Best Northwestern Small Town (2017)


From fishing villages to Old West mining towns, the Northwestern United States – Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming – are dotted with small towns, each with its own unique appeal. 

  • Sequim


    Sequim, an old mill town on the Olympic Peninsula, enjoys a walkable downtown filled with gift shops and cafes, and 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.
    Photo courtesy of ih / Flickr

  • Florence


    Situated where the Siuslaw River meets the Pacific Ocean, Florence is home to two of the most popular attractions on the central Oregon Coast, Heceta Head Lighthouse and Sea Lion Caves. Fresh seafood dominates the restaurant menus at establishments clustered on Bay Street.
    Photo courtesy of Christian Heeb / Travel Oregon

  • Buffalo


    Sandwiched between rolling plains and the peaks of the Bighorn Mountains, the town of Buffalo is a popular base for outdoor adventures of all types. But the town itself is worthy of notice, thanks to its shops, art galleries, dining, musuems and range of accommodation options. 
    Photo courtesy of Paul Hermans / Wikimedia Commons

  • Port Townsend

    Port Townsend

    Port Townsend was originally meant to be a major harbor on the West Coast, and while that never came to fruition, the town retains much of its historic charm. Water Street passes through the heart of the historic district, where architecture buffs can spot numerous Victorian buildings, like the Hastings Building and the Rose Theater.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Sitka


    The Tlingit people have lived in Sitka and the surrounding area for more than 500 years, and their rich history and culture are in evidence throughout totem-filled Sitka National Historical Park. Russian immigrants began settling Sitka in 1799, and today, the intermingling of Tlingit and Russian influences can be seen throughout the town's art and architecture. Historic onion domed St. Michael's Cathedral has been an active Russian Orthodox Church for two centuries.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Sitka, William Greer

  • Friday Harbor

    Friday Harbor

    The walkable and historic seaport known as Friday Harbor serves as a gateway to Washington's spectacular San Juan Islands. The streets here are lined with wood-frame shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants and B&Bs; notable attractions include The Whale Museum and the San Juan Islands Museum of Art.
    Photo courtesy of Mike Bertrand / San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

  • Winthrop


    Situated in Washington's North Cascades region, the town of Winthrop in the Methow Valley offers an Old West atmosphere complete with wooden boardwalks, Western storefronts and plenty of shops, restaurants and galleries. The town's festival calendar is a full one, and outdoor activities – especially cross country skiing in the winter months – abound.
    Photo courtesy of Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

  • Wallace


    The historic town of Wallace owes its existence to the rich silver deposits found in the surrounding countryside. It's also the only city in the U.S. where every single downtown building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
    Photo courtesy of Peg Owens / Visit Idaho

  • Cooke City

    Cooke City

    One of Montana's gateways to Yellowstone National Park, Cooke City sits at the terminus of the area's famous and incredibly scenic Beartooth Pass. After a day of exploring the great outdoors, visitors in town can grab a drink at saloon, do some shopping along the main street and catch some Zs in a rustic log cabin.
    Photo courtesy of Montana Office of Tourism

  • Talkeetna


    Talkeetna, a funky little town in Southcentral Alaska, is thought to be the inspiration behind the fictional town of Cicely in the TV series Northern Exposure. Equal parts artistic and outdoorsy, Talkeetna sits beneath the shadow of Denali, where clapboard storefronts line the town's single paved street, Main Street, and the surrounding dirt paths.
    Photo courtesy of Kolmkolm / Wikimedia Commons


10Best editors teamed up with a panel of local travel experts to find the best small towns with populations less than 10,000 (according to the latest census date) in the region. We considered nearly 50 options, narrowing it down to just 20 representing each of the six states in the region. Then we turned it over to you, our readers, who have been voting for the past four weeks.

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

  1. Sequim, Wash.
  2. Florence, Ore.
  3. Buffalo, Wyo.
  4. Port Townsend, Wash.
  5. Sitka, Alaska
  6. Friday Harbor, Wash.
  7. Winthrop, Wash.
  8. Wallace, Idaho
  9. Cooke City, Mont.
  10. Talkeetna, Alaska

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Expert Anna Hider (Roadtrippers) and our team of 10Best Local Experts were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of Northwestern travel.

Other towns in the Northwest nominated in this category include Astoria, Ore.; Cannon Beach, Ore.; Cody, Wyo.; Homer, Alaska; Hood River, Ore.; Jacksonville, Ore.; La Conner, Wash.; Livingston, Mont.; Seward, Alaska and Whitefish, Mont.

Congratulations to all these winning small towns!

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