10 Best Small Towns to Visit This Spring

by Colleen Stinchcombe
Mar 16, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. ET

Are you itching for spring? Us too. 2018 has been a really rough winter for those on the East Coast, and no matter where you live, it’s hard to make it through days with shortened sunshine hours, cold temperatures and hibernating nature.

One of our favorite ways to celebrate winter loosening its grip is to take a spring vacation. Now, we know what you’re thinking — we’re not talking a booze-filled spring break to Cancun (unless you want to be surrounded by a bunch of college students, then more power to you.) We’re dreaming of something a little bit slower — a calm, quiet getaway where life is relaxed. Our solution? A small town.

Every state has their own cute tiny town worth visiting, so we put together a list of our favorites. These towns will still inspire you to kick back and really appreciate the little things. Don’t feel like going far? Look for the one-of-a-kind towns in your own area to escape to.

1 /10: Salem, Massachusetts

1/10 :Salem, Massachusetts

Where to stay: The Hotel Salem

What to do: Salem is a town that is nearly synonymous with the witch trials of the late 1600s. Indulge in the small town’s history by taking a spooky walking tour and learn about the witch trials or visit the Peabody Essex Museum to learn about Salem's rich maritime past. When you’re done learning about the witch trials, enjoy fresh seafood, ice cream and more at a local eatery. One of our personal favorites is Ledger restaurant. 

2 /10: Friday Harbor, Washington

2/10 :Friday Harbor, Washington

Where to stay: Earthbox Inn & Spa

What to do: The spring brings all kinds of natural beauty to Friday Harbor, like blooming trees and colorful tulips and daffodils. It also means the beginning of what the San Juan Island is known for: whale watching. Go on a boat tour (the best time is April through September) to look for orcas or take a kayaking trip or zip-lining tour. Once you’re back on solid ground, explore charming shops and restaurants and wander around The Island Museum of Art or get your fill of wine and cheese at San Juan Cheese.

3 /10: Cedar Key, Florida

3/10 :Cedar Key, Florida

Where to stay: Island Hotel & Restaurant

What to do: If you’re looking for a spring beach vacation, Cedar Key has you covered. Fondly referred to as “old Florida,” the town is home to a quaint, shop-lined street and is nearly surrounded by water. The town, which is home to an artist village, also has the yearly Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival in April that’s absolutely worth seeing. The festival tends to put the town at max capacity, so be sure to make plans in advance.

4 /10: Mystic, Connecticut

4/10 :Mystic, Connecticut

Where to stay: Inn at Mystic

What to do: March features a restaurant week and Irish parade, and spring is the perfect time to visit the largest maritime museum in New England, Mystic Seaport, or the Mystic Aquarium, where you can learn all about beluga whales. And of course you need to grab a slice from Mystic Pizza, made famous by the 1988 Hollywood love story starring Julia Roberts.

5 /10: Idyllwild, California

5/10 :Idyllwild, California

Where to stay: Silver Pines Lodge

What to do: If you want a quirky mountain getaway, Idyllwild is perfect. Temperatures are in the 60s and 70s in the spring, and it’s a town with a cute, walkable downtown with local jerky and amazing sticky buns, a rustic local theater, hiking options galore (hike up to the peak of Mt. San Jacinto for a real butt-kicker). It’s also got an excellent sense of humor. How, you ask? The mayor of the town is a dog named Max.

6 /10: Estes Park, Colorado

6/10 :Estes Park, Colorado

Where to stay: The Stanley Hotel (yep, from The Shining)

What to do: Of course, Estes Park is primarily known for its close proximity to the Rocky Mountains, and if you’re in the area, you absolutely should spend time in the national park. But Estes Park has other things going for it too: a sweet, walkable center with everything from spiritual shops to pizza parlors, a stunning aerial tramway and kayaking opportunities on the sometimes-overlooked Lake Estes.

7 /10: Galena, Illinois

7/10 :Galena, Illinois

Where to stay: Goldmoor Inn

What to do: In April, celebrate Ulysses S. Grant’s birthday with a guided lamplight tour of his post-war home. If you want to get outside, hike, bike or even kayak the Galena River Trail for 8 miles of flora and fauna. Galena is also full of art galleries featuring different mediums, from pottery to glass blowing to painting, and many of them offer classes so you can make your own artwork.

8 /10: Depoe Bay, Oregon

8/10 :Depoe Bay, Oregon

Where to stay: Channel House

What to do: Another great place to watch for marine life, you can sometimes see gray whales breaching right outside the main strip of stores in town, and seals and sea lions are no strangers to the area. Stop for a meal at Gracie's Sea Hag, which is right on the main strip, and check out the dramatic coastline along Depoe Bay State Park and near Devil’s Punchbowl.

9 /10: Sedona, Arizona

9/10 :Sedona, Arizona

Where to stay: Matterhorn Inn

What to do: Arizona is a fabulous place to be if you’re craving warm weather early in the season. March temperatures tend to be in the 60s, and by April, the average temperature is in the 70s and all of what Sedona is famous for is available to you: hiking, Jeep tours, vortex explorations and great Southwestern food, all among the stunning red rocks.

10 /10: Skaneateles, New York

10/10 :Skaneateles, New York

Where to stay: The Sherwood Inn

What to do: Stroll around the historic downtown area, which is filled with shops for gifts, clothes, antiques and several delicious restaurants. Then take a walk down Genesee Street pier and gaze out over the lake or sample local wines at Anyela’s Vineyard. This quaint little town is also one of the Clintons' favorite vacation spots. When Joe Biden visits, he loves to eat at Rosalie's.