Top 5 Outdoor American Towns

There’s no lack of adventure in the USA. Anyone looking for an adrenaline rush, physical challenge and thrilling outdoor activity will be provided with an incredible wealth of options in America. Luckily, you often don’t even need to venture too far from major cities or popular smaller towns to find all of that. Below, you’ll find the top 5 outdoor American towns, charming and welcoming hubs located near some of the country’s greatest parks and landscapes.

Top 5 Outdoor American Towns

5. Charlottesville, Virginia

Charming Charlottesville lies in the heart of Virginia’s wine country. Surrounded by world-class wineries, this friendly college town is the former home of U.S. Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and James Madison. The University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello make up a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This historic town is one of the best outdoor American towns because of its proximity to both Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Adventurous activities: hiking, camping, cycling, kayaking and canoeing.

Sunrise over Charlottesville, Virginia. top 5 Outdoor American Towns
Sunrise over Charlottesville, Virginia

4. Boulder, Colorado

The college town of Boulder sits at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and offers lots of outdoor delight. It lies within striking distance from Rocky Mountain National Park while the nearby Flatirons overlook the town. Its atmospheric and pedestrian Pearl Street Mall is home to numerous restaurants and cafés, boutiques and art galleries.

Adventurous activities: hiking, rock climbing and bouldering, whitewater rafting, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Outdoor American Towns
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

3. San Luis Obispo, California

One of the best places to live in all of America, beautiful San Luis Obispo lies just inland from the stunning Central California coast. This thriving, historic and friendly town lies a stone’s throw from great wineries, lush hills, the Pacific Coast Highway and a number of beautiful beaches. Things to do, in other words, are plentiful.

Adventurous activities: hiking, cycling, surfing, kayaking, swimming, fishing.

San Luis Obispo beach, California - Outdoor American Towns
Beach in San Luis Obispo beach, California

2. Seattle, Washington

Although this is definitely a city and not a small town, Seattle unquestionably belongs in this list. Set on the shore of the Puget Sound, this vibrant city offers easy access to three awesome national parks. Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks all lie a relatively short drive from the city. Additionally, you’ll also find adventure on the coasts and waters of Washington State.

Adventurous activities: hiking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, camping and cycling.

Edith Creek in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. Outdoor American Towns
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

1. Moab, Utah

The gateway to not one but two of Utah’s greatest national parks, Moab is the ultimate American outdoor town. It lies on the doorstep of both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, two of the most extraordinary and spectacular parks in the United States. Additionally, the town itself is filled with restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, shops and even a craft brewery. This makes it the absolute perfect base to explore the two parks.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah. Outdoor American Towns
Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

Adventurous activities: mountain biking, hiking, camping and 4-wheel driving.

I’d like to stress that this list is, of course, by no means exhaustive and that there are plenty of other awesome outdoor American towns. These are simply my personal favorites. I’ve visited all five of these towns myself and listed them based on my own experiences.

If you have other suggestions for this short list of top 5 outdoor American towns, please do leave a comment below!

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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