5 Best Mountain Towns To Visit This Summer
Many travelers will flock to beaches during the summer, but mountain towns offer a different, more refreshing kind of reprieve. For starters, they tend to be quieter and less crowded since most travelers visit mountain vacation spots over the wintertime. The weather in mountain towns is usually temperate due to the higher elevation. Plus, the scenery is stunning. Discover five of the best mountain towns in the U.S. to visit during the hot summer months.
1Park City, Utah
Perhaps best known as the home of the Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, is a mountain town that beckons with a quaint Main Street, plenty of outdoor activities, and the Utah Olympic Park. Enjoy a drive on the 14-mile Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway to soak up some gorgeous views. Admire stunning vistas of the mountain blanketed with green trees — a sight you’ll remember forever. To get in some exercise, try the 2.7-mile out-and-back Bloods Lake that leads to the Bonanza Flat Trail.
The Utah Olympic Park was constructed for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and hosted five different events. Check out the on-site museum to learn more about the Games. Athletes still travel here to train. Over the summer, visitors can ride the alpine slide or a bobsled or take a zip line tour.
Strolling down Main Street is a must when visiting this city, where you can pop in and out of shops and restaurants. Highlights include the only ski-in and ski-out distillery in the country, High West, the bookstore and coffee shop Atticus Coffee, Books & Teahouse, and local art at Trove Gallery. To cap off your visit, take a ride on the Town Lift to get a bird’s-eye view of Park City.
2Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge is the home of iconic country singer Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park. Inside the theme park, you’ll find a replica of Parton’s two-room childhood home and her tour bus. You’ll also be able to enjoy classic carnival rides, including a roller coaster.
This mountain town is also just six miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The most visited national park in the United States features more than 800 hiking trails. Hike on the Appalachian Trail from here. One of the most popular places in the park to visit is Cades Cove, where early settlers once resided. Drive by churches, barn, a working grist mill and other restored 18th- and 19th-century buildings along the scenic 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road. Searching for more adventure? The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster is the longest downhill track in the United States.
3Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Tucked away in the green, lush Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Eureka Springs is a colorful, historic mountain town. To soak up that history, pay a visit to the Crescent Hotel & Spa. The allegedly haunted Victorian hotel that’s constructed out of limestone features top forest views and has a hand-painted lobby. Another must-see attraction is the Thorncrown Chapel — a nearly all-glass chapel in the woods.
Stroll through downtown Eureka Springs to admire all the hotels, restaurants, and shops located inside of Victorian buildings on hilly roads. Don’t miss Basin Spring Park, where live bands frequently take the stage. Eureka Springs was renowned for and is named after its natural springs, which were thought to have healing powers. Head to the Blue Spring Heritage Center to see Blue Spring — 38 million gallons of water pour from Blue Spring into a trout-filled lagoon — and soak up the natural beauty of a botanical garden.
4Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is one of the most well-known mountain towns in the U.S. — and for good reason. It boasts breathtaking mountains and plenty of scenic, outdoor attractions. One of the most popular places to visit is Garden of the Gods. Drive through the Colorado park and stop at various places to walk around and gaze up at the tall red rocks that offer plenty of beautiful scenery. The park also features a handful of relatively easy hiking trails.
For more stunning outdoor sites, take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway up to the top of Pikes Peak. This mountain stands tall at 14,115 feet and is one of the state’s fourteeners. If you’re fit enough and have a full day, you can hike all the way to the top. End your trip at The Broadmoor, an iconic Colorado Springs resort with a lake at the center of the hotel.
5Littleton, New Hampshire
Located on the northern edge of the White Mountains and on the border of the Connecticut River lies Littleton. This charming New England mountain town with a population of 6,000 is also called the “Glad Town” by locals due to its strong community ties. Stroll the charming Main Street, find gifts at Pentimento, vintage threads at Black Sheep Provisions, and stock up on candy at Chutters, which claims to have the world’s longest candy counter.
Hike up Kilburn Crag to see panoramic vistas of New Hampshire’s Presidential Range. Littleton is also known for being the birthplace of Eleanor Porter, the author of the bestselling book, Pollyanna. Cap off your visit by walking on the straight-out-of-a-historical novel Riverwalk Covered Bridge, which provides views of the Ammonoosuc River.
The Bottom Line
This summer, opt for a mountain vacation instead of your usual beach trip. These mountainous destinations have so much to offer, you won’t want to leave. But if you feel you must also get in your much-needed time by the ocean, check out these beach destinations as well.