Believe it or not, fall is just around the corner and most of us couldn’t be more excited.
Yes, summer gives us weekends at the pool and family vacations that you’re probably just now unpacking from, but the crisp air and array of autumn colors is a welcomed change after the dog days of summer.
Watching the leaves turn doesn’t look the same in every town, and we know the perfect places to escape to for that early fall getaway – and you might be surprised which towns made our list.
In addition to satisfying that travel itch, fall vacations are much less crowded on the roads and airports – although, the mask mandates and annoying airline policies on COVID-19 testing don’t ease up.
So, if you live close enough to one of these breathtaking and refreshing destinations, a road trip is definitely the way to go.
After all, there’s nothing like driving under the red, yellow, brown, and orange leaves that signify the changing of the season.
If you’re looking for the best spots to soak up all autumn has to offer, get lost in one of these small-town gems.
1. Cashiers, North Carolina
Talk about a small, hometown feel.
Cashiers, North Carolina sits on a plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has less than 2,000 residents.
However, you may see an increase in population during the fall as experienced travelers often return to these popular hiking trails and enjoy other outdoor activities like boating and golfing.
The Jackson County town wouldn’t be what it is without the Village Green, a 13.5 acre park fully equipped with “botanical gardens, art displays, walking paths, and seasonal events,” reports Travel and Leisure.
In autumn, the whole park is a show of its own with cascading colors flowing over rolling hills – a must-see sight for anyone who appreciates the awe and wonder of the great outdoors.
To fully top off a unique North Carolina experience, drive to the town of Fletcher about an hour and half away. Here you can stay in Raven Rock Cabin, a spectacular tiny home with a panoramic view of the Great Smoky Mountains.
2. Cape May, New Jersey
You may not think of New Jersey as a prime destination for a weekend getaway.
But the Historic District of Cape May, New Jersey, is a charming seaside town with hundreds of Late Victorian buildings to admire – and the perfect place to try out that family bike you’ve always dreamed of.
But there’s a plethora of other things to do, like climbing the Cape May Lighthouse or sipping wine at Cape May Winery.
If you’re into events and festivals, then you’ll want to visit during October 29-31 or November 5-7 and experience Cape May’s Sherlock Holmes Weekend.
Just try to make it back before Thanksgiving in case indoor gatherings are canceled again by Governor Phil Murphy like last year.
3. Bardstown, Kentucky
Another historic town with unique attractions is Kentucky’s second-oldest city, Bardstown.
Founded in 1780, it has approximately 200 buildings and structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You surely won’t have time to visit them all in one weekend, so we suggest putting Old Talbots Tavern on the top of your list.
This old stagecoach-turned-bourbon-bar is the heart and soul of Bardstown, bringing in crowds for the Kentucky Bourbon Festival every fall.
And, if you need another reason to visit this quaint town (other than world-renowned bourbon), California has tried to ban travel to this conservative state simply for pushing back against the LGBT agenda – so go and show your support as a Proud American Traveler.
While our list may be small, it is mighty.
Finding a town rich with fall foliage that’s not overrun by tourists and is safe for the whole family is tough, but we’ve managed to discover some of the best.
Get out there and don’t confine yourself to the fall screensaver during the most enjoyable weather of the year.
(h/t Proud American Traveler)