The Top Small Town to Visit in the US (No. 4, Too!) Is in New England

Bar Harbor, Maine, an area famously known as the gateway to Acadia National Park, is the best small town to visit in the USA, according to U.S. News & World Report.

An aerial view of Bar Harbor, Maine on a sunny day. Bar Harbor is a town on Mount Desert Island in Hancock County, Maine and a popular tourist destination.
Getty Images, File

There's a lot to love about New England. Our proximity to the ocean, stunning coastlines and picturesque mountains. Our distinct seasons with vibrant fall foliage and world-class skiing. Our rich history and top-rated universities. Our endless outdoor beauty and iconic lighthouses. And don't forget our championship winning sports teams.

But there's also all-American small town charm that can be found in our region -- think stone walls, covered bridges and country stores. In fact, New England has some of the most beautiful small towns in the United States that are just brimming with character and allure.

U.S. News & World Report recently released its list of the best small towns to visit in the USA in 2023-2024, and in the top spot is none other than Bar Harbor, Maine, an area famously known as the gateway to the state's top attraction -- Acadia National Park.

U.S. News bills Bar Harbor as small-town Maine at its finest, saying the relaxing East Coast retreat is filled with charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations and plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun. Boat tours, history tours and culinary tours are perfect for travelers looking to get acquainted with the small town that "fosters a special kind of charm that makes it feel as if you've stepped out of real life and walked into the pages of a storybook," the publication says.

So if you want to marvel in the basics, take a nice stroll, watch the water sway, or enjoy tasty lobster, Bar Harbor is the perfect place to visit, according to U.S. News.

If you're hoping to take an affordable summer vacation, it's not too late to snag some deals.

While Bar Harbor has been ranked as the quintessential small town, several other New England locales nabbed spots in the top 25 rankings.

Coming in at No. 4 is Nantucket, the tiny island off the coast of Massachusetts that is "beloved by travelers for its quaint small-town atmosphere and photogenic lighthouses."

Travelers whose ideal getaway includes "tranquil beach days in an exclusive locale" will want to check out Nantucket, U.S. News says. If you don't have your toes in the sand at Surfside or Jetties Beach, you can head to Nantucket's Whaling Museum, stroll along the Sconset Bluff Walk or birdwatch at the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge.

Other favorite New England locations that appear in the top travel rankings include Martha's Vineyard; Stowe, Vermont; and Kennebunkport, Maine.

Click here to check out what's great about these quaint towns, as well as the other places outside New England that made the list, too.

To create the list, U.S. News says it evaluated places with a population of less than 50,000 people that offer plenty of restaurants and attractions, plus boast picture-perfect natural beauty and a unique character all their own.

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