Planning your fall trips? Nature-loving travelers will fall for these five small towns across America.
1. Port Aransas, Texas
Located on a stretch of North Padre barrier island, Port Aransas is a relaxing getaway for anglers and beachgoers alike. One of the many attractions this town has to offer is the Patton Center for Marine Science Education, which is an admission-free facility that educates visitors about local wildlife and marine ecosystems. The newly renovated center features eight large aquaria and engaging interactive displays that teach visitors about the research conducted at the University Marine Science Institute and its Mission-Aransas Reserve program. Other outdoor attractions and activities include sailing a jetty to the secluded San José Island, riding a golf rental golf cart across the beach, or even taking professional sandcastle lessons.
2. Highlands, North Carolina
Highlands is settled within the Nantahala National Forest and is within driving distance of major Southeast cities such as Nashville, Charlotte, and Charleston. This small town is an excellent getaway year-round for travelers who enjoy music, art, hiking, waterfall spotting, and delicious food. It is also home to some rare and interesting animal and plant life for the nature-loving traveler. Home to some of the oldest mountains in the world, the area houses 400 rare and 200 endemic plants. Animal spotting may include creatures such as otters, snakes, terrapins, bears, foxes, and bobcats.
3. Wolfeboro, New Hampshire
This small town offers fun activities for travelers all year round, from speed boating in the summer to ice-fishing in the winter. Offering quaint New England village scenery, the site is excellent for many types of travelers. Those looking to shop and sightsee can take a stroll down Main Street while others looking to relax can lounge peacefully in the sun at Brewster Beach. Foodie travelers should ensure they visit Pavilion, a three-year-old fine dining restaurant run by chef Chris Viaud, a Top Chef alum and James Beard semifinalist whose Haitian roots inspired his delicious farm-to-table cuisine.
4. Kanab, Utah
Perfectly situated within one to two hours of some of the country’s most popular national parks including Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon, this tiny town gives travelers a good home base for exploring these areas. Kanab also acts as a gateway to The Wave, a popular red rock formation in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliff Wilderness that resembles a wave. The motto of the town is “Magically Unspoiled” because, though its location is prime for exploring some of the most beautiful areas of nature, the area hasn’t yet become overrun with tourism. The area itself also offers chances to connect with nature, from hikes at Buckskin Gulch or Paria Canyon to stargazing at Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
5. Girdwood, Alaska
This old mining town is known for its winter adventure activities including ski touring, heli-skiing, cross-country skiing, etc. An especially good destination for travelers looking to both connect with nature and relax, the area includes the Alyeska Nordic Spa which is a mountain sanctuary for wellness. Skiers can now combine nature-based activities with a rejuvenating excursion at the Nordic Spa, which is located next door to the Alyeska Hotel. The 50,000-acre-forest spa grounds include a circuit of open-air hot and cold pools which are designed to maximize the benefits of hydrotherapy. The experience is also interspersed with an exfoliation cabin, essential oil-infused steam room, traditional Finnish sauna, and halotherapy sauna lined with salt walls. Tourists can enjoy these relaxing experiences all while marveling at the stunning scenery of the Chugach Mountains.