USA Today Best Small Towns for Adventure

From USA Today’s 10 Best:

The waterways and marshes of the Inner Banks set the scene for adventure

Note from 10Best: Someday, we’ll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we’ll keep supporting the places that inspire us.

These 10 towns might be small – each has a population of fewer than 25,000 people – but they’re big on outdoor adventure, from hiking and mountain biking to kayaking and rock climbing.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Small Town for Adventure are as follows:

  1. Beaufort – North Carolina
  2. Fayetteville – West Virginia
  3. Ellicottville – New York
  4. Savanna – Illinois
  5. North Conway – New Hampshire
  6. Sitka – Alaska
  7. Avila Beach – California
  8. Spearfish – South Dakota
  9. Marquette – Michigan
  10. Telluride – Colorado

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning small towns!

BEAUFORT, North Carolina

“From the wild horses on Shackleford Banks to boating, fishing and kayaking the many waterways and marshes of the Inner Banks, Beaufort, North Carolina is an outdoors Mecca,” say 10Best contributors Cele and Lynn Seldon. The Boathouse Marina offers easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean, and it’s also possible to drop a kayak into Taylor’s Creek for a paddle. Charter companies facilitate offshore fishing and diving, and the Rachel Carson Reserve sets the scene for wildlife watching

FAYETTEVILLE, West Virginia

Fayetteville offers a small town vibe with big adventure right at its doorstep, thanks to its proximity to the New River Gorge National River. “This charming gateway leads to rafting, rapelling, zip lining, horseback riding an other river adventures,” explains 10Best Local Expert Chelle Koster Walton.

ELLICOTTVILLE, New York

Ellicottville calls itself “New York’s playground for outdoor fun and adventure,” and we agree. There’s something to do no matter the season, from skiing and snowboarding on Allegany Mountain in the winter to mountain biking, hiking, fishing and kayaking throughout scenic Cattaraugus County. Back in town, adventurers have their choice of some 20 restaurants to fuel their adventures.

SAVANNA, Illinois

“Savanna, hugging the Mighty Mississippi and along the Bluffs of the Driftless area in Northwest Illinois, is the starting point for 60 miles of bike trails – the Great River Bike Trail – but it is also a favorite stop for motorcyclists,” says 10Best Local Expert Jacky Runice.

NORTH CONWAY, New Hampshire

Set amid the sprawling White Mountain National Forest, North Conway offers visitors access to Mount Washington (the tallest peak in the northeast) and the accompanying four seasons recreation. During the snowy months, the area boasts some of the region’s best skiing and snowmobiling, while summer is excellent for hiking, golfing, fishing and camping. Fall leaf peeping is some of the best in the country.

SITKA, Alaska

One of the best towns to visit on Alaska’s Inside Passage, Sitka makes an excellent base for wild Alaska adventure, whether it be fishing for the world’s largest halibut, keeping an eye out for famous residents (humpback whales, sea otters, eagles, brown bears and puffins), playing a round of golf overlooking Sitka Sound or kayaking through protected bays and inlets.

AVILA BEACH, California

“Tiny Avila Beach on California’s Central Coast Highway 1 offers an array of outdoor adventures,” says 10Best Local Expert Sherel Purcell, “starting with the popular multi-use, six-mile round trip Bob Jones trail that’s perfect for cyclists,  hikers and dog walkers.” Other options include hiking the bluff above Shell Beach, whale watching from the Point San Luis Lighthouse or catching a wave on the beach.

SPEARFISH, South Dakota

Situated between Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the town of Spearfish offers adventure in spades. During the warmer months, adventurers enjoy access to Badlands National Park, Bear Butte, Bridal Veil Falls and numerous recreational trails, while winter brings opportunity for ice climbing, fat biking and cross-country skiing.

MARQUETTE, Michigan

The largest town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, still small Marquette sits on the shores of Lake Superior, making it a hotspot for outdoor enthusiasts. Presque Isle Park serves as the launching point for kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding, while McCarty’s Cove offers a family friendly beach. Hikers and paddlers come from all over the world to explore the 150 miles of singletrack, 83 miles of Superior shoreline and 77 waterfalls in Marquette County.

TELLURIDE, Colorado

No matter the season, there’s always something to do outdoors in Telluride. “Telluride is my favorite Colorado ski town,” explains 10Best Local Expert Amber Gibson, “and winter is also great for snowmobiling, fat tire biking and ice climbing. Summer has wicked mountain biking, trail running, rock climbing and paragliding. Telluride also has the best Via Ferrata in the country – it’s like horizontal rock climbing!”

BEAUFORT, North Carolina

“From the wild horses on Shackleford Banks to boating, fishing and kayaking the many waterways and marshes of the Inner Banks, Beaufort, North Carolina is an outdoors Mecca,” say 10Best contributors Cele and Lynn Seldon. The Boathouse Marina offers easy access to the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean, and it’s also possible to drop a kayak into Taylor’s Creek for a paddle. Charter companies facilitate offshore fishing and diving, and the Rachel Carson Reserve sets the scene for wildlife watching.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest