking, zip lining, horseback riding and rafting. You can even take a steam-powered train from the 1880s on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to experience the sheer beauty of Durango’s protected national parks. Experience a bit of the old west in the nationally registered historic downtown area or at one of the many museums the city has to offer. The list of things to do in Durango can be as long as your imagination!

Sometimes going off the beaten path is the best way to go. Check out some of these smaller communities or do some research into what overlooked gems are close to where you live. Why burn another weekend up when you could experience a bite-sized adventure? Happy travels.