Best Small Town for Adventure (2019)


These 10 towns might be small – each has a population of fewer than 25,000 people – but they're big on outdoor adventure, from hiking and mountain biking to kayaking and rock climbing.

  • Lake Geneva

    Lake Geneva

    As Lake Geneva became a popular resort destination in the nineteenth century, it earned the nickname 'Newport of the West.' Extravagant summer mansions line its shores, while visitors enjoy four seasons of recreation both on and off the water.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / csfotoimages

  • Marquette


    The largest town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, still small Marquette sits on the shores of Lake Superior, making it a hotspot for outdoor enthusiasts. Presque Isle Park serves as the launching point for kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding, while McCarty’s Cove offers a family friendly beach. Hikers and paddlers come from all over the world to explore the 150 miles of singletrack, 83 miles of Superior shoreline and 77 waterfalls in Marquette County.
    Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

  • Buffalo


    Situated at the base of Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains, Buffalo serves as a base for all sorts of outdoor adventures, from hiking, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing and horseback riding in summer, to skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling in winter.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / DC_Colombia

  • North Conway

    North Conway
    New Hampshire

    Set amid the sprawling White Mountain National Forest, North Conway offers visitors access to Mount Washington (the tallest peak in the northeast) and the accompanying four seasons recreation. During the snowy months, the area boasts some of the region’s best skiing and snowmobiling, while summer is excellent for hiking, golfing, fishing and camping. Fall leaf peeping is some of the best in the country.
    Photo courtesy of Dan Houde/Wiseguy Creative Photography

  • Lander


    The historic town of Lander sits just a few miles from the spectacular scenery of Sinks Canyon State Park, a popular destination for hiking, climbing, backpacking and fishing. The area even hosts the annual International Rock Climbers Festival, drawing thousands of enthusiasts from around the globe.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Maxfocus

  • Bryson City

    Bryson City
    North Carolina

    Peaceful Bryson City sits at the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just an hour west of Asheville. Outdoors enthusiasts enjoy easy access to the park, as well as rafting and kayaking on the Nantahala River, boating on Fontana Lake and mountain biking on the Tsali trails.
    Photo courtesy of Bryson City / Swain County NC Chamber of Commerce

  • Abita Springs

    Abita Springs

    Historic Abita Springs, known for its locally brewed beer, artesian wells and quirky personality, also serves as a jumping off point for exploring the Tammany Trace bike trail that extends for 31 miles from Covington all the way to Slidell.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Judy Darby

  • Vernal


    Vernal is known in Utah as the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument, but it’s also a destination for hiking, biking and river rafting throughout the summer months. Nearby Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area offers trout fishing and water sports, while Steinaker and Red Fleet State Parks both attract water skiers and boaters.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / milehightraveler

  • Blowing Rock

    Blowing Rock
    North Carolina

    Those looking for a mountain escape have been coming to Blowing Rock since the 1880s. Today, this North Carolina village sits directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway and serves as a gateway to adjacent Pisgah National Forest.
    Photo courtesy of Todd Bush Photography,

  • Everglades City

    Everglades City

    Situated near the southern tip of Florida, Everglades City serves as the gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands, where outdoor enthusiasts come to canoe through mangrove tunnels, hike through Big Cypress National Preserve or look for gators on a tour of Everglades City swamp.
    Photo courtesy of Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB


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

  1. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
  2. Marquette, Michigan
  3. Buffalo, Wyoming
  4. North Conway, New Hampshire
  5. Lander, Wyoming
  6. Bryson City, North Carolina
  7. Abita Springs, Louisiana
  8. Vernal, Utah
  9. Blowing Rock, North Carolina
  10. Everglades City, Florida

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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AlertThe Experts

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Deborah Fallows

Deborah Fallows

Deborah Fallows

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Anna Hider

Anna Hider

Anna Hider

Gerrish Lopez

Gerrish Lopez

Gerrish Lopez