Our best small towns have a lot in common, whether they’re mountaintop or beachside or somewhere in between. One of the best small towns in North Carolina, Highlands, has fewer than 1,000 residents year-round—but no shortage of character, gorgeous mountain scenery, and interesting shops and galleries. You could say something similar about tiny Breaux Bridge, Louisiana; Floyd, Virginia; or Rock Hall, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay. The South’s best small towns are loaded with character and charm, often because they’ve worked hard at historic preservation. They have interesting arts communities or lots of locally owned boutiques and galleries—or all of the above. They’re the kind of places that locals are proud of because they’re great communities. And those happy residents are eager to share their towns with visitors, who reap the rewards of a warm welcome. On your next getaway, take a spin on the dance floor in Luckenbach, Texas, or watch the sunset at Fernandina Beach, Florida. A good time will be had by all.
These Main Street towns evoke the best of what we are as a culture. They’re places with a beating heart, where tradition is the lifeblood, and neighbors gather on front porches for a glass of sweet tea. Here are our 20 favorite small spots