With fall in full swing and winter fast approaching, the temperatures are chilly and the air is fresh. There’s no better time to feel good. But while snuggling up by the fireplace with a good book is a perfect way to achieve that feeling, there are a few destinations outside of your home that you might want to check out. Data recently released by MyDatingAdviser.com ranked the 170 most comfortable small towns in the United States, with ratings based on weather, food and activities. The survey also took into account winter temperatures, snowfall and other comfort qualities, giving each hub a comprehensive “Cozy Town Index Score”. Read on to find out which places the data suggests are most likely to give you the warm and fuzzy.
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Medora, North Dakota ranks sixth on the list of coziest small towns. Scoring an impressive 80.13, Medora is a great choice for a winter getaway, especially if you like to feel like you’re really getting away from the hustle and bustle.
“Part of the reason it feels so comfortable is because there’s nothing else for miles,” Alan Greenfield, editor of the outdoor and travel site Gorp, explains. “It makes you feel like you’re in a cute little ‘base camp’ town with miles of wild countryside around you.”
You shouldn’t miss the vast Teddy Roosevelt National Park, but you can also just enjoy the “small town vibe”. Courtney Newtonfull-time travel blogger and owner of Disorderly Drifters, says Better life. “Travelers can’t help but fall in love with the friendliness and welcoming attitude of the locals and other passing travellers.”
Medora ensures holiday cheer with its annual old-fashioned cowboy Christmas, adds Newton, which this year runs from Dec. 1-18. You will be impressed by the decorations and the lights, all with the “Snowy Badlands”. background.
“The city makes you feel completely at home and is a great place to travel solo or to bring family and friends,” says Newton. “The city may only have a hundred residents, but when you get together with the majority of those residents, you’ll understand why it’s ranked among the most comfortable cities in America.”
Head to Breckenridge, Colorado in the winter, and you might never want to leave. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, you’ll find heaven in this snowy wonderland, which has a Cozy Town Index of 80.38, a slightly better score than Medora in terms of activities and weather.
“A visit to Breckenridge and it’s easy to see why it’s named one of the ‘Coziest Small Towns in America'” Michelle Snell, owner and author of travel blogs That Texas Couple and Totally Texas Travel, says. “Nestled in the mountains of Colorado, Breckenridge offers winter’s best.”
You can pop in and out of shops on Main Street or stop for a hot chocolate to escape the chilly temperatures, which average 24.5 degrees Fahrenheit, according to data from MyDatingAdviser. But aside from the shops and restaurants, Breckenridge’s cozy vibe is due to the beautiful scenery itself.
“The surrounding hills are blanketed in snow that you can see from anywhere in town, especially if you curl up by a fire in your ski lodge (or hotel or condo),” Snell says. “The warm and inviting welcome from the locals gives Breck a small-town feel, and all the fun activities mean you can do as much or as little as you want during your visit.”
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With a score of 82.60, Ellicottville ranks fourth, beating Breck in activities and food. The tiny population is less than 300, but that’s part of Ellicottville’s small-town charm and comfort.
You can explore the outdoors in the Allegheny National Forest or try your hand at skiing. But if you’re feeling festive, Amar Husseinfounder and editor of travel site OnlyWanderlust.com, suggests planning a vacation to Ellicottville.
“I would recommend going for the Christmas event in Ellicottville,” Hussain said. “This event feels like you’ve stepped into a Christmas movie; it’s a real must-see.”
For Hallmark movie lovers, Ellicottville should definitely be on your bucket list, because A Christmas in Vermont was filmed in small New York City, Hussain adds.
Another snowy setting can be found in Stanley, Idaho, where you’ll be enveloped in a warm ambience. Bunching is necessary, as the city only averages 12.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, but an index of 86.23 on the comfort scale indicates that it’s worth it. According Jessica Schmitfrom travel blog Uprooted Traveler, Stanley is not a surprising addition to this list.
“The downtown area is small and quaint, with historic log cabins dotting its streets,” says Schmit. Better lifeadding that the local restaurants are “incredible” and feature “heavy wood paneling and cozy fireplaces”.
But Schmit notes that Stanley is also well known for a key, comfortable feature: hot springs. According to the Stanley-Sawtooth Chamber of Commerce, the banks of the Salmon River or the “more pristine Sunbeam Hot Springs” are great places to take refuge from freezing temperatures. Alternatively, you can make a reservation to visit the hot springs at the Mountain Village Resort.
“What could be more comfortable than relaxing in a hot spring and admiring the breathtaking scenery of rugged mountains and surrounding pine forests?” Schmit asks.
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The top runner-up for Cozy Town is Stowe, Vermont, with a Cozy Town Index of 86.1. You won’t find a shortage of ski slopes or spas here, according to MyDatingAdviser.com, and historic spots like Shaw’s General Store.
“Once you visit Stowe you are guaranteed to return because it feels like you are in such a lovely town you have to pinch yourself to be sure you are not dreaming.” Samantha Hamilton, creator and writer of New England Wanderlust, says. “Between the covered bridges, one of the cutest main streets I’ve ever seen, and all the restaurants serving farm-to-table comfort food, it all makes you want to cuddle up and never leave. “
“Comfort and community” are Stowe’s greatest assets, and when the temperatures cool down, Stowe can help foster that feeling of warmth and joy.
“In winter, Stowe turns into a real snow globe where all the scenic landscapes that make it beautiful all year round are accentuated by freshly fallen snow,” says Hamilton. “And not only do they have a Christmas party in December, they also have an amazing winter carnival in January that celebrates the beauty of the winter season.”
Bravo viewers will also recognize Stowe as the location of the reality series winter house.
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Only 76 people live in Stockholm, Wisconsin, but that’s for good reason: This little town is the coziest of them all, with a score of 89.81 on the Cozy Town Index. Winter temperatures hover around 23 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ll want to snuggle up in snowy Stockholm, which offers impressive views of Lake Pepin and great options for shopping and dining. The food and architecture celebrate Stockholm’s “Swedish roots,” according to MyDatingAdviser.com — the village was founded in 1854 by immigrants from Karlskoga, Sweden.
If you want to add some warm decoration to your home, Stockholm is also a great place for antiques. And during the holiday season, this hidden gem has so much more to offer. Stockholm hosts “God Jul” (“Merry Christmas” in Swedish) celebrations, reminiscent of its traditional Scandinavian roots. For the first three Saturdays in December, you can enjoy the unique cozy feeling of the holiday season, with themed events like ‘A Swedish Christmas’, ‘A Holiday Market’ and ‘The Stockholm Fire’.