Feeling sleep-deprived or burnt out after months of working hard to score a promotion, land a new gig, or launch a successful side hustle? Take a deep breath, because summer is finally here and warm weather is the perfect reason to plan a relaxing getaway. While there are tons of popular (and jam-packed) cities and colorful places to scope out around the world, a more low-key adventure might be just what you need to de-stress and re-charge. Put your itinerary planning skills to good use with a visit to one of our fave small town destinations. We think you’ll love the change of pace and feel-good hometown appeal.
1. WONDERS OF WINE COUNTRY: HEALDSBURG, CALIFORNIA
One of many wonderful spots in Sonoma County, Northern California’s wine country, Healdsburg is a haven for anyone who appreciates a good glass of vino, flavorful food, and genuine, homegrown appeal. When riding your rented bicycle or walking around the picturesque downtown, hit up the Flying Goat Coffee for a morning cup of Mrs. Garland’s blend before treating yourself to an afternoon delight at Noble Folk Ice Cream + Pie Bar. When it comes to a delicious dinner, Chalkboard is perfect to enjoy with your S.O. or group of gal pals.
Want to take a piece of this small town with you? Visit SHED to snap up a local bottle of wine and classic breadbox before cruising on to enjoy another great summertime spot nearby, like the Russian River, for a picnic. You’ll be so glad you did.
2. Beachside Bliss: Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida
Assume that Florida is only good for spring break or the retired? Think again! Mostly secluded from their well-known neighbor, Ft. Myers, the Sanibel and Captiva Islands offer a blissful beach stay with a laid-back vibe to love; there isn’t a single traffic light in town! Quaint and casual-cool, you and bae can have some fun in the sun alongside fascinating wildlife (manatees!), and super sweet locals who happily share their 15 miles of sand with anyone who comes for a visit.
Sanibel is home to the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum (the US’s only museum dedicated entirely to shells and mollusks — SO cool), which offers guided beach walks, so it’s no surprise that this part of Florida is best known for the natural treasures that wash up on shore, like huge sand dollars. Plan to spend your time island hopping (Captiva Cruises will take you across the sparkling turquoise waters to Cayo Costa and Cabbage Key), searching for shells, kicking back on the beach or at the spa, and taste-testing key lime pie. The award-winning Key Lime Bistro has the best one.
3. CLASSIC NEW ENGLAND: PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Nestled just an hour north of Boston and next to the coast of Maine, Portsmouth, NH is an adored New England gem. Brick-front boutiques, art galleries, and eateries line the town’s charming downtown streets and classic coastal New England homes round out the more residential areas. Prescott Park boasts a gorgeous garden full of photo-worthy blooms, summertime theater performances, and pretty views of Kittery, ME.
Nearby Strawberry Banke is a good place for a history lesson. Its 32 homes and 10 gardens make a living museum that dates back centuries. Looking to get out on the Atlantic? Catch a boat to the nearby Isles of Shoals or enjoy a whale watching excursion (there are humpback whales galore). Whatever you do, don’t miss dining on the decks with bae or your BFFs; the Bow Street nachos and a mojito from Poco’s Cantina are sure to hit the spot (and seem to taste extra good while taking in a sunset).
4. The Wild West: Mancos, Colorado
Anyone who loves a hometown vibe mixed with opportunity for endless outdoor adventure will love Mancos, Colorado. Officially founded less than 140 years ago, this great town is just 10 minutes away from Mesa Verde National Park in mountain country. Condé Nast Traveler readers chose the park as their top monument in the world and we can see why: The jaw-dropping cliff dwellings and ancient pueblos date back to 450 A.D. Whoa!
In addition to the unique history and vibrant artist community that thrives in this small town (look for handmade leather and jewelry at the gallery and co-op downtown), visitors can enjoy activities locals love like kayaking, boating, rafting, and tubing in the river. Be sure to add the Mancos Brewing Company to your to-do list and make it a point to experience the local watering hole, Colombine. A super legit saloon, it’s one of the oldest bars in all of Colorado. All of your dreams about the Wild West are about to come true.
Which American small town is your fave place to spend time during the summer? Tag us in your pics on Instagram @BritandCo!
(Featured photo via Getty)