Destination SpotlightCategory|

12 Must‑Stop Small Towns to Explore

Explore historic districts, small seaside towns, and more with Hilton

If indulging in culture, tasting local fare, visiting historical sites, and exploring charming shops sounds ideal for your next getaway, a small town may be just the ticket.

Bevies of small towns scattered throughout the United States are ready and waiting to welcome you. From coastal areas that offer mouthwatering seafood and seafaring history, to cities known for their nightlife, there are countless small stops worthy of exploration. 

Here are just 12 destinations—and their Hilton lodgings—that you may want to consider when planning your next getaway.

Explore Historic Architecture in Asheville, N.C.

The Biltmore is America’s largest home—and a National Historic Landmark. The 250-room French chateau was built in 1889 by George and Edith Vanderbilt, serves as a marvel of America’s Gilded Age. Tour the estate’s 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, the library with more than 10,000 books, the banquet hall with a 70-foot ceiling—all decorated with antique furnishings and Flemish tapestries. Don’t forget to stop by the Biltmore Winery, which serves up reds, whites, and roses, and offers more than 20 handcrafted vintages. Just 10 miles away awaits Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park, which offers cozy accommodations, and an indoor pool and spa.

Absorb the Comedy Scene in Austin, TX

Did you know that Austin is a comedy hotspot? The city offers nighttime venues that cater to laughs in all manner of comic tastes—from beginner open mic nights to nightly sketch comedy troupes to popular touring stand-up comedians. Don’t forget to grab some amazing Tex-Mex before the show. City favorite dishes include enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, and caldo (soup), topped off of course, with tequila. The Hilton Austin is located near Rainey Street Historic District, which brims with unique restaurants, food trailers, shops, live music, and art exhibits.

Enjoy Seaside Shopping, Sunning & Seafood in Cape Cod, MA

Head to one of the most picturesque shores in the northeast in Cape Cod. Here, visitors can enjoy swimming, kite surfing, windsurfing, and kayaking as well as beachcombing. Hyannis Main Street is a popular shopping spot, and deliciously fresh seafood can be found just about everywhere. DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cape Cod is in the center of it all, near shopping, golf, and the popular John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.

Soak Up Southern Hospitality in Charleston, S.C.

Charleston, South Carolina is a city brimming with Civil War history. Visitors can tour Fort Sumter, take a walking tour of battlefields, historic churches, and antebellum mansions, enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride (or a haunted history ride available at night). Belly up to a local restaurant for Southern cooking and Charleston’s most popular dishes, including shrimp and grits, crab soup, fried green tomatoes, hush puppies and more. Embassy Suites by Hilton Charleston Historic District is located in a restored former Citadel Military College and offers quick access to the Charleston City Market, South Carolina Aquarium and is within walking distance to local restaurants.

Enjoy Art in Columbus, Ohio

The Short North Arts District in Columbus, Ohio is an art epicenter, with dozens of art galleries (classic, contemporary, and modern), music and performing arts venues, public art installations and so much more. The area even hosts Gallery Hop Saturday once a month, which is an outdoor event that draws thousands together to tour the best art along High Street, while experiencing street performers, music and more. Artistic experiences, like pouring your own candle, embarking on an art “walk & talk,” or even taking a dance class, are also popular activities. Even Hilton Columbus Downtown features 225 pieces of original artwork on display, created by the best local artisans.

Explore Botanical Gardens & More in Des Moines, IA

The East Village area of Des Moines offers the best shopping, dining and nightlife options in the city. Here, visitors can shop for anything—from rare spices to custom skateboards, or tour through the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s bonsai or orchid collections. Hilton Des Moines is within close proximity to the Historic East Village, a vibrant shopping district where you can find everything from custom skateboards to rare books, and more. The dining scene here also offers something for everyone, from calming tea shops to bars with live music.

Explore the Great Outdoors in Jackson, WY

The city of Jackson, Wyoming is perfectly situated for those who love the great outdoors. Hampton Inn by Hilton Jackson Hole is located just 15 minutes from Grand Teton National Park, while Yellowstone National Park is just an hour away. After a day of hiking, snapping wildlife photography, and marveling at the stunning sites that both National Parks have to offer, relax at one of the hotel’s firepits or indoor hot tub. Restaurants are also within walking distance of the hotel.

Take the Plunge in Key Largo, FL

Key Largo is packed with beach fun as the self-proclaimed Dive Capital of the World. Grab your scuba gear and head to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to explore the world’s largest artificial reef. Or head to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for more diving, guided snorkeling tours, and glass-bottom boating. Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton also offers parasailing, catamaran sailing, and deep-sea fishing excursions. The hotel itself offers plenty of ways to relax, including a private beach, spa services, and two waterfall pools.

Have a Sweet Time in Hershey, PA

Head to the home of chocolate in Hershey, PA. Named for Wilbur Hershey, founder of The Hershey Company, this small town is an homage to all-things sweet. Hit up the local chocolate-themed amusement park during the day, or visit Wilbur Chocolate Museum or the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. For the sweetest experience possible, book a stay at The Wilbur Lititz, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, a converted hotel that occupies the original Wilbur Chocolate Company factory building.

Explore Seaside Living in Madison, CT

Absorb the historic charm of the coastal town of Madison, Connecticut. This small town defines cozy seaside living. It’s home to Hammonasset Beach State Park, Connecticut’s largest shoreline park that offers two miles of beach and campsites. The town also offers three beaches, including The Surf Club, 45 acres of Long Island Sound beach that offers bocce courts, horseshoe pits, sand volleyball courts, and playgrounds. Absorb local culture at the Mystic Seaport Museum, which offers exhibits around every aspect of the sea, from an exhibit of figureheads and ship carvings, to 19th-century ship navigation tools. Madison Beach Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton offers a timeless escape for renewal and relaxation. Experience incomparable views as you awaken to magnificent sunrises over the sparkling vistas from Long Island Sound. Beautifully appointed guest rooms and balconies, thoughtful amenities, and gracious service are the heart of our beachfront resort, just steps from our private beach. Reward your palate with the New England coastal cuisine featured at The Wharf Restaurant and revitalize yourself at The Sounds of the Sea Spa.

Jump into Art & Literature History in Providence, RI

Known as “Lil’ Rhodey” to locals, popular stops in Providence, Rhode Island includes the RISD Museum, which houses permanent collections dedicated to Ancient Egypt, Greek and Roman civilizations, Asian and European art galleries, and so much more. Literary fans can also visit H.P. Lovecraft House, the last residence of horror fiction author Howard Philip Lovecraft and the home in which he wrote his autobiography, “Some Notes on a Nonentity.” Located just 10 miles outside Providence, NYLO Providence Warwick Hotel, Tapestry Collection by Hilton is housed in a chicly redesigned textile mill, and offers unique, industrial-style accommodations and dining by the Pawtuxet River.

Sedona, AZ

Outdoor lovers will love Sedona and everything there is to explore in this red rock wonderland. There are more than 200 scenic hiking and biking trails, adrenaline-filled off-roading excursions, Red Rock State Park, Slide Rock State Park, a vibrant arts community and a wealth of wellness offerings. Many travelers are drawn to Sedona’s metaphysical epicenter seeking spiritual enrichment. Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock offers the best of Sedona right there on site, with a full calendar of resort activities including daily live music, an array of seasonal dining specials, a 25,000 square foot spa and wellness center, an 18-hole adjacent golf course and sightseeing tours. 

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