For a taste or urban life with a side of the stunning autumn countryside, head to Vermont. Spend the days hiking and apple picking and enjoying the city’s awesome culinary scene. Take a day trip: Taste the best dairy in the Green Mountain State along the Vermont cheese trail or drive 40 minutes east to the tiny, quintessential New England town of Stowe, where you’ll catch some of the most incredible fall colors.
This region in upstate New York includes lots of little towns like Bovina, Phoenecia, Saugerties, and Woodstock, which stretch along the Catskill Mountains. But all of these villages, built along scenic forests, lakes, and waterfalls, have lots in common. Think: Adorable farm stands selling cider doughnuts and hot coca, quaint main streets, and farm-to-table restaurants.
Asheville, a quirky city with a small-town vibe, is also the gateway to the Blue Ridge Parkway. If there’s one thing Asheville does best, it’s food. You’ll find everything from Carolina barbecue and Southern comfort food to locally-sourced tasting menus. And the craft beer scene is among the best in the country. Take a day trip to drive along the Great Smoky Mountains as the leaves turn orange and gold.
About an hour from Portland, Hood River is one of the most underrated small towns in the country. Set on the Columbia River Gorge, Hood River is an autumn paradise. The 80 miles of cliffs and waterfalls are covered with oak and maple trees, which turn fiery red come October. If you’re an outdoor lover, you’ll love the hiking and mountain biking trails. Plus, just outside town, you’ll find everything from apple and pear orchards to vineyards where you can taste local wines.
There’s no bad time to visit Jackson Hole, but autumn just might be the most beautiful. Beginning in September, the leaves begin to change colors against a backdrop of bright turquoise sky. The temperatures remain in the 60s and 70s, so you can still canoe, kayak, hike, and even go fishing on the Snake River. The town of Jackson Hole also begins to quiet down in the fall after a busy summer full of tourists, so you’ll have no problem getting a seat at all the buzziest restaurants.
You might not associate New Mexico with fall travel, but Taos is one of the most incredible places to see during the changing seasons. This dreamy little artists’ town at the bottom of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is the gateway to the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway. Make sure to take this 2.5 hour drive along some incredible scenery like Red River and Eagle Next. In downtown Taos, you’ll find unique pueblo architecture, quirky restaurants (don’t miss the huevos rancheros), and lots of museums. Visit in September and you may even catch the Taos Fall Arts festival.