Fall Off the Map: 21 Best Small Towns in America to Explore this Autumn

As the hectic and hot months of summer wind down, fall brings excitement in new forms. Football and fires replace swimming and vacations. Crisp air and vibrant colors make this season a cozy and peaceful time before the holidays. Tourists from summer have left and Christmas crowds have yet to come, which makes fall the perfect time to pack up your car, hit the road and explore some of the best small towns in America.

The Pacific Northwest, New England and Appalachia all provide excellent opportunities for leaf peeping between late September and mid-November. We’ve chosen 21 of the best small towns in these regions to explore during fall and ranked them based on the number of fall festivals, nearby national parks, outdoor activities and local breweries, wineries and restaurants. Colorful foliage creates a seasonal environment within a small town, and outdoor activities, breweries, wineries, festivals and restaurants add to the overall fall experience. Read on to plan your perfect autumn road trip.

Best Small Towns for Fall in New England

New England is famous for its explosion of colorful leaves in the fall. Because temperatures drop quickly and early in the Northeast, the colors change in late September and stay vibrant until late October, depending on the year and the state. What makes New England so special during the fall is its rich history that surpasses any other region in the country.

Many small towns in New England have been there for centuries. The festivals in each town celebrate the changing seasons in addition to the stories that make each area unique. Whether you want to pick apples, sip cider, explore nature or cozy up in a bed-and-breakfast, you’ll have no trouble finding fall vibes in New England.

The best time for leaf peeping in New England is early October, but we’ve provided dates to guide you through each state. Fall foliage can change quickly with the Northeast’s cold weather, so always stay aware of the weather in case you need to change your plans.

1. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is a harbor town with an abundance of history, which also makes it the epicenter for fall festivals and first on our list for New England small towns. As the quintessential New England summer fades into fall, visitors can celebrate the harvest, the food and the culture of the land in Newport that have been a part of this country for over three hundred years. The Annual Harvest Festival at Greenvale Vineyards and the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival are just a few of Newport’s many autumnal events.

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