Small towns have a charm you just can’t find in cities. Quiet B&Bs stand in place of bustling hotel towers; mom-and-pop shops outnumber the strip malls. Beach towns like Rehoboth, DE and Boca Grande, FL are all-American classics, with saltwater taffy and seafood shacks lining the boardwalks. Stranger towns like Lily Dale, NY are known for their residents (psychics here were the focus of an HBO documentary), while Bardstown, KY’s 1892 courthouse makes its town square one of the most beautiful.
We’ve nominated these towns—and hundreds of others across the U.S.—to be one of America’s Favorites. Think your town deserves recognition? Head here to view our full list and vote in a number of categories, from farmer’s markets to cool motels. Rank your town from now until Oct. 15th and—besides possible bragging rights—receive a free download of the World's Best Affordable Beaches and a chance to win $25,000 towards a dream vacation. Follow the hashtag #TLTowns on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more to see how much noise your town is making.
Here’s a fun exercise: Tell people you’re taking an island vacation…to Ohio. Then see how quickly they start measuring you for a straightjacket.
It turns out, though, that Ohiodoes have islands, floating in Lake Erie just a few miles from shore. And they’re not the single-palm-tree variety; these tree-filled expanses spread over hundreds of acres and feature parks, Victorian-era B&Bs, historic sites, shopping, and wineries (yes, wineries).
The Greenporter Hotel is in the heart of the North Fork's wine country, in historic Greenport, Long Island two hours from Manhattan by car. With floors of bright maple and sleek aluminum furnishings, the 30 rooms are all about cool minimalism and convey the feel of a comfortable beach house. The restaurant Cuvee Seafood & Grille highlights seasonal produce, seafood, game, and wine from vineyards and local purveyors. Sip rosé at Croteaux Vineyards in the shaded garden, visit McCall Wines, Long Island’s largest vineyard for Pinot Noir, or stroll around Paumanok Vineyards, known for its crisp, fruity Chenin Blanc. Fall rates start at $149 on weekdays and $239 on weekends.
While we all love to travel, there’s no denying the perks to living in the land of red, white, and blue. From Texas barbecue to New Orleans jazz music, America’s melting pot continues to stir up some of the tastiest and liveliest traditions around. So when it comes to our nation’s biggest bash—the Fourth of July—celebrate by seeing all America has to offer while getting your dose of hot dogs, fireworks, and flag t-shirts.
Get your fill of lobster rolls and oysters in this quintessential New England beach town. The charming Kennebunkport Inn has a large front porch and sundeck and an outdoor fireplace overlooking the Kennebuck River. You can enjoy complimentary bikes, beach passes, towels, and beach chairs; it’s a 15-minute drive to Goose Rocks Beach. From $169/night (3-night minimum over Memorial Day weekend).
Originally a collection of salt miners cottages, this recently opened 15-guestroom hotel in Provincetown offers crisp bright white rooms, plus bath products from C.O. Bigelow and LA-based Further brand. Co-owner Kevin O’Shea is also the Inn’s interior designer and its chef; he makes breakfast each day. There’s an outdoor dining area, a lounge, and a sun terrace on the landscaped grounds. From $250/night with free parking (3-night minimum stay over Memorial Day weekend).
On Florida’s west coast, this laid-back hotel puts you right on the beach. All guestrooms are individually decorated and have flat screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, vintage light fixtures and, in many cases, large-scale surf photography by local artists. A large pool is lined by bright yellow chaises, and PCI Beach Bar serves cool drinks on the sand. From $199/night.
Originally opened in 1929, this Spanish-inspired property launched the Casa Surf Project in 2010 with 10 one-of-a-kind suites dedicated to surf culture. Head to the outdoor rooftop lounge for beautiful ocean views—plus a menu with all dishes at $12 or less. The hotel, steps from the beach, provides guests with umbrellas, towels, chairs, and drinks for a day out in the sun. From $199/night on Fridays and $228 on Saturdays.
Just north of better-known Cannon Beach, the small town of Gearhart is big on antiques shops and picturesque hiking trails. It’s an easy walk from dunes along the Pacific Ocean to restored Gearhart Ocean Inn: 12 attached cottages, each with a kitchen or kitchenette. The owners of this property welcome pets and will provide beach cruiser bikes and a “clam gun” for scooping up clams from the sand. From $140/night (3-night minimum stay over Memorial Day weekend).
1. NATURAL PARADISE: Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale, Missouri A great family getaway set on 800 acres in the heart of the Ozark mountains, overlooking bass-filled Table Rock Lake. 81 just-renovated cabins have wood-burning fireplaces and western-inspired interiors, but who wants to stay inside when the great outdoors await? DON’T MISS Paddleboard yoga on the shimmering private marina, and, come evening, the Campfire Wagon Tours in an antique wagon. PRICE $149 a night. BOOK NOW.
2. GATSBY-ERA GLAM: Raphael Hotel, Kansas City, MO Fronting chic County Club Plaza, one of the nation’s oldest outdoor suburban shopping centers, 126-room Raphael Hotel is a landmark 1920’s Renaissance Revival building, with custom mahogany millwork and travertine marble flooring. DON’T MISS Jazz dinners at Chaz on the Plaza, where local musicians perform Tuesday through Sunday evenings. PRICE $209 a night. BOOK NOW.
3. ART-FILLED RETREAT: 21C Museum Hotel, Louisville, KY Designed by New York architect Deborah Berke, this 90-room property has a multi-million dollar art collection worthy of MoMa. Explore the exhibits—which are free and open to the public—or just hang out in your spare-but-polished room, with exposed brick walls and cheeky details, such as rubber ducky’s in the shower. DON’T MISS The Urban Bourbon Trail, a walking tour of 50-plus bourbons with a stop at 21c’s Proof on Main. PRICE $229 a night. BOOK NOW.
We’ve gathered five great summer getaways for every kind of family—and all are under $200 a night.
Camp for All Ages: Maine Camp Experience A growing number of camps provide overnight camp sessions for the whole family—a great chance to have fun all together. Family Camp at Maine Camp Experience offers a range of camp options around the state. There’s plenty to enjoy: waterskiing, fishing, rock climbing, zip lining, archery, tennis lessons, arts and crafts, as well as sunset campfires and games organized by camp staff. Experiences range from specific two-night weekend sessions to lengthier, more flexible stays. Rates from $65/night per person ($55 for ages 6-11 and under 6 is free), includes accommodations, meals and activities. mainecampexperience.com
Just downriver from Washington on the western bank of the Potomac, Alexandria has that perfect mix of historic charm—and easy access to the nation’s capital. WHERE TO STAY The 45-room Morrison House is a great choice because it’s small—just 45 rooms—plus there are so many extras, from complimentary wine from 5-6 p.m. to free morning coffee and newspaper. PRICE $165 a night.
LUXE GETAWAY: Baltimore, Maryland
For those who love a good Four Seasons hotel—and really, who doesn’t?—the new Four Seasons in Baltimore is one more reason to visit the city. Plus, the Baltimore Museum of Art just reopened its Contemporary Wing, with works by Olafur Eliasson, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. WHERE TO STAY The 256-room Four Seasons opened in 2011 in Harbor East, with a terrace, heated whirlpool, and a spa. PRICE $339 a night.
WINE TOURS: Barboursville, Virginia
Two hours southwest of D.C., Barboursville, Virginia, is a serene wine country getaway. WHERE TO STAY The lakeside 1804 Inn is a romantic escape: you’ll sleep in a four-poster bed in this historic inn set between Madison's Montpelier and Jefferson's Monticello. PRICE $240 a night.
Travel + Leisure's Sarah Spagnolo presents easy weekend getaways from Memphis on the Weather Channel's Wake Up and Go.
1. CULTURE SPOT: Bentonville, AR This small city is being transformed into a world-class arts destination, thanks in part to the Crystal Bridges Museum, which opened in 2011. It’s owned by Wal-Mart heir Alice Walton, and houses her collection of American art. WHERE TO STAY The new 21C Museum Hotel, just off the city’s town square, has contemporary art from the 21st-century—hence the name—and a buzzy restaurant, The Hive. PRICE $175 a night. BOOK NOW
2. FOODIE ESCAPE: Greenwood, MS Inspired to see the locations from the film The Help? Try Greenwood, a low-key culinary mecca just two hours south of Memphis. WHERE TO STAY The Alluvian hotel is home to 45 rooms, five suites, a Viking Cooking School, and Giardina’s restaurant, a southern spot that’s been open since 1936. PRICE $205 a night. BOOK NOW
3. MUSIC HAVEN: Nashville, TN Music City has that perfect mix of old-school Southern class and modern country flair. It’s also known for its friendly people. And we’re in the middle of Vanderbilt University’s basketball season! WHERE TO STAY The Hutton Hotel debuted on the T+L 500 list this year. A secret: there’s a complimentary wine hour from 5–6 p.m. PRICE $249 a night. BOOK NOW