Downtown Hannibal, Missouri.

These Small Towns in Missouri Come Alive in Fall

If you are planning a trip to Missouri during the autumn, consider going in mid-October, when the state's maple, hickory, ash, oak, and other types of trees are in full, vibrant color. No matter what area of Missouri you visit, from the north to the Ozarks in the south, you will find no shortage of charming small towns in which to celebrate fall. Pumpkin patches, apple orchards, seasonal festivals, and other autumn delights beckon visitors from all over each year.

Ste. Genevieve

Historical buildings in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.
Historical buildings in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

The town of Ste. Genevieve may be small in population at around 5,000 residents, but it is big on historic charm, natural beauty, and colorful fall foliage, making it a must-visit autumn destination. The quaint town is the oldest permanent European settlement west of the Mississippi River and delights visitors with its French colonial architecture. Conveniently located between the bustling cities of St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve comes alive during the fall months with its annual fairs and festivals, including the Pecanapalooza. There is no shortage of autumn colors at the nearby Hawn State Park and Hickory Canyons Natural Area or in town at the Lions Club Park.

New Haven

Old house in New Haven Missouri
Old house in New Haven, Missouri.

The small town of New Haven has charm to spare with its location on the scenic Missouri River and warm, close-knit community feel. The town kicks off the fall season with the annual Balloon Glow, which features colorful hot air balloons lit by their burners, creating a glowing spectacle in the sky. Later in autumn, you can take in the vibrant foliage at one of the town's parks and natural areas. Historic downtown New Haven is home to both the Pinckney Bend Distillery and the Paddle Stop Brewery, where you can sample seasonal beverages while enjoying a river view.


Mackay Hall at Park University campus in Parkville, Missouri.
Mackay Hall at Park University campus in Parkville, Missouri. Image credit JHVEPhoto via

Brimming with small-town charm, Parkville is one of those destinations that make you want to extend your vacation, whether it is a week-long family trip or a romantic weekend getaway. The town's location directly on the Missouri River makes it a scenic place to take in colorful fall foliage. The 140-acre Platte Landing Park is conveniently located in town and features two miles of hiking and biking trails and a boat ramp offering access to the Missouri River. Located along Rush Creek, the Sullivan Nature Sanctuary is another ideal place to experience fall in small-town Missouri. 


Shots from around Boonville, Missouri in the fall.
Boonville, Missouri, in the fall. Image credit Robert Stinnett from Boonville, MO, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rich in history, culture, and natural attractions, the unique town of Boonville is named after Nathan and Daniel Boone, sons of explorer Daniel Boone. The town, which is located on both the Santa Fe National History Trail and the Missouri River, comes alive during the scenic fall season. Situated atop wooded bluffs, Boonville offers visitors breathtaking views of colorful autumn foliage. The town sits at the trailhead of Katy Trail State Park, which features the 237-mile Katy Trail. Boonville is also home to the Warm Springs Ranch, a training facility for the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdale horses. The ranch is open for tours through October each year. 


Hannibal, Missouri United States, colorful buildings downtown on a sunny morning
Colorful buildings downtown in autumn, Hannibal, Missouri. Image credit Sabrina Janelle Gordon via Shutterstock

Situated on the mighty Mississippi River, the historic small town of Hannibal is best known as the boyhood home of writer Mark Twain and the setting of his famous books. Tourists flock to the town year-round, but the quaint community really springs to life in the autumn. Each October, the town hosts the Annual Hannibal Folklife Festival, which features local craftsmen, artisans, local food, music, and live entertainment. High atop a bluff overlooking the river, Lover's Leap offers visitors a scenic view of fall foliage from a unique vantage point.


Fall leaves in Weston, Missouri
Fall leaves in Weston, Missouri.

You will have no problem getting your fix of fall foliage and festivities in charming Weston, a small town featuring a historic downtown dating to the pre-Civil War years. Situated on the Missouri River at the Kansas border, the town offers visitors miles of hiking and biking trails at the Weston Bend State Park. This 1,133-acre park is ideal for taking in local wildlife and fall foliage views, as well as having an autumn picnic. Each fall, Weston hosts the annual Applefest, celebrating all things apple with a parade, kid-friendly activities, and live music.


Bridge on Taneycomo Branson Missouri
Bridge and fall colors in Branson, Missouri.

A world-famous vacation destination at any time of the year due to its abundance of live musical entertainment, 1800s-themed amusement park, and Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction, Branson is really in its element during the fall months. Visitors can go leaf-peeping in the heart of the Ozarks and check out one of the several seasonal events, such as the annual Silver Dollar City's Harvest Festival. For nature lovers, the 1,534-acre Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area offers some of the best fall foliage views in town. You can also check out the fiery fall colors from the Branson Ferris Wheel in the town's entertainment district.

Situated in the heart of the Midwest, Missouri offers some of the best fall getaway destinations in the country. Whether you crave a festive fall event or a quiet day amongst colorful foliage in a state park, you will find it in one of the state's many small towns. What the communities lack in population, they make up for by way of historical attractions, natural beauty, and miles and miles of scenic autumn views.

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