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Best Small Town for Adventure (2021)

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Small town life is far from boring in these ten towns. Each is big on adventure, from hiking and mountain biking to kayaking and rock climbing.  

  • Savanna

    Savanna
    Illinois

    “Savanna, hugging the Mighty Mississippi and along the Bluffs of the Driftless area in Northwest Illinois, is the starting point for 60 miles of bike trails – the Great River Bike Trail – but it is also a favorite stop for motorcyclists,” says 10Best Local Expert Jacky Runice.
    Photo courtesy of AP Photo/The Telegraph Herald, Eric Hogstrom

  • Beaufort

    Beaufort
    North Carolina

    "From the wild horses on Shackleford Banks to boating, fishing and kayaking the many waterways and marshes of the Inner Banks, Beaufort, North Carolina is an outdoors Mecca," say 10Best contributors Cele and Lynn Seldon. The Boathouse Marina offers easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean, and it’s also possible to drop a kayak into Taylor’s Creek for a paddle. Charter companies facilitate offshore fishing and diving, and the Rachel Carson Reserve sets the scene for wildlife watching
    Photo courtesy of Beaufort

  • Gorham

    Gorham
    New Hampshire

    10Best Contributor Allison Tibaldi remarks: ‘Surrounded by the towering beauty of the White Mountains, Gorham is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.” Close to the Appalachian Trail, the town offers a wide variety of activities, including horseback riding, fishing, camping, hiking, and biking. For a thrilling car adventure, a drive on the Mount Washington Auto Road is considered one of the most exciting road trips in the Eastern U.S.
    Photo courtesy of BrianScantlebury // Getty Images

  • 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 Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce/Corey David Photography

  • Stowe

    Stowe
    Vermont

    Nestled beside Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, the mountain resort town Stowe offers breathtaking scenic vistas, numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation, and small-town charm in one complete package. The Green Mountains offer ice climbing, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the winter, plus rock climbing, hiking, fly fishing, and canoeing in the summer. For the most adventurous visitors, take a hot air balloon ride for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
    Photo courtesy of Go Stowe

  • Ellicottville

    Ellicottville
    New York

    Ellicottville calls itself “New York’s playground for outdoor fun and adventure,” and we agree. There’s something to do no matter the season, from skiing and snowboarding on Allegany Mountain in the winter to mountain biking, hiking, fishing and kayaking throughout scenic Cattaraugus County. Back in town, adventurers have their choice of some 20 restaurants to fuel their adventures.
    Photo courtesy of Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce

  • Boone

    Boone
    North Carolina

    Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina at 3,333 feet, this college town is the highest elevation of any city over 10,000 population east of the Mississippi River. As a result, Boone is at the heart of outdoor adventure activities. There are plenty of hiking and rock climbing sites in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nearby Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi, and Grandfather Mountain and Blowing Rock are popular day trips. The rivers are also ideal for fishing, or you can take a whitewater rafting trip down the French Broad River.
    Photo courtesy of Boone Watauga County Tourism

  • Breckenridge

    Breckenridge
    Colorado

    10Best Contributor Amber Gibson comments: “This old silver/gold mining town is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts all year round!” To experience Breckenridge’s stunning beauty, explore the hundreds of hiking trails during the summer and winter. The ski resort, with the tallest chairlift in North America, offers once-in-a-lifetime skiing and snowboarding adventures. Enjoy some of the best biking available in the Rocky Mountains, with road biking in the summer months and “fat biking” in spring and winter.
    Photo courtesy of Breckenridge tourism office/Jeff Andrew

  • Everglades City

    Everglades City
    Florida

    Situated near the southern tip of Florida, Everglades City serves as the gateway to the Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades National Park, 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

  • Fayetteville

    Fayetteville
    West Virginia

    Fayetteville offers a small town vibe with big adventure right at its doorstep, thanks to its proximity to the New River Gorge National River. “This charming gateway leads to rafting, rapelling, zip lining, horseback riding an other river adventures,” explains 10Best Local Expert Chelle Koster Walton.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / Molly_Wolff_Photography

The top 10 winners in the category Best Small Town for Adventure are as follows: 
  1. Savanna - Illinois
  2. Beaufort - North Carolina
  3. Gorham - New Hampshire
  4. North Conway - New Hampshire
  5. Stowe - Vermont
  6. Ellicottville - New York
  7. Boone - North Carolina
  8. Breckenridge - Colorado
  9. Everglades City - Florida
  10. Fayetteville - West Virginia
Congratulations to all these winning towns!
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AlertThe Experts

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith

Allison Tibaldi

Allison Tibaldi

Allison Tibaldi

Amber Gibson

Amber Gibson

Amber Gibson

Chelle Koster Walton

Chelle Koster Walton

Chelle Koster Walton

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Gerrish Lopez

Gerrish Lopez

Gerrish Lopez

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini
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