Hitting the open road in hopes of finding something new is one of the best reasons for a great American road trip. It’s living for the moment, turning down a Two Lane country road, and discovering a town with an allure all its own. We’ve introduced you to some unique small towns in these pages, like Columbia, pictured above, but now we’re going to some places even smaller – tiny but mighty!
Ride along with us as we take you to five communities with fewer than a thousand people but still guaranteed to pique your curiosity for your summer vacation itinerary or upcoming weekend plans.
Fun Fact: Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon here in 1939
Watch out for the wild burros! They run free ’round this Old West town. These friendly little donkeys, once used for mining labor, were set free back in the 1920s after a fire shut down the mines for good. But they weren’t unemployed for long – they’re now the official Oatman Welcome Committee. When you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported onto the set of How The West Was Won, which happens to have been filmed here! The 135 citizens of the town make their living selling handmade goods to travelers on Route 66. A must-see is the Oatman Hotel. Built in 1902, it’s the only two-story adobe structure in Mohave County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Write your name on a dollar bill and tape it to the hotel’s restaurant wall while you wait for your homemade chili and fried bread to be served. Take in the magnificent sights of the Black Mountains and feel the freedom of the open range.
Cottonwood Falls, Kansas
Fun Fact: They have the oldest operating courthouse west of the Mississippi
Tucked into the Flint Hills of the Breadbasket of America, Cottonwood Falls, Kansas is paved with cobblestone streets and populated with little bespoke businesses. The best way to make the most of your time here is to walk over to the local historical society for a custom tour of the town. The most notable piece of architecture you’ll see is the 1873 limestone courthouse at the end of Main Street, honored to be on the National Register. And if you’re as interested in Mother Nature as you are in Lady Justice, grab some bait and find a sweet spot on the 109-acre Chase State fishing lake just outside town or drive over to the Tall Grass Prairie National Park to watch the bison roam!
New Market, Maryland
Fun Fact: This town is known as the “Antiques Capital of Maryland”
By 1818, New Market was a fundamental part of the western trade route because of its location near the National Turnpike, one of the well-traveled highways in early America. That meant there was a lot of dealing and trading going on between travelers. The bustling traffic of 200 years ago has quieted down a bit these days, but the people of New Market are still doing some picking of their own. Their curated treasures tempt visitors to the town’s EIGHT antique shops. Antiques and crabcakes? We’ll start packing! And one more thing: if you’ve never experienced a white mid-Atlantic winter, plan your visit during the town’s 200-year-old “Christmas In New Market” festival!
Fun Fact: There’s a telephone museum here dating back to the days before direct-dial systems
Named after the river that flows through it, Blackwater, Missouri is a Two Lane town that’s been pretty much under the radar, but we predict that’s about to change thanks to the determination of the community! Established in 1887, the town recently went through a Main Street revival process, (add comma) breathing new life into the buildings downtown. While you window shop, drop into the Iron Horse Hotel and Restaurant. Decorated with period furnishings, ornate wood, and ironwork, this place will transport you to days gone by. Take your kids to the 1907 brick building on the corner where inside you’ll find the Mid-Missouri Museum of Independent Telephone Pioneers. Go ahead and show them what communication was like before texting and Facetime.
Saluda, North Carolina
Fun Fact: They have the oldest grocery store in the state
If you love trains, family-owned businesses, and mountains, head to Saluda! Located about an hour outside Asheville, it’s the only town in western North Carolina that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The railway history here dates back to 1878 when the steepest railway grade in America was built here. The Saluda Historic Depot even has a 19th-century caboose on display! Stop into Thompson’s, the oldest grocery store in the state, or drop by M.A. Pace, family-owned since 1889, for picnic supplies before heading to Pearson Falls to hike and cool off in the mist.
We’d love to hear about the really small towns in your corner of the map. Tell us about them in the comments below so we can learn more about them and maybe even feature them in our next small town blog.
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48 thoughts on “5 Small Towns of Less Than 1K You Need to Visit”
I purchased a “BERNIE” belt buckle in Oatman AZ. It’s the only time I’ve been able to find my name on anything. Great little town.
Good find Bernie !
Look into Silver City, Idaho Old mining town in southwest Idaho
we have quite a few in Florida, such as lake Buena Vista, population 10 or Alford Florida population 469. thanks for the shows and blogs. great job everyone
Been a fan for years
FYI, Jello was created in Leroy, New York. There is even a small Jello museum in Leroy, NY..
Excellent choice! I’m from Warsaw!
Your show has grown to be an “good”addiction…❤️ It!
Re your Oatman piece… one of my travel favs! Local shopkeepers sell you little bales of alfalfa for the burrows who mosey throughout the little town. They have the Jerusalem cross on their backs too! All seem pretty well mannered but they enjoy the handouts!
The hotel has a famous history of being Clark Gables & Carole Lombards honeymoon choice. I’m told they played poker and other card games with the locals into the wee morning! It’s also claimed to be haunted by the young newlyweds as giggles and laughter is heard coming from their honeymoon room!
Another very interesting fact is that the town is named for Olive Oatman whose amazing story is captured in several books. Olive. As a child traveled by wagon west with her Mormon family. They were intercepted by Indians and most all killed but she and her sister captured and kept by the tribe. Her story is nothing short of amazing on so many levels! (Check it out).
Again, love your show…..keep on going! You’re All Fun Folks!
Joyce in California Garlic Country
The wife and I both love the show, as it takes us back to our younger days. Our best friends always say that we grew up in the Norman Rockwell world, and I guess we did.
Much of what you find are items that our families and grandparents had. It makes us smile.
Our son Jeff has made both of your stores a vacation destination and enjoyed them.
In the fall, they even bought a old kiddie boat from a carnival ride to use as decor in their backyard.
Keep up the great shows, and “Keep on pickin”.
Love your show.need to pick southern West Virginia. Like Logan,Boone,and Mingo.counties. the heart of coal country
Check out Escalante, Utah, population 787. It is located on U.S. Scenic ByWay 12 between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks. The Byway between Escalante and Boulder is arguably the most beautiful and surreal road in the country. Just Google some images and you will be convinced. The town also boasts an airstream trailer park where you can spend the night in a restored airstream trailer in the middle of the Utah desert under the blanket of the milky way. At the airstream park, you can also watch a drive in movie under the stars while sitting in a restored 1950’s or 1960’s convertible. Nearby are some of the finest slot canyon and geological formations on Earth. This is still the true old west.
WHOA. An absolute gem.
My wife and I just moved from Tulsa, Ok to a small town in Southwest Iowa. Walnut, Iowa according to the sign as you enter, it states a population of 897 although I think it is currently around 750. It is deemed Antique City of Iowa. There are about 15 antique shops in town and they host a Father’s day weekend antique festival which I have heard brings in 30-50 thousand people. We are located less than an hour from Omaha, NE and a little over an hour from Des Moines, IA.
I’m originally a West Virginia gal, now living in beautiful Pauline, SC. I’d like to mention my favorite SMALL TOWN, where I used to have a coffee shoppe………SISTERSVILLE, WV . Check it out…………….as the oil industry dried up in WV, this small town remains hauntingly beautiful with exquisite Victorian mansions and the Wells Inn. A must place for a story !!!
Love you all !!! My kind of people, you are !
Peppi Aanne Greco
OK! We’ll take a look! What’s your favorite place in town?
Ive been to sistersville. Across the ohio river from fly, ohio. Took the ferry across.
love your show not too many great shows anymore, love auctions and flea markets too. Living
on a small farm in pgh pa. and spent my younger years traveling the states living in steamboat spring and boulder and San Francisco in the early days, over 40 years ago, they were all small towns. spending time now farming raising animals and being a collector of unusual junque, love you guys keep it going and on the road.
i would say Idaho is my favorite state along with colo. and the small towns back then.
Where do I go to buy the stuff they pic ?
I looked up Blackwater MO on a map. If you keep heading west on I 70 (state rate 40), turn right at the next ‘major’ roadway (Rte 65), and after you go through Marshall you’ll have to slow down or miss Malta Bend where my mother in law and my husband grew up. It’s a wonderful blip on the map, quite & serene and I love visiting with family. It was named after the ‘Malta’ which sunk at the bend in the Missouri River near there. By the way, the Malta has been found and they started digging it up last year. We’re heading out there in a few weeks, this time by car and stopping by your store in Nashville on our way back.
My whole family loves your show!
Discovered Blackwater MO two years ago while on a cross-country roadtrip. Great little town, very photogenic. As much as I try to do the “two lane” route, sometimes one has to sacrifice his self to the Interstate. Thankfully those brown highway signs advertising Historic Districts lead to some pretty cool discoveries; don’t miss them.
Visited Oatman Arizona two years ago and we’re going back again this year. The story and sight of the wild burros is fascinating. They are wild but they are conditioned by their parents to come to town early in the day and stay until 4:00 pm before heading out into their desert homes. Be careful, they can bite and kick sometimes. The shops are quaint and unusual. A few shops still have hard packed mud for their floors. Prices for most items is very reasonable as they need to keep them that way to attract people 30 miles out into the desert.
On our way out of town in the car with the windows up, we were going slow to avoid hitting the many burros in the street, when one came past my wife’s window, looked at it and proceeded to lick the window. We busted a gut and will always remember that. These out of the ordinary towns are terrific places to visit.
The area of Waynesville, Mo. is on the Hwy 66 route and they are very proud of that. My story starts when the “Old Stage Coach Museum”. W.W. McDonald, found there were alot of McDonalds that were family of the W.W. McDonald.
Fort Leonard Wood, by Waynesville, Mo. had a story in its self. Our family The McDonald goes back as far as 1784 in that area. Our Great Great Great Grandfather Archable McDonald was a very early pioneer in what now is Pulaskie County, Mo.
His son James McDonald, also had children also has a great story, one daughter married Alexander Hamilton Wilare,(black smithman) w/Lewis and Clard, the other daughter married Henery Dodge, Wis.
I have been in antiques for a few years and the stories kept with the item is so special. So know that there are many of us in TV land that apprieate your show with the thought also keep the history of your antiques. My hasban hs passed. So my Antiques packed away for a few year are now my quest to sale them. Most Neb., S.D. etc. Always ran out of money before going to the very East coast area. Which we hadn’t. It is a treasure trove. Good hunting and love your show.
Love your show. Small towns are great . My Dad was from Clarkson Nebraska . They have Czech days there every June. My first time that I remember was this year. My mom told me we went when we were little. Lot of history in there history museum. My Great Grandfather owned Karel & Sons in Clarkson and Pilger from 1912 through to the 80’s. Super cool . Our family is in many places in that museum. The first place we ate at was a Pub in town,which happened to be the same location of my Great grandfathers business. You can still see the store name on the side of the building. Super, super cool to find out my family is a part of that history. You guys should check it out sometime.
There is a (Very) small farming town near Blue Ridge, Georgia. If you sneeze, you will miss it. So, it is not necessarily a place many would want to visit but the Pickers may. There are several fields with old trucks rusting in the fields. May be a classic or two worth buying.
P.S. The town is names Suches. Sorry for the omission. There is a (Very) small farming town near Blue Ridge, Georgia. If you sneeze, you will miss it. So, it is not necessarily a place many would want to visit but the Pickers may. There are several fields with old trucks rusting in the fields. May be a classic or two worth buying.
Retired 5 years ago. Sold our acreage 2 yr ago and started traveling. LOVE it! Visited Williams, Az. in our travels and the people there are crazy fun! The train to the Grand Canyon gets “robbed” by the gunfighters from the shoot out at the corral just before the train leaves to go to the GC! It’s a very fun little town with campgrounds for travelers. Love watching you travel America!
Wish I could attach a picture of my wife letting a wild “Oatman” donkey taking a carrot out of her mouth. We entered Oatman on the Old 66 route from Kingman. Wow! What a surprise when you go over the mountain range and enter Oatman. We didn’t know it even existed and it was a HUGE surprise. One of our favorite Road trip memories.
Those Oatman donkeys are getting fresh with your wife man! haha happy to hear y’all had a great experience
Try visiting Gold Point, Nevada. Population about 10. My husband and I were married there. Over Memorial Day Weekend it comes to life with a celebration. Also on the day after Thanksgiving. Herb and Sandy also have cabins to rent out. These look like they were abandoned on the outside but the inside is quite nice. If you talk real nice you might get Herb to fix his Prime Rib dinner. His is the best ever.
While in the area, check out Death Valley Jct. Marta Becket ran the hotel and theater for many years. She is now deceased but there is a lot of history in that town. It was built by the Borax Company for their workers.
i have also been to Oatman, Arizona and love it. I have friends that live there and any excuse I can dream up takes me back there.
Did you say population 10!? Wow! Maybe we’ll see you out there then. 😉
Oatman is one of America’s little hidden treasures. Absolutely fell in love with this little mining town. Top 10 Memories.
Oatman is an amazing little town l located on route 66. Check out Silver City New Mexico, a great place to pick. Happy Picking.
John Mills Grand Forks B.C.
Absolutely love the Fury Bros. candles. Best frangrance I’ve ever burned….and I am a old incense loving hippie! Will be ordering more.
Old towns?……….When traveling through West Virginia ,my home state,you must visit SISTERSVILLE. It was a once booming oil town located along the Ohio River with very much wealth in the 20’s-30’s, glass manufacturing industries now gone, but it still boasts beautiful mansions, the Wells Inn, a Ferry, and a quaint little main street. It’s like time stands still in Sisterville. Less than 1400 residents and declining yearly.
Keep up the good work of preserving America, one piece at a time ! My kind of people !
Love this show. My whole state (Montana) is small towns; many of the “blink-twice-and-you-missed-it” size. Keep up the good work, and if you ever find yourself in Big Sky Country, give me a holler!
So happy to see you loved the town of Cottonwood Falls. The courthouse mentioned is the OLDEST continuous operating Courthouse west of the Mississippi. The area is FULL of history with limestone quarries that supplied the stone for many famous buildings including the State Capital building in Topeka Kansas and many in Washington DC. If you visit plan on spending at least a week to visit all the historical sites in the area. Needing quiet? There are numerous B&B in the area as well as some great fine dining. YES, FINE DINING. Come to Kansas and the Flint Hills and you will be tempted to spend the rest of your life there.
You should check out Walpack, NJ:
The above article is a bit old but gives background about the town. According to the latest census, the population is down to 11 people. This past year, my parents recently sold donkeys to a family that live there. (My family has a farm in Blairstown, NJ, which is about a 30-minute drive from Walpack.) So, I guess my family has done business with almost 10% of the population! This town is especially unique since it exists in the most densely populated state. Many people do not realize that NJ is still home to farms and forests.
Check out Bramwell, WV, population 364. In the late 1800s the town acquired some notoriety for having the largest number of millionaires per capita in the United States. Grab a sandwich & a soda at The Corner Shop while there. Mayor Lou Stoker will be glad to show you around.
Pace’s Grocery in Saluda is an institution. I’ve had breakfast there many times. Well worth a visit!
You should also add Virginia City, Nevada to this list and go there on the show sometime. It is straight out of the TV show Bonanza and there would be some fine picking.
If you’re ever in northeastern Ohio, check out the ‘The City With the Small Town Heart’… Columbiana, Ohio. No, not the county, although that is full of many historic places too, but the actual Village of Columbiana. The town was founded in 1802 by Joshua Dixon on an old Indian Trail. There are numerous antique shops, all boasting the antiques of the area. The last three weekends in August, you can find a Shaker Festival (Shaker Woods Festival) outside of town that is very unique. People come from all over to meet the artisans and purchase unusual craft items made by them. Right after Labor Day each year, the city celebrates with it’s annual Street Fair, a good time to walk the charming street from the famous ‘square’ to the railroad tracks. You’re heard of ‘Round-a-Rounds’? Columbiana had the very first one, dating back to the mid 1800s!! Harvey Firestone, of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company fame, grew up nearby. He is buried in the Cemetery in town. The 68 acres almost in the middle of town was donated by Firestone for a park and bears his name. There is an Amish-style restaurant in town, Der Dutch House (NOT a part of the chain!), where you can find a wide variety of fine tasting homemade meals. The outlying area was at one time mostly all farms but has since grown into a variety of farmers markets.
While you’re in the county, check out Lisbon, Ohio, the county seat. Lisbon has many historical and unusual buildings. Johnny Appleseed traveled thru Lisbon, and every year, they celebrate with a Johnny Appleseed Festival. Other small towns in Columbiana County include East Liverpool, the pottery capital of the world with over 50% of all pottery produced here (visit the Museum of Ceramics), and Beaver Creek State Park, a scenic park with a creek that meanders down thru a ravine and has several ‘look out’ sites for photos.
Slow down and visit this darling little city/town mostly west of the intersection of Rt 14 and Rt 7 (south of Youngstown, Ohio).
Port Gamble, Washington … especially in the Fall! The Port Gamble Historic District, is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Population 764.
I would love to go to Blackwater, Missouri. That place looks very cute and cozy. Has anyone been?
I’ve been to Blackwater, Mo. As i was cruising down the highway there was a billboard for it and i took the exit and went there! Had a great talk with the owners of a wonderful shop there who took me next door to their saloon. We talked haunted buildings and ghosts! If you ever get a chance to go – you will find some wonderful things preserved there. Oh, and I took a u turn in the middle of downtown with a trailer too! Maybe I shouldn’t say that – – – –
Buford, Wyoming – population – 2. I think it’s for sale too.
No way! We are going to have to dig into that town… Thanks for the tip!
Please visit Warsaw, New York, the “village in the valley” with a rich history of the underground railroad ( some homes still have tunnel access, I believe).
We are the ultimatum of small town, hidden life in America. Diverse shops from antiques to massage parlors, famous Yummies ice cream parlor, home of rural Wyoming County Community Hospital, the annual Apple-Umpkin festival is held in our neighboring town of Wyoming, NY, the “gas light village” where real gas street lamps still light the way!
Come see us soon! Pickers Paradise!
Story, Indiana. Blink and you’ll miss it. SO DON’T BLINK! This tiny village is cemented into the local landscape by it’s Story Inn, an old, old general store converted into a quite classy restaurant. The tiny courtyard just outside, with it cobblestone and fountain, allows access to the wood and steel framed bar in the basement of the Story Inn. With its rather low ceilings and tractor seat stools, its quite the quaint atmosphere where everyone who enters becomes the friend you didn’t know you had! Of course, with this being such a popular destination for bikers, there’s already a sense of comradery walking in. This tiny destination lies in the hilly landscape of southwestern Indiana, tucked away and found only through narrow, winding roads. The perfect ride! The Inn also sits along a horse trailhead where riders from nearby vacation ranches can tie up and enjoy some live music on the back patio. Had too many beers? Well, I’m sure your horse knows the way home! To add to the town’s unique repertoire, there are a few old homes that make up this village which are rentable lodgings for those who want to stay for a bit and enjoy one of the town’s festivals or a wedding, or two. One of those the lodgings, the blue house next to the Inn, is also said to be haunted by the blue lady. Why blue? Why not? And don’t forget the village idiot elected each year!
You’d think I live in Story the way I describe it like some travel brochure, but that’s only because me and my biker pals really enjoy this golden nugget hidden away in the hills, so it feels like home whenever we get to go back there! And once you’ve experienced it, I’m sure you’ll feel the same. Check out the Story Inn’s website where you can see some of the village’s history: