Scroll Down To Continue

30 Best Small Cities in the United States

Newport, RI (pop. 24,779)

Newport is a maritime town, so that means there are plenty of sailing and yachting opportunities. A great benefit of being so close to open waters is the price of seafood, which is much cheaper and fresher than anything you’d get in a state in the middle of the United States. Newport also has great walking paths next to the sea and through historic downtown.

(image via Instagram)

Aspen, CO (pop. 6,871)

Originally founded as a silver mining community, Aspen has transitioned into a world-renowned ski resort. Real estate prices have skyrocketed as jet setters and millionaires buy vacation homes in the area, but those high prices aren’t what make Aspen one of the best small cities. It has beautiful landscapes, an outdoor lifestyle culture, and the state’s top-performing high school are to thank for the honor.

(image via Instagram)

Santa Fe, NM (pop. 83,875)

As the longest-serving state capital in the country, Santa Fe has a storied history the helps it land a place on the list of best small cities. Much of the town’s architecture is in the pueblo style, using stucco to reflect the historic adobe construction of year’s past. The city also has a rich arts scene particularly focused on American Indian and folk art styles.

(image via Instagram)

Asheville, NC (pop. 89,121)

Western North Carolina’s cultural mecca might be best known for the sprawling Biltmore estate nearby, but the fast-growing downtown has much to offer visitor and residents alike. The town’s culinary scene is flourishing with farm-to-table establishments and numerous craft breweries. If neither of those pique your interest, there’s basically a different festival every weekend for you to explore. 

(image via Instagram)

Bentonville, AR (pop. 47,093)

Bentonville might be the smallest of the four major cities in Northwest Arkansas, but it punches well above its weight, partially thanks to the Walton family. As the headquarters of Walmart, Bentonville sees a larger chunk of business visitors than other towns of its size. Plus, the new Crystal Bridges museum, built with Walmart money, has brought world-class art to the region, as well as a service industry boom (upscale restaurants & hotels) to support it.

(image via Instagram)

Greenville, SC (pop. 67,453)

Halfway between the megacities of Charlotte and Atlanta, Greenville has carved out a small town niche all its own. While it may trail other cities in population, its economic output is oversized. The city is home to the North American headquarters of Michelin, AVX electronics, the International Center for Automotive Research, and a Lockheed Martin logistics center.

(image via Instagram)

Ellensburg, WA (pop. 19,786)

If you’ve always wanted to settle in the Pacific Northwest but were turned off by the rainy climate, Ellensburg might be the perfect fit for you. The town is located on the eastern side of the Cascades, usually prevent the numerous rain clouds that are common over Seattle. The compact downtown is also home to numerous boutiques, art galleries, and delectable restaurants.

(image via Instagram)

Spring Hill, TN (pop. 37,731)

Spring Hill is the fastest-growing city on the list. In just 20 years, its population has exploded 400% (that’s not a typo). Even with all that growth, it hasn’t lost its small town feel. There’s still under 40,000 residents. Unemployment remains low for a city its size thanks to the nearby GM manufacturing facility.

(image via Facebook)

Telluride, CO (pop. 2,325)

You might think Telluride is just another former mining camp-turned-ski resort (looking at you, Aspen). But this southwestern Colorado town features a historic downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The area’s outdoor fun isn’t limited to just winter, either. After the snow melts, Telluride hosts ulramarathon runs, a bluegrass festival, and even a film fest.

(image via Instagram)

St. George, UT (pop. 82,318)

Located in southwestern Utah, two hours northeast of Las Vegas, St. George has been one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation for some time. Now that things have settled down a bit, you can enjoy the benefits that the influx has brought, including Sunsets on the Square and the George Street Fest. Or drive a little further to Zion, Bryce Canyon, or Grand Canyon National Parks.

(image via Facebook)

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA (pop. 3,891)

Two hours down the California coast from San Francisco on the southern end of Monterey Bay, it’s easy to see why Carmel-by-the-Sea was a favorite hangout of artists like Ansel Adams, Clint Eastwood, and Sinclair Lewis. Thanks to these guests, the town has a strong theatre, visual, and musical arts culture to this day.

(image via Instagram)

Dubuque, IA (pop. 58,531)

Dubuque sits on the Mississippi River at the tri-state juncture of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. While a longtime farming and manufacturing community (a Deere & Company factory is nearby), the city’s economy has expanded rapidly in the 2000s. Historic Old Main retains some of the city’s significant Victorian brick architecture, and the Fenelon Place Elevator scales a hill to offer expansive views.

(image via Facebook)

Park City, UT (pop. 8,299)

Mountains are the place to go for great small towns. Nestled at the foothills of the Wasatch Range, the western edge of the Rocky Mountains, Park City was the focus of the skiing world in 2002 when it hosted the Winter Olympics. What truly put the town on the map, however, was the Sundance Film Festival. This little city has shown time and again that it knows how to put on a big show.

(image via Instagram)

Portland, ME (pop. 66,937)

Portland might be the most populous city in Maine, but it’s one of the least populated "biggest cities" of any state. Oregon’s city of the same name may take the counterculture crown at the moment, but Portland, Maine is more intimate and has a unique seafaring culture you can’t find on the West Coast. Plus, the cobblestone streets of historic Old Port are older than the Oregon Territory.

(image via Instagram)

Manhattan, KS (pop. 54,983)

Manhattan is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. We say that not to be demeaning but to qualify how surprisingly vibrant the town’s culture is for an otherwise empty prairie expanse. Nearby Kansas State University is the driving force behind the quirky “downtown” drag, aptly nicknamed Aggieville.

(image via Facebook)

Sedona, AZ (pop. 10,397)

If you’re looking for unique culture, Sedona might be hard to beat. New Age esoteric practicers believe that the area is at the convergence of multiple spiritual vertices. The extraordinary red sandstone landscape probably contributes to that notion, as well as provides the perfect backdrop to film, jazz, and bluegrass festivals.

(image via Wikipedia)

Monterey, CA (pop. 28,454)

If performing arts or marine biology are on your list of interests, Monterey has both covered. The town is home to California’s first theater and the Monterey Pop Festival served as an inspiration for Woodstock. The Monterey Bay Aquarium is also one of the largest public aquariums in North America.

(image via Wikipedia)

Bend, OR (pop. 91,122)

The largest city in central Oregon is also the largest small city on our list, just barely making it under our arbitrary cutoff of 100,000 residents. Bend is a lifestyle paradise thanks to its climate and geography. Mountain biking, winter sports, rafting, and camping are all popular activities, which helped spur a 75% growth in population since the year 2000.

(image via Instagram)

Saratoga Springs, NY (pop. 27,763)

Saratoga Springs is synonymous with thoroughbred racing. That means that the city has a sizeable service industry to support the influx of visitors during racing season. Not everyone loves horses, however. If that’s the case, you could experience the relaxing mineral springs. There are also numerous museums related to dance, automobiles, military history, and (of course) horse racing.

(image via Instagram)

Marfa, TX (pop. 1,747)

Marfa may seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere Texas...and it is. But what it lacks in population, it more than makes up for in minimalist art. Marfa was the former home of Donald Judd. After his move to the area, other artists visited frequently as well, including Dan Flavin, Claes Oldenburg, and others. Needless to say, a deeply held arts culture, complete with museums and galleries, has survived.

(image via Instagram)

Appleton, WI (pop. 74,370)

Forty miles south of Green Bay, Appleton is the home of the brand new Fox Cities Exhibition Center. But even before its opening, Appleton was a quaint, clean small town boasting notable restaurants, coffee shops, and downtown shopping.

(image via Pinterest)

San Ramon, CA (pop. 75,639)

San Ramon is just on the other side of the Diablo Range from Oakland. It’s just far enough away from the Bay Area’s craziness without also feeling adrift in no man’s land. The town consistently ranks as one of the safest population centers while spurring typical suburban styling to become an example of smart urban development. A 43-acre Central Park doesn’t hurt either.

(image via Wikipedia)

Oviedo, FL (pop. 39,337)

This far-flung northeastern Orlando suburb has consistently been ranked a top locale to live, particularly for young families. High-performing schools coupled with outdoor activities and pleasant weather offer the perfect excuse to wander the newly developed Oviedo on the Park to see what the city has to offer.

(image via Facebook)

West Bend, WI (pop. 31,702)

Riverfront Parkway lines the Milwaukee river in sections just north of the downtown area, and the path is dotted with sculptures. On the other side of the river, the Eisenbahn State Trail stretches north and south for a total of 25 miles. Those aren’t bad offerings for a southeastern Wisconsin town about an hour outside of a major economic center.

(image via Wikipedia)

Cedar Falls, IA (pop. 41,390)

For such a small town, it might be surprising that Cedar Falls has its own dedicated arts and culture board as well as a historical society. But as a college town to the University of Northern Iowa, the area prizes education and insight, evidenced even further by municipal-sponsored gigabit internet.

(image via Facebook)

Bismarck, ND (pop. 72,417)

This upper Great Plains capital city enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the country, low housing costs, extensive network of outdoor trails, and a revitalized downtown. It’s no wonder, then, that the city’s population has grown 18% since the beginning of the decade.

(image via Instagram)

Beverly, MA (pop. 41,365)

If you’re looking for a city that’s the perfect in-between, Beverly is the location for you. It has the mass transit access of Northeastern cities (a 30-min train ride down to Boston), but it’s small population isn’t claustrophobia-inducing. Home to the Montserrat College of Art, Beverly is dotted with galleries, murals, and multiple arts festivals.

(image via Wikipedia)

Bozeman, MT (pop. 45,250)

Boozeman is an outdoor lover’s paradise. The expansive Yellowstone National Park is under two hours away, but there are also plenty of hiking, camping, and fly-fishing opportunities closer to home. Nearby Montana State University contributes to Bozeman’s high educational attainment and cultural offerings, including four museums, a symphony, ballet, and opera company.

(image via Instagram)

Charlottesville, VA (pop. 46,912)

Charlottesville is most closely associated with Thomas Jefferson. His primary plantation, Monticello, and the school he founded, The University of Virginia, are both listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Downtown Mall is also one of the longest pedestrian malls in the country.

(image via Facebook)

Nashua, NH (pop. 87,882)

While located in New Hampshire, Nashua is technically a exurb of the ever expanding Boston metro area. However, the city’s atmosphere is nothing like the crowded, winding streets of Beantown. More and more businesses are springing up along the quaint Main Street drag as people, no doubt, take advantage of the relatively cheaper cost of living.

(image via Wikipedia)