Do small towns like in Hallmark movies really exist? In the Northeast, they sure do. The cute small towns of the Northeast are signatures of the region’s charm and New England style. With the help of this comprehensive graphic, here are some of the coziest small towns to visit in the Northeast.
Small Towns in New York
The picturesque village of Ellicotville is one of the best small towns in New York. Ellicottville features two ski resorts: Holiday Valley Resort and HoliMont, for those who want to try hitting the slopes. If you’re coming for a visit, make sure to get some drinks and a bite to eat at the Ellicottville Brewing Co., where you can do brewery tours and a wine tasting. Want to relax after skiing up a storm? Stop by the Ellicottville Salt Cave and Spa to get pampered and practice some self-care.
During the warmer months, you can explore Sky High Adventure Park, the biggest aerial park in the state, featuring platforms, bridges, obstacles and ziplines. For a more low-key experience with the trees, visit the Nannen Arboretum, which features rare and exotic trees, a replica of a 500-year-old Japanese stone garden, a peaceful pond and bountiful gardens filled with flowers.
Perhaps best known for hosting the 1980 Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid is a hot spot (or should we say, cold spot) for winter sports. This cute village in the Adirondacks offers Alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, bobsledding, skating, snowboarding, ice climbing and has quick access to Whiteface Mountain.
No snow? No problem! Lake Placid is filled with new mountain bike trails weaving through dense foliage, hiking trails, rock climbing along with kayaking and canoeing on Mirror Lake. After you’ve had your fill of outdoor adventure, go shopping and dining along picturesque Main Street. Grab a mug of hot chocolate and get cozy.
If you’re a fan of America’s favorite pastime, Cooperstown is definitely one of the best small towns to visit. Billed as “America’s Most Perfect Village,” Cooperstown is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum. There, you can experience the storied tradition of baseball in America through exhibits on topics like the history of baseball cards, the evolution of the sport from 1970 to the present day, the bronze plaques honoring those in the Hall of Fame and more.
While you’re in town, visit Doubleday Field, where some say baseball was invented in 1839. Not a baseball person? Check out the Fenimore Art Museum, which features fine art, folk art, photography and more. If you’re staying overnight, head to the Otesaga Hotel, a AAA Four Diamond, luxurious and historical resort.
Small Towns in Connecticut
This former whaling village has so much to offer, and it’s almost a completely walkable small town. Go back in time at the Mystic Seaport Museum, journey below the waves at the Mystic Aquarium and enjoy the dining and shopping opportunities at Olde Mistick Village. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a slice at the iconic Mystic Pizza.
Known colloquially as “the perfect small town,” Essex is surrounded on three sides by the Connecticut River. You can get a great view of the river at the central town dock, which is home to the Connecticut River Museum. A must-do on any visit to Essex is a ride on the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat to experience the beauty of the Connecticut River Valley. Staying in town overnight? Try sleeping in one of the cozy beds at the Griswold Inn, which first opened its doors in 1776. You can also get a bite to eat and listen to some live music in its lively tap room.
Small Towns in Massachusetts
If you’ve ever wanted to step straight into a Norman Rockwell painting, head to Stockbridge, the inspiration for Rockwell’s “Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas.” It has to be one of the coziest small towns in America if it has his stamp of approval. Art lovers can enjoy the Norman Rockwell Museum here as well as the town’s various historical buildings, the Tanglewood Music Center and the Berkshire Theatre Festival. You can even stay the night at the Red Lion Inn – from the painting!
Affectionately known as P-town, Provincetown is located on the northern tip of Cape Cod. Provincetown has a long and storied history, from its roots as an artists’ colony to its past and present popularity as an LGBTQ vacation destination.
Small-town New England streets combine with a Bohemian streak of creative energy to create one of the most unique towns in the Northeast. Visitors will love the beaches, of course, but you should also enjoy some of the local attractions, like the nationally recognized Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Pilgrim Monument, the Province Lands Bike Trail and more. Can’t decide what to do? There’s no better way to spend a day in P-town than strolling along the busy and colorful Commercial Street.
At the tip of Cape Ann, Rockport is one of the cutest small towns to visit in the Northeast. Take a walk down Bearskin Neck for some of the best shops, art galleries and restaurants in town – and don’t miss the lobster at Roy Moore Lobster Co. You can enjoy the miles of beaches, or go kayaking, sailing, fishing and whale watching along the coast. Nature lovers will enjoy Halibut Point State Park, a protected former granite quarry filled with nature trails, tidepools and stunning ocean views. Finish the day with a sunset dinner at My Place By the Sea, a seaside restaurant with breathtaking views.
Small Towns in Rhode Island
This coastal section of Westerly, more low-key than nearby Newport, is filled with charming boutiques, antique stores and restaurants. Grab a bite at the historical Olympia Tea Room, stroll along the miles of beautiful beaches, go sailing, tour the Watch Hill Lighthouse or ride the Flying Horse Carousel, the oldest continually operating carousel in the country. Bird watchers will enjoy hiking through the Napatree Point Conservation Area, a hot spot for feathered friends. Watch Hill is also home to the Ocean House, the only AAA Five Diamond Designated hotel in Rhode Island.
Incorporated by the Plymouth Colony in 1682, Little Compton has a lot of history. You can step back in time at the Wilbor House Museum, which was built in 1690, and the Little Compton Commons, an iconic New England village green and one of the last three town commons in Rhode Island.
While you’re in town, do some wine tasting at Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, catch some sun at South Shore Beach and explore the dunes and tide pools of the Goosewing Beach Preserve. Want to stay for the night? You can find accommodations at the iconic Stone House Inn, built in 1854.
Small Towns in Vermont
The hills are alive in Stowe, one of the greatest ski towns in the Northeast and one of the most beautiful small towns in America. This “Ski Capital of the East” is nestled between the Worcester Range and the Green Mountains, including Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in the state. Skiing and snowboarding are the way to play in Stowe, featuring the birthplace of alpine skiing in the trails of Mount Mansfield.
There are many resorts to choose from when you’re planning your Stowe vacation, including Stoweflake Resort & Spa, Stowe Mountain Resort and AAA Three Diamond Designated Trapp Family Lodge, founded and run by the actual von Trapp family portrayed in “The Sound of Music.” It’s no surprise that the beautiful Stowe vistas reminded them of their native Austria.
Not to be confused with Woodstock, N.Y., Vermont’s Woodstock is a charming New England town complete with covered bridges, idyllic bed-and-breakfasts and beautiful ski slopes. Visitors can stroll along the streets, stopping at the green and shopping at a majority of locally owned businesses. Skiers will enjoy the Saskadena Six Ski Area, but Woodstock also offers amazing opportunities for biking and horseback riding. You can also visit the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, the only National Park in Vermont.
There are many dining options to choose from, like the casual Worthy Kitchen and the more refined Restaurant at the Covered Bridge. And don’t forget to swing by the Billings Farm and Museum, a working recreation of a 19th century dairy farm. They might even let you try some cheese. Stay at the luxurious Woodstock Inn & Resort, a AAA Four Diamond Designated property established by Laurance and Mary Rockefeller.
If you’re looking for a small town that’s straight out of a Hallmark movie, Chester is literally it. The 2008 Hallmark movie “Moonlight and Mistletoe” was filmed in Chester. This cozy small town contains two historic districts, 19th century architecture and the 550-acre Chester Town Forest. Visitors can enjoy antiquing, hiking and easy access to the nearby ski areas in the Green Mountains. Snuggle in for the night at either the Inn Victoria Bed and Breakfast or the Fullerton Inn and Restaurant, both beautiful and historical hotels.
Small Towns in New Hampshire
There’s a little bit of everything in Littleton. You’ll be greeted to its historical downtown by a bronze statue of Pollyanna throwing her arms wide open – a tribute to hometown author and “Pollyanna” creator Eleanor H. Porter.
Littleton has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor activities. You can bike and hike at Kilburn Crag and the PRKR MTN Trails, ski at the Mount Eustus Ski Area and kayak at Moore Dam Lake. In town, you can sit at the longest candy counter in the world in Chutters, get some unique pieces at the Bad Art gallery and grab some grub at the iconic Littleton Diner.
The lake resort town of Meredith is one of the cutest spots in the Granite State. Since it’s a lake town, there are many opportunities for swimming, fishing, boating and water sports. But there’s fun to be had on land, too! You can ride the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, explore the Meredith Sculpture Walk and hike at Ahern State Park. Don’t forget to catch a show at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse, known as the best professional theater in New Hampshire.
Small Towns in New Jersey
The picture-perfect streets of Clinton offer small-town charm in the Garden State. Start you visit by going to the open-air Red Mill Museum Village along the South Branch Raritan River. The museum covers 10 acres and contains 12 historical buildings, including a schoolhouse, a log cabin, a blacksmith shop and the Red Mill itself. In another historical mill you can find the Hunterdon Art Museum, which has a focus on contemporary art and fine art prints.
The town’s main street is filled with shops selling everything from pickles to dollhouse miniatures. Want a bite to eat? You can eat locally sourced foods at The Clean Plate Kitchen or even grab a gourmet hot dog at Designer Dawgs. Yum!
The seaside resort city of Cape May looks like something out of a storybook, filled with colorful Victorian gingerbread architecture and sun-drenched beaches. While you’re relaxing or walking along the beach, you might even find a Cape May diamond – a clear quartz pebble that has washed down from the Delaware River. Enhance your experience with a whale watching excursion, a visit to the Historic Cold Spring Village living history museum or a trip to the top of the Cape May Point Lighthouse. And don’t miss your chance to try the seafood at The Lobster House before you leave.
Small Towns in Maine
The resort town of Kennebunkport in southern Maine is a popular summer colony, but it’s cozy all year round. You can sail down the Kennebunkport River, stroll or sunbathe on one of the town’s beaches, browse the unique boutiques in Dock Square and go whale watching.
You can also tour the Seashore Trolley Museum, which is all about the history of the trolley, especially in Kennebunkport. Nature lovers will enjoy the 2-mile Parson’s Way shoreline trail and the crashing tides at Blowing Cave Park. If you’re coming in winter, don’t miss Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude, a festival in which Santa arrives to town on a lobster boat, naturally.
Like Kennebunkport, Camden is a resort town through and through. Its population actually triples during the summer months, so its off-season can seem pretty calm and cozy in comparison. You can take a boat tour through the picturesque Camden Harbor, go antiquing in town, see a performance at the Camden Opera House, enjoy the beauty of the Merryspring Nature Center and more. If you’re visiting in winter, you can even go skiing at the Camden Snow Bowl, the town-owned ski area. It’s the only ski area in the country with a view of the ocean. They even host the U.S. National Toboggan Championships there!
Small Towns in Pennsylvania
Nestled in the Pocono Mountains, you’ll find Jim Thorpe, a town named after the Native American sports legend. This picturesque town looks like it came straight out of a postcard no matter the season. Jim Thorpe is the perfect destination for people who like outdoor sports – it offers mountain biking, paintballing, whitewater rafting, hiking and more.
Explore Lehigh Gorge State Park, take a ride on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, tour historical Victorian mansions and go shopping along Stone Row. When you’re finally done for the day, you can retire to the Inn at Jim Thorpe, a grand Victorian hotel built in 1849.
The northeast Pennsylvania town of Honesdale is considered the birthplace of the American railroad, as it was home to the first steam locomotive run on rails in the country. You can still take a ride on the historic Stourbridge Line today. But that’s not all you can do in this town! Take a hike up Irving Cliff, explore the town’s many Victorian era-buildings on a walking tour or go on an adventure with the Northeast Wilderness Experience.
What are some of your favorite small towns to visit? Let us know in the comments below.
15 Thoughts on “Cozy Small Towns to Visit in the Northeast”
Rockport, MA is all the things you say, but don’t forget its centrally-located Shalin Liu Performance Center, a dramatic space with a stunning sea-view interior and a highly varied calendar, including a distinguished summer chamber music festival.
Slight correction on Ptown – the pirate museum has moved mid-Cape and is no longer there https://www.discoverpirates.com/
And I second the suggestion of https://skaneateles.com/
You totally overlooked two cozy towns close enough to NY city that they could bge day trips, Nyack NY and Piermont NY. In Westchester there are many lovely little towns perfect for a day trip.
People in Provincetown despise it being called “P-Town”, ask them.
Do you call Stockbridge, S-Bridge, or Worcester, W-ster, or Williamstown, W-town? Belchertown B-town? Edgartown, E-town?
I have a number of friends who live in Provincetown and they always refer to it as PTown.
Ellicotville is in western New York, an hour south of Buffalo. The article incorrectly states it is in up state NY
Hi Barb! You’re right. While Ellicotville is upstate from me, it’s definitely in Western NY! I’ll update the article to reflect that. Thank you for reading.
Skaneateles should be on your list of charming small towns in New York—–quintessential Norman Rockwell.
Yes! Skaneateles is wonderful, as is the entire Finger Lakes region. Auburn is also a lovely town nearby. There are some excellent wineries, distilleries and breweries in the region, and Fabulous Watkins Glen State Park. For those of you who like Classical music, there is an excellent chamber music festival in Skaneateles every summer.
You left out Wickford, Rhode Island. right off Route 4, on the way to Narragansett. It is a great small town with a great view of it’s harbor filled with interesting shops and eateries.
I was also going to mention Wickford, RI. Very Quaint!
You didn’t mention the “Paper House” in Rockport, MA. Every time I have visitors from out of state, I take them there. They are always fascinated by it!
…or Motif #1, a beautiful building made famous by painters and photographers.There is also a pretty new concert hall there, which attracts world renowned performers.
I love Lambert like NJ for resteraunts, shopping, the scenery and the D&L Canal bike trail.
Do you mean Lambertville?