The United States boasts some incredible waterways, and many celebrated towns have emerged along the banks of those famed rivers. Offering fresh water, fertile land and crucial transportation routes, they made ideal locations in which to settle and build a life. Today, these renowned river towns are noted for their historic, natural and cultural appeal. These top 15 US river towns are worth flowing into.
1. Savannah, Georgia
As one of the nation’s oldest cities, there are plenty of reasons to visit this charming river town noted for its Southern hospitality. Located on the Savannah River and just twenty miles from the Atlantic coast, Savannah is filled with antebellum architecture, beautiful parks, gourmet eateries, and vibrant nightlife. Take a stroll down Savannah’s Riverwalk and soak in the genteel ambiance. The River Street area is a working harbor with old brick warehouses, but it contains restaurants, taverns, galleries, festivals, street performances and carriage rides to make it a must-see hub.
2. Hood River, Oregon
Located on the enchanting Columbia River, Hood River, Oregon is a paradise for fans of water sports and the great outdoors. It’s considered the windsurfing capital of the world. Kitesurfing, paddleboarding and river rafting also attract active adventurers from all over the country. The town is situated amidst breathtaking scenery, amazing hiking trails, thriving orchards and tempting vineyards. It’s a great place to experience a fun-filled, adrenalin-fueled, delicious getaway.
3. San Antonio, Texas
With its picturesque river walk, San Antonio is easily one of the most distinctive and enticing US river towns around. In fact, San Antonio has the reputation of being one of the first river towns to make the most of its scenic location by making the San Antonio River the heart of the community. Enjoy eating and drinking in cafes along the Paseo del Rio and browsing the endless galleries and shops.
4. Richmond, Virginia
An historic city on the James River, Richmond brims with historic landmarks and sites. There’s so much to see and do in Richmond it can be tough to narrow down the highlights. However, you can’t go wrong by visiting attractions like the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, the Lee Monument, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or the Virginia Historical Society. The Riverfront Canal walk is not to be missed.
5. Nashville, Tennessee
Situated on the Cumberland River, Nashville, Tennessee has a reputation for its thriving country music scene. Loaded with entertainment venues, clubs, and down-home eateries, Nashville will never leave you bored. Be sure to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry when you’re in town. Consider taking a riverboat cruise down the scenic waterway. Downtown’s Cumberland River Park is an inviting green space, and there are plans to further develop the waterfront to take advantage of its pretty river location.
6. Davenport, Iowa
Celebrated as one of the quad cities on the Mississippi River, Davenport and its sister cities make for a charming getaway. Floating casinos, scenic parks and bridges, and a welcoming atmosphere give Davenport some river caché. Be sure to plan a trip in summer when the waterfront festivals are in full swing.
7. Wilmington, North Carolina
Located on the infamous Cape Fear River, Wilmington, North Carolina boasts a mile-long river walk that attracts a multitude of locals and tourists. Having been permanently settled by the mid-1700s, Wilmington has many historic sites and colonial architecture galore. Visitors to the city love to explore its historic district that boasts a wide array of shops, cafes and restaurants.
8. New Orleans, Louisiana
From jazz to jambalaya, New Orleans is a bustling river town on the mighty Mississippi where it flows to meet the Gulf of Mexico. The city has been building outdoor concert venues, parks and jogging paths along the river to take advantage of its scenic charms. Filled with hotels, restaurants, cafes and a myriad of exciting historic and cultural attractions, New Orleans is an iconic river town you definitely need to check out.
9. Missoula, Montana
Missoula, Montana is located on the Clark Fork River and is home to the renowned University of Montana. Missoula is also situated near the convergence of five mountain ranges, so it isn’t surprising that it is known for its breathtaking scenic vistas. Famous for its sports and athletics scene, Missoula also features an extraordinary array of parks and recreational opportunities.
10. Chattanooga, Tennessee
Located on the Chattanooga River, the city of Chattanooga is often dubbed as one of America’s most scenic cities. It is nestled between the ridges and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains. Home to some marvelous attractions like the riverfront Tennessee Aquarium and its celebrated floating hotel, the majestic Delta Queen, Chattanooga knows how to show visitors a good time. The city also features a wide array of fests that attract lots of tourists. Don’t miss the eclectic Chattanooga River Market.
11. Asheville, North Carolina
Beautiful Asheville, North Carolina is located near the confluence of the French Broad River and the Swannanoa River. Famous for its Bluegrass and beer, Asheville is a gem of a town that features beautiful scenery and great festivals like its famous Beer Week. Its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains adds to its picturesque appeal. Asheville’s River Arts District is a great hub of galleries, curio shops and cafes.
12. Spokane, Washington
Situated on the Spokane River, the city of Spokane, Washington brims with a wide array of attractions. Celebrated for its parks and recreational venues, Spokane also features a vibrant art scene. Be sure to check out its Riverfront Park, Dishman Hills Conservation Area and the Manito Park and Botanical Gardens. River rafting, paddling and hiking trails make good use of its waterfront location.
13. Talkeetna, Alaska
This Alaskan community is situated at the confluence of three rivers, the Chulitna, Susitna and Talkeetna. The town’s downtown core is considered a National Historic Site. Pop into Nagley’s General Store and its like stepping back in time to the early 1900s. It’s a good base from which to explore Denali and its majestic mountains. Flightseeing, rafting, mountain biking, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting are all offered in this relatively remote river town, about 2.5 hours outside of Anchorage.
14. Fayetteville, West Virginia
Located on the Cape Fear River, Fayetteville has received the All-American City award three times. Seeped in history – General Sherman’s march and Babe Ruth’s first home run took place around here – it has a small town feel but with big city amenities. Nearby Fort Bragg anchors this river town with military pedigree. The Cape Fear River Trail makes a pleasant woodsy nature escape in one of the most pleasant US river towns.
15. Boise, Idaho
The state capital set along the scenic Boise River makes good use of its waterfront and mountain foothills location. There are plenty of natural attractions and outdoor recreation opportunities for all ages here. Don’t miss the geothermal hot springs that dot the area. The 25 mile Boise Greenbelt along its riverfront is ideal for jogging, cycling, walking and wildlife viewing.