Livability: 10 cities to visit if you love fall

Livability: 10 cities to visit if you love fall

18 Dec    Finance News

Being head-over-heels in love with fall has gotten a bit of a bad rap in recent years. Fall fanatics are often written off as boring or basic. But what’s not to love about autumn?! The air has finally cooled and leaves are turning magnificent shades of yellow, orange and red. No more humidity, no more frizzy hair or melting makeup. Fall is all about comfort, from the food (soups, baked goods and, yes, pumpkin spice everything) to the fashion (boots, sweaters and scarves as big as blankets). 

So here are 10 places you need to visit if you want to shamelessly celebrate the best season of the year, from quaint towns that give off major #StarsHollowVibes to bustling cities that have broken world records with their autumnal activities. 

Grab your fall-loving friends, swaddle yourself in a plaid scarf and hop in the car. It’s time to get cozy.

Snohomish , Wash.

Population: 9,437

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: Snohomish is home to some of the best pumpkin patches in Washington state — Stocker Farms (hay rides!), Carleton Farms (a pumpkin cannon!) and The Farm at Swan’s Trail (pig races!). A personal favorite is Craven Farm, which offers over 50 varieties of pumpkins and squash, a 15-acre corn maze, fire pits and dozens of activities, including…human foosball?!

Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: For an especially memorable view, take a hot-air balloon ride with Over the Rainbow, Balloon Depot or Snohomish Balloon Ride (yes, there are multiple hot air balloon companies to choose from here) so you can catch a glimpse of the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges and, on especially clear days, the Seattle skyline.

What to Eat and Drink: Have the best breakfast of your life at the bustling Maltby Cafe — think smoked salmon eggs Benedict with homemade hollandaise and fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls as big as your face. It won’t be easy, but try to save room for dessert, too — their hot apple strudel pie with cheddar cheese is a dream come true.

And While You’re There…After strolling along First Street in the historic downtown district for prime antiquing at Antique Station in Victoria Village and gift shopping at The Cin~a~mon Stik (and great pie at Cabbage Patch), grab a drink at The Oxford Saloon, which was built in 1900 and is said to be haunted by three ghosts.

Frederick, Md.
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The Roddy Road covered bridge in Frederick, Md.

Population: 67,421

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: Frederick has everything you need for a picturesque fall day — from an idyllic downtown that has been named one of America’s Best Neighborhoods to Catoctin Mountain Orchard, where you can pick your own apples and snap selfies in front of the giant pumpkin pyramid.

Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: There are 25 miles of walking and hiking trails at the beautiful Catoctin Mountain Park, and the especially stunning seasonal sights can be found atop Hog Rock and Chimney Rock, which offer panoramic views from 1,600 feet and 1,400 feet, respectively.

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What to Eat and Drink: You don’t have to be vegan to appreciate all that Glory Dough & Diner has to offer, from savory salads and sandwiches to innovative doughnuts in seasonal flavors like Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Oreo and Spooky Chocolate (it comes with vampire fangs!).

And While You’re There… Don’t sleep on the covered bridge driving tour, where you can see the Utica, Loy’s Station and Roddy Road, three covered bridges that were all built in the 1800s. Just like in “Beetlejuice”! (But without a visit to the afterworld.) 

Muskegon, Mich.

Population: 37,861

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: The Muskegon Lakeshore Region is the epitome of #fallgoals. A local favorite is Pumpkinfest that is known for the main event — the Montague Pumpkin Roll, which is exactly what it sounds like. If carving pumpkins is more your speed, travel south for about an hour to Post Family Farm for hayrides, pumpkin picking and mazes galore. Looking for something more spooky? Haunted Hall is full of tricks. 

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Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: It can get chilly along the shores of Lake Michigan, but fortunately a drive along West Michigan Pike is the perfect way to enjoy the changing leaves. Passing through cozy beach towns like Muskegon and Norton Shores, fall foliage is front and center. Looking to become one with nature? Take a hike at the nearly 200-acre Lake Harbor Park in Norton Shores, which is nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan and Mona Lake. 

What to Eat and Drink: Pull up a seat at Pigeon Hill Brewing Co., a local favorite that serves up unique brews. Currently on tap? A salted caramel porter, known as the S.C.P., that is sure to put you in a festive spirit, literally. 

And While You’re There… After visiting Muskegon’s adorable downtown, which includes several historical sites, an epic farmers market and some seriously cool public art installations, take in the Depot to Depot Muskegon County Color Tour. The tour is self-guided and includes several stops at historical sites, including the Historic Chamber Train Depot.

Freeport, Maine

Population: 1,507

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: Freeport is home to iconic lifestyle brand L.L. Bean, so it’s no surprise that the coastal New England town looks like it’s pulled straight out of the pages of the company’s picturesque catalogs, which are an iconic source of #FallVibes. 

Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: Stroll along the Casco Bay Trail at Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park for gorgeous views of rocky coastline littered with white pine, hemlock and oak trees. If you’re up for drive, head north on Highway 1 for even more dreamy views and then get out and stretch your legs at Camden Hills State Park, which is said to be the inspiration of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Renascence.” 

What to Eat and Drink: A visit to Maine isn’t complete without a whoopie pie, so hit up Wicked Whoopies for a pumpkin, maple or gingerbread treat.

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And While You’re There… Not only is downtown Freeport home to the L.L. Bean flagship store (which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!), but it also offers loads of other outlet shopping — Patagonia, J.Crew, Banana Republic and more — where you can pick up all your cold-weather necessities at discounted prices. 

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Laconia, N.H.

Population: 16,075

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: Every year, tens of thousands of fall fanatics descend upon Laconia for the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, where the main event is the lighting of the pumpkin tower, a 54-foot-tall display of hundreds, sometimes thousands of jack-o-lanterns carved by festival goers. They broke the Guinness World Record for most lighted jack-o-lanterns in 2013 with 30,581 glowing gourds!

Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: You can’t go wrong with a visit to White Mountain National Forest, but for something a little different, take a train ride on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, which boards in nearby Meredith, NH and offers seasonal foliage tours throughout the region.

What to Eat and Drink: Warm up at Wayfarer Coffee Roasters with a pumpkin caramel latte and a plate of apple pie waffles. They even have a fireplace for maximum hygge vibes.

And While You’re There… Build your own ice cream sundae at Kellerhaus, New Hampshire’s oldest ice cream and candy shop. Get anywhere from one to 10 scoops of ice cream — in flavors like pumpkin pie, banana pudding and Cookie Monster — then take a trip through their toppings bar, which is stocked with hot fudge, sprinkles, marshmallow, butterscotch, strawberries, various candies, whipped cream and more. (Yes, more!)

Meridian, Idaho

Population: 84,018

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Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: You can pack in a whole season’s worth of fun at Linder Farms — there’s a corn maze with four different paths, a corn box (like a sand box or ball pit but full of dry corn!), pedal tractors and, of course, dozens of different kinds of pumpkins and gourds to meet all your carving, decorating and baking needs. 

Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: About 30 minutes outside of Meridian is Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, where Canada geese often stop while migrating south. The park’s wetlands attract up to 15,000 birds by mid-November.

What to Eat and Drink: Urban Fox Coffee & Boba offers a seasonal pumpkin chai latte, but don’t miss out on their Sweet Toast, either: a super fat slice of tender white bread is toasted with butter and smothered with whipped cream, sweet syrup and diced strawberries. 

And While You’re There… Village at Meridian is a beautiful outdoor shopping center packed with dozens of local and chain shops so you can get a jump-start on your holiday shopping. Make your way to their huge fountain at the top of the hour to see a water show choreographed to music.

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Wilkesboro, N.C.

Population: 3,548

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: Autumn is about more than just the pretty colors—it’s a season that engages all the senses. The sound of crispy leaves, the feel of cozy sweaters, the smell of bonfires, the taste of apple cider. At Wilkesboro’s Merle Watson Garden of the Senses, visitors can experience all that fall has to offer. The garden was built in memory of Eddy Merle Watson, a critically-acclaimed local bluegrass musician who died when he was just 36 years old, and the grounds feature a seasonal array of strongly scented plants and flowers with Braille labels and a large brick mural designed for the visually impaired. 

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Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: Stroll along the mostly paved Yadkin River Greenway or hike the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail to see some gorgeous foliage. You can find several gorgeous waterfalls at Stone Mountain State Park, which is less than an hour away.

What to Eat and Drink: Anchor Coffee Co. has created the perfect fall drink, a Campfire Latte with dark chocolate, cinnamon and clove. And of course a fat toasted marshmallow tops it all off.

And While You’re There… Moonshine is legal in Wilkesboro and both Copper Barrel Distillery and Call Family Distillers offer tours and tastings. And this isn’t some weird, unfiltered stuff made out in the middle of the woods — today’s moonshine comes in flavors like apple, strawberry and blueberry. (And it’s particularly delicious when added to warm apple cider.)

Brattleboro, Vt.

Population: 7,259

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Brattleboro, Vermont and the Connecticut River

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: You know a town takes their fall foliage seriously when they offer an online fall foliage color tracker. Plus, you’ll feel like a Gilmore Girl while you stroll through Brattleboro’s historic downtown which is packed with shops, galleries and restaurants along the edge of the Connecticut River.

Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: You literally have to go over the river (the Connecticut River, that is) and through the woods to get to the Wantastiquet Natural Area Summit Trail, a 3.7-mile hike that includes waterfalls and river views. If you want to stay in the car, there are several nearby scenic byways including The Connecticut River Byway (watch out for moose!).

What to Eat and Drink: Mocha Joe’s is famous for their maple latte. For something stronger, grab a seat near the fireplace at Whetstone Station Restaurant and Brewery and sip on one of their seasonal drinks, like The Autumn Equinox. It’s a blend of vodka, triple sec and beet-apple-ginger purée. 

And While You’re There… Get lost in the dizzying array of vintage clothes, jewelry and home goods at Twice Upon a Time. Or escape falling temperatures by catching a movie at the gorgeous Latchis Theatre. The art deco building — which is also home to the Latchis Hotel — was built in 1938 and the inside walls are covered with hand-painted mythological murals. The annual Brattleboro Film Festival takes place in early November.

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Population: 1,260,688
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: Every year the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden hosts Autumn at the Arboretum, featuring a small village of little houses, walkways and gardens built with more than 90,000 pumpkins and 150,000 autumn flowers. Fodor’s Travel named it one of “America’s Best Pumpkin Festivals” in 2016.

Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: Visit in November to catch the annual Japanese Fall Festival at the nearby Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Otherwise, you’ll have to drive an hour or two outside of Dallas for especially colorful views — grab a turmeric latte for the road at Magnolias Sous Le Pont and check out the Scenic Fall Foliage Driving Trail in Athens or the Rustling Leaves Nature Trail in Daingerfield.

What to Eat and Drink: The State Fair of Texas, which starts on the last Friday of September and runs for three weeks, has every kind of food you can imagine, from award-winning barbecue to cotton candy tacos. Later in the season hit up the Lazy Dog for autumn-inspired comfort food including made-from-scratch butternut squash soup and lamb shank pot pie. For dessert, head to Humble for a slice of pie in flavors like Pumpkin Spice Latte, Cranberry Apple and Bayou Goo, a cream cheese pie packed with candied pecans and chocolate cream. Cheese fans should head directly to Rise. The bistro is famous for its variety of both savory and sweet soufflés and a dish called Marshmallow Soup, a carrot and tomato bisque topped with “mini goat cheese soufflés.”

And While You’re There… Dallas holds the world record for “largest gathering of people dressed as turkeys,” which was set in 2011 at the annual YMCA Turkey Trot. The fowl-filled fun run takes place every Thanksgiving morning, so grab a goofy turkey hat and join the fun.

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Columbia, Tenn.

Population: 35,627

Why It’s an Amazing Fall Destination: Columbia is just about an hour outside of Nashville, and there’s no better time to take in its picturesque, historic town square than fall, when local businesses are adorned with festive decorations and everyone’s sipping Muletown coffee. It’s also the perfect destination to take in all the gorgeous fall colors that line Tennessee’s portion of the Natchez Trace Parkway. 

Where to Spot the Best Fall Colors: Almost anywhere along Natchez Trace is going to make all your fall foliage dreams come true, with peak colors usually happening in the last week of October and the first week of November. The Maury County Park Nature Trail is a .6-mile loop just 10 minutes outside of downtown Columbia and it’s an easy stroll if you’re more interested in sipping a latte and chatting than working out.

What to Eat and Drink: ‘Tis the season for soup and Square Market and Cafe has the best in Maury County. Their tomato artichoke soup and crab bisque earn constant raves. Hit up Muletown for all your coffee needs and The Windmill Bakery for sweet treats. Their menu includes cinnamon rolls, pecan pie, and pumpkin cheesecake (and they also offer tons of gluten-free options).

And While You’re There… Every October Satterwhite Farm turns into Pumpkin Paradise with pumpkin picking, tractor rides and more. The fun doesn’t end on Oct. 31, though — the weekend after Halloween they host the Pumpkin Paradise Catapult, where you can bring your old jack-o-lanterns and launch through the air into the nearby pumpkin field. 

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