There are many beautiful towns in the United States brimming with history that can be witnessed through the marvelous architecture, the culture on the streets, and the people’s everyday lives. These 13 unique towns feel as if they have been stuck in the past, retaining their few-centuries old atmosphere to this day.
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
An only 30-minute drive from the advanced manufacturing giant of Cleveland brings one into a whole other world that feels a century behind the former. Chagrin Falls’ Main Street is lined with antique buildings, olden-days stores, and diners right out of the past. The town’s namesake waterfall is also in close vicinity, making it an easy stroll for some relaxing amongst one of the biggest gifts that nature has to offer. For a unique sweet-n-salty experience, it is recommended to make a pit-stop on the way at the Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop that has been running for almost 150 years, offering 16 flavors of popcorn and an age-old recipe home-made ice cream, among other treats.
Cooperstown, New York
Known for its National Baseball Hall of Fame, many also visit Cooperstown for the old-world charm to escape the modernity of the megalopolises. To keep up with the scene, even the Doubleday Field that has claimed the title of the “birthplace of baseball” retains its original old-school look from the day of the first pitch that took place in 1920. A variety of antique shops, eateries, and bookstores are housed within the 200-year old buildings that line Main Street. The neoclassical mansion, the Hyde Hall (1917 and 1834), has almost 50 rooms furnished in the style of yesteryear, while the Inn at Cooperstown, built in 1874, allows lets one to spend the night in history.
Galena is an especially LGBTQ-friendly little gem of Illinois with a renovated historic district and around 3,000 residents. The town is just three hours from Chicago. It was named after a metal containing lead, which was mined in the area. With 85% of the town’s buildings made up of stone and brick, one can spend days marveling at the beautifully-preserved 19th-century architecture, such as the 800 buildings within the Historic District covering 75% of the town. While there, one can also tour the home of the U.S.’s 18th president and Civil War General, Ulysses S. Grant. Built in an Italianate style with bricks, it contains the original furnishings and artifacts from 1865.
Known as “Montana’s Best Preserved Ghost Town,” Garnet had a humble beginning as a mining settlement. During its thriving times in the 19th century, its population was made up of the many pioneers who moved away from California and Colorado that were already populated with gold-prospectors into this newly-found gold rush area. Back then, the four hotels and countless saloons were teeming with people until the gold and quartz in the mountain area were depleted in 1917. Becoming abandoned over the next thirty years, the ghost town of Garnet sits perfectly preserved as a relic of that time.
With over 50 thriving Amish communities in the state, Lancaster County is home to the oldest and largest of them. One must come to Lancaster to experience the real Amish way of living by observing the Amish community clinging to their roots. The romanticism-inspiring horse-drawn carriages on the streets, the untouched lush green pastures, and the working windmills in the town’s vicinity are not for show but present the life of the people as it really is.
Mineral Point, Wisconsin
For a Cornish experience without traveling to England, Mineral Point is the best place to visit. The miners populated the village in 1840 when the area was known for its abundance of lead. The town’s look from across the pond has not changed since, with the center retaining many of the historic buildings. Filled with a rich collection of stone buildings, such as the Pendarvis House, one will feel like they are walking through Wisconsin’s history, while the Cornish hen and other savory dishes served in the eateries will refuel one after awe-gazing.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Established as a town in 1718, New Orleans is especially famed for its French Quarter neighborhood, stepping onto the cobblestones of which takes one into a whole new world. The town is aglow with the 300-years old European influence on full display in its low-rise buildings, complete with individually-designed wrought-iron balconies. Aligned with some notable bars, antique shops, restaurants, and boutiques, one must visit the Cafe du Monde to try their iconic beignets, famed throughout the whole of the United States.
Salem is the best town in the United States to see before and during Halloween. The infamous Salem witch trials that took place at the end of the 17th century give the town a spooky aura to this day. Most popularly visited to feel the specific atmosphere, many choose to take one of the numerous ghost and witch tours offered throughout the town. Being on the location of the actual trials with local historians allows one to see and hear some bizarre things. On the other hand, the witchy buildings of the downtown are for show, making it a real treat for the older kids while transporting one into a whole different era.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
With a claim to fame as the country’s oldest capital city, Santa Fe has an incredibly rich history, showcased by the blend of the English, Spanish and Native cultures living there. The town’s 400-year old history reflects in the adobe-style buildings, including historical sites like the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi and the Historic Santa Fe Foundation Loretto Chapel with exhibits. Southwest is known for the distinguishable adobe and gothic architectural style, so prevalent in this city and intermixed with some of the prettiest hotels in the whole country, to make one’s stay feel like a royal treat.
While the fans of the “Twilight” series from the last decade may recognize the city out of the book, Savannah is most known for its mesmerizing antebellum architecture that makes one feel as if they have traveled to a whole other place, back in time. Each of the 22 squares and parks is worth a visit for a unique atmosphere with individual personalities, buildings, and gardens, while the French Gothic “Sistine of the South” Cathedral of St. John the Baptist will be adorned by style fanatics. As a highly walkable city, it is chosen by many to retire and will help one relax on their next trip to the state.
Some say that Solvang feels more like Europe than any other place in the United States. Found by a group of Danish immigrants, they have transcribed their culture and heritage into the town, engraved in its old-Danish architecture and a working windmill. The notable Elverhøj Museum of History & Art shows and tells the fascinating history of the Danish people. Part of the Santa Barbara country, the food scene follows suit, offering the delectable cheese and wines from the old country at almost every corner.
Bursting with true Wild West flavor, the town’s buildings are maintained in their olden-days style, the townsfolk is authentic without putting on a show, and the streets are filled with themed shopping opportunities. Home to the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the O.K. Corral Museum re-enacts Wyatt Earp’s 1881 shootout between the cowboys and the policemen. The many themed saloons of the town brim with Cowboys, cowgirls, and wannabes, while the Big Nose Kate’s Saloon is especially worth a visit for also being famed as one of the most haunted places in America.
The picture-perfect exterior of this city comes with beautiful cobblestone streets, Spanish-inspired architecture, and a traffic-less St. George Street. This “longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the U.S.” also has beaches if one wants to collude their favorite summer pastime with a deep-rooted history lesson. Among many historical sites, there are the oldest known masonry fort in the U.S., the Castillo de San Marcos out of 1672, and the Lightner Museum from 1888 with stunning spaces and exhibits of the Gilded Age. St. Augustine is also home to the Fountain of Youth and the Old Jail that housed St. Augustine’s violent criminals from 1891 to 1953.
Some of these towns have been purposefully maintained by the folk to preserve their historical roots by keeping the few centuries-old look. Other towns may have been abandoned following a prosperous time but will just as well transport one into a whole other era.