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Best Small Town for Adventure (2022)

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Small town life is far from boring in these 20 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

  • 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

  • Taos

    Taos
    New Mexico

    The Taos Pueblo is believed to be one of the oldest continually active communities in North America and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The earliest residents of the area, the Taos-Tiwa tribe, have lived in Taos Valley for more than a thousand years, and many of the town’s unique adobe structures are several centuries old. Taos has attracted artists for over a hundred years and now has more than twenty sites on the National Register of Historic Places
    Photo courtesy of Town of Taos

  • 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

  • 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 Sam Dean for Explore Boone

  • 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

  • Sheridan

    Sheridan
    Wyoming

    Historic Sheridan is the quintessential American West town, where legendary cowboys and outlaws once walked the streets, still to this day surrounding by the wild Bighorn Mountains. See the work of international artists at the Brinton Museum or UCross Gallery, or browse cowboy memorabilia at the King’s Museum. Two theaters, the Carriage House and the WYO, host live entertainment and cultural enrichment programs.
    Photo courtesy of Sheridan Travel & Tourism / Shawn Parker

  • Jackson Hole

    Jackson Hole
    Wyoming

    Jackson Hole is a popular base for exploring the scenic wonders of Yellowstone National Park, both individually and with guided tours. Nearby Teton Village offers first-class skiing in the winter and hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing in the summer. Whitewater rafting down the Snake River, horseback riding, and wildlife safari rides are available for day trips or multi-day excursions.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Jackson Hole

  • 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 Meag Poirier (Wild Roots)

  1. Savanna - Illinois
  2. Ellicottville - New York
  3. Taos - New Mexico
  4. North Conway - New Hampshire
  5. Boone - North Carolina
  6. Stowe - Vermont
  7. Sheridan - Wyoming
  8. Jackson Hole - Wyoming
  9. Beaufort - North Carolina
  10. Gorham - New Hampshire

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

Congratulations to all these winning towns!

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10Best Editors

10Best Editors

10Best Editors

Deborah Fallows

Deborah Fallows

Deborah Fallows

Dynie Sanderson

Dynie Sanderson

Dynie Sanderson

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Sherel Purcell

Sherel Purcell

Sherel Purcell

Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith
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