Move over, Woodstock. See ya, Sedona. All across the country, picturesque hamlets like Thomas, West Virginia, a former coal town nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, and Tubac, Arizona, a frontier village turned artist colony in the Sonoran Desert, have begun attracting first-time visitors.
Lists of America's greatest small towns tend to consist of the usual suspects: Ojai, California; Sedona, Arizona; Taos, New Mexico; Ketchum, Idaho; Marfa, Texas; Woodstock and Hudson, New York; Mystic, Connecticut; and so on. The charm and beauty of these places is undeniable, but the secret's been out for decades. But one of the unexpected byproducts of the renaissance of America's midsize cities has been the emergence of a fresh crop of lovely little towns that have undergone appealing makeovers that make them ideal for a weekend excursion. Here are 10 of the best new contenders to American small-town greatness.
Photo: Wild; Wonderful West Virginia
Thomas, West Virginia (population 600)
The funky music lodge the Purple Fiddle launched the rebirth of this surprisingly beautiful old coal town buried deep in the Allegheny Mountains, which now draws weekenders from Washington, D.C., and Pittsburgh. Its main street, formerly deserted, now contains a third-wave coffeehouse, a vintage-record store, a craft brewery, art galleries, and smartly curated antiques shops.
Photo: Denver Post/Getty Images
Salida, Colorado (population 5,300)
This laid-back hot-springs town and ski village in the Rockies three hours south of Denver, has become a year-round retreat for artsy, free-spirited folks who would never go to Vail, even if they could afford it. For visitors, there's the Amigo Motor Lodge, a swanky Southwestern "boutique motel."