While we love the energy of big cities like New York, L.A. or Chicago, sometimes an escape from the urban jungle is just the thing. USA TODAY 10Best set out to find America's best small towns – travel-worthy destinations with permanent populations less than 10,000.
From coast to coast, the U.S. is dotted with thousands of such places, perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
We asked a panel of local travel experts around the nation to nominate their favorite small towns in each of five American regions: the Northeast, South, Midwest, Northwest and Southwest. For the past four weeks, our readers have been voting daily for the towns they found most deserving of the title of Readers' Choice Best Small Town.
Click on each category below to see all 10 winners.
Best Southern Small Town: New Albany, Miss.
Set on the banks of the scenic Tallahatchie River, New Albany is the gateway to the Tanglefoot Trail, Mississippi's longest Rails to Trails path. The vibrant downtown area, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has just about everything you'd want in a small town – galleries, antique shops, boutiques, restaurants and an old-time soda fountain.
Best Northeastern Small Town: Lenox, Mass.
At the heart of the Berkshires lies the village of Lenox, home of the famous Tanglewood Music Festival and a popular summer getaway. The core of the town features several shops and eateries, all surrounded by some mighty impressive homes. Visitors to the Ventfort Hall Museum have the chance to see inside one of these Gilded Age abodes.
Best Midwestern Small Town: Grand Marais, Minn.
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
Situated at the end of Minnesota's North Shore Scenic Drive, the town of Grand Marais charms with its art galleries, quirky restaurants, local shops and diverse lodging. While there's plenty to do in town (it's home to one of the nation's best art colonies), this harbor village also serves as a gateway to outdoor adventure in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Best Southwestern Small Town: Ajo, Ariz.
A copper mining hub in the early 20th century, Ajo is today a picturesque getaway in the Sonoran Desert and the gateway to Organ Pipe Cactus and Sonoran Desert National Monuments. A large central plaza is surrounded by Spanish Colonial architecture, including a mission-style church, and the town's history is on display at the Ajo Historical Society Museum.
Best Northwestern Small Town: Sequim, Wash.
Sequim, an old mill town on the Olympic Peninsula, enjoys a walkable downtown filled with gift shops and cafes, punctuated by a historic grain elevator. This unusually sunny small town (at least by Washington standards) is famous for succulent Dungeness crab, as well as the fields of fragrant lavender at its outskirts.
Congratulations to all our winning American small towns!