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The top small towns for taking in the fall foliage

  • The top small towns for taking in the fall foliage

    The feeling of change that permeates the air during the fall affects everyone in different ways. It may sway you to make a career switch or try out a new hairstyle. It can make you nostalgic or want to spend more time with family. It can also inspire a desire to spend more time outside, admiring the nature that we often take for granted - and what better time than in autumn?

    Using an aggregate of visitor reviews and expert analysis from U.S News & World Report, Travel + Leisure and Country Living, Stacker found the top small towns and villages you should visit to take in prime leaf-peeping this fall. For each town, we include the Census’ 2015 estimated population as well as top foliage hotspots and local histories worth exploring.

  • #50. Camden, ME

    Est. Population: 4,844

    This small town on Maine’s Penobscot Bay offers a kaleidoscope of colors come autumn, with a spectrum of green to scarlet birches, chestnuts and elms. Enjoy the changing of the seasons via boat or from atop Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park.

  • #49. Bar Harbor, ME

    Est. Population: 5,296

    For the best bird’s-eye view of the changing landscape, drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain. Otherwise, explore the rest of Mount Desert Island (the largest island off the coast of Maine where Bar Harbor sits) as well as Acadia National Park for some of Maine’s most stunning multi-color leaves.

  • #48. Blue Hill, ME

    Est. Population: 2,676

    Blue Hill is a little seaside village whose shining fall foliage is best explored by hiking. Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park offers especially breathtaking vistas.

  • #47. Portsmouth, NH

    Est. Population: 21,426

    A treat for American history and nature lovers alike, Portsmouth offers the 10-acre Strawbery Banke Museum that allows visitors to explore the history and beauty of the waterfront’s 1600s-era homes. Visitors are also welcome to take an inland river cruise to get a view of the leaves as well.

  • #46. Bethlehem, NH

    Est. Population: 2,551 

    The White Mountains are a haven for those who love to adventure outside. After driving along the Kancamagus Highway to catch the views of the verdant and reddish surrounding forests, those leaf-peepers wanting to get in the literal thick of it can hike or camp in the White Mountain National Forest.


  • #45. Carroll, NH

    Est. Population: 946

    In Carroll, the breathtaking mountain scenery is likely best viewed by doing something other than driving or biking. Explore the famous Bretton Woods area by train on the cog railway, or partake in a three-hour zipline canopy tour over the White Mountains.

  • #44. Stowe, VT

    Est. Population: 4,407

    Each fall season, leaf-peepers flock to this ski resort town, which is almost more beautiful without snow. Mountains beam with the redness of sugar maples and gold hues from poplar, elm, and hickory trees. You can catch this technicolor landscape as you take a scenic drive through Stowe Hollow (and stop for a tour at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, of course).

  • #43. Ludlow, VT

    Est. Population: 2,140

    Another ski resort town, Ludlow offers awe-inspiring colors in the fall, which are best viewed from the top of the 3,344-foot Okemo Mountain. The views also include Vermont’s Green Mountains to the west.

  • #42. Petersham, MA

    Est. Population: 1,161

    Just north of Boston, Petersham is a marvel of natural beauty, featuring crimson hardwood trees and a view of the surrounding calm waters of the Quabbin Reservoir. Must-see stops include Harvard Forest, Swift River Reservation, and North Common Meadow.

  • #41. Salem, MA

    Est. Population: 41,340

    The easily frightened may be hesitant to visit the town with a haunted past, but be assured that the Salem offers more than “Haunted Happenings” throughout October. Russet and golden leaves make Salem Common and Salem Willows the perfect places to take walks, highlighting the beauty that is often an overlooked aspect of the historic town.

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