Best Historic Small Town: Tarpon Springs, Florida

Natchitoches, La.; Haddonfield, N.J.; Williamsburg, Va. and Natchez, Miss. also winners

The USA has a rich and exciting history, and visiting the places which most affected it is so much more fun than reading about it. These 10 winners for Best Historic Small Town have big histories and small populations – fewer than 30,000 people as of the last census – making them fun and affordable ways to dive into our nation's past.

  • Tarpon Springs
    Florida

    Visit the small town of Tarpon Springs, and you might feel like you’ve been transported to the shores of the Greek Islands. In the early 1900s, sponge beds were discovered nearby, and Greek sponge divers arrived and set up shop in what has become the town’s famous Sponge Docks on the Anclote River. The historic district features 145 historic buildings.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / crys94

  • Natchitoches
    Louisiana

    Welcome to “Nack-a-Tish,” B&B Capital of Louisiana and quaint setting for the ensemble-cast classic, Steel Magnolias. Natchitoches is the oldest town in the state. Its historic district is loaded down with shopping, dining and other attractions while ample annual events – many incorporating Native American, Creole and Louisiana cultures – draw visitors by the busload. Some of the city’s most popular center on music, including jazz and zydeco, others on regional staples like good ‘ol Louisiana barbecue.
    Photo courtesy of Natchitoches Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • Haddonfield
    New Jersey

    One of the best small towns in the Delaware Valley, Haddonfield is one of the oldest communities in the region, occupied by European settlers since the late 1600s. A Quaker meetinghouse was established in 1721, and the community soon began to grow. Visitors to the town can still see many of its historic homes and sites, including the colonial American Indian King Tavern and Greenfield Hall, now home to a Historical Society of Haddonfield museum.
    Photo courtesy of Smallbones / Wikimedia Commons

  • Williamsburg
    Virginia

    Originally the capital of Virginia (the largest state at that time) from 1699-1780, Williamsburg lost much of its prominence when the capital was moved to Richmond. However this was a blessing in disguise as the town was left mostly untouched by urbanization and the Industrial Revolution, leaving many of its historical buildings and sites intact, despite bitter battles and sieges being fought in the area during the Civil War.
    Photo courtesy of Kathy Kirby, @a_colonial_candle

  • Natchez
    Mississippi

    This historic Mississippi-River town of Natchez is home to stunning antebellum homes and staggering slave-trade history, both of which make it a riveting small-town destination for visitors, Civil War buffs in particular. Tours of historic homes and carriage rides allow guests to drink in the town’s many stories as they admire the beautifully preserved architecture. Wonderful local restaurants and taverns allow for both drinking and eating – and in many cases, live music, as well.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Mississippi / Flickr

  • Dodge City
    Kansas

    Famous for its Wild West shenanigans featuring Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp during the late 19th century, Dodge City maintains much of its historical appeal. The Boot Hill Museum features a replica of the town circa 1876, complete with nearly 30,000 artifacts and the graves of gunfight victims, while the Wild West Heritage Area educates on how livestock changed the cultural landscape of Southwest Kansas.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Dodge City

  • Cody
    Wyoming

    Founded in 1896 by the legendary Buffalo Bill himself, the town of Cody sits just 50 miles from the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park, making it a popular gateway for park goers. The Rodeo Capital of the World offers a colorful downtown filled with steakhouses, cowboy apparel shops, historic hotels and Old West saloons.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Debraansky

  • Solvang
    California

    In 1911, a group of Danish-Americans traveled to California from the Midwest in search of a new settlement in a warmer climate. The settlers selected a sunny spot in the Santa Ynez Valley just northwest of Santa Barbara. They chose an appropriate name for this fledgling community: Solvang, which is Danish for "sunny fields." Fast forward one hundred years, Solvang is a thriving hub of Scandinavian architecture and culture on the West Coast.
    Photo courtesy of Visit California/Carol Highsmith

  • Bath
    Maine

    Bath's two main thoroughfares are appropriately named Front and Centre. Both streets are lined with nineteenth century architecture, including many historic mansions, as well as antique stores, local book sellers and art galleries, like the Centre Street Arts Gallery and the Chocolate Church Arts Center.
    Photo courtesy of Dana Moos / Flickr

  • Madison
    Georgia

    Despite its small size, this town an hour east of Atlanta boasts more than 45 specialty shops and 160 antique dealers, all with a distinct Southern small town feel. The historic district's oak-lined streets, Antebellum homes, gardens and churches make Madison one of the prettiest small towns in the South.
    Photo courtesy of Madison CVB

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

  1. Tarpon Springs, Fla.
  2. Natchitoches, La.
  3. Haddonfield, N.J.
  4. Williamsburg, Va.
  5. Natchez, Miss.
  6. Dodge City, Kansas
  7. Cody, Wyo.
  8. Solvang, Calif.
  9. Bath, Maine
  10. Madison, Ga.

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Marla Cimini (USA TODAY), Beth D'Addono (100 Things To Do in New Orleans Before You Die), Deborah Fallows (Our Towns: A 100,000 Journey into the Heart of America), Eric Grossman, Anna Hider (Roadtrippers), Gerrish Lopez and Chelle Koster Walton were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of travel in the United States.

Congratulations to all these winning small towns!

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Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono

Deborah Fallows

Deborah Fallows

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Anna Hider

Anna Hider

Gerrish Lopez

Gerrish Lopez

Chelle Koster Walton

Chelle Koster Walton