Special Report

40 Charming Small Towns to Visit This Fall

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16. West Glacier, Montana

Known as the western gateway to Glacier National Park, West Glacier offers budget-friendly accommodations, small town charm, and easy access to nature. It’s also home to some of the best shops and restaurants near the park, including Glacier Village Sweet Treats and West Glacier Mercantile — good places to stock up on camping supplies. West Glacier is known as “guide central,” with local guides offering hiking, fly-fishing trips, whitewater and scenic rafting, trail rides, and camping. Along with the national park, West Glacier is near Going-to-the-Sun Road, spanning 50 miles and featuring scenic glaciers, valleys, waterfalls, and mountains.

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17. Darby, Montana

Described as an “Old West charmer,” Darby is situated among the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana. After checking out the antique shops and the old-fashioned candy store in town, visitors will find plenty of outdoor activities at local parks and forests to keep them busy. Painted Rocks State Park — named after the green, yellow, and orange lichens that cover the granite and rhyolite rock cliffs — offers boating, camping, and fishing. Bitterroot National Forest features 1.6 million acres of trees. Half of the forest is dedicated to the largest area of “continuous pristine wilderness in the lower 48 states.” Visitors can also explore the scenery with the 101-mile Magruder Corridor Road, winding through undeveloped nature.

18. Jefferson, New Hampshire

Located in rural northern New Hampshire, amid the White Mountains, Jefferson offers many ways to enjoy the local scenery, along with two amusement parks. Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, called one of the “crown jewels” of New Hampshire, features hiking among its ponds, wetlands, and forests. Visitors can also explore the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves, along with climbing attractions and an animal park at Polar Caves. Explore the Summit of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, on the world’s first mountain-climbing cog train or experience the mountains with a snowless dog sled tour. Children will enjoy one of the area’s amusement parks — Storyland, known as the state’s best amusement park for kids, or Santa’s Village, offering “the Christmas spirit all year round.”

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19. North Conway, New Hampshire

North Conway promises plenty to do, no matter the time of year. Located among 700,000 acres of protected White Mountain National Forest and near the Northeast’s tallest peak, Mount Washington, the area has activities from hiking to shopping and dining. Explore the local scenery starting with Echo Lake State Park, which includes a trail around the lake, leading to Cathedral Ledge State Park, or try an easy hike to the cascading falls of Diana’s Baths. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can check out the scenery on the Kancamagus Scenic Highway or take a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad. The area is also a shopping destination from antiques to bargain outlets.

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20. Mountain Lakes, New Jersey

This planned community, located in north-central New Jersey, was created in the early 20th century for affluent New Yorkers as a summer vacation spot. Situated around nine man-made lakes, Mountain Lakes has changed into more of a place for permanent residents, but still has hundreds of Arts-and-Crafts-style houses. Today, the town is on both the National and New Jersey Registers of Historic Places. The lakes provide activities, such as fishing and boating. Nearby, visitors can also check out 561-acre Tourne County Park, featuring 10.7 miles of trails.