Editor’s Note: *Due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, please be sure to exercise caution and consult CDC guidelines before arranging any trips.*

When one considers the concept of a “capital city”, there are a few qualities that will likely spring to mind immediately, including heavy traffic, bustling nightlife, and towering (and expensive) high-rise apartments. While some US state capitals – Atlanta, for example – fit the bill perfectly, certain others come equipped with a much more relaxed atmosphere. For those planning a future trip across the United States, consider making a stop at one of the country’s least populated capitals. They may not be the flashiest destinations, but they come equipped with a degree of small town charm that’s certain to win over any visitor.

Juneau, Alaska

Any avid road trippers hoping to make the trek up to Juneau will surely be met with disappointment – the city is the only mainland US state capital that’s inaccessible by road, with all supplies and visitors arriving by air or by sea. Though the logistics of getting to Juneau may be somewhat complicated, the rugged and unspoilt beauty of the Alaskan Panhandle will make it well worth the journey. Visitors should be sure to make the trek to the largest national forest in the US, Tongass National Forest, where spectacular natural features such as Mendenhall Glacier can be viewed in their full glory. After exploring the Alaskan wilderness, history buffs can get a thorough introduction to the state’s background at the Alaska State Museum, and any beer aficionados should be sure to stop at Alaskan Brewing Co for a pint of their finest Husky IPA.

Frankfort, Kentucky

Though Frankfort is a popular destination for tourists and local Kentuckians alike, the city itself has a surprisingly low number of residents, with Kentucky’s capital city ranking #14 in population overall. While it may not be as lively as neighboring Lexington or Louisville, Frankfort is the perfect destination for those hoping to delve into the lengthy history of the state. Visitors can begin the day by exploring Leslie Morris Park, a historic battleground and home to two Civil War-era forts, then heading a few blocks south to discover some of the city’s most illuminating archives, including the Kentucky History Center, Military History Museum, and Capital City Museum. For a thorough introduction into the history of Kentucky’s crown jewel, bourbon whiskey, take the trek a few miles north to Buffalo Trace Distillery – this world-famous company is purported to be the oldest continually-operating distillery in the nation.

Augusta, Maine

Following Maine’s admittance into the United States in 1820, Augusta was formally established as the easternmost capital in the nation, edging out rivals including Portland, Brunswick, and neighboring Hallowell. The city is home to a charming downtown district running parallel to the Kennebec River, with boundless opportunities for outdoor drinking and dining beneath the summer sun. Though it may be tempting to spend the entire day sipping craft beer by the water, be sure to take advantage of Augusta’s fascinating historic structures and collections as well. On the opposite side of the river, tourists can visit Old Fort Western, a preserved military outpost dating back to 1754, while the Maine State Museum is home to a wealth of exhibits showcasing historic artifacts and preserved local wildlife.

Pierre, South Dakota

Founded along the banks of the Missouri River, South Dakota’s capital began life as a small community across the river from Fort Pierre, a prominent fur trading outpost established in the early 1800s. Though it’s dwarfed in size by the state’s western and eastern hubs, Rapid City and Sioux Falls, it remains a prominent destination for those exploring the center of South Dakota. Many of the city’s attractions are found along the banks of the Missouri River, with Steamboat Park, Griffin Park, and La Framboise Island serving as perfect locations for a long stroll along the water. Travelers with children should consider a trip to South Dakota Discovery Center, a vibrant science museum with over sixty interactive exhibits, while those hoping to educate themselves on South Dakota’s complex history can travel inland to the South Dakota State Historic Society, an esteemed organization featuring exhibits covering the region’s history from prehistoric times to the modern era.

Montpelier, Vermont

With just over seven thousand inhabitants, Montpelier is the least populous capital city in the United States – though this may not come as a total shock given that Vermont is the second-least populous state in the nation. Despite its small size, the city is rife with opportunities to entertain even the most finicky of travelers. Lovers of the fine arts can peruse a wide array of galleries, history buffs can explore the halls of the Vermont Historical Society Museum, and wildlife enthusiasts can spend time trekking through North Branch River Park in search of Vermont’s native species. Be sure to include some relaxation time in your busy schedule – Montpelier’s business district is the perfect place to sample Vermont’s finest craft beer, chocolate, cheese, and other local goods in the presence of the city’s stunning Greek Revival-style state house.

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