We're used to seeing movie stars and reading about science fiction characters who travel back through time to bygone eras, but you don’t need futuristic technology to experience something similar. The U.S. is full of towns that have stayed true to their customs and lifestyles as the years have gone by. So next time you have the urge to escape the fast-paced city life, consider these wonderful towns scattered across the country.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is a traditional seaside town set at the southern tip of New Jersey. It's famous for its collection of over 600 well-preserved Victorian buildings, which give it a strong late 19th-century charm. A stroll along Washington Street Mall, where colorful brick and wooden landmarks house boutiques and ice cream parlors, is a must.
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Antique dealers, independent fashion boutiques, local bookstores, and vintage sweet shops give this Ohio village an old-fashioned feel. When walking along Main Street you can easily imagine the entire community coming out to celebrate annual cultural events, like art and film festivals. Chagrin Falls straddles a namesake waterfall and the Chagrin River, making it one of the prettiest places here.
Cooperstown, New York
Life moves at its own laid-back pace in upstate New York, an ethos epitomized by the 2,000 residents of lakeside Cooperstown. Revered as the setting for the works of novelist James Fenimore Cooper, whose father incidentally founded the town, Cooperstown has multiple claims to fame. It’s also home to The National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum and Doubleday Field baseball park, which maintains the same atmosphere as it has since baseball's golden age. There are superb brewpubs, cafes, and delis to retreat to after soaking up everything else the town has to offer.
The Amish are the masters of clinging to their roots and there are more than 50 thriving Amish communities spread throughout Pennsylvania, but Lancaster County is home to the country’s oldest and largest of them all. Expect to see horse-drawn carriages roll past lush green pastures dotted with windmills, and for more ideas, visit Discover Lancaster.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
While cruising across Lake Huron to Mackinac Island, you’ll appreciate why everyone breathes a heavy sigh of relief when they arrive here. From the clapboard buildings to the vintage storefronts and pristine lawns, everything is picture-perfect. Cars are banned in this island village, so you’ll be getting around by foot, bike, or even horseback. Should the smell of fudge shops, serenity of wooded trails, and sound of crickets at night and birdsong in the morning excite you, then plan a visit.
Mineral Point, Wisconsin
Miners flocked to Mineral Point from Cornwall, England, in the 1840s in search of lead. They built homes, such as Pendarvis House, that today wouldn’t look out of place in a remote Cornish village. The town center’s architectural landscape resembles part Cornish town, part Gold Rush settlement. You can feast on hearty Cornish pasties and figgyhobbin at cafes and try Celtic crafts at the fall Cornish Fest.
This city surrounded by the sprawling vineyards of the Sonoma Valley was the first in the U.S. to receive the Cittaslow Slow City status. Tree-lined Sonoma Plaza is a colonial masterpiece and hosts the delightful Sonoma Plaza Market every Tuesday evening. If you love shopping for locally-sourced and organic goods then this is the place to be. Meanwhile, frontier-style buildings double up as cafes, gourmet restaurants, and saloons. And way from the plaza, you can sip wine at over 100 different bodegas all within five minutes.
Live out all of your Wild West dreams in Tombstone, Arizona, the location of the infamous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Cowboys, cowgirls, and wannabes fill up the town’s saloons and the O.K. Corral museum puts on reenactments of Wyatt Earp’s 1881 shootout. The buildings are so well maintained that at times it’s easy to think you’ve landed on a John Wayne movie set.
When in Williamsburg, head to the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area to be transported to an American Revolution-era town. You’ll encounter men dressed in red coats carrying muskets and people trotting past elegant brick buildings via horse and carriage. You’ll see tradespeople carrying out apothecary, bindery, and blacksmithing tasks. You can even join in 18th-century games on a village green.
Yellow Springs, Ohio
A group of around 100 families, who were avid supporters of Robert Owen’s utopian socialism movement, founded Yellow Springs in 1825. Their mission was to recreate the cooperative philosophy of New Harmony, Indiana. Although it didn’t quite come to fruition, the village still upholds a free-thinking, blissed out spirit. You’ll get the idea once you see the tie-dye dressed residents hopping between hippy-ish cafes and street fairs.