8 Hidden Gems to Visit in America this Autumn
By Richard Jones
Eclectic places to eat and drink, new neighbourhoods to explore, historic charms and intriguing culture – who doesn’t love a city break?
As the world slowly opens up and people plan their next adventures, why not take the opportunity and visit somewhere that is slightly off-piste.
The USA is rumoured to be allowing UK travellers back in during the next month or two, and transatlantic tourists have nearly 20,000 cities, towns and villages to choose from.
Nowhere on Earth does hidden-gem places quite like the States, so if you’re looking for a real taste of the American way of life, head to some of the smaller communities that provide the nation with its beating heart.
Here are our top picks for a lesser-known getaway or an overnight stop-off during an Autumn road trip.
Brevard, North Carolina
The city of Brevard serves as basecamp for the ‘Land of Waterfalls’, Transylvania County, as well as the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Wander through the compact downtown to find 185 King Street, a lively music venue with outdoor space for pitching horseshoes, or head to Co-Ed Theater, a classic movie house. There are craft breweries, taprooms, a 1941 soda shop, fine dining and everything in between, while galleries and indie shops all add to Brevard’s distinctive character.
Outdoor adventure, family fun parks, sports and great food – there is plenty to do at easy-to-reach Tennessee city Chattanooga (top image). Splash and swim at SoakYa Water Park, jump on the rides at Lake Winnepesaukah Amusement Park, and enjoy a ‘choo-choo’ train trip departing from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s Grand Junction Station. To satisfy your sweet tooth, head to the MoonPie General Store. Or, once the sun goes down, scare yourself silly on one of Chattanooga Ghost Tours’ spooky walks.
Breaux Bridge, Louisana
Fresh air is good for the soul, and there is nowhere fresher than the 125-mile-long waterway Bayou Teche. Lake Martin is the perfect place to go kayaking, bird watch or search for alligators basking in the sun. Afterwards, take a stroll down the quaint streets of Breaux Bridge and discover the traditional Cajun and funky Zydeco music, world-famous cuisine, and a rich history, before two-stepping the night away. The tiny city is also the Crawfish Capital of the World where visitors pay homage to Louisiana’s famous crustacean.
Located in the Berkshire Mountains, and known for outdoor activities, fall foliage viewing and farm-to-table food scene, Lenox is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Music Festival. In addition to its cultural district, galleries and restaurants, the natural beauty of Lenox is also an ideal setting for year-round sports and pursuits. If you’d like to take a step back in time, head to The Mount, the past residence of the noted American author, Edith Warton, as well as the Ventfort Hall Mansion and the Gilded Age Museum.
Rich with maritime history, the quaint village of Mystic was a significant seaport in the 1700s and home to more than 600 ships. The Mystic Seaport Museum has everything from a planetarium to a re-created 19th-century seafaring town and shipyard. Visitors to Mystic will have a great time at the Aquarium, where you can see a Beluga whale, watch its interactive show Shark Encounters, visit the Ray Touch (stingray) pool, and pet a baby alligator. And finally, don’t miss the California Sea Lion Show at the Foxwoods Marine Theater.
Tiverton, Rhode Island
For a large part of the Revolutionary War, Tiverton was a refuge for Americans fleeing the British occupation of Rhode Island (then known as Aquidneck Island). It became a focal point for gathering colonialists to drive out the British, which they eventually managed in 1780. As well as historical artefacts and commemorations, many visitors arrive to see its nearby seaside beauty, as well as Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge and Colt State Park. Tiverton also has many family-oriented activities such as Rail Explorers, the Cliff Walk, and is close to the yacht and mansion-filled Newport.
Hanover, New Hampshire
Located on the Connecticut River, Hanover is home to one of the oldest institutes of higher education in the US, the Ivy League Dartmouth College and hospital. Top sights include the hands-on Montshire Museum of Science, which is located just over the river in Norwich, Vermont, the beautiful and serene Mascoma Lake, Moose Mountain, which features an eight-mile-long ridge, Briggs Opera House which has been putting performances on since 1890, and Occom Pond, where you can spend a fun-filled day ice skating.
Located in the state’s midcoast region, the town of Wiscasset has a reputation for being the prettiest in Maine. Originally a Native American settlement, Wiscasset was first settled by European immigrants in 1663, and the seaport remains full of historical charm. Visit famous architectural landmarks such as the Nickels-Sortwell House, which boasts a federal-style design, elliptical stairway and oval skylight. Head downtown to find restaurants, shops and more attractions, such as the 1812 Jail and the Wiscasset General Store. Wiscasset is also the home of Red’s Eats, one of the best lobster shacks in America.