Best Historic Small Town (2019)


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 nominees 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. 

  • Granbury


    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 iStock / Skyhobo

  • Mackinac Island

    Mackinac Island

    One of the last car-free destinations in the U.S., Mackinac Island, sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, seems trapped in the past, but in the most delightful way. Accommodations consist of white colonnaded turn-of-the-century hotels, while the horse-drawn carriage remains the favored form of transportation. With 80 percent of the island occupied by protected state parkland, those looking to explore the outdoors will find plenty of opportunity for hiking and biking.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Michael Deemer

  • Angola


    Founded in 1838, Angola is home to several attractions on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Angola Commercial Historic District, Steuben County Courthouse and the Steuben County Jail. The town is also home to a Civil War monument and a historic movie house.
    Photo courtesy of Indiana Office of Tourism Development

  • Clarksdale


    Those with an interest in music history should have the town of Clarksdale at the top of their list. This town in the Mississippi Delta played an important role in the development of the blues, a history you can explore at the Delta Blues Museum.
    Photo courtesy of Lisa Waddell Buser for USA TODAY

  • Williamsburg


    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 iStock / kamcma

  • Natchez


    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 iStock / StevenGaertner

  • Natchitoches


    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

  • Abilene


    Abilene is the hometown of Dwight D. Eisenhower, a 5-Star General and 34th President of the United States, and that’s just the start of this town’s historical appeal. Besides the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood home, visitors can ride the state’s only operational steam locomotive, tour the Historic Seelye Mansion, take a spin on the oldest known Parker Carousel and step back into the Wild West in Old Abilene Town.
    Photo courtesy of Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • St. Augustine

    St. Augustine

    Situated on the banks of the Matanzas River, the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in North America was initially founded by Spanish pioneers in 1565 as a forward base for expanding further into the continent. Throughout its history St. Augustine, protected by the oldest fort in America, Castillo de San Marcos, has been raided, attacked and changed hands several times. 
    Photo courtesy of

  • 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

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

  1. Granbury, Texas
  2. Mackinac Island, Michigan
  3. Angola, Indiana
  4. Clarksdale, Mississippi
  5. Williamsburg, Virginia
  6. Natchez, Mississippi
  7. Natchitoches, Louisiana
  8. Abilene, Kansas
  9. St. Augustine, Florida
  10. Haddonfield, New Jersey

A panel of experts (listed below) partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning small towns!

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Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Deborah Fallows

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Deborah Fallows

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Anna Hider

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