What makes a town beautiful? The answer is, naturally, subjective. Perhaps you have a penchant for windswept coasts. Or, maybe you love historic architecture. Do you favor human-made elements or natural scenery? To offer a glimpse at a variety of gorgeous places around the U.S., we considered destinations from coast to coast. Here are 20 of the most beautiful small towns in America, all with a population under 20,000.
For epic views of Turnagain Arm — a narrow waterway in the northwestern part of the Gulf of Alaska — glaciers (seven, to be specific), and snow-capped peaks, look no further than Girdwood, a resort town south of Anchorage. Visit Alyeska Resort to ski in the winter and hike during summer. No matter when you visit, you can take the aerial tram to the Bore Tide Deli and Bar and award-winning Seven Glaciers restaurant for majestic vistas.
Here’s the thing about Sedona: It’s objectively stunning. And that’s especially true of its red rocks. The buildings that sit in the middle of these formations tend to blend into their surroundings and let the red sandstone buttes and spires do the work. Also located in Verde Valley, nearby Clarkdale is surrounded by green with red rocks hemming the horizon, giving Sedona a run for its money, with the added bonus of a delightful downtown.
Picture this: colorful homes rising into the hills above a stunning blue bay banded with bright white boats. That’s Avalon, the only incorporated city on Santa Catalina Island, though you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a destination in the middle of the Mediterranean. Home to Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Gardens, Lovers Cove (a marine sanctuary), and the iconic Catalina Casino and Avalon Theatre, this resort community will make you feel like you’re a continent away while still remaining firmly in Los Angeles County.
The town of Palisade in Colorado’s Grand Valley is an agricultural haven (think blossoming orchards, lavender fields,