America was built upon small towns, and fortunately, many of them are still thriving today. From coast to coast and north to south, RVers can get a taste of what it’s like to live somewhere completely different or perhaps even startlingly similar to what they’re used to.
Whether you have your own RV or choose to rent one, small towns are typically best explored on road trips to enjoy the sights at a slower pace.
During 20 years of living the snowbird lifestyle, we’ve visited 25 states and camped at hundreds of RV parks and campgrounds. To kick-start your search, here are six of our favorite small towns in America. Each town earned its spot for individual reasons.
The former territorial capital of Arizona, Prescott is one of those little out-the-way places that are one third resort town, one third hipster getaway, and one third small town Americana. Cozy yet adventurous, Prescott offers coffee shops and eateries, arts and crafts, and abundant nature you might not expect in Arizona. The desert atmosphere remains, but things are green and growing.
Modern Prescott has the advantage of not really being very modern. Banners proclaim Prescott as “Everyone’s Home Town.” You won’t find high rises, but the downtown businesses clustered around the 1916 Yavapai County Courthouse and its plaza are thriving.
Many of the towns in Amish Country date back 150 years or more. Among these is tiny Shipshewana known for an enormous flea market where 1,000 vendors peddle their wares twice a week from May through October.
Due to the Amish lifestyle you can almost believe you’ve stepped back in time a century or more. To learn about Amish history, tour Menno-Hof. Through multi-image presentations and historical displays, you’ll travel back 500 years to the origins of the Amish-Mennonite story.
At an elevation of over 4,000 feet between the Santa Rita Mountains and the Patagonia Mountains, lies the small town of Patagonia. Here, the South Pacific Railroad once hummed with cattle ranchers and prospectors who worked the nearby silver mine. Ranches still dot the hills and historic ghost towns have replaced thriving mining outposts.
At first glance Patagonia is a town that you pass through on the way to somewhere else. However, a second glance reveals a growing community of artists and crafts people that have decided that this is a very desirable area to live and work.
Bisbee is one of those unique mining towns that has evolved over the years. Once a thriving copper mining town, Bisbee is now home to retirees, artisans and writers, artists, and aging hippies and features historic buildings, homes, and rambling hillside streets that make the town an ideal place for visitors to explore and take a step back into history.
Two- and three-story buildings built of brick and stone line Main Street as if holding back the canyon walls rising sharply along its length. Bisbee’s slopes display a century’s worth of architecture, from historic inns to refurbished, modern-looking former miners’ shacks.
Located on the Santa Cruz River, Tubac was originally the first Spanish colonial garrison in Arizona before the O’odham uprising. After the Spanish, Tubac was later repopulated by miners, farmers, and ranchers in the 1800s but is currently known as a converted artists’ colony.
Visit Tubac and experience the art colony created in the 1930s-1960s, where Dale Nichols opened an art school and restored some of the town’s historic buildings.
The town founded Tubac Festival of the Arts in the 1960s. Check out the art galleries and specialty shops and explore the Spanish garrison at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.
Located on the banks of the San Marcos River, about 45 miles south of Austin, Luling has all the elements of the perfect Texan small town—historic buildings, great barbecue, quirky history, viable downtown, lively harvest festival, a noon whistle, vintage stop signs, and eclectic shopping.
A friendly, quiet central Texas community, rich in history and Texas pride, Luling is renowned for its barbecue, rich oil history, decorated pump jacks, fresh produce and plants, abundant watermelons, and Texas’ first inland canoe paddling trail on the San Marcos River.
Here and there…not quite everywhere yet!