Small Town Fall Travel for 2021

Each year the transition from summer to fall has many looking forward to new opportunities for fall travel, chances, and experiences, and this sensation of new beginnings is often mirrored in the changing weather conditions and transformative color patterns found in the fall foliage of the country’s smaller towns. Thankfully, Travel + Leisure has published an acclaimed list of the seven best towns to visit so that you can ring in the new season in the best way and in the best places.

As always, it’s advised that you research and look to local travel guidelines and CDC recommendations prior to booking any accommodations in these unprecedented times so that you may keep yourself and those you care about as safe and responsible as possible.

Manchester, Vermont

Set between the Taconic and Green Mountain Ranges of southwestern Vermont, the town of Manchester is a quintessential destination for anyone who wants to experience fall travel by enjoying the colorful vibrancy that comes with the changing fall foliage, and according to the Vermont Foliage Forecaster, the best time to observe them in Manchester is around mid-October. The town takes pride in its offering of premier cultural events and world-class recreational activities that can be experienced in a dreamlike environment that is conducive to someone who needs to unplug, restore, and recharge. The town abounds with accommodations to best serve your autumnal vacation as there are plenty of quaint cottages, boutique hotels, and charming inns that can be booked ahead of your stay, such as the Kimpton Taconic Hotel, located in the middle of the village.

Due to the area’s close proximity to the Taconic Mountain Range, some of the best views of the fall foliage can be seen while on a rewarding hike (or drive) up Mount Equinox, the tallest mountain in not just the state of Vermont but the entire Taconic Range at an elevation of 3840 feet. Mount Equinox protectively stands watch over the idyllic village, and it can be accessed by car or on foot. If hiking the 6.8 mile (round trip) trek, it’s suggested that you are among the more intermediate or advanced hikers, but no matter the skill level, all reaching the summit agree that the views from the top can’t be beat.

In summation, there are countless activities to engage in if you are spending an autumnal escape in the town of Manchester such as a round of two of vivacious gaming at Pastime Pinball, a perusing of the shelves of the cozy, acclaimed inn-turned-independent bookstore known as the Northshire Bookstore, or discovering new aspects of presidential history while visiting the stately 1905 mansion, the Hildene, which was once the home of the only surviving son of President Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd. Take the trip to Manchester, Vermont this fall and fall in love with New England, nature, and the fall season all over again in the perfect location for doing just that.

Torrey, Utah

The astoundingly small town of Torrey stands watch at 6,800 feet above sea level as the chief gateway to the Capitol Reef National Park. Especially in the autumn months (particularly November), the population of fewer than 200 residents regularly enjoy the cool temperatures while observing the astoundingly panoramic view of the Cathedral Valley, Boulder Mountain, and the Henry Mountains that is seen in the background of the quaint town.

Other than being a beneficial home-base for fall travel to those looking to explore, trek, and enjoy the offerings of the nearby National Park, the town itself has been known over the past 25 years for keeping a vibrant art scene alive and well in the area. This is most notably seen in the Torrey Chamber Music Festival, bi-monthly gallery showings by local artisans, and the Wayne County County Fair. If you’re stopping by the town before the end of the year, be sure to try and attend the highly-anticipated  Wayne County Farmers’ Market, which is held on Saturdays for the best offerings in food, commerce, and community that the town has to offer.

Be sure to check out the full published list, which can be read at Travel + Leisure, as it includes the towns ofBardstown, Kentucky; Cambria, California; Cape May, New Jersey; Cashiers, North Carolina; and Gretna, Louisiana.

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Utah and It’s Mighty 5 National Parks

Thanks to Dangerous Business for reminding us just how beautiful Utah is!  If you’re looking at national parks, the U.S. definitely has plenty.  But Utah!  It’s just really hard to argue that, with its snowy mountains to arid desert landscape, doesn’t offer some of the most unique and breathtaking opportunities for relishing in the natural beauty the U.S. has to offer. Utah is home to not one, not two, but five – YES, five – different national parks.  They are known as “The Mighty 5”, and include Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches.

If considering a road trip this summer, these are some great stops to check out once they are open again. Below we’ve given highlights on each of the sites, but make sure to check out the full article for full information on The Mighty 5:

  1. Zion National Park 

Just up from Las Vegas as you trek into Utah, you’ll find Zion National Park. Many people cite this national park (around since 1919) as their favorite.  We suggest you drive the Mount Carmel Highway east from Zion to where it joins with US 89 and take in the sights.  To see the rest, there’s a free shuttle service from March to October. You can park at the visitor’s center or in the nearby town of Springdale and use the shuttle to get to various trailheads and lookouts.

  1. Bryce Canyon National Park

Continuing down US 80 from Zion, the next park is Bryce Canyon. Despite being filled with sandstone like Zion, the rock formations are distinctly different.  During the summer, there is a free shuttle for visitors to access all of Bryce’s viewpoints, but it’s optional here unlike in Zion. You can self-drive through Bryce, which allows you to stop off at all the viewpoints.  We suggest you go this route, but watch out for possible snow/ice since Bryce is at a much higher elevation.

  1. Capitol Reef National Park

Probably overlooked the most, Capitol Reef is off the beaten path some.  In fact, you’ll drive through a portion starting in the town of Torrey, Utah and people may miss it.  Driving yourself is the only way to get around. On your trek, you’ll be able to take in the park’s famous rock formations (for free) driving along UT-24.  If you’re looking for more, there is also a beautiful scenic drive within Capitol Reef’s fee area.  There, you’ll see cliffs, canyons, ancient petroglyphs, rippled rock, and so much more.

  1. Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is near the town of Moab in southeastern Utah.  Canyonlands is vast with sections, including: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze.  Sporting two visitor centers (Island in the Sky; The Needles), Canyonlands is a beautiful place to get lost.  We suggest driving this one.  Pack lunch and stay hydrated, you’re going to want to pull over and potentially hike along the way.

  1. Arches National Park

Last but not least, Arches, which is close to Moab, is very different from the other four parks.  This is one that’s also possibly the most accessible since it’s only about 15 minutes from Moab and is filled with short, easy walks to take in the sights. There aren’t shuttles, so we suggest packing up the car or truck to embark on the 18-mile-long scenic road through the park.

PRO-TIP:  Definitely get a National Parks Pass – they’re $80 and are good for one year.  They’re available online or at the first National Park site you visit.  This will save you lots of money as you delve into all that Utah has to offer.

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