Destinations like the South of France, Marrakech, and Patagonia sit at the top of many travel bucket lists. And while all of those places definitely deserve to be there, there are also plenty of locales that are much more accessible from the U.S., and they happen to boast an international appeal. If you think we're referring to the big cosmopolitan cities, think again—we're actually talking about some of the tiniest towns in the country.
To make our case, we're spotlighting the most beautiful towns in the United States, and they all have one thing in common: They offer a hybrid of that quaint Friday-night-football spirit while also offering European style and unique character. Some are reminiscent of the English countryside, some feel like Cinque Terre, and others are like a trip to yesteryear. Take a virtual tour below to see why the most beautiful towns in the United States are bucket list–worthy.
St. Augustine, Florida
The Local Charm: Dotted with Spanish Colonial–style architecture, St. Augustine feels more like the south of Spain or France than the southeast coast of Florida. It was founded in 1565 by the Spanish and served as the capital of Spanish Florida for 200 years, later ceding to the U.S. in 1819. It's home to the oldest brick fort in the U.S (Castillo de San Marcos), and the pastel hues of the Colonial Quarter and Bridge of Lions will truly transport you to Lyon, France.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Stuart, Florida
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
The Local Charm: By far the tiniest town on our list population-wise, Harpers Ferry West Virginia is a gem along the Shenandoah River, right in the middle of the Appalachian Trail. Though it calls for an epic John Denver playlist, sits right in the American heartland, and is home to a historic railroad bridge, there's just something about it that looks European (maybe because many of the buildings in this small town date back to the 1800s.)
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Hudson, New York
St. Simons, Georgia
The Local Charm: Full of more history and dark romanticism than a Southern Gothic novel, St. Simons Island will draw you in the minute you lay your eyes on it. Everywhere you look in this Georgian seaside resort town is cloaked in Spanish moss and surrounded by marshes, adding to the beautiful but mysterious allure of the region.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Beaufort, South Carolina
The Local Charm: Originally settled by the indigenous Tinglit community over 10,000 years ago and later occupied by Russia, Sitka is a breathtaking destination on an Alaskan island. Surrounded by mountain peaks and ocean, it's truly stunning and looks like a town straight out of David Lynch's Twin Peaks.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Whidbey Island, Washington
The Local Charm: We're getting very Gilmore Girl vibes from Leavenworth, a Bavarian-style town in Washington state. Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains with charming little riverfront trails and classic Bavarian architecture on every corner, it is beyond idyllic.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Frankenmuth, Michigan
The Local Charm: With sweeping views of the entire Bay Area area, Tiburon is a gorgeous little enclave in Marin County that looks more like the Italian destinations of Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast. Private lagoons and hiking trails abound.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Camden, Maine
Taos, New Mexico
The Local Charm: This ancient pueblo has been home to the Tiwa tribe for over 1000 years. It retains much of its original architecture and culture, and it has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There's also a lovely stream that flows right through the center of town, making the setting even more magical.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Sedona, Arizona
The Local Charm: Tuscany, is that you? The wine country in Northern California is truly breathtaking, so if you have been dying to go the Italian equivalent but can't for whatever reason, Healdsburg should be your next destination. It's larger than Sonoma and smaller than Napa but has the same rolling vineyards and hip local eateries.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Los Olivos, California
The Local Charm: Telluride is visually striking no matter the season, and the small-town sense of community is contagious. Surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, the main strip is lined with authentic saloon-like bars, boutique gourmet eateries, and old-school chop houses. Head away from the downtown area toward the trails, and you'll find striking electric blue mountain springs.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Virginia City, Nevada
The Local Charm: Named after Oxfordshire, England, this small town in Vermont is full of charm. While it may conjure up images of the British countryside, it almost feels more like you've stepped inside a time machine and landed in the 19th century. Rustic wooden fences, historic bridges, roaming sheep, and rolling hills give this town a definitive sense of place.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Point Reyes, California
The Local Charm: Once a part of French Louisiana, Natchitoches is one of the oldest settlements in the Lousiana Purchase. The riverwalk along Cane River is like walking through a French garden, especially when you spot a horse-drawn carriage ride in the masonry streets above. Most of the buildings have retrained their European-style architectural roots, much like the ones you'd see in New Orleans's French Quarter.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Galena, Illinois
The Local Charm: Super accessible from highway 1, this Danish-style town is one of California's best surprises. Located in the wine country of Santa Ynez Valley, this gem of a place was founded in 1911 by Danish American immigrants. If you have a thing for unique architecture, you will want to wander around the side streets in Solvang all day long. In fact, it's almost too large to really soak in in only one day. Main Street is packed with specialty shops and beer gardens.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Carmel-by-the-Sea, California
Stone Ridge, New York
The Local Charm: Eighteenth-century vibes with a Dutch colonial–meets-Cotswolds feel, Stone Ridge is a town within a town (Marbletown, New York, to be exact.) Tucked away in the eastern edge of the Catskill Mountains, it was settled in the early 1600s and retains much of that colonial era charm, though it's also home to some chic hotels now, like the Hasbrouck House.
American Towns With a Similar Appeal: Stockbridge, Massachusetts