The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2017

Your vacation should be a time to relax, unwind, and see something you don't see every day. If you're looking for a place to do all that, you might consider visiting one of America's more distinctive small towns. Smithsonian put together a list of 20 suggestions, all with populations under 20,000. In some cases, way under. Check out De Smet, South Dakota (pop. 1,090).  

The quiet town’s legacy has been shaped in no small part by its most famous residents: the Ingalls. As this year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder, it’s a great time to pay this quirky town a visit.

Wilder first came to De Smet as an adolescent and set the final five books in the Little House series there. Today, the family’s 157-acre homestead, “By the Shores of Silver Lake” where they put down roots in 1879 is still intact, and you can go on a guided tour of it and all things Ingalls with the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society year round. If you can, though, come to De Smet in the summertime to catch the beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder Pageant, which this year will reenact “The Little Town on the Prairie,” picking up Wilder’s story following the winter of 1880-81. Coinciding with the festival, the town will also throw big, birthday bash for Wilder on July 14-16, which will feature a who’s who of “Little House on the Prairie” aficionados.

In Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (pop. 293), you can catch the sesquicentennial of the first integrated school in America in October. In Bell Buckle, Tennessee (pop 512), you can attend the RC and Moon Pie Festival in June. Or you can go surfing in isolated Hana, Hawaii (pop. 1235). See the entire list at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: South Dakota Department of Tourism)

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