New England Travel: New England's Best Small Towns


Because… your kids (and spouse) will thank you.


By Steve Almond

What New England town can be called "perfect" when you have a four-months-pregnant wife and a spirited 20-month-old in tow? Lyndonville can.

Cradled in the heart of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, it has foliage, hiking, and a sugarhouse that seemingly leapt, fully formed, from a Robert Frost poem. Most important, it has what I am ready to pronounce the greatest family resort on earth: the Wildflower Inn, where innkeepers Jim and Mary O’Reilly just get that it’s impossible to relax when you have to chase a kid around all day. What makes their inn so great? Let me count the ways.

1. On-site daycare by cheerful local college students.

2. A barn with actual farm animals that your daughter can pet—and then talk about for the next eight months.

3. A pool and a playroom full of toys to exhaust said child.

4. Food so sumptuous your wife will forget she was ever nauseated.

5. Nearby activities such as horseback riding and hayrides.

Of course, no New England town can be complete without a few eccentrics. We encountered ours on a hike, where a woman was dragging a large cross on wheels behind her. We assumed she was in community theater, but, as she eagerly explained, her purpose was indeed religious. And we took this for what it was: a sign that Lyndonville is God’s own country.

Arlington resident Steve Almond is the author of Candyfreak and (Not That You Asked).


New England’s Best Small Towns 


  • Dan

    Don’t miss Great Barrington Bra & Girl (GBBG) at the top of Railroad Street, the area’s only full-service bra shop, and one of the best intimate apparel and accessories shops that you’ll find anywhere!

  • lo

    also- see Brad at Allium-the best bartender in the Berkshires

  • Dan Shaw

    One of the best places to eat in GB is not on Restaurant Row–it’s Cafe Adam

  • Claudia

    If you are serious about food, this is the place. It’s a couple of miles north of town.

  • fred

    no one in Shelburne Falls drinks Bud… they (we) prefer locally made micro-brews

  • Marti

    Don’t miss Millerton NY, one of Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel “10 Coolest Towns in America”. We are just 10 minutes or less to Sharon, CT and about 30 minutes to Great Barrington We’re a little bit Hip and a little bit Homey! To come on over.

  • Chris

    I have lived in Sharon all my life and it’s nice to see Sharon getting such recognition . The article got it right when it added Sharon.

  • Jonathan

    In Harvard, between orchards, you also have to go to the General Store (a gourmet/locavore paradise), get a cappuccino, sit on the Common, and look at the beautiful old houses. Then go to Fruitlands Museum.

  • Eve

    You forgot to mention the magnificent hillsides and valleys (ablaze with color right now) and the ancient pot holes and waterfalls, and my favorite – the very beautiful bridge of flowers.

  • Eve

    I forgot to mention above, I am talking about Shelburne Falls, MA.

  • J

    Couple comments:
    The bad: Putnam might be quaint because of the antiques, but other than that – it’s pretty much a dump. I grew up near there.
    The good: Hancock IS a beautiful town, not to mention the incredibly nice people. It’s also next door to another beautiful town, my other hometown of Harrisville.