By Smithsonian Magazine
Celebrating America’s small towns has become one of Smithsonian magazine’s favorite traditions: an opportunity to get lost in the slower pace of walkable streets, minor league baseball games and waters brimming with wildlife. These communities are gateways to vast national parks, Native American heritage and Underground Railroad history, where qualities such as preservation, pride and perseverance often go hand in hand.
Our picks for the 15 best small towns to visit this year all have a population of 25,000 or under, a high density of cultural offerings and natural beauty, and a compelling reason to visit in 2022. They include Africatown, Alabama, a community just outside of downtown Mobile with a new museum that finally gives its formerly enslavedfounders and their descendants a place to tell their stories, and Winslow, Arizona, where people have now been “standin’ on the corner” thanks to the Eagles’ chart-topping hit for a solid 50 years. It’s also said that 80 percent of all Native American jewelry sold worldwide comes from within 100 miles of Gallup, New Mexico, while Bemidji, Minnesota, surprised us with a series of fully immersive “language villages” where both adults and kids can learn Italian, Korean, Danish and more.
This year’s 15 small towns inspire our hearts and minds, and encourage us to get out and explore. (All population figures are from the 2020 census.)
The Sailing Museum
365 Thames Street
Newport, RI 02840