Small-town America is known for many things: a sense of community, local businesses, yellow school buses…and old-school main streets that are packed with charm. No matter where in the States they’re located, these streets are the hub of the community. They’re where you’ll find a town’s best bars, diners, ice cream parlours, antique shops, bed and breakfasts – and everything in between.

But the US is very diverse – and so are its main streets. From broad boulevards in the New Mexico desert to tree-lined streets on the northeast coast, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the loveliest main streets in the States. All offer something a bit different, but each captures small-town America in their own unique way.

1. Colorado Ave, Telluride, Colorado

Colorado Ave, Telluride, Colorado

Easily a contender for the main street with the most spectacular setting, Telluride’s Colorado Ave (more commonly called Main Street) is the heart of this mountain town. Surrounded by soaring peaks, Telluride is a gold rush town, and was even named after the element tellurium, which is found in gold.

The town museum is located on Main Street, and here you can learn about Telluride’s transformation – from Ute tribe base to mining camp, to boom-town, and finally, the ski mecca it is today.

There are no chain shops in Telluride, and the stores that line Main Street are all locally owned. There are plenty of shops catering to outdoor pursuits like snowboarding, skiing, and mountain biking. But, if you want to take it easy, there are also bookshops, art galleries, and spas.

All the restaurants on Main Street are independent too, and the eateries include sushi bars, burger joints, pizza places, Mexican restaurants, and organic bakeries.

2. Main Street, Galena, Illinois

Main Street, Galena, Illinois

In northwest Illinois is the historic town of Galena. Once the home of US President Ulysses S. Grant, today, around 3,200 people live here. And, while Galena is a small town, it has one of the most characterful main streets in the country.

There are more than 125 independent shops and restaurants on Main Street, most of which are housed in 1800s buildings, so it feels pleasantly old-timey and traditional. The street is especially known for its antique shops, so if you like browsing for unique souvenirs, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

If you get hungry, you can find everything from fancy French restaurants to American pub grub. There are also ice cream parlours and candy shops for those with a sweet tooth. With spas, wine cellars, galleries, and bars lining the pavement too, you could easily spend all day on Main Street without getting bored.

3. Thames Street, Baltimore, Maryland

Thames Street, Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is one of the most historic cities in the US, and in the Fells Point neighbourhood, it’s not difficult to imagine what life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries. Thames Street was the region’s trading and shipbuilding centre, and shipyards and canneries once lined this waterside street. The city’s main street is still a thriving business district – but its offerings are very different.

Today, restaurants, pubs, and boutique shops line Thames Street, including the city’s oldest bar, The Horse You Came In On Saloon. Established in 1775, this old-school watering hole is also the US’s oldest continually operating saloon, and was apparently Edgar Allan Poe’s last stop before his mysterious death.

There are various independent eateries too, many of which are focused on Baltimore’s famous seafood. The Thames Street Oyster House is especially popular, and is known for its a la carte raw bar, as well as Maryland classics like crab soup and seafood salad.

4. Paseo Del Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico

Paseo Del Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico

Located at the foot of New Mexico’s snow-dusted Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the city of Taos enjoys a truly stunning setting. Home to one of the longest-established Native American populations in the US, the culture here is a unique mix of Pueblo, Hispanic, and American.

The city’s main street, Paseo Del Pueblo, is where to explore Taos’ heritage, as well as get a sense of the unhurried pace of life here. The architecture here might be unusual, yet it still manages to capture the small-town style, and set under a bright sun and blazing blue skies, it’s incredibly picturesque.

The street’s eateries serve authentic Southwestern cuisine and, like the city itself, are very diverse; you can choose from food trucks to fine dining establishments. Known as an artists’ town, there are lots of galleries on the main street showcasing local talent, as well as souvenir shops, museums, live music venues, and bars.

5. Main Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

Main Street, Bar Harbor, Maine

Bar Harbor’s Main Street is another street that enjoys an enviable location. Located on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, it’s on the edge of Acadia National Park, as well as Cadillac Mountain, where you can see the country’s first sunrise. But the views from Main Street are pretty special too.

Colourful clapboard buildings line this leafy street right the way down to the waterfront, where you can enjoy gorgeous scenes of the harbour. The locally-owned stores sell all kinds of unique treasures and handicrafts, but it’s the food options on Main Street that really stand out – especially if you love lobster and clams!

However, while Maine is known for its seafood, Bar Harbor’s Main Street is home to various gastronomic gems. Whether you’re in the mood for locally roasted coffee, craft beer and wine, Latin American cuisine, or local blueberry desserts, you’ll find something on this street to stir your appetite.

6. Copenhagen Drive, Solvang, California

Copenhagen Drive, Solvang, California

When you first arrive in Solvang, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d fallen into a fairy-tale – or at least left the US. Founded by Danish immigrants, Solvang is essentially a Danish village right in the heart of California. Its main street, Copenhagen Drive, is lined with traditional Danish buildings, gabled roofs, and even a windmill…yet somehow, it manages to capture that traditional small-town Americana charm.

While Danish culture is everywhere in Solvang, it still feels very Californian. The surrounding Santa Ynez Valley is packed with vineyards, and on Copenhagen Drive, California wine cellars sit alongside Danish bakeries. As you stroll, you’ll spot locals and visitors enjoying delicious pastries on benches, or sipping wine under the shade of a windmill.

This is a small town where you can get a sun-soaked slice of Danish culture with a side of Californian charm. A truly unique place.

7. Main Street, Park City, Utah

Main Street, Park City, Utah

Utah’s Park City is one of the most popular skiing and snowboarding towns in the west, and Main Street is its beating heart. Once the basecamp of a mining town, history pervades this bustling street, and today there are all kinds of boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bars, and music venues to check out.

With more than 200 independent businesses here, you can spend days browsing. Then, from Main Street, you can ride the town lift into the mountains for an action-packed adventure, or take it easy in a restorative spa.

The food venues here include Thai, Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, Spanish, and American, so whatever you’re in the mood for, chances are you’ll find that here! There are also gourmet coffee shops, cosy bistros, family-owned pizzerias, classic steakhouses, and wine tasting rooms. Plus, Utah’s very first brewery, Wasatch Brewery, is on Main Street too.

8. Broadway, Skagway, Alaska

Broadway, Skagway, Alaska

If you love the look of old-timey main streets, then Skagway, Alaska, is one for your travel wish list. Circled by snow-capped mountains, and backing onto the shimmering blue water, this Alaskan town is incredibly pretty – and its main street doesn’t let it down.

Colourful frontier-style wooden stores line this street, called Broadway, and it looks so wonderfully rustic that you might feel as though you’ve wandered onto a film set. Built during the Klondike Gold Rush, today, many of the town’s most historic buildings – originally hotels and salons – are used as art galleries, gift shops, and museums.

Uniquely Alaskan food, like salmon, crab, and reindeer sausage, are served in Broadway’s restaurants, but there’s plenty of international cuisine too. Remember to leave room for dessert though, as there are three shops dedicated to ice cream and sweet treats.

9. Main Street, Natchez, Mississippi

Main Street, Natchez, Mississippi

Natchez is the oldest town on the Mississippi. It’s also beautiful, vibrant, and very walkable. Home to around 13,000 people, Natchez dates back to 1716, and it became an important port city in the 1800s.

While it’s rooted in history, today the town brands itself as ‘the home of modern southern hospitality’ – and the best way to get a feel for the past as well as the present is to wander down Main Street. At the far end of the street are elegant Victorian-style houses with grand columns and porches – and, as you stroll, the trees and houses give way to unique boutiques and vibrant eateries.

Natchez once stood at the crossroads of American trade, so there are all kinds of treasures to find on its main street. The restaurants also serve classic Southern comfort food, fresh seafood, or international cuisine, so there’s something for everyone.

10. Main Street, Anapolis, Maryland

Main Street, Anapolis, Maryland

Historic Annapolis isn’t just the capital of Maryland – it was also once the capital of the USA. It’s home to some of the most impressive 17th and 18th century buildings in the country, many of which are located on Main Street. Strolling along this bustling business hub will take you past 300-year-old buildings that now play host to shops, galleries, restaurants, and pubs.

The city is regularly ranked as one of America’s most walkable towns, and Main Street is the place to begin exploring. The pavements are always busy, and whether you’re interested in browsing art galleries or bookshops, picking up souvenirs, or treating yourself to ice cream, there are plenty of options.

Main Street also leads down to the docks, where you can enjoy a stroll along the waterfront.

Final thoughts…

Between the major cities on the American coast are thousands of small towns. Some are set among soaring snow-capped mountains, others in the blistering desert – but all have one thing in common: a charming main street that encapsulates Americana.

Lined with restaurants, shops, and other small businesses – often locally-owned – these streets form the hub of the community. Some of the streets in this article have an old-school vintage flair, while others are refreshingly modern, but all have their own appeal, and perfectly capture both the desirability and diversity of small-town America.

For more inspiration, check out our article; 8 of the cheapest places to visit in America and 7 lesser-known wonders to explore in North America.

Have you been to any small American towns before? Are you interested in visiting any of the towns featured on this list? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below.