When you think of an ideal road trip, you probably plan it around some of the nation’s most popular destinations—who wouldn’t—there’s a reason landmarks are landmarks. But don’t forget about the lesser-known places across the United States that offer up some pretty amazing sights and attractions. Here are the can’t-miss destinations in every corner of the country to keep in mind when planning a road trip this fall.
Corning, New York
Located in the southern Finger Lakes, Corning is a town that is known for its local wine selection and impressive hand-blown glass, but it has so much more to offer. Follow the Gaffer District’s self-guided chocolate tour to satisfy your sweet tooth, take a relaxing kayak tour along the Chemung River, or peruse the Rockwell Museum to admire the works of Warhol, Remington, and Bierstadt, among others.
New England is no stranger to charming small towns, but Grafton has a certain appeal to it. Cheese lovers will want to stop in Grafton Village Cheese to sample the area’s famous aged cheddar. After you satisfy your savory taste buds, head to Plummer’s Sugar House to satisfy your sweet tooth. What’s a trip to Vermont without sampling its famous maple syrups?
Book a stay at the famous prerevolutionary Red Lion Inn for a memorable visit. As you meander around town, you can’t miss the Stockbridge Library, home to dozens of artifacts donated by residents of the town. Outside of town, you’ll find some of nature’s finest trails for hiking and biking.
St. Simons Island, Georgia
Golfers, rejoice! This island off the coast of Georgia has some of the country’s most pristine courses, like the ones at The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort and Jekyll Island Golf Club. Aside from improving your game, St. Simons Island offers plenty of other activities, such as fishing, and, for history buffs, dozens of historical sites worth exploring, like the island’s famous lighthouse and museum.
This historic town lies just north of Orlando—pop into town and gaze at the architecture of the 1920s-era Athens Theatre before enjoying all that DeLand’s food scene has to offer. The Artisan Alley Farmers Market takes place every Friday evening, and features local produce, as well as arts and crafts vendors.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
It may be a small town, but the activities here are endless. You can take a paranormal tour or take the adventure outside by visiting Black Bass Lake, a prime area for activities or a leisurely picnic. Don’t forget to stop and look up at the view of the beautiful Ozark Mountains.
Home to Lavender Hill Farm—a sprawling farm that grows over twenty-five varieties of lavender—the Charlevoix area, located in northern Michigan, is not the place to forget your camera. Aside from the beautiful lavender fields found here, it is also known for its mushroom houses—structures made from indigenous materials—that look like they’re right out of a fairy-tale book.
De Smet, South Dakota
For fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder, this town is a must-visit. De Smet is where Wilder spent much of her life, and a trip here can transport you back to the 1880s to experience life on the frontier.
Visitors to the homestead can also take a covered wagon ride, or, for the full experience, choose to camp overnight in a covered wagon.
This tiny two-and-a-half by five-mile island in northern Ohio is just the oasis you and your family are searching for. Go for a swim in Lake Erie, take a tour of a winery, or tour the Put-in-Bay butterfly aviary that’s home to over fifty types of butterflies. Don’t forget to rent a golf cart for your stay, which is the preferred way to get around.
Farmington, New Mexico
For outdoor adventures galore, be sure to include Farmington in your road trip. Mountainside Jeep expeditions, fly fishing, mountain biking, and, of course, plenty of hiking trails await you. There’s a lot to do in town as well, including pickleball, indoor rock climbing, and eating at one of the many authentic New Mexican dining spots.
Sugar Land, Texas
A town that’s as sweet as its name suggests, Sugar Land, located just outside of Houston, is the perfect place for your dessert-loving kids. Enjoy macarons at bakery Mon Cheri Macarons, head to Zero Degrees for its famous mangonada (a sorbet-like concoction that’s both spicy and sweet) or head to family-owned bakery Rustika Café to indulge in both Mexican and European-inspired eats.
Travel south of Denver and you’ll stumble upon Salida. For water-sport enthusiasts everywhere, the surrounding waters of Salida provide ample opportunities for white-water rafting, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking. The town itself is a hip spot for creatives of all types, so make sure to pop into one of the many galleries here—it isn’t called “the Biggest Little Art Town in Colorado” for nothing.
With a population less than 2,000, Ferndale is the ultimate quaint small town. This Victorian village draws you in with its old-timey charm, which is apparent in everything from the architecture to the friendly inhabitants. The town also has a notable art scene that includes a plethora of fine art galleries worth peeking into as you stroll along Main Street.
This gold rush town located in southern Oregon will tickle the fancy of history lovers everywhere. Its old-fashioned charm can be found in everything from the architecture to the many historical tours offered. (Try the Segway guided tour through town for the total experience that includes a view of Rogue Valley). Kids will love going to Scheffel’s Toys & More while adults sip on a cup of coffee from one of the best roasters in town, GoodBean Coffee.
Lummi Island, Washington
Hop on a ferry near Bellingham (located close to the Canadian border) and you’ll quickly arrive at Lummi Island, a quiet place famous for the dining experience found at The Willows Inn and its menu inspired by Washington’s great outdoors. For anyone looking for a tranquil escape from everyday life, Lummi Island, with its calm beaches and private boat tours, is an idyllic spot.