Visiting underrated towns in the U.S. during autumn offers a chance to escape the bustling tourist crowds and immerse yourself in genuine local charm. As the fall foliage begins its vibrant transformation, leaf peepers will find these hidden gems particularly appealing.
These towns often host unique festivals and events that showcase their rich culture and heritage, offering a more intimate and authentic experience amidst the breathtaking backdrop of changing leaves. It’s an ideal season to discover the beauty of lesser-known American destinations.
North Conway, New Hampshire
North Conway, a charming town with a modest population of less than 2,500, lives up to its reputation as one of the less crowded destinations in New Hampshire to enjoy the fall foliage. While North Conway is a year-round destination, the fall season adds a special charm to this mountain town thanks to its shifting leaves and inviting atmosphere.
Best places to visit in the area: Schouler Park, Black Cap, White Mountain Winery, New Hampshire 112 Highway, and Cranmore Mountain Resort.
Often overlooked in the U.S., boasts an extensive trail system that allows visitors to rekindle their connection with nature in the fall. Located in the foothills of the Wind River Range, Pinedale offers breathtaking mountain lakes where kayaking and canoeing can be enjoyed through early October.
Best places to visit in the area: Squaretop Mountain, White Pine Resort, Fremont Lake, Elkhart Park
Rangeley’s diverse landscape of peaks, valleys, and expansive bodies of water offers a variety of ways to enjoy the autumnal colors of the leaves. For the adventurous, a hike up Bald Mountain Public Reserved Land is a must before the snow falls in winter. After conquering the 2.3-mile trail, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Rangeley Lake, Mooselookgemuntic Lake and Saddleback Mountain, all resplendent in their autumnal glory.
Best places to visit in the area: Height of Land, Small Falls, Coos Canyon, Outdoor Heritage Museum, and Rangeley Lake State Park.
Lake Placid, New York
As the foliage transforms into a vibrant palette of oranges and yellows, Lake Placid emerges during the fall season as an often-overlooked gem among mountain towns in the United States. Nestled in the scenic Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid offers a unique blend of autumnal delights. Thanks to its strategic location, hiking trails are close by, leading to mesmerizing foliage views and scenic drives through the picturesque landscapes.
Best places to visit in the area: Mirror Lake, Mount Jo, Henry’s Wood, St Eustace Episcopal Church, and John Brown Farm State Historic Site.
Taos, New Mexico
Taos, New Mexico, is known for its ability to provide solace, earning it the nickname “Soul of the Southwest.” Adventure seekers can enjoy the beauty of autumn by embarking on a scenic journey along the 56-mile High Road to Taos. Along this route, you’ll stop at various overlooks to admire the stunning mountain vistas that showcase the vibrant hues of the season.
Best places to visit in the area: Taos Pueblo, Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Kit Carson Home & Museum, Taos Art Museum at Fechin House, and Kit Carson Park.
Banner Elk, North Carolina
Banner Elk, a charming town surrounded by high peaks and native deciduous forests, offers remarkable views of fall foliage. The refreshing, crisp air creates an ideal environment for outdoor enthusiasts to explore hiking trails and immerse themselves in the breathtaking beauty of the fall season.
Best places to visit in the area: Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, Apple Hill Farm, Sugar Creek Gem Mine, Grandfather Vineyard & Winery, and Sugar Mountain Resort.
Idyllwind is a picturesque mountain retreat that offers you a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the cacophony of city life during the autumn season. Tucked away in the scenic San Jacinto Mountains, this often overlooked town offers gorgeous mountain vistas and verdant forests that invite visitors to hike amid the mesmerizing backdrop of changing foliage.
Best places to visit in this area: Idyllwild Area Historical Society, Humber Park, Deer Springs Trailhead, Idyllwild Nature Center, and Mount San Jacinto State Park.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
West Virginia hosts a collection of charming towns worth exploring, and Harpers Ferry is one of the top places to do so. This historic mountain town is located in West Virginia’s northern Shenandoah Valley and is a major component of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Here you’ll find fascinating historic sites dating back to the mid-1800s and scenic hiking trails with breathtaking views of the fall landscape.
Best places to visit in this area: Jefferson Rock, Harper Cemetery, Armory Canal, John Brown’s Fort, and Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Woodstock, Vermont, is a charming town nestled in New England, renowned for its historic architecture, covered bridges, and vibrant fall foliage. Visiting in the fall allows you to witness the town’s natural beauty at its peak, with colorful leaves and a welcoming small-town atmosphere. It’s an ideal destination for those seeking an autumn retreat in a quintessential Vermont setting.
Best places to visit in this area: Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Quechee Gorge, Billings Farm & Museum.