There’s something about small town America. The historic homes and sidewalked streets. The white picket fences and old covered bridges. The general stores brimming with fresh baked goods and friendly locals. As John Mellencamp would say, I can breathe in a small town.
When I think of travel, I dream of the good ol’ U. S. of A. as seen through the window of our ’87 Grand Wagoneer. Although I’ve yet to make it down to Laurel (could 2018 be the year?!), my husband Tom and I have done our fair share of exploring in the northeast. If you’ve got the itch for a road trip this year, here are just a few of our favorite charming towns to visit in New York and New England.
Woodstock, Vermont: Easily the most frequently featured locale on my Instagram feed, Woodstock is a quintessential New England town. Picture a village green, surrounded by historic brick and white clapboard homes with American flags waving in the Vermont breeze. Across the green is a covered bridge, and around the corner sits the local general store - F.H. Gillingham & Sons. Drop your bags at The Woodstock Inn, and tour the village on the cruiser bikes out front. If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, try a hike up Mount Tom for bird’s eye view of the village. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the neighboring town of Quechee for a meal at The Mill at Simon Pearce, complete with a view of a waterfall cascading under a covered bridge. Back at the Inn, relax with a cold drink in the white Adirondack chairs on the Inn’s expansive front lawn.
Manchester, Vermont: Sandwiched between the towns of Dorset and Sunderland, this area is a small town travel trifecta. If you’re an animal and big red barn lover like myself, do yourself a favor and stay at Hill Farm Inn in Sunderland. You’ll be greeted by the lovely staff and their crew of rescue farm animals, with the old red barn and the picturesque mountains beyond. Just up the road, Manchester boasts a bustling shopping and dining scene, as well as a historic district of beautiful homes (including Hildene, the Lincoln Family home!). Head a bit farther north to Dorset, a picture perfect Vermont village where you’ll find more white clapboard houses and marble sidewalks. Belly up to the bar at The Dorset Inn and you’ll feel like a local in no time. It wouldn’t be a trip to Vermont without visiting a general store, and Dorset Union Store is a best bet. While you're there, make sure to pop around the corner to the local bakery, Dorset Rising, to choose from their beautiful spread of baked goods.
Kennebunkport, Maine: When we find ourselves in need of an ocean breeze, we love to escape to the coastal town of Kennebunkport, nestled amidst sandy beaches and rocky coves. Rest your head at The Cottages at Cabot Cove, an enclave of sixteen little cottages in beachy shades of blue and teal with a view of the cove beyond. Roll into town on your beach cruiser for a lobster roll at The Clam Shack, admiring the historic old homes along the way. Don’t miss nearby Cape Porpoise for drinks with a view at our personal favorite, The Ramp, along with a little shopping at Farm + Table. For a relaxing afternoon on the coast, pack a picnic basket and paddle out to Goat Island Lighthouse. Find a rock on the far side of the island and watch the lobster boats chug by, with the bell buoy clanging in their wake.
Glens Falls, New York: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how worthy my own hometown is for a visit! Living in Hometown USA (a title given to our little city by Look Magazine in 1944) has given me a deep appreciation for small towns with big charm and even bigger hearts. Glens Falls is on the upswing, alive with restaurants, craft breweries, and the arts. While in town, stop in at one of our favorite restaurants, Morgan and Company. Grab a seat and a cocktail on the porch in the warmer months, listen to the clock tolling the hour from City Hall while young families gather on the lawn across the street for the Friday night movie in the park. Our very own slice of Stars Hollow. The Laurel of the north, perhaps?
Briana Lyons is the owner of the upstate New York based creative studio, The Yellow Note. Her mission is to celebrate the everyday, and her photography and blog showcase the little things that make life sweet. She is inspired by a love for Americana and small town charm, and shares photos and stories of her travels, scenes from the home she shares with her husband Tom and their two labradors, as well as glimpses of life in their hometown of Glens Falls.