5 Picture-Perfect Towns Lost in Time
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With the Internet keeping us connected across the globe, it's easy to imagine that the frantic pace of today's society has reached nearly every corner of the country, if not the continent. Fortunately, America still has a few places that seem nearly untouched by time. From that unmistakable feeling of friendly small town charm, to the awe of discovering a place that stands unspoiled from over a hundred years before, these little vacation spots have plenty to offer the intrepid traveler.
Celebration, Florida was the realization of Walt Disney's dream to create an ideal community. Though he proposed the idea for Epcot, as the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, it was realized more than 25 years after his death in a very different form. Celebration was originally built on Disney property and designed by some of the company's architects.
The town has a 1930s feel and is brimming with small town charm. From the quaint downtown streets where you can take a leisurely stroll to the cookie-cutter homes with carefully manicured lawns and garages neatly hidden with rear entrances, this town gives you the idyllic impression of a place where not a blade of grass will bend out-of-place.
Though Celebration is no longer owned by Disney, it has lost none of its charm, particularly around the holidays. Stroll through the main village in December and you'll find it snowing in Florida, in the form of soapy flakes the locals lovingly refer to as “snoap.”
About 90 minutes east of Tuscon, Arizona, you'll find the tiny town of Wilcox. This historic downtown district features buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Visit the restored 1880 Southern Pacific Depot Museum that also serves as City Hall. The Historic Pablo Soto House and Schwertner House date back to this era as well.
Even the modern attractions take on a slower pace that makes this town the perfect retreat for vacationers who want to get away from the frantic speed of modern life. Head to Apple Annie's and pick seasonal produce ranging from fresh juicy peaches and sweet corn in late summer to crisp apples and pumpkins in the fall. Enjoy hiking, bird watching, bocce, and horseback riding at the Sunglow Ranch.
If you're here in time for a seasonal festival, you can enjoy the miniature art show in February, balloon festival in June, and Rex Allen days with the Cowboy Hall of Fame Induction in October. Everything is a little slower in Willcox, and the generations past feel just a bit closer while you're here.
Glasgow, Virginia is a charming town in the Shenandoah Valley. For a rustic retreat, this is the place to go. Enjoy a room with a breathtaking mountain view at the historic Natural Bridge Hotel. If you want to get closer to nature, try Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp and Resort with both cabins and campsites.
The Natural Bridge is a must-see attraction in this area. With 20 stories of rock naturally carved by nature, this vista is a sight that's been marveled at for centuries. Go back in time with the Native American Village at the Natural Bridge. This village accurately depicts Native American life as it was more than 300 years ago. At The Natural Bridge Wax Museum you can continue your journey through time with figures from the Revolution on forward through Virginia's history.
End the evening with the Drama of Creation. Lights cast on the Natural Bridge skillfully tell the story of the seven days of creation. Set to dramatic music and featuring awe-inspiring special effects, this attraction artfully ties together all the majesty and beauty that Glasgow has to offer.
Enjoy small town charm in the form of historic hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, or rustic cabins in Decorah, Iowa. Even more modern fixtures, like the new Decorah trolley, hearken back to a simpler time. Take a historic architecture tour of the town for an appreciation of everything this area has to offer.
The Porter House Museum dates back to 1867. The Old Stone Church is a Lutheran fixture from 1873. The Highlandville school is a small historic schoolhouse that still serves the community. Nearby Festina, Iowa is home to the World's Smallest Church, a quaint discovery all its own. Fans of the “Little House on the Prairie” series will find the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum a positively charming find. One of Laura's childhood homes is still on site in the form of the Master's Hotel.
If you're interested in the town's charming natural attractions, head to Dunning's Springs, the Fort Atkinson Preserve, or the Ice Cave State Preserve.
Fort Benton, Montana
Fort Benton bills itself as “the birthplace of Montana” and still retains much of its historic charm. The Heritage Complex is home to the Museum of Missouri, the State of Montana's Museum of the Northern Great Plains, and The Montana Agricultural Center. Old Fort Benton and Homestead Village offer immersive looks into the history of the area. The Fort has rooms filled with period pieces. Homestead Village takes you back to a 1900s community complete with a schoolhouse, country church, and drug store.
Hike up to Decision Point or canoe the Missouri River for a refreshing escape back to nature. Don't be surprised if you get a good dose of Western charm at the dining and hotel establishments that you choose here. Cowboy hats and boots are the norm and you can get that old saloon feel in plenty of places. The Grand Union Hotel is an elegant option that still offers the unique feel of the town without any charm lost to a chain. Grab a meal at the Union Grille Restaurant to complete your stay with a taste of everything that Fort Benton has to offer.
Before you book a stay at one of the well-known cities in America, consider these back road options that are often overlooked. The charm of small town America is alive and thriving in these picturesque towns, and you're sure to head home with memories you won't soon forget.