Changing Leaves

Changing Leaves: 5 Towns To Explore

Cider, doughnuts and festivals

As a company based in New Hampshire, we love fall. Its brilliant hues are going strong right now, but the best way to soak up the colors are to head to small towns in the heart of leaf-peeping districts.

Small towns really know how to celebrate this season’s cozy flair with orchard-driven fare (hello, cider doughnuts), hikes, antique shops, flea markets, cafes and art crawls.

We’ve found the best fall activities in five U.S. towns to visit during leaf-peeping season – and don’t forget to bring your boots, a warm jacket and a sweater for an extra layer. 

Woodstock, Vermont

Photo Credit: Inn at Weathersfield

Vermont’s landscape is filled with farms open to the public. Celebrate apples, pumpkins and foliage each autumn weekend at Billings Farm & Museum (this is one place you’ll find the covetable cider doughnuts). At Sugarbush Farm, which is a working farm, pick up their homemade maple syrup and cheese – and enjoy  a wagon ride around the expansive property.

Woodstock is also home to Vermont’s only national park: Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park , featuring a bird’s eye view of the village of Woodstock and hiking to boot. After a long hike, retire to your room at Inn At Weathersfield, down a birch-tree-lined drive and surrounded by 21 acres. On the restaurant’s drinks list? Eden Vermont Ice Cider, of course.

Lake George, New York

Photo Credit: Visit Lake George

Is there any spot better than the Adirondacks to experience autumn? After all, this state is the birthplace of the low-slung Adirondack chair. Hike your heart out at Prospect Mountain, birthed with town views from three overlooks along a 6-mile highway stretch. Paddlewheel boats cruise around the lake (lunch or dinner included); and a scenic train ride travels up the Hudson River, from Saratoga Springs to North Creek (there’s even a dome car serving food).

Wine and craft-beer fans can sip and watch the leaves turn on the new Adriondack Craft Beverage Trail. Savor your morning coffee at The Glenmoore Lakeside Cottages and Lodge 30 minutes from Lake George – while gazing out at the fall color.

Stillwater, Minnesota

Photo Credit: Explore Minnesota

Convenient to the Twin Cities (a 30-minute drive), this river town is jam-packed with antiques stores (four antique malls, in fact), clothing boutiques, and plenty of artist-made wares (like repurposed furniture and home accessories at Rose Mille and Reclaiming Beautiful). Check into Water Street Inn where some rooms have balconies boasting views of the St. Croix River. Snap up some Honeycrisp apples, which were developed in Minnesota, and a cup of hot apple cider, at Aamodt’s Apple Farm.

Right in Stillwater is an extensive network of hiking and bicycling trails. Craving some adrenaline? Hop on the Gateway-Brown’s Creek State Trail, a 36-mile round-trip bicycle ride to and from St. Paul.

Aspen, Colorado

Forget about Colorado for skiing: autumn is just as colorful here, too. After hiking – including the .6 mile Red Butte Trail, an easy trek affording gorgeous views of the valley and the Roaring Fork River; or the more strenuous 6.5-mile Buttermilk Mountain Hike Trail – explore shops, antique boutiques and art galleries in downtown Aspen, or pick from a 46-page wine list on Hotel Jerome’s terrace. Rooms in the 1889 red-brick building snug in downtown are luxurious.

Through mid-October the Aspen Saturday Market brings pumpkins, apples and other fall produce into town. Love to snap photos of fall color? Then head to Maroon Bells, which is 10 miles from Aspen and named for the two 14,000-foot peaks (Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak) in the Elk Mountains. The Instagram community will thank you for the photos (hint: #ModernTrail).

Mineral Point, Wisconsin

Photo Credit: Anne Palkill

A half hour outside of Madison, this quaint village also lies at the gateway to the Driftless Region, home to dozens of organic farms. Stroll the downtown’s antique shops (like Phoebe’s Nest, in a former restored firehouse dating back to 1900), art galleries, and farm-to-table eateries alike (such as MP Dining Company, with a Chicago-alum chef at the helm) before hopping in the car to see fall foliage. Four state parks are a short 30-minute drive, including Blue Mound State Park (stop at Cress Spring Bakery for Wednesday-night pizza, cider, freshly baked pizzas and live music). 

Tip: on the third weekend of October is Fall Art Tour, a self-guided trek to 60 artists’ studios in this town and surrounding valleys.

Hankering for your dose of cider, colorful leaves, and harvest festivals?

Get thee to one of these small towns before the autumn sunshines fades into winter (although when that first winter chill hits, we’ve got you covered).