When inflation hits, this common investment can be a refuge

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Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell has passed through the five stages of acceptance about inflation.

 

Originally nominated to the Fed in 2012 and named chair in 2016, Powell and his colleagues kept rates low and growth was steady, if unspectacular, as the economy gradually recovered from the hangover of the 2009 housing crisis.

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Inflation — the rise in prices for goods and services over time — bumped along well below the target rate of 2.5%, and life was mostly good at the Fed.

 

When the pandemic hit, the rate fell to near zero but has been on a near-steady uptick for the last 22 months. At the beginning of 2021, Powell and his colleagues at the Fed were calling inflation “transitory” and were confident prices would soon moderate.

 

In late summer and early fall, Powell used words like “elevated” and a “cause for concern” as the rate moved above 4%.

 

By the end of November, Powell was acknowledging the obvious: Prices had soared 6.8% year-over-year last month, the fastest since 1990, and he said it was time to retire the term “transitory.”

 

By Dec. 15, Powell was in full acceptance mode.

 

“Economic developments and changes in the outlook warrant this evolution,” Powell said of the Fed’s decision to pull back on bond purchases more quickly than planned and target two to three3 rate hikes for 2022, perhaps three more in 2023.

Concerns about jobs drives Fed policy

All along, Powell and his colleagues at the Fed expressed their concerns about the job market and were reluctant to make any moves that would prevent the economy from reaching full employment. (The unemployment rate was 4.2% in November, down from 11.2% in June of 2020.)

 

Frederic Mishkin, a Columbia University professor and former Fed governor, believes that the economy has already reached full employment and. He said the Fed was “much too optimistic on the inflation front,” and they were distracted by their focus on the labor market.

 

Mishkin’s fear is that the Fed will have to raise rates higher than they would otherwise need to if they had acted earlier.

“The Fed is behind the curve,” Mishkin said in an interview with CNBC. “The reality is inflation is higher than they anticipated, and it’s more permanent than they anticipated.”

 

Mohamed A. El-Erian, president of Queens’ College, University of Cambridge, and a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, wrote on Project Syndicate that there is still time to avoid a painful bout of prolonged high inflation.

 

But the Fed needs to do two things.

 

“It should publicly detail why it got its inflation call wrong and what is being done to avoid similar slippages in the future,” El-Erian wrote. “Second, the Fed must move a lot faster in tapering its monthly asset purchases. Easing its foot off a stimulus policy accelerator that is still essentially in a ‘pedal to the metal’ mode will help to mitigate the risk that the Fed will have to slam on the policy brakes in a disorderly manner in mid-2022.”

How is real estate a hedge against inflation?

Investing in real estate offers a couple of advantages during inflationary periods, and this recent runup is no exception. And there is scads of evidence that a diversified portfolio, one that has 20% or more invested in real estate, offers strong and stable returns.

 

Doug Brien, the CEO of Mynd, believes an inflationary environment creates more opportunities for investors in the single-family residential (SFR) market.

 

“It’s an attractive option because rents are bound to rise along with inflation,” Brien said, which increases the cash flow for property owners.

 

With rates poised to rise in the next year, demand for rental homes is likely to increase as well, he added.

 

“If it becomes more expensive for potential buyers to finance a purchase, fewer will be able to afford it,” Brien said. “This will increase demand for single-family homes and create more upward pressure on rental prices.”

 

The old adage is that real estate acts as a hedge against inflation, and there are a number of reasons for that, including:

  • Housing prices rise with inflation, so owners will see appreciation. With the housing shortage so acute, longtime owners have already seen their assets increase more quickly than at any time in recent memory. Prices will likely moderate, but increases of 6-9% in many markets are expected.
  • Mortgage payments do not change over time, but inflation means the money paid back in the future is worth less. As equity grows, fixed-rate payments stay the same.
  • Rents on single-family homes have been on a steady upward swing over the last year. Corelogic reported that September 2021 data showed a national rent increase of 10.2% year over year, and inflationary pressures will hit the rental market as well.

Inflation rates over time

Do mortgage rates correlate to inflation?

Short-term inflation generally has little impact on mortgage rates, which are more closely linked to the 10-year Treasury bill, where rates tend to rise slowly. And when the Fed increases the one rate it controls — called the federal funds rate — mortgage rates are more likely to fall.

 

This is because the interest rate the Fed controls is what banks and credit unions use to lend to each other overnight. This is a very different lending market than the one for mortgages, where banks compete with one another for business.

 

“Thirty-year mortgage rates reflect what the market thinks rates will be over the next 10 years,” said Dennis Bron, vice president of growth for Mynd. “People don’t expect 6% inflation to last the next 10 years.”

 

Many forecasters expect that next year consumer prices will land closer to the Fed target of 2.5%.

 

The phrase “historically low” has preceded “mortgage rates” in thousands of articles about home financing over the last couple years, and that is not likely to change in the next year or so. The 30-year mortgage rate is just over 3% now, with investment mortgages available for about 1-1.5% more.

 

But now that the Fed is going to cease its asset-purchasing programs earlier than planned, rates could see some upward pressure.

 

“As they start tapering, we’ll see how much quantitative easing is affecting rates,” Bron said. “That’s a bit of an unknown.”

 

If rates for primary residences rise, the impact on borrowing for investors in the single-family residential sector is softened by the fact that they’re already paying higher rates than those buying a primary residence. Owning property brings with it numerous benefits.

 

“Even in this crazy environment, it’s still a relatively safe investment,” Bron added.

 

SFR investors earn cash from collecting rent, and owners who buy and hold are able to employ several strategies to reduce their tax burden, writing off many expenses associated with a rental property and taking depreciation on a home.

Housing market’s rise preceded inflation surge

The runup in prices in the housing market started before the inflationary pressures of the last year, as a shortage of homes, and the pandemic-fueled migration to the suburbs and smaller cities, spurred bidding wars and double-digit-percentage hikes in many cities.

 

These increases are hitting families looking to buy in the single-family residential (SFR) space, as well as investors, a group that now includes some deep-pocketed institutions like JP Morgan, Blackstone and the Toronto-based investment firm Tricon Residential, which plans to invest $5 billion in single-family rental homes in the U.S. in partnership with Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Pacific Life Insurance Company.

 

“A lack of inventory is really jacking up home prices,” said Don Ganguly, senior vice president of Mynd Investment Management. With investors forced to pay higher prices because of the increased demand and the looming increase in rates, they are “not getting as much juice month-to-month with cash flow.”

 

The cost to build homes has risen dramatically in the last two years as lumber prices went through the roof (literally, they were four times their normal price in May and at one point were said to be adding $36,000 to the price of a house), even as a labor shortage and supply chain issues plagued many developers.

 

A semblance of normalcy is starting to settle over the housing market, part of the seasonal slowdown as winter approaches, though prices are still high and going higher in the hottest markets, like AtlantaPhoenixRaleighCharlotte

and Austin. Most forecasters predict high-single-digit increases in home prices in 2022 across the country, as opposed to the double-digit jumps of the last year or so.

 

For those already in the SFR market, these have been heady days indeed. And many experts believe that there are still good opportunities if investors do their homework and find properties that have potential.

 

“Rental housing demand is going to continue. Some percentage of people are going to work out of their houses for some period of time,” Ganguly said. “A lot of those people may not want to buy, so you are going to have a spillover from the apartment rental cohort who are looking for a home in the rental market.”

 

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This article originally appeared on Mynd.co and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

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The one small town worth visiting in every state

 

When it comes time to pick your next travel destination, some of the more common cities might top your list. New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle — these are definitely places you must visit at least once, but there are some smaller cities that should round out your travel bucket list. From charming mountain towns to secluded hot springs, here are the small towns you must visit in each state. (Note: Populations are based on 2010 census data.)

 

Bill Chizek

 

Population: 360

Perched on top of Lookout Mountain, Mentone is tourist destination because of its picturesque views and charming shops. Visiting is like stepping back in time. Stay at the Mentone Inn (from $135/night), a bed and breakfast with a big front porch for relaxing, and check out the oldest building in town, a log cabin built in 1870 that is part of St. Joseph’s on the Mountain Church. The real gem of the town, however, is DeSoto Falls, the 104-foot waterfall that’s at it’s roaring-best after a rainstorm.

 

James Deitsch

 

Population: 2,239

Cordova is quaint fishing village 140 miles east of Anchorage in the Copper River Delta. Nestled in the shadow of Mount Eccles, the town has epic mountain views. Though a peninsula and not an island, Cordova is only accessible by plane and ferry, helping it stay a hidden gem. Visitors can enjoy wild salmon, spectacular views and easy access to Alaska’s wilderness. Planning ahead? Visit in May during the Copper River Delta Shorebird Festival and see the 7 million western sandpipers that stopover during their migration.

 

julof90

 

Population: 5,575

This former mining town has charming historic architecture, quirky street art and epic red mountain views. Stay in the Copper Queen Hotel (from $89/night), the longest-operating hotel in Arizona and take a day trip to its namesake, the Copper Queen Mine, which was once the most productive copper mine in the state. In the evening, relax with a pint at St. Elmo’s, the town’s oldest bar.

 

reisegraf

 

Population: 2,073

Eureka Springs was founded as a spa town, making it an ideal vacation destination for weary Arkansas residents in need of a break. The town features carefully restored Victorian buildings and natural splendor — nestled in the Ozarks, it is surrounded by over 60 natural springs. Visit the beautiful glass Thorncrown Chapel, designed by an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright. You can also take a ride on the vintage steam and passenger cars of the Eureka Springs and Northern Arkansas Railway or explore quaint shops and cafes (chain stores aren’t allowed downtown).

Sounds relaxing, right? Make sure it stays that way with these 15 secrets to a stress-free vacation.

 

Tara Ballard

 

Population: 3,728

As the only incorporated town on Catalina Island, Avalon enjoys the distinction of being California’s only coastal island town. Technically part of Los Angeles county, Avalon feels worlds away, and at 22 miles from the mainland, you have to take a ferry to get there. Stay in a cute hotel or at one of five campgrounds on the island and spend your days exploring the protected wilderness and the incredible beaches.

 

mlauffen

 

Population: 4,540

Located at the base of Colorado’s epic Tenmile Range, Breckenridge is best-known for its skiing and other winter sports. But there’s more to the town than just fresh powder and steep slopes — it shines during the summer with river rafting and hundreds of hiking trails. Plus, The Breckenridge National Historic District is the largest historic district in Colorado, and visitors can experience the town as it was during the Gold Rush and after. Take a walking tour to get your fill of history, then head to the Arts District for galleries, performance spaces and even creative workshops.

 

Onfokus

 

Population: 4,205

Mystic is a charming coastal town that will make your dreams of New England quaintness come to life. Explore the Mystic Seaport, a recreation of a 19th century fishing village, complete with classic vessels like the world’s only remaining wooden whaling ship. Then head to the shops in quaint Old Mystic. And of course, no visit to the town is complete without a visit to Mystic Pizza, the pizza shop made famous by the film of the same name.

 

DenisTangneyJr

 

Population: 9,559

Nestled next to the Mispillion river, this small town offers big city feels. Take a trip to Mispillion River Brewing for some craft brews and tunes. Stroll along the Downtown Riverwalk and grab a quick bite at Abbot’s Grill. Peek into one the art galleries on Walnut Street or if you want to experience some nature, visit Abbott’s Mill or DuPont Nature Center.

 

Luka Lajst

 

Population: 6,119

Known for its laid back and relaxed atmosphere, Islamorada is a beachgoers paradise. Explore the expansive Indian Key Historic State Park to view remains of an 1830s shipwreck. Frolic at Anne’s Beach and take a dip in the warm crystal clear water or saunter on the boardwalk through the mangroves.

 

gilaxia

 

Population: 9,523

Previously a winter home to Henry Ford, Richmond Hill’s features stunning architectural facades dating back to the 1930s. If you rather spend your time exploring the outdoors, the coastal waters of Georgia are prime for fishing or you can try your luck at Sterling Links Golf Club with views of the rolling fairways.

 

torwai

 

Population: 3,970

A quintessential small beach town, Haleiwa’s popularity is on the rise for sun, surf and sand. Hang ten at Ehukai Beach, best known for its impressive waves and crowds watching surf pros catch some air. Don’t forget to grab a Hawaiian shave ice – a must have in the Aloha State.

 

steffiiiii

 

Population: 7,960

Surrounded by the Sawtooth National Forest, Red Devil Peak and Della mountains, Hailey is a haven for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. Go back in time at Blaine County Historical Museum and explore the early lives of the inhabitants and pioneers.

 

shanecotee

 

Population: 3,314

Named after the mineral galena, this eponym city was the site of the first major mineral rush in the United States. Galena has been recognized for its Main Street, attracting shoppers with its historic red brick buildings, independent shops and epicurean dining. Want to stay right in town? Make sure you read these six ways to save on an Airbnb before you book a place to stay.

 

IanDikhtiar

 

Population: 1,897

Do rolling hills, charming towns and sandy dunes entice you? Then Williamsport is a must. Wander downtown for views of the Wabash River and visit Williamsport Falls — the highest falls in the state. Don’t forget to take a visit to the fairgrounds for live auctions, food and rides — and admission is free.

 

wundervisuals

 

Population: 442

The Amana Colonies, a group of seven villages settled by German Pietists, have turned into a major tourist attraction in Iowa since becoming a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Now home to cozy bed-and-breakfasts, craft shops, art galleries and Iowa’s first microbrewery, the charming community hosts culinary events and festivals, including, of course, Oktoberfest, all year round.

 

Robert_Ford

 

Population: 6,844

Named one of Smithsonian Magazine’s “Top 20 Small Towns to Visit in the U.S.,” the pioneer boom town of Abilene is also home to one of Kansas’ top attractions: The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, which includes former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s boyhood home and tomb.

 

Liderina

 

Population: 6,845

An official Kentucky Trail Town, Morehead is located within the Daniel Boone National Forest and home to Cave Run Lake, a 8,270-acre reservoir and fisherman’s paradise. More than 150 species of fish live in eastern Kentucky’s largest lake. And, if you’re not an angler, you can enjoy the town’s scenic trails, art galleries and railroad museum.

 

sturti

 

Population: 2,365

While there are certainly more scenic small towns in Louisiana that are more scenic, we suggest visiting Abita Springs, which is less than an hour outside New Orleans and home to one of the nation’s most intriguing roadside attractions. The Abita Mystery House, also known as the UCME museum, boasts “odd collections, memorabilia, pure junk and old arcade machines” (its words, not ours), plus miniature towns with animated displays activated via push-buttons.

 

rkupbens

 

Population: 3,570

This scenic coastal town is surrounded by the Camden Hills, which it why it proudly touts itself as “where the mountains meet the sea.” Home to the historic Camden Opera House, the town is a nature lover’s dream, hosting a variety of outdoor festivals and activities, including hiking biking, sailing, paddle-boarding and, in winter, skiing and snowboarding.

 

traveler1116

 

Population: 4,485

Go for the historic buildings — there are 47 of them noted in the National Register of Historic Places, including the Burley Manor. Stay for the Bathtub Races, an annual fundraiser in which participants race wheeled tubs, remit with brakes, steering and at least two gallons of water. (This sounds like the perfect event for the Toolman, just saying.)

 

vadimguzhva

 

Population: 2,642

A coastal resort town located at the very edge of Cape Cod, Provincetown has become a favorite summer hotspot for the LGBTQ community. Having long celebrated individuality and freedom of expression, P-town is home to the the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and Atlantic House, the oldest gay bar in the U.S.

 

Vadim Anvaer / istockphoto

 

Population: 4,944

Frankenmuth might have a small town feel, but it’s big on the world beer stage. Every May, the tiny village is host to the World Expo of Beer, featuring more than 300 different beers. And if that’s not enough, there’s also an Oktoberfest celebration every October.

 

RiverNorthPhotography

 

Population: 1,351

Sitting on Lake Superior, Grand Marais takes advantage of its lakeside location with an annual Dragon Boat Festival. As the name implies, this festival is filled with dragon-headed boats that race across the lake. Of course it’s complete with rowers and drummers, along with other (shorebound) activities for the whole family.

You always want to be prepared when you travel and the story of how renters insurance saved this couple’s vacation is certainly worth a read.

 

Jacob Boomsma

 

Population: 8,034

New Albany provides historic Southern charm in a modern-day setting. The small town was the birthplace of William Faulkner, and each September the city celebrates Faulkner Fest, which includes announcing the winners of the William Faulkner Literary contest. This is just one of a number of festivals New Albany sponsors year-round, so you’ll always find something to do. Want to go it on your own? There are plenty of nature routes and other attractions, like the Indian mounds, to check out.

 

_jure

 

Population: 4,410

Surprised by a French-named city in Missouri? Don’t be. Founded by the French, Ste. Genevieve was the first European settlement west of the Mississippi River. That means there’s a lot of history to enjoy, and also a lot of wine: Ste. Genevieve and the surrounding area is home to at least 15 wineries, vineyards and breweries.

 

Berezko / iStock

 

Population: 4,488

Polson is right on the southern shore of the gorgeous Flathead Lake, a natural freshwater lake, where you can catch all kinds of fish, from rainbow and brook trout to largemouth bass and kokanee salmon. Also, be sure to check out the Miracle of America Museum, which has been described as “one of the most impressive hodgepodge collections of Americana on Earth” by RV Travel.

 

David Butler

 

Population: 2,923

Minden provides ones of the best looks into America’s past. Whether you visit the Kearney County Historical Museum, the Minden Opera House or the Rowe Sanctuary (featuring “the second largest straw bale constructed building in the United States”), there’s history throughout Minden. If you want something a little more interactive, there’s always Pioneer Village, recreating and old American town with 26 complete buildings.

 

BrianAJackson

 

Population: 1,080

Don’t be confused: Alamo was named after the Texas historical site, but it’s in Nevada. Even though it’s not found near the Alamo, there are still plenty of cool things to do here — like take a short drive down Nevada State Route 375, aka Extraterrestrial Highway, to hunt for UFO sightings on your way to nearby Area 51.

If you’re into the supernatural or just general haunting stories, check out this story about how death can haunt your house hunt.

 

SrdjanPav

 

Population: 961

The defining feature of this petite town is a preserved 19th century brick and granite mill surrounded by a an old-fashioned village complete with a general store and farmers market. The town and its pastoral surroundings provide a great summer escape, especially if you need time away from crowds. (Bye, Manhattan madness.)

 

DenisTangneyJr

 

Population: 3,906

Whether you like art, shopping or fine dining, Lambertville has something for everyone. This town, founded in 1705, sits along the Delaware River and is considered a destination for antique hounds. And, according to the their website, “the town’s architecture is as interesting as its residents.”

 

aimintang

 

Population: 3,177

Chimayo is 40 minutes from Santa Fe in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Visit El Santuario de Chimayo, a historic church whose dirt floor is said to have healing powers. Also check out the traditional weaving shops for even more town culture.

 

Michael Warren

 

Population: 309

For anyone looking to truly escape the crowds and congestion that is New York City, this is a great place to go — you probably have more people in your apartment building than this town does collectively. This relaxed town deep in the Catskill Mountains is filled with vintage shops and hip places to stay. The Phoenicia Diner is a favorite of Brooklyn hipsters.

 

Boogich

 

Population: 1,028

Banner Elk is considered the ski capital of the South. It’s located between Sugar Mountain Resort and Beech Mountain Resort, two of the biggest ski resorts in the region. But the town is a year-round destination for shopping and dining. The warmer months bring opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and rafting.

 

ranplett

 

Population: 112

Tiny Medora is located within Theodore Roosevelt National Park. You can take in the unspoiled beauty of the Badlands and get a taste of historic old west culture with a carriage ride or visit to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

 

Image Source

 

Population: 138

18th-century sailors would “put into” this island bay to wait out bad weather on Lake Erie, giving this small town its name. For such a tiny place, there is lots of adventure to be found. Visitors can explore a cave, tour a winery and go parasailing.

Genius tip: If you’re an adventurous traveler, you’ll definitely want to read about what extreme sports junkies need to know when traveling abroad.

 

Yagi-Studio

 

Population: 6,187

Pauls Valley is a scenic stop on the Heartland Flyer passenger train on the way from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas. You can check out a 1902 steam engine near the station and indulge your sweet tooth at either the Bedre Chocolate or Field’s Pie factories. Bring the kids to the Toy and Action Figure Museum while you’re in town, too.

 

sandsun

 

Population: 9,477

Astoria is a coastal city with a lot of interesting history. You can check out the reconstructed fur-trading post known as Fort Astoria originally built in 1811, or zip forward a few decades to the Captain George Flavel House Museum to get a sense of how wealthy Oregonians lived in 1885. Picturesque Astoria is known for hosting many film productions, including lending its beaches to filmmakers for Free Willy and Free Willy 2. (And now I’ll have “Will You Be There” stuck in my head for the rest of the day.)

 

HaizhanZheng

 

Population: 7,620

What’s better than a small town with a historical background? If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Gettysburg. Here you can visit the place where former President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address — Gettysburg National Cemetery — and see beautiful, historic architecture. In fact, many buildings even predate the Civil War.

 

AppalachianViews

 

Population: 6,425

Exeter’s agricultural districts feature fun activities like strawberry- and blueberry-picking, courtesy of farmsteads that have been around for many generations. Or, if you’re visiting in the winter, Exeter’s Yawgoo Valley features Rhode Island’s only ski resort.

 

grki

 

Population: 9,163

There is a ton to do in Georgetown, a small town with a bustling seaport and the hometown of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s grandfather (and many of her other relatives). When you’re here, a visit to the beautiful Georgetown harbor is a must. You can also visit many historical attractions, like Battery White Park or the Georgetown Light lighthouse.

 

Joesboy

 

Population: 6,627

There may not be many people in Sturgis year-round, but during the first full week of August, hundreds of thousands of bikers descend upon this little town for the 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Even if you don’t come during this time, you can check out the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame or visit Bear Butte State Park for some outdoor adventures.

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Rex_Wholster

 

Population: 448

Townsend has a lot of natural beauty to offer, like the Tuckaleechee Caverns. They’re beautiful and there’s even an underground waterfall. Not a fan of the idea of going underground? There are plenty of other waterfalls to see around Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Or, if you’re looking for simple relaxation, float down the Townsend Wye in a raft.

 

NathanMerrill

 

Population: 1,981

Marfa is a cozy small town in Texas, but it has an unusual attraction: Unexplained “ghost lights” that appear at night throughout the town. If the paranormal gives you the heebie-jeebies, Marfa is still worth visiting, especially for its thriving modern arts community fostered in part by Donald Judd and his gigantic, outdoor sculptures of steel, aluminum and concrete.

 

earleliason

 

Population: 4,312

Talk about being in the heart of beauty. Well, in the circle of it, in this case, as Kanab is known as the “Grand Circle.” With the nearby National Parks, like Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon, and the gorgeous Lake Powell, the little town of Kanab has it all. Even the largest animal sanctuary in the country, Best Friends Animal Society, is here.

Genius tip: Between checking out the sites, make sure you hit up the old-school counter diner, The Junction, for some stellar burgers and shakes.

 

Robby_SixtyTwo

 

Population: 3,048

No, not that Woodstock. Think postcard-perfect farmhouses and a charming Main Street. So charming, in fact, that Budweiser once filmed a Christmas commercial in the town. If you visit, the must see destination is the Billings Farm and Museum, complete with a farmhouse and operating dairy farm.

 

DenisTangneyJr

 

Population: 2,941

This charming town is known for the wild ponies, aptly named Chincoteague ponies. They roam the beaches of the neighboring Assateague Island, where only animals live, and are brought to town by the local fire department each year. In addition to seeing the ponies, you’ll want to hop a ride on the island trolley and explore the beaches.

 

WilliamSherman

 

Population: 6,606

Sequim, also known as The Lavender Capital of North America, is home to several lavender farms and holds Lavender Weekend the third weekend of July each year. And boy do they go all out — street fairs, farm tours, concerts, food and so much more. But the main event, which you can see all year, is the lavender itself. Fields and fields of it, plus every lavender scented and flavored product imaginable. Several lavender farms are free to visit and may even let you pick your own sprigs.

 

republica

 

Population: 624

Get ready for some nature relaxation here. This sweet mountain town is home to restorative mineral springs, which are basically pools of hot water with healing properties. Think of it as natures spa. In fact, it’s thought to be the place that inspired the spas we think of today. And the outdoor fun here goes beyond the mineral springs. There’s hiking, biking, fishing, golf and pretty much any other outdoor activity you can think of.

 

GibsonPictures

 

Population: 2,172

When you visit New Glarus, also known as Swiss Town and America’s Little Switzerland, it’s like you ventured across the pond. The festivities here include Polkafest, Beer, Bacon and Cheese Fest, Blues, Brews and Food Truck Festival, and Swiss Volksfest (Swiss Independence Day), just to name a few. And if you like beer, you’ll want to stop at New Glarus Brewing Company, named one of the best breweries in the world.

 

andresr

 

Population: 1

No, that’s not a typo — this is the smallest town in the United States, home to only one person, Don Sammons. Don moved to town in 1980 with his wife and son, bought it a handful of years later. His wife later passed away and his son moved away, leaving Don as the only permanent resident. In 2013, the town was sold for a reported $900,000 to two Vietnamese men who now sell PhinDeli coffee at the convenience store. You can stop in for a cup, but the real highlight here is getting a picture with the town population sign.

 

This article originally appeared on Policygenius and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

 

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