The USA and Canada have much to offer in terms of vibrant city breaks but if you’re feeling like you want something a bit different from the standard trips to Manhattan or Vancouver then check out our secret small towns with big secrets that will guarantee you will have the most interesting selfies and mobile uploads out of everyone you know!
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in South Carolina and has much to offer visitors. Whether you enjoy history, sun and sand or are a keen golfer, Charleston is the place to spend a long weekend.
Charleston offers a wealth of history. The town itself dates back to 1670 and the spirit of the ‘Old South’ comes alive vividly in this sunny harbor town.The beaches of Charleston are glorious and hark back to days gone by. This is the perfect break for sun lovers who don’t want to be in thrall of the city beaches of Miami.
Estes Peak, Colorado
Estes Park is hidden among the pine forests of Colorado’s Estes Valley and is truly picturesque.
It is perfect for the adventurous and outdoorsy as it is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Surrounded by hundreds of miles of wild hiking trails there’s plenty of opportunity to explore the wildlife and dramatic terrain of the Rockies.
The town Film buffs will appreciate the haunting remoteness because Estes Peak is the location of Stanley Hotel, Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining.
Fayetteville, West Virginia
Fayetteville is one of the most charming towns in all of Northern America. With its natural small-town hospitality and chic bustle of eateries and boutique hotels, this is the spot for coolness. Stroll the streets to discover unique art galleries and head down to their historical district to soak in the lovingly restored Victorian, Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne style buildings.
Many of the eateries are locally run creating an ‘only in Fayetteville’ experience. Due to its location on the New River Gorge, the town gets pretty busy during peak season so if rafting’s not your thing, make sure you go off-peak. You can still make the most of the outdoors with various activities including horseback riding and canopy tours operating round the year.
Frederickburg is the town to visit for foodies. The gourmet scene is huge here and some say world-class. Locals swam to Hondo’s to get their fill of doughnut burgers and jalapeno margaritas finished off with atmospheric live music.
You can also check out the historic beer gardens dating back to the 1830s when Fredericksburg was first settled by German immigrants looking for a place to call home. It’s German roots are also evident in the architecture as well as the love of beer!
The city of Leavenworth truly is hidden because it is actually located underground! This mysterious site dates back to before the Civil War where it is thought these warrens of tunnels and passageways could have been used to hide escaped slaves before and during the war. It’s also possible their use continued into the Prohibition period for smuggling. Whilst it isn’t a functioning town, Leavenworth makes for an interesting visit. It is possibly one of America’s greatest mysteries due to the fact that no one know who built it or exactly why they did so.
Dawson Creek, British Columbia
The town is named after geologist and naturalist, Dr George Mercer Dawson and bears no relation to the popular teen-drama of the 1990’s Dawson’s Creek. Originally a pioneer settlement the town quickly developed into an agricultural hub and today is also a great spot for a vacation.
The glorious Northern Alberta Railway Park allowed you to stand at ‘Mile 0’of the famed highway of the wilderness, the Alaskan Highway. There is also a trail taking you over the Kiskatinaw Bridge, one of few remaining original structures of the highway. If you’re a history buff, it’s a great place to explore the footsteps taken by the soldiers of WWII.
Dawson Creek is also a hub for creatives with a thriving arts community.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax has a famous history in maritime terms launching Cunard’s first transatlantic voyage from Liverpool to Halifax in 1840. The ship, named the Queen Mary 2 broke every existing record and paved the way for cruise liners to this day who stop off at the now historic port.
Halifax makes for a wonderful city break with all the charm that is sometimes missing from the more standard destinations. Paying homage to its maritime past, The Canadian Museum of Immigration housed at Pier 21 pays tribute to over one million immigrants who set their toes on Canada’s shores between 12928-1971. It’s said to be a heartwarming and moving experience, especially the video with its historic footage.
Highlights include the super chic Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market that has been in operation for 266 years. Here you can expect to find hundreds of treasures including artisan produce, decent coffee and freshwater pearl jewellery.
Craft beer enthusiasts will have a field day at one of North America’s oldest breweries, Alexander Keith’s. You can also take a guided theatrical tour with guides in 19th century costume to learn the story of Alexander Keith and his brew.
Built on water, Halifax offers many chances to explore. Whether you take advantage of one of the boat trips to view the city by water or take a stroll along one of the world’s longest wooden waterfront boardwalks, you are never far from the beauty of the water.
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Moose Jaw is steeped in history and was originally an Indian fur trading camp located on the bend of the Moose Jaw River. The city’s name actually means “warm breezes” rather than paying homage to this old fur trade!
As a tourist destination, there’s a lot on offer in terms of history and culture. If you’re the artsy type, head over the Moose Jaw Museum and Art Gallery to muse over a mixture of historical artefacts as well as a living history exhibit. For those of you interested in environment or simply love to indulge in a spa you should head to the natural geothermal mineral water pools at Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort.
Whitehorse is a small city steeped in history. It takes its name from the rapids of the Yukon River which are said to resemble the manes of galloping horses. Back in the heyday of the Gold Rush, the Yukon River was a dangerous and exciting place to be for those seeking their fortunes.
Today, it’s a wonderful place to soak in the joys of a young city. It’s charming and picturesque architecture is juxtaposed with an energy thrill so that it’s a great place to visit for those who like city life. There are festivals and events on all the time. Why not watch the dancers from First Nations tribes perform traditional dances?