Top 10 Small Towns in the USA Capital Region

Big cities and monuments may get more attention, but these small towns near Washington, DC are the heart and soul of the Capital Region.

The annual Pony Swim on Chincoteague Island, Virginia
One of three covered bridges in Thurmont, Maryland
One of three covered bridges in Thurmont, Maryland
Winchester, Virginia in fall
Autumn foliage in Winchester, Virginia
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Scenic sunset in Havre de Grace, Maryland
Luray Caverns, Virginia
Luray Caverns in Virginia
Galax, Rex Theater, marquee, Virginia, music
Rex Theater in Galax, Virginia
One of three covered bridges in Thurmont, Maryland
Winchester, Virginia in fall
Havre de Grace, Maryland
Luray Caverns, Virginia
Galax, Rex Theater, marquee, Virginia, music

Travel beyond Washington, DC, into neighbouring Maryland and Virginia, where you'll find some of the best small towns to visit in America brimming with down-home hospitality, heritage events, locally owned shops and distinctive attractions.

Virginia Small Towns

1. Winchester
Learn about the area’s culture at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, see the home of country-music legend Patsy Cline at the Patsy Cline House and shop Old Town Winchester’s pedestrian mall. Celebrate the arrival of spring at late April’s Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival.

2. Ashland
Grab a self-guided walking-tour brochure at the visitor centre to scope out the town known as the “Center of the Universe” by residents, and stop into Homemades by Suzanne for a Virginia ham sandwich. Down the road is Scotchtown, the residence of American Revolution patriot Patrick Henry.

3. Galax
Hike or bike at New River Trail State Park in Galax, a city known as the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Come to town in early August for the annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention, a showcase of stringed-instrument competitions.

4. Luray
Be dazzled by cathedral-size rooms filled with 10-storey-high stone formations at Luray Caverns, canoe or kayak down the Shenandoah River and browse the many antique shops on Main Street.

5. Chincoteague
Embark on a kayaking excursion to spy on the wild ponies that live on nearby Assateague Island National Seashore or watch more than 100 of them swim across the Assateague Channel during July’s annual Pony Swim. Visit nearby Wallops Flight Facility, a NASA site for suborbital missions.

Maryland Small Towns

6. Oxford
Admire Maryland’s first port and the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry, the oldest privately owned ferry in the US, devour ice cream churned from local ingredients at Scottish Highland Creamery and take a walking tour of Oxford’s famed picket fences.

7. Havre de Grace
Spot bald eagles along the Havre de Grace Promenade, and examine the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum’s unique collection of decoys used by hunters to lure waterfowl. Or, peruse the charming boutiques at Rochambeau Plaza.

8. Thurmont
Hike, fish and camp under the stars at Cunningham Falls State Park or check out Thurmont’s three scenic covered bridges. Pick up locally made art, jewellery and other handicrafts at October’s Catoctin Colorfest.

9. Kensington
Pick up fresh produce, baked goods and more at the year-round Saturday farmers’ market, and delight in a performance by Kensington Arts Theatre at the Town Hall. The Kensington Historic District’s 19th-century Victorian homes are also worthy of admiration.

10. Chesapeake Beach
Cool off at Chesapeake Beach Water Park or learn about the historic bayside resort that once bustled with railway travellers at the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum. Greenspring Brewing Co. is the go-to for a refreshing wheat lager.

Explore more of America's quaint small towns by planning a US road trip along one of the top 10 scenic byways in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.

Or, traverse the area by cycle on some of the Capital Region's bike trails, filled with history, adventure and stunning vistas.

Related: 
Scenic Drives
City Adventures

Guide Footer Popup