Special Report

40 Charming Small Towns to Visit This Fall

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36. Abingdon, Virginia

The southwest Virginia town of Abingdon, in the Blue Ridge Highlands region, was named after the ancestral home of Martha Washington and is a state landmark with a 20-square block historic district. Visitors can even stay at the Martha Washington Inn. Originally built in 1832, the hotel started as a Civil War hospital before becoming a women’s college and finally an inn. Abingdon is also known for its arts culture, with the William King Museum of Art, the state theatre of Virginia Barter Theatre, and Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Abingdon is also a great starting point to see local fall foliage, whether it’s with a scenic drive or on the Virginia Creeper Trail, which follows the route of an old railroad bed.

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37. Leavenworth, Washington

Designed to look like a Bavarian village, Leavenworth, located about two hours east of Seattle, features great food, beer, shops, and festivities. Visitors can also take in the season’s scenery with the Autumn Leaf Festival. If you work up an appetite walking around the village, there are plenty of options, from the Cheesemonger’s Shop to the outdoor eatery and beer garden München Haus. Later, quench your thirst at one of the area’s many breweries and distilleries or check out the local winery scene. Finally, get a head start on the holiday season with some shopping or a visit to the Nutcracker Museum.

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38. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

With a population of fewer than 300, Harpers Ferry is known as the site of John Brown’s 1859 abolitionist raid. The town features a National Historical Park that documents its history, and has views overlooking two rivers — the Potomac and Shenandoah. Visitors can also learn about the town’s history at the John Brown Wax Museum, which tells the story of the raid through 87 life-size figures. Or to get in the Halloween spirit, take a ghost tour of this haunted town, including the oldest ghost tour in America. Among the area’s many outdoor activities is Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, offering whitewater rafting, water tubing, zipline tours, kayaking, canoeing, team building, fishing, hiking, camping, and more. The Appalachian Trail also passes through the center of Harpers Ferry.

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39. Fish Creek, Wisconsin

Fish Creek, located in Northern Door County and close to Peninsula State Park, is the county’s most walkable shopping area, with an array of local stores and dining options, including some offering the traditional fish boil. Visitors can work up an appetite with one of the region’s many outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, or ziplining. Fish Creek Park offers options for hiking and Fish Creek Marina has narrated boat tours to attractions like the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Millionaire’s Row, Peninsula State Park, and local islands and beaches. End an evening visiting Fish Creek with an old-fashioned drive-in movie at Skyway Theatre.

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40. Sister Bay, Wisconsin

Described as a “foodie’s favorite on the waterfront” and a “year-round vacation destination,” Sister Bay is Northern Door County’s largest village. With 1,900 feet of public waterfront, there are outdoor dining options, great views, and recreational opportunities. For fall visitors, these activities include kayaking and canoeing, sailboat rides and sunset cruises, fishing off the docks, ferry rides, golfing, ziplining, and biking around town or at local parks. Visitors can also enjoy the autumn weather at the county’s largest public event of the year, Fall Festival, featuring family friendly activities, music, local food, an arts and crafts fair, a classic car show, a parade, and a fish boil.

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