Some people like to hit the mountains and gaze at the fall colors without another human in sight, while others prefer to soak up the changing leafy landscape in an urban setting. For the ladder, we’ve compiled a list of top American cities where you can see spectacular autumn foliage without straying too far from the bright lights.
You don’t have to journey out into the wilderness to appreciate fall at its finest. We’ve put together a rundown of our favorite cities for people who love nature’s colorful seasonal displays—but who also need to know they’re not far from their next pumpkin latte.
The locations we’ve chosen have a wealth of vacation rentals to stay in—a perfect home base for exploring the city. Choose the size, style, and neighborhood that best suits you and your traveling companions, then look forward to a trip filled with leisurely sightseeing, parks carpeted in leaves, apple-tasting, and maybe a night or two on the town.
Here are 15 autumnal hotspots, complete with city buzz, that’ll make your fall vacation the best yet.
“We regularly stay in rented accommodation rather than hotels when we go on [vacation], and this is one of the best we’ve experienced. The house is very comfortable, well-furnished and equipped.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
Historic, cultured, and very, very pretty in the fall. The city of Boston makes our list for its ordered parks, elegant homes, first-rate museums—and its North End lobster ravioli. This is the best season to visit the courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and to revel in the changing colors of the Public Garden.
In Gatlinburg, you’ve got the best of both worlds: the lively town packed with restaurants and entertainment, plus the natural splendor of the Smoky Mountains on the doorstep, showcasing a kaleidoscope of seasonal color that’s out of this world. Perfect.
“A beautiful, spacious, comfortable, and well equipped adobe style home only 5.5 miles from the center of Taos with a spectacular view of the Sangre de Cristo range. Home has a hot tub, rooftop gazebo, two-sided fireplace…and is beautifully furnished with a southwestern motif.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
The breathtaking desert and mountain setting here delivers some eye-popping vibrant fall colors. A balloon ride over the desert gives you the birds’ eye perspective, but you might prefer a chairlift ride, train ride, or hike to see the spectacular yellows and golds of a Taos autumn close up.
This is one of the more tranquil spots on our list, where you can fill up on maple candy, hike the Camel’s Hump, or wander the trails in Hubbard Park. You could also include a tour and tasting at North Branch Vineyards.
“Great location and easy access to downtown Denver and walking distance to Mile High Stadium. Great home and everything you need is already there.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
The Mile High City is set on the plains at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, combining a lively urban center surrounded by a majestic natural landscape. In the fall, enjoy art galleries, brewery tours, great restaurants, and more than 4,000 acres of parkland for your fall foliage fix.
Music City makes a great fall destination, allowing visitors to appreciate its sights and sounds after the baking summer heat has passed. Plan in your must-see musical stop-offs, such as the Grand Ole Opry House and the Johnny Cash Museum, then set off on foot or by car into the rolling hills. There’s even a fall foliage train ride from the Tennessee Central Railway Museum.
This historic coastal town comes highly recommended. It’s easy to get around on foot, with plenty of boutique shopping and dining opportunities to tempt you, plus delightful sea views. You can watch the leaves fall in Prescott Park or take a picnic over to Four Tree Island.
Turn your attention to Branson, where lakes and mountains are your playground and you can view trees ablaze with color from your kayak, cruise boat, zipline, or even from the golf course.
“Bright, spacious, clean with literally everything our family needed during our visit to Salt Lake City. The house is in a really cute area and still close to all of the things we needed for our visit.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
See the incredible changing fall colors of the Utah Valley when you pick Salt Lake City for your getaway. Take in the cool autumn air of downtown with a hot chocolate for company, cycle through Parley’s Canyon, or take the car out of the city for a more rural outlook.
Minneapolis is famous for its lakes and parks, making it a popular destination for fall city trips. Join a beer or wine tour, visit the theater, cycle the city, or attend a local apple tasting. Be sure to snap a photo in front of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, too.
Download a self-guided historic walking tour map from Go Providence and explore at your leisure in the cool of the autumn. The leaves are particularly pretty at Roger Williams Park Zoo, where you’ll also find Jack o’ Lantern displays from early October to early November.
Louisville is all about its bourbon, so you might as well start off by visiting the local distilleries on the Urban Bourbon Experience. If you’re not drinking bourbon here, you’ll probably be eating it, as there are plenty of Southern-with-a-twist dishes laced with the good stuff. For autumn hikes, try Bernheim Forest or Blackacre State Nature Preserve, or time your visit with the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park.
The climate in Asheville makes the autumn foliage season a prolonged one, so you can stare at those vibrant reds and yellows week after week. Look out for the migrating hawks and butterflies, snap the Blue Ridge Parkway for your Instagram, and visit a local orchard to sample the apple harvest.
“This is a classic building with great architecture and a wonderful nostalgic touch with a great rooftop view. This is a building that has a story to tell. Excellent value!” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
This is set to be one of Kansas City’s most stunning fall foliage seasons yet. Enjoy the burnt oranges, vibrant golds, and deep reds of the leaves, as well as the city’s fall festivals, pumpkin-picking sessions, and haunted house tours.
“This home is in a quiet location yet near to town and Acadia National Park. This was definitely a vacation to remember… We explored Acadia National Park, saw the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, enjoyed the rock and sandy beaches.” — TripAdvisor Reviewer
Grab a toasted lobster roll and stroll around pretty Bar Harbor, taking in the granite cliffs, the charming clapboard buildings, and the sweeping Atlantic views. Bar Harbor is also your stepping stone to Acadia National Park, where you can drive, cycle, or hike your way through some awe-inspiring autumnal scenes.