The Most Colorful Towns in the U.S.
The Most Colorful Towns in the U.S.

Travel can be a great way of injecting a little color into your life. If your own neighborhood feels a little gray and predictable, why not take a short vacation and discover the joys of the most colorful towns in the U.S.? From turquoise ocean waves to fiery foliage, these towns are a veritable rainbow.

Key West, Florida

Big brown pelican on dock in front of water and boats.
Credit: romrodinka/ iStock

The Florida sunshine turns the ocean a vivid turquoise and down on the Keys, the shallow waters seem even brighter. At the end of the Overseas Highway you’ll reach Key West, where a vibrant community awaits. The colorful Conch Tour Train is the easiest way to get your bearings, departing regularly for a 75-minute loop of the town’s main sights. When you’re done, step inside the canary yellow Tennessee Williams Museum on Truman Street for a deep dive into the life and works of this talented playwright. Later, wander down to the waterfront to watch an orange sunset from Mallory Park while fire-eaters, musicians and street performers provide the entertainment. Nearby, myriad cafés, restaurants, bars and boutiques painted in bold shades entice you to linger.

Montpelier, Vermont

Montpelier, Vermont town skyline in autumn.
Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

Montpelier is the smallest state capital in the U.S. but nevertheless it makes a rewarding destination for visitors. That’s particularly the case in fall when the leaves of the town’s trees turn, engulfing the place in a riot of ochre, vermilion and russet red. Admire the golden dome of the Greek Revival-style Vermont State House; self-guided tours of the building’s interior run year-round, while docents will guide you during the warmer months. Later, jog or stroll through the greenery of Hubbard Park, the town’s largest green space. Montpelier is also famous for its love of maple syrup and it’s worth the short drive over to Bragg Farm House to learn how it’s made. Pick up a bottle or two to take home while you indulge in a maple creemee, the area’s signature soft-serve.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Row of colorful houses on boardwalk.
Credit: SCStock/ iStock

Ketchikan is one of Alaska’s most colorful small towns. Teal, sky blue and orange are just some of the shades chosen to adorn the buildings constructed on wooden piles over the water on historic Creek Street. Drop in to Dolly’s House Museum, a former den of iniquity which tells the story of how the area’s loggers, miners and fishermen used to spend their hard-earned cash. Pick up a walking tour map to take a closer look at the town’s other landmarks. Pose for a selfie in front of the welcome sign with its red lettering which boasts that Ketchikan is often dubbed the “Salmon Capital of the World” – five varieties swim in the waters nearby. Another must is the fascinating Totem Heritage Center which boasts the largest collection of 19th century totem poles in the world.

Madrid, New Mexico

Quaint Roadside Shop in Madrid, New Mexico
Credit: Gary L. Brewer/ Shutterstock

Madrid is one of the most irresistible stops on New Mexico’s Turquoise Trail. This former ghost town between Santa Fe and Albuquerque has become a popular stop on the Scenic Byway. The town has been transformed from a coal mining town into one big outdoor art gallery thanks to an influx of creatives in the 1970s. As you mosey along the main street, a plethora of shops and art galleries compete for your attention. From steam punk to vintage Western, their displays encompass all the colors of the rainbow. Even the town’s mailboxes have been given an artsy facelift, decorated with pretty flowers and other funky designs. Grab some refreshments at Jezebel Studio and Gallery, which boasts a retro soda fountain dating from 1926.

Pella, Iowa

Park with pond, mini windmill, and tulip lined paths.
Credit: Bella Bender/ Shutterstok

Dutch immigrants first came to Pella, Iowa in 1847 but stuck around, giving the town its nickname “Little Holland.” Year-round, there are plenty of reminders of its European heritage, such as the town’s Klokkenspel, whose mechanical figures move as the music of a 147-bell carillon rings out. Tour an authentic grain mill: the five-story Vermeer Windmill was shipped over from the Netherlands two decades ago to its new home on Franklin Street. In spring, Pella most closely resembles the old country thanks to huge displays of tulips. Organizers stage the Tulip Time Festival over the first weekend in May when approximately 200,000 visitors descend on the town. They’re treated to parades, dancers performing in traditional costume, crafts and of course, those magical blooms.

Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

Row of colorful houses.
Credit: Gordon Bell/ Shutterstock

Visitors to the Martha’s Vineyard town of Oak Bluffs will quickly notice its pastel-painted gingerbread cottages – there are around 300 of them. During the 19th century, Methodists flocked here for their summer get-together. These modest, inexpensive houses with their fretwork trim and wooden balconies date from 1864 onwards, when some tired of camping. Early photos were black and white, so no one knows if they were painted in contrasting shades from the beginning. If you can, time your visit for August’s Grand Illumination Night, which has been a tradition since 1869. On the third Wednesday of the month, people hang lights and lanterns outside their properties. It’s not the only colorful reason to come here; Oak Bluffs also boasts the Flying Horses Carousel, a brightly painted fairground ride that once stood in Coney Island.

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