Fall brings a crisp bite in the air as the temps cool, cozy sweaters, pumpkin everything, and, of course, beautiful foliage as the leaves take on hues of orange, red, and yellow. When it comes to fall vacations, the best places to enjoy these autumnal attributes also offer a mix of lively entertainment, historical attractions, and plenty of good seasonal eats. To help you get started, check out these U.S. autumn towns that look oh so magical in the fall.
READ THIS NEXT: The 9 Best Road Trips in the U.S. to See Fall Foliage.
Best Autumn Towns to Experience Leaf Peeping and More
1. Noblesville, Indiana
Just north of Indianapolis, Noblesville welcomes visitors to its historic square, where they can peruse the many antique shops, check out the latest fashions at trendy boutiques, and stop for coffee at Noblesville Coffee and Tea. Not far from the iconic Hamilton County Courthouse in the center of the square, you can walk among the falling leaves as the White River flows by. For some memorable photographs of your visit, head to Potter's Bridge Park, home to Hamilton County's only remaining covered bridge. You can reach the park by taking the White River Greenway Trail that connects downtown Noblesville and the park.
2. Estes Park, Colorado
What better backdrop for a fall getaway than the Rocky Mountains sporting its fall foliage? Sitting at an altitude of 7,522 feet, Estes Park is located at the eastern entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. The Big Thompson River and Fall River run through the downtown, coming together at the heart of the town's Riverwalk. A stroll along the Riverwalk takes you to a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment, or you can take a seat and just enjoy the essence and views of this charming mountain village.
3. Mystic, Connecticut
This small village between Boston and New York becomes an idyllic fall destination when the leaves start to change. In fact, that colorful foliage surrounds Mystic so visitors can enjoy it at every turn, including in the reflection of the water that runs through downtown. During your visit, you can explore the area's history for shipbuilding, rum running, the Revolutionary War, and much more. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of fishing, boating, kayaking and other recreational opportunities during the crisp, cool days. And, of course, you can't leave without trying a slice or a pie at Mystic Pizza.
For more travel advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
4. Beech Mountain, North Carolina
Before Beech Mountain becomes a full-fledged outdoor winter playground, you can take advantage of the gorgeous weather and scenic mountain views that epitomize fall. The downtown area is dressed up with a variety of autumnal decorations ranging from pumpkins to scarecrows to cornstalks that will provide the perfect backdrop for your photographs. To immerse yourself in all things fall, you can set out on one of the many hiking or biking trails and check out the scenery firsthand. Or you can head to your rental cabin to relax with your favorite glass of vino while taking in the views.
5. Stowe, Vermont
One of the many historic towns in Vermont, Stowe invites visitors to explore all the best that autumn has to offer. Located at the base of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, this town is surrounded by gorgeous fall color. A great way to take it all in is by setting out on the Stowe Recreation Path, a 5.3-mile paved path through downtown and the nearby Mountain Road Village. Other leaf-peeping activities include taking one of the area's scenic drives or guided tours, hiking, paddling, and much more.
6. Portland, Oregon
Well-known for its outdoor recreation, Portland is no different come fall. Throughout the city, you'll find plenty of fall color, which you can enjoy during an urban hike or at one of the city's best viewing spots, such as South Park Blocks. Other ways to enjoy autumn include finding your way through a local corn maze, hitting the pumpkin patch, and checking out the many festivals. In addition to the many green spaces downtown, you also can enjoy tax-free shopping at a variety of shops and boutiques. When it's time for a refreshment or a meal, stop by a food carts or a locally-owned restaurant.
7. Dubuque, Iowa
Located along the banks of the Mississippi River, Dubuque features a wealth of opportunities for taking in all things autumn. For instance, you can hop on the Fenelon Place Elevator, also known as the "world's shortest, steepest railway," to ride to the top of the bluffs around the city. At the top, you can enjoy views of not only Iowa, but also Wisconsin and Illinois. Another spot for taking in fall foliage is Eagle Point Park, which overlooks the Mississippi River and Iowa's neighboring states. Of course, you also can enjoy such fall activities as visiting a pumpkin patch, wandering through a corn maze, and visiting an apple orchard.
READ THIS NEXT: 10 Small Towns in the U.S. That Feel Like Stepping Back in Time.
8. Dahlonega, Georgia
In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dahlonega contains all the elements of a quaint small town: an iconic courthouse building (now the Dahlonega Gold Museum), a walkable downtown square filled with shops and restaurants, and a full calendar of events. No wonder it's been featured in a Hallmark movie. But when autumn arrives, Dahlonega takes things to the next level with gorgeous fall color and plenty of opportunities to take it all in. This includes eating a meal on a balcony overlooking the square, sampling wine at one of the many tasting rooms, or shopping for fall decor during Gold Rush Days.
9. Hudson, New York
Encompassing just 2.5 square miles, Hudson packs a lot of fall entertainment in its historic downtown. Formerly a 1700s whaling port, this small town offers plenty of historical attractions along with more than 300 locally owned shops, restaurants, and lodging options. During fall, red, orange and yellow dominate the landscape, turning this town into an autumnal masterpiece. A great way to enjoy the colorful foliage is walking around town to see the historical architecture that includes 18th-century Nantucket townhouses, Federal-style buildings and Queen Anne mansions.
10. New Hope, Pennsylvania
Sitting alongside the Delaware River, New Hope is a picturesque town that becomes magical when autumn arrives. Visitors can check out the scenic views as they tour The Locktender's House and Lock 11 on the Delaware Canal, take a walking tour with the New Hope Historical Society, or enjoy a ride on the New Hope Railroad. You also can enjoy the scenery when dining at restaurants such as Martine's RiverHouse Restaurant and Landing. Strolling along New Hope's Main Street, you can find souvenirs at the town's many shops and boutiques.