Saugatuck, Mich. Named Best Small Town Weekend Escape!

Granbury, Texas; Sedona, Ariz.; Lauderdale-by-the Sea, Fla. and Estes Park, Colo. in top five

Need to get away? We asked 10Best and USA TODAY readers to vote for their favorite small towns weekend escapes – towns with populations of under 25,000 that are all within 150 miles of major metros, making them easily reachable whether you fly and rent a car or live nearby. After four weeks of voting, the results are in!

  • Leiper’s Fork, Tenn.

    The little village of Leiper’s Fork, 28 miles outside of Nashville, was home to thousands of years of Native American history before its modern story began at its founding in 1801. Quaint inns and cottages make superb home bases from which to explore the town’s galleries and antique shops, as well as its outdoor pursuits. Exploring on horseback is a popular way to see the Tennessee countryside; others prefer sitting pretty at the Lawn Chair Theater, which hosts free, family-friendly outdoor movies.
    Photo courtesy of Williamson County

  • Friday Harbor, Wash.

    Friday Harbor, the only real town in any of Washington's San Juan Islands, features a large, well-protected marina where boaters drop anchor. The charming and walk-able seaport 103 miles from Seattle is built atop a hill leading up from the harbor, and its streets are lined with wood-frame shop buildings, art galleries, bed and breakfasts, coffee shops and restaurants. It's a popular base for orca watching excursions during the summer months.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Middleburg, Va.

    Historic Middleburg, a hotbed of horsing and hunting is home to myriad inns, bed and breakfasts, shops, galleries and upscale boutiques – more than enough to while away a long weekend – and all 43 miles from the nation’s capital. Fans of artisan foodstuffs and other unique items will enjoy perusing the village, which is mercifully devoid of chain stores – a wonderful place for singular gifts and meals worth remembering. Middleburg's Salamandar Resort & Spa often ranks among the best resorts in the South.
    Photo courtesy of CJ / Visit Loudoun

  • Hudson, N.Y.

    New Yorkers and travelers alike who need a break from the city lights can drive 120 miles north of the Big Apple to the small town of Hudson, a trendy escape teeming with antiques shops, art galleries, modern inns and suburb restaurants run by chefs fleeing New York for greener upstate pastures. The countryside surrounding the town boasts several farms with on-site farm stores where it's possible to pick up local provisions.
    Photo courtesy of Daniel Case / Wikimedia Commons

  • Dahlonega, Ga.

    The charming town of Dahlonega sits just 66 miles north of Atlanta on the outskirts of the Chattahoochee National Forest. This former gold mining outpost in the hills is now filled with galleries, boutiques, country stores and local restaurants ideal for a weekend visit. A calendar packed full of summer festivals means there's nearly always something going on.
    Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development

  • Estes Park, Colo.

    About 70 miles northwest of Denver lies one of Colorado’s most popular vacation destinations, Estes Park. This magical mountain village sits 7,500 feet above sea level and enjoys calendar-worthy Rocky Mountain views. While the town is particularly appealing as a weekend destination for families, with attractions like zip lining, miniature golf and horseback riding, it also serves as a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park and all the outdoor adventures that go with it.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Lauderdale-by-the Sea, Fla.

    Located on a beautiful barrier island 7 miles east of Fort Lauderdale, charming Lauderdale-by-the-Sea might be one of the country's easiest beach escapes. The small, family-oriented beach town – no high rises in sight – has a laid back vibe and sense of history that's missing from other, more modernized destinations on the Florida coast. This beach is also a popular diving spot – one of few Florida locations where the magnificent three-tier natural coral reef system is within swimming distance of the shore.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Sedona, Ariz.

    Sedona, located at the heart of Arizona’s stunning Red Rock Country, lies 116 miles north of Phoenix. Cooler summer temperatures certainly add to Sedona’s appeal, but the majestic rock formations, artistic scene and blissful spas make for a fantastic weekend, no matter the temperature. Followers of New Age philosophies believe that the region contains some of the world’s most important energy centers, and that coming here promotes balance and well being. We think it’s worth a shot!
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Granbury, Texas

    In the Texas Plains and Lakes region 69 miles outside of Dallas, the charming town of Granbury makes frequent appearances on “best small town” lists, and it’s easy to see why. The town’s historic square, lined by historic landmarks, makes for excellent shopping, and there are plenty of mom n’ pop restaurants to choose from when it comes time to refuel. The beach at Lake Granbury offers a way to cool off on those hot Texas afternoons, and there’s even a family-friendly boardwalk.
    Photo courtesy of QuesterMark / Flickr

  • Saugatuck, Mich.

    Weekend trippers to Saugatuck, located on the coast of Lake Michigan 139 miles from Chicago, come for its artistic community, local dining, numerous B&Bs and plentiful outdoor options, including relaxing on the beaches of the lake or conquering the area sand dunes. The downtown streets of Water and Butler are lined with cute shops and galleries, while the stretch of the Blue Star Highway just south of town is famous for its antiquing.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The top 10 winners in the category Best Small Town Weekend Escape are as follows:

  1. Saugatuck, Mich.
  2. Granbury, Texas
  3. Sedona, Ariz.
  4. Lauderdale-by-the Sea, Fla.
  5. Estes Park, Colo.
  6. Dahlonega, Ga.
  7. Hudson, N.Y.
  8. Middleburg, Va.
  9. Friday Harbor, Wash.
  10. Leiper’s Fork, Tenn.

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Larry Bleiberg (LarryBleiberg.com), Deborah Fallows (American Futures), Anna Hider (Roadtrippers), Libby McMillan and the 10Best team of Local Experts were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of American travel.

Other towns nominated for the title Best Small Town Weekend Escape included Beaufort, S.C.; Dundee, Ore.; Fernandina Beach, Fla.; Fredericksburg, Texas; Healdsburg, Calif.; Julian, Calif.; Key Largo, Fla.; Lambertville-New Hope, Penn./N.J.; Ojai, Calif. and St. Michaels, Md.

Congratulations to all our winning small towns!

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