Leavenworth becomes one big tourist trap during Christmastime. Tucked deep in the mountainous forests of central Washington, the town fully exaggerates its alpine aesthetics, with a Nutcracker museum, and live reindeer.
But if you come any other time of year, you’re in for a true mountain paradise, one that’s often overshadowed, especially in warmer months, by Washington’s glimmering coasts. The holidays try their hardest to manufacture magic. But once the crowds have dissipated, that same magic comes naturally in this Bavarian Brigadoon.
Lucas has been called the “Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas,” the tiny town smack dab in the middle of the state is home to art both compelling and different. From the downtown’s storied public restroom in Bowl Plaza; sculpture and rock gardens; the five-room, a traveling roadshow dedicated to putting mega roadside attractions in miniature.
There are, of course, more traditional small towns all over Kansas. But for a certain set of people, this is paradise. And for the rest of us, it’s an essential stopping point on a cross-country trip.
New Jersey: Sea Bright
Suppose you want to experience the Jersey Shore without barrels of industrial sludge. In that case, Sea Bright is a veritable 1.2-square-mile oasis of bars you want to visit, beaches where you can find a nook to yourself, and everything else you love about summer, including ice cream.
Sea Bright is surrounded by the mighty Navesink River on the west and the even mightier Atlantic on the east. Sea Bright isn’t overwhelmed by kitschy tourist traps and saltwater taffy stands.
Sitka is a small city located just outside of the Alaskan capital, Juneau. It sits at the base of the mountains and faces the Pacific Ocean. The city boasts a rich history and gorgeous views.
Grab some delicious seafood chowder at family-owned Halibut Point and enjoy waking up to breathtaking views of Mt. Edgecumbe at the Longliner Lodge. If you choose to visit, keep in mind you’ll only be able to access Sitka by boat or plane, as there’s no way to drive in.
Alabama: Magnolia Springs
Although Alabama may not always have the best face in the media lately, there are plenty of beautiful aspects about the state that should be remembered, and that includes the town of Magnolia Springs. This is probably one of the smallest on our entire list, with a population of less than 800 people when the last consensus was taken. The residents even happen to have a river mail delivery service, for those whose mailboxes are on the water.
The area is full of beautiful beaches that offer terrific dolphin viewing, parasailing, and fishing. If you’re more the land-loving type, there’s always just taking a stroll in the sand. Make sure you check out the Wash House restaurant if you’re in town and if you’re a fan of succulent seafood and cold beer.