Best Small-Town Getaways
Fernandina Beach is unpretentious and patient. One of the most fought-over towns in America (starting in 1565 when the Spanish threw out the French, only to be thrown out by the British in 1702), it has learned to take what comes and take it easy.
Within the Nantahala National Forest (near the area where Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina all meet), Highlands is a quiet mountain retreat about three hours away from the big-city bustle of Atlanta and four hours from Charlotte, North Carolina. Its downtown and the surrounding country-side are filled with fine art galleries, white-tablecloth restaurants, and some of the state’s most scenic fall color spots.
Once one of the most vibrant ship building and fishing centers on the Chesapeake Bay, today the town about 50 miles southeast of Annapolis contains one of the largest collections of restored 18th-century buildings in Maryland. Elegant and earthy, St. Michaels knows how to party like a gentleman and a sailor—all at the same time.
Set beside the Cane River Lake, Natchitoches (Nack-a-tish) might be considered New Orleans’s older, calmer sister. Settled by the French in 1714 (four years before her rowdier sibling to the south), the state’s oldest town spices up its white-columned, Southern plantation lifestyle with hearty pinches of Creole and Cajun influences.
Nestled in the Brazos River Valley about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, Granbury was reborn in 1969 when part of the Brazos was dammed to create Lake Granbury. The lake project also helped revitalize the town’s courthouse square, which became the first town square in Texas to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.