Not everyone looks forward to autumn; but once it arrives, a principle staple of the season most enjoy is none other than the mesmerizing variety of color it brings. Observing nature take its yearly course as hues of red, yellow, orange, and brown jump right off trees as animated works of art is viewed as a seasonal blessing to many, myself included. No matter where the tree’s roots dig into, be it Portland or New York City, fall foliage consistently encapsulates beauty with its enticing appeal to the senses and closeted existential significance. Yet, that’s not to say that all is equal and that there aren’t cities and towns where the yellows aren’t brighter and the reds aren’t bolder—on the contrary. In accordance with the readers of Travel & Leisure who voted in the America’s Favorite Towns survey, here is the top three locations where fall is best experienced in the United States.
3. Stillwater, Minnesota
With over 18,000 residents, Stillwater sits on the western banks of the St. Croix River that divides Minnesota from Wisconsin. Visitors that drop by are offered a seat to the color show with river cruises that look like vintage paddle boats, quaint and charming in form. The town’s season always kicks off in October with the annual Grape Stomp Competition and Fine Art and Music Festival, so be sure to visit for the triad of events.
2. Lake Placid, New York
Framing the scene at northern New York’s Lake Placid are the Adirondack Mountains’ red and silver maples, aspen, oaks, birch, and beech trees. The spectacular sight decorates the Olympic Trail’s extensive 170-mile route, which runs directly through the lake for an amazing display of autumn’s essence.
1. Oakland, Maryland
Oakland founds its way to the top due to its fire-charged gold, orange, and red palette located a short nine miles north of town at Swallow Falls State Park. There, the Youghiogheny River rests alongside 360-year-old hemlock and white pine giants and enormous leaf-covered rock gorges that sit through the waters. In the early days of October, locals make their way to the annual Autumn Glory Festival for five days of celebration.