The 8 Most Charming Towns in the U.S. for a Fall Getaway
Choose one of these quaint spots for your next vacation.
Summer might be the most popular time to travel, but the fall shouldn't be overlooked. There's something special about vacationing in the autumn months when the air is pleasantly "crisp" and we can pack our jeans and sweaters. Maybe you have dreams of cozying up by the fire with your partner, having a girls' weekend somewhere fun, or taking the kids to explore the golden fall foliage. Whatever you have in mind, the fall is a great time to seek out spots that are somewhat off the beaten path. Travel experts have plenty of suggestions for the most charming towns in the U.S. for a fall getaway. Read on to find out where they recommend you post up and embrace the seasonal scenery.
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Nestled on the west coast is the town of Silverton, perfect for those looking to travel back in time.
"Silverton is a quaint forest town named for Silver Creek, which passes through the town," Adam Marland, travel photographer and writer for We Dream of Travel, tells Best Life. "Even in present times, it feels like a city frozen in time with historic brick buildings and even a saloon."
Silverton is also, quite conveniently, referred to as "the gateway to Silver Falls State Park," Marland says, which has been named "the crown jewel of the Oregon State Park System."
"This stunning park features 10 waterfalls along a 7.8-mile trail that meanders through an enchanted forest," he says, adding that autumn is really the best time to schedule your trip.
"Any time is good to visit, but this forest turns magical in the fall," he explains. "Golden leaves fill the valley, creating one of the best autumn-foliage viewing opportunities available in Oregon."
Another destination in the western portion of the U.S. is Leavenworth, Washington. The town is "Bavarian-inspired," Carly Brown, owner and author of the travel blog Seek Out Serenity, explains.
"It is nestled within the Cascade Mountains, generously termed as the American Alps, which is truly a tourist's paradise in terms of gastronomy, outdoor adventure, and quintessential German-style architecture," Brown tells Best Life. In fact, Nathan Sado, travel blogger of Live Dream and Discover, adds that the buildings are required "to adhere to specific Bavarian architecture regulations."
"This charming town fully embraces its European culture by offering traditional bands playing German music in the main square on a regular basis," Brown explains. "[It] will make you feel as though you are visiting another country entirely while strolling along [the] main street."
In the fall, you'll get the best views of the town's foliage if you take a drive along Icicle Road or a hike through the Cascades, Brown says. Pleasant fall temperatures also make Leavenworth an ideal pick for your getaway, she adds, as does the town's famed Oktoberfest.
"Fall visitors can enjoy the changing landscape, festivals, and outdoor activities before the heavy snow comes," Sado, says. "Put on your lederhosen and discover the charming town of Leavenworth, Washington."
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Views of the foliage in Virginia shouldn't be missed, and Rebecca Posey, travel blogger and co-founder of Poseys Go Places, recommends checking out the town of Abingdon.
"It's home to the Virginia Creeper Trail, a 34-mile multipurpose path that explodes with autumn colors every year!" Posey explains. "Abingdon is also known for its historic architecture. It's a wonderful place to enjoy the cooling weather and vibrant colors."
Abingdon is family-friendly, so you can take your kids along on your outdoor adventures. If you get hungry, Posey recommends trying The Tavern for "high-end Southern cuisine housed in a building that has been there since 1779." If you're in need of caffeine, she also suggests The Girl & The Raven for coffee and lunch.
"We highly recommend Abingdon, Virginia, as one of the best places to visit in fall because of the historic town, fantastic culture, and vibrant foliage!" Posey tells Best Life.
Most commonly known for the famed Civil War battle, Gettysburg has a rich history best experienced in the fall.
According to Jessica James, author, Gettysburg native, and owner of the travel blog Past Lane Travels, this historic town is great for those on a budget, as free activities are plentiful. James recommends hiking to the top of Big Round Top.
"Wait until the middle of October through the beginning of November, and you will have cooler temperatures, as well as spectacular views of leaves bursting with a carnival of color," James says.
The "apple capital" area also surrounds Gettysburg, she explains, and you won't want to miss the Apple Harvest Festival during the first two weekends in October. Just looking to immerse yourself in apple country? Hop in the car.
"A drive through the winding roads of apple country in the middle of harvest time is a sight to behold, with tree limbs heavily laden with red and yellow apples," James says. "You can stop by the Historic Round Barn (yes, it's round) and find every type of farmer's market imaginable."
Of course, there's no shortage of bed and breakfasts, she adds, and couples booking a getaway might enjoy horseback riding through the battlefield at Gettysburg National Military Park.
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If you'd like to visit Tennessee but want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Nashville, check out Gatlinburg—especially if you're traveling in autumn.
"Gatlinburg is a quaint small town nestled just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park," Kimberly Deese, co-host of Travel Squad Podcast, explains. "As fall temperatures drop, this town grows more and more cozy."
At the national park, you can best see fall colors between mid-October and early November, according to the park's website. You can also view the foliage at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park, Deese tells Best Life.
"Bundle up for warmth and take the gondola to the top, where you can sit around fit pits gazing at the fall colors of the forest below," Deese says, adding that with your 24-hour ticket you can take a ride during the day or evening.
Traverse City, Michigan
In northern Michigan, Traverse City offers a small-town feel with plenty to do.
"The area is home to over 7,500 acres of protected land, creating dense forests with a kaleidoscope of colors," Rebecca Gade Sawicki of the vegan travel blog and consulting company Veggies Abroad says. "In addition to that, Traverse City is located near Lake Michigan and on Grand Traverse Bay; the vibrant colors with the backdrop of turquoise blue water are unreal!"
Leaf peepers will want to take a drive along Highway M-22 on the Leelanau Peninsula, Sawicki explains. If you want to stay active on your getaway, consider a hike at Pyramid Point or in the beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Looking for something more relaxed? Take a simple stroll around Boardman Lake, she says.
When you're done, head to one of Traverse City's many wineries or cideries for a well-earned drink.
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Hudson, New York
Another east coast town to make the list is Hudson, New York, two hours north of Manhattan.
"It's a quaint spot with some bustling activities, both in nature and in great dining, and is totally charming for visitors, especially in autumn," travel expert Becca Siegel from Halfhalftravel.com explains. "The specific attractions that make it a great spot are its riverside location, along with its brewery, historic Victorian architecture, and nearby outlets for nature walks and hikes."
Set on the Hudson River, this spot is in the Hudson Valley, which has been increasing in popularity, Siegel tells Best Life. But it still offers that quaint setting so many travelers are looking for in the fall. If you're feeling up for an adventure, the Catskills Mountains are just an hour's drive away.
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Blowing Rock, North Carolina
There's just something about a fall getaway in the mountains, and if you're yearning for a destination down south, look no further than Blowing Rock, North Carolina.
"Besides the amazing fall leaves in the Blue Ridge Mountains—which you can see in town and while driving the Blue Ridge Parkway—the town is ultra-charming," Sarah Simon, owner of the travel blog Mukikapup's Travels, explains. "There are quaint shops and streets, restaurants and cafes, and nature to explore, particularly The Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain."
The town is continually hosting art fairs and other events, Simon says, and Blowing Rock offers options for every traveler, whether you want to explore and hike, curl up in a cabin and relax, or hit the shops. When traveling in fall, you'll also escape the southern heat, and Simon recommends checking out nearby Asheville or Boone "for longer getaways."
"The weather may get chilly but usually won't get too cold in autumn, so it's a great time to visit beyond just being the best place to see the leaves change color," she says.