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Many Americans have spent time traveling to large metropolitan cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles and, while these cities are great, you can miss out on experiencing a major portion of the country if you only spend time in big cities. The small towns of America are another excellent reason to travel through this great nation. Each small town has its own unique vibe that it derives from the people who live there, the history of the place itself, the natural surroundings, and its cultural heritage. If you’ve been thinking about a road trip this year, be sure to visit a number of America’s small towns. You won’t regret it. To help you get the most of your road trip, we asked our audience for the most fun, most unique, and most interesting small towns in America. So grab your road map and your checklist, and take a look:
Ocean Springs, MS
Known as the City of Discovery by locals and visitors alike, this historic coastal town is the perfect place to relax. A quaint, cottage Main Street community nestled on the scenic shore of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Ocean Springs invites visitors to experience its rich history, artistic flair, lush landscape and small town appeal.
Colorful and sophisticated, the community is known for its arts and festivals. It is home to the Ocean Springs Art Association representing more than 300 local artists, the largest fine arts festival in the state, Peter Anderson Arts & Crafts Festival presented by Blue Moon, the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and Shearwater Pottery.
With over 200 independent shops, galleries, restaurants and nightlife, this community captures the small town charm with its walkability, white sand beaches, and year round activity. Ocean Springs has three entertainment districts where patrons may leave restaurants and bars with “go-cups.”
Bay St. Louis, MS
Considered “a place apart,” this quaint seaside town has been named one of the ‘Coolest Small Towns in America’ by Budget Travel (2013) and was also recognized as a top 10 small beach town by Coastal Living Magazine (2010). From friendly folks to historic buildings, this unique city embraces the heritage of the region. Bay St. Louis was tested in 2005 when it was hit by Hurricane Katrina but the resilient residents of this community came together to rebuild and recapture the inimitable essence of this wonderful town.
Bay St. Louis is located 90 miles east of New Orleans and is a great destination for beach lovers, road trippers, and anyone with an easy spirit who enjoys small towns. The Old Town area in Bay St. Louis features a number of interesting attractions. Here you will be able to browse books at the Hancock County Library System or check out the aesthetically pleasing offerings of Maggie May’s art gallery or Gallery 220, an artist co-op. The Buttercup on Second Street restaurant is a quaint sidewalk café with a cheerful vibe. Another local favorite, established in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and sometimes called the Living Room of the Bay, the Mockingbird Café serves great food and coffee. Other Old Town attractions include Tree House Yoga for those looking for a quick workout and the newly remodeled Century Hall for art, antiques, and retail shops.
Fans of Sydney Pollack’s 1966 film This Property is Condemned will enjoy a walking tour of the film’s locations. Primary locations used for the Robert Redford film’s fictional town of Dodson, MS are actually all in Bay St. Louis, and they’re just as pretty as you remember them.
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