historical towns family-friendly attractions

Best Historical Towns with Family-Friendly Attractions

When families are looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of big cities, they often seek out small towns that offer charm, history, and a slower pace of life. These towns provide a perfect getaway for both adults and kids, with plenty of activities to enjoy. Whether it’s a road trip, day trip, or weekend getaway, here are the best small towns in the U.S. for families.

1. Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, located in Tennessee, is a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This classic family destination is one of the best small towns in the South. With its outdoor playground, there are endless activities such as hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, and birding. Families can also experience the thrill of walking on the longest suspension pedestrian bridge in North America, the Gatlinburg SkyBridge. For incredible views, the Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway offers a 2.1-mile ride up the mountain to the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area and Amusement Park.

2. Beaufort, South Carolina

Beaufort, a hidden gem in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, is in close proximity to Hilton Head Island. This small town is perfect for families to live in or visit, with its historic streets and natural beauty. Families can explore uncrowded beaches and trails at Hunting Island State Park, which also features a public lighthouse. Beaufort offers various ways to discover the town, including guided tours by plane, boat, kayak, and even golf cart, making it an exciting destination for families.

3. St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, located on Florida’s northeast coast, is known as the “Nation’s Oldest City.” This beach town offers big-city attractions with a quaint small-town feel, making it popular with families. Families can take a leisurely walk down the town’s historic streets or engage in water activities such as kayaking, sailing, or fishing. The St. Augustine Aquarium and the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum are other popular attractions that both kids and adults will enjoy.

4. Kelleys Island, Ohio

Did you know that Ohio has islands? Kelleys Island, situated in Lake Erie, is a small town that offers families a delightful summertime getaway. Located about 10 miles north of Sandusky, another popular small Ohio town known for Cedar Point, America’s roller coaster capital, Kelleys Island has something for everyone. Families can enjoy beaches, forests, hiking and biking trails, a winery, mini golf, and even the largest glacial grooves in the world. Exploring the island is made easy with golf cart rentals, allowing families to discover all that this 4.5-square-mile island has to offer.

5. Frankenmuth, Michigan

Frankenmuth, also known as Michigan’s “Little Bavaria,” is an excellent family destination and one of the best small towns in Michigan. With its history and gingerbread-style buildings, it offers a unique experience. Families can enjoy two indoor water parks, including the one at Bavarian Inn Lodge, which will become Michigan’s largest indoor water park after renovations are completed in 2024. A visit to Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store, is a must for both kids and adults. This massive store, in operation since 1945, delights visitors all year round.

6. Carbondale, Colorado

Carbondale, located in the Rocky Mountains, is one of the best small towns in Colorado. This laid-back destination offers a wide range of outdoor activities for both residents and visitors. Biking, hiking, fishing, and skiing are just a few of the outdoor activities that families can enjoy. Carbondale’s signature yearly event, Carbondale Mountain Fair, showcases its art and music scene each summer. With food, live performances, and a variety of contests including cake and pie baking, wood splitting, and limbo, this event is fun for the whole family.

7. Winona Lake, Indiana

Winona Lake, a small town that may not be well-known, is a great place to stop on a Midwest road trip. It is conveniently located under three hours from both Indianapolis and Chicago, and only 1.5 hours from Indiana Dunes State Park. This small town offers plenty of outdoor activities, including boating, biking, and hiking. The Village at Winona, consisting of Victorian houses turned into shops, restaurants, and lodging, adds to the town’s charm, making it one of the best small towns in the Midwest.

8. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Known as “The Waterpark Capital of the World,” Wisconsin Dells is a small town that families with kids will love. With the largest group of indoor and outdoor water parks in the world, including the largest in the U.S., Wisconsin Dells offers endless water adventures. Multiple amusement parks add to the excitement, making it a fantastic family destination.

9. Moab, Utah

Moab, a popular small town for families, is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and family-friendly attractions. With two national parks, Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, at its doorstep, families can explore stunning natural wonders. Dead Horse Point State Park, located in Moab, offers some of the most scenic views in Utah. Families can also go on a dinosaur hike and explore the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park, get active at Sand Flats Recreation Area, or visit multiple movie filming locations. A family vacation in Moab is guaranteed to be full of adventure and exploration.

10. Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, a small-town beach destination on the East Coast, is the perfect place for families to relax and enjoy the coastline. Situated at the southern tip of New Jersey, Cape May boasts some of the state’s best beaches. Families can take a stroll along the Washington Street Mall, a three-block outdoor mall, or admire the town’s Victorian houses. For panoramic views, they can climb the historic Cape May Lighthouse, built in 1859.

11. Williamsburg, Virginia

Williamsburg is not only one of the best small towns in the U.S. for families, but it has also been recognized as one of the 15 best cities in the country. Animal lovers will enjoy horseback riding or visiting one of the area’s animal sanctuaries. For a low-key afternoon, families can visit the Williamsburg Botanical Garden, or for a more energetic experience, they can visit Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

These historical towns with family-friendly attractions provide the perfect balance between relaxation and adventure. Whether it’s exploring national parks, enjoying water parks, or immersing oneself in history, these small towns offer something for everyone in the family. So, plan a trip to one of these towns and create lasting memories with your loved ones.

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