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The 40 Most Beautiful Main Streets Across America

american flags line small downtown street
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Galena, Illinois

It probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that this town is named for the mineral galena, an ore of lead, which has been mined in the area for centuries. It has two other major claims to fame: It was once the largest steamboat hub north of St. Louis, and it was the home of President Ulysses S. Grant (and eight other Civil War generals). Its Main Street has a fun nickname: Helluva Half Mile.

exterior of several colorful buildings and hotel
Photo: Rick Lewis/Alamy Stock Photo

Rosemary Beach, Florida

While not nearly historic, downtown Rosemary Beach’s Main Street (created with the town’s Master Plan in 1995) is a stunning example of New Urbanism, with the sibling New Urbanism town of Seaside just a few miles west along 30-A. A block from the Gulf of Mexico side is the chic black-and-white Pearl Hotel. The West Indies–meets–Charleston–style colorful storefronts span several blocks to the north, retailing everything from books to baubles.

colorful buildings in the sun with cars parked nearby
Photo: Getty Images

Pella, Iowa

Settled by Dutch immigrants in 1847, the town of Pella is a veritable “Little Holland.” It’s home to the largest working grain windmill in the country and has a replica of a Dutch square named Molengracht, complete with a canal, which sits right off Main Street. Visit in May for the annual Tulip Time Festival.

old brick buildings with cars in the street on a clear day
Photo: Stephen Saks/Getty Images

Port Townsend, Washington

Located on a peninsula north of Seattle, Port Townsend is known for its many Victorian-style buildings. Its waterfront area, home to the main road, Water Street, was designated a National Historic District in 1976.

aerial view of brick buildings with cars in the street
Photo: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Set in the Ozark Mountains, this Victorian town is known for its winding streets that cater to the hilly terrain. (In fact, there are no traffic lights here as no two streets cross perpendicularly.) It’s not just Main Street that’s recognized as historic—the entire town of Eureka Springs is on the National Register of Historic Places.

car drives through downtown street with views of mountains
Photo: Getty Images

Telluride, Colorado

Like many towns in the mountains out West, Telluride was founded as a mining town in the late 19th century, but it became a major ski destination in the 1970s. Colorado Avenue serves as the main drag, perfect for après-ski shopping and dining or a long summer stroll while browsing the windows.

Stores on main street in downtown Franklin Tennessee on a clear day
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Franklin, Tennessee

Twenty miles south of Nashville, this burb’s Main Street conveys the storybook-perfect town. You’ll find landmarks like the historic Franklin Theatre, dating back to 1837 and still hosting movies, concerts, and shows today. While many of the buildings are historic, it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that residents launched the street’s revitalization, bringing in specialty boutiques, restaurants, and more.

brick buildings and cars on the street
Photo: Barry Winiker/Getty Images

Beacon, New York

Not every town on this list was built during the westward expansion. Two fur traders purchased the land from the native Wappinger tribe in 1683, and a few decades later, two villages were erected on the site. Today it’s best known as the home of contemporary art museum Dia:Beacon, which is a little ways off of Main Street, where you’ll find a collection of restaurants and quirky boutiques.

Old style colorful building in Pacific Grove California
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Pacific Grove, California

Salty air and ocean vistas further beautify Pacific Grove, which hugs the Pacific Ocean 75 miles south of San Jose in Monterey County. (All those Victorian homes and storefronts might look familiar if you tune into the next season of Big Little Lies.) On Lighthouse Avenue are plenty of working art studios with gallery spaces, plus antique shops like Fat Willy’s.

multicolored buildings with trees around them
Photo: Anne Rippy/Getty Images

San Marcos, Texas

Turn-of-last-century buildings line San Marcos’s downtown streets, including Hopkins Street, where there’s everything from a rooftop bar to the Charles C. Cock House Museum (in the city’s oldest remaining residential building, a Greek Revival structure). The downtown’s square is a vibrant scene no matter what time of year.

multi colored buildings seen from an aerial view with water in distance
Photo: J.T. Crawford/Paducah Life Magazine

Paducah, Kentucky

William Clark—half of the famous explorer duo Lewis and Clark—founded this town in 1827. General Ulysses S. Grant once occupied the city during the Civil War, establishing Paducah as a main supply center for the Union army. In 2013 the town was named a UNESCO Creative City of Crafts & Folk Art. While the main street is Broadway, you can find shops, galleries, breweries, and more across the entire historic district, which is managed by the town’s Main Street program.

Shoppers roam the shops on the brick sidewalks and cobble stone streets of Nantucket
Photo: Ken Wiedemann/Getty Images

Nantucket, Massachusetts

During the summer months, Nantucket’s Main Street is hopping with pedestrian traffic along the cobblestone streets. Greek Revival, Colonial, and Federalist storefronts are serious eye candy and reminders of the world-renowned whaling industry that was here during the 1840s. Shops like Blue Beetle keep everyone outfitted in nautical attire and ensure the home interior is just as fashionable (like at Nantucket Looms).

 

cars parked outside brick building on overcast day
Photo: Witold Skrypczak/Getty Images

Brigham City, Utah

The first settlers in Brigham City, Utah, were a group of Mormons who arrived in the early 1850s. While the town suffered from economic hardship during its early decades, it boomed during World War II when the government built a major hospital there. Main Street nearly bisects the city perfectly.

cars and people on small downtown street
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Deadwood, South Dakota

Another byproduct of a gold rush—this time the Black Hills Gold Rush—Deadwood grew quickly in the 1870s. It was a true Wild West town, filled with casinos, saloons, and plenty of debauchery. Today it’s still a gambling town, with many historic gaming and drinking establishments lining Main Street, but it’s a much more orderly scene.

cars driving down Main St. in Park City Utah in winter
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Park City, Utah

Main Street, with around 100 boutiques and 50 shops, runs through the historic downtown, making it an entertainment enclave for this ski region. Among the shining architectural stars of downtown Park City, one block over, is Washington School House, a boutique hotel inside a former, well, school house.

brick buildings with cars parked out front of them on overcast day
Photo: Stephen Saks/Getty Images

Livingston, Montana

The transcontinental Northern Pacific Railway put Livingston on the map when it opened a station in town. (It was the final place an engine could be serviced before traversing the Bozeman Pass.) The community then became the first gateway town to Yellowstone National Park. Main Street might only be a few blocks long, but it’s packed with charm.

brick buildings with balcony overlooking street with parked cars
Photo: Kent Kanouse via Flickr

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Natchitoches was actually founded by the French in 1714, making it the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Front Street along the Cane River Lake is the town’s main thoroughfare, and it’s lined with plenty of historic buildings housing shops and restaurants.

brick buildings in the sun with trees along the sidewalk
Photo: Getty Images

Bedford, Ohio

This suburb of Cleveland was founded in 1823 as settlers began building mills along the waterfall-lined Tinkers Creek. Broadway Avenue is the hub of Bedford’s historic district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

american flags line street with buildings and cars and motorcycles on the street
Photo: Getty Images

Red Lodge, Montana

Originally a stop for stagecoaches heading west, Red Lodge boomed in the late 19th century when coal was discovered nearby. The town saw an influx of European settlers, not to mention a large group of Native Americans seeking work in the mines, making its small population one of the most diverse in Montana at the time. Broadway Avenue is full of classic Old West saloons, cafés, and bed and breakfasts.

brick buildings with one car on the street at dusk
Photo: Joe Rebello/Getty Images

Staunton, Virginia

The birthplace of Woodrow Wilson was officially founded in 1747, though the area was settled about 15 years earlier. One of its most famous attractions? American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, a re-creation​ of the playwright’s famous Blackfriars Theatre in London. Staunton’s Main Street was the first in Virginia to be awarded the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Great American Main Street Award.

aerial view of Traverse City Michigan in the fall
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Traverse City, Michigan

This Northern Michigan town along Grand Traverse Bay, which flows into Lake Michigan, is Michigan’s cherry belt and the state’s most vibrant wine region (Madonna’s family has a winery in nearby Suttons Bay). On the main drag (Front Street), tucked under awnings, you’ll find two indie bookstores and culinary shops filled to the brim with cherry-fused eats, plus the Friday Night Live street party every Friday during summer. The crown jewel: the Victorian-era City Opera House, the oldest of three still standing in Michigan.

multicolored shops on downtown street
Photo: Mitch Diamond/Getty Images

Ashland, Oregon

When Reese Witherspoon emerges from the Pacific Crest Trail in Wild—the adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of the same name—she’s in boho-chic Ashland, strolling along Main Street. This Rogue River Valley town is at the foot of Mt. Ashland, with 48 spots on the National Register of Historic Places, including its Downtown District, where the restored Ashland Springs Hotel, with its Romanesque arches and Tiffany-style stained glass, resides.

cars driving through a small downtown street at dusk
Photo: Jeremy Mason McGraw/Getty Images

Bentonville, Arkansas

While the country’s largest “general store” (Walmart) is headquartered here, Bentonville’s downtown core is cute and quaint. Main Street is also home to The Walmart Museum, snug on Main Street; and Sam Walton’s first five and dime. In more recent years, 21C Museum Hotel debuted on nearby NE A Street, introducing a cutting-edge angle.

small downtown street on a fall day
Photo: Lawrence Sawyer/Getty Images

Stillwater, Minnesota

Along the St. Croix River, 30 miles west of the Twin Cities and on the Wisconsin border, this cute town of just under 20,000 residents boasts a Main Street that is the real deal with antique shops, eateries, and bed and breakfasts. Settlers arrived during the mid-1800s, enticed by lumber traffic along the river.

small town in the snow with trees in the background
Photo: Josh Miller Photography/Getty Images

Nevada City, California

During the California Gold Rush, dozens of towns cropped up across the state, one of them being Nevada City. At its peak more than 10,000 residents crammed into the community, though today that population has dwindled to a more comfortable 2,800. Nevada City has largely retained the look of its earliest days, preserving many old structures along and around Broad Street, the historic main route that today is filled with dining options.

Specialty shops in downtown with big sidewalk clock
Photo: Don Smetzer/Alamy Stock Photo

Cedarburg, Wisconsin

Anchored by the Cedar Creek Settlement (home to a local winery) on Washington Avenue, this riverfront town 40 minutes north of Milwaukee features many stone buildings—including the Washington House Inn—built from limestone and fieldstone between the 1840s and early 1900s. Decent antiques shopping, along with a vintage movie theater and an arts center, make this a popular day-trip destination for residents of Milwaukee and Chicago.

downtown street in Virgina City showing historic brick buildings
Photo: jsolie/Getty Images

Virginia City, Nevada

Resembling the towns of the Old West movies, Virginia City features clusters of Victorian buildings established during the mining boom of the mid-1800s. But it’s anything but a ghost town. Gold Hill Hotel is one of Main Street’s oldest buildings (1861) and has welcomed guests again since its renovation during the late 1980s.

road cars trees
Photo: Deb Snelson/Getty Images

Telluride, Colorado

Formerly a remote but considerably rowdy mining camp back in the late 19th-century, Telluride is now a renowned mountain town tucked within a corner of southwest Colorado. One feature that remained throughout the city’s development over the last several centuries is Main Street, a two-way road that’s flanked by restaurants and boutiques.

The 12-block-long National Historic Landmark District that makes up Main Street is home to everything from the Old Town Jail and the Appaloosa Trading Company, where the notorious Butch Cassidy robbed his first bank at the turn of the 20th century.

road cars trees lights
Photo: Jason Cameron/Getty Images

Park City, Utah

Always lit by a zig-zag string of colorful lights overhead, Park City’s Main Street is where the city’s earliest merchants set up shops that sold their wares to nomads who wandered into the town soon after the Civil War. Though they earned a decent living that way, their real fortune came during the silver rush. However, like quite a few other prosperous American streets, Main Street perished during the Great Depression with boutiques and saloons caving in or burning down.

And by the 1950s, though, the abandoned storefronts turned visitors away from the city; it was an eyesore, to say the least. With the passing of another decade, the city’s first destination ski resort arrived and initiated a complete transformation of the former unfortunate-looking, rundown road became a luxurious haven for businesses and travelers alike.

road cars lights
Photo: Glowimages/Getty Images

Washington, D.C.

Though it may not stand for “Main,” Washington, DC’s M Street in Georgetown is the center of the neighborhood, which was originally built along the C&O Canal as a Maryland tobacco port town. It housed a lumber yard, cement works, and even the Washington Flour Mill.  More than two centuries later, in 1967, Georgetown was designated a National Historic Landmark. It’s included in the inventory of Historic Places, as well as the National Register of Historic Places. In 1967, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. One of the street’s most beloved landmarks is the circa 1765 Old Stone House, Washington, DC’s oldest still-standing structure.

building sky clouds
Photo: Michael Warren/Getty Images

Cairo, Georgia

Situated on the Georgia-Florida line, Cairo, on the Georgia side of the border, is a quaint small town made especially scenic courtesy of The Red Hills region’s farm land and timber. “The Hospitality City,” as it’s known within the state, boasts a Main Road that is the pièce de résistance of the town.

cars flag buildings
Photo: jmoor17/Getty Images

Nevada City, California

The U.S.’ western cities made their fortunes when the settlers discovered the abundance of precious metals—namely gold—buried deep beneath the ground. In fact, the city’s most enormous influx of people occurred at the onset of what later became known as the Gold Rush. Today, there are only about 3,000 residents, but back in 1850, a whopping 10,000 people were living there and creating businesses along the steeply sloped Main Street. Even all of these years later, many of the original 19th-century structures remain, though they’re housing different businesses than they did back then.

That said, one Main Street business that managed to stay put is the historic Holbrooke Hotel, which opened its doors in 1852.

buildings water street
Photo: Peter Unger/Getty Images

Bar Harbor, Maine

About three hours northeast of Portland, Bar Harbor, originally dubbed the Town of Eden since 1796, has always been a quietly luxurious summer retreat for the wealthy and powerful. In fact, throughout much of the late 19th century, such notables as Joseph Pulitzer, William Proctor, Mary Cadwalader Jones, Frederick Vanderbilt, George Vanderbilt, and Evelyn Walsh McLean had built cottages on the island. The island even rivaled Newport, Rhode Island at this point.

The main street—appropriately called Main Street—is chock-full of charming local boutiques, which, throughout the summer months, are typically filled with visitors.

buildings street sky
Photo: Hisham Ibrahim/Getty Images

Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis may be the state’s capital, but it’s not exactly a sprawling urban oasis. It’s a classic and quaint small town with 18th- and 19th-century homes and businesses lining the brick roads. The city’s layout was mapped out in 1696 by the governor, Francis Nicholson, who based his design on baroque urban planning principles that spread throughout Europe during the 17th century. He turned to Annapolis’ naturally existing topography when deciding where to put the city’s two most important structures: the statehouse and the episcopal church. The former resides on the highest point in Annapolis and the latter on the second-highest.

And aside from being quite visible from their high vantage points, the buildings also stand out among the others because they stand at the center of two circular roundabouts, each of which with quite a few streets branching out of them. One of those streets is Main Street, a five-block-long brick-paved road that still exists today. And even one of its original businesses, The Maryland Inn, built in 1776, still stands.

buildings sky street
Photo: Getty Images

Breckenridge, Colorado

The town of Breckenridge, Colorado, was founded by General George E. Spencer in 1859 when the Victorian style of architecture was highly in fashion. Main Street, which runs the length of the city, is flanked by instantly recognizable architecture, most of which is original from the town’s inception. Today, of course, the centuries-old structures house more contemporary businesses and restaurants, but the town itself and its main street are quite historic and provide a beautiful backdrop for anyone in pursuit of a wintery getaway.

building street sky
Photo: Lisa-Blue/Getty Images

Charleston, South Carolina

The entire city of Charleston is considered a living museum because, since its inception in the 17th century, a lot has happened there. Originally called Charles Town, after King Charles II, the southern city was like a miniature London in the recently discovered New World. Not to mention, Charles Town was famously tolerant when it came to religion because the city’s leaders believed that a sense of acceptance would bring more residents and, therefore, more wealth.

The Revolutionary War brought an end to Charles Town’s economic boom—especially because so much of the city had been torched. When the war finally came to a close, the city was renamed Charleston. The Civil War further broke the city down, leaving locals too destitute to rebuild the city. Instead, they just fixed what was already there. Main Street, for instance, is dotted with centuries-old pastel-painted structures.

building trees flag street
Photo: Barry Winiker/Getty Images

Southampton, New York

Flanked by rows of trees, fashionable boutiques, and Michelin star eateries, Southamptons’ Main Street is a charming representation of the 400-year-old village itself. In fact, Southhampton was New York state’s first permanent English settlement and was named after the British Earl of Southampton. Today, of course, it’s a bustling and luxurious spot—albeit small—where New Yorkers spend their summers.

via Architectural Digest

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